Progressive Faith Sermons - Dr. Roger Ray (general)

Men and sometimes women confuse anger with a show of strength, or of being courageous when, in most cases, anger is simply a product of being afraid. As we try to understand the dangerous divisions within our American population, I think that we need to give careful consideration to the role of grievance, of irrational anger fueled by a paranoid level of fear. Fear of immigrants, loss of white privilege, and Evangelical influence in society is largely ephemeral but the consequences but a move towards the fascist right has dire implications that should be alarming to all of us. Fear leads voters to make bad decisions. In 2024 we need to vote intelligently and not irrationally.

Direct download: 20240211_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

For many congregations, the Bible is still the church's book but not many progressives find scripture to be either authoritative or even relevant in their lives. We have lost an anchor in our lives when we give up on sacred texts but the church of the 21st century has to find its truth to less clearly identified but indisputably more reliable sources.

Direct download: 20240128_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

The prophetic church has always advocated for human rights, civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and has opposed the forces that create poverty, war, illness, and racism. As fascist language keeps rising in our current political environment, the prophetic church must find its voice again; before it is too late.

Direct download: 20240114_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Time is not a material thing. Our units of time actually measure movement, i.e. if there was no movement the concept of time would be meaningless. Talk about going back in time is not merely science fiction, it is, in fact, more a matter of fantasy, of imagination disengaged from reality. Understanding science is increasingly important but to move forward intellectually we have to accept that simply saying "it pleases me to believe in delusions" is not helpful.

Direct download: 20231231_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:09am EST

Americans have fewer annual vacation days than any other western government and more than that, we tend to tie retirement and healthcare to our employment. So, out of fear and anxiety, we work more than almost any other nation and yet have millions without healthcare, income, or housing. Our world obviously needs our involvement and action but it also needs for us to step back from the fire and gain perspective, insight, wisdom, and peace. Take a break. Enjoy the holiday. Then come back smarter and stronger to save democracy!

Direct download: 20231217_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

The war in Ukraine shows no signs of coming to an end and now the war in Gaza is escalating to an unthinkable death toll and seems only to get worse daily. What are we to make of these tragic wars that remind us so much of the way that WWII started? And as Americans, since our tax dollars and military hardware are deeply involved in both wars, what are we to say within this democracy that is supposed to care what we think?

Direct download: 20231203_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30am EST

The United States has perpetuated compromises in our constitution which were originally written to give slave holding states assurances that the institution of slavery would not be immediately wiped out by larger and more populous industrial states. What gave some citizens a larger voice in managing our government at the end of the 18th century has become a choke collar in the 21stcentury, taking away the voice of the poor, minorities, and immigrant communities who tend to live in major cities in more populated states. It is a bit complicated but it deserves our attention as we prepare for what may be the most important presidential election in our lifetimes.

Direct download: 20231119_Sermonv2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The familiar image of Lady Justice, blindfolded, holding up balanced scales in one hand and a sword in the other (a little frightening if she can’t see) suggests our desire that we will be a nation of laws and that there is only one standard of justice in the nation. We hope that the rich and the poor, people of all races, nations of origin, and public status will be treated the same in our courts. However, we know that is not how it really works. We have a goal of equal justice in mind but our execution of it seems to come and go in unreliable ways. The way the children of our two most recent presidents are being treated is a case in point.

Direct download: 20231105_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Most of us have given an uncommon amount of time and energy to the news in the past weeks as Israel mounts a military response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks launched by Hamas. Just as the USA did after 9-11, it is only human to want to strike back against such a horrible act of war with an overpowering military response. But Hamas is like Isis, they are more of an ideology of hate than they are an army or even a political party. Trying to fight an abhorrent idea always ends up killing more innocent people than prophets of terror. However the world moves on past Oct. 7, it must involve both political changes in Israel, and human rights changes in Palestine.

Direct download: 20231022_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Does our support for Ukraine in their defensive war against Russia’s invasion qualify as a “just war?” Thomas Aquinas insisted that for a war to be just it must be conducted by a sovereign government, and the war must be for a just cause, and it must be fought by soldiers who fight to accomplish something that is good. Of course, innocent people die in all wars and no army is comprised of entirely noble soldiers, so war crimes will be committed by all nation’s armies in some instances. When is the cost of supporting Ukraine too much for the stated goals in defeating Russia?

Direct download: 20231001_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Church attendance, especially among progressives is in decline, and financial support of these struggling congregations is going down even faster. Do we have a way of forming spiritual communities without churches, pastors, and budgets or do we need to redouble our efforts to save the ones we still have?

Direct download: 20230923_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

More than a year away from the next presidential election, it appears that we may have the same candidates that we had in 2020, in spite of multiple criminal charges against Donald Trump that range from insurrection to theft of nuclear secrets and classified documents. Why are his supporters so loyal when he doesn't seem to feel any obligation to be honest with them? Could we be looking at a cult of voters who are willing to undermine democracy and individual freedom to assuage the ego of their "dear leader?"

Direct download: 20230710_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EST

Today is my last sermon as co-pastor and so, this week, I’ve been looking back as a way of looking forward, thinking about and learning from the years we’ve spent together. I am grateful for all the ways that our community has helped transform the stories that dominate our society and to turn it around: offering kindness instead of condemnation, and justice instead of a tired resignation to the way things are. Our banners boldly remind us that we will not stand idly by, that we can make a difference, and that our own, very earthly voices can call one another to a more beautiful and just and altogether wonderful way of life. Thank you!

Direct download: 20230827_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

While shame and humiliation are part of the human experience, we should not promote them or build our communities and movements around them. Instead, let’s focus on becoming places where we learn to care for ourselves and one another, with healing for when we hurt and celebration for when we thrive. Wisdom and compassion as a “way of knowing” will serve us better for creating social norms and communities where we can learn to take care of our personal and collective well-being; where we can be and feel safe; and where we can nourish our creativity and joy.

Direct download: 20230830_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The suicide of a 40 year old scientist (and athlete and musician) raises two crucial issues with modern day America. 1) While we have possibly the most advanced medical science in the world, our distribution of health care and our priorities in research are based on profit and not health and that is killing us. 2) The government (and the police) insert themselves into an individual's choice to end their own life when they have no prospect of living meaningfully, which forces them to not discuss their decision with family, friends, or professionals. These are problems that we can solve.

Direct download: 20230813_Sermon.mp3
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The authors of America's Declaration of Independence acknowledged that people seem to be willing to suffer the abuses of their government until such time that the liberties the government gives to itself become unbearable. With the loss of voter protection, the license given to corporations to make political donations (bribes), taking away affirmative action, women's right to manage their own reproductive lives, and the open threat to the civil rights of gay, lesbian, and trans folks, isn't it time for meaningful and sustained protest to demand reform, especially in our Supreme Court?

Direct download: 20230806_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Anyone actively involved in trying to make the world a better place has felt the pressures to push past our limitations, abandon boundaries, and sacrifice our well-being and aspirations in the name of a cause. While it is true that sometimes we may strategically and intentionally place our needs to the side to deal with a crisis, it is not sustainable or healthy to do so over the long-term – for ourselves or our movements. Jo Musker-Sherwood called this commitment to knowing and honoring our boundaries a “humble return to the natural rhythm of giving and receiving, of action and rest, that we can find healing personally and globally.” That return is an empowering, joyful, and hopeful invitation that I hope to encourage all of us to embrace.

Direct download: 20230730_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, and our very cell phones themselves have shortened our attention span to the point that we hard know how to talk to one another anymore and even worse, it seems that we are nearly incapable of listening to someone. We can never understand another person, especially not someone we are inclined to avoid or reject, unless we are willing to actively, patiently, and sincerely listen to them long enough for them to feel heard and for us to understand them, even if we still disagree. As Paul Tillich said, the first obligation of love is to listen.

Direct download: 20230723_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We often reflect on how economic and social disparities are symptoms of an unhealthy society, associated with environmental degradation, poverty, violence, and oppression. However, we continue to hurtle headlong toward ever-increasing disparities. Examining the rise and role of consumerism can help us understand some of the reasons why this is so, and what we can do to encourage change.

Direct download: 20230716_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Following up on my reflections in June, I share some of the ways that lovingkindness meditation has been helpful in my own life, especially with transforming self-hatred and anger into understanding and kindness. All of us who are committed to continually growing into compassionate, wise people can benefit from having these kinds of skills and resources available to us, our communities, and our movements for justice – increasing our wellbeing now and supporting us when we need them the most.

Direct download: 20230709_Sermon.mp3
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The most popular forms of philanthropy, in giving sandwiches and sleeping bags to the unhoused or sending goats to poor farmers in Central America are symbolic gestures. Handing out free meals is not a solution to poverty and sending goats to Central America rarely has the intended effect. (The goats I sent to Nicaragua a few years ago ended up eating all of the neighbors’ vegetable gardens and nearly started a village war!) But these gestures can be seen at teaching opportunities that help us to grow the kind of conscience the world needs to find the real solutions that can help to make serious inroads into environmental sanity and economic justice.

Direct download: 20230702_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This part 1 of a two-part series on philanthropy. Today we consider the ways that charitable foundations can be twisted into being tax loopholes for the super-rich while still allowing the wealthy to use 95% of the foundation’s holdings to invest in stocks that profit them personally. Part 2 will be about the benefits of philanthropy which can be huge, but the downside of our tax structure that punishes people for being poor and rewards people for being rich deserves our attention.

Direct download: 20230625_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We get lots of cultural signals that our personal worth goes down with each birthday. Many feel pressured to choose extreme measures to deny the reality of the passing of time, but rather than grieving over what age takes away from us, maybe we can spend some time considering what gifts can come with old age? The British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, praised the advantages of getting older, especially in making a hard exit from the ego driven competition of our younger years. We can be liberated in our senior years to enjoy a more whole life that is free of the anxiety we may feel about such things as appearance and focus more on wisdom.

Direct download: 20230618_Sermon.mp3
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Week after week, we turn our attention to injustice, violence, and oppression, so that we can encourage one another to not stand idly by. But as we face all this suffering, there is also that nagging question: How can we humans be so wonderful and horrible at the same time? So generous and compassionate on the one hand and so cruel and violent on the other? By reflecting on our own experiences and listening to the emerging research on violence and empathy, we can make decisions that build resources, cultivate community, and help make wellbeing, in ourselves and in society, available to all.

Direct download: 20230611_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

In May, the Biden Administration announced a new border plan, which turns out to be more of the same, including recycling failed and dangerous policies. Even Federal asylum officers have called the new plan “inconsistent with the asylum law enacted by Congress, the treaties the United States has ratified, and our country’s moral fabric and longstanding tradition of providing safe haven to the persecuted.” We must continue to speak out against continued abuses and injustices against migrants, and to act in ways that embody and insist on the humanity, safety, and wellbeing of all – including and especially vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.

Direct download: 20230604_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Our deeply divided nation will not become unified by learning to either deny or accept the racism and prejudice that is inherent in American culture. We should be kind and patient but we must not fail to be honest and factual about our history of institutional racism and religious prejudice and to chart a higher path towards unity by dispelling the scourge of our irrational hatreds and fears.

Direct download: 20230528_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Humanity’s collective hubris has led us to the edge of catastrophe, as we have collectively ignored the reality of climate change and wreaked destruction on the environment for decades and centuries. Yet not all is lost. We have the science, data, technology, and practices we need to nourish cultures and communities where this kind of hubris, whether dumping contaminants into groundwater or pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is avoided as much as possible, and recognized, healed, and transformed whenever it does arise. Together, we must take steps to create cultures and systems where this care becomes the norm.

Direct download: 20230521_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

t is Mother's Day but rather than deliver a solipsistic sermon in praise of mothers, I am going to talk about influential female mentors who never gave birth. This is a personal message, naming the wise women who guided me in hope that you will remember the childless mothers in your life.

I can’t copy it all here but I encourage you to look up and read this poem:

An Ode to Childless Mothers by Natasha Sanders

Direct download: 20230514_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

With the release of the final section of the IPCC’s sixth report last month, humans are without excuse. There is no time left to value short-term profits over long term health. It took billions of years for all this earthly beauty to blossom, a vibrant and interconnected web of living and dying. If humanity is to have a future here, it is imperative that we notice, listen, and act – now.

Direct download: 20230507_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Without absolutes, without a God given set of rules in holy writ or a supernatural theistic judge in the clouds, how do we determine right from wrong or even sensibly talk about what it means to be good? Are these arbitrary value judgements in a toothless religious debate? Progressives tend to elevate the value of compassion as a primary spiritual attribute. As you might guess, conservatives and progressives don’t always agree!

Direct download: 20230430_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

In the ancient Persian slave ghetto, Zoroastrian religion evolved an expression of ethics and eternity that influenced what became modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Their succinct description of how to be a good person was the three fold injunction to think good thought, speak good words, and do good actions. I tell my world religion students that this has hardly been improved upon over the centuries but now, in 2023, I am forced to wonder if many people even have being a “good person” as a goal? Dishonesty, self service, greed, all seem to be assumed to be normal conduct.

Direct download: 20230423_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

This last week, trans folks in Missouri have been living in the thick of the intentional, ongoing attacks against transgender lives. On Thursday, April 13, 2023, Missouri’s Attorney General, Andrew Bailey, issued expanded emergency regulations that effectively restrict and, in many cases, make impossible life-saving, life-giving care that many transgender and gender expansive people depend on. We are supporting each other and doing an amazing job of it. We are not giving up or backing down. But we can use and need all the community support we can get right now. Please do not stand idly.

Direct download: 20230421_Special.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

When we begin to give up the formal, creedal faith of our youth, accepting that no religion is entirely true and no sacred text was actually written by God, many people will abandon the journey of faith entirely. But for those of us who find value in a spiritual life, we are inclined to turn away from the false certainty of formal religion and turn towards the more honest uncertainty of a mystical faith in which we accept the “isness” of God, as Meister Eckhart said, “God is a word unspoken, a thought not thought, a belief unbelieved.” For those of us raised in a formal church, the mental prison of belief is hard to leave behind . . . especially for the clergy!

Direct download: 20230416_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Walter Brueggemann posed the challenge of Easter as deciding to be “a part of the Easter movement of civil disobedience that contradicts the empire,” to “see if life is longer than death.” Each day, we face a litany of suffering born of oppression, mirroring the crucifixion, that we must match with the determination to keep going, mirroring the resurrection. In the face of injustice, we insist on creating just, joyful, equitable communities. At Easter, we repeat these stories in order to remember the choices we make between “empire death and Easter life,” to make our hells into healing, and rise again.

Direct download: 20230409_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

This is Palm Sunday so I am going to take my speaking time this week to demythologize the gospel narrative a bit. Judas was not a historical character. Mark created a literary fiction and named him Judas, which is spelled "Judah" in Greek, and means "Jew." Judas represented the faith community, nation, and family of Jesus. Mark set's the execution in a passion narrative in which Jesus is betrayed by his family, his faith community, his friends, his nation . . . and haven't we all been there? The passion narrative is not a historical piece about what happened way back when but it is an "everyman" story about surviving betrayal

Direct download: 20230402_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Not many of us got to enjoy the luxury of growing up in a "woke" environment. A great deal of growing us has involved overcoming the prejudices and too comfortable peace we had with the status quo. Being progressive often means that we are giving ourselves to give voice to our own stories, detailing how and why we felt compelled to change. We can be grateful for a lot of our family of origin and the religious community in which we grew up, but we are under no obligation to deny or hide the skeletons in the closet.

Direct download: 20230326_Sermon.mp3
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Elsa Tamez wrote that “The situation of oppression and pain tends to make people feel depressed, to dehumanize them, to destroy not only their bodies but also their spirit, to make them see their oppression as normal and natural.” These words will be recognizable to anyone who belongs to a marginalized community. Unmasking the lie that change is not only impossible, it is unnatural, we are called to respond with a praxis grounded in our values. We connect patience with resistance and integrity with solidarity, so that we can more intentionally participate in the personal and collective healing and growing we need.

Direct download: 20230319_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

2023 has been unprecedented in the barrage of attacks on gender and sexuality minorities by both public commentators and lawmakers across the USA. From calls to “eradicate transgenderism” to the continued insistence to “Don’t Say Gay,” we are witnessing a cultural and legislative movement that specifically aims to make it more difficult for LGBTQIA2s+ folks to be safe, access basic care and protective rights, and joyfully live out our beautiful, human lives.

Direct download: 20230312_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EST

Time Magazine’s choice of the women of Iran as their heroes of the year for 2022 is a fitting tribute to the courage and sacrifice necessary to incite a serious reformation within Islam. Adherents often say that Islam is a religion of peace and it certain can be that and is that for most Muslims but in nations with conservative Islamic regimes, the truth can be anything but peace. The women of Iran are an inspiration to all of us who hope for liberty and equality.

Direct download: 20230305_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

It has always been true that Covid-19 presented a greater threat to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions but in this time that so many people insist on calling "post covid" we are still losing 300 people a day to Covid and most of them are over 65, and the majority of them have been vaccinated. Our indifference towards the death of the aged reflects the veneration of youth in our culture and the devaluation of the lives of senior citizens. Being dismissive of the threat Covid represents to the elderly is a mistake we need to consider, especially considering the contributions made to our world by those who are no longer "hot."

Direct download: 20230226_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

For many of us, society is not a safe place to exist, and we lack the supports and resources we need to thrive as human beings. Yet even when we enter into movements and spaces dedicated to working for social justice, activism fatigue and burnout take their toll. Can we practice in such a way that kindness leads to confidence, compassion and wisdom create safety, and a trustworthy community helps us remain open to change?

Direct download: 20230219_Sermon.mp3
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Many societies, including American society, have made mindless consumption a way of life. Not having clear paths for working with suffering in skillful ways, we are encouraged at every turn to merely cope, while our core social issues are often left unhealed and untransformed. Spiritual and reflective practices offer a way for us to cultivate insight, let go of habits that harm, make healthy choices that heal and make us happy, and build cultures and communities where we can continually move from mindless consumption to grateful contentment.

Direct download: 20230212_Sermon.mp3
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The beginning of Black History Month has been already crowded with new entries in our long history of violence and inequality. Yet even while we mourn, honoring the grief and rage of the recent murder of Tyre Nichols, officials in power have been quick to remind everyone that protests must be “peaceful and nonviolent” and that there is a “right way” to protest. However, people’s anger and grief at injustice is not the root problem. What is “out of hand” is a system that depends on police brutality and systemic racism. And the best way to prevent violent protests is to create a just, equitable, compassionate society.

Direct download: 20230206_Special.mp3
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We spend a lot of time focused on understanding and transforming social norms that bring about injustice, oppression, and violence. But we also know that it is just as important to hold that awareness of our capacity for injustice alongside an awareness of our capacity for cooperative, kind relationships. We use the wisdom of both to learn how to establish wellbeing in ourselves and healthy relationships with others. Reflecting on the Buddha’s teachings on “The Bonds of Fellowship” is one way to remind ourselves how important it is to practice healthy community, and some simple pathways to do so.

Direct download: 20230205_Sermon.mp3
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Last weekend, we carried an awareness of the grieving communities in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California. Then, on Monday, two high school students were shot and killed at a charter school in Des Moines, Iowa in an apparent feud between rival gangs. Three days, three shootings, three settings: community dance center, workplace, and school. As a nation, we hold space, tending these open wounds, these seemingly unending cycles of violence. And we are back to that question: What is it about our society that so effectively waters the seeds of violence in us?

Direct download: 20230129_Sermon.mp3
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Last week, the completely terrifying and avoidable tragedy of Larry Eugene Price’s 2021 death in an Arkansas jail came to light. As shocking as his story is, the painful reality is that we have managed to create a society where these kinds of tragedies happen with horrific regularity. The settings change: prisons, hospitals, schools, workplaces, religious institutions, homes. The relationships between the inequities and oppressive systems shift emphasis: race, gender, class and poverty, disability, age, sexuality, and more. And each person’s story is unique, but these experiences also form a pattern. Understanding those patterns, and transforming them into action, is the continual responsibility for all communities of resistance, so that everyone can have a chance to recover wholeness and health.

Direct download: 20230122_Sermon.mp3
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It’s easy to divide the world up into the foolish and the wise. It’s harder to take the time to really discern how our actions impact one another. We easily forget that our friendships train our minds. Whom we spend time with is also a question of how we spend our time. What activities do we do together? What do we talk about? Where do we go? The people in our lives both reflect and influence what we think is important, how we treat one another, how we understand life and the world, for good or for ill. Being intentional about community helps us create habits the help and heal, instead of harm.

Direct download: 20230115_Sermon.mp3
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We continue to face head-on the injustice in the world, because honestly engaging with that suffering is essential to change. But we also understand that this emphasis alone can be disheartening and exhausting. If we are going to have the energy to carry us through, to keep working together to help birth a beautiful, caring, and just world, then we must be equally committed to cultivating our wellbeing in the present moment. During January and February, David will be offering reflections on the Buddha’s “Discourse on Happiness,” with the hope of helping us explore ways we can encourage each other to cultivate happiness and wellbeing right now, even as we continue to engage with and transform the injustice and cruelty of the world.

Direct download: 20230108_Sermon.mp3
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New Year's resolutions can be a very meaningless exercise unless you take seriously the awareness that we really can change ourselves by conscious decision.  This sermon addresses the substantive need to take personal responsibility for the path we are following.

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Once you accept that the Christmas story as recorded by Matthew and Luke in the New Testament is not a reporting of history then we are left to wonder what the point of these mythical stories is. Clearly, far from the sweet manger scenes we have heard way too much about, this is an account of the government and religious leaders conspiring to murder the god-child by killing all of the babies in a region around Bethlehem. This is a story of a new hope born to the poor who lived in an occupied nation in which the state church is in an alliance with the state, either by active cooperation or through indifference. So, these are not history lessons. If we pay attention, the Christmas story is a mirror held up for us to see that we live in a country where the government locks thousands of migrant children into dog cages, sexually abusing some, torturing others, and allowing many to die while the church is largely compliant and silent. And we seriously wonder if this government might actually win election approval from poor church goers in a few months. Merry Christmas?

Direct download: 20221225_Sermon.mp3
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In many ways, religion resembles a long-running, uncontrolled social experiment on the human condition and social change. And a moment’s reflection reminds us that all cultural, including religious, systems, have been used to justify everything from the terrifying to the sublime. Dorothee Solle called this the “double function” of religion: “as apology and legitimation of the status quo and its culture of injustice on the one hand, and as a means of protest, change, and liberation on the other hand.” Discerning which is which, and acting accordingly, is essential if we want our present troubles to be birth pangs of a new world, rather than the death throes of humanity.

Direct download: 20221218_Sermon.mp3
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How you feel about hope likely depends on your own experiences and circumstances. It’s been portrayed as both salvation and delusion, and many things in between. Navigating hope and hopelessness, grief and despair, rest and apathy, action and futility, is something of a craft and an art. It is also why the words don’t always fit, because we are often at different places on this messy spectrum of grieving, healing, acting, or giving up. What is it that keeps us from giving up, giving in, or standing idly by while honestly facing the devastating challenges of the day?

Direct download: 20221211_Sermon.mp3
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The congress of leaders of world religions, meeting in September, drafted a resolution trying to imagine the ways in which spiritual communities might become part of the solution to the crisis of a world that is literally "tumbling" out of order. With the threat of modern wars, the potential of nuclear disaster, the collapse of the environment, and the growing refugee crisis, the traditional religions which have too often been a part of the problem must now undergo a substantive revolution themselves if they are to be a part of the solution.

Direct download: 20221204_Sermon.mp3
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The holidays call for family reunions for both happy and healthy families as well as families who find these times together to be emotionally difficult. We have a right to be honest about both our family's strengths and weaknesses. We have a right to tell our own stories, even if the story turns out to be horrific. We can all choose to work towards more healthy and more loving family connections as we also choose to pass the good stuff onto our kids while sparing them some of negative baggage of our family history.

Direct download: 20221127_Sermon.mp3
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Human Rights Watch recently observed that “The US is the only UN member country that has not ratified the international treaty on children’s rights. Most people might think this isn’t such a big deal because the US is good to children. But it turns out we aren’t and our state laws don’t help.” Today’s anniversary of adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an opportune moment to reflect on some of the reasons why the US has resisted ratifying the Convention, the cruel realities still faced by many of our children, and the importance of cultural transformation in opening up a way where children’s rights, dignity, and humanity are finally honored.

Direct download: 20221120_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In 1879, Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrated a row of trees and grieved that they had been cut down. His grief expanded from those trees to the hubris of humanity, elegantly and painfully describing how quickly we alter the living world of which we are a part – often to its (and our own) devastation. Though our worlds are different, his voice remains relevant in a society dominated by the violent accumulation of wealth and power. We must continually turn to voices and cultures that remind us that care must be taken, and will be taken, if we are to enjoy living in societies that support the wellbeing and joy of all their members.

Direct download: 20221113_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The trend started years before the pandemic, before, even, the traumatic divisions caused by the Trump administration. Sociologists are doing verbal gymnastics trying to explain why making and keeping friends has become so difficult in this era. Maybe it is partisan politics, maybe it is just too much self-revelation on social media, and maybe even it is the break down of the mainstream churches or the trend towards working remotely but whatever the cause, it surely isn't something about which we should be passive. In a world in which close friendships are increasingly rare, we should all realize that we are not merely passive passengers in this train of anti-social change. Let's pause to think about what we have lost and endeavor to become the kind of people who are deserving of the trust and depth of character that makes friendship possible.

Direct download: 20221106_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Of course, we would all like to end the partisan bickering in Congress as well as around our own family dinner tables! But at what price? When are we reaching a healthy compromise and when are we just surrendering, giving away our closely held values and beliefs? Peace, without justice, is really just surrender.

Direct download: 20221030_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector at prayer, Jesus warns of the dangers of contempt. Yet this hasn’t stopped us from finding ways and excuses to label people as contemptible and treat them with contempt, often using that contempt to control and hurt one another. Jesus’ story invites us to observe how easily we fall into this trap and get caught. Reflecting in this way, we begin to understand how the Pharisee’s contempt was an obstacle to his ability to be part of the change, and the tax collector’s humility was the open door to transformation.

Direct download: 20221023_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow still hits close to home: a world where those in need are ignored by those in power, where those in power are unjust, and where the marginalized and oppressed must wear themselves out just to be heard. In a world like this, we recognize the struggle: how do we “break the mold” of the normal, everyday ways we are conditioned to accommodate injustice, creating little opportunities for change to take root, without losing heart?

Direct download: 20221016_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

We often talk about violence as a last resort, even while our society increasingly relies on violence as the first and most trustworthy solution. But this wholehearted commitment to violence as a solution has come at a steep price – the failure to invest in our personal and social wellbeing. Even if we believe that violence is sometimes necessary, or inevitable, we all benefit from moving as much as possible from harming to healing, and from coercion to connection. The work of this moment is to increasingly learn better ways to parent, teach, practice religion, do business, organize society, and treat one another that rely less on violence and coercion, and more on equity and goodwill.

Direct download: 20221009_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The FCC's Fairness Doctrine that required honesty and full disclosure in TV and radio news was removed thirty-five years ago, making way for the advent of 24 hour news programs and talk radio filled with propaganda, distortion, and entertainment that tries to pass for news. Intentional or not, the profit motive influences the content of news programs, leaving the public uninformed about important issues and seething about the inconsequential or the just plain false conspiracy theories of the day. The prophetic pulpit, then, has a larger responsibility to inform and to challenge our modern society.

Direct download: 20221020_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

During the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a mass exodus of people, especially women, from the workforce, returning and staying home as caregivers to the young, the old, the sick, and the disabled. It’s another instance of exposing the USA’s lack of infrastructure and policy to support this most basic of social functions. At the same time, caregiving jobs are often among the most labor-intensive and lowest paid. Time and again, our society has demonstrated how little we value caregiving, a trend rooted in racist, sexist, and ableist norms. With greater awareness of these limitations and their impacts, we can begin to ask: What might a society look like that reorients itself around supporting and valuing the giving and receiving of care?

Direct download: 20220925_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Chapter 16 of the Gospel of Luke contains what has been called one of Jesus’ “strangest parables,” a tale of a rich man with a clever manager, who wiggles his way out of economic and social ruin. Rather than speeding by the economic aspects of this story, we can use it as an opportunity to both better understand how debt and economic justice often go hand in hand (then and now) and better act to create societies where people’s lives are valued for their humanity, and not for their potential to be exploited for profit.

Direct download: 20220918_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

On this 21st anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks, we pause to consider the story of one detainee from our prison in Guantanamo Bay, Mansoor Adayfi. He was just a teenager, a Yemeni far from home in the wrong place at the wrong time and was sold by Afghanis to the American soldiers who were looking for al Qaeda terrorists. Mansoor was innocent but he was none-the-less held prisoner and tortured nearly to death for 14 years. He serves as an example of how a fear-based war on terror turned America into terrorists.

Direct download: 20220911_Sernon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Labor Day is a compromise holiday in America because we didn’t want to honor labor on the first day of May, May Day, as it is observed all over the rest of the world. May Day, some of our early 20th century presidents and capitalists believed, was too closely associated with Communism and Socialism and we never wanted to be a part of that. America wants to honor laborers, they just never really wanted to pay them very much. Somehow, in the richest country in the world, we still can’t figure out how to honor labor by paying workers a living wage and until we can do that, we will continue to stand on the verge of class warfare.

LA Progressive article mentioned at 14:50: https://www.laprogressive.com/ economic-equality/the-economic-policy-façade

Direct download: 20220904_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Black churches have traditionally talked about civil rights and organized voter events like Sunday voting bus trips called "Souls to the Polls." But do predominantly white churches talk about voters' rights? Now that many states are eliminating polling places in minority neighborhoods, ending Sunday early voting, discouraging mail-in voting, and adding onerous ID requirements to vote, shouldn't all churches be concerned about the growing influence of institutional racism? Maybe it is time for us to pause and reconsider what we mean by "salvation" if we are passively watching people having their human rights taken from them?

Direct download: 20220828_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

While we have watched news reports about Brittany Griner's trial in Russia with shock and horror, similarly insane court proceedings have taken place in our own country. The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v Wade came at the same time of another decision that would have commanded public attention if it had not been for the furor over the abortion case. Early in May, in a decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the state of Arizona was given permission to execute Barry Jones, after it had been proven in court that he was innocent of the murder charge for which he has been on death row for 27 years. Thomas wrote that mere innocence is not enough to prevent the state of Arizona from carrying out the death penalty against Jones. We do not have a justice system. We have a legal system and that system sometimes becomes the enemy of justice which is not acceptable when it happens in Russia but it is even more unacceptable in the USA.

Direct download: 20220821_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The world is witness that gun violence does not have to be the norm. But until the United States is willing to reckon with the deep structure and enduring legacy of our own gun culture, we will not escape it. Gratefully, for all of us who long for healing, and the peace that comes from belonging to a place without the constant threat of violence and death, we have a way forward.

Direct download: 20220814_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In 2013, an Italian programmer named Alberto Brandolini observed that - "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than is needed to produce it." It became known as Brandolini’s law, although it is an astute observation rather than a scientific conclusion. Unfortunately, we’ve had nearly a decade to observe just how often this is true, with the flowering of conspiracy theories and proliferation of disinformation all around us. Though the situation is daunting, with a better understanding of why humans are so susceptible to conspiracy theories, we can chart a way forward.

Direct download: 20220807_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Philosophy and Religion departments in universities, once considered to be the "queen" of a college campus, are now being relegated to subheadings in either History or Anthropology departments, treated more like a scourge than a source of wisdom and guidance. The failings of organized religion cannot be denied but maybe we are being a bit hasty about this transformation. There is, after all, more to life than work and mindless entertainment.

Direct download: 20220731_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Many of us like to say that we are “spiritual but not religious,” but what does that mean? As church attendance of all sorts is in steep decline, what exactly are we turning away from and what, if anything at all, are we turning to?

Is there a way to hold onto spirituality and still try to remain in community of some sort?

Direct download: 20220724_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

All over Europe there are memorial stones set in streets where the victims of the Holocaust once lived. These scattered memorials serve as reminders of the moral failure of the Nazis and their many sympathizers. In the USA, we have been more inclined to memorialize Confederate military leaders than to acknowledge the evils of slavery they sought to protect. The resistance to teaching a factual American history to young students about our nation’s moral failings leaves us vulnerable to making the same mistakes again. In fact, in many ways, we already are.

Direct download: 20220717_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

We are all connected to one another. We may not insist that our neighbors to the south use child labor to produce our fruits and vegetables in our grocery stores but, if they don’t keep the prices down, we won’t buy them. Our casual daily choices in which we are legally simply exercising our rights, has an impact on others that we often do not see. Still, our choices to do legal things, like buying an assault rifle or a handgun, choosing not to be vaccinated, or not to take public health precautions seriously, is why we have so many gun deaths in America, why we have lost over a million Americans to Covid-19, and why most of the people in rural Central America are still very poor. Hopefully, becoming aware can change our attitudes and eventually, our behaviors, so that the outcomes will eventually change as well.

Direct download: 20220710_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Given the decisions handed down by an increasingly out of touch Supreme Court, today's message will be a reading of an article Dr. Ray has written for the July 4th edition of the LA Progressive outlining some of the philosophical challenges surrounding the court's decision to strike down Roe v Wade and the suggestion that they may go even farther in taking constitutional rights away from American citizens.

Direct download: 20220703_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Victor Frankl, reflecting on his own suffering in Auschwitz, said that the extremities of the concentration camp revealed the true selves of his fellow prisoners. Some became saintly in their self sacrifice and acts of compassion, while others became moral monsters, turning on one another in their desperate desire to survive. In our current hard times with the rise of fascism around the world as well as in the United States, many are still simply seeking diversion rather than engagement but it is time for those who have the potential to be saints to rise from their slumbers and to act for the good of refugees from Ukraine, women of child bearing years in the USA, as well as the children in our schools being taught to hide from “active shooters” in their schools.

Direct download: 20220626_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

It may be true, as suggested in a recent Atlantic article, that America has been uniquely stupid over the past decade and our gathering cloud of ignorance is largely due to our over exposure to partisan news sources and the scourge of the internet, with its unfiltered social media. How can we, as Soren Kierkegaard suggested 150 years ago, become less concerned with freedom of speech and more concerned with freedom of thought?

Direct download: 20220619_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

More than three months into the unconscionable invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the international community is still wringing its hands, asking themselves, “How can we survive without oil and gas from Russia,” while the purchase of Russian oil funds Putin’s terrorist military campaign against the Ukraine, destabilizing the entire world’s markets, and threating several regions of the world with food shortages. Why can’t we stop the Russian armies from this rampage of rape, torture, murder, and destruction of cities? Because we have failed to take seriously the need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable wind and solar energy sources. We should have done it for environmental reasons years ago but now we are faced with the fact that the market in fossil fuels provides almost all of the funding of terrorism everywhere in the world. We need to stop funding global bad players and, incidentally, save the planet from environmental collapse at the same time!
Direct download: 20220612_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Our culture often speaks out of both sides of its mouth, acknowledging in popular proverbs that “nothing is certain but death and taxes,” or, as my homiletics professor often said, “the mortality rate is 100%” while still commonly insisting that we all have a certainty of life after death (either in reward or punishment). Progressives began to be dismissive of the belief in a burning hell but, for the most part, have held onto the security blanket of belief in a wonderful eternal existence after death. The sad fact is that there is no evidence to support this belief and it amounts to a denigration of the value of the only life that we actually know that we have. Perhaps it is time for spiritual communities to accept mortality as a fact and stop trying to push our hopes off into an imaginary future.
Direct download: 20220605_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Why are mass murders so common in the USA and so rare among our global peers? Every other western democracy has managed to regulate guns effectively but the Republican led effort to protect the gun industry from any meaningful regulation has resulted in literally selling the lives of people attending religious services, buying groceries, attending a music festival, or just going to a public school in exchange for political donations. This is evil on a scale that defies any further attempt at diplomatic conversation. Now, it is absolutely necessary to reject the Republican Party as a legitimate American political party. They have sacrificed themselves on the altar of greed for power.

Direct download: 20220529_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm EST

The leaked Supreme Court document concerning Roe v Wade has confirmed our worst fears since the appointment of the last three justices to the court, all of whom were chosen specifically for their anti-abortion views. But perhaps this is not the time to begin to rehearse the arguments we have been repeating for the past fifty years. Maybe it is time for us to take action to change the kinds of people we elect and appoint to powerful decision making positions. We cannot continue to lend tacit political support to politicians who have shown us that they do not believe in civil rights or even in democracy.

Direct download: 20220522_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

I stumbled upon the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh in 2005, at a time in life when I was struggling to hold together my own social activism and spiritual practices. It is a custom to offer reflections of gratitude for a Buddhist teacher on the 100-day commemoration of their death. May 1 marked this continuation for the Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, and this is my belated offering of gratitude.

Direct download: 20220515_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Pt 1: The leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade is not exactly surprising, but it is terrifying news for millions of people. Yet even as we process the shock, we need to reconnect with our commitments to act in ways that bring social and economic justice, including reproductive justice.

Pt 2: Estrangement and isolation are the everyday reality for huge numbers of Americans, weighing us down with both grief and a “sense of incompleteness.” It has also made it challenging to know when and how to trust, and when and how to distrust, in healthy ways. The spectrum of trust is a simple conflict tool that can help us strengthen the positive aspects of our relationships, work on weaknesses and places that need healing, and maintain healthy boundaries.

Direct download: 20220508_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

It’s May Day, so let’s look at the present status of labor rights and celebrate working class history, as well as the recent successes of union organizers in unfriendly places! But let’s also do more - we can all contribute to the process of creating and sustaining a movement for true change in the direction of economic and social justice.

Direct download: 20220501_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Islam is the youngest of the major world religions and yet its extremist factions are the most wedded to a violent and oppressive form of a religion that Muhammad would not recognize and which none of us should be willing to tolerate in modern civilization. It is a mistake to associate all of Islam with wars among Muslim factions and international terrorism but the fingerprints of official national policies in the name of Islam cannot be ignored. While all of the major religions of the world are in need of serious reform and a thorough process of demythologizing, Islam is crying out for a new and post theistic way of becoming what most Muslims say that they want, a religion of peace.

Direct download: 20220424_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Beyond the sentimental and supernatural retellings each Easter, the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus continues to resonate with us in very human and hopeful ways. Every year - in the midst of constant wars, intractable conflicts and oppression, and ecological devastation - it invites us to ask: how can we go on? And more especially, how can we go on when the world has found a way to make things that we thought wouldn’t - couldn’t - get any worse, worse? It acknowledges the terror we feel in the wake of violent injustice, and it speaks to us of hope - a hope that comes to us, even in our weariness, and says: “Please don’t give up.”

Direct download: 20220417_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The numbers of people interested in and practicing earth-based spiritualities has soared over the last 30 years. This has been empowering and healing for many, especially for members of oppressed communities. However, it has also brought new challenges, from the rise of pagan White supremacy to the profit-driven trend of “Spirituality for Sale.” We’ll explore these issues, as well as the (re)emergence of “Naturalistic Paganism.”

Direct download: 20220410_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The Christian religion is the largest in the world and has been a part of the global culture for nearly two millennia. During that time, it has been used to justify wars and even genocides. Christian scriptures have been used to promote homophobia, misogyny, racism, and sectarianism. Still, the Christian faith has encouraged generosity, compassion, peace, and reconciliation. As faith in mythological and superstitious religious claims rapidly declines in the modern world, we have an urgent need to extinguish the morally reprehensible and intellectually insulting aspects of Christianity while trying to preserve its helpful moral influence in the world.

Direct download: 20220403_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Rabindranath Tagore once wrote to a friend: “Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin… Let me feel with unalloyed gladness that all the great glories of [humanity] are mine.” This openness is a fitting aspiration for the pluralism that has often characterized Hinduism, the Sanatana Dharma (“eternal law/way”), over its long history. But, like all cultural and religious traditions, Hinduism has also struggled with religious nationalism and violence. Today, that violence again threatens the wellbeing of India and Hindus around the world. So against “all forms of bigotry and oppression,” from caste to Hindu supremacy, many Hindus are organizing to build a society free from hate, and free to feel that unalloyed gladness and peace.

Direct download: 20220327_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Buddhism has been subject to the same limitations as any other cultural or religious system, including fundamentalist violence. However, various Buddhist traditions also contain important insights and practices for “learning and practicing non-attachment to views and being open to others’ experiences and insights in order to benefit from the collective wisdom.” Using the first three of “The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings” from the Plum Village tradition as a reference point and guide, we’ll explore one Buddhist pathway that helps us “transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and the world.”

Direct download: 20220320_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

We too easily think of modern Judaism as being an ancient religion that hails from Abraham and Moses. The truth is that Judaism began as a polytheistic faith rooted in a priestly cult that practiced animal sacrifice. A religion that bears very little resemblance to what we would encounter in any modern synagogue. Religions are always fluid, changing, growing, and, frankly, they are almost always in need of review, evolution, or reform. Judaism is not exception to this rule. Especially as we consider the unique relationship between the Jewish faith and the state of Israel.
Direct download: 20220313_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am EST

The world's major religions have roots in antiquity when historical literacy was not highly valued and when it was common to "personify" aspects of nature, turning the world into a place full of gods and spirits. In the 21st century, it is important for us to be able to demythologize all of the world's religions to mine them for moral insights and instruction while leaving behind much of the magical and mythic thinking which has led to so much prejudice and abuse.

Direct download: 20220306_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

If we want to understand the world, to be able to read current events with insight, we need to take the time to understand the history. This sounds so obvious, but it is a necessary reminder in a society that has struggled to learn how to remember and tell its history in meaningful, truthful, and transformative ways. No where is this more obvious in the US experience then in the observance of Black History Month. As LaGarrett J. King pointed out, “We can’t get Black history education right because we teach about Black history instead of through Black history.” Let’s remember why this annual focus is still necessary and our responsibility to not just study Black history, but to truly listen and learn, be changed, and change the world.

Direct download: 20220227_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

As a pastor, I have worked with veterans who were still struggling with the cost of war decades after they were discharged. As a peace worker in Cambodia, I saw the trauma of war still living in people’s hearts, influencing cultures, and scarring the land itself, decades after the official end of war. The wounds of war are deep and last a long time, unless and until we decide, as a society, to do the work to heal them. In the current situation, we have both the immediate responsibility to help bring about an end of the war in Ukraine as swiftly as possible, and a long-term responsibility to help bring about healing and rebuilding for all who have been impacted. Note: Our regularly scheduled sermon will still be posted 

You can read this reflection online, including links to articles and resources: http://archives.spfccc.org/2022/02/reflections-on-russias-invasion-of.html

You can also read Dr. Ray’s earlier reflections, "Will Arms Sales Set the Stage for Ukraine?", at the LA Progressive: https://www.laprogressive.com/will-arms-sales-set-the-stage-for-ukraine/ 

Direct download: 20220226_Reflection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:58pm EST

Growing up, the way I learned Jesus’ teaching on loving my enemies was confusing and even harmful. Especially where abuse and oppression were concerned, rolling over and looking the other way could not be options. But I also understood that violence and hatred could not create a just, compassionate community. I felt the trap: fight back violently, and become like those who had harmed me, or do nothing, and allow myself and others to get hurt again and again. Encountering Walter Wink’s reinterpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, I found a way forward that empowered me to stay grounded in goodwill without giving into the demands of oppressors.

Direct download: 20220220_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Most of us have spent our lives in communities that made it more difficult for us to thrive and flourish as human beings. And it is very likely that we have picked up on those very habits, mistreating ourselves, others, and the earth. We add to that the exhaustion that comes from suffering from, resisting, and transforming oppression, and the odds seem to be stacked against us. And yet we still carry inside of us this conviction that it is possible for us to live together in such a way that everyone can flourish, and the aspiration to make it so. When we act on that aspiration, we make space for our own well-being and keep alive the possibility of a compassionate and caring world.

Direct download: 20220213_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

As the world waits to see if a ground war is about to start between Russia and Ukraine, it seems good to give some thought to how we got to this deadly threatening point. How has the spread of nuclear weapons and NATO bases in Eastern Europe led to war always being proposed as the solution to the world’s problems. As Sting once sang, “I’ve never seen a military solution.” We have much better options and spiritual communities should never stop pointing towards the pathways to peace.

Direct download: 20220206_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Jung suggests that the dragon, a mythological beast common to virtually all cultures, is unconsciously an archetype that reflects human potential. After all, a dragon is a snake that can fly! Spiritual people need to rise above the situational ethics that ignores moral misconduct in others that allows them to slither more than their soar! Remember, a snake doesn't have to bite you to be a snake.
Direct download: 20220130_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Despite the insistence on being the “land of the free,” the United States is the global leader in both total number of prisoners and per capita rate of imprisonment. The prophetic vision of proclaiming release to captives and letting the oppressed go free is a good opportunity to reflect on the vision and practices of the restorative and transformative justice movements. These approaches invite us to look more intentionally at the world we have, and then ask what kind of world we want to create.
Direct download: 20220123_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

The world as we know it has been shaped by an approach to development and success that has fueled terrible inequality, catastrophic climate change, and now, vaccine inequity. Thankfully, other approaches have been offered that help us re-think how we relate to ourselves, each other, and the earth. The development of a patent-free vaccine called Corbevax is one example of how we can reimagine society to prioritize personal and social well-being and realign our policies and institutions to create conditions where our human potential can be fulfilled.

Direct download: 20220115_Sermon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

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