Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: change

My Conscience is Captive

Our reading today is titled, “Cutting Away” by the poet, Patrick Cobello Hansel.

We begin on the road to Erfurt, located in the Landgravia of Thuringia in the Holy Roman Empire in the year 1505, 512 years ago.  A young man was celebrating the completion of his law degree at the University of Erfurt and was visiting his parents in Saxony.

On his way home, he was caught in a terrible lightning storm.  As the story goes, a lightning bolt struck the ground right next to the man and he was thrown to the ground.  He was stunned.

And from being stunned he regained awareness, suddenly began praying to St. Anne – the patron saint of equestrians, poverty, and teachers – among other things.  In his praying he declared, “I will become a monk!”

He would honor this promise to St. Anne fourteen days later on July 16th – making sure he had one last party with his University friends.  To the disgust of his parents, he entered the Black Monastery in Erfurt on July 17th and started on the path to become a monk. Read the rest of this entry »

Get Outside of the Box

After a busy April led into a May full of surprises, I am finally able to catch up in posting.  Thank you for your patience. -Rev. Brian

Our reading for this Sunday came to us from the poet Noel Coward, titled, “Nothing is Lost.”  The sermon also began with a retelling of a fable by Edwin Friedman, titled, “The Power of Belief.”

When have you been the man insisting he was dead when all evidence was to the contrary?  When have you thought one thing so assuredly in your life despite what those around you were saying, what the world was showing you, and what life was presenting to you no matter where you turned?

I know many of us have been there.  So sure of one thing, so sure of what our reality must be, that we have shackled our thoughts and buried the longings of our heart.  I’ve been there.  I’ve been there for the big moments of my life and I’ve been there for the smaller unnoticeable ones.  My journey to ministry is one of the prime examples.

It’s such a standard experience for us ministers, we learn to tell it over and over again.  But my own journey was primarily one of resistance.  Again and again the call came and again and again I fled.

But unlike many of my colleagues, I did not flee for a lifetime, only a small portion of one.  How about you?  What callings, what beliefs, what states of being have you either fled or clung to?  What are the ones you can think of this very moment? Read the rest of this entry »

The Sound of One Voice

Our reading from this Sunday was titled “You Reading This, Be Ready,” by the poet William Stafford. This sermon also drew heavily on “10 Ways to Build Resilience” from the American Psychological Association.

I remember my first evening as a chaplain – it feels like it was a very long time ago.  There is no way I could ever forget it.  When you study to become a Unitarian Universalist minister, you are required to serve as a chaplain in a hospital for a semester, a summer, or sometimes even a year.

It is often a mix of emotional boot camp with the normal duties of a chaplain – visiting patients, talking with families and doctors and nurses, being there in times of great joy, and more often than not, being there in moments of complete and utter sadness. Trauma, despair, confusion, death, and the breadth of human sadness with bits of bittersweet mixed in.  The particular hospital I was serving at was the very same hospital I as born in, a fact that somehow terrified me even more in the work that waited me as I began my first overnight shift on the floor with my supervisor. As we left the chaplain’s office she said, “Let’s go hang out in the emergency room.  It hasn’t been too busy today.”  Famous last words.  Before I knew it it was nearly five in the morning. Read the rest of this entry »