You can view Beacon’s recorded services at our YouTube Channel:  “Beacon UUC”

 

The Church of Not Being Horrible

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching with Worship Associate Pia Driessen-Knittle and recorded musical selections.

In the words of liberal Christian minister, John Pavlovitz: “The Church of Not Being Horrible will gather every week to celebrate the inherent goodness of people. We’ll share stories of the ways we succeeded in being less than horrible to our families, coworkers, and strangers, and we’ll challenge ourselves to be even less horrible in the coming week. We’ll do this faithfully, repeatedly, and passionately, and hopefully we’ll begin to watch the world around us gradually become less angry, less bitter, less painful—less horrible.”  This morning, in a follow-up to the August 8th service on Kindness, we’ll explore how Beacon UU can continue to be “the church of not being horrible” and open further to a broad and vibrant understanding of ministers, ministry, and congregational life. 

The Church of Not Being Horrible (pdf)

 

Moved, No Forwarding Address: Where Do Old Friends Go?

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching with Worship Associate Char Tarashanti, who will share a personal reflection on the topic. Recorded music selections and videos.

Before social media, google searches, LinkedIn, and cell phones, we kept track of friends in paper address books, scratching out the old information and scribbling in the new. And when these friends moved, it could mean the end of that connection. There it would be, stamped in the envelope – “Moved, No Forwarding Address.” How do new and old friends, Facebook and face-to-face friends factor into our lives now? How and why has friendship eclipsed kinship for many people and how might we make lasting commitments to our friends as we connect again more fully after COVID?

Moved, No Forwarding Address (pdf)

 

A Curious Bunch! The Answer Is To Question

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching with Worship Associate Pia Driessen-Knittle. Recorded music selections and videos.

One of the most popular UU bumper stickers states “The answer is to question.” We are an inherently curious bunch. For decades, inquisitive researchers have been trying to figure out the science of our human “urge to know,” and to decipher the way in which questioning happens. They’ve discovered that what is unique about human beings is that at the heart of our DNA lies the necessity of freedom, the potential to become something not yet defined. This morning, we’ll explore the rewards and challenges in how we UUs embrace free inquiry over catechism. Rev. Robin will also answer some of your “burning questions” from the pulpit (materials will be provided, think of a burning question in advance, as possible). 

A Curious Bunch! The Answer Is To Question (pdf)

 

Wishing Boats

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Worship Associate Andy Hogg.

As we move out of the heaviness of the last 16 months, do we still know how to engage in “wish-craft?” What is the difference between wishes and hopes and how might we recharge the rainbow connection of wishes, whimsey and summer’s simple firefly and shooting star magic? 

Wishing Boats (pdf)

 

Pride Sunday: The Rainbow Fish Keeps Their Scales

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, with Alexei Besser-Gilbert and inspiring music from the Virtual UU Arizona Choir and other recorded selections.

In the classic story of The Rainbow Fish, the shimmering swimmer makes friends by sacrificing their coveted scales to be accepted by their underwater peers. Some stories just need a rewrite, and Topher Payne gives us the ideal version for PRIDE, in which the Rainbow Fish keeps what makes them special and unique, rather than bending to the pressure to become ordinary and diminishing themself for the comfort of others. As the Fabulous Catfish tells us: “There is room enough in the sea for each of us to be amazing in our own way.”

Watch the Youtube recording

The Rainbow Fish Keeps Their Scales (pdf)

 

Broken Hallelujah: The Theology of Leonard Cohen

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching, in collaboration with Susannah Martin, Music Director at the Sedona UU Fellowship and members of that congregation.

He has been called a philosopher, a dark poet and a troubadour of truth for generations. Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016 at age 82, expressed a progressive theology with both Jewish and Christian dimensions in his sharply perceptive and heartfelt songs and poems about religion, politics, isolation, relationships, and community. In this service of music, spoken word pieces, silence, and reflection, we’ll explore the brokenness and the hope in Cohen’s enduring Hallelujahs.

Watch the Youtube recording

 

In All Thy Getting, Get Understanding

Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd, preaching, with Music Director Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, the UU GA Virtual Choir, and recording selections. Hosted by Rev. Robin, and excerpted from the UUA General Assembly Sunday Worship, 2016.

What do we enter into congregational life hoping to get? So many things, perhaps – but underneath the consumer’s idea of acquisition is the pull to a deeper encounter with the experience, hope, heartbreak and yearning of others in community. Can we be a place of deep encounter where borders are crossed and faiths connect, where real stories and real struggle intersect and understanding arises anew?

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Learning To Be Rescuers 

 Sandra Lubarsky, Guest Speaker. Hosted by Rev. Robin, Music from Stephanie Galloway and recorded selections.

Stories of moral agency exercised in turbulent times can help us become the kinds of people we want to be and do the good work we want to do in a world that is fast approaching ecological chaos. As surely as we need to know about the material aspects of the state of the world, we need to cultivate what the writer Terry Tempest Williams calls “an active heart.” Though victims, perpetrators, and bystanders are the standard roles assumed by people caught up in terrible world events, they do not exhaust the possibilities. Some people take on the role of rescuer. We can learn to be them.

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Celebrating Life, Informed by Death

Mark James, preaching. Hosted by Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, with music from Stephanie Galloway and recorded selections.

As fellow travelers on this life journey, we are each charged with the challenge of preparing for our certain death. In gently holding that awareness, we may find a clearer appreciation for, and expression of, our living. This presentation explores how we might meet this event with intention and creativity.

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Inside The Red Tent: Wisdom Between Mothers and Daughters

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Worship Associate Char Tarashanti.  Music from Stephanie Galloway  and recorded selections.

Since the dawn of humankind, mothers and daughters have shared wisdom, tensions, and a special bond of blood and tradition.  In this sermon for Mother’s Day,  Rev. Robin and Worship Associate Char Tarashanti  will explore, with humor and reverence, the deeply spiritual and complex relationship that exists between mothers (of all shapes and shadings, of womb and of heart) and their daughters.

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Inequality For All: The Immorality of The Wealth Gap In America

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Worship Associate Nancy Paxton. Music from Roomie Wood, Stephanie Galloway, and recorded selections. 

Why should we care about other people’s lack if we have plenty? In a society where the 1% and the 99% have become increasingly polarized and a callousness has set into our culture, we are urgently called (now more than ever) to co-create “fusion coalitions” to combat inequality of all types. The Rev. William Barber and his Poor People’s Campaign provides us with an effective model of “intersectionality” across race, gender identity, class, and faith divisions. As religious progressives, how might we join this moral revolution and intersect with others who are passionate about economic justice?

Inequality For All: The Immorality of The Wealth Gap In America (pdf)

Watch the Youtube recording

 

Inhabiting A Peaceful Kingdom: Our Relationship With Our Dinner Plate

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Worship Associate Mark James (offering a personal reflection). Music from Roomie Wood and Stephanie Galloway.

Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer has famously remarked that, “Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.” When it comes to our relationship with animals, how do we balance our seventh principle about interconnectedness with social norms that typically uphold the Biblical notion that humans hold dominion over all other creatures? Can we join the Farm Sanctuary movement and still eat chicken? Should we support the work of the UU First Principle project to change the wording of that principle to “affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all beings” (not just persons)? We’ll explore ways to expand our understanding of being in compassionate relationship with animals, especially those on our dinner plate. As a non-vegan herself, Rev. Robin will reflect on the challenges of this endeavor.

Inhabiting A Peaceful Kingdom: Our Relationship With Our Dinner Plate (pdf)

Watch the Youtube Recording

 

The Answer is “Everything!”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate Andy Hogg, and music from Roomie Wood, Stephanie Galloway, Kim Angelo and Gabe Hernandez. 

How do we move from scarcity thinking to abundance thinking when our lives feel stuck, we are ill or under duress, when we’ve been living a pandemic reality for 13 months, or the future looks bleak? In this sermon during the blossoming of Spring, we’ll explore with us the spiritual, physical and emotional benefits of answering “Everything” to the question: “What can I look forward to?” 

The Answer is “Everything!” (pdf)

Watch the Youtube Recording

 

“Barefoot Believers: On Foot With Moses and Jesus”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching, with Worship Associate Kim Angelo.

Did you know that Orthodox Jews like Moses are instructed to never go without shoes because it might lead them astray? Jesus, on the other hand, walked his lonesome valley mostly barefoot and no one seemed all that bothered. As religious freethinkers, we UUs are not keen on the idea of limiting our options. Essentially, we like the freedom within form that defines our way of being religious; for instance, whether to wear shoes or not (literally and metaphorically). Even so, we need to get beyond being tenderfoots religiously through a process of “converting to our own paths” as UUs. With Passover and Easter co-mingled, we’ll look at the steps involved in this unorthodox “conversion,” and along the way, consider the power of truly feeling “holy ground” beneath our feet as “barefoot believers.” Music from Roomie Wood, Stephanie Galloway and virtual choirs. 

Barefoot Believers: On Foot With Moses and Jesus (pdf)

Watch the Youtube recording

 

“Reading Camus in the Time of COVID”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching, with Worship Associate Pia Dreissen-Knittle.  Music from Roomie Wood, Stephanie Galloway, Gabriel Hernandez, and recorded selections.

In his classic, The Plague, written in 1947, Albert Camus laments: “How hard it must be to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, cut off from what one hopes for.” As we mark one year since we entered the COVID experience, we’ll explore what our pandemic tales teach us, what we’ve learned from being unexpectedly “alone, together,” and what we might now hope for and how our priorities may shift, as we enter a new phase of healing and re-entry. Our service will include a sermon, poems and songs of love grief and comfort.  

Reading Camus in the time of Covid (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Love Me Like A Rock: A Sermon Towards Devotion”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate Kim Angelo. Music By Roomie Wood and Stephanie Galloway

Wirth Valentine’s Day upon us (heart-shaped candy boxes and all) we’ll explore what it might mean to be “devoted” to those we currently love and to those we might love in the future, especially in our “maybe-I-do” world.  Is “unconditional” love really possible between humans? And when it comes to those we have loved in the past, how might we strive (when possible) to remember the mile, savor it well, and allow this old love to inform us in most intimate connections. 

Love Me Like A Rock (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Planting Seeds in the Hard Ground: A Sermon Towards Hope” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate Andy Hogg.  Music By Roomie Wood and Stephanie Galloway

The writer Zora Neale Hurston wrote: “Oh hope, you fall on soft ground.” because she had heard seeds saying that to each other as they passed. How many of us wait for “soft” ground or just the right conditions before we plant our faithful seeds? As we close in on the one-year anniversary of COVID descending on us, we’ll explore the crucial role of Springtime optimism as we plant seeds of hope in the hard ground of our weary, wintery, (but still wonderful!) world.
 
 

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“Nevertheless, She Persisted (Esther and Kamala speak)” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate Nancy Paxton. Music By Roomie Wood and Stephanie Galloway

In the Purim story from Jewish tradition, Queen Esther risks her life to save her people. She does this by harnessing her courage and breaking her silence to speak a dangerous truth about her own identity. In this sermon following the inauguration of our new VP, Kamala Harris, we’ll connect Esther’s story to contemporary examples of confronting power abuses, including the Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and “I’m Speaking” movements. How might this “Bad Girl of the Bible,” among others, help us find our voices across racial and gender identities?
 
 

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Whooshing Up: Can America Be Moral?” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching With Worship Associate Mark James. Music By Roomie Wood and Stephanie Galloway

In his book, Moral Freedom: The Search for Virtue In A World of Choice, published back in 2001, social critic Alan Wolfe asks: “What is the difference between right and wrong? What does it mean to lead a good life? How binding is the marriage vow? What are your obligations to an employer? To your friends? To yourself? Is it always immoral to tell a lie? Alan Wolfe asked Americans around the country such questions in his intriguing exploration of our collective character, testing prevailing notions of the culture war. Twenty years later, we’re facing an even broader divide regarding notions of “moral freedom” and this murkiness threatens the stability of our nation. In this sermon, in the wake of riots in Washington DC and the inauguration of President Joe Biden, we’ll check the vital signs of our society’s ability to “whoosh up” to access our best selves in moments of decision and action (and we’ll discover how to activate this process, too).
 
 

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“Shove Over!: A Sermon Towards Imperfection” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching With Worship Associate Linda Ochi. Music By Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick.

New Year’s Resolution time! Again? How has the experience of 2020 changed our expectation of who we need to be in order to be “okay?” In this service, we’ll explore what it might mean to view our imperfections and “areas of improvement” with compassion, honesty, and humor, as we embrace the ever-evolving process of becoming fully a “Self.” Together, we’ll exalt (and even get a chuckle or two) from the wholly human, uninvited, and messy side of our blessedly imperfect lives.
 
 

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“Choose Something Like A Star:A Sermon Towards Integrity” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching. Music By Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick.

 In this sermon, poised between Christmas and Epiphany, we’ll follow the journey of the Magi in exploring what it means to choose the way of integrity, hope and personal accountability in an increasingly compromised world. As Robert Frost put it in his poem, “So when at times the mob is swayed /To carry praise or blame too far/We may choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid.
 
 

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“Blessings Come” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching. Music By Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick.

Comforting carols, our Beacon Choir and musical guests raising their glorious voices, readings to inspire, and a homily form Rev. Robin called “Blessings, Come.” How has 2020 shifted our understanding of the blessings in our lives, large and small, and how might we carry that awareness and our gratitude into 2021?” We’ll pause during the watch party to light candles for the blessings in our lives and sing Silent Night, in community.
 
 

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“The 23rd PsaIm: I Shall Not Want” 

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Worship Associate Pia Driessen-Knittle. Music By Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick.

In this sermon, during the Jewish festival of Chanukah, we’ll explore the universal appeal of the 23rd Psalm and the ways in which it serves as a portable shrine and touchstone of comfort for people of all beliefs, including UUs.
 
 

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“Can We Make Merry in a Suffering Season? How Laughter Helps Us Endure”

                                             

   Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker Preaching with Worship Associate Char Tarashanti.   Music by Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick.

December 6th, 2020: Some enlightened doctors and therapists have a prescription for helping us get through this demoralizing pandemic and a less than “ho-ho-ho” holiday season: Try a little laughter (a trait unique to humans). Surely, some things are just not funny. Yet, we can still find outlets to unleash the physical and psychological benefits of a good chuckle. Is it ok to crack a joke these days? Bring your sense of humor and find out.

Can We Make Merry in a Suffering Season? How Laughter Helps Us Endure (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Spirit of Life, Come Unto Us”

                                                                                     

            Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker Preaching, with Worship Associate Linda Ochi.  Music by Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick. 

November 8th, 2020: It is safe to say that Hymn #123, Spirit of Life, is as close to a UU “theme song” as we have in our tradition.  The hymn resonates. UUs seem to “get” this song and the inner conversation it invites with whatever we each identify as the Spirit that moves us, sings within us, roots us, sets us free. In this post-election reflection, we’ll discover the inspiration behind Carolyn McDade’s “simple prayer of a hymn,” and how this broader knowledge infuses Spirit of Life with even greater power and depth as we strive to revive the dispirited soul of our Nation.

Spirit of Life, Come Unto Us (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Go Set a Watchman: On Radical Honesty”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker Preaching, with Worship Associate Char Tarashanti. 
Music by Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick. 

November 1st, 2020: The publication of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird prequel, Go Set A Watchman, unleashed a torrent of befuddlement about the recasting of Atticus Finch from paragon of white virtue to an emblem of deep south racism. Mary Louise goes home as an adult and sees a different shade of Atticus than she had seen through the adoring young eyes of Scout. In this sermon the Sunday before Election Day, we’ll explore “radical honesty” and the disturbing, empowering, and liberating ways our lives, our world, and the people in it, become more real when we are willing to “declare what we see” through unblinking adult eyes. In this age of truthiness and alternative facts, how do we reconcile the beautiful with the ugly, the vile with the just, the fondness we have for friends and family when it is sullied by expressions of prejudice? And what will we do with the truths we see?

Go Set a Watchman: On Radical Honesty (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Passages from India”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate, Mark James.
Music from Rebecca Prizznick, and traditional Kirtan chanting from India.

October 18, 2020: “Memories, Morals, and Divali Lamps “The famed poet, Rabindranath Tagore reminds us that “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Why do we travel and how do we grow from these journeys? In the sermon of reflections of her time in community in Jabalpur India in October 2018, Rev. Robin will share a journey of heart, spirit, and service. Oil lamps, surprises, joys, sorrows, and blessings await.

 

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“We’ve Know Rivers: On the Constancy of Change”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching, with Worship Associate Pia Driessen-Knittle.
Music from Roomie Wood, Rebecca Prizznick,
the Bill Staines classic “River”  from the Mystic Chorale,
and the Native American Chippewa chant by Sun Bear, “The River is Flowing.” 

October 11, 2020: A sage once remarked that “you can never step into the same river twice,” meaning that life, like a river, is ever-changing and forever flowing downstream from its Source. There have been changes that have carried us around river bends to uncharted tributaries, some currents have mostly floated us safely along, while others have swamped the very craft we had trusted to be buoyant and sturdy. The truth is some of us are better at challenge and change than others, more comfortable with the unpredictable ways of the river. There are those amongst us who might even embrace change and look forward to it with relish!  In this service, we’ll launch our boat down the rushing river, lean into some rocks, and find strategies to let go into the flow. 

 

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“A Tale of Two Tattoos: A Sermon Towards Forgiveness For the Days of Awe”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker with Worship Associate Nancy Paxton, and music from Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick. 

September 20, 2020:The Days of Awe, those ten days between Rosh Hashanah  (the Jewish New Year on Sept. 19) and Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), offer each of us (Jewish or not) an opportunity  for  “teshuva,” or turning. But, turning does not come so easily. It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking old habits. It means admitting that we have been wrong, and this can be challenging. It may mean losing face. It means starting all over again. And this can be painful. It means saying I am sorry and I forgive you. In a sermon wrapped around a poignant tale of redemption, we’ll explore the terrain of confession and forgiveness as The Book of Life opens again. 

“A Day in the Spiritual Life”

A Reader’s Theater Service with Rev. Robin and the Worship Associates. 
Music from Roomie Wood and Rebecca Prizznick. 

September 13, 2020: Brushing your teeth, sweeping the kitchen floor, a bedtime story, swimming, bringing in the mail, driving the car, meeting on Zoom (!) – when done mindfully, each of our “run-of-the-mill” daily activities can be small spiritual practices. In this Reader’s Theater presentation , we’ll share short readings by well-known authors, haiku, meditation and music to take us through A Day In the Spiritual Life.

 

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Happyish: The Upside of Negative Emotions”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker preaching with Pia Driessen-Knittle as Worship Associate

August 16, 2020: At a time when we are under extraordinary duress, “putting on a happy face” seems almost suspicious, and yet, social media keeps churning out perky family BBQ snapshots and “think positive” pep talks. Subscribing to the “positive psychology” gospel these days requires us to reject our so-called “negative emotions” when they might naturally arise. In fact, we force faux happiness so much in our culture that it breeds unhappiness and curated contentment. In this sermon, we’ll explore the upside of the shadow side and how these darker emotions can help us navigate over life’s sometimes bumpy terrain.

Happyish: The Upside of Negative Emotions (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“I’m Nobody: Who Are You?”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

August 9, 2020: Famed Unitarian minister Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked “A great man is always willing to be little.” In this sermon, we’ll explore the topic of “humility.” Rev. Robin will ask: What does it mean, or might it mean to be a “somebody” and a “nobody” in the age of YouTube channels, fake news, reality TV, and salacious political scandals? How do we balance healthy self-esteem with mature humbleness? We’ll also consider: Did Jesus or the prophets promote their own “specialness” (or is that reliigous PR?) Do the “meek inherit the earth” in 2020, or does Kanye?

 

I’m Nobody: Who Are You? (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 

“Listening To Your Heart”

Andy Hogg

July 19, 2020: In these challenging times, it is especially important to listen to your heart. Dr. Andy Hogg will provide some practical information on how to listen to, and value, emotions. Our emotions tell us the meaning of the events of our lives. Our emotions can give us personal and spiritual guidance. Listening to your heart tells you what is true for you. The service also includes a telling of the classic story of The Little Prince and the fox. 

 

Listening To Your Heart (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


 

“Your Loyalties Are Your Life”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

July 12, 2020: “We have to recognize that there can not be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.” – Cornel West. As the pandemic rages and a wedge is plunged deeper into our cultural, religious and political divides, to whom or to what are you loyal? Family? Friends? A cause? Beacon UU? Does conscience trump loyalty? Does blood trump conscience? Or, in the end, should we strive to be loyal to loyalty itself, “a willing, practical and thoroughgoing devotion?”

Your Loyalties Are Your Life (pdf)

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“An Atheist for President?”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

July 5, 2020: When Thomas Jefferson debated his landmark Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786, could he have foreseen the troubling state of rampant official “Godliness” in our current political system?  On this 4th of July weekend, 5 months shy of the next Presidential election, we’ll explore how the President’s religious behavior has taken on new and surreal meaning in a White House rife with endorsed evangelical zeal. Rev. Robin will reflect on the progress of secular politics in a society where the “Godless” are often still demonized as candidates without a prayer. And yet, in an age when more and more people are unaffiliated or claim to be “spiritual but not religious,” we’ll ponder whether an atheist (or humanist) President may not be a pipe dream.

An Atheist for President? (pdf)

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“The Art of Meaning”

Rev. Kimberley Debus and Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

June 21, 2020: Art has power to move us and change our lives. But what is it about the arts? We’ll examine the ways viewing, performing, and making art helps us make sense of our lives, re-center our spirits, and energize our call to side with love.

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“Learning to Fly, Learning to Fall: On Fear and Courage”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

June 14, 2020: How does a world locked down and at risk, cope with fear, embrace uncertainty, and grow wings of hope and courage? As one psychologist noted:  “A nation that is terrified of uncertainty is in big trouble. We can’t be terrified.”  Some say we should “keep busy,” but I tend to agree with Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, who counsels us to become intimate with our fears, rather than endeavor to pound them into some sort of submission. “This intimacy and this courage,” Pema tells us, “serve us well when things fall apart and we let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” In this sermon, we’ll explore the notion that fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth and that falling into our fear is where we find the flexible and sturdy wings that enable us to fly. 

 Learning to Fly, Learning to Fall: On Fear and Courage (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording

 


 

“We Will Make Them Feel Us: On Allyship to People of Color”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

June 7, 2020: The COVID-19 virus, the killing of George Floyd, dog whistle politics, deadly racism and tribalism, a nation in despair. What does it mean to be an “ally” to people of color in an America enflamed by fear, fury and division? We will listen humbly to their voices and reckon with the honest replies we hear within our own hearts and minds.

We Will Make Them Feel Us: On Allyship to People of Color (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


 

“Solitude and Grief in the Time of COVID”

 Worship Associate Mark James

May 31, 2020:  The challenges inherent in living through this time of Covid-19 demand sufficient time for solitude; time without human obligation. Wendell Berry declares this is best found in wild places. But refuge can also be found in quieting of the mind, in meditation. In these quiet spaces inner voices become audible. There, both joy and grief may reveal themselves and inform our compassion. Let’s visit them, both together and in solitude.

Watch the YouTube recording


 

“The Rumi Prescription and the Sacred Heart of Islam”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

May 17, 2020: In recognition of Ramadan, the holy period of ritual fasting for Muslims between April 23 and May 23, we will clarify the essence of Islam, dispel damning myths, and explore the mystical core of this often misunderstood religion. The service includes poetic interludes by beloved Sufi poets, Rumi and Hafiz, whose words remain wise, ageless, and healing resources for this manic, modern, and currently besieged world.

The Rumi Prescription and the Sacred Heart of Islam (pdf)

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“Stubborn Flowers with the Wisdom to Survive”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

May 10, 2020: We have been conditioned, dare I say, brainwashed, to appreciate and cultivate only the well-bred members of the botanical family — the fine roses, the graceful lilies, the amusing black-eyed Susans, the elegant peonies. Weeds such as the kudzu, the clover, the ubiquitous dandelion…well, as Hugh Johnson sneers in his book, The Principles of Gardening, they are “plants in the wrong place.”  In a homily for Flower Communion Sunday, we’ll consider the metaphor here for our spiritual lives. Are weeds the sages in our lives (pun intended), these stubborn, sturdy flowers with the wisdom to survive (especially now)?  How might we accept (and even be grateful for!) the quirky beauty of the scraggly work-a-day weeds which dot our personal landscapes and seem indestructible at times?

Stubborn Flowers with the Wisdom to Survive (pdf)

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“Truly, Madly, Deeply: Why Do We Work?

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

May 3, 2020: Whether it’s for a paycheck, to pursue a passion, or to fulfill one’s highest purpose, work consumes enormous swathes of our time, energy, and focus. It can make us feel alive, put food in our bellies, and it can wear us down to a nub. In this May Day sermon honoring our labors, from gritty, sweat-inducing toil to white-collared high-tech, we’ll explore the question: “Why Do We Work?,” especially in a societal context that applauds us for skipping out on hundreds of thousands of paid vacation days per year. How has our perception of work been altered and impacted by the coronavirus lockdown and loss of employment or workplace interaction? Come and ask yourself: “Why (and How) Do I (or Did I) Work?”

Truly, Madly, Deeply: Why Do We Work? (pdf)

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“We Are The Blue Boat Home”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

April 26, 2020: All across the planet, human beings are experiencing what some have called “The Great Pause.” As we shelter indoors, we read reports that skies are clear in Los Angeles, fish are visible in the canals of Venice, and wildlife are roaming freely in high-traffic National Parks (and in urban areas, too!). Even so, the climate crisis across the globe is not “healed” and the need for environmental stewardship remains as crucial as ever. In this service to celebrate Earth Day, we’ll explore how we can resist a return to “the ways things were” and build on the unexpected silver lining we’re witnessing now.

 

We Sre The Blue Boat Home (pdf)

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“Flunking Sainthood”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

April 19, 2020: In her wry memoir, Jana Reiss shares  a year-long quest to become more saintly by tackling 12 spiritual practices, including fasting, centering prayer, Sabbath-keeping,  gratitude, and generosity. Though she begins with the question, “How hard could this be?” Reiss finds to her growing humiliation that she is “flunking sainthood.” In this sermon exploring the myth of enlightenment and the rigors of real spiritual growth, we’ll examine how we might quest for, and even be satisfied with a bumpy process-oriented path. Do you believe you need to “improve” yourself or be “productive” during this quarantine time? “Rock this pandemic?”  Toss your halo, keep your wings, and come discover the  benefits  of  “failing better.”

 

Flunking Sainthood (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


“Faithful Over A Few Things”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

April 12, 2020: Blind faith? Leap of faith? Free faith? How does the word, “faith” strike you? For some, it is a poke in the eye, an uncomfortable vestige of a rigid religious past. For others, it remains a positive, re-imagined resource for moving through the joys and sorrows of life. What does it mean to be “faithful?” — not to everything or to what we are told to be faithful to; but rather, “faithful to a few things” that truly matter to us. We are a creedless religion, but there are still things we would “give our hearts to” (the true meaning of the word “credo”). Is “faith” a word you might reclaim on your own pilgrim path? On Easter Sunday, we will explore this fertile terrain together.

 

Faithful Over A Few Things (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


“All Roads Lead to Where We Stand”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

April 5, 2020: It’s been famously said that “All who wander are not lost.” On this morning, as Palm Sunday and Passover converge, we meet at the crossroads to explore how the wanderings of Jesus and Moses reflect our essential human journey from the source of who we are and back again. In what ways can our wanderings feel like a walk in a labyrinth rather than a frustrating journey through a maze? How might we retain the wellspring of our identities when we are in the wilderness, awaiting manna or gazing down from mountaintops? And how does this relate to our current “social distancing” limitations on “wandering” in the world?

 

All Roads Lead To Where We Stand (pdf)

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“You Will Be Found: The Need to Belong and the Power of Tribes”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

March 29, 2020: What does it mean to “belong” to a tribe, a community, a family, a congregation? One of the most rewarding aspects of belonging is the sense of having found a home and in turn, of being found, supported, and accepted as we are. In this sermon, we’ll explore the illusion of “utopia” and the  various ways we become visible and known to one another when we allow ourselves to be found, even during this time of being “together-apart.” Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching,  with music from Gabe Hernandez and Rebecca Prizznick.

You Will Be Found: The Need to Belong and the Power of Tribes (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


“Waiting For The Ice Cream Truck –

On Living Deliberately in a Random World”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

March 22, 2020: Do things really happen “for a reason?” In a message, tailor-made in the wake of the fabled Ides of March and a global pandemic, we’ll explore the challenge of living deliberately in an often-random world. When our lives tilt in directions we had not expected and fault lines open under our feet, how might we strive to loosen our grip on the “shoulds” and embrace the “real” with as much humor, courage, and grace as we can muster? Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker, preaching,  with music from Gabe Hernandez and Rebecca Prizznick.

 

 

Waiting For The Ice Cream Truck-On Living Deliberately in a Random World (pdf)

Watch the YouTube recording


“Evangelism in a Liberal Key”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

March 8, 2020: Is it any wonder that the word “Evangelism,” which means literally “preaching of the gospel,” has an uncomfortable ring to many religious liberals? For many reasons, some valid and some stereotypical, we tend to associate evangelism with religious bullying and intolerance, with corruption and hucksterism, with rigid creeds and finger-pointing. In some cases, this is accurate. Yet, at its best, evangelism is about proclaiming “good news,” sharing a vision, helping others to heal and grow, and giving public voice to a dream. And in this very best sense, we, too can become evangelists under a billowing, open-air, distinctly liberal UU tent. Come join the revival!

 

Evangelism in a Liberal Key (pdf)


“Living Churches”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

March 1, 2020: In this sermon to kick off a “20/20 Visions” Stewardship campaign, we’ll explore one of the strangest passages in Hebrew Scripture. The prophet Ezekiel comes upon a valley of dry bones and Yahweh (God) asks him a profound question: “Can these bones live?” The story is full of metaphors for us to ponder as we explore the lifeblood, the sinew, muscle and breath that animates our congregation. How might we answer our callings and arise from whatever “dry valleys” we encounter as good stewards of a “living church?”

 

Living Churches (pdf)


 

“The Path #3: Walking the Path, Ritual

and ‘The Half That Makes Us Whole'”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

February 16, 2020: How are we made whole? The “1/2” in this sermon stands as a symbol of our incomplete natures, and the need for our human bodies to be made whole in relation to something beyond the physical. This may be something deep and meaningful, or something rational or something mystical involving a ritual or practice. This morning, on the edge of the contemplative period of Lent, we’ll explore and take inspiration from the five objects (stones, incense, drums, religious symbols, and bread) that have helped pilgrims and seekers find their “other ½” for millennia. Drumming will punctuate the service.

 

 

The Path #3 Walking the Path, Ritual, and ‘The Half That Makes Us Whole’ (pdf)


 

“The Path #2: Keeping to the Path, or How to Steer Clear of Spiritual Bypassing-A Sermon with Zen Tales”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

February 9, 2020:  In the early 1980s, psychologist John Welwood coined the term “spiritual bypassing” to refer to the use of practices and beliefs to avoid confronting uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs. In the years that have followed, many well-meaning seekers have fallen under the thrall of bogus “gurus” who have reinforced these ideas and have supported the “bypassing” of the challenging experiences that venerable Zen masters have stressed that we humans need most to develop wisdom and self awareness. We’ll explore how we might keep to an authentic path in this sermon with Zen tales interspersed throughout.

 

The Path #2: Keeping to The Path, or How to Steer Clear of Spiritual Bypassing-A Sermon with Zen Tales (pdf)


“The Path #1: Clearing a Path to Heartfulness”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

February 2, 2020: In a world overrun with words, thoughts, noise and conflict, how might we clear a  path to a more heart-centered life? The poet Rilke advises us: “The work of the eyes is done. Now go and do heart-work.” We’ll explore new paradigms for setting deeply-felt intentions towards “heartfulness.” The service includes a guided meditation for opening the heart chakra and meditative song from The Flagstaff Threshold Choir.

 

The Path #1: Clearing a Path to Heartfulness (pdf)


“Failure to Quit: Rallying Our Consciences”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

January 19, 2020: Years ago, at an anti-war protest rally, educator/activist Howard Zinn was arrested and charged with “failure to quit.” He wore that charge like a badge of honor and remarked in the book he wrote of the same name that “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” This morning, in the spirit of Zinn and Martin Luther King, we will explore these questions in the current societal context: “How do we act, how will we act, even if we are weary and fearful, as we enter this crucial election cycle? How can we “UU the Vote” locally and nationally, by activating for progressive candidates who reflect our values?”

 

Failure to Quit: Rallying Our Consciences (pdf)


“Letterboxing: Getting Lost and Found in the New Year”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

January 5, 2020: Letterboxing is a quirky hobby combining orienteering, puzzle solving, journaling, and treasure hunting, dating back to the 1850’s in Dartmoor, England. As we begin 2020 with our well-intentioned resolutions in tow, we’ll explore Letterboxing as a spiritual metaphor for getting lost (in healthy ways) — stepping off the well-worn paths of getting from here to there in our lives, and getting “found” in unpredictable territory. For those feeling lost in a murky moor, this sermon will offer some compass points for blazing new, intentional trails into the clearing.

 

Letterboxing: Getting Lost and Found in the New Year (pdf) 


 

“The Baby With The Bathwater: Celebrating the Humanitarian Jesus”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

December 15, 2019: In the advent of Christmas, we might grapple with whether we’re entitled to celebrate, admire, and even love the babe in the manger if we’ve chosen along the way to pour off the filmy bathwater of Christian doctrine in which that babe has soaked for two millennia. This morning we ask: Should we, and how can we, claim or reclaim the human Jesus on our own terms as Unitarian Universalists?

 

The Baby With The Bathwater: Celebrating the Humanitarian Jesus (pdf)

 

“All Around Us is Shekhinah”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

December 08, 2019: Like many other holiday classics, there aren’t a lot of female standouts in the Hanukkah story. As far as we know, there were no Lady Maccabee warriors (although, they could have been in disguise). Nevertheless, as they descended from the hills to wage battle and reclaim the Temple, the guys at the center of the Hanukkah saga were surrounded by the divine feminine in Judaism known as “Shekhinah.” This morning, we’ll meet a number of the feisty female role models in Judaism (some of whom are affectionately known as “the bad girls of the Bible”). We’ll also explore the naturalistic and mystical origins of Shekhinah, and how it/she can inspire and support us spiritually, regardless of gender or religion

 

All Around Us is Shekhinah (pdf)
 

 

“Praise It!”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

November 24, 2019: Have you ever noticed how often criticism or judgment gets in the way of our gratitude? In this sermon in anticipation of Thanksgiving, we’ll explore how we might soften the critical impulse and free ourselves from the tyranny of judgement and the suffering it creates. We’ll ask: As we go through our daily rounds, how can we increase opportunities to “praise it” rather than raze it? How could this expand our capacity for joy and deeper connections?

 

Praise It! (pdf)
 

 

“Taking it One World at A Time”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

November 03, 2019: When asked what he thought the afterlife would be like, the sage of Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau answered, “I’m taking it one world at a time.” As we explore how we relate to our inevitable finitude, we’ll consider how we might live deliberately in a somewhat random world without over-attachment to the past or a sense of anxiety or over-expectation about the future. Isn’t living deliberately in the one tangible world we have challenging enough for us humans?.

 

Taking It One World At A Time (pdf)

 

“Unitarian Universalism as Jazz: Freedom within Form”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

October 20, 2019: Jazz is a different drummer’s kind of music and Unitarian Universalism is a different drummer’s kind of religion. In fact, the parallels between the two are quite remarkable. Both have evolved from more strident and orthodox forms, and both have been shaped by numerous sources. More than anything, though, Jazz and UUism are each deeply personal, in that they ask the participant to seek and create with both freedom and integrity within a fixed but flexible framework. This morning, we’ll explore how UUism is a “jazz religion,” with special music and readings that syncopate with the theme.

 

Unitarian Universalism as Jazz: Freedom within Form (pdf)

 

“The Heartbeat of Trees”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

October 13, 2019: In his masterwork, Walden, Henry David Thoreau explained that he “went to the woods to live deliberately.” In this sermon to mark Indigenous People’s Day, we’ll explore what it might mean to live in a deliberate and conscious relationship with the sacred natural world. How do we and can we help Nature thrive and protect it through our activism and through our stewardship, as we walk in step with the heartbeat of trees?

 

The Heartbeat of Trees (pdf)

 

“Thank You for Being Such a Pain:

Spiritual Lessons We Learn from Difficult People”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

 

October 6, 2019: Whether we enjoy it or not, we learn valuable spiritual lessons from the difficult people in our lives – those whom we know and love, those we work with, attend church with, and those whom we encounter more randomly. This morning, we will explore the inherent presence of the “prickly” in our midst, how to discern whether we are, in fact, the “difficult” one for others, and how release, self regulation, and healthy congregational boundaries can be transformative for individuals and the communities they inhabit.

Thank You for Being Such a Pain: Spiritual Lessons We Learn from Difficult People (pdf)

“A Semi-Colon is No Place to Stay”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

September 29, 2019: The Days of Awe between the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us all (Jewish or not) a yearly opportunity to reflect, consider our righteousness and our missteps, seek and offer forgiveness, and venture forth again in a positive, healing direction. Metaphorically, these days could be seen as a semi-colon; the juncture where one could choose to end a sentence, but decides instead to continue the story because there is more to say. We’ll explore, from a spiritual perspective, the ways in which a semi-colon is not a full stop, but rather a moment to pause, reckon, and reinvest in relationships, integrity, goodness, community, and life itself.

 

A Semi-Colon is No Place to Stay (pdf)

 

“Into-me-see”

Andy Hogg, Worship Associate

September 22, 2019: Intimacy should really be called into-me-see. It is something that we all want but it is difficult to hold in our hearts. Intimacy requires trust, tolerance, and relationship skills. We will explore intimacy as individuals, as couples, and as a congregation. We are an intimate congregation.

 

Into-me-see (pdf)

 

“Here Come the Love People”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

September 15, 2019: You’ve seen them everywhere – at peace rallies and Pride marches, on the Arizona border and at the Mall of America, in our pulpit and on members of the choir, on our children and our elders, at General Assembly – those vivid gold T-shirt radiating the phrase: “Standing on the Side of Love” (SOTSOL) or more recently, “Side With Love.” How do we interpret this call to “side with love?” And what might it mean to be one of the “love people” in your personal and communal life, in your relationships and in your activism, especially beyond your comfort zones?

 

Here Come The Love People (pdf)

 

“Autumn People”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

September 08, 2019: In the words of a colleague, “Autumn people slow down, enjoy a certain pace.” Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Most of us run around being bouncy Spring people year-round and 24/7, not looking very closely at much except our watches and our smartphones. Can you “remember the kind of September that’s slow and oh-so-mellow,” and if so, would you (could you) follow? Do you value rest? As we settle into Fall as a congregation, we’ll explore ways we might join the ranks of Autumn people in a sped-up, over-stuffed world.

 

Autumn People (pdf)

 

“The Voice of Deep Down Things: Considering ‘Prayer'”

Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

August 25, 2019:  Some pundits quip that UUs either address their prayers “to whom it may concern,” or pray at most to one carefully curated God whom we consider on-call. I believe these self-effacing jokes and overly harsh critiques sell us UUs far short of who we are (historically and currently) and what we yearn for in our spiritual lives. This morning, we will explore the practice of “prayer” and how engaging in some form of this practice (whether it be spoken, silent meditation, Kirtan chanting, forest bathing, or sung Taize) requires us (like everything else about being a UU) to define our terms and explore the personal truth and meaning we might derive from it. Does prayer improve our health, as some researchers argue? How might “prayer” support us individually and communally? Come answer a hearty “Amen” to the possibilities.

 

The Voice of Deep Down Things: Considering ‘Prayer’ (pdf)

 


“Like Pearls on a Silken Cord”

Rev Robin Landerman Zucker

August 11, 2019:  In the age of Facebook, Twitter, tribal politics, and gated communities, what does it mean these days to be neighborly and connected? What inspiring examples have popped up recently to remind us that we are all interconnected whether we realize it or not? Are we actively grateful for the connections we currently have? As she settles into our neighborhood, Rev. Robin will explore how we might grow in neighborliness, reach beyond our comfort zones to create community in a society where more and more folks are “home alone.”

 

Like Pearls on a Silken Cloud (pdf)


 

“Higher Education and the Environmental Crisis” 

Marcus Ford, Guest Speaker 

Mark James, Worship Associate

August 4, 2019:  It is widely assumed that more education is part of the solution to the environmental crisis. But what if the “solution” is part of the problem? The modern university is a complex institution, and parts of it, tiny parts of it, are committed to addressing the great existential problem known as the environmental crisis. Unfortunately, most of the university is pulling in the opposite direction. The world is being destroyed by highly educated people.

 

Watch the Video


“Trust, Vulnerability, and Freedom”

Nancy Paxton, Worship Associate

July 28, 2019: Nancy Paxton – How do you respond when someone betrays your trust? What are some positive ways to respond? Join us for a look back at “The Anatomy of Trust” workshops we held at Beacon last year and an update, including ideas from Brene Brown’s recent writing on vulnerability, courage, and freedom in our public and spiritual lives.

Watch the Video


 

“Planting Gardens and New Beginnings”

Rebecca Riggs, Guest Speaker

July 21, 2019 In a world of cycle and seasons that bring inevitable changes, we will explore how we respond to these new beginnings and new challenges.

 

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“The Spirituality of Being an Atheist”

Tom Begush, Guest Speaker

July 14, 2019: Unitarian-Universalists welcome all people interested in the search for truth. Join us for an exploration of religion and spirituality from one atheist’s point of view.

The Spirituality of Being an Atheist (pdf)

Watch the Video

 


“Interspirituality, Mysticism, and Everyday Life”

Char Tarashanti, Worship Associate

June 30, 2019: What is Interspirituality? How does it connect to Mysticism and what meaning do they bring to our UU understanding of religion and the world, and more specifically to our “ordinary” individual lives? So many questions! Some possible answers and a lot to think about as we live our lives day to day.

 

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Poetry Service

Nancy Paxton and Jack Doggett, Worship Associates

June 2, 2019: A service on poems about goodbyes. May is often full of goodbyes: to friends, to teachers; to home; to lovers who left you, to lovers you left; to fathers or mothers, uncles or aunts, whose time has come; to places you’ve loved; to dreams you have given up; to ideas about yourself that have held you back. May is also the month we say goodbye to Rev. Kevin Lawson; we hope this service will give you a chance to reflect and say goodbye.

 

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