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Braver/Wiser Archive
Braver/Wiser Archive
Worship
  • Putting the Pieces Together

    In real life, we can only place the pieces, one by one, and see what kind of picture we create. Sometimes we turn out to have chosen the wrong piece. Sometimes the picture is wildly unexpected.
    By Amanda Poppei | 4/4/2018
  • Kindling the Spirit

    What if we encouraged and celebrated each other for who we are? What if, instead of criticizing, we challenged with love, affirming the good we see in one another?
    By Connie Simon | 3/21/2018
  • Opportunities to Say Yes

    Last year for Lent, I decided to say yes to any request. I made it all the way to Easter without having to honor my decision.
    By Nathan Ryan | 3/14/2018
  • Strangers at the Door

    To offer hospitality, we first have to identify ourselves — sometimes in inconvenient or uncomfortable ways — as helpers; as willing to offer kindness or connection to someone we might disagree with.
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 3/7/2018
  • Faithful

    Being faithful doesn’t mean endless work. It also means attention to the movement of spirit that can appear as an hour of sleep, the truth of a toddler, or a donut in the middle of the day.
    By Robin Tanner | 2/28/2018
  • Another, Truer Song

    I wanted so much to believe that God was watching over this boy, that God was tender and protective and fiercely on the side of life and that this boy would not slip away.
    By Elea Kemler | 2/21/2018
  • No Longer Claiming "Divorced"

    I spent time feeling embarrassed—that somehow I had failed—because I had filed for divorce. It’s been over nine years now, and I wake up every single day happy with my decision.
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 2/14/2018
  • Good Enough

    Spirit of Compassion, remind us that our task as humans is not perfection, but faithfulness.
    By Lindasusan Ulrich | 1/31/2018
  • Telling a New Story

    I’m not the same person who stood in that tattoo parlor eleven years ago. Still, I don’t for a minute regret being permanently marked with this snapshot in time, of my wounds and my hope.
    By Mandie McGlynn | 1/20/2018
  • Wanting to Break Free

    I wanted so badly to break free and let loose—but I just couldn't. I was stuck in my own false ideas of the congregation's expectations of me. Luckily, there’s still time.
    By DeReau K. Farrar | 1/16/2018
  • Mrs. Cash's Oranges

    Liking somebody, even loving somebody, is not enough to protect them from shade that you cannot even see, much less understand.
    By Teresa Honey Youngblood | 1/10/2018
  • Stopping to Help

    My oldest child was confused: why would no one stop and help us? Even though people weren’t stopping to help us, my son said, he wanted to be more like me and stop to help someone anyway.
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 1/3/2018
  • The Possibility of Redemption

    We have narratives that guide the way we experience and know one another—but the Rev. Dr. William Barber often reminds me that “you must always believe the redemption of your enemy is possible.”
    By Robin Tanner | 12/26/2017
  • Messy, Wildly Imperfect Love

    Every year, I tell the congregation not to worry about mistakes because there aren’t any; there is only us, telling an old story about love getting born into this aching world.
    By Elea Kemler | 12/20/2017
  • Wired for Connection

    It’s been said that it’s easier to untangle a string of lights if you plug them in; it’s no different for people. Humans, just like strings of lights, are wired for connection.
    By Erin Powers | 12/13/2017
  • Tender Places

    Spirit of Compassion, help us draw strength from all that we are. Give us new language with which to claim our wholeness, a new litany of joy built out of words that wounded.
    By Lindasusan Ulrich | 12/6/2017
  • An Adequate Christmas

    An adequate Christmas would have you calm and open, taking it in, accepting whatever is. Slow it all down like you might be, in some way, attuned to the pace of the Eternal. If you need, you can fake it at first.
    By Jake Morrill | 11/29/2017
  • I Ride Bus

    My three-year-old is almost completely nonverbal. Every day when she gets off the bus, I ask her the same question: I ask her how her day was, and every day I get the same answer: ”Momma, I ride bus.” I ask her what she had for lunch and who she played with. I ask her if she...
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 11/22/2017
  • The Dynamics of Silence

    "How complicated it is to break silence: to open all of the secrets in all of our broken hearts. But silence does break; truth seeks the light. We're unraveling silence because we have determined that our power with one another is greater than the power someone once had over us."
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 11/15/2017
  • Holding Space for Truth to Bloom

    Someone whispered to me, “Can you pray?” All eyes turned to me. I had no earthly clue what to say. It was a profound gut-level panic. It was the moment I learned to speak the truth as best I understand it, and to hold space for it to bloom.
    By Lisa Bovee-Kemper | 10/25/2017
  • Making Space for Our Doubts

    “If I ask you a question, do you promise to tell me the truth?" For future reference, if a child asks you this question at Christmas time, EVADE.
    By Becky Brooks | 10/18/2017
  • Pulled by a Fragile Thread

    We, the willing, follow the threads to one another; past rightness and quips and tweets. We will find one another and persist past sunrise.
    By Robin Tanner | 10/4/2017
  • Between Wonder and Fear

    Life is full of seesaws: it offers us moments of extreme wonder and moments of fear. Sometimes you have to live through the fear for the wonder to arrive.
    By Elizabeth Harding | 9/27/2017
  • Multicultural Joy

    Each of us at the wedding had unique stories about their life, but most knew how it felt to be an Asian American in this country. That was enough for me.
    By Yuri Yamamoto | 9/20/2017
  • "Change" Is a Word on Wheels

    How many times do I need to make mistakes at the expense of other people, or people’s groups, before I’m ready to admit that I’m not any better at this than the bigoted and willfully ignorant? If I am to “be change,” I must commit to humility and refuse to settle for my own...
    By DeReau K. Farrar | 9/12/2017
  • Love Showed Up

    Remembering is the art of holding a memory and sharing it; it’s drawing upon that memory so it can help us to grow into people who live lives of meaning and service. As a practice, remembering connects us deeply to each other and to the love that sustains us.
    By Elizabeth Harding | 8/23/2017
  • Who We Can Turn To

    What happened in Charlottesville is nothing new. We know how to fight it, and it is done in community—wherever we can find it. Spirit that runs through us all, remind me to look up, to reach out, to find those doing this work alongside me and join them.
    By Aisha Ansano | 8/16/2017
  • Blessed Curses, Cursed Blessings

    Someone had broken into our garage. We picked our way through the space, storage tubs strewn about, ready to make a list of what was missing: two wool sweaters and half a tent. Someone was suffering a misfortune here, but it wasn’t us.
    By Becky Brooks | 8/9/2017
  • Grateful to Our Teachers

    In the moment that I switched to “teacher mode,” I recalled moments in which I had inadvertently said ungracious things. I was fortunate enough to have professors, ministers, and friends illuminate my clumsiness for me. They did so in a way that was gracious enough that it...
    By Seanan R. Holland | 8/2/2017
  • Nourishing Our Whole Selves

    Our souls and minds need sustenance as much as our physical bodies. May we delight in the ways we find to provide this nourishment to our whole selves.
    By Aisha Ansano | 7/26/2017
  • Love's Pronoun Is Plural

    My son, Caleb, and I went to Starbucks on a recent Saturday morning. We often do this as a prelude to the weekly grocery shopping. It sweetens the deal, which is important, as he is about to be 14 and on the autism spectrum. Both of these factors contribute to his resistance to...
    By Elea Kemler | 7/19/2017
  • Love Always Protects

    There’s something deeply moving for me about the idea of a love that will always have my back. "Always"—meaning unconditionally and without hesitation. And there's something deeply jarring for me about the idea that, despite my most earnest hopes, my best intentions and desires...
    By DeReau K. Farrar | 7/12/2017
  • Becoming a "Real" American

    For almost thirty years after coming to the United States, I didn't fully understand the cultural cues around me. Initially, this gave me the false sense of liberation. I often interpreted uncomfortable situations to be my fault, as an ignorant immigrant. Trying hard to...
    By Yuri Yamamoto | 7/5/2017
  • Life Tips from a Pottery Wheel

    The most important lesson pottery has taught me is to not be attached to the final product—the process matters more than the product.
    By Tim Atkins | 6/28/2017
  • Green Beans

    Light We Seek, wherever I am on the journey toward wholeness for all of us—that is, toward racial equality—help me to forgive myself and others for missteps and missed opportunities, and guide my efforts to build up the relationships where love, justice, and understanding grow.
    By Teresa Honey Youngblood | 6/21/2017
  • Do the Next Thing with Love

    What DO we do in the face of evil? Anything. Everything. Pray, protest, bake, hug, grieve, wail, laugh, explain, linger, research, fight, cry. What we absolutely must not do is ignore it.
    By Becky Brooks | 6/14/2017
  • Keeping Our Connections Strong

    I am not alone. I don’t have to face the world alone and I don’t have to fix the world alone. When I need hope, I find it in on the faces of my people. All we need is hope... and for that, we have each other.
    By Sean Parker Dennison | 6/7/2017
  • To Be Suspicious

    As a born traveler, I love the novelty of discovering a familiar thing in a new setting. And what’s more familiar than a white clapboard church building on the town green? On my time away from the pulpit I often go for long drives in the hill country around my home in central...
    By Daniel Gregoire | 5/31/2017
  • Delicious Ambiguity

    How is it that I, a minister and known skeptic, am able to a) not run around screaming that the sky is falling and, b) do my job at all? This question perplexes those belonging to religious traditions that offer comfort in the form of certainty. For some, answers to life’s...
    By Marisol Caballero | 5/17/2017
  • What Do We Do with Our Pain?

    People are in pain all around us, all of the time. How can we be companions to those in pain, and bear witness, so that pain can be transformed into something less harmful? Last week, the crowd on a New York City subway herded me into a corner against someone’s seat: a man in...
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 5/10/2017
  • Confessing Communities

    I long for progressive religious communities that are confessing communities—places where we admit our wrongdoings, are held accountable, and called back into covenant.
    By Robin Tanner | 5/3/2017
  • Exuberance

    What's my favorite weather? When the wind whips your face, you're alive, and you can think what you will.
    By Jake Morrill | 4/26/2017
  • Home Is Where We Feel Connected

    We humans have both a natural desire and a spiritual need to feel connected and to grow roots, even if those roots aren't necessarily tied to a geographic place.
    By Marisol Caballero | 4/19/2017
  • Good Intentions and Incomplete Efforts

    I’ve been doing a lot of guest preaching lately and it’s always a little awkward. I often don’t know how the congregation is used to doing things. Recently I’ve tripped on my robe, forgotten to extinguish the chalice, called someone by the wrong name, and gave the wrong musician...
    By Sean Parker Dennison | 3/29/2017
  • Hope for a Great Sea Change

    With a name like mine, it’s easy to guess I’m Irish. My forebears were among the millions who struggled to escape Ireland’s disastrous Potato Famine (1845-1852). With his six siblings, my great-grandfather Patrick boarded one of the infamous “coffin ships” out of Liverpool. When...
    By Maureen Killoran | 3/22/2017
  • Blessed by a Stranger

    There we were, two strangers idling at the red light―but I felt seen, and blessed, by a stranger.
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 3/15/2017
  • Singing Out for Love's Return

    For twelve years, Daisy has been the best dog any person could love. But last week, when she disappeared into the woods? That wasn’t what I was thinking. As I tramped along the wet trail, calling for her, other words came to mind. We’ve rambled together through these woods for...
    By Jake Morrill | 3/8/2017
  • Expect Nothing

    I had finally begun to relax—a bit. We were en route to Pennsylvania. My friend, a formal part of our “framily,” was visiting. We decided a visit to a crayon factory was the perfect winter outing for toddlers. The day was clear and crisp with typical bumper-to-bumper traffic for...
    By Robin Tanner | 3/1/2017
  • Both the Burning and the Light

    About six months ago, I got a new tattoo. It’s a lit match on my right wrist, added to an arm full of paintbrushes, pens and other art supplies. As a minister, my tattoos are sometimes controversial, and I was a little nervous about what people would think about this addition....
    By Sean Parker Dennison | 2/1/2017
  • Love Is the Last Thing to Ration

    When I picked up her call, Kira’s voice was thick with tears. Kira, one of my best friends, is the mother of 4-year old twins, working full-time, and grieving a recent divorce—which means she’s also learning how to be a single parent. "I lost it tonight,” she confessed in a rush...
    By Erika A. Hewitt | 1/25/2017

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