A Different Kind of Study Leave

This week, I’m on a different kind of study leave. I have literally gone back to school, entering the Doctor of Ministry program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. A Doctor of Ministry degree program is categorized as a professional degree, rather than an academic degree. It is a form of...

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Are You a Subversive?

Last Sunday, I told the origin story of Renaissance Festivals in the United States. The first one, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in California, came partially as a response to the Red Scare that blacklisted many people in the motion picture industry. Phyllis Patterson, a public school teacher, decided that her...

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A Tale of Two Skin Cancers

I don’t usually talk about your physical health, other than to urge everyone to stay hydrated. I focus my ministerial energies on mental, emotional, and spiritual health. But today, I am going to. (Content warning: heartbreak ahead. But this topic is too important.) My dad, in his later years, had...

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Awe, Wonder, and Unity

Did you get to see the eclipse? I gathered with others on the Live Oak labyrinth. We were hopeful, but realistic. The cloud cover looked pretty dense. But our hope was rewarded. The clouds opened up several times while the eclipse was happening, and when it went to totality, they...

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“Need a Boost”

As many of you know, my mother has been in the hospital recently. I was with her one day and she needed help repositioning herself to be more comfortable. Her nurse whipped out her communicator and said simply, “I need a boost.” Another nurse came in. They fashioned an extra...

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Rituals of Community

This Sunday, we’ll be doing two of the rituals of community. The first is our membership ceremony. This we do fairly regularly, as a way to welcome in new members, to share our enthusiasm that these members are now committed parts of our community, and to ritualize the change that...

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Are you our delegate?

This year, the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist called General Assembly is entirely online, June 20-23. You can attend workshops, participate in worship services, and watch this year’s Ware Lecturer,  Julia Watts Belser. Most importantly, you can take part in the business of the General Assembly. As a democratic organization,...

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Baby/Child Dedication – Easter Sunday

Most religions have some type of ceremony to mark the arrival of a baby or child and express the commitment a community gives to the child and their parents – baptism, Bris, etc. For Unitarian Universalists, we have a dedication ceremony, usually done during a regular worship service. This ceremony...

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Tapping Out of “Fake Fights”

In 2016, my colleague, the Reverend Nancy McDonald Ladd, delivered a sermon at that year’s UU General Assembly, where she explained that she was tapping out (what wrestlers do when they are having a fake fight but it’s getting too close to real injury) of fake fights. Let me immediately...

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Time to Share Our Stories

I was in Houston after Hurricane Katrina, when over 200,000 evacuees from Louisiana poured into the city, many of them sheltering in the Astrodome. They were traumatized from all that they had experienced and seen. Counselors, clergy, and other volunteers were coached that what was most needed was for the...

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