Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: Christianity

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Called to Respond

There is this great story that come to us out of colonial North America, concerning a man by the name of Sir Edmund Andros born in 1674 – an English nobleman from London, and the 4th governor of colonial New York.

He was born with a silver spoon and believed wholeheartedly in the crown, the empire, and in the church.  Upon becoming governor of New York – he earned himself many enemies – because he was a nice guy.  He was called a Dutch sympathizer – one of the worst insults to be hurled during the infancy of British colonialism in North America.  The crown recalled him to England, examined him, and found no wrong doing on his part.

He came back to North America and was promoted to the Governor of the Dominion of New England, the only such person to hold that title.  With his new promotion in hand and his resolve to no longer be such a nice guy, he approached the Puritan churches throughout the colonies and asked them, “Would it be possible for the Church of England to hold services in your meetinghouses?” Read the rest of this entry »

Finding One Moment

[With apologies for the several updates — I hadn’t published the previous three sermons by accident.]

Our reading today comes to us from Christine Organ, from her essay titled. “Taking a Modern-Day Sabbath.”

By unplugging for one day each week, my modern-day, personal Sabbath seeks to balance the utility of technology with a little patience and remind myself that life unfolds on a timetable that is not always within my control. By removing the distractions one day each week, I am slowly learning to become comfortable with my own discomfort in order to gain a certain depth of self-awareness and figure out how to work through, not around, problems.

With a mantra of “turning off to tune in,” the modern Sabbath almost feels like capturing time in a bottle. Time is a funny thing, you know. On some days, it seems to slog along, and then, in the blink of an eye, a month or a year or a decade has passed and we are reeling from the loss of our Earthly time. By separating one day from the frenzied blur of the remaining six, by disconnecting from the frenetic pace of technology to reconnect with the sacredly simple, the modern-day Sabbath allows us to slow time and savor its goodness. Because nestled into that little nugget of slowed time is a heady calm and a mild exhilaration in the stillness and the quiet and the waiting.

Just over a month ago, I was in Boston for a minister’s seminar. It was good to be in that city again, to be surrounded by a world where primordial America is blended with the modern rush and bustle of commerce.

While the seminar itself was described as a retreat, it was one of the more exhausting weeks of my life in the past months. Unitarian Universalists have this terrible habit of having retreats that are all about work, checking off lists, and squeezing every ounce of opportunity out of a moment. Maybe it’s not just Unitarians, but people and institutions in general these days. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Eve: Just for a Moment

Every year I find myself in the same situation. The year creeps along and the days turn colder and colder (or in our case, warmer and warmer) and suddenly you hear it. Sometimes sooner than you would ever want to. You might hear it on the radio, on television, or, as most of us have, at a store.

You’ll see it pop up in decorations and advertisements, it will seek you out. Christmas, it would seem, can’t wait to be here. And so it comes closer and faster every year. We are instantly swept up, whether we like it or not, in our checklists or the mayhem of shopping during this ever growing season. People who don’t celebrate Christmas can’t help but be confronted with the baby in a manger, as well as nearly getting trampled while trying to get a bargain.

It wasn’t always like that, though. Or perhaps it was and I just don’t remember. What I do remember is being a child and waiting patiently, counting down the days, and getting excited when the school Christmas party came along. It meant one thing, the countdown was almost over. Christmas was finally here!

And there was an exuberance about the whole thing. A rush of excitement instead of a rush for things. Sure, the presents and things were still a part of the equation, but the real rush of the holiday for me was seeing the half eaten plate of cookies in the morning and the empty glass of milk, seeing presents under the tree, and not having to leave my pajamas for most, if not all, of the day. Read the rest of this entry »