That was the question that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asked in one of his books: with the possible answers “chaos or community.” We’ll reflect on Dr. King’s prophetic legacy and what it means to ask and answer that question today as we confront the powers and principalities of racism, sexism, and injustice.

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Taking my inspiration from a sermon preached by Thomas Kerr at the laying of the cornerstone of the Church of the Christian Union (the name of our congregation at the time) in 1888, I’ll reflect on how we weave together a sense of mystery and a commitment to reason and science. For Kerr, archeology and biblical history helped enliven, not diminish, his faith. Can the same be true for us - from physics, neuro-biology, anthropology, and more?

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As we explore our theme of Presence, reflections on the importance of stillness. We live in a world that wishes us to rush headlong in the next moment. How do we cultivate the capacity to pause, become clear, so that our lives are sustainable and our work is actually effective?  

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We live our lives telling stories about the way the world works, can we change the world by telling a different story?

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 Does the Arc Bend?  Matthew will reflect on the election.  Does the Moral Arc of the Universe bend toward justice? Or is that a fairy-tale we tell to keep the horror at bay?  If it does bend, what work, now, is ours?

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On my trip to Israel, I was struck so strongly about the power of stories, and how important it is how we read and understand our religious stories. Are they warm blankets or straightjackets? Maps to explore or fences to contain us? Where is the line between devotion and fanaticism? I’ll reflect on religious diversity, relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and how to be playfully respectful.

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The current campaign for the Presidency of the United States has been deeply wounding. Misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and exclusion have been revealed and encouraged. Our democracy appears more fragile than it has since Reconstruction. How do we hold on for the next few weeks?  And what do we do after that?  Come, let us gather together.

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The Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd
​The great liberal preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick once recalled the legend of an ancient city, now hidden beneath the ocean, from which the sound of long-stilled bells still rang.  On a good day, Fosdick said, the liberal church can recall to us the sound of those long-stilled bells, remind us of the beauty we once knew, and impel us to create such beauty again.  What is the work of the liberal church today?  During this anniversary celebration, how can we lift up the heart of our history while pushing ourselves forward into our own courageous work?  On a good day, gathered in worship, might we still hear the pealing of the bells?
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