Last fall’s production of The Fantasticks sparked a debate about presenting a classic work to a contemporary audience. Professor Stone explains how the entire production team responded to the challenge presented when Native American students walked out of the performance and invites discussion of the broader question of the role of the arts in society

As part of Evolution Weekend marking Charles Darwin’s birthday, Jeff Lockwood and Matt Stannard will share a dramatic reading based on correspondence between the Unitarian Charles Darwin and Asa Gray, a Harvard professor of botany and an orthodox Christian. Their correspondence helps shed light on the personal religious struggle Darwin had about publishing his book. The service will be followed by a “donation-suggested” chili luncheon prepared by Bren Lieske, a showing of “Paradise Lost: The Religious Life of Charles Darwin,” and a facilitated discussion of the continuous controversial debates about evolution, creationism and intelligent design.

“We have needed to define ourselves by reclaiming the words that define us.” (Selma James). And this is what we plan to do on this Sunday. Beginning in 2000, we have conducted workshops in which members and friends collaborate in small groups to craft OUR definitions of potent, powerful, and provocative religious words. How would you define: communion, evil, grace, prayer, sin, and worship? Those are 6 of the 38 words in our congregation’s glossary. And this Sunday we’ll expand our lexicon with such words as: guilt, miracle, mystery, peace, prophet, and sacrament. Come join a lively and engaging exploration how we can reclaim the vocabulary of religion for our Fellowship (and receive a FREE copy of the UUFL Glossary!).

The Rev. John Buehrens, former President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, when he encountered someone who became upset with him for using the word “God” would ask that person, “What God do you not believe in? Maybe, I don’t believe in that one either.” He was lifting up that we often mean different things amongst ourselves when we say “God.” Distinguishing between theistic, pantheistic and panentheistic notions of God can clarify our discussions and help us know if we’re even talking about the same “God.” This reflection lifts up the differences between the pantheism and panentheism notions of God and explores those differences in relationship to sacredness.

Where do we find hope in trying and turbulent times? Members of the congregation, guided by Catie and Barbara, will share their own stories of finding and sustaining hope.

Few words in our moral vocabulary convey so wide a spectrum of meanings as “pride.” It is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christianity and considered to be THE cardinal sin. However, today the word can connote anything from narcissism to self-confidence to self-respect. We Unitarian Universalists straddle and struggle with the word. Believe it or not there are times we embody it as a vice. I’ll explore “Pride” when we consider it as both a vice and a virtue.

Professor Pritchett of the University of Wyoming College of Law will share information on recent changes in immigration law and policy. In addition, She will also speak to how the practice of immigration law gives her the opportunity to advocate for social justice and inspire the next generation of human rights advocates at the College of Law.

In my reflection, I’ll consider an answer to the ancient, perennial question:  What is the purpose – or what are the purposes – of our lives?  For what should we live?  Or for what would we be willing to die?  I suspect that what I suggest is not necessarily something you would have thought as an answer to this ancient, perennial question.

NOTE: This is a change from the sermon topic published in the Newsletter.

Catie Ballard leads us in a “Burning Bowl” ritual for the New Year.

Join us and bring your extended family as we celebrate one of the simplest, yet most beautiful services of the year. The Reverend Jacqueline Ziegler along with others from the Fellowship offer this service. There will be special holiday music, carols, readings, a Christmas story, and a candle-lighting ceremony for all those old enough to safely handle them.

(Children are welcome for the entire service. For parents with little ones who become restless, there is a “Quiet Room” just outside of the sanctuary where you can still see and hear the service. )