Wednesday, October 28, 2009

350 International Day of Climate Action at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover

We did it! This past Sunday, October 25, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover participated in the International Day of Climate Action. See for more details. After our worship service, which had an environmental/earth-centered theme, we made 350 sacred sounds (our own "Joyful Noise") together. Our event was just one of more than 5200 actions in 181 nations in every time zone. We were a part of "a people's history" in the making!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

350 Day of Climate Action at the UUCiA

Above: Just the first 13 (lucky?) noisemakers I've found around the house to bring to the UUCiA on October 25.... Three recorders, an Irish tin whistle, a samba whistle, a little gong, castanets, three shakers, a kazoo, and two harmonicas.

This Saturday, October 24, is the International Day of Climate Action (see for more details, including a list of local actions that you might join). If you live in Andover, you will hear the bell of South Church toll 350 times at 3:30 p.m. If you are in North Andover, you will hear the historic bell of First Parish toll 350 times at noon. All of this is to draw attention to our dramatically changing climate. (We want to "decrease carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere to below 350 parts per million, the stable and safe upper limit". That's the significance of 350.)

For better or for worse (depending upon who you ask), the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover does not have bells to toll. However, we will honor the occasion in our own way. On October 25, I will preach a sermon entitled “Save Your Planet, Save Your Soul”, talking about the spiritual nature of the current ecological crisis. At the end of the service, in lieu of tolling a church bell, I will invite you to join me in making our own holy noise. I will bring various drums and shakers and horns (see photo above, for a start), and I invite you to bring your own if you have them. If we have 35 people present, and everyone makes 10 sacred sounds, we will have created our own 350. But the more the merrier, truly. Let us make a joyful noise!

After the sacred sounds, during our fellowship hour, there will be a petition for your consideration. This petition will ask Senator John Kerry “to continue to fight for a fair, ambitious and binding global deal” on the climate change crisis (a petition of the Mass Council of Churches, of which the UUA is a member denomination). We will also have a laptop available for people to sign the interfaith call to action petition online. (Or, sign it RIGHT NOW by clicking this link.)

Click on this link to see our event listed on the website and to RSVP online.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wonderful events on October 18!

This coming Sunday, October 18, is a big day....

At 10:30 a.m., come to the UUCiA and hear Harvard Divinity School seminarian Erik Resly preach his sermon "Befriend Thyself". That's treat number one. (Click here to see Erik's blog.)

In the afternoon, there are two amazing talks... sadly, they are happening at the same time, so you will have to choose.

One of these is the "Climate Convocation", featuring best-selling author of The End of Nature Bill McKibben. This talk will be a "warm up" of sorts for the International Day of Climate Action. It will be on the 18th at 2:00 p.m. in the Memorial Church of Harvard University. The Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA, will deliver the interfaith prayer. Click here to download a flyer. Go to to learn more. (McKibben is pictured to the left in this post.)

The other amazing talk that afternoon is by UU minister and theologian Thandeka, who will speak at the UU Urban Ministry headquarters in Roxbury on the 18th at 2:30 p.m. This is a Jack Mendelsohn Forum Special Event. Thandeka will give an interactive presentation on Unitarian Universalism and social justice. Click here to see more details. (Thandeka is pictured to the right in this post.)

Finally, end your day back where the day started, at 6 Locke Street in Andover (back at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover). The 15th Annual Women's Spirituality Series presents "Unveiling the Mystery of Divine Birth", featuring Marguerite Rigoglioso, Ph.D, author of The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece. The presentation starts at 7:00 p.m., and admission is $15 (though no one will be turned away). (Rigoglioso is pictured to the left in this post.)

From the event flyer:

"Join us this year to expand our understanding of women's mysteries to include the ultimate female priestly power: miraculous conception. Marguerite Rigoglioso will present her groundbreaking new book The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece, exploring the "rape by gods"and supernatural conception stories from Greek history and myth in a startling new way that places virgin priestesses at the core of Western civilization.

"Her careful research makes the case that divine birth was something deliberately attempted by holy women -- an elevated form of spiritual practice considered the only means of bringing avatars and true leaders to incarnation. This serious scholarly study has tremendous implications for world religions with divine birth claims, including Christianity. It also helps reframe and reclaim the Virgin Mary as a deliberate agent in the conception of Jesus."

Sounds like a great day, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Habitat, Sukkot, and Gratitude

Above: Habitat for Humanity volunteers from the UUCiA.

This past Saturday, I participated in a Habitat for Humanity “build day” along with several members of the UUCiA (I was there for a half day; the others for the entire day). It was my very first Habitat for Humanity experience, and I was very impressed. In addition to being impressed by the skills and generosity of the volunteers (our own, and the others there that day), I continue to be impressed by the organization itself.

The site for the “build day” this past Saturday was a site that had been destroyed in a January 2008 fire. The Habitat volunteers are rebuilding it, hopefully to be finished by the end of this year. No structure is permanent, no matter how well-built...

Of course, we are in the midst of the Jewish holiday known as Sukkot. A sukkah (singular of sukkot) is a temporary structure, a kind of a tent or “booth”. During the holiday of Sukkot, our observant Jewish sisters and brothers build these temporary structures. This is to remind them of the time when the Jewish people were wandering in the desert for forty years after leaving Egypt. As a colleague recently reminded me, the fragility and impermanence of a sukkah is meant to remind us of the fragility and impermanence of our very lives.

Just as no structure stands forever, no one lives forever. But to my way of thinking, acts of generosity and loving-kindness are eternal. Acts of generosity and loving-kindness live forever in the memories of those who experienced them, and passed on that love in their own way. My Habitat for Humanity experience was inspiring.... I am grateful for the kindness of people all around me who continue to pass on the love.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why ACT Matters ... and Habitat "build day"

This (October 4) Sunday's service is "Why ACT (Andover Community Trust) Matters".

Please join us!

A link for the Andover Community Trust: click here


This Saturday, October the 3rd, the UUCiA will have its "build day" for Habitat for Humanity. The link for the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity: click here