Sunday Sermon – The Potter’s Wheel – December 4th, 2016

The Potter’s Wheel

Rev. Paul D. Daniel, Minister


Each of us has come to this Canvas time in UUFP’s history


with different hopes, dreams and expectations.


Our decision on how much we are moved to financially support


the various ministries we offer each other and


the community we are creating will determine whether those aspirations will be met.


This canvas is ultimately about setting priorities for your own life.


The simple truth is, not funding this year’s budget has the potential to disappoint your deepest spiritual and communal longings.



Imagine for a moment you are a potter with a lump of raw clay you have just placed on the wheel..,


we stand back and ponder the mystery the clay holds and what we hope to create.


When our foot presses the petal to spin the wheel and


our hands touch the clay for the first time…


the process of creation begins.


So it was when you first came to UUFP whether almost 50 years ago or last Sunday.


Perhaps we can still feel the excitement and even some nervousness we experienced that first moment


that we entered this community and still do when moved by the spirit of this community.


Each of us by our presence here today contributes a profound energy to the clay. 


Some have a deeper impact than other for they have been here longer, perhaps a founder or a long time member.


Others are newcomers or friends who have bought a fresh energy, vision and enthusiasm to share.


Each of us changes the nature and feel of this community and its looming future.


Whichever you are, you have already made sacrifices to support this community. 


We need each other to help make things work out in the ways we hope so that we keep something spiritually vital and important alive:


that opportunity to create something transcendent that touches the holy and


connects us to others in a meaningful way.


The person sitting next to you today needs that and the stranger


who enters our doors next week hungers for what we offer, or they would not come.


Realistically, this Canvas is about choices.


It is about why you are a member of UUFP and whether you will honor your commitments to each other to work together to create something larger than ourselves.


All of us, all volunteers, keep the wheels of UUFP humming along.


We, have each staked our future on UUFPs success in living its mission and vision.


We have each done this in various ways.                                                                                                                  


I staked my emotional satisfaction and financial needs on you when I contracted to serve as your minister. I became a stranger in a strange land because I wanted to be your spiritual leader. We all have risked much in our new relationship. Like some of you, I move between hope and anxiety for our communities future.


But know this… I have no regrets. I am here because I want to be.  I have abiding hope in our future together; for I know a life worth living is full of challenges and also presents opportunity in the face of adversity to grow.  I know that together, we are up to the task. I have trust in myself, my faith and especially in you and the covenant we share. If given the chance, I know we will do the right thing for ourselves and UUFP.


Each of us, founder, new member or visitor will shape the future of this congregation.  We will do that by doing our best to honor the financial commitments we will make to this current budget and by helping with additional dollars if we can.   Let us take to heart the values and love we share when we consider our pledge for the New Year. That value is far more then bricks and mortar. You only have to look at the person sitting next to you to know that truth.


I am not just asking you to be a steward of this church but of each other, the planet and all our brethren. We must be about the business of building relationships in a way that acknowledges the web of existence and the inherent dignity of each person in that web. Membership is about bringing to life our faith for ourselves, our children as well as for the stranger and a shared future.


Money is only a sub-text for what is really important at UUFP. Your pledges provide sacred space and a forum to engage each other in a heartfelt civil discourse. Perhaps more than sex and politics, money is hard to talk about because it has power over us and embodies a mystique around issues of influence and prestige, status even vulnerability over the struggle to acquire it, hold on to it, spend it and not lose or waste it.


Strangely, though money is also about love, for we financially contribute to what we love, our families and children, social welfare organizations, our faith and church.  Money is a tool that enables the longings of our heart to become effective in reaching out to others to repair a broken world. It empowers us to live out our values and faith. It offers us a place to plumb our spiritual depth help, to find meaning in our lives. 


We offer pastoral care when our members are hospitalized or in need of loving human contact. Our garden helps feed the hungry as do grocery cards and much more.


Money, when properly focused allows us to embody our values more effectively. Over times, we have learned that when the congregation unites, we have greater power to effect change in the world than we do as individuals. The institutional church lends purpose to our lives and allows us to focus our attention not on the dollars but on how money empowers us to serve people who have great need.


We have an opportunity right now to be great. As a congregation we have sometimes been like a diamond in the rough, we see our own potential, but have not quite focused on why we exist or what purpose we serve. We have not always done that well because we miss the spiritual purpose money can hold, to heal the sick, feed the hungry, love the sinner. Sometimes we only consider money as  necessary only to  pays staff and maintain our buildings, to provides for the nuts and bolts of running a church often at the expense of our  mission and vision that you see on the front cover of this order of worship.


Sometimes we forget that we are a community dedicated to each other, sometimes  even turning  on each other when the challenges feel overwhelming or when we disagree.


What gives me hope is that I have also seen members come back together, acknowledge their breach of our covenant, put their differences aside and work together for the common good.  We have found that when we use money wisely we can do all these things and more and in so doing open the door to the greatness hidden within each of us…the call to serve humanity.


We actually minister well to each other with pastoral care and worship that can meet our spiritual needs. We do the best we can to religiously educate our children and offer adult enrichment programs that serves all ages with a variety of programs.  We have an undernourished  focus for our social justice outreach and  supporting and spreading the good news of Unitarian Universalism. We can be justly proud of our accomplishments, yet humble in the knowledge that there is much more we can do.


Like the potter we can step back, take in all we have created and then take the next step in refining our vision into something we would be proud to share with the world. We are limited only by our vision of what we can achieve. Our vision and purpose is why we need to fund this canvass.



The shape of UUFP is incomplete, as we all are. The next step for us is to clarify who we want to be in this community and then live that into reality. Like the potter we stand at the wheel— experiencing and feeling the clay and working to shape it into something grand; a thing of beauty containing all the colors of our dreams,  called UUFP.  What we imagine and create with our hands will contain all our hopes and visions for a better tomorrow. This place can serve our spiritual need to bend the arc of the universe towards justice and compassion.


This is not a time of despair for out of challenge and adversity hope is born anew. Everything is possible if we are willing to boldly act on our dreams.  This is our moment of greatness if we take all the good that has come to us through our participation and support of UUFP and apply it to the present and into the future.


Through our time, talent and treasure, we are building something of true worth and dignity that exemplifies the best in us… in the service to humanity. Here we are linking hope to action. We do that when we come together because we need each other when we seek to heal and would be whole. We need one another when we come to grieve and die and when we celebrate and laugh together. Our lives take on greater meaning when we share it with others in a place such as at UUFP. 


May what your hands have created reflect the vision of your heart.


Blessed it be!

May it be so!

Rev. Paul

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