Joint Worship Service with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal
Sunday, August 19, 2018

After remarks from Rev. Mary Moore, Susan Ryder shared these thoughts:

I might as well point out the obvious as I begin my remarks – the word Covenant has a prominent place in the name of our congregation. When our founding mothers and fathers first came together in 1991 to consider forming this congregation, they were very thoughtful in their discernment about what to call this new kind of spiritual community they were birthing. Referencing the covenant between God and humanity from the Old Testament, and the new covenant offered and mediated by Jesus in the sharing of the bread and cup in the New Testament, Gwen Pruyne suggested that the word “covenant” be part of our name. Sharing that a covenant is a promise, a vow, made between individuals and groups of people, Gwen thought covenant was an ideal description of the promise those original 12 founders were making to one another as they created what became this progressive Christian community. Part of that covenant was that they would serve the larger community, as well as each other, by honoring and sharing the teachings and mission of the radically inclusive and compassionate historical Jesus. They made a promise to work together toward a common goal – not one based on a set of creeds they agreed to, but based on a vision that bound them, and those of us who joined later, on the journey forward. [Read more…]

Meaning of Life

Life’s Big Questions: A Meaning of Life OR The Meanings of Life”


Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.(Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Norman Maclean – “A River Runs Through It ‘Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me… “Norman, you like to write stories.” And I said, “Yes, I do.” Then he said, “Someday, when you’re ready… you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.”‘ [Read more…]

What is Truth?

“Life’s Big Questions: What is Truth?” Bob Ryder

John 18:33-38    Pilate entered the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are you asking this for your own reasons, or did others tell something you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your people and the chief priests have handed you over to me. Now, what have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being prosecuted. As it is, my kingdom isn’t here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘That’s how you chose to look at it. The reason I was born – the reason I came into the world – is to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’ [Read more…]

Do We Need Religion?

“Life’s Big Questions: Do We Need Religion?” Bob Ryder

Luke 6:27-38   Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other cheek too; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your belongings, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. [Read more…]

What is Karma?

“Life’s Big Questions – What is Karma?” Susan Ryder


Lao Tzu: Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Jesus: Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.

Gal 6:7-9Do not be deceived, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. [Read more…]

Are There Miracles?

“Life’s Big Questions: Are There Miracles?” Susan Ryder

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs and miracles in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

 Ralph Waldo Emerson– “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”

Albert Einstein“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” [Read more…]

What Can We Learn from Our Mortality?

“Life’s Big Questions: What Can We Learn from Our Mortality?” Bob Ryder

Henry David Thoreau, Walden “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Voltaire “God gave us the gift of life.  It is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

Reinhold Niebuhr “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” [Read more…]

What Happens After We Die?

“Life’s Big Questions: Is There Life After Death?” Susan Ryder

This morning we continue our series on life’s big questions as we consider what happens after we shuffle off this mortal coil. Is there life after death? We begin with a couple of short readings.

Genesis 3:19“You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. [Read more…]

Is There a God?

“Life’s Big Questions: Is There A God?” Bob Ryder

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Psalm 14:1 – “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.

Thomas Jefferson – The Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Jim Palmer “No matter how bad it gets, we have stories embedded in our psyche that tell us there is hope and love. If you go deep enough, you will find them.” [Read more…]

Life’s Big Questions

“Chew on Life’s Big Questions,” Susan Ryder

Proverbs 18:2, 4, 6-8
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.
The words of the mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream.
A fool’s lips bring strife,
and a fool’s mouth invites a flogging.
The mouths of fools are their ruin,
and their lips a snare to themselves.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body. [Read more…]