Sermons & Other Thoughts from Rev. Brian Chenowith

Tag: testimony

Becoming a Beacon

I’ve never shared with you all the story of the first time I was in a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I think it’s fair if I’m asking you to remember those wonderful, peculiar, sometimes frightening, often settling and unsettling moments for yourselves these past few weeks.

I’ve also been asking you to consider what your most loving hope is for this, your church home – the hopes that come to us in the quiet moments, the singing moments, the reflecting, praying, hoping moments when we gather together. We each have our unique stories – and no matter how long you’ve been a Unitarian Universalist, there is something that brought you here this morning.

Now, I’ve been a Unitarian Universalist for more years than not, I speak the language, my year revolves around the customs and flow of church, and I can’t imagine my life without the fulness of this tradition that is our historic Unitarian Universalist faith.

And I remember the first time I sat in a Unitarian Universalist congregation so clearly, I can still hear the piano playing, the minister speaking, the smell of the wood in the sanctuary, the creak of the chairs. It was upon being invited by my best friend to join him and his family for a Sunday service at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, Illinois. Read the rest of this entry »

Let This Be Our Testimony

Our reading today comes to us from a traditional Inuit wisdom teaching, translated by Edward Field, titled “Magic Words.”

In the very earliest time,
when both people and animals lived on earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal
could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen—
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That’s the way it was.

My life before ministry was working in a library. It was a work that I enjoyed. It had a balance of order and mess, depth and lightheartedness — and it attracted many different types of people, both patrons of the library and employees. It was, looking back, like its own type of ministry.

The sermons were in the books, the congregation had plenty of visitors, people pledged money by way of taxes and fines — except there really was no choice in that one, and the clergy were the dispensers of books, the librarians and clerks. I loved the work. Perhaps one day long from now I will retire to it.

I worked with a rather diverse set of people — but what was interesting to me is that many of them were Unitarians. They went to the church I grew up in, they were mostly quiet about it, but it was wonderful to learn of their existence throughout the years. Every now and then, though, we would get someone on the staff that was of a fundamentalist opinion.
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