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On August 26, 2012, April Ambrose gave a sermon with Rev. Bob Klein at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Little Rock.  The text of this sermon is below.  I also inserted the order of service throughout.  There are links to the John Seed YouTube videos and slideshow of images utilized in the service, as well as the actual video of the service which is broken into two videos, but must be downloaded to be viewed.

Videos of Sermon (download them from these links):  There's a lot of good stuff in here!  You might decide to scroll down on this page to look at the full service schedule and see what you want to view in the video, if you can't watch it all.  
Deep Ecology Sermon - Part I  (my sermon starts at 28:00: and goes through 37:21, which is the end of this video)
Deep Ecology Sermon - Part II (the exercise with the kids starts this video and goes through the end of the service)


[Play YouTube Video]

            A Child of the Universe (stopped at 4:25) by John Seed

SOUNDING THE CALL TO GATHER                               Rev. Bob Klein                  


            The Earth is Our Mother, We must take care of her


WELCOME and Acknowledgment of Visitors                            Rev. Bob Klein

            Time to Greet Each Other


PRELUDE                                                                                 Rick Roy

            Blue Boat Home -Peter Mayer     


OPENING WORDS                                                                   April Ambrose

As surely as we belong to this universe

          we belong together.

We join here to transcend the isolated self,

to reconnect,

to know ourselves to be at home,

here on the earth, under the stars

linked with each other.

- Rev. Margaret Keip

LIGHTING THE CHALICE                                                        Dan Danielson



            # 175  We Celebrate the Web of Life



        We covenant to affirm and promote:

        The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

        Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

        Acceptance of one another, and encouragement to spiritual

                        growth in our congregation.

        A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

        The right of conscience and use of the democratic process within

                        our congregation and in society at large.

        The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

        Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of

            which we are a  part.




             [Play YouTube Video]

 Universe Jam by John Seed

HYMN # 123  Spirit of Life

            Spirit of Life, Come unto me, Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.

            Blow in the wind, rise in the sea; move in the hand,  giving life the shape of justice, Roots hold me close, wings set me free; Spirit of life, come to me, come to me.


ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                               Dan Danielson

SHARING OUR GIFTS AND OFFERINGS                            Dan Danielson

                                                                                             Rich Roy

                Garden Song [Inch-by-Inch] -Pete Seeger 

SERMON                                                                                April Ambrose

                Deep Ecology Part 1: We are the rocks dancing...

[Startslideshow of beautiful images of extraordinary ecosystems on earth and let them play through the rest of the service: View Slideshow Through this Link]

 Looking at these images of the natural world, what do we see? 

I first see something beautiful.  I see illuminated colors, organic shapes, strong lines, and breathless beauty. 

I then see something wild, untamed, unknown, unpredictable, and deep.  I see mysteries unfolding with evolution urging.

With a pang of guilt…, I see my own failure with nature as something that requires protection from the scourge of humans – from resource extraction, destruction by tourism and overuse, and from politics for future impacts. 

This brings with it a mix of my own sense of power to change this, to be responsible, to claim dominion and to care-take.   


This seems to be an environmentalist response. 

However, environmentalism basically treats the ‘symptoms’ of ecological degradation, by cleaning a river, passing laws against dumping, and so on.  Deep Ecology, the subject of today’s sermon, seeks to challenge some of these basic assumptions and fundamental principles of our Industrial Growth Society.


The fact that I see a beautiful thing which I want to use and enjoy, and thus have a desire to protect, is rooted in a great misunderstanding which keeps me from being fully effective:

-that I am separate from the natural world.

Our ego has convinced us that we are the shining jewel in the crown of creation.  That we are the peak of creation and the measure of all value, such that human life is valued above the natural world.  And so we view the world through our accomplishment of simply being human. 

This extreme human-centeredness is called Anthropocentrism.  John Seed calls this ‘human chauvinism’ where one can substitute ‘human race’ for men and ‘all other species’ for women. 

We have alienated ourselves by believing that we are apart from all things.  Thus, we have effectively separated ourselves from the natural world.  


In order to find our response to our responsibility, we need to shed our species arrogance. 


The central spiritual tenet of “Deep Ecology” is that “the human species is a part of the Earth and not separate from it”.  The term, Deep Ecology, was coined in the 1970’s by Arne Naess (a Norwegian philosopher, mountain climber, and scholar of Gandhi) and arose primarily as a response to human’s outmoded notion of separateness from nature. 

            [Hold up Books]

The resource that created a movement from this basic philosophy was this book: a collection of essays, poems, and ideas called “Thinking Like a Mountain: Toward a Council of Beings” by Arne Naess, John Seed, and Joanna Macy.  This was named after an essay called “Thinking Like a Mountain” written by Aldo Leopold.  An extension of this is “Coming Back To Life, Practices To Reconnect Our Lives, Our World,” a book by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown that provides practical application through group experiential exercises. 

These are books that seek to make Deep Ecology a verb, and not just a philosophy.


So, how does Deep Ecology seek to heal our separation from nature? 


Gregory Bateson said, "the major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way man thinks.” 


The ‘Way Nature Works’, is that:  we are simply one member of the evolving community of earth.  All things have intrinsic value, not just humans.  And all things are interconnected and interdependent like a web.  As you know, the Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle, “affirms and promotes the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”


We are, as Aldo Leopold says, a “simple member of the biota”.  We are a mammal, a vertebrate, and a species only recently having left the rainforest. 

From Thinking Like a Mountain: "Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks have the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing."  


Annie Dillard says “All day long I feel created.  I can see the blown dust on the skin on the back of my hand, the tiny trapezoids of chipped clay, moistened and breathed alive.”


So, paraphrasing John Seed, “I am protecting the rainforest” becomes… “I am part of the rainforest protecting myself.  I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into thinking.” 

Oh what a relief!  How awesome and freeing!  We are not apart from everything and can recall our true nature!    


John Seed also says:

"What are you?

What am I?

Intersecting cycles of water, earth, air and fire,

that's what I am,

that's what you are" (John Seed 1988, 41).


This spiritual change and authentic understanding and experience of our roots is called….

Deep Ecology. 

Matthew Fox said: “A morality of reverence will also be a morality of responsibility—not a responsibility based on duty and fear of disobedience but a responsibility based on care for what we cherish and revere.”

The term for our wider sense of identity, John Seed calls “Ecological Self”.  This is an extension of altruism.  Altruism asks you to be opposite of your ego… to love from mere duty or moralizing to: sacrifice, show more responsibility, more concern, etc.  However, if the self is widened and deepened so that the protection of free nature is felt as protection of ourselves, then we need not sermonize about our moral responsibilities. 


Joanna Macy says:

“Sermons seldom hinder us from pursuing our self-interest,

so we need to be a little more enlightened about what our self-interest is. 

It would not occur to me, for example, to exhort you to refrain from cutting off your leg.

That wouldn’t occur to me or to you,

because your leg is part of you. 

Well, so are the trees in the Amazon Basin;

they are our external lungs. 

We are just beginning to wake up to that. 

We are gradually discovering that we are our world.”

The more we expand the self  to identify with "others"…

[hold arms wide open]

people, animals, ecosystems…the more we come to realize ourselves.

SHARING BY THE CHILDREN                                                        April Ambrose and Children

            Back To Nature

So, we will let the children re-introduce us to the ‘others’ in our community, that we might understand and expand ourselves more fully. 

For the last 10 weeks, when the children have left service they have been doing lessons from the book “Hands-On Nature” in combination with a UU supplement which tied their lessons about grasses, insects, frogs, spiders, pine cones, honeybees, etc. back to UU principles.  Now, they would like to share their new identities with you.  Please take this time to expand your ecological self to include these and all beings, by accepting them in Mayan tradition where there is a greeting “In Lak'ech”, which means in modern translation: “I am another yourself” and also means in a traditional Mayan translation: “I am you, and You are me”.  This Mayan greeting is an honoring for each other and a statement of unity which we will say after being introduced to each of our new Ecological Selves:

·        Jules says:

o   “I am a Rainbow Flower. 

I like it when the rain drizzles

because it helps me grow. 

I like feeling the sun

because it’s warm.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Mahogany says:

o   “I am an Opsulopsa dog. 

I like to eat meat,

play fetch,

and sleep.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Hayden says:

o   “I am a Zebra.

I like to eat grass

That is growing

And is not dead grass.

I like to go to the water hole

On hot days.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Nevayah says:

o   “I am a Snake.

I live in the grass.

I eat frogs and mice.

I like to slither

And wander.

I stick my tongue out

In the sun.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Mikey says:

o   “I am a Cheetah.  

    I like to run fast.  

    I like to eat meat.”

o   “In Lak-ech”



·        Andrew says:

o   “I am a prehistoric fish 

    called a Megladon Shark.  

    I feel like I have a lot of power 

    over other fish 

    because they all run from me.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        ? says:

o   “I am a butterfly.  

    I like to drink 

    the nectar of flowers.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Gabe says:

o   “I am an Angliosaurus.  

    I like to walk.  

    I like to eat.  

    I like to roll over.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


·        Julia says:

o   “I am a Squirrel.  

    I like to climb trees.  

    I like to eat nuts.  

    I don’t like it when it rains.”

o   “In Lak-ech”


RESPONSIVE READING                                                                 April Ambrose

            Who Am I?

Please join me in the Responsive Reading in your program which is adapted from” Who Am I?” by Connie Barlow, ( www.The GreatStory.org)

[Me:]  Who Am I?

     [then point at congregation]

[Congregation:] "Who am I in a school of a thousand students?" inquired the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you in a galaxy of a hundred billion stars?" responded the sage.

* * *

[Congregation:]  "Who am I in a world of six thousand million people?" inquired the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you in a cosmos of a hundred billion galaxies?"

* * *

[Congregation:]  "Who am I whose ancestors sailed away from their homeland?" asked the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you whose ancestors crawled out of the sea?" replied the sage.

* * *

[Congregation:]  "Who am I whose ancestors learned to till the soil?" asked the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you whose ancestors learned to breathe the air?"

* * *

[Congregation:]  "Who am I in a body made of mortal flesh?" implored the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you as flesh made of immortal stardust?" offered the sage.

* * *

[Congregation:]  "Who am I with a mind aching for answers?"  lamented the youth.

[Me:] "Who are you as Universe with questions and answers hidden within you? [by Mary Coelho]

SERMON                                                                                                   Rev. Bob Klein

            Deep Ecology Part 2: Living as if nature matters...

Even if we are fully aware of the ecological crisis of our times, we are left with the question of what we can do. It is very easy to become discouraged, with powerful corporations spending millions to challenge the scientific consensus around climate change and political interests denying that there is any reason to fear, encouraging us to go on living the high life in the wealthiest and most wasteful consumer society ever in earth history.

Even in the United States there are millions who are eating lower on the food chain and more and more becoming vegetarians and vegans. There are more and more people calling for and then using mass transit for commuting and traveling generally. More and more people and businesses and governmental offices have switched from incandescent lighting to fluorescent bulbs and even to LEDs.

There is much greater awareness today of the carbon footprint that we each leave and greater efforts to mitigate the impact of our energy use. UU congregational parking lots must have a higher percentage of hybrids and high mpg vehicles than anybody. Many of us are already doing a lot to make a difference, but there is more to do.

Historically, Unitarians especially, but Universalists as well, were among the most effective groups in lobbying for change because they could reach the people in power and sometimes even were the people in power. We rarely enjoy that kind of access to power currently, but UUs can still make a difference at the policy level if we try. Several states now have UU Legislative Ministries which strive to make UUs more aware of issues as well as to get UUs and UU values in front of legislators and those in power. Too often in recent decades UUs have sat on their hands or been too busy wringing their hands to actually put their voices to work to make a difference. This must change.

Today’s service is a reminder for all of us that we are part of an amazing interconnected and interdependent web of life, of which human beings are currently the most powerful part. By nature of our awesome power, we also must be responsible stewards and caretakers of the web of life. Whatever our many theological views, we have become gods over the other living beings by nature of our ability to either destroy or nurture. For those of us who are most fully aware of our place in the web of life, and of those things which currently  pose risks to the living beings of earth, responsible action is incumbent. We are the ones we and all creation has been waiting for, we are the called, the chosen, the fully aware and mindful.

We are the ones who already turn out the lights, drive hybrids and high mpg cars, limit our carbon footprint, check the thermostat to keep the use of heating and air conditioning to a minimum, and yet we are called to do more. The world we have known is changing. Many of us have seen the human population of our country and the world more than double in our lifetimes. Catalytic converters, water pollution controls, and power plant smokestack scrubbers and other anti-pollution technology has certainly helped, but the global climate is changing with storms intensifying, new areas becoming desert, and rain patterns changing in alarming ways. We can no longer just be more responsible personally, we also need to call decision makers and corporations to account for their actions. We need to add our names to relevant e-mail campaigns, send letters, make phone calls and go out and demonstrate.

Earth is at risk and the cockroaches actually have a shot this time if we continue to screw it up! I don’t know about you, but my sense of spirituality and my religion is tied to the health of our planet and the flourishing of all the life-forms.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all in this together. We are the problem and we are the solution. Whatever we do will make a difference. In a world of 7 Billion People we are constantly testing the boundaries of what our planet can provide, what the web of life has for a safety net. What we eat, what we drive, where we work all have spiritual and political implications.

I have not done everything I could do to live simply, to eat lower on the food chain, to advocate for the health of our planet. I am going to try to do better and I invite us all to strive to make our planet healthier. I challenge us to renew our Earth Ministry team, to restart our efforts to become recognized as a Green Sanctuary Congregation, in short to do more for our planet and the web of life of which we are a part. 

We are the most powerful expression of life that earth has ever generated, and with our power comes a great responsibility. We are called to save life on earth by changing the patterns of pollution, consumption, resource use, and food distribution. We are called to eat lower on the food chain, to act and advocate for a healthier planet, to do all in our power to protect, preserve, and clean up our home. This is our most important calling. The Bible and sacred teachings from around the world call for stewardship of the earth. The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her, even as she takes care of us.

May we go out humbly, mindfully, and fully aware of our responsibility. Go out in peace. Listen to the birds and the wind, feel the water, enjoy the shade trees and the flowers, eat of the fruit of the earth. Remember each day that we come from earth and we are part of the amazing beautiful and wonderful earth. We must take care of Her!

Blessed Be and Amen!


            # 163 For the Earth Forever Turning


*CLOSING WORDS/ EXTINGUISHING THE CHALICE                         Rev. Bob Klein            

“The True Reason the Forest is Called Primeval”

Needles of heaven seek pinpricks through clouds of green.

…filter into dusts of light  …layer between laden boughs

…suspend themselves in vibrant air

Emerge, to dance with shadow on the carpet floor.

You are a child of this;  Step softly.    Rev. Margaret Keip


** Congregation Standing as able


Printed as an insert in the Program:

The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984), www.DeepEcology.org/platform