All posts by Clay Nelson

A Subversive Christmas Redux

with Rev. Clay Nelson

A Subversive Christmas Redux
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Clay Nelson © 15 December 2019

People sometimes wonder why Unitarians celebrate Christmas. Even some Unitarians do. It’s quite understandable considering our scepticism about Virgin births, moving stars, the birth of Saviours of the World, divine babies in human form, and whether or not any of it is history. I, however, wonder why Christians celebrate Christmas (and of course they didn’t for the first few centuries after the birth of Jesus). Christians have struggled with Christmas ever since the Emperor Constantine declared December 25th to be the day of Jesus’ birth. Well, somebody had to decide. The Gospels certainly didn’t tell us when the blessed event happened. Since then how to celebrate it or whether or not to celebrate it at all has consumed untold hours of theological debate.

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“O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie”

with Rev. Clay Nelson

“O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie”
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Read below, or download the PDF

Opening Words are A poem by Philip Appleman, “O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie

Clay Nelson © 8 December 2019

Today we welcome you, Gerard, Tess and John, as our newest members. We are delighted, but it is only fair to warn you that challenges lie ahead for all those who sign the membership book. One of the biggest is explaining what the heck a Unitarian Universalist is.

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I am what survives me

with Rev. Clay Nelson

No recordings this week

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Opening words are ‘When I die’ by American poet and feminist May Sarton

Closing words are from The Book of Joy | Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu

Clay Nelson © 10 November 2019

I once had a rabbi friend who summarised life for me: “We spend the first half of our life accumulating stuff and the second half getting rid of it.” Well, one of the benefits of immigrating to a new country in my mid-fifties was getting rid of a lot of stuff well ahead of schedule. However, there were a few things I couldn’t let go of yet. One was a blown glass frog that is a work of art and the other is a large Wedgewood serving plate. While they are both beautiful and valuable, that is not why they now reside in New Zealand. They belonged to sisters. The plate was treasured by my maternal grandmother Flora Mae (AKA Granny) and the frog by my great aunt Velma Amanda (AKA Auntie).

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Here be dragons

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Here be dragons
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Clay Nelson © 27 October 2019

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with dragons. I’ve read a number of stories featuring dragons to the children at “Time for all ages.” A film depicting these flying fireballs armoured with scales is certain to entice me to watch. If you were to browse my extensive audiobook library at least one out of three are about the protagonists engaging with dragons. As you will see, these turn out to be theology textbooks. So, it was only a matter of time before I gave a sermon on them. That time is today. What captured my imagination, the required first step in writing any sermon, was encountering the phrase “Here be dragons.” It is associated with ancient maps, but before exploring why I realised I needed to learn more about them than the little I had gleaned from one of my favourite dragon movies, How to train your dragon.

Dragon tales are known in many cultures, from the Americas to Europe, and from India to China.

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