Sermons and Services

August 2017

August 20 — Transformation at the Unitarian Universalist Association — UUSD Members Susan and Mac Goekler, Don Peterson, and Ron and Pat Schaeffer:  Unitarian Universalists held their annual meeting in New Orleans this year with a theme dedicated to racial justice. In a radical departure from previous years, nearly all workshops, worship services, major lectures, and business sessions dealt with raising awareness and addressing the structural racism that infuses our association and society, much of it invisible and below the surface. UUSD members who attended the meeting will share key highlights and their impressions from this historic and transformative conference.

August 27 — The Rent We Pay For Living — Rev. Michelle Collins, Minister:  Marian Wright Edelman said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time,” and Muhammad Ali said, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." What are our obligations as human beings to each other and to our world? How, and why, do we carry those out? The act of living is a give-and-take; what is our "give" as we go about our lives?

Recent Sermons


August 13 — Being in Right Relationship — Rev. Michelle Collins, Minister:  Let's face it. Community can be messy, and relationships can be messy. And they can take work — a lot of effort and compromises to make them work. But yet we keep coming back and trying to make it work, our relationships with each other and within our community. What does it take to bind us together and be in right relationship with each other? We'll explore this today.

August 6 — The Next Chapter — Jean Charles, UUSD Ministerial Search Committee Chair: Please join us in meeting and welcoming our settled minister, Rev. Michelle Collins. Today is the beginning of a journey that will lead us into the future, and we are predicting an amazing ride. Come join us as we begin the next chapter of UUSD’s step into the future.


July 30 — Compassion is as an Act of Courage — Rev. Sue Greer, UUSD Member: Compassion is an act of courage, the courage of an open heart! Buddha’s teaching tells us that all beings are born into suffering and that the antidote to that suffering is the “awakening” of the compassionate heart. It is the belief that within all of us is the latent wish for all beings to be well and free of suffering. Compassion for all is a strong and relevant teaching, especially in our world today that seems full of hatred, greed, and suffering that divides and separates us. Finding our open heartedness breaks down these barriers of separation of self and other and helps us find our way. We hear the cries of suffering; your suffering or my suffering, there is no difference, and this becomes our freedom, to courageously cherish ourselves and all living beings.

July 23 — What If God Was One of Us? — Anni Wood, UUSD Member: One of the beauties of UU congregations is the lack of expectation regarding how we each consider the possibility of Mystery. What if … God is the sunset, a poem, the song of the wind, or the laughter of a child? What if … whatever Mystery is, she visits us in our Sanctuary or whenever we gather? What if … whatever Wisdom is, he visits us in our homes and in our hearts? Do we name the aspects of Mystery as divine? Or do we simply open ourselves to their possibility?

July 16  — Dobby and the Dark Side of Chocolate — Susan and Mac Goekler, UUSD Members: Prof. De La Mer (Susan) and Prof. Remus Dumbledore (Mac) will present a service connecting the magical world of Harry Potter with the muggle (real) world. We will connect the house elf Dobby to Africa to Chocolate. We will all learn together what we can do to eliminate modern child slavery in Africa. After the children are sung out, we will discuss human trafficking here in Sussex County and around the world. We will learn how we as vigilant consumers can make a difference through “Fair Trade” and other means. And yes, we will all get to taste Fair Trade chocolate — the children will pass out mini bars on their way to their classes.

July 9 — Job and the Search for Truth and Meaning — Len Bowman, UUSD Member: The Biblical Book of Job can give us insight into the depth and power of our Fourth Principle: “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” There are two stories of Job in the Book of Job. The first is an ancient folktale of “the patience of Job.” Then comes the Hebrew commentary that completely debunks the folktale, in the process calling into question a principal “received doctrine” of the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s not Job’s patience that brings him to wisdom; it’s his angry and persistent questioning. Questioning is the answer, after all. It is in the questioning, in the quest itself — a joyful quest — that truth and meaning are found.

July 2 — Spirit — Rick Welk, UUSD MemberJuly 2 — Spirit — Rick Welk, UUSD MemberRick Welk discusses the importance of nurturing spiritual growth and the need to keep our spirits strong in today’s world, while sharing some of the highs and lows of his own spiritual journey.


June 25 — Music Sunday — Musical Expressions of Faith — Dr. Marcelle Schiff, UUSD Music Director:  Dr. Schiff, the choir, the children, and other wonderful music-makers from the congregation will take us on an exploration of “Musical Expressions of Faith.” Music has held a very special place in religious communities throughout time. We will explore the variety of musical traditions and their place in the world of spiritual practice, and examine questions like how important is music in your spiritual journey and what role might music play in your spiritual life.

June 18 — Farewell and Fare Thee Well — Rev. Paula Maiorano, UUSD Interim Minister:  Rev. Maiorano says goodbye in this her last service with UUSD with blessings for the journey and a reflection on the bittersweet aspects of life and labor.

June 11 — Celebrating Voluntarism — Rev. Paula Maiorano, UUSD Interim Minister:  The Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware owe existence to its members whose volunteer talents and hours are endless and priceless. This service recognizes the importance of voluntarism in a democratic society and celebrates the services of our many UUSD volunteers.

 June 4 — Flowers and the Cycle of Life:  An Intergenerational Flower Communion Service — Rev. Paula Maiorano, UUSD Interim Minister:  The Unitarian Universalist Flower Communion is one of our most beloved traditions and rituals, created by Dr. Norbert Capek in Prague to celebrate diversity at a time when the Nazi party was on the rise. Today’s intergenerational service reflects on the life cycle of both flowers and people. Childcare and program provided for the youngest of our community.


May 28: The War Prayer by Mark Twain — UUSD Members: On Memorial Day weekend, we pay tribute to the sacrifices of those who defend us. Our service will be a performance by several UUSD members of Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer,” as scripted by Paul Hale. The piece was left unpublished by Mark Twain at his death in April 1910, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that the story would be considered sacrilegious. When urged by others to publish it anyway, Twain replied, "No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead." It was finally published thirteen years after his death.

May 21: Transition: A Look Back and Forward — Rev. Paula Maiorano, UUSD Interim Minister: As the two years of interim ministry come to a close, it is timely to review the outcome of interim goals, consider our achievements together, and discern how your congregation is poised for its future.

May 14: Mothering and Fathering — Rev. Paula Maiorano, UUSD Interim Minister: To different degrees, men and women are made up of qualities and characteristics both feminine and masculine. Both are important. There are times when each of us needs to tap in more to our feminine aspects or more to the masculine. This service explores the feminine mother and masculine father in us all, and considers when these different strengths are important in our relationships.

May 7: The Myths & Realities of Community — Rev. Michelle Collins, Candidate for UUSD's Settled Minister: We come into our communities with a lot of assumptions and idyllic pictures of what community may look like. But many of these pictures are only that — pictures — myths that can actually hold us back. What are some of the myths that we are holding for religious community and what are the realities? It's only through understanding these that we can lean into the real potential for our UU communities.


April 30: The Blessings Between Us — Rev. Michelle Collins, Candidate for UUSD's Settled Minister: Many say that the universe is not made of atoms; it's made of stories. And people and the relationships between people even more so. Willingness to share these stories blesses each of us — sharing blesses us through trust and through giving that little part of ourselves to each other. As we start to get to know each other, I'm looking forward to hearing your stories and your hopes and dreams for UUS

April 23 — Transforming Our White Supremacist Culture: Rev. Paula Maiorano, Interim Minister: Actual “white supremacists” are not required to uphold a white supremacist culture. This service is one offered by over five hundred Unitarian Universalists congregations nationwide within the next few weeks, addressing how to identify white supremacy within and beyond the walls of our Unitarian Universalist communities of faith, and within ourselves as well.

April 16 — Georgia O’Keefe and the Wonder of Life: An Earth Day Service for Easter: Rev. Paula Maiorano, Interim Minister: In the spring, earth rises in renewal. When we celebrate the earth, we are reminded why it is so important to care for her. In this service, Rev Maiorano reflects on how the art of Georgia O’Keefe suggests the sheer joy of material being, one of the many reasons to love the earth, our home.

April 9 — Why Then a Donkey? Rev. Paula Maiorano, Interim Minister: The Sunday before Easter in the Christian tradition celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He entered on a donkey. Considering why a donkey helps Unitarian Universalist hear Jesus’ message of the upside down kingdom for our time and faith tradition.

April 2 — When Imperfections Are Beautiful: Rev. Paula Maiorano, Interim Minister: People sometimes strive for perfection, even when we know that life cannot be perfect. This service suggests that there is joy and wisdom in finding the beauty in imperfections.


January 29 — “The Splendid Torch” — Deanna Duby, UUSD Member: On the annual Jean Charles Service Sunday, Deanna Duby discusses service from several perspectives, including that of George Bernard Shaw who describes a life of service as “A splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for a moment. I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

January 22 — Wholeness amid Division — Rev. Keith Goheen, UU Beebe Chaplain: A hospital chaplain reflects on the importance of the spiritual life in times of fear and uncertainty. Amid the tempest, the willow tree bends and oak stands firm, but we are not trees and do not possess the spirit of the tree. Ours is the human spirit, and nurturing its growth requires a distinctly human approach when the wintry winds of social and personal change swirl in our lives and our souls.

January 15 — A Spiritual Practice of Leadership — Rev. David Pyle, Congregational Life Staff, Central East Region: Be it in congregations or in other parts of our lives, we are called to be leaders in many different ways. If your leadership brings justice and builds community, no matter where it is, you could be said to be engaging in that leadership as an aspect of your faith and spiritual life.

October 30 — All We Are One — Carol Carter Walker: Carol Carter Walker, UUA  Beyond Categorical Thinking Facilitator, will talk about the urgency of looking beyond categories and stereotypes in our ministerial search and in the fulfillment of our principles and purposes. She will be leading a related Workshop after the Service.