Thankfulness as Faithfulness
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
Why am I preaching on gratitude after Thanksgiving? Because we so often rush from being grateful to being consumers. Instead of rushing ahead, let’s ask: How can we hold onto that sense of dependency and awe, and the ethic of service, which gratitude might engender? What does thankfulness have to do with faithfulness, and our faith in particular?

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Deep Listening 
October 22, 2017 10 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

When in conversations with another person, do we listen for the depth of understanding, or just long enough to compose our response? What would it mean to have a habit of listening for meaning, and what are the appropriate limits to such a practice? 

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Be Our Guest
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson
 
We’ll reflect together on what it means to be a guest. In our world of excessive self-reliance and individualism, how can we cultivate the habit of accepting what is offered with awareness? And, likewise, how can we be “a perfect stranger” and not a colonizing invader into other people’s lives and cultures? 
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Angels Unaware
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

What does it mean to be hospitable to another? To open our hearts, our lives, our homes to another person? I suggest that the skills of spiritual hospitality might be a way to heal our divisions and grow our souls.

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For the Beauty of the Earth
September 17, 2017
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

People almost universally report that experiences in nature are some of the most spiritual and healing experiences of their lives. What is it about the beauty of the earth can heal our soul? And how can we cultivate these experiences, regardless of our age and stage?

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Princes, Princesses, Hags and Ogres
Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

A good fairy tale has a twist. The frog is a prince. The one we think is good and beautiful is secretly the villain. Our assumptions about beauty and goodness might get overturned. We need this in our culture, for we too often make an implicit association between what is beautiful and what is decent. Maybe we need to think more carefully about what is actually beautiful.

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Which Side Are You On?
September 3, 2017
10 a.m. Rockford
Intern Minister Andrea C. Hawkins-Kamper

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at the 1968 AFSCME rally for the striking Memphis sanitation workers, said "that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth.” On this Labor Day Sunday, we will explore the legacy of Unitarian Universalism’s anti-poverty justice work, its intersections with our anti-racism work, and how our faith relates to the challenges of a rapidly changing global economy.

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White supremacy, racism, and racial violence is on our minds yet again. For some, it never left our minds and bodies. This is the “how-to” sermon you’ve asked for. What can we do?

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Sacred Complexity
Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson
We are woven together in ways seen and unseen. What does the Earth teach us about the connections that bind our fates intricately together?
Today our world is so often being dismantled, I will share how our Unitarian Universalist faith helps me tend to the sacred connections that hold us all together.

Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson is an educator, artist and candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry enrolled at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Kimberlee began her work in Unitarian Universalism over 15 years ago working first for the UUA and then for the district in Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She continued on to be the Program Director for six years at The Unitarian Unviersalist Church in Rockford, Illinois and then the religious education curriculum creator for Soul Matters. Kimberlee has just finished her chaplaincy training at St. Luke's Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is currently living in Kenosha, Wisconsin with her precocious son Miles, patient husband Rev. Erik David Carlson and mouthy cat Amelia. She is eager to return to church work, beginning her ministerial internship at Church West in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin next month. She is delighted to be returning to The UU Church in Rockford!

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Forgiveness, redemption, and atonement are concepts​ we wrestle with in our everyday lives. Things go wrong and we find ourselves asking for or giving forgiveness; allowing for redemption; and perhaps even welcoming an act of atonement. When someone is imprisoned this cycle is truncated by systems built to thwart any real reintegration. Separated from community there is little opportunity for reparation. Our ministry in prisons and jails is based on the radical notion that every person is worthy of respect and has the capability of completing this cycle of forgiveness. Come and learn how all of us are affected and how together we can offer hope and help. Forgiveness, redemption, and atonement are not ​ethereal ideas​;​ they live and transform with us.
 
Rev Karen Mooney - Is a community minister working with the UU Prison Ministries of Illinois. This newly formed group is bringing the hope-filled message about belief in every person's inherent worth and dignity to those incarcerated and returning to our communities. Karen is a life-long Unitarian Universalist who learned the art of church from her very involved parents She has been educated far and wide working and playing, listening and walking with people. She loves that UU communities are places where you find people who are alive and seeking throughout their lives. 
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