Click the "Read More" link below to read descriptions of 2009 LCUUC services.
December 27: “Hooray for Failure!” originally written by Rev. Judith A. Walker-Riggs, presented by Paul Fackler
On the edge of a new year, we often take a look back to get a measure of what we have done – how far we have come. Too often, we count only our successes. But what about our failures, the things we haven’t managed to do? As Rev. Judith Walker-Riggs writes, “This is a sermon about how it is perfectly all right to be incompetent for hours on end.” Yes, it is okay to fail. In fact, our failures may be what we are best at.
December 20: “Lo! It Shall Be Given,” by Rev. Jane Esbensen
In this intergenerational Christmas service, we will ring in the season with story and song, poetry and prayer. Christmas is more than the birth of a baby named Jesus. It is also the birth of hope and goodwill for all and to all. A celebration is afoot! (CLICK here to listen to the sermon.)
December 13: “Out of Darkness,” by Rev. Jane Esbensen
The service will be a lovely liturgical celebration in words and music of the light we call forth in the midst of this deep winter season. Come and be with us as we greet the darkness and bring in the light!
December 6: “Religious Truth for Progressives: Discerning the Meaning of Miracles”, by Rev. Bret Myers
Today we will consider three miracles recorded in the New Testament in a way that makes sense for UUs, religious progressives, and post-modern thinkers who are “spiritual but not religious.” The “Feeding of the 5000,” the “Virgin Birth,” and the “Resurrection” are integral to the Christian understanding of the world, and have even shaped the religious imagination of those who do not consider themselves “Christian.” They are questionable to the modern mindset that associates truth with provable or historical facts, and are sometimes construed as “roadblocks” to continuing dialogue when interpreted as literal. Yet, is there still a “truth” to them? Should we continue to consider them if they do not conform to and satisfy our “scientific” understanding of reality? Can they still remain meaningful for our lives in the 21st century? Today’s message will show one way by which these questions may be answered in the affirmative.
November 29: “Attuning to Nature: Insights from Wiccan Traditions,” by Rev. Selena Fox
Selena (Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, an international Wiccan church serving Nature religion practitioners worldwide since 1974) will explore some contemporary and ancient approaches for attuning to sacred dimensions of Nature and aligning with the cycles of sun, moon, and seasons. Learn about Wiccan spirituality, rooted in the Nature religions of old Europe, and consider some ways of adapting some Wiccan symbols, lore, customs, and ceremonies for enriching personal, family, and community life.
November 22: “Roots and Wings: A Thanksgiving Homily,” by Rev. Jane Esbensen
Today is the annual Thanksgiving Day Service and New Member Sunday and Potluck Meal at LCUUC. A lot of things happening all at once! As we welcome new members into this church today, we are at the same time reminding ourselves why it is we are even here. We are pilgrims, all. Let’s celebrate this church’s tradition of fellowship and food with a remembrance of what religious freedom truly means. Come hungry! (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
November 15: “The Cross under the Pines,” by Rev. Jane Esbensen
How many people have a cross lying in their backyard? Not many, but we do. Where did it come from? What is it doing out there? What does it mean to us to have it, unseen but present? Life presents us with all sorts of opportunities to look at things from different vantage points, through different lenses, and make sense of it all. We have a cross outside that is silently prodding us to think about its presence in the life of this church. What are we supposed to pay attention to? (CLICK here to listen to the sermon.)
November 8: “The Meaning of Compassion,” by Sally Pla and Kelly Kohl
Nov. 12 is the very first official worldwide “Charter for Compassion” Day. The charter was initiated by religious scholar Karen Armstrong and generated by religious and secular leaders around the world, who came together to write a pact – the Charter – to help us all overcome global spiritual differences and seek to celebrate a specific commonality underlying all world religions: The Golden Rule. Come learn about the Charter project, and reflect on ways compassion can become more conscious in our lives. (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
November 1: “Saints and Sinners,” by Lori Gorgas Hlaban
Today is All Saints Day in the Christian calendar, and a time in many cultures for celebrating their ancestors and honored dead. This service will explore the notion of Unitarian Universalist saints – or sinners – in our history. Are the terms “saint” and “sinner” useful for contemporary Unitarian Universalists? (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
October 25: "Intellectual Integrity: the Life of Joseph Priestley" presented by Rev. Scott Gerard Prinster
How do we remain true to our beliefs when it seems that everyone around us is compromising theirs? One place we can turn for guidance is an important part of our Unitarian Universalist history, the story of Joseph Priestley, scientist, heologian, philosopher, and one of the founders of the English Unitarian Church. Let's explore together how the life of his intellectual pioneer can help us stand against the forces of conformity.
October 18: “Where Two Or More Are Gathered….”, presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen
Today you are invited to learn more about what it means to be part of a congregation of believers. It is not just the minister who ministers in a church, it is all of us. Shared Ministry is what we do whenever we come together to do good works. By these acts we express our individual beliefs and demonstrate the vision of this church community. Please come on this Sunday wearing your heart on your sleeve. (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
October 11: “Together We Stand: Association Sunday,” presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen
Annually, UU congregations around the nation are encouraged by the UUA in Boston to participate in Association Sunday. The theme chosen for this year is Growth in Diversity. The contributions each congregation collects will go toward this theme, a focus on making our vision of justice and equality a reality for all. Come and learn more about this vital and vibrant endeavor to create change for the world we wish to live in. (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
October 4: “When Death Gets Personal,” a podcast presented by Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow Connie Barlow was scheduled to be our guest speaker for our Sunday October 4 service, and her husband, Michael Dowd, was scheduled to present his “Thank God for Evolution” program at LCUUC that afternoon. We learned in late August of Michael’s medical diagnosis which will prevent them from coming to LCUUC. Connie and Michael have lived the last 7+ years entirely on the road evangelizing a sacred understanding of the Epic of Evolution. With Michael’s life-threatening illness, they have decided to change their mode of operation to sending out podcasts from their website (http://www.thegreatstory.org/). Michael and Connie have both written and spoken about how an evolutionary understanding of death can enhance one’s gratitude and awareness of the blessings of each moment—and for the generations of ancestors who came before. Our October 4 service will feature their first podcast since Michael’s diagnosis, where the two talk about how these conceptual understandings actually do bear fruit in times of need, when death gets personal. (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
September 27: “Tables,” a sermon authored by Rev. Tony Larsen and presented by member John Kuhn
Over the millennia, many important things have happened around tables. They have been witness to important discussion and great events, countless hopes and doubts. Join us as we use the symbolism of the table to explore our community. Is your table open? This service is available through the Church of the Larger Fellowship on-line resource. Rev. Tony Larsen has been the minister at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, Wisconsin since 1975. He has become well known throughout the country for his deeply moving, spiritual and often humorous sermons.
September 20: “To Live Deliberately,” presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen
Being a Unitarian Universalist is no small thing, but a great privilege and responsibility to ourselves, to each other, and to the world. But who are we? In this communal service, our new minister, Jane Esbensen, will speak a bit about her religious background and what she brings to our congregation, and she invites each and every one of you to come prepared to speak briefly about your religious background and what you bring here, as well. We are all in this together, this religious journey, but we can go forward only if we know ourselves, know each other, and know what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Let us begin our deliberate way to be in the world, one by one, together. (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
September 13: Water Communion Service, presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen
Come and join us for our traditional opening worship service of the year—the Water Communion Ceremony. In this intergenerational service, everyone is invited and encouraged to bring a small flask of water in memory of a significant place they went to this summer. The water can actually be from the place you traveled to, or it can be a symbol of a place you journeyed to in heart or mind, or it can be a bit of tap water, or hose water, or kiddie pool water from the backyard if you just stayed home. Wherever you “journeyed” this summer, we want to hear from you, as we gather the waters and embark upon this new church year together. Please come!
September 6: “The Heart of a Buffalo,” presented by Dennis Hawk
The Heart of a Buffalo is a musical drama with Dennis Hawk playing the character of Black Elk, a 19th century Lakota Medicine Man who relates his childhood experience hunting buffalo in Canada in the days just after the death of Chief Crazy Horse. Interlaced with the story is both traditional and original music by Dennis (Native American Drum, chanting, flute, guitar, and vocals). This intergenerational service is ideal for young and old alike. Dennis Hawk is a Cherokee/Mesquaki descendent, a pipe carrier, sweat lodge leader, and teacher of Native American spirituality. He is a singer/songwriter/story-teller who plays guitar and Native American flute. (CLICK here to listen to the music and story, 1 hour)
August 16: “Seeking Truth” by Lori Hlaban
One New Testament writer in the letter to the Ephesians encourages Christians to put on the “armor of God” to bolster their faith. Considering the language of this passage, as well as similar symbols or talismans of faith and/or protection – like Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility - will be the theme of this service. What “armor” would/should UUs carry? (CLICK here to listen to the sermon)
July 12: “Responding to the Crisis of Global Warming: The Ultimate Snap Quiz on Our Beliefs, Perceptions and Ability to Shift Gears,” by pulpit guest Eric Hansen*
Humans, both as individuals and societies, have confronted towering crises before. What lessons and hope can we draw from those experiences? How do humans perceive that a crisis is at hand – and an immediate change in course is wise? What moves individuals and groups to speak out and mobilize their fellow citizens? Searching for insight, we’ll reflect on several stories of crisis and response. *Author Eric Hansen, a life-long Unitarian, is an award-winning environmental essayist and outdoors writer. He is also a commentator for WUWM’s Lake Effect program and a regular guest on Wisconsin Public Radio.
June 7: “Flower Communion Sunday,” by Rev. Linda Berez
Let’s celebrate our annual Flower Communion together, our last service for this church calendar year. Everyone is invited and reminded to bring a fresh flower. Together, these different flowers will become a beautiful bouquet. From the bouquet, people will be invited to take a flower different from the one they brought. Our Unitarian Universalist tradition of the Flower Communion lifts up the idea that our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community – it would not be the same without each and every one of us. All are welcome to this intergenerational service.
May 31: “Religious Education Sunday,” led by LCUUC Youth
This is the service we set aside each year to celebrate our children and youth – their spirit, their energy, their creativity, their music, their thoughts and ideas, and the way they care for each other. It is also the day we recognize and appreciate all the volunteers who work with them in our children’s Religious Education programs. Each RE class will tell us about what they have learned together this year. The presentations are always inventive and enjoyable. We hope you can join us!
May 24: “Citizen Soldiers,” by Rev. Linda Lawrence and Mr. Gary Lawrence
We UUs have either adopted or somehow adapted to most religious and national holidays. However, Memorial Day presents special issues for some of us. How can we use our first principle, “To promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people,” to include our soldiers? Please join us as we explore these issues and give special recognition and remembrance to veterans close to our hearts.
May 17: “A Celebration of Transition,” presented by LCUUC’s High School Seniors
Led by our high school seniors, this service is a culmination of their Religious Education and Transition program. We will celebrate their years at LCUUC, as they share special words, faith statements, and music. If time permits, Rev. Linda Berez will answer questions you may have about Unitarian Universalism or our faith in general. Note: Immediately after the service, Rev. Berez invites the congregation outside for the memorial garden dedication.
May 10: “Celebrating Women in Our Lives,” by Rev. Linda Berez
On this Mother’s Day, let’s take time to celebrate our mothers and all the women in our lives including our sisters, aunts, nieces, and friends. We will also celebrate Unitarian and Universalist women who have changed our lives by inspiring our nation.
May 3: “Pilgrimage, a Service of Meditations and Music,” by Rev. Dr. Bobbie Groth
Rev. Groth will present a sermon on pilgrimage with special music on violin and hammered dulcimer provided by Rev. Groth and her husband, Don Lawson.
April 26: “Is Anything Meant To Be?”, by the Rev. Jane Rzepka (presented by Kelly Kohl)
Are the events that happen to us coincidence or are they meant to be? Do our dreams or intuitions have meaning or spiritual significance? Does what happens inside us “attract” these external events or are they of a greater spiritual existence? As Unitarian Universalists we are encouraged to a free and responsible search for answers. Please join us as we explore these questions.
April 19: “Voluntary Simplicity,” by LCUUC Great Lakes Earth Institute “Voluntary Simplicity” group
A dozen LCUUCers just completed a 6-week course on Voluntary Simplicity, offered by the Great Lakes Earth Institute. This service, which will be our Earth Day service, focuses on the lessons learned about Voluntary Simplicity, and how it can improve our lives.
April 12: “Easter,” by Rev. Linda Berez
All are invited to our intergenerational Easter service, a celebration of hope and renewal.
April 5: “The Journey to the Top,” by Rev. Linda Berez
Our paths are many but we have chosen the same “peak,” a faith community to enrich and support us. Come and join us on Stewardship Sunday as we consider the ways we will continue to sustain each other on our journey to the top.
March 29: “Justice Sunday 2009,” by guest (tbd) in conjunction with the LCUUC Social Action Committee
Justice Sunday 2009 celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Learn how our congregation can help move the world closer to justice! The goal of Justice Sunday is to connect participants with people on the frontlines of today’s human rights movement and offer meaningful actions for people of all ages.
March 22: “A Celebration of Transitions,” by LCUUC 5th grade RE class with Leann Rigoli
This service will be a presentation of poems, stories, and music in celebration of completing the first part of LCUUC’s “coming of age” curriculum. “Transitions Part 1: Identity” focuses on the transition from childhood to adolescence. During this special service, you will hear what our young people have to say about themselves and their place in our religious community.
March 15: “To Whom it May Concern,” by Rev. Linda Berez
Prayer is central to the lives of religious people everywhere. Praying to a higher power, that which is holy, might include prayers before meals, before bed, upon waking in the morning, and especially during times of need. As Unitarian Universalists, how do we understand what is holy, and to whom do we pray, if we pray at all? How do we talk about prayer to our children? Please join Rev. Linda Berez and Chris Peske as we explore together the answer to these and other questions related to prayer.
March 8: “Godless,” by Dan Barker, co-president of Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation
Dan Barker will tell us about his transformation from an evangelical preacher to one of America’s leading atheists, and will enlighten us with his unique songs. His latest book, Godless, along with other literature and music from the FFRF, will be available for sale after the service.
March 1: “I Don't Know,” by LCUUC member Mike Santo
The focus of this sermon will be the limits of knowledge, and how these limits free us for a personal encounter with transcendence. This meditation will address the difference between knowing and thinking, and our relationship with our bodies (knowing) and other persons (thinking).
February 22: “Insights: A New Earth,” a service presented by LCUUC New Earth Book Club
The New Earth Book Club shares insights found in Eckhart Tolle’s message of how to transcend our current state of consciousness, which is essential to personal happiness and the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.
February 15: “Faith & the Blues: Finding Something to Believe In,” by LCUUC member Greg Valde
What does “having faith” mean to a UU? And what does the blues have to do with faith? In this service, LCUUC member Greg Valde will use music and text to explore these and other questions … and perhaps provide a useful lens to look at difficult times and our need for “something to believe in.”
February 8: “Who’s Right? Who’s Wrong?”, by Rev. Linda Berez
Recently, The Great American Think-Off released its 2009 essay and debate question: “Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?” Is it? Come ponder this question with Rev. Linda Berez this Sunday and reflect upon how the answers affect us as spiritual beings.
February 1: “Can You Be Yourself?”, by Rev. Linda Berez
As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people including Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender people. As Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church begins the process of becoming an official Welcoming Congregation with the Unitarian Universalist Association, you are invited to come and hear the stories of what it means to truly welcome people of all different sexual orientations, and what it means to truly feel welcomed.
January 25: "Treading the Spiritual Path with Feet of Clay," by Vicky Jones, Lay minister and former congregational president of First Unitarian Society in Madison
We can react strongly when someone we want to admire tumbles off the pedestal. What if that someone merely stumbles on the church steps? What if nobody sees? What if everybody sees? What if that someone is one's own self? Ms. Jones will explore coming to terms with the role human frailty plays in the spiritual journey and in a spiritual community that sets high standards.
January 18: "Hope," by Rev. Linda Berez
History will be written on January 20, 2009 when an African-American man is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday will be celebrated just the day before. Both men inspire hope in millions of people in this country and all around the world. Why is the message of hope so powerful? During times of uncertainty and fear, are you able to find hope? Where? Let's consider these questions together.
January 11: "The Paths are Many, The Peak is One," by the LCUUC Pathways Committee
As Unitarian Universalists, we have each chosen to make our own "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." However, by joining LCUUC we have also chosen to do so in community with one another. Please join us for this service as we explore the path thus traveled and begin to consider what lies ahead on our shared journey together.
January 4: "Borning and Dying," a service created by Lori Gorgas Hlaban and presented by Gerry Flakas
This is our traditional first service of the New Year, where we reflect on the past year honoring those who have passed away and celebrating births, and set our intentions for the year before us. Special thanks to Olympia Brown UU Church Intern Minister (and LCUUC member) Lori Gorgas Hlaban for her contribution to this service.