Recent Sermons & Services

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9:00 am – 10:00 am May 22, 2022 Matt Pargeter-Villarreal, Intern Minister
Join Matt for a sermon about…yes, unicorns! This Sunday, come along on a journey on the history and mythology of these mythical creatures and how they not only are popular for parties and cake toppers, but they have much to show us about appreciating and recognizing the existence of the Divine in our everyday world.
Music: Elya Arrasmith, soprano, Susan Peck, piano

May 15, 2022 What is Beautiful? The Rev. Angela Herrera
Our theological theme this month is “beauty.” But what is that exactly? A look at the spirituality and politics of beauty.
Music: Chalice Choir
Sermon Text

May 8, 2022 “Trans Kids Are the Image of God” The Rev. Angela Herrera
Legislation harming transgender kids and adults has proliferated, spurred by the religious right. We’ll examine the beliefs underpinning these laws, and their impact, from factual, ethical, and theological angles.
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May 1, 2022 “Learning From Beltane” Matt Pargeter-Villarreal, Intern Minister
Our six Sources of the Living Tradition as UUs speak to “Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.” What does Beltane, a Pagan celebration traditionally celebrated at the beginning of May have to teach us about that?
Music: Chalice Choir

9:00 am: Virtual Worship: “Bridging”
April 24, 2022 The Rev. LaVallee
Bridging is the annual UU celebration welcoming our youth into young adulthood. Bridging is a ritual, and a process, and a commitment! First U youth Mozely Bleistein, Gina Kennedy, and Oliver Workman will offer homilies.
Music: Spare Parts

9:00 am: Virtual Easter Service: “When the Dead Refuse to Stay Down”
The Rev. Angela Herrera
When the dead refuse to stay down, when the living do not cease to be in conversation with them, then Love finds its fullest power. An Easter sermon for our times.
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April 10: “Palm Sunday” Matt Pargeter-Villarreal, Intern Minister.
Many all over the world will be observing Palm Sunday this day, celebrating the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. But, with global warming and climate change wreaking havoc on our world, what would the Divine have to say about our world today? Join Matt for a discussion of the 7th Principle and why it matters for us as people of faith and stewards of the environment. Music: Gabriel Longhuinos and Pauline LaBar-Shelton.

April 3: “Awakening” The Rev. Angela Herrera.
Spiritually speaking, the opposite of being awake isn’t being asleep, it’s more like being in a trance. How do we become aware of the trances we are in? Music: David Berkeley, Santa Fe singer-songwriter.
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March 27 “When Life Stinks” The Rev. Angela Herrera
We all experience painful seasons in life. What does it mean to lean on a UU faith when our personal lives are difficult? Music: Lara Manzanares, New Mexican indie singersongwriter.
Text Version

March 20 “Some of the Time: An Agnostic’s Faith” The Rev. Bob LaVallee
About a third of the congregation at First Unitarian is agnostic. That is, they claim neither faith nor disbelief in God. What does that mean for our religious community? Music: Spare Parts, First U’s contemporary band.

March 13 “The End Is Near: Faith During the Apocalypse” The Rev. Bob LaVallee
Times are bad and likely to get worse. Should we have faith? And if so, in what? Music: Vocal trio, After the Gold Rush

March 6 “Faith” A Sermon by The Rev. Angela Herrera, delivered by Kristin Satterlee.
How do UUs understand the word “faith?” An introduction to this month’s theological theme.Music: Karl Winkler, string quartet.

February 27, 2022 “The Meaning of Love” The Rev. Bob LaVallee.
Thich Nhat Hanh died this past January. We remember his extraordinary grace and conviction and reflect on his teachings.

February 20 “How the Circle Widens: One Woman’s Journey”
Fr. Anne Topeano Pulpit Guest
Father Anne was ordained on October 16, 2021 in Albuquerque with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. She is committed to seeing women welcomed into the Roman Catholic priesthood within her lifetime. While many have understandably walked away from the Roman Catholic Church, she chooses to obey the Holy Spirit’s call to collaborate with God in bringing about gender equality in one of the most powerful institutions in the world.
Music: Jazz Brasileiro, bossa nova duo.

February 13 “Widening the Circle” The Rev. Angela Herrera.
A sermon about UU theologies of diversity and inclusion, and brave work happening at the national level in our denomination.

February 6“The Next Generation”Matt Pargeter-Villarreal, Intern Minister
Join Matt for a reflection on his time in youth and young adult ministry—and how young people have a lot to show us about moving our denomination forward in the name of inclusivity and social justice into the years to come.Music: Becky O’Boyle, viola. Susan Peck, piano. Henry Eccles, Sonata #11 in G minor.

January 30 “Eulogies” The Ministers & Spare Parts
The popular, annual service dedicated to notable (if sometimes unknown) people who died in the last year. We’ll celebrate some of the regular people whose lives touched ours, even if we never knew their names. Inventors, activists, scientists, musicians and more… come for good music and good stories; leave with a spring in your step.

January 23
“Unintended Consequences”
The Rev. Angela Herrera
Sometimes we set out with the best intentions, and then things go hilariously or terribly wrong. What then?
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January 16
“Within, Among, Without”
The Rev. Bob LaVallee
The work of anti-racism and anti-oppression requires that we encounter it on a variety of levels; within ourselves, in our relationships, and in the systems and institutions of the world. A big first step is understanding what kind of effort is required for what level. On this Sunday before Martin Luther King Day, Rev. Bob LaVallee will explore how we might do this as individuals and as a congregation.

January 9 “Intention”
The Rev. Angela Herrera
In physics, “inertia” describes the way things that are in motion continue in that motion until some external force interrupts. It’s what you might call the “same old, same old” quality of matter. Our lives can also take on an inertia-like quality, perhaps heading in a less than satisfying direction, unless we apply intention to them.
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January 2 “Emerging into Joy”
The Worship Coordinators

In these pandemic years, we have been waiting. Though in many ways the world still holds its breath, can we begin to emerge into joy? This interactive service will incorporate our annual worship stations, both in person and on Zoom.

December 26
“The One Where We Talk About Boxing Day”
Matt Pargeter-Villarreal, Intern Minister
The day after Christmas, December 26, known to many people as Boxing Day, is celebrated in many different countries around the world, but unknown to most people in the U.S. Join Matt, our Intern Minister, for the history of this celebration— and what it has to teach us about what is truly important in this holiday season.

December 19 “Thieves of Joy” The Rev. Bob LaVallee.
Sometimes we work against our own joy without realizing that we’re doing it. Rev. Bob will talk about the corrosive power of sarcasm, cynicism, and envy.

December 12
“Lighten Up! The Spiritual Practice of Cultivating and Expressing Joy” The Rev. Katie Culbert
Do you dance like no one is watching? Have you laughed so loud that it can be heard across the room? These are ways we express and cultivate joy. How do we create a life of blissfulness, a life that prioritizes happiness? How do we surrender to the expression of jubilation? The Rev. Katie Culbert has worked as a Director of Religious Exploration and is a Chaplain, most recently employed at Tampa General Hospital. Katie lives in Tampa with her two teenage boys, Desi and Casey.

December 5 “Joy” The Rev. Angela Herrera
What is the relationship between pleasure and joy? Between joy and justice? We’ll delve into these questions and how to increase joy in our lives in this introduction to December’s theological theme.
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3 Responses

  1. Sara Neyer says:

    Today I read “What do we believe,” Rev. Angela Herrera’s sermon from February 10, 2019, at the Prairie Wind Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Gillette, Wyoming. We truly enjoy your sermons here, and since we have no minister of our own, we are a “do it yourself” type church. Thanks for making your sermons available in text form. You give us great ideas and we appreciate your sharing so freely.

  2. I appreciated and enjoyed Rev. LaVallee’s sermon on El Salvador. It was inspiring that he traveled there for a powerful ministry effort. I need to do that, myself. Bob has an excellent ministerial presence in the pulpit, too. Very comforting. xk

  3. Kimberly Caputo-Heath says:

    Thank you for being open about why First Unitarian does not have a land acknowledgement in your sermon on ‘Settler Colonialism”, Rev. Bob Lavalee. I feel very inspired to join or start a conversation about what we can do as a congregation to start more actively engaging in decolonization to the point where we can feel comfortable creating a land acknowledgement. One start would to be to find a way to add one or even several symbols of Indigenous Spiritual beliefs to our wall of religious symbols spanning the world. We are blessed to have several nations historically and currently tied to this land on which we reside. Let us not overlook that Dine (Navajo), Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache, are also a part of this land’s history. (Which brings up an interesting question… If we tie our acknowledgements to land specifically, then how do we remember nomadic nations? Does this support an idea that nomadic civilizations are “less than” which is just another layer of settler colonialism?)

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