A small, non-creedal, Unitarian Universalist fellowship located on Route 25A in Muttontown (between Old Brookville and East Norwich) in northern Nassau County, Long Island, New York, with services at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.
(Home and Continuation Pages Courtesy of S. Berliner, III)
[This page is a continuation of the
MUUF Home Page, which you should probably read first.
You may wish to visit SB,III's UNITARIANISM PAGE
for a concise history of, and information about, Unitarianism.]
On the MUUF Continuation Page 2:
On this MUUF Sermon Reviews for 2005 page
Barbara was going to see the Gates in Central Park, and expected to find there a subject for her sermon. She got there, and found "I don't get it." For her the Gates were only obscuring the trees and sky that she likes to see ; and she doesn't like crowds. She came to a horse path that was not included in the decoration. Se felt more at home there. She passed a stand of Buddhist information, and she picked up a pamphlet there. Maybe that was the place to find a subject for the Sunday's sermon. The first subject in the pamphlet was "Generosity". Let that be it.
From a Buddhist point of view, generosity is a detachment from the material value of things. It is not only a virtue itself, but it is also a basis for many other virtues. It is most immediately connected to gratitude. If you are generous it means that you know you have enough for yourself.
There are different kinds of giving. The most obvious kind is the giving of material things. A higher form of giving is giving of yourself. Giving of services; giving of attention; giving of space around you, giving of opportunity, giving of time; all this flows naturally from a mind that knows there is enough for all, enough material things, enough time, enough love. Lack of generosity is a product of fear, of feeling threatened for one's own well-being. And another part of generosity is allowing other people a different point of view. After all, the Gates experience shows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why should orange be the most effective color for some people?
Generosity is partly a matter of practice. Every time you are generous you stretch your limit a little. Or you may be able to make up with a different kind of generosity. The Dalai Lama was asked by somebody to give him some of his time. He said "I can give you only two minutes; I have to be at a meeting at a certain time." He gave the two minutes generously, and it was enough.
To be able to give we need to be at peace with the present moment; we need to know that for the present moment we have enough. - As an example of sufficiency Barbara told of some Buddhist pilgrimages to holy places, where the host community always supplies refreshments. Some communities were rich, some were very poor; and what they could provide as hosts varied accordingly. Whatever was provided was appreciated accordingly. A very poor treat may be equal to a magnificent banquet.
Generosity may consist in permitting somebody a different opinion. Generosity creates goodwill. Generosity consists in not hating, not wanting to have your opinion dominate. There is always room for more.
From the discussion: If your generosity is caused by worry about your image, you are not generous. - I think my circumstances oblige me to some generosity, and I don't give myself credit for this generosity. My problem is: How much? My first obligation is still to take care of myself. I have established an arbitrary standard. I might as well give more, or give less. - People showed enormous generosity to Tsunami victims. It is easier to show compassion to spectacular suffering. In fact individual suffering deserves just as much compassion. If your house burns down you are just as badly off as if you had been in the Chicago fire.
February 27, 2005 - Consolation - Rev. Don Erickson* (UU Grad-Student Minister)
Don has not been here since December 5th. Since then a lot of things happened, in private lives and in the world at large. Christ's birth was celebrated and its significance remembered. The day after the tsunami struck and destroyed everything in it's path. God's coming that Christmas day meant hope But where was God the day when the waves struck? Did God create or permit another flood even though he promised Noah not to?
If you are a Jew, Christian, or Moslem, you must wonder about your claim about an omnipotent yet merciful Father. It is the old question of God letting bad things happen to good people. A question that still pervades in situations of homicide or natural disasters, or the tragedy in Darfur. If you are a Buddhist you believe that Karma impersonally presides over events that occur. Actions have consequences which in turn influence subsequent actions Those affected by the Tsunami are in effect paying for sins from the past; either in their most recent lives or in lives before.
Religious people in southeast Asia mostly tried to reason the event away as some kind of punishment. Buddhists and Hindus blamed Christian and Muslim growth in Thailand and Sri Lanka and India. One said it was the fishermen's taking of life. One spoke of punishment meted out to the bad people who survived. Muslims and Christians claimed God punished the unrepentant idol worshipers. One Muslim blamed the increasing fall of Muslim communities into drug use and rape. One Christian said it was the fault of communities warring against each other. One minister claimed that God did not will the Tsunami. God, in his utter love for humanity rejected his existence as an all-powerful God; God does not remain beyond and separated from us, but suffers with us and is thus able to comfort.
Don was not content with any of these religious explanations of real devastation. There was no otherworldly meaning to be harvested from all this death and devastation. For one seeking to be a religious minister, the dilemma is: What good is religion in the face of it all? What good is preaching for a religious minister trying to offer spiritual affirmation and promote religious meaning?
Then Don's grandmother died, rather suddenly, at 89. She had been a picture of health. She still drove. She was active. The family spent the day at the hospital, saying goodbye, comforting and receiving comfort from each other. Her minister came to console the family and to pray with them. He is one of those hellfire and brimstone Baptist ministers who yell absolute truth from the pulpit. But on this day he was a gentle source of comfort.
Most of Don's family are ardent evangelicals. In his early 20s Don had found Evangelicalism's exclusive teaching to be lacking compassion and wisdom. However, in this moment of grief and pain that he was sharing, he saw the comfort that faith could give. While he found his comfort and soothing elsewhere, he saw that theirs was just as legitimate. Religion is a cohesive space. At its deepest, religion connects us, offering a collective space to reside in when surrounded by despair. It gifts us with hope and comfort. They sang "Be still my soul, when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last." Don was moved by these Christian words. He felt embraced by the words and music, by the collective crying and tears. He was not alone with his grief. Religion served as the space where they gathered. His mother asked him to say something on behalf of the family. Was he to speak in his own language, as a Buddhist slanted toward Unitarian Universalism? He decided to speak their language. He talked about his grandmother being Christ-like, teaching them how to be Christ-like, about heaven opening its arms to her, about Grandma being here with them in spirit. - Religion is not about salvation, but about salving the pain in our darkest moments. The point of religion is not to solve all our problems or to give meaning to all of life. It is to bring us together and help soothe our individual and collective suffering. With this said, it is not important what I as a minister believe, or what the religiously correct will think. As a minister, when hope is hard to find, you speak the religious language of the hurting and grieving and hopeless, even if it is not your own.
Don spoke of another person who had died in those few weeks: A Buddhist woman in a resort in Thailand who was killed by the Tsunami. They had seen her only this one time; but her kindness stayed with them to make a lifelong friendship.
In insisting on your own religion as the truth for everybody, the positive, practical nature of religion becomes marred by negative egotism and divisiveness. If we could see how the others' religion speaks to its believers, tenderly comforting at the most vulnerable times, then we would truly see the other as more like us, see that in reality the other is ourselves. The ultimate meaning of all religion is to bind together, to unite. God is in the space between us.
If you enjoy history, especially that of Long Island, visit:
The Oyster Bay Historical Society site.
Front of Fellowship House
Rear of Fellowship House
S. Berliner, III
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