Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

With All Earnestness

On the Road to Geneva

I believe I’ve figured out the software and in-n-outs of Youtube, so the turnaround should be a bit quicker now.  Texts to sermons are still available by request or when/if the recording doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

Children of the Same God

Catching up on some sermon postings.  Sadly, the video for this one didn’t fully record, but it’s all part of learning how to use the new camera!

From the Book of Genesis:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

And so ends the foundational reading of four major world religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai, and also several smaller faith traditions, Samaritanism, the Druze, and Rastafarianism.

We don’t often hear these words spoken from a Unitarian Universalist pulpit, even though in this season of the High Holy Days, several Unitarian Universalist communities are pausing and joining with their Jewish siblings in celebrating their new year and the season of forgiveness.

We draw from the well of the High Holy Days quite often. And so, too, when Ramadan rolls around year after year, there is often a mention. We lift up the devotion and sacrifice of Islam. We like to look at Islam and say of ourselves, submit, but don’t lose yourself.

And Christianity goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Christmas and Easter roll around year after year and we toil with the theme of hope: hope in darkness, hope in death. Throw in our Protestant heritage for good measure – our undeniable connection with American Puritanism, and you start to understand why some folks argue that we are post-Christian, Christian-lite, not Christian, and all of the above.

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Becoming a Beacon

Trying something different with this week’s sermon post — it was recorded!  Should there be any problems with the video itself (pixelating, stuttering audio, lost segments), please let me know.

Something Surprising, Something Beautiful

Our reading for this morning was titled The Grout by Marcus Hartlief.

There is a great story about a church that was falling apart.  It comes to us from the Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette – a wonderful name for a minister.  And the story originates when she was serving First Church in Somerville, Massachusetts, a United Church of Christ congregation.  She begins the story very simply.

The church was a mess.  Membership was bleeding, the grounds, the very little bit of grounds they have mind you – were unkempt, the church was crammed with junk in every nook and cranny, no one took care of the church other than an overworked custodian, and it was dark, damp, in need of repairs, and not a place you’d want to be on Sunday morning.

No one put away the dishes in the kitchen – they expected the holy spirit to do it for them, tables were never put away, floors were never swept, the list went on and on.  Outside of this unending list of things that didn’t happen, one thing was clear, the people of First Church in Somerville either didn’t have pride in their church or they failed to remember that they were the church and, as a result, that it was theirs to take care of. Read the rest of this entry »

Second Annual Question Box Sunday

For our second annual Question Box Sunday, we had a plethora of amazing questions.  Most of them were DIFFERENT than last year!  There were some strong themes amongst the questions this year, so, I’m going to do something a little different with the answers.  One or two of the “blocs” of the questions will become a sermon or series of sermons sometime this church year.  I will be sure to note that the inspiration for the sermon(s) was a Question Box Sunday question.  There are also a few questions I’m going to answer outright as they feel timely.  The rest of these questions will be answered sometime throughout this church year – I will endeavor to answer blocs of them and, as I did this year, send a compiled list of answers to you all before next year’s Question Box Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

Growing in Community

Our reading for this morning came from the book Serving with Grace by the Rev. Erik Wikstrom.

There was a moment during seminary when I almost fled from the ministry.  I’ll add, this was but one moment out of several where I wanted to pack it up and call it a day – to say that ministry was not for me and that I had made a mistake, the Universe was wrong, and that I’d be better suited remaining in the world of quiet librarianship, surrounded by books, the awkward public and their peculiar reference questions, and the daily pulse of nine to five.

I’m sure everyone, while training for their particular field, have had moments of wanting to flee.  Ministry is full of them.  But this one was specific to me, I imagine. Read the rest of this entry »

Question Box Questions Answered!

Back in August 2016 we held a Question Box Sunday here at the UU Church of Lexington.  Originally, I was going to answer 2-3 a week, but it feels more appropriate to answer them all at once.  I organized all of the questions into nine sections based on content/theme.  Some of these are rather easy and brief, but others will require additional thought.  As always, the bulk of these answers come from my own experience and opinions.  You are encouraged to explore your own beliefs with many of them.

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Into the Sacred Depths

Our reading this Sunday came to us from the poet Billy Collins, titled, “As If To Demonstrate An Eclipse.”

As a child, I was always encouraged to look upward.  For hours, I would look.  My mother would just look with me.  Not much was said in these moments beyond, “Wow” or “What are their names?”

I’d invent names for them when I didn’t know.  Against the dark of night, I’d marvel at Arcturus, Vega, Altair, and Antares.  Names with stories attached to them.

Names of stars that are hundreds of light years away, stars that could have gone supernova in the middle ages but the light had not yet reached us, stars that could have planets with fellow watchers looking up and marveling at our own star, stars I would never see, could never see, we will never see beyond looking up on a clear summer night.

Those points of pale light piercing through the dark of night to my eyes – just one human amongst billions – would stay with me for years and years and up until this moment, too.  The passion would persist. Read the rest of this entry »

Easter People in A Good Friday World

Our reading for this Sunday came to us from the poet Jan Richardson, titled, “The Art of Enduring, for Holy Saturday.”  The opening story of this sermon was adapted from Rev. Michael McGee.

I’ve been told that once upon a time a group of friends of various religious denominations were seated in fellowship discussing the true meaning of Easter one Sunday.  Someone chimed in: “I believe we place too much emphasis on chocolate bunnies, colored rabbits and Easter eggs instead of the spiritual aspects, which is the real meaning of Easter. That’s what I believe,” said the Baptist.

“Me too,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.

“I believe the real meaning of Easter is that Christ died on the Cross for our sins,” said the Methodist. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Lutheran. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent.
“I believe the real meaning of Easter is the triumph of Jesus over the Grave,” said the Lutheran. “Me too,” said the Catholic. “Me too,” said the Nazarene. “Me too,” said the Baptist. “Me too,” said the Methodist. –And the Unitarian Universalist was silent. Read the rest of this entry »