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    How Can I Make A Difference?

    McKell Moorhead and Mike Nashleanas Sermon at UUSP on May 22, 2011

    To the reader: This sermon was only part of a service of worship with many components working together,

    all of which were designed to be experienced in a community context. In our "free pulpit" tradition, its concepts are intended not as truths to receive, but as spurs to your own thought and faith.

    CALL TO WORSHIP (Suggest this is spoken by BOT member) (In loving memory of my former colleague & mentor, Rev. Dr. Duncan Littlefair) This is a day for us to live. Lets celebrate it and make a difference in the world. Lets be grateful for the incredible gift of life, And let us be especially grateful for the love which brings us together Giving dignity, meaning, worth and joy to all of our days. RESPONSIVE READING (Responsive ONE read by Speaker #1) #1: ONE: From Albert Schweitzer we read, ALL: Wherever a person turns they can find someone who needs them. ONE: From Tom Brokaw we read, ALL: It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a differ- ence. ONE: From William James we read, ALL: Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ONE: From Dr. Seuss we read, ALL: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothings go- ing to get better, it's just simply not. ONE: From Winston Churchill we read, ALL: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ONE: From Anne Frank we read, ALL: How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ONE: From Maya Angelou we read, ALL: I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

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    READINGS (Readings begun by Speaker #2)

    #2 Our readings this morning speak to volunteerism and our continued gratitude for

    those who give to our community and to the world. Of our three readings, the first two

    are printed in the programs.

    I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And

    I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. ~Edward Everett Hale

    #1 Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a

    college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to

    serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to

    serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~Rev. Dr. Martin

    Luther King, Jr.

    #2 Our third reading speaks to the processes that our UUSP volunteers will certainly

    never encounter when stepping forward to make a difference at our church home.

    How many UU St. Pete volunteers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer:

    about 140.

    #1 Thats 60 to have a town hall meeting to allow everyone in the church to voice

    their opinions both for and against the new lightbulb.

    #2 3 more to run it by the Admin Group to determine if a new bylaw needs to be

    voted upon prior to the change.

    #1 7 to entertain a motion with lightbulb discussion during a Board of Trustees


    #2 10 to check the lightbulb changing calendar during a Program Council meeting.

    #1 6 to facilitate a lightbulb check in to open covenant group meetings.

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    #2 8 to form a Friends of Darkness support group.

    #1 5 to consider the ecological ramifications of fluorescent v. incandescent bulbs,

    #2 25 to sing the choir anthem Waitin For The Light To Shine,

    #1 4 to debate with Building and Grounds regarding the least expensive ladder with

    which to change the lightbulb,

    #2 9 from the Worship Ministry to create a lightbulb communion ceremony for a

    Sunday service,

    #1 2 to prepare coffee and tea for the lightbulb reception immediately following the

    service to be held in Gilmour Hall to your right,

    #2 and 1 to simply go ahead and change the burned out lightbulb without asking

    anyone else first.


    This Mornings Themes

    #1 How can I make a differencespecifically in this special place? What is it about

    UU St. Pete that allows me to feel as though Im in my church HOME? Who do I

    approach to become more involved here? This morning, lets briefly explore these

    questions together, which will require examinations of those limiting aspects of our lives

    that prevent us from furthering deeper involvement, of this beautiful religious community,

    and of the many opportunities that await your unique talents and passions.

    For Our Guests

    #2 For our guests here today, please allow us a moment to provide a framework in

    which to listen to this sermon on a subject specific to the hard working volunteers within

    this congregation. If youre a first timer today, you picked a great Sunday to come,

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    because a part of the answer to how can I make a difference in this special place is that

    everyone here began as guests, newcomers, just a part of the crowd looking to journey

    with others while discovering a deeper capacity for love. We then united with this

    congregation, understanding that the feeling of belonging is supportive to our own

    journeys and deepening to our understanding of our own gifts and talents. We now use

    our talents within the church to further our sense of being a part of this religious

    community. We love and support each other, knowing that, while we are together in a

    spirit of love, we are also on our own unique life journeys. We then complete a spiritual

    circle of sorts, by returning outward again into the St. Pete area to pursue our passions

    outside of these walls. Ultimately, we strive to share those passions as a ministry to

    make a difference in the world.

    We have a vision of liberal religion that views every person as unique, with

    unique gifts that define their place in the world. Our community exists not to defend

    doctrine or save souls, but to proclaim this vision to the wider world and help those who

    join to discover, nourish, and share their gifts. Members of this special place understand

    the value in growing together, learning to share the love we feel here. Were excited by

    the volunteer work that we are doing in this place, and invigorated by simply being here

    together in a beloved community. So, with that framework, lets do the work of today and

    ask, how can I make a difference?

    Why Does UUSP Feel Like A Church Home? #1 To begin, what does it mean to call this community our church home? Our

    UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales suggests that to think of this place as a home

    away from home says something about what we are seeking and what we seek to create.

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    A home is that place where you find comfort when youre feeling weary, lonely,

    frightened or just going through some changes. A home is also that place that you turn to

    when youre feeling strong, energized or wishing to gain a broader vision of the world.

    When you feel at home, you dont need to have all the answers. You feel safe to ask

    questions, safe to question your old beliefs and stop believing them if they no longer

    make sense to you. When you feel at home, you give yourself permission to grow and

    change and make mistakes and learn and heal and do it in your own time and know that

    others will stand with you even through your craziest moments.

    A home is also a center for celebrations of special timesreligious holidays,

    weddings, unions, birthdays, or as is the case today, the recognition of those who made a

    difference in our community this past year. Beyond special occasions, there is wonderful

    value is simply coming together. Never underestimate the value of having some fun


    How Can I Make A Difference In This Special Place?

    #2 Even if you currently view yourself as someone who rarely volunteers for group

    activities, your life is connected to millions of others. Even if you join this community

    with the intent to simply come on Sunday mornings for services, your actions will

    inevitably impact others. To break through a barrier of reticence and to enhance your own

    personal journeys while developing a deeper relationship with your church home beyond

    Sunday mornings from 11:00 until 12:00, a good first step might be to expand your

    consciousness through gratitude. Rather than make participation or volunteering a

    responsibility, think about it in terms of gratitude that pays back and pays forward.

    Theres an old Caribbean story about gratitude that expresses this forward thinking

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    manner of giving. After a heavy rain an old man began digging holes in his garden. His

    neighbor asked him, What are you doing? Planting mango trees, he said. The

    neighbor said, Do you expect to eat mangoes from those trees? He replied, No. I

    wont live long enough for that. But others will. All my life I have enjoyed mangoes

    planted by other people. This is my way of showing them my gratitude. This beautiful

    story reminds us that someone once worked hard to make possible all the things we now

    take for granted. Gratitude creates connections we hadnt even thought of; connections

    with each other and connections between our actions and the future.

    #1 If, however, you feel as though you have little to give, or if you feel overwhelmed

    by the amount of work facing you either at home or at your church home, please

    remember the words from our earlier reading. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do

    everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with

    what I can do. Do what you feel you can do, in your life and in your church home

    activities. Small causes can even have enormous effect, like the flapping of a butterfly

    wing that causes a hurricane on the other side of the world. Actions that start out small

    may create waves of positive change. Even then, you may not see any connection for

    awhile. Still, do the only thing you can do, the only thing you have any control over. Stir

    your hand in the pond then watch tiny ripples begin to move in all directions and let go of

    the outcome.

    #2 This is not an exclusively Unitarian Universalist mindset. Most of the spiritual

    traditions teach some form of the law of cause and effect. Whether its the theistic

    traditions like Judaism and Christianity that teach that a Creator God is the ultimate cause

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    who keeps account of good and evil in the world, or non theistic traditions like Buddhism

    and Taoism that teach that the law of cause and effect is built into the very nature of life,

    and the universe itself keeps balance, most traditions encourage some sort of personal

    involvement in the shaping of your own reality. Even if youre a newcomer to UUSP,

    there are many opportunities here to create your own ripple in this UU pond. Please

    dont allow being new to interfere with what you can do. If you wish to share your

    discovery of this special place with others, you dont need secret answers that are

    unearthed only after years of experience here. One of the aspects that makes our faith

    unique is that we dont do answerswe ask questions. Ask guests what are you

    looking for? Is it the freedom to doubt as well as believe? Here in this place, doubt and

    belief work hand in hand to free the mind. Is it a place to grow spiritually? Here in this

    place we view spiritual life as a journey, not a destination. We dont save souls. We

    grow them. Is it a way to live that makes a difference? Here in this place we believe that

    life is meaningful when you spend it on something larger than your own. Everyone has

    something to give that can change the world.

    #1 Once guests have come in and are no longer newcomers, we might ask them how

    we can provide support on their own journeys and deepen their understanding of their

    own gifts and talents. To assist in this deepening level of involvement, we offer covenant

    groups. Although Sunday morning services are the hubs of our religious wheels, at about

    140 members we are too many to have a meaningful discussion over coffee where

    everyone can hear and be heard. Everyones spiritual journey will deepen richly from the

    interaction small groups provide.

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    Who Do I Approach To Become More Involved Here? #2 Once members have pursued their own spiritual journeys and identified their gifts and talents, how can we utilize those talents to deepen our spirit of religious community? How can we, each of us, share our talents as a ministry to others in this religious community?

    #1 I dont know. But I know who to ask. We can ask Cheryl and Mark how we

    might assist with coffee hour.

    #2 We can ask how to share our gifts of song by asking Annie, Caleb, Carol, Dan,

    Dave, Dave, David, Don, Dorothy, Evie, Fred, Ginny, Heaven, Jack, Julie, Laurie,

    Liz, McKell, Mia, Mike, Miriam, Nancy, Paul, Peter, Rebecca, Summer and Tina

    about joining the choir.

    #1 Do you want our church to be picture perfect? Grab your camera and capture our

    special moments with photographers Barbara, Michael and Luis.

    #2 Do you love to take minutes of meetings? Text Michael.

    #1 Are you handy? Hammer it out with Fred and Reggie and Laurie and Mike on

    buildings and grounds.

    #2 Are you technically savvy? Tweet Morgan about our communications.

    #1 Love kids? Come forward with Dolores, Shannon, Careena, Rob and Joe.

    #2 Have a medical background? Make an appointment with Rose.

    #1 Have ideas about Sunday services? Margies the go to person.

    #2 Do you play an instrument? Strum along with Fred, Laurie, McKell and Fred.

    #1 Are you a woman? Talk to Betsy or Pat.

    #2 Are you a man? Talk to Mike.

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    #1 Are you a Humanist? Its Rosemary.

    #2 Do you love to stay awake all night thinking about balanced books? Go figure

    with Sally and Alex.

    #1 Do you love to count money? Bank on Dani and Dave.

    #2 Do your talents include sorting clothes and schlepping? Migrate over to Karen

    and the migrant ministry.

    #1 Do you love music but feel that you cant sing? Ring in the service with Handbell

    ringers Michael, Margie, Sally, Rebecca, Karen, Anne, Alex and Peter.

    #2 Do you consider yourself a webmaster wannabe? Click on Michael.

    #1 Are you concerned about others? Care with Alec and the Care Ministry.

    #2 Are you good in the kitchen? Feed the homeless with Reggie and the homeless


    #1 Does your life find meaning in the nuisances of administration? Sit down with

    the administrative group of Margie, Jeff and Sally.

    #2 Want to enhance the spiritual journeys of others while broadening your own?

    Check in with Covenant Group Facilitators Dave, Dorothy, Dean, Sally, Tina or


    #1 Do you want to ensure that a Jim will never tell another joke from the pulpit?

    Give feedback to McKell and the Ministry on Ministry.

    #2 Want to explore your spiritual journey through your body? Vandana teaches Yoga.

    #1 Are you a genuinely warm and friendly person? Dave can usher you into the

    Congregational Life Ministry.

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    #2 Do you have the gifts of time, talent, dedication and tons of patience? The Board

    of Trustees consists of Margie, Dave, Laurie, Jeff, Tina, Robb and Teresa.

    One More Time #1 So, how can I make a difference? First, act as if what you do makes a

    difference. It does.

    #2 Next, no matter how long or short a time youve been attending here, enhance

    your spiritual journey beyond the beauty of Sunday morning services from 11:00 until

    12:00 by becoming more involved in your church home activities.

    #1 Finally, discover a small group within this special place where you can use your

    unique talents to make a difference in your life, the lives of others and the lives of future

    members yet unknown.

    #2 Lets act and become more involved and volunteer to make a difference in the

    same spirit and for the same reasons we do all that we do in lifeget ready to say it with

    memost of us know how these sermons always end

    ALL to bring Dignity, Meaning, Worth and Joy to all our days.

    #1 Please rise and join in singing the closing hymn, #118 in the Grey books, This

    Little Light Of Mine.