Sacred Spaces: From Caves to Cathedrals

WHAT:   5 Week Art and Spirituality discussions leading up to July 30-31 art show.  Moderator will be Professor Therese Hart from the Humanities Department of Harper College in Palatine.  Specializing in art history, Professor Hart received her BFA and   MA from Ohio University and did her Ph.D. studies at Penn State.  At Harper she teaches courses related to art, literature, music, theater, and philosophy from Prehistory to the present from many traditions and places around the globe.  Her current research is on Indigenous Cultures of the Americas.  Series culminates with art show July 30-31.


THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION: “Sacred Spaces: from caves to Cathedrals”


WHEN:  Sunday morning, July 3, 9:15 – 10:30


WHERE:  Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 W. Bull Valley Road, McHenry, Illinois 60050


FORMAT:  Moderated informal discussion open to everyone.  Coffee and pastries…coffee and food for body and soul


HOW MUCH:  No charge

Justice and Disability Rights

July 10, 2016 10:45am with Michelle Lattanzio, Intern Minister

In this service, Intern Minister Michelle will explore the state of disability rights, and share ways in which we, as Unitarian Universalists, can become better allies in the ongoing campaign for justice for people with disabilities of all kinds, visible and invisible.

The Part You Won’t Recognize

Sunday July 3, 2016 10:45am with Misha Sanders, Intern Minister

What can our nation look like if we love each other the way we loved Muhammad Ali? Why did America allow itself to unequivocally love this man who embodies so much of what large factions of us now fear and despise? How did we wholeheartedly embrace a radical Muslim convert who stood unwaveringly for the rights of African-Americans and refused to fight in our wars…in the American South…the 1960s? What does our reverence at his death mean about who we are? And how can this make a positive difference in the lives of others who have radical political ideals, who are black,or Muslim, or disabled, or, or, or? We have much to remember, and much to learn. Let us consider this life and what it means to us now.

Insight from the Director: What I Set My Heart To

The word credo comes from Latin and has several roots or meanings, the literal translation is “what I set my heart to “On May 15th, our Coming Of Age students ended their program by sharing their faith statements, or credos, with the congregation.  For those who were not able to attend, and for those who would just like to revisit those statements, I have included a link in this article.  Everyone agreed that this is such a meaningful UU ritual.  People came up to me after service to say that they were feeling the need to examine their own credos, as adults.  This is actually something that we all should do from time to time.  We need to examine our personal credos, what do we value? what do we believe? for what greater purpose do we live? in what do we have faith? and what ultimate meaning do we bind ourselves to?  If we are going to live our lives with intention, or consciously, if we are going to have a life with purpose, even if only the purpose we assign to it, we need to examine where we stand with our beliefs today.  Surprisingly, you might find that you no longer hold beliefs from the past.  You might, for example, discover that what you used to think was important, is no longer.  We are often caught up in a cycle of working and consuming that keeps us too busy to slow down for self-reflection.  We are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take the time to examine and reflect upon our life. In Unitarian Universalism, our third and fourth principles suggest “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations” and “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning” respectively.  We are blessed to have a religion that encourages our own self-exploration to know ourselves better.  To assist in your individual spiritual paths of self-awareness and discovery, I have included a list of questions to ponder and answer to help create your own personal faith statements or credos:

  • What are some of your beliefs about how humans should act?
  • What are some of your beliefs about the origins of the universe?
  • What do you believe about how the universe functions?
  • What are some of your beliefs about a higher power?
  • What are some of your beliefs concerning life, death and the afterlife?
  • What do you think is sacred?
  • Which of these beliefs affect the way you act? How?

In faith,

Sam Jones, Director of Religious Education

The House That Music Built

By Rev. Sean Parker Dennison

Once upon a time, there was a congregation. It had been around for many years, 150 to be exact, and in that time it had a lot of names and did a lot of work, and sometimes it thrived and sometimes it struggled. In the times that it thrived, buildings were built and good works were accomplished, and sermons were preached, and people were happy.  And in the times that it struggled, there were always people who kept on, doing what they could to keep the building from falling apart, helping with Sunday services, and holding onto hope. And every time the congregation struggled, it also grew stronger, more tenacious, and eventually, more loving.

Through all this, there was one constant. The people of the congregation loved music. They sang and they played and they listened and they learned and they loved the music that came from their own hearts and they loved the music that they made for each other. Not only that, they offered whatever music they could to those outside the congregation, and they did it in a way that spread music and love and justice beyond their own walls.

They became a Paradise people, committed to bringing a little bit of heaven right down to their tiny corner of this earth. They worked hard, they practiced hard, they had fun, and music held them together. The walls of the congregation rang with music and the hearts of the people were full of music: from the saddest songs that made them cry to the ones that made them laugh and shout and smile and dance together through times of folly and times of fantastic success.

When nothing else was going well, they relied on music to restore them, to keep them connected and to keep them going. They found amazing musicians to lead them, to teach them new songs, to show them how to practice, how to lay aside their differences and sing together, to create harmony.

They learned that music was not just something for fun, not just an extracurricular activity, but was the core of who they were when they were at their best, a way to build relationships that sustained them all, a way to BE the congregation they wanted to be. In a real way, the congregation was made of music: of the songs, but also the singing; of the way they worked together, even when things sometimes went wrong.

Together, they sang. They played. They listened. They learned. They composed and arranged and soloed and jammed and invited everyone to come, be a part of the music. Come to the coffee house, to Cabaret Church, to choir practice, to the concerts, and come every Sunday, to sing the hymns, to listen to the offertory, to soothe and encourage and uplift the soul.

In each generation, the congregation learned a new song. A new leader came forth and showed them the way. In a very real way, music held the congregation together and helped it thrive. Today, we are not the house that only one person built. We are the house that music built. So when you see someone here that has made your heart sing, has built this congregation with their commitment, talent, and hard work, who has played an instrument, or run the sound system, or sung a song, remember that they are part of what built this congregation, they are a part of the house that music built.  Take a minute and tell them thank you.