Sermons by Rev. Nelson Stover
2018 Sermon Series
“Our Common Journey”
By Rev. F. Nelson Stover
The 2018 sermon series at the Unitarian Universalists in Covenant church in Greensboro will focus on enabling people to tell the story of their personal journey in the light of the 14-billion-year journey of the emerging Universe. For current dates for these check: Upcoming Worship Services
The 2018 sermon series at the Unitarian Universalists in Covenant church in Greensboro will focus on enabling people to tell the story of their personal journey in the light of the 14-billion-year journey of the emerging Universe. Rev. F. Nelson Stover will deliver a series of sermons focusing on major events in the journey of the cosmos and explore how those illumine our individual lives and collective experiences. Each month, a pair of worship services will be dedicated to one aspect of the journey. The first sermon in each month’s pair will provide an overview of the universal dynamics at play; the second service of the month will allow congregants more time to share and reflect on their own life experiences in the larger context. You tube versions of the first sermon in each series will be available on the UUs in Covenant website.
Newness From Nowhere (January) – Fourteen billion years ago, the Universe as we know it began its journey from chaos to consciousness. Time separated from space and particles of matter coalesced out of the intensely hot plasma. Wild uncertainty and confusion often precedes the emergence of clarity, focus and direction at the beginning of any journey of a person or group.
Building Bonded Commitments (February) – Early in the life of the Universe, electrons and protons formed bonded pairs which could survive the bombardment of otherwise destructive radiation. An important step on many people’s journey involves making life-long commitments. The two services this month will explore the interior resources required for establishing and maintaining lasting bonds.
Facing Internal Pressures (March) – After several billion years, large clouds of gas began to squeeze together. Under these intense internal pressures, the clouds finally burst into fires we now see in the sky as stars. Often in life, intense pressure and friction ignite flames of wild creativity. Learning how to live through these kinds of times builds interior resilience.
Through Destructive Transformation (April) – Eventually, many stars consume the basic elements which have fueled their fiery luminescence. The unbearable pressure leads to a collapse which then explodes into a supernova. This destructive transformation spreads heavier elements throughout the surrounding space creating the seeds of future suns and planets. Organizations and individuals, too, sometimes collapse into chaos and confusion. Even these times sow the seeds of creativity for tomorrows yet to come.
Organizing for Creativity (May) – About 5 billion years ago, after countless supernova in the outer parts of the Milky Way galaxy, our solar system began to form. Everyone lives within the dynamics of systems – sometimes a person may be the stable center, sometimes an orbiting satellite, sometimes a periodic passer-by or a distant outlier. Each role contributes to the cosmic and planetary dance. Each is vital and unique.
Into Vitality (June) – Sometime, somewhere, about 4 billion years ago matter crossed the threshold into life. Some say life is lightening embodied. Like every living cell, individuals also possess the possibility of embodying self-determined creativity. This sermon pair will explore the awakening that occurs when the threshold from stasis to vitality is crossed.
Beyond Disaster (July) – Early life-forms’ very acts of survival created conditions which eventually signaled their own demise. They consumed the nutrient rich waters and eventually learned to harvest the sunlight. They filled the atmosphere with corrosive oxygen until they discovered ways of respiration. Likewise, individual actions and social patterns repeated over and over, sometimes, eventually become counter-productive. Navigating these times evokes creativity and collective ingenuity.
Enlivening Something Bigger (August) – Over several billions of years, single-celled creatures had learned to respond to one another and to thrive in clusters and masses. One day, something new happened – a group got an idea. A new multi-celled creature appeared such that creative power shifted from the cell to the collective. In the current century, the human species has arrived at a similar point of inflection. Figuring out how to thrive in community in ways which include the human and non-human realms provides the central challenge for caring citizens.
Stepping into the Unknown (September) – About the time the colliding continents lifted the Appalachian Mountains, some life-forms dared to venture out of the sea and on to the land. They invented the wood cell to combat the pressures of gravity and to allow the storage and movement of water within their bodies while moving beyond the oceans. This sermon pair will focus on the interior resolve and strategic prowess required for stepping beyond comfortable surroundings and exploring new vistas.
Joining the Flourishing (October) – The disappearance of the giant ferns and the eventual demise of the dinosaurs set the stage for the rise of mammals and the appearance of colorful flowers with nutritious seeds and trees that produced fruit and nuts. As old life-forms disappear, new possibilities arise and co-exist with dying forms. The lessons of past times of wild new creativity provide wisdom and insight for times like the present when the new is unfolding though the old has not yet receded.
Embracing Symbolic Consciousness (November) – The human species’ presence on Planet Earth began about two million years ago. Empathy with the daring steps taken to cross into symbolic consciousness by our not-to-distant ancestors provides clues that may embolden people today to take the next steps on the Universe’s journey from wild chaos to profound consciousness.
Gifting Tomorrow (December) – The future, for all generations of all species, depends on the decisions and actions of all of everyone alive today. Finally, each individual and group has the opportunity of deciding its gift to the future. After a year of following in the Universe’s footsteps, the next step belongs to those of us alive today. What gifts will we give to the future?
For more information from Nelson, go to his website, which includes more information on his talks, written materials, and audio and YouTube links: