No Human Being is Illegal

Sermon by Rev. Elizabeth Durant delivered on June 18, 2018 at First Congregational UCC Portland.

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Would it Hurt You to Lighten Up a Bit?

The world is not short on hostile insults and senseless arguments, but the world is quite bereft of kindness. Much of the social hostility we encounter comes from the pain that people have experienced that we know nothing about. We are surrounded by the walking wounded who do not need to discover how quick we can be with an eviscerating retort. What they need from us is kindness . . . undeserved, perhaps, but we can help the world to become more deserving if we will scatter seeds of kindness.

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Sensible Gun Laws Save Lives

Six days after the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has outlawed military style weapons. Australia had done the same thing just 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre. From Columbine to the present, we have had more than 50 well publicized mass murders. While we can be frustrated by a government that ignores the fact that 75% of Americans want more sensible gun laws but what can we say about the silence of 400,000 churches in the face of this crazy situation?

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Augustine, Scripture, and Science

While there are many factors that lead up to tragedy like the mass murders in mosques in New Zealand

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Embrace Your Mortality in MYSTERY: Ash Wednesday Our Wake-up Call!

An Ash Wednesday Reflection: Our changing understanding of what it means to be human, changes the nature of Ash Wednesday’s wake-up call.

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The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!

A Reformation Sermon – John 8:31-36

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Let me take a moment to face the truth about who we are as Lutherans. The truth is that from the beginning Lutherans have participated in hate-filled tribalism that gives rise to anti-Semitism. The irony of attempting to commemorate the Reformation on the day after the slaughter of Jewish sisters and brothers cannot be ignored. Sadly, our church’s tragic participation in anti-Semitism goes all the way back to Martin Luther himself. Luther’s anti-Semitic rants provided the theological grounding that empowered Nazi’s to fan the flames of the Holocaust. It took until 1983 for the Lutheran World Federation to confess and repent Luther’s words.

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Jesus – Teacher of Radical Compassion

The one sentence from the gospels that even the most critical Biblical scholars tend to agree was quoted directly from the historical Jesus is this: Love your enemies. The first century of the common era had dozens of Jewish messiahs, many of whom were said to be exorcists and miracle workers. The titles of “king,” “Lord,” and even “Savior,” were all ascribed to the Caesar as well as to noted religious leaders. The early Jesus movement may have created narratives and titles to distinguish Jesus as being a rival to the empire or on an equal footing to Moses or Elijah but his truly unique message was a call to radical compassion.

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Reality 101 – Widening Our Circle of Compassion

Rev. Michael Dowd’s guest sermon at Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North on February 10, 2019.

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The Bible and Immigration

The Christian Bible contains a debate that raged over several centuries between nationalist protectionism and an admirably compassionate treatment of immigrants and refugees. Progressives chose to reject the xenophobic and racist passages in favor of the radical compassion which we believe is at the heart of a spiritual life. In which case, the proposed border wall between the USA and Mexico becomes not simply unnecessary, and economically unwise, but a real failure of American morality.

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Coffee and Poetry – a Valentine’s Reflection

Frida Kahlo wrote the ultimate lovers’ poem that concludes with this assurance, “You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.” In this age when couples typically no longer stay married out of economic necessity or for mere survival, what is it that keeps people together. Even more, what inspires a couple who are already past child bearing years or even career concerns, to sacrifice independence and freedom in order to share a common life? I think that it is meaning we seek even more than a mere surcease of loneliness. What we really want is not just someone with whom to share our morning coffee but also someone who will read poetry to us. Is that too much to ask, or do we, as Kahlo suggests, what we deserve?

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Locavore Gospel

Sermon by Rev. Elizabeth Durant

A Locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The poem, Desiderata, enjoyed a great deal of popularity in the 20th century but its counsel to “speak your truth” both calmly and without surrender, while still being willing to listen to the thoughts of even the simple and uninformed, is excellent advice for our internet age where social media can sometimes lead even saints down a path of mudslinging and name calling. Let’s think about how we can be helpful in public discourse to both share ideas and heal our partisan divide.
 

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The MYSTERY Is LOVE

The embodiment of LOVE is achieved when we who are made of LOVE, recognize ourselves in the other, because LOVE is not something that we do, LOVE is who we are. LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, LOVE never ends. Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. When we recognize ourselves in the other, we are the embodiment of LOVE. Now we know only in part, then we will know fully, even as we have been fully known. When we recognize ourselves in the other, faith, hope, and LOVE abide, these three; and the greatest of these is LOVE.

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The Horror All Around Us

TRIGGER WARNING! This video contains brief talks by two ministers and two psychologists and an original song by a composer/musician about pedophilia. The topic affects so many people that we felt obligated to address it though it is easily the single most difficult topic any of us have to think about. If you are disturbed by the content of this message, please reach out to your therapist, or your pastor, to talk through these issues.

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Freedom Through Defiance

During the Indian Wars, most Americans believed that killing Indians was patriotic, heroic, and some even felt it was Divinely ordained. But, at the Massacre at Sand Creek, two officers ordered their men not to participate. Captain Soule and Lt. Cramer refused to be silent about the murder of 150 men, women, and children, and their reports sparked a Congressional investigation that ended in removing their commanding officer, Col. John Chivington (a former pastor), from service and began to change the way our country viewed the Indian Wars. Sadly, soldiers who wake up to the illegal and immoral nature of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not being sympathetically heard by Congress, through the essay written by Kevin Tillman, the brother of slain serviceman, Pat Tillman, tells an unvarnished truth rarely seen in the media.

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“Becoming Magi” (Epiphany Sunday Sermon Video)

“The greatest Epiphany is the discovery of the LIght within ourselves.” Watch as Rev. Salvatore Sapienza, pastor of Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ, explains the symbolic meaning of the journey of the Magi.

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After the Patriarchy Falls

In Terry Crews book on Manhood, he talks about targeting high profile sexual predators in order to end patriarchy is like trying to cut a tree down by cutting the leaves. Toxic masculinity is a part of our culture and we need to lay the axe to the trunk of that tree, rooting out the male privilege that has been the source of victimization of women for centuries. Perhaps the current backward trend in our nation is the retreat that will force us to find the activation energy necessary to bring about the fall of the patriarchy.

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America’s Original Sin

President George Washington owned about 120 slaves who worked on his plantation in Virginia but when he moved to Philadelphia to serve as president, he took a few household slaves with him. One of them, Oney Judge, escaped. She spent the rest of her life as a fugitive avoiding being captured by George Washington’s representatives who were under orders to return Oney to slavery. It turns out that George really could tell a lie, as he tried to publicly advocate for liberty and freedom while personally profiting from slave labor even when people all around him were working to bring slavery to an end. America’s original sin deserves reflection today because it still casts a shadow over our nation’s ethical thinking.

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