Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation of Second Life!

9 01 2011


Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation of Second Life web site.

Unitarian Universalism is based not on theology, but on 7 Principles. These are:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Within the virtual world of Second Life, we have formed a vibrant congregation which lives out these principles. We are real world UUs who meet in a virtual environment. It is no game, but a technologically effective way for people world wide to meet and exchange ideas and to seek personal growth through education and support.

In these pages you will find news relating to our congregation, as well as past sermons presented during our weekly Thursday services or monthly Saturday services.

We invite you to explore our website, visit a congregation near you, and discover Unitarian Universalism!

Once again, WELCOME!





2014-12-18 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Peter Newtone

——————————–

BAHÁ’Í REFLECTIONS ON THE 1ST UU PRINCIPLE:
THE INHERENT WORTH AND DIGNITY OF EVERY PERSON

Tonight I will be sharing some Bahá’í reflections on the 1st UU Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. More than a high-sounding ideal, this principle is a way of life which demands constant vigilance, self-evaluation, effort and self-sacrifice. A heart-rending illustration of this is the following event, which took place when Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, was first taken prisoner:

Bahá’u’lláh was stripped of His outer garments, the soles of His feet were beaten and His hat knocked off His head. With bleeding feet and in chains He was forced to walk to Tehran in the heat of the midsummer sun. Crowds of people lined the streets, shouting, screaming obscenities at Him.

One old woman, with a ferocity and anger that belied her years, thrust her way through the crowds. “I adjure you! Give me a chance to throw my stone in His face!” Bahá’u’lláh stopped the guards, saying “Suffer not this woman to be disappointed, deny her not what she regards as a meritorious act in the sight of God.”

So tonight, instead of an intellectual approach to this principle, I will be sharing a few stories of how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the beloved son of Bahá’u’lláh, was observed putting this principle into practice during His travels to the West.

Listening to others:

Some of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visitors would talk on and on about their worldly knowledge, but He would encourage them to speak, and listen attentively and in silence. In “Portals to Freedom”, Howard Colby Ives reports, “There was never that eager tenseness, that restlessness so often met, showing most plainly that the listener has the pat answer ready the moment he should have a chance to utter it…

“It was more than a sympathetic absorption of what the ear received. It was as though the two individualities became one; as if He so closely identified Himself with the one speaking that a merging of spirits occurred which made a verbal response almost unnecessary, superfluous…

“And when, under His encouraging sympathy, the interviewer became emptied of his words, there followed a brief interval of silence… no instant and complete outpouring of explanation and advice. He sometimes closed His eyes a moment as if He sought guidance from above himself; sometimes sat and searched the questioner’s soul with a loving, comprehending smile that melted the heart.

“And when He finally spoke, and that modulated, resonant voice of music came, the words were so unexpected… that the questioner was [left with] a calmness, an understanding which went much deeper than the mind.”

Valuing every act of love:

One day, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was seated at the table with a group of friends, when a traveler arrived. He presented a cotton handkerchief to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who untied it and found a piece of dry black bread and a shriveled apple.

The traveler said, “A poor workman came to me and said, ‘I hear you are going to the presence of our Beloved. I have nothing to send, but this my dinner. Please offer it to Him with my loving devotion.’” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spread the poor handkerchief before Him and, leaving His own luncheon untouched, ate of the workman’s dinner, broke pieces off the bread and handed them to the assembled guests, saying: “Eat with me of this gift of humble love.”

A poor woman was eager to contribute something to the first Bahá’í Temple of North America in Wilmette, Illinois. At a nearby construction site, the builder let her pick out a stone from the reject pile.

She got an old, small baby carriage, wheeled the stone in it to the train and, against the conductor’s protests, hauled it onto the platform. After endless delays and two changes, she was able to get the baby carriage to Wilmette, where it finally collapsed. Fortunately, two newspaper delivery boys let her use their express wagon for the final stretch to the grounds.

At the ground-breaking ceremony, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned away the golden trowel he was offered and took up a working man’s pick and shovel. And instead of the special stone sent for the purpose, He used the “stone refused by the builder” as the corner stone of the Temple, where it can still be seen today.

Valuing sacrifice:

Once ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was asked, “Why do all the guests who visit you come away with shining countenances?” He answered, with his beautiful smile, “I cannot tell you, but in all those upon whom I look, I see only my Father’s Face.” The following story illustrates this:

A cleaning woman greatly wished to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but was too embarrassed by her rough, work-worn hands to stand in the public reception line. So she stood aside, and finally, hoping to simply touch His robe and dash away before He saw her hands, she approached ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. As she bent over to touch His robe, He took one of her hands and raised her up, carefully examining the captive hand. Finally, with deep love and understanding, He gazed into her eyes. “Sacrifice!”, He uttered simply.

Seeing more deeply:

One day in London, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was having scheduled, private audiences. A woman arrived without an appointment and was told it was not possible to fit her in, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was talking with some “most important people”.

Descending the stairway, she was greatly disappointed, but suddenly, to her astonishment, a messenger dashed down saying that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wished to see her. With authority His voice, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was heard saying, “A heart has been hurt. Hurry, hurry, bring her to me!”

In San Francisco, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was late for a meeting with some local dignitaries, but every time the hostess urged Him that it was time, He smiled and waved her away, saying, “Very soon! Very soon!”

Suddenly the door bell rang, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sprang up to greet a dusty, disheveled man, whom He embraced like a long lost friend. The man had read of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the newspapers and felt he must see Him, but as he did not have enough money for the car fare, he walked fifteen miles to San Francisco.

Had ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left on time, they would have missed each other, but He had “felt his approach” and would not leave until His guest was seated at the table with tea and sandwiches. Only then did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá say, ‘Now I must go, but when you have finished, wait for Me in My room upstairs, until I return, and then we will have a great talk.”

Honoring the inherent worth and dignity of one’s enemies

While in France, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had a remarkable encounter with the royal prince, Zillah Sultan. He and his uncle the Shah had been instrumental in Bahá’u’lláh’s exiles and imprisonment, and in making hundreds of Bahá’ís suffer worse than death. After the Shah’s downfall, which had also freed Abdu’l-Bahá from prison, this prince had fled to Europe.

One day he saw Abdu’l-Bahá in His Persian robes and approached Him. An observer said, “If you could have heard the wretch mumbling his miserable excuses!” But Abdu’l-Bahá took the prince in His arms. “All that is of the past,” He said, “Never think of it again.”

“Do not look at the shortcomings of anybody,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would say, “see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls.”

Race unity:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that human diversity is like the flowers of one garden: “Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet… this diversity increases their charm and adds to their beauty.” The following event illustrates this:

Some street children were taken to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and He greeted each one with a handclasp, an arm around a shoulder and with such smiles and laughter that it almost seemed He was a boy with them. Among the last to enter the room was a colored lad of about thirteen years. He was quite dark and, being the only one of his race among them, he evidently feared that he might not be welcome.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá saw him, His face lighted up with a heavenly smile. He raised His hand with a gesture of princely welcome and exclaimed in a loud voice, so that none could fail to hear, that here was a black rose.
The room fell into instant silence. The black face became illumined with a happiness and love hardly of this world. The other boys looked at him with new eyes. He had been called a black… many things, but never before a black rose.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had sent for a box of mixed chocolates, and He walked among the boys, placing a large handful in the hands of each, with a word and smile for everyone. Finally he took out a long, dark chocolate nougat, looked at it a moment and then around at the group of boys, who were watching Him intently and expectantly.

Without a word, He crossed the room to where the colored boy was sitting, and, with a piercing glance that swept the group, laid the chocolate against the black cheek. His face was radiant as He lay His arm around the boy’ shoulder, and that radiance seemed to fill the room.

No words were necessary to convey His meaning, and there could be no doubt that all the boys caught it. You see, He seemed to say, he is not only a black flower, but also a black sweet. You eat black chocolates and find them good; perhaps you would find this black brother of yours good also, if you once tasted his sweetness.

Again that awed hush fell upon the room. Again the boys all looked with real wonder at the colored boy as if they had never seen him before, which indeed was true.

And as for the boy himself, upon whom all eyes were now fixed, he seemed perfectly unconscious of all but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. His eyes were fastened upon Him with an adoring, blissful look, and he was transformed. The reality of his being had been brought to the surface, and the angel he really was, revealed.





2014-12-11 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: dav0 Turas

——————————–

Welcome.

 

** Announcements **

 

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

 

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat. For

visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian

Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the

diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer, either

here in SL or in RL. Please come again.

 

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

“Unitarian Universalists of SL” to receive regular announcements.

There are lots of events besides this weekly service to take part in.

Be sure to check out our web site: http://fuucsl.org, for more details

on these and other such events.

 

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get

more involved.

There is rental property available in UUtopia as well – contact Zyzzy

Zarf to learn more.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please

contact a member of the Leadership Group – their names are available

in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

 

Please also join us after the service for coffee and conversation.

 

Are there any announcements?

 

** Lighting the Chalice **

 

“We gather this hour as people of faith With joys and sorrows, gifts

and needs. We light this beacon of hope, Sign of our quest For truth

and meaning, In celebration of the life we share together”

– Christine Robinson

 

** Joys and Concerns **

 

Please feel free to share any joys and concerns…

 

** Opening Words **

 

Music and Spirituality

 

“Many people distrust politicians because of their lack of emotion.

Many preachers, on the other hand, pile on so much emotion that it

causes some people to doubt their authenticity. This causes more distrust.

And more times than not, people are correct in both cases. “Now, listen to

what I am about to tell you: Musicians do not have to be believed in. We do

not have to be trusted. Our Music speaks for itself without the listener

having to know anything about us. Music touches people’s emotions

in a way that nothing else can. When people find a musician they like,

they are usually fans for Life. If they like the musician and his Music,

they will open up their hearts to whatever that musician has to say.

It matters not what country the musician or the fan comes from.

Music is a language that all understand. It goes beyond and breaks

down barriers. This makes the musician very powerful, and with

power comes responsibility.

 

We create and release powerful emotions within ourselves and

others through a realm called entertainment. The word ‘entertainment’

can imply that one has ‘entered into attainment’ or ‘atonement’ which

means ‘at-one-ment.’ You could also call it in-tune-ment. Whatever you

call it,just know that it represents a high level. So when you partake

as a spectator, you may be watching someone who has attained this

level. But you are not only watching; the artist is allowing you to join

him at this level. If you join him, it allows both you and the artist to

reach even higher levels. As a spectator, you are actually able to

push the artist to these higher levels.

A gifted artist will carry you with him.

 

The cool thing about entertainment is that it is a choice.

It is not like politics, where we are un-American if we do not take part,

or like ‘good ole’ religion, where for thousands of years we’ve been

told what will happen to us if we don’t get some. Music is still a choice,

free and unencumbered. This is beautiful to some and frightening to others.

 

In 1968, in order to prevent a riot, President Johnson called upon

James Brown, a musician, to address the public after Reverend

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Mr. Brown, speaking

to the masses, was able to do what no politician could;

he calmed them. After that, James Brown stated that he was

perceived by the government as the most dangerous man in the world.

Because he did what he was asked to do, he was under close

surveillance for a long time. The government felt that if he could

easily stop a riot, he must easily be able to start one…

 

Church officials also know the power of Music,  Many of them

try to have the largest and best choir and band that they can.

Why? Because they know that the church with the best choir

has the biggest congregation. Some people pick their churches

based on the quality or quantity of the Music and attend mainly

for these reasons.”

 

Wooten, Victor L.

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

 

I feel like I have really only just begun my own journey learning

more about music.  A dabbler, I tend to try things and I especially

flock to a subject when I discover that I am graced with the presence

of truly talented teachers on that subject, and I feel that I have

discovered this to be true here in UUtopia.

** Offering **

 

Please be generous and donate to the offering plate so that we can help sustain UUtopia.

 

** Musical Interlude (UUtopia) **

 

~Principles and Beliefs~

 

Unitarian Universalists hold the Seven Principles as strong values and

moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The

Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of

us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist

religious communities.”

 

The Principles are:

 

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

As a leadership goal, we are challenged to explore at least one of

these principles each week.

 

This week, I would like to explore the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th Principles

by way of a new song I wrote entitled “UU Fight Song”

 

Let me preface by saying that this song is just a little bit inspired by the

U.S. college football season which is just winding up its regular season.

I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that I tend to get

fairly heavily involved in certain aspects of college football anyway – in

particular the cheerleading section, but it’s probably not what you think.

 

The main thing I like about college football is that there seems to be much more

team spirit (otherwise known as emotion) in college sports than in sports at

other levels – such as pro football.  There is a certain amount of this same spiritual

presence – per se – in other sports, as well as at other, younger grade levels, but

there is a certain almost tribalistic nature about the college level which is still also

typically balanced by good sportsmanship that I find intriguing.  There is also a

real diversity of fans and fan groupings – from the wilder student sections to the

more sedate family and alumni sections.  In all cases, people typically have a lot

of emotion tied up in the event.

 

Also present in college football – more than most other sports – is a level of regalia

which is really unrivalled in any other sport’s fan base.  Things such as mascots

(which is where a good deal of my interest lies), as well as other things such as

conference rivalries, team colors, trophies, and so on, all make for a real show.

One other key feature of college football is the school fight song!  There is nothing

like singing the school fight song to pump you up for the game!

 

And that leads me to the introduction of our next musical addition –

Now keep in mind, this is a prototype – a work in progress.  You will be able to tell

from my scratchy crud filled voice that I will probably need to try a few more cuts

of the audio, and it could probably use a few more insturments to fill out the band

section.  The words are a little more solid I think, but I would certainly welcome

feedback on the wording as well.  Anyway, without further ado, I present to you:

 

The UU Fight Song  (version 2a)

———-

 

If you are faced with injustice

If you are filled with dismay

We can help you,

stand up for you

Cause We Are… the UUs… HOORAY!!!

 

So when you need a savior

To help you through your day

Community

with Principles

Yes, Come On… and Join Us… TODAY!

———-

 

We are the champions of freedom

Progressives and liberals too

When you’re under attack,

just know we’ve got your back

Cause we fight for the rights of the true

 

We celebrate every person

Their worth and their dignity too

Value reason and love

over gods up above

And we go by the name of UU!

———-

 

Our mission may seem rather daunting

To question the authority

But remember the past

and who finishes last

Responsible search holds the key

 

So take up the fight for your brothers

And sisters for equality

Because no one is free

until all are you see

We’re the home of… the brave… and… the free…  (GO U U!)

 

** Discussion **

 

Please discuss…

 

** Choir Practice **

 

One thing I’d like to mention about these songs is that I have also

provided versions of them without vocals – so that someone else

can take a stab at singing them.  At this point I would ask whether

anyone would like to give it a try?  We might all try singing together

as well.  I can see if I can re-display the words if anyone would like

to try singing one or both.

 

If not now, then it might make sense to stage a choir practice session

sometime to work on figuring out ways of either recording a group sing,

or maybe conducting a group edit of the song.  Also, along that same vein,

Tee and I have been doing some musical collaboration using GarageBand –

which is what I have mostly using for putting these songs together so far.

We’d like to invite folks to join us in this effort if interested.  If nothing else,

you can simply ask and receive access to a zip file containing the project

files for these two songs.  Just be sure to ask.

 

In closing, I would like to mention that today is my oldest daughter’s

birthday.  Stacy is a flute and piccolo player in the U.S. Air Force.

In honor of her, I would like to share a URL of one of their recent

Flash Mob events reported on USA Today:

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/03/air-force-band-flash-mob/19824447/

 

If you look closely, you’ll see her – she is the strawberry blonde flute

player standing directly behind the conductor.  Happy Birthday Stacy!

** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **

 

“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, The warmth of

community, Or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts

until We are together again.” – Elizabeth Selle Jones

 

** Dance **

 

** Coffee Hour **

 





2014-12-04 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Etaoin Barcelona

——————————–

Order of Service – December 4, 2014

The fourth day of Chalica

 

For visitors, a special welcome.

If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (UU), a single meeting is not enough to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction offered here in SL or in RL,

so please come again.

You might also wish to look at www.uua.org. or consider joining the group Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements.

You can also check out the Web site www.fuucsl.org.

 

>> Welcome.

 

>> Chalice Lighting

The First Principle, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

Song: We Are One-Dan Seals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJQLoTz9sUE

 

The second Principle is to “Affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”

Theodore Parker,  Theodore Douglass

 

The third Principle is to “Affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.”

Mark Belletini

 

The fourth Principle is to “Affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”

Reverend Hilary Landau Krivcheni

 

The fifth Principle is to “Affirm and promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”

Rev. Parisa Parsa

 

The sixth Principle is “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”

Song: This is My Song

 

The final Principle is Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Song  “Blue Boat Home”





2014-11-27 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Tee Auster

——————————–

 

“Expressions of Thanksgiving”

“Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.”

— James Luther Adams

~Announcements~

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat.

For visitors, a special welcome.

If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”),

a single service is not enough

to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer,

either here in SL or in RL.  Please come again.

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements.

Also please check out fuucsl.org, our web site.

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact

a member of the Leadership Group…their names are available in the notecard dispenser

in the welcome area.

Please join us after the service for dancing and conversation – FUCCSL tradition!

Are there any other announcements?

Today’s service celebrates giving thanks from the varied expressions of our traditions. I hope you enjoy!

~Opening Words~

Today we celebrate a dream awakening.

Today we worship with renewed hope in our hearts.

Today we act on an audacity of hopes and dreams for the future.

Today we begin the hard work for justice, equity and compassion in all human relations,

for today is a day like no other

and it is ours to shape with vision and action.

Let us worship together and celebrate a dream awakening.

Elizabeth M. Strong

 

~Lighting the Chalice~

 

As we honor the sacred hunger for a light in our world

We light our chalice as a sign of our quest for truth and meaning

and in celebration of the life we share together.

The Chalice is now lit.

~Joys and Concerns~

Let us prepare our hearts to receive the joys and concerns,

hopes and sorrows, fears and dreams of one another.

If there is something that has recently happened to you, happy or sad,

and you would like to share it with us, now is the time.

Or feel welcome to take a breath and just sit.

We invite you to share your joys and concerns in chat, when you are ready.

Join me in a group response in voice or in chat

“May we be held in the heart of love.”

 

~Offering~

A freewill offering is a sacrament of a free Church.

This fellowship is supported by the voluntary generosity of all who join with us.

There is an offering plate in the pool in front of us.

Please be generous in support of this UU fellowship.

~An Interlude of Blessings and Quotes~

~A Prayer~

“Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be

And bless these gifts

Bestowed by Thee

And bless our loved ones everywhere,

And keep them in your loving care.”

~Moravian Blessing

“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”

~Meister Eckhart

“O Lord that lends me life,

Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”

~William Shakespeare

“This food is the gift of the whole universe-the sky, and much hard work,

May we eat it in mindfulness, so as to be worthy to receive it.

We accept this food so that we many practice the path of understanding and love.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

“For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For everything Thy goodness sends.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“He is God! Thou seest us, O my God, gathered around this table, praising Thy bounty, with our gaze upon Thy Kingdom.

O Lord! Send down upon us Thy heavenly food and confer upon us Thy blessing.

Thou art the Bestower. The Merciful, the Compassionate.”

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha

“Holy One of Blessing, may all the different peoples, cultures, traditions and lifestyles that constitute America work together to share what we have with those in need.”

~Rabbi Laura Geller

“That is infinite, this is infinite.

The infinite come form the infinite

If infinite is subtracted from the infinite, Infinite still remains,

Om”

~Hindu Prayer of Gratitude

`Reflection and Discussion`~

What Gives Meaning to Your Life?

The following excerpts are from an article by Judith Johnson appearing in The Huffington Post.

What sustains you? What puts a smile on your face and lights up your heart?

What keeps the embers of your soul on fire?

What really matters deeply to you?

It is so easy to get caught up in the ongoing activities and demands of our lives, often forgetting or losing track of what is most meaningful to us.

In the United States, our Thanksgiving holiday is about giving thanks to God, spending time with family and, of course, feasting.

For those who actually practice the fine art of giving thanks on this particular holiday or elsewhere in their lives, there is a sense of receiving all over again that for which we are grateful.

When we stop to think about what really matters to us, we bring it present in our consciousness and, in the present moment, we are able to experience our joy and gratitude for our good fortune all over again.

Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.

Beyond things, what is it that sustains you? I

s it beauty? Love? Belonging?

Or is it something else? I encourage you to take the time to find your answer to this question and, once you have your answer,

to celebrate the existence of that source of meaning in your life. Practice gratitude for that which sustains you.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-johnson/what-gives-your-life-mean_b_780118.html

Also in my research for today’s service, I found another article from Judith. I wish I had seen this one first!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-johnson/radical-transformational-gratitude_b_6205016.html

So I ask…

What sustains you? What puts a smile on your face and lights up your heart?

What keeps the embers of your soul on fire?

What really matters deeply to you?

Let’s share and discuss…

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

~John F. Kennedy

~Closing Words and Extinguishing the Chalice~

Our task now is to do what we can to advance reverence for life and deepen the promise of love.

Let us dedicate ourselves to the thinking, researching, practice and learning that will bring more love into the world.

Rebecca Ann Parker

May we go forward into this week with peace, love and understanding.

 





2014-11-20 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Peter Newtone

——————————–

LEADING A PRINCIPLE-CENTERED LIFE

As you know, both Unitarian Universalists and Bahá’ís are principle-centered communities, which hold basic principles that guide both their individual behavior and their organizational decision-making. But is that really so unique?

In polls about whether people’s lives are based on principles, well over 90% invariably claim they are, and yet society is plagued by profound, complex problems. Corporations spend millions on finding core values to guide their businesses,

and yet their actions are destroying the world economy and environment. The constitutions of all countries are bursting with grandiloquent doctrines, and even wars are fought in the name of high ideals such as liberty, justice, unity, equality…

My point here is not that principles are unimportant, but rather that leading a principle-centered life may not be as simple and straight-forward as it might seem at first. So this evening I will be sharing a few insights into why it may be so difficult and how we can make sense of all this.

  1.    Are there Universal Principles?

In today’s post-modernistic world, principles are often confused with “personal values” and identified with “values clarification”, which has so watered-down and weakened many recent “values education” initiatives. However, the word itself means both a starting point and a maxim, suggesting an immovable axiom or solid foundation on which to build something else.

Stephen Covey calls principles a guiding compass, “natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as un¬changing, as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.”  He equates them with eternal, universal values such as love, justice, honesty, forgiveness, humility, generosity, and wisdom, which Bahá’ís call spiritual qualities or divine attributes.

According to Covey, principles are “woven into the fabric of every civilized society.”  What changes from one period and culture to the next are not the principles themselves, but rather their application to differing societal needs, goals and perceptions.

For example, modesty is a universal value, but in one society it means covering oneself in black from head to toe, while in another it means adorning one’s nudity with strings of beads. Like the hurricane-resistant bamboo tree, principles are society’s firm roots while their shifting applications are like its flexible stem and branches.

  1.    Principle-Centeredness is a Collective Effort

Many self-centered folk tend to live according to short-term, personal convenience, while principle-centered people often concentrate on long-term, collective benefits, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. Self-centeredness can disintegrate the very fabric of society, while principle-centeredness has been known to build up great civilizations.

“The lesson of history,” says Covey, “is that to the degree that people and civilizations have operated in harmony with correct principles, they have prospered. At the root of societal declines are foolish practices that represent violations of correct principles.”

This echoes a statement by the Universal House of Justice, the global Bahá’í council: “There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough.

“The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures.

“Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them.”

  1.    Principles and Human Nature

This quote says that spiritual principles are inherent to human nature. Bahá’ís believe that the human soul is like the precious seed of a magnificent tree, which holds all of these beautiful spiritual qualities in potential. The Divine Gardener sows and cultivates that seed in the fertile soil of this world to germinate and develop its innate capacities.

Just as we are bodily drawn to the material resources we need for our physical well-being, our hearts are also inherently attracted to and delighted by spiritual qualities or universal principles such as love, beauty, purity, and harmony, which are good for our spiritual growth and development, and innately repulsed at hatred, ugliness, filth, and discord.

However, in the Bahá’í view, even so-called character flaws can be reframed as ill-directed spiritual qualities. For instance, people who take every opportunity to accumulate more and more wealth and possessions can be praised in one culture as being highly motivated, but criticized in another culture as being overly ambitious.

But is ambition in itself good or evil? In the Bahá’í view, all qualities are good, as evil has no independent existence, just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the lack of light. For instance, ambition is an inherent human virtue that drives us to rise above our current situation, but can be used in more or less positive ways.

The issue is where we focus it, whether inward or outward. If our sole ambition is to inflate our own ego, then it tends to be self-centered and spiritually degrading. If, however, our powers of ambition drive us to learn, grow and develop in service to others, then it can revolve around something larger than ourselves and be spiritually uplifting and ennobling.

  1.    Seeking Moderation and Balance

At a recent event, someone suggested that moderation is needed in practicing principles, to achieve balance. On the surface, this may sound right, and “moderation in all things” is even a Bahá’í principle. But does this mean we should be half-loving, moderately honest, partially just?

The Bahá’í teachings solve this dilemma by showing how principles complement each other: love without wisdom can be as harmful as knowledge without love; frankness without courtesy is hurtful, and politeness without sincerity is hypocritical.

Justice must be tempered with mercy, power with service, unity with diversity, strength with tenderness, perfection with tolerance, creativity with discipline, generosity with prudence, initiative with perseverance, growth with consolidation, etc.

It is interesting in this context that supposedly the Cold War opposed the complementary principles of freedom (in a Capitalist version) versus social justice (in a Socialist version), neither of which can bring wellbeing without the other.

Balance is achieved, not by watering down any of our principles, but by strengthening their complementarity, in what could be described as an entire “ecosystem” of interrelated values, each of which depends on all others to display its full potential.

  1.    Principle-Centered versus God-Centered?

In the Bahá’í view, all phenomena have an essence or spirit, which cannot be perceived directly, but only through its qualities. Just as we know that an electromagnetic force exists because of its action on and through physical phenomena, the spirit of life is only evident when it appears in the form of living beings.

Likewise, just as the human spirit can only be known through its expression through our behavior, the Divine Spirit can only be seen in the mirror of its ongoing, evolving creation. And the most we can know of God’s hidden essence is the qualities that lie latent within the precious seeds of our own souls, yearning and seeking to grow and develop.

The “ecosystem of qualities” I mentioned, then, when raised to its maximum expression, is how I would describe a Bahá’í “concept” of God. Although it is logically untenable for the Source of all qualities to be no more than their sum total, as the pantheistic view claims, neither could their Creator be deprived of any of those powers and virtues.

Therefore, a principle-centered life could very well be equated with a God-centered life, but with certain caveats. Historically, an assortment of “gods” and their differing qualities led to a multiplicity of centers, which tended to divide diverse peoples and keep them apart. The god of war did not get along very well with the god of agriculture, for instance.

By definition, however, God could only be the maximum expression and source of all of these spiritual qualities, without distinction. So as the paradigm of Divine Oneness evolved, human diversity was also enabled to come together in increasing levels of harmony.

Let us hope that as the peoples of the world seek to apply more fully a increasingly rich “ecosystem” of complementary principles and virtues, qualities and values, we will be able to learn from each other and come closer to the millennial vision of planetary harmony and peace.

 

References:

 

  1. Covey, Stephen: Principle-Centered Leadership, Simon & Schuster, New York p. 18.
  2. Covey, Stephen: Principle-Centered Leadership, Simon & Schuster, New York p. 18.
  3. Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1990, p. 19.
  4. Universal House of Justice, “The Promise of World Peace,” October 1985. A statement addressed to “the peoples of the world” on the occasion of the International Year of Peace (1986).

 





2014-11-13 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: dav0 Turas

——————————–

Welcome.

 

** Announcements **

 

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

 

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat. For

visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian

Universalism (“UU”), a single service is not enough to experience the

diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer, either

here in SL or in RL. Please come again.

 

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

“Unitarian Universalists of SL” to receive regular announcements.

There are lots of events besides this weekly service to take part in.

Be sure to check out our web site: http://fuucsl.org, for more details

on these and other such events.

 

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get

more involved.

There is rental property available in UUtopia as well – contact Zyzzy

Zarf to learn more.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please

contact a member of the Leadership Group – their names are available

in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

 

Feel free to hang around after the service for coffee and conversation –

a UU tradition!

 

Are there any announcements?

 

** Lighting the Chalice **

 

“We gather this hour as people of faith With joys and sorrows, gifts

and needs. We light this beacon of hope, Sign of our quest For truth

and meaning, In celebration of the life we share together”

– Christine Robinson

 

** Joys and Concerns **

 

Please feel free to share any joys and concerns…

 

** Opening Words **

 

The Meaning of God

 

“This is it, Bill thought.

After his service on the Earthly sphere,

Bill knew that it was his time to go to Heaven.

It would have been nice to see the Super Bowl tomorrow, but…

 

He peered longingly through the dark tunnel.

The light on the other side glittered brightly,

beckoning him onward like a moth to the flame.

With a face-swallowing grin that would put

Mr. Potato Head to shame,

Bill floated upward through the tunnel,

waiting peacefully for God’s embrace

to carry him through the void.

 

Bill had been a man of virtue for his entire life.

He loved his family, and they often loved him back.

Bill was a model citizen.

And it’s all paid off.

Bill could hardly contain his excitement.

Soon, he would be in Heaven.

 

It was real all along.

Even after all those people doubted.

Soon, he would be reunited

with his mother, father, and uncle.

Bill had led a good life, but now

it was his turn to enter the other side.

 

The tunnel entrance was upon him now,

the radiant light nearly blinding him.

Bill shut his eyes and felt the warmth,

the pure love.  With a power not his own,

he floated downwards and felt himself

standing on a soft surface.

 

(. . . some strange things transpired

upon Bill’s arrival in Heaven but

suffice it to say that Bill was shocked

to learn that Heaven was being run by

noneother than Saint Lucifer…)

 

Bill opened— with some difficulty—

the heaviest door he had ever encountered

and strode into the largest room he had ever seen.

The floor was rough concrete and the walls

appeared to be corrugated sheet metal.

 

At the far end of the wall was a small desk

and a man sitting at it,

though he was too far away to discern clearly.

Bill strode across the vaulted room,

taking in the high ceiling and small windows

that lined the upper walls.

 

After several minutes of plodding,

Bill reached the other end to see a man intently

running his fingers along a number of scrolls

on his desk and murmuring under his breath.

 

“You must be Lucifer,” accused Bill.

 

The man looked up, startled.

“How rude of me— yes that’s me.

I’m dreadfully sorry, I didn’t even hear you.

It’s these high ceilings you see, the acoustics—”

 

“Do you really need a warehouse for an office?”

challenged Bill, immediately on the offensive

in an attempt to prove his faith.

I shall not fail this test.

I have come too far.

 

Lucifer cast his eyes down,

“I know, it’s dreadful.

But with elections coming up,

my marketing team insists it’s more impressive.

 

. . .

 

“I’ll believe that when I see it. I’d sooner trust

Father Time than a man with horns,”

countered Bill, his patience thinning.

 

“I don’t have horns…”

said Lucifer as he felt the top of his head nervously.

 

“Nonsense, you’re a shapeshifter,” asserted Bill.

 

“I should hope not,” said Lucifer with horror,

“I was born how I am, the same as you,”

defended Lucifer.

 

“Impossible. Only humans were crafted

in the image of God!”

Bill bellowed overly loud

in hopes that God would hear

Bill’s noble defense.

 

“Human s made in God’s image?”

Lucifer laughed,

“Please, that’s dogs.”

 

“What do you mean that’s dogs?”

demanded Bill uncertainly.

 

“You didn’t actually think… you’re serious?

Well, yes , dogs were crafted in God’s image.

Isn’t it obvious? Dog is just God backwards.

God loves dogs so much, he even

created an entire planet dedicated to them,”

explained Lucifer.

 

Bill gaped, “There’s no way…”

 

“It’s true . God created humans to serve them.

God only cares about dogs,”

 

David Kutai Weiss – excerpts from his book: “Transcripts from the Other Side”

 

(bells)

 

** Offering **

 

Please be generous and donate to the offering plate so that we can help sustain UUtopia.

 

** Musical Interlude **

 

The Song of UUtopia

 

Have you heard the beauty?

Have you seen the sound?

When we’re all together

There’s nothing more profound

 

Are you superstitious?

Well look what you have found

If ever there was mystery

It’s right here on the ground.

 

U… U… topia…

A place we all belong

Despite all of our differences

We seem to get along

 

One by one we find our way

The wounded and the brave

Our restless hearts are thriving here

To life we are no slave

~Principles and Beliefs~

 

Unitarian Universalists hold the Seven Principles as strong values and

moral teachings.

 

These Principles are listed here:

 

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

As a leadership goal, we are challenged to explore at least one of

these principles each week.

 

This week, I would like to explore the 1st Principle:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person

 

It’s one thing to believe it, but how can we

recognize the inherent worth and dignity

of every person?  That’s a tall order!

 

One way to do this would be to honor each other

with awards and certificates for this and that

with the hope of recognizing people

for some level of worth and dignity.

 

But how to reward everyone equally?

Sitting through an award ceremony

like that would probably feel like

a waste of time!

 

But what if everyone’s inherent

worth and dignity was recognized

at the same time through self

discovery?  Who know’s the

worth and dignity which is inherent

within you better than you?

 

Call it meditation, prayer, or introspection.

We can value the inherent worth and dignity

of every person by valuing these qualities

in our own selves first, then together in

a shared experience of the moment.

 

As a step in this direction,

please pause for a moment of reflection

 

** Meditation Moment **

 

Close your eyes if you can…

Let the ambient sounds

and distractions of life fade away…

All you hear is the sound of your breathing…

 

You begin to float away…

Drifting off in a boat on calm waters…

The sun is warm on your skin and

a warm breeze is filling your sail…

The water laps quietly

at the side of the boat…

The boat sails away,

across the water…

 

The boat rocks you gently…

Each wave pulsing…

Rocking…

The sound of water trickling

as you sail along…

 

You begin to hear the sound

of a rolling surf…

Softly at first in the distance…

Then more clearly…

Seagulls cackle in the distance…

The sound of waves gently breaking…

 

You hear a soft slipping noise

As the boat slides into the sand…

You have arrived.

You open your eyes.

You stand up and stretch.

 

Congratulations!

Celebrate your worth and dignity.

You have discovered it within yourself.

Turn to those next to you and smile –

You have all earned some happiness.

 

*** Awaken ***

 

“What is the meaning of life?

What is our purpose on earth?

These are some of the great,

false questions of religion.

We need not answer them,

for they are badly posed,

but we can live our answers all the same.

At a minimum, we can create the conditions

for human flourishing in this life—

the only life of which any of us can be certain.

 

That means we should not terrify our children

with thoughts of hell or

poison them with hatred for infidels.

We should not teach our sons to consider women

their future property or convince our daughters

that they are property even now.

 

And we must decline to tell our children

that human history began with bloody magic

and will end with bloody magic

in a glorious war between

the righteous and the rest.

 

As for the rest— charity, community, ritual,

and the contemplative life—

we need not take anything on faith

to embrace those goods.

It is one of the most damaging lies of religion—

whether liberal, moderate, or extreme—

to insist that we must.

 

Consciousness is simply the light by which

the contours of mind and body are known.

 

It is within our capacity to recognize

the nature of thoughts,

to awaken from the dream

of being merely ourselves and,

in this way, to become better able

to contribute to the well-being of others.

 

Each of us is identical to the very principle

that brings value to the universe.

Experiencing this directly—

not merely thinking about it—

is the true beginning of spiritual life.

 

The human mind is the most complex

and subtle expression of reality

we have thus far encountered.

This should grant profundity

to the humble project of noticing

what it is like to be you in the present.

 

However numerous your faults,

something in you at this moment is pristine—

and only you can recognize it.

Open your eyes and see.”

 

–Sam Harris

from his book entitled: Waking Up

 

** Discussion **

 

Please discuss…

 

** Closing words and Extinguishing the Chalice **

 

“We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, The warmth of

community, Or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts

until We are together again.” – Elizabeth Selle Jones

 

** Dance **

 

** Coffee Hour **





2014-11-06 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Tee Auster

——————————–

 

“Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.”

— James Luther Adams

 

~Announcements~

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

An Order of Service is available by saying “oos” in chat.

 

For visitors, a special welcome.

If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (“UU”),

a single service is not enough

to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction that we offer,

either here in SL or in RL.  Please come again.

You might also wish to look at UUA.org. or consider joining the group

Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements.

Also please check out fuucsl.org, our web site.

We are always looking for members of our community who wish to get more involved.

If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact

a member of the Leadership Group…their names are available in the notecard dispenser

in the welcome area.

Please join us after the service for dancing and conversation – FUCCSL tradition!

Are there any other announcements?

 

~Opening Words~

Today we celebrate a dream awakening.

Today we worship with renewed hope in our hearts.

Today we act on an audacity of hopes and dreams for the future.

Today we begin the hard work for justice, equity and compassion in all human relations,

for today is a day like no other

and it is ours to shape with vision and action.

Let us worship together and celebrate a dream awakening.

Elizabeth M. Strong

 

~Lighting the Chalice~

For some, the chalice cup is a communion cup, freely offered to all who would seek the greater Truth.

Others see the circle of fellowship in its embracing sides.

The sacred hoop of its rim, the ambient energy cradled in its basin, the abiding, grounded strength of its pedestal:

may all be lit by the fire of spiritual integrity;

so too may we each be bathed in the glow of our shared Truth, multifaceted and radiant.

-Martha Kirby Capo

 

The Chalice is now lit.

 

~Joys and Concerns~

Let us prepare our hearts to receive the joys and concerns,

hopes and sorrows, fears and dreams of one another.

If there is something that has recently happened to you, happy or sad,

and you would like to share it with us, now is the time.

We invite you to share your joys and concerns in chat, when you are ready.

 

Group Response at the end of Joys and Concerns

“May we be held in the heart of love.”

 

~A Reading~

 

Beatitudes for Justice Builders

 

Blessed are you who can question your own assumptions and listen with an open mind;

you will receive new insights beyond your imagining.

Blessed are you who suffer the attacks of others to stand up for what is right;

you will not be alone, for your courage will inspire others to rise.

Blessed are you who build friendships as well as justice;

even when you lose an issue, you will have strengthened the foundation of your community.

Blessed are you who take delight in people;

you will not be bored in meetings.

Blessed are you who agitate the placid waters of complacency;

you will create waves in the inertia of privilege, and will know the thrill of riding the surf of change.

Blessed are you who lead with enthusiasm and confidence, resisting the temptation to shame the apathetic or self-absorbed;

you will inspire curiosity and hope in others.

Blessed are you who play as well as work;

you will have more fun, build more energy, and will draw the powers of the impish to your cause.

Blessed are you who ask for help in your role as leaders;

you will find teachers at every turn, and your work will remain interesting and alive.

Blessed are you, who when wrongfully attacked, find safe outlets for your righteous rage;

your mind will be clear, your decisions strategic, and your progress will not be derailed by the backlash of the fearful.

Blessed are you who do not demonize your opponents;

your eyes and your hearts will be open.

Blessed are you who sing and dance;

you will find energy and joy to lift you on your journey.

Blessed are you who offer thanks and praise five-fold for every critique;

your children will want to visit after they are grown, people will want to serve on your committees, and friends will be interested in your opinions.

Blessed are you who study the rhythms of history;

you will have knowledge with which to shape the future.

Blessed are you who work in coalition rather than in principled isolation;

you will meet great people, learn things you didn’t realize you needed to know, and have partners for the journey when you are in the lead, or in need.

Blessed are you who volunteer to be secretary and take good minutes;

your words will become history, and your efforts will move steadily forward rather than running absent mindedly over thoroughly discussed ground.

Blessed are you who discover, train and encourage young leaders;

you will see your work expand and grow beyond your own time and talent.

Blessed are you who can change your mind;

you are still alive.

Blessed are you who will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good;

you will see progress in your lifetime.

Blessed are you with an active spiritual life;

you will find perspective and comfort in times of loss and betrayal, and will rise without cynicism to meet the challenges of a new day.

Blessed are you who live from a place of gratitude;

for you will know the meaning of Life.

-Lindi Ramsden

 

~Offering~

A freewill offering is a sacrament of a free Church.

This fellowship is supported by the voluntary generosity of all who join with us.

There is an offering plate in the pool in front of us.

Please be generous in support of this UU fellowship.

(music)

 

~Sermon~

 

Social Justice Action and KIVA

Kiva microfinance lenders combat poverty daily by making small loans to borrowers around the world.

They believe in fair access to affordable capital for people to improve their own lives.

Billions of people around the world don’t have access to typical banking services.

In fact, Kiva has been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=12978#.VFvlUL5tPRk

 

Sometimes providing just 1 small loan to people in poverty can be enough to help them become profitably self-employed and financially stable.

These loans are not donations; they’re almost always paid back.

By giving someone a hand (not a handout!) you are helping them help themselves to a better life. Here are some more Kiva statistics.

http://www.kiva.org/start

Kiva was founded in October 2005 by Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley.

The couple’s initial interest in microfinance was inspired by a 2003 lecture given by Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus at Stanford Business School.

As of November 6, 2014, Kiva has distributed $631,358,600 in loans from 1,231,443 lenders to over 1,458,727 borrowers.

A total of loans 793,202 have been funded through Kiva. The average loan size is $418.57, and the average Kiva user has made 10.42 loans. Kiva’s current repayment rate for all its partners is 98.81%.

 

We loan because…The Unitarian Universalist principles we subscribe to mandate that we respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person

and seek justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

We manifest our respect for the interdependent web of all existence by our charity to those in need around the world.

In 2011 the FUUCSL Social Justice Action Team was created.

After research and a decision making process., chose Kiva at our Social Justice project.

Joan Ixito was the driving force along with Sofia Freenote, the Team Captain on the Web Site.

How to participate…After creating an account on Kiva you can choose from profiles of the person or group that you would like to finance.

The choices are organized by sex, country, and type of business. Kiva is currently represented in approximately 79 countries.

As repayments are made on your loan, you receive an email notifying you that funds were deposited into your Kiva account as Kiva Credit.

You can sign into your Kiva account to re-lend your funds, donate them to Kiva, or withdraw them to a PayPal account.

At checkout Kiva will give you an option to donate a small amount to finance their operation.

You may receive updates throughout the loan term about the progress of the borrowers you’ve supported.

Kiva encourages their Field Partners to write updates on a regular basis. Field Partners supported by Kiva in their primary function of working with and supporting the borrowers.

We lend money for loans as individuals and as a congregation. The congregation has contributed $500, as an investment, and others have joined in.

To date 23 members have contributed to over $9000 worth of micro-finance loans. This is approximately $2000 more than last year.  We’ve supported 358 loans.

Starting with only modest amounts, our impact multiplies as our loans get paid off and we re-invest.

Twenty percent of  our loans have gone to borrowers in Nepal. This is interesting because, although we are represented as a team, we each choose and enter our loans individually.

170 of our loans have gone to food and agriculture based businesses. We also have 69 loans in services, 42 in retail, 25 in clothing and 10 in housing.

Here is more information on our impact.

http://www.kiva.org/team/fuucsl_social_justice_action_team/impact

To join our team, search for the keyword FUUCSL to find our FUUCSL Social Justice Action Team.  You might want to use your SL avatar names and addresses if you sign up for a Kiva account. http://www.kiva.org/team/fuucsl_social_justice_action_team

 

For more information, go to Kiva.com and browse the website.

 

Discussion

~Closing Words and Extinguishing the Chalice~

Our task now is to do what we can to advance reverence for life and deepen the promise of love.

Let us dedicate ourselves to the thinking, researching, practice and learning that will bring more love into the world.

-Rebecca Ann Parker

 

May we go forward into this week with peace, love and understanding.

 

“(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love And Understanding”

 

As I walk on through this wicked world,

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity,

I ask myself, Is all hope lost?

Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery?

 

And each time I feel like this inside,

There’s one thing I wanna know,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

 

And as I walked on through troubled times,

My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes,

So where are the strong?,

And who are the trusted?,

And where is the harmony?,

Sweet harmony

 

‘Cause each time I feel it slipping away, just makes me wanna cry,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

 

So where are the strong?,

And who are the trusted?,

And where is the harmony?,

Sweet harmony

 

‘Cause each time I feel it slipping away, just makes me wanna cry,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?,

What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?





2014-10-30 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Zyzzy Zarf

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Generic Service followed by an awesome Halloween Party!

 





2014-10-23 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Peter Newtone

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** Beginning music 1.8: “Adiemus” **

Welcome to the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Second Life (FUUCSL). An Order Of Service is available by saying “OOS” in local chat. Please turn on your music controls, as I will be playing some music during this service.

For new visitors, a special welcome. If you are not familiar with Unitarian Universalism (UU), a single meeting is not enough to experience the diversity of ideas and styles of interaction offered here in SL or in RL, so please come again.

You might also wish to look at www.uua.org. or consider joining the group Unitarian Universalists of SL to receive regular announcements. You can also check out the Web site www.fuucsl.org.

** Announcements **

We are always looking for people to get more involved. If you would like to try your hand at leading a service, please contact a member of the Leadership Group, whose names are available in the notecard dispenser in the welcome area.

Please join us after the service for coffee and conversation – a venerable UU tradition!

Are there any other announcements?

** Opening Words **

The fourth UU principle – a free and responsible search for truth and meaning – is also an essential principle of the Bahá’í Faith. Many UUs and Bahá’ís say that this was the principle that attracted them most.

This was certainly my case, having been born and partially raised in a Brüderhof community, where the search for truth was closely controlled, books heavily censored, and stimulating conversations were few and short, for fear of “intellectualizing” one’s faith.

When I was 13, my Bahá’í aunt explained that the search for truth was our right and responsibility, that there was no Bahá’í clergy or priesthood, and that nobody could interpret the Bahá’í Teachings authoritatively for others. I knew right away that I wanted to find out more.

Several UU talks have deepened my understanding of this principle, especially “A Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning” by Reverend Hilary Landau Krivchenia (http://www.ccuu.org/sermons/Sermon%202012-03-18%20Free%20and%20Responsible%20Search.pdf).

Tonight I will be inviting you to explore some Bahá’í contributions to this principle, penned by Bahá’u’lláh during His 40 years of exile and prison, and spoken by His son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (circa 1912), sometimes to UU congregations.

** Lighting the Chalice (Music 2.10: “Come, Come Whoever You Are” **

We gather this hour as people of faith | With joys and sorrows, gifts and needs.

We light this beacon of hope, | Sign of our quest | For truth and meaning, | In celebration of the life we share together (Christine Robinson)

** Musical Interlude (Music 3.1: “Come into this Place 2”) **

Come into this place of peace | And let its silence heal your spirit;

Come into this place of memory | And let its history warm our soul;

Come into this place of prophecy and power | And let its vision change your heart. (William F. Schulz)

** Joys and Concerns (Music: “All Things Must Pass”) **

Now let us prepare our hearts to receive the joys and concerns, hopes and sorrows, fears and dreams of one another.

If there is something that has recently happened to you, happy or sad, and you would like to share it with us, now is the time.

We invite you to share your joys and concerns in chat, when you are ready.

** Prayer for joys and concerns **

Spirit of life and spirit of grace, | Rest with us this day, in this place.

We lift up every joy, every gladness, | We hold up every hurt, every sadness

Spoken in this good company | As well as every secret feeling

Held quiet in the hollows of our hearts. (Tess Baumberger)

** Offering **

A freewill offering is a sacrament of a free Church. This fellowship is supported by the voluntary generosity of all who join with us.

There is an offering plate in the pool in front of us. Please be generous in support of this UU fellowship.

** Musical Interlude 2.2: Baba Yetu **

** BAHÁ’Í CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FOURTH UU PRINCIPLE **

  1. Free Search is God-Given

A just God who created us with mind and reason would not then forbid us to use them. The key is to use all of our innate capabilities in a way that is not hurtful but helpful to both ourselves and others. And guidance in this path can come from both science and religion.

Baha’u’llah makes it a religious duty that is “incumbent upon all” to seek knowledge with our “own eyes and not through the eyes of others.”[2] This echoes Isaiah’s warning, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”[3] It reflects Jesus’ counsel to those who, “though seeing, do not see; though hearing, do not hear or understand” to “see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, and understand with their own hearts”[4] and to “know the truth, for the truth will set you free.”[5]

It also coincides with Muhammad’s advice to seek knowledge even as far as China,[6] to investigate the claims even of a bad person, lest ye harm others through ignorance;[7] and that on the Final Day, God will not accept our saying, “Verily we found that our forefathers of that persuasion, so we followed in their footsteps.”[8] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says, “No man should follow blindly his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate independently in order that he may find the truth. Following the religion of our forefathers and ancestors is blind imitation. We should investigate reality.”[9]

  1. Blind Imitation is Divisive

The antithesis of a free and responsible search for truth is blind imitation, superstition, dogma, and prejudice. One of the main causes of conflict today is that many uncritically follow various traditions, trends, and opinions, becoming attached to them and intolerant of others who do not share them.

Abdu’l-Bahá says we must forsake adherence to mere hereditary forms:

As the nations of the world are following imitations in lieu of truth, and as imitations are many and various, differences of belief have been productive of strife and warfare. So long as these imitations remain, the oneness of the world of humanity is impossible… Therefore, we must investigate reality so that by its light the clouds and darkness may be dispelled.”[10]

He adds, “The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one.”[11] Let’s see how that is possible.

  1. Free Search for Truth Promotes Unity

Many religions, political movements and even companies discourage free thought out of a misguided fear that diversity will lead to division, and that unity requires uniformity. The Bahá’í approach is the exact opposite: fostering the synergies that can only be built upon unity IN diversity by sincerely searching for truth, sharing our findings humbly with each other, and not imposing them as the only or even the best way to see things.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá says, “Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the many nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.”[12] Unfortunately, many take the easy route: “…the people are too easily led by tradition. It is because of this that they are often antagonistic to each other, and dispute with one another.”[13] Therefore, each one “must cut himself free from all prejudice and from the result of his own imagination, so that he may be able to search for truth unhindered.”[14]

  1. One Light in Many Lamps

True search means recognizing that the light of truth can be found in many different sources. For example, the Bahá’í teachings emphasize the value of both science and religion in our search for truth. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:

Science must be accepted. No one truth can contradict another truth. Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. Be free from prejudice, so will you love the Sun of Truth from whatsoever point in the horizon it may arise!… This is what is meant by the ‘Search after Truth’.”[15]

According to Bahá’í belief, truth can be found or “read” in two different but complementary “books”: the book of creation and the ‘written book’. The book of creation is “the outspread roll of existence,” while the written book consists of the Holy Books revealed to the Prophets of God.”[16] Our understanding of both books is always limited, so it needs to grow through a free, responsible search for truth.

The “written book” of divine revelation is adapted to the needs and capacities of each age, but it gradually becomes altered and distorted through both translation and interpretation. Therefore, it needs to be renewed in each age with a new Holy Book revealed by a Krishna, a Moses, a Zoroaster, a Buddha, a Jesus, a Muhammad, a Bahá’u’lláh, or countless others lost to history:

Baha’u’llah continually urges man to free himself from the superstitions and traditions of the past and become an investigator of reality, for it will then be seen that God has revealed his light many times in order to illumine mankind in the path of evolution, in various countries and through many different prophets, masters and sages.”[17]

We might compare this process of “Progressive Revelation” to the paradigm shifts in scientific progress. Each Holy Book introduces a new religious paradigm to be explored and more fully understood and applied, just as quantum physics built upon, clarified and superseded the Newtonian paradigm. And just as we do not judge the worth of science by its earlier paradigms, neither would it be valid to judge the value of the universal phenomenon of revealed religion as antiquated or inapplicable to the needs of the time on the basis of a limited or incorrect understanding of millenary Holy Books.

  1. Qualities and Attitudes of the True Seeker

What inner virtues and approaches are needed in our search? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says,

“…it is imperative that we should renounce our own particular prejudices and superstitions if we earnestly desire to seek the truth. Unless we make a distinction in our minds between dogma, superstition and prejudice on the one hand, and truth on the other, we cannot succeed. When we are in earnest in our search for anything we look for it everywhere…

It means, also, that we must be willing to clear away all that we have previously learned, all that would clog our steps on the way to truth; we must not shrink if necessary from beginning our education all over again. We must not allow our love for any one religion or any one personality to so blind our eyes that we become fettered by superstition.

When we are freed from all these bonds, seeking with liberated minds, then shall we be able to arrive at our goal.”[18]

In this vein, the first of Bahá’u’lláh’s “Seven Valleys” is the Valley Search:

“The steed of this Valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. Nor should he ever be downhearted…Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught… Labor is needed… ardor is needed…”[19]

I would like to end this post with a beautiful piece by Bahá’u’lláh, often referred to as the “Tablet of the True Seeker,” in which He expounds on these qualities:

When a true seeker determineth to take the step of search… he must, before all else, cleanse his heart… from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge… that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth…

That seeker must, at all times… detach himself from the world of dust…. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling to patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk…

He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire. He should treasure the companionship of them that have renounced the world… He should not… allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth…

When the detached wayfarer and sincere seeker hath fulfilled these essential conditions, then and only then can he be called a true seeker.”[20]

References:

  1. http://www.ccuu.org/sermons/Sermon%202012-03-18%20Free%20and%20Responsible%20Search.pdf

  2. Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words

  3. Bible, Isaiah 6:9

  4. Bible, Matthew 13:13

  5. Bible, John 8:32

  6. Islamic Hadith Hasan Mashhûr.

  7. Qur’an, Hujurat 49:6.

  8. Qur’an, Zukhruf 43:21

  9. Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 24

  10. Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 180

  11. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 136

  12. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 129

  13. Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 27

  14. Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 128

  15. Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 137

  16. Abdu’l-Bahá, in B. Nakhjavání, Response, p. 13

  17. Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 8

  18. Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 137

  19. Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 6

  20. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 265-270

** Discussion (Music 1.7: “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive”) **

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this talk in local chat or, if you prefer, in voice.

** Extinguishing the Flame (Music 2:4 “Blue Boat Home” **

We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth, the warmth of community, or the fire of commitment.

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again. (Elizabeth Selle Jones)

** Coffee Hour (Music 1.6: “What’s So Funny”) **

 





2014-10-16 Service

20 12 2014

First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Second Life (FUUCSL)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

6:30PM SL Time (Pacific Standard Time)

Leading the service: Zyzzy Zarf ?

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Generic Service