Back in January of this year, I attended the UU Ministers Association professional development seminar with Marcia McFee that focused on worship. She introduced the concept of a sermon series, as a way to try something new. She shared her view that, “you can’t deliver a one-hit wonder every Sunday of the year!” Although that’s what I usually try to do, putting all my energy into each Sunday sermon, I decided to give her idea a try this year.
The first series is “Kindred Spirits” that begins this Sunday. This series looks at the kindred spirits of James Baldwin and Octavia Butler, two African American writers, now long deceased, who aren’t nearly as well known as they ought to be. In their own ways, they look at spirituality and religion quite deeply, venturing into the truth of the human spirit and the grave challenges of race relations in our country. I’m taking on Mr. Baldwin this Sunday (I’d love to do a sermon about him EVERY year – let me know if you’d be interested in that). Church member and Social Justice Chair Antoinette Scully will be looking at Octavia Butler the following Sunday. I have very much enjoyed delving into my source material, which inclueded his seminal work “The Fire Next Time” and the incredible film, “I Am Not Your Negro,” which is currently available on Amazon Prime (watch it before Sunday if you can).
James Baldwin grew up in New York City, and Octavia Butler is a local writer and kindred in that she grew up in the valley where I live. Antoinette will share more details in her guest-blog next week.
I have two additional sermon series planned. The first will be in March 2019. It will focus on history and the early beginnings of our country, seen from both the Native American and the Anglo-pioneer perspectives. My source material will include “Facing East for Indian Country,” “Prairie Fires” (about the politics of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and one of the best books I’ve ever read, “White Trash: The Untold 200 Year History of Class in America.”
The second, in April, will focus on the pros and cons of technology and inventions such as social media. I will be reflecting on the cons of it, and church member and Worship Chair Jon Bassinger-Flores will be focusing on the pros.
It’s so good to be back in the saddle for the new church year! And now, as your settled minister, I get to preach more than ever. If you have an idea for a sermon series, or a single sermon topic, I love a challenge, so please share your ideas. This is your church, never my church. I am privileged to serve the UU Church of Studio City!
– Rev. Hannah