• Weekly Message from Rev. T. J. July 28, 2021 - A Good Age

    I don’t think he really meant to hit her very hard. It was still a little difficult to watch, though also a little comical. A child I guessed was about nine months old was tottering on his mother’s lap in the boarding ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 21, 2021 - There and Back Again

    It was a great blessing to have some time for rejuvenation! Because I know how much we all love seeing pictures of a vacations…here are some from mine. There are only 10, so I am not taxing you all too much.

    ... read more.
  • Weekly Message from T. J. – Vacation Edition June 30, 2021 - A Banner Day

    Greetings from the sweltering Pacific Northwest! With temperatures at or around 108 degrees the past few days, it’s been quite an adventure so far.

    Now I know what some of you are thinking: “Good heavens, leave us alone. We’re on vacation from you!” And ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 16, 2021 - The Big Fuss

    It’s funny how the older I get, the more I find myself saying things around my birthday like, “It’s really only a number,” or “I don’t know where the time went.” When I was younger, the ticking off of another year really ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 9, 2021 - Sole Work

    It looked so inviting. There between what looked like rocks were two open channels out to the breaking surf. We wondered if we could body surf the break out there or if it would be too strong. There was only one way to ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 2, 2021 - Taking the Hint

    “Are you OK?” I didn’t know why he was asking me that. Maybe he saw me wipe out on my wave and was concerned. I’m not an expert surfer to say the very least. I am not even a novice surfer. I think ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 26, 2021 - “Great” Grace

    “I can’t stop smiling. I am now a great uncle.” This is a text I awoke to from one of my closest friends. His niece gave birth to a beautiful new baby and that made him a “great” uncle. The joy I know ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 19, 2021 - A Life’s Work

    Do you know what I didn’t like growing up? Homework. Especially math homework. If my mother could have back the hours that it took to get me to do my math homework, she could have earned another degree. I don’t even have a ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 12, 2021 - I Always Will

    He was always tinkering with his car. That’s one of the things that he always talked about. This piece is supposed to come in by that time. This friend has a lift so I can get the piece on the car. When ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 5, 2021 - Personal Day

    Aloha Friends,

    Some of you likely picked up in the sermon that I surprised an uninvited visitor in my home last week who was trying to make off with some of my belongings and the belongings of my friend. After giving chase and retrieving all ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 28, 2021 - Turn in Your Homework

    I had a little problem growing up. It was completely self made, and no matter what my parents and my teachers did, every so often it would come back. I was one of those kids who just wouldn’t do his homework. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 21, 2021 - To Make Fire

    There is the old story of the fire maker.*

    Once upon a time, many years ago, in a place not too different from where we are now, a wise and loving woman had special knowledge. She knew how to make fire.

    This ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 14, 2021 - Inch by Inch

    The thunderclap was ominous. I don’t hear as much thunder on Oahu as in other places I’ve lived. And when I hear it, there is usually rain close behind. As I exited the church after the 10 am service, I saw the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 6, 2021 - Together Again

    Friends, I am going to take this time of my weekly message for something a little different. I want to explain some of what I’ve been up to for the past year in my free time and over a few study leaves.

    Over the summer ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 24, 2021 - To Love Alike

    The friend I have had the longest in my life lives in Boulder. One of my best high school friends does, too. They both have children. Blessedly, they live in a part of Boulder that has its own fancy grocery store where ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 17, 2021 - The Life for Me

    It’s been a while since I’ve been afraid of pirates. I remember the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World that I visited when I as young. I also remember a cassette tape and picture book my parents gave me ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 10, 2021 - To The Moon

    It must have been a terrifying experience. The clouds gathered. The winds picked up. And the water began to rise. It must have been hard to build a boat in the rain, a boat big enough to weather the storm, to withstand ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 3, 2021 - In The Garden

    It’s so quiet there. The view from the road around it contains the very embodiment of the patience of a saint. If only the same could be said for the viewer, me. It’s the day before the first game to be played ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 24, 2021 - Stuck

    The dark of morning was as still as it always is. My morning writing was done. So was my morning workout. It was time to log in and say “Hi” to my friend. He’s always good to see, with his huge beard and bright ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 17, 2021 - It’s Gonna Happen

    “…and then he just put his hand out like he wanted me to shake it. And I was like, brah, not gonna happen.”

    My friend was telling a story about meeting someone new, someone he didn’t know, who put out his hand ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 10, 2021 - Just a Moment

    As some of you learned yesterday, I was feeling a little under the weather the past few days. I am feeling better today, which is wonderful. And one of the advantages of actually feeling under the weather is that I slow down ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 3, 2021 - Canned Faith

    *tink*… “Damn.” *tink*…*tink*…*dff*

    These are the sounds of a person trying to toss tiny rocks into the open mouth of a 12-ounce aluminum can on the beach. Sometimes it would hit the can, maybe even on the top, and tink. But a lot ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 27, 2021 - Blessed Thoughtlessness

    I’m listening to a book right now that a friend recommended to me. In fact, he forwarded a link to the audio book to be sure I couldn’t make any excuses about not listening to it. And since the “credits” in my Audible ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 20, 2021 - To Survive

    I will be taking today away from work to reflect on new beginnings and transitions of power. Every four years we watch new oaths, we witness blessings, and we listen to plans for the future. Governments of the people are not always governments I ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 13, 2021 - Seeing it Coming

    The boos from the gathered crowd started slowly. They were only scattered. And there was also applause. Somehow laughter was starting to roll through, too. No one was sure what to make of the situation. We had all seen it coming. It only ... read more.

  • Gift Card Scam – Again December 30, 2020 - Rev. T. J. Does Not Need Gift Cards

    Friends, it’s happening again. It’s that time of year. When the traditions of years’ past come to us in new and wonderful ways. And this time, we yet again have someone impersonating me trying to get you to ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 23, 2020 - Just One Person

    I was Snoopy once. It sounds funny, but it’s true. In high school we did a production of the musical Snoopy!, which is a darling musical about…well…Snoopy, the beloved Peanuts character. One of the things we did to promote the musical in high ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 16, 2020 - Pieces Be with You

    You know what I was missing this week? I was missing the annual holiday “tree” trimming we would do at the church. In some years, we’d have an ukulele choir playing carols while the magnificent bamboo/sheer fabric “tree” was strung with ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 9, 2020 - Turning it Down

    The music wouldn’t stop. In fact, it was getting louder. And as the hours stretched across the day, I couldn’t escape it. A friend visiting our campsite brought with him a very loud speaker that he seemed to take everywhere he went. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 2, 2020 - High Hopes

    “Whoops there goes another rubber tree plant.” What?

    The request that came was not one I was all that used to. Working in New York in publishing at the time, and playing some piano at night in clubs, I’d learned a lot of songs. But ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 18, 2020 -

    ***NOTE: Friends, the story I am about to tell contains some discussions of human anatomy. I realize that many come to this space for spiritual up-lift and reflection. I urge you please to consider the elements of some of this story in the ways it ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 12, 2020 - Boxing Match

    There were so many boxes. Twenty three in all, in fact. And they had been partway around the world. That was clear. Labels here, stickers there, barcodes, inspection confirmations, diplomatic mail insignias, customs readouts: they had seen a lot in their day. By the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 4, 2020 - The Moment

    I waited a long time. Everyone had been talking about it. There wasn’t a lot of theater I hadn’t seen in New York at the time, but this was one of the shows I hadn’t seen. On a very limited engagement, it was ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 28, 2020 - Don’t Miss It

    The morning sun is shining again. It’s strange how a few gray days in a row here can affect how we feel. Sometimes its harder to get out of bed. It’s easier to spend the day indoors. We can sort of miss ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 21, 2020 - Decision Division

    This past weekend I preached at Central Union Church. It was a wonderful experience to share worship with one of my good friends and colleagues on the island. And it was a wonderful experience to share some of what our community thinks about, what ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 14, 2020 - Where Dreams Arise

    I’ve been sleeping a lot more. It’s not my fault. It’s my room. For years I sort of ignored much of the wisdom about having a dark, cool place to sleep. Most of the last few years, light spilling in from street lights, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 7, 2020 - We’ve Got You

    Claire’s was a treasure. On a corner just off campus, for thirty years, it stood for fine vegetarian and vegan foods at prices that college kids could afford. Claire, herself, was a treasure. After training to be a nurse, she left the profession ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 30, 2020 -

    Hands Up Winner

    This week we bring September to a close. I know, it’s hard to wrap our head around that fully. And with it we bring to a close our month in worship and in other ways of looking at the spiritual theme ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 23, 2020 -

    To Be Home

    It is so good to be home. I say this after traveling during what must have been some of the finest weather Washington, DC and Rochester, NY have any right to hope for. And still, when the evenings crept around, my ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 9, 2020 - At a Distance

    “Alexa, let’s play a game.” My friend said this to my new speaker I have in my kitchen, and the speaker lit up. Apparently my speaker I bought to link to my phone to play music also can entertain me with trivia questions, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 2, 2020 - Getting Schooled

    I had to be careful. I had to be quick. The four-wheelers, with their blue lights and uniformed drivers were flowing out in formation from the beach and across the park. There must have been more than a dozen of them. I knew that ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 26, 2020 - Over the Mask

    The dogs were huge. Huge. And the home was lovely. It was hard to miss the Tesla sport utility vehicle parked next to the Ferrari roadster in the car port as I approached the door. But when the door opened, two dogs that ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 19, 2020 - Grounded…again

    It wasn’t that rare an occasion for me to be grounded as a child. And it was less rare as a teenager during high school. But when I was grounded, when I was not seeing friends or getting out into the world, the real punishment ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 5, 2020 - Being a Jerk

    “Use your feelings.”

    This is what a great teacher of a galaxy far, far away said to his disciple, Obi-Wan. Today, Yoda’s words seem to be taking on a powerful dimension. But this is a problem. Yoda had some habits that might make us ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 29, 2020 - Sun-day

    The hush and murmur of the crowd washed through the living room as my friends and I finally got do to something we had been longing for: watch baseball. And as the camera fixed over the right field wall focused behind the pitcher, we got ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 22, 2020 - What it Used to Be

    It ain’t what it used to be. Every step is degraded from what it once was. The wooden beams are pitted in places and caved entirely in others. My sneakered toes balance on the ridge of relics as I climb. And ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 15, 2020 - There You Are

    “I don’t like hiking”

    I made this admission once to about 500 people at the church in Portland one Sunday morning. The gasps were audible. I think one person hissed. This is the congregation that counted Cheryl Strayed as a member, the author of ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 24, 2020 - Some Assembly Required

    As a young child, our elementary school would often hold assemblies. They were times when the entire school or large parts of it came together for different things. Maybe the administration had something to tell us or to scold us about (gum under ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 17, 2020 - Happy Birthday to Me

    Aloha all. Today is my 42nd birthday, Jackie Robinson’s number, and I’ll be taking it as a vacation day. I hope that everyone enjoys their day. Take a look at the interview we did with Judge Levinson last night if you can. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 10, 2020 - People Everyday

    Friends, the world is changing before us. In cities, villages, and homes, the ways that policing and systemic racism come together in to the violence of white supremacy culture is being laid bare for so many to see. Today’s Weekly Message is a little ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 3, 2020 - What Are We Doing?

    A week now since the killing of George Floyd, a week now since direct actions and uprisings in communities far and wide, a week now since the militarization of cities and the policing of bodies, we are all asking, “What are we ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 27, 2020 - Asking Questions

    His face is looking a bit white. But we keep asking questions. We finally get to it, the reason we are all here. Will he or won’t he admit his attorney had put him up to this entire case or not? My law partner ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 20, 2020 - Happy Birthday IZ

    Sixty one years ago today Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was born in the territory of Hawai’i. He was raised in Kaimuki until moving to Makaha with his family as a young man. Raised with musicians in his family and all around him, he grew up ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 13, 2020 - Are You Still Watching?

    How are you doing?
    What’s new?
    How have you been?

    For the past two months, the habit of asking these questions has started to feel inane. When I ask these kinds of questions, I’m met often with wide eyes and an open gaze, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 6, 2020 - Beautiful Building

    “It really is a beautiful building.” I said this as I looked up at a ceiling adorned with interlocking, colored tiles inlaid against decorative concrete frames. Examples of the art deco design of the building flowed from the centerpiece ceiling down the cream colored ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. – Trivia Edition April 29, 2020 - Not ALL Fun and Games, but…

    We had some good old fashioned fun last night at the weekly Pau Hana. We do this every Tuesday night at 6 pm by Zoom. And last night we had a great time looking together at some of the facts of our ... read more.

  • Links to All Regular Zoom Meetings April 24, 2020 - SUNDAY WORSHIP Click Here For Sunday Worship Room opens at 9:30 am, Worship begins at 10 am. Above is a link that has a password embedded in it. I encourage you to use this as it is the safest and easiest way to access ... read more.
  • Update: FUCH Building Closed Through the End of May April 23, 2020 -

    IMPORTANT

    Building Closure Through the End of May

    Aloha Friends,

    The Board has elected to continue the closure the church to all church meetings or gatherings through the end of May. Please know we do not do this lightly. The risk to members of our own community as ... read more.

  • Weekly Message From T. J. April 22, 2020 - Humble Me

    Last night we had a pretty good time at Pau Hana Tuesday. For those who weren’t there, we had a little mini concert (really a light cabaret presentation if we’re being honest) from yours truly. We traced the history of some of the songs ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 15, 2020 - Follow It

    I give myself very good advice,
    But I very seldom follow it.
    That explains the trouble that I’m always in.

    — From “Very Good Advice” by Sammy Fain and Bob Hillard from the motion picture Alice in Wonderland.

    I don’t know what my family used ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 8, 2020 - In Memory
    Bill Withers and John Prine

     

    Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on.

    In the past days, a nation of musicians and music lovers entered mourning. Last week, the unparalleled talent and extraordinary inspiration that resided ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 1, 2020 - Pausing the Show

    The shelves in my apartment are half cleared of personal items. Some of the surfboards are here; the others are gone. Things I’d never eat are still in the fridge, waiting to go. My roommate’s move-out is on pause.

    A friend says he’s thrown ... read more.

  • Pau Hana Tonight (Tuesday, 3/31) 6 Pm – With Musical Guest, Tim Rose! March 31, 2020 - Pau Hana Tuesday!
    Come and Join in Happy Hour at 6 pm
    Special Musical Guest: Tim Rose
    https://zoom.us/j/446163758

    Aloha First U Ohana!

    We hope you will join us today at 6 pm for this very special pau hana. We will have a great ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 25, 2020 - Our Seconds

    I have written before about the piano I had growing up. At a Thanksgiving dinner in my early childhood at the home of my great grandparents, my great grandfather taught me to play one note at a time. And in this way, he stopped ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 18, 2020 - In Bloom

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some changes to my routine lately. What we are seeing, what is happening around each one of us, maybe in each one of us, is unprecedented. And for a few days now, the conversations I’ve ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 4, 2020 - Tuning In

    I know, I know, I know…I’m on leave presently. And as essential as this time is to the renewal and growth of my spiritual life, it’s also important to me that I share how you can watch your newest episode of Now That You ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 26, 2020 - A Dusty Present

    “From dust you came, to dust you will return.”

    This is the phrase many in our human family will hear today when ashes are deposited on foreheads around the world. In the Christian world today marks the first day of the Lenten season, which ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 19, 2020 - Guide My Feet

    Cannon fire is not the first thing I thought of that morning. Through a night of tossing and turning, wondering what might happen the next day, I thought of a lot, but never once of cannon fire. The preparations were all in place: ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 12, 2020 - The Push and the Pull

    I feel like I could break these reflections into a few categories. And if I did, one category that would make sense would be the “Visiting Friend” category. I’ve been blessed by so many visitors in my time here. And there ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 5, 2020 - Entwined

    Yesterday started out like a lot of days: time catching up with friends in the morning, some coffee, and then a little trip to get a new remote control for my car. I arrived at the scheduled time, 7:30 am. And I figured there would ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 29, 2020 - Holding Healing

    There are many privileges that come with being a minister. The trust others give you to hold some of their more tender feelings is one. Another is the chance to share on a regular basis your thoughts or interpretation of events, history, and beliefs ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 22, 2020 - Love and Spreadsheets

    If I’ve said it once, people have heard me say it 100 times, “Sometimes love looks like a well managed spreadsheet.” Well, friends, on Sunday I did my best to make that so. As some of you know, I keep track of the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 15, 2020 - I Am Weak but We Are Strong

    Some of you know I have a bit of a habit of tracking things and looking at numbers. Partly this is because in ministry there are not many metrics to measure progress or effectiveness that can produce data. There ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 8, 2020 - The Quality of Mercy

    Friends, welcome to the new decade. The turning of the year in the Gregorian calendar is certainly a time when many of us take stock of the year and make plans for the new year we enter together. For me, it is ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 18, 2019 - All Through the Night

    On Sunday, at the urging of friends, I was delighted to attend the annual holiday concert presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Honolulu. It was extraordinary—not necessarily for the musicianship (though lovely), but more for the depth of the concert’s heart. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 11, 2019 - No Coincidences

    “Oh, I love this time of year.”

    I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. I’m guessing you have, too. But what is becoming more common is what follows this statement. For decades, what followed this statement was, “All the decorations in the windows, the heavy ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 4, 2019 - Checking In

    “We’re checking in right now!”

    I received this message a short while ago from a good friend who will soon be holding his first-born child. Well, let’s all hope it will be soon, for his wife’s sake. The waiting and expectation seem appropriate about now.

    This ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 27, 2019 - The Very Beginning

    “One note at a time, T. J.”

    My tiny thumb rests on middle C. My pointer and middle fingers take over in turn, and then give ground again to my thumb, back and forth between the notes, hopping over the silent D.

    “Doe: a deer, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 20, 2019 - Unlocking Possibilities

    As we descended the stairs from the sports complex, I explained that my house was only a little farther away. And when we arrived at my house, I asked my new friend, who was clearly a few months away from bringing a little one ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 13, 2019 - Get in the Water

    I asked a friend visiting the island what he wanted to do. And he replied that he wanted to “go to the beach.” And when I heard this turn of phrase, like I do sometimes, I weighed any potential benefit of telling ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 30, 2019 - This Is Thriller…

    It wasn’t unexpected. Weather in Boulder, Colorado in late October can be a little tricky. But that moment when the snow and ice send you skidding on the less-than-optimal tires of the rental car, when the traction control switches on, when you’ve already ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 23, 2019 - “All My Bags Are Packed…”

    Aloha First Unitarian Ohana,

    This is one of my occasional messages from the E Terminal at the airport. I will depart in a few moments for a week on the continent to see my family, some friends, and to perform a wedding. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 16, 2019 - Weight of a World

    So, I know a lot of people are reading the news these past few weeks and days as the investigation into wrongdoing heats up in the U.S. capitol. A friend asked me yesterday if I read the news. I said, “No.” He ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 9, 2019 - Rendering the Sacred

    I’m sure we’re all familiar with the phrase, “Something’s gotta give.” I am. I mean, I kind of enjoy the movie by that name. But also, as I type this message between a meeting with an attorney representing a refugee from Central America ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 2, 2019 - Luxurious Wonder

    There are few scenes as perfect. The cooling night breeze breaks the heat of the day. Your good friend drives you to the selected destination in a busy city. And right in front of the restaurant is the waiting valet to whisk the car ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 25, 2019 - Awful Grace

    In high school my best friend and I were often referred to together. As in, “Are Pete and T. J. coming to the party?” or “Someone ate all the vegan brownies. Go find Pete and T. J.” Some of our friends got so used ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 18, 2019 - Sweet Smell…of Failure

    I can literally smell failure from a few feet away. This isn’t a skill I developed in seminary or one I honed in other walks of life. Nope. The humble and soulful art of baking is one of the best teachers in the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 11, 2019 - Grinning and Baring

    The smiles are what I noticed first. Under tents, over cooking flames, the smiles that come from sharing a story I couldn’t hear spoke to me. And the quiet bustling, getting ready for what the day had in store, reminded me of a ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 4, 2019 - The Heart of the Matter

    There is a tiny church by the water. There between cruise ships on one side and the medical school on the other, in the shadow of a smokestack that seems so charmingly out of place, the church gathers. It’s a church ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 28, 2019 - Tyranny of Time

    “Hey, Jack.” I gesture for my friend to come over to the table where I’m reading outside Kahala Mall. He squints and takes a few steps toward a voice he isn’t sure is really calling his name. But he doesn’t recognize anyone so ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 21, 2019 - Two Questions

    It can stop me in my tracks, still. Walking from my car to my front door yesterday, it happened. I live close enough to the practice fields of the UH Mānoa athletic teams that I can hear what’s going on over there. And this ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 14, 2019 - End-O-War

    With a friend visiting the island for the first time, I did what I love to do: venture to one of my favorite places in the world, Waimanalo beach. As usual, it was idyllic. But as we approached the shoreline, we saw it: “MAN-O-WAR STINGS ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 7, 2019 - In Memoriam – Dr. Toni Morrison

    To imagine a world no longer subject to the critical, penetrating gaze of Toni Morrison, is to imagine a world more dimly lit, more hidden, perhaps, to those who were guided by her unspeakable genius. Many grieve the loss of ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 31, 2019 - Rest for the Wary

    I started my morning with a little peek at the weather. With the on-again, off-again rain we’ve been having the last day or so, I wondered what might be brewing in the skies. And like a lot of us, I saw the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 24, 2019 - Worlds Fall Apart…and Together

    I don’t remember the gown I wore. I don’t think I was wearing shoes. My parents and my sister were there. So were my aunt and uncle. I’m pretty sure I cried like a baby…because I was. I had just come into ... read more.

  • Weekly Message From T. J. July 17, 2019 - Gift of Presence

    In social situations I don’t go out of my way to let it be known that I am a minister. It’s not that I am not daily humbled by the honor this congregation has bestowed upon me by calling me its minister. It’s ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 19, 2019 -

    Leaving on a Jet Plane, in a Honda

    Aloha Friends,

    I am departing in moments for General Assembly…by car! I have the banner in hand and our mighty contingent of members is getting ready to represent us fully and with Aloha! If there is an ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 12, 2019 - A Brand New State

    It’s easy to miss these days. We have so many kinds of news coming at us. And every year we hear that the art form is fading, dwindling. Some say it’s for rich people and tourists. But the Tony Awards this past ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 5, 2019 - Out from the Shadows

    Last night a close friend let me know his father was going into emergency surgery, so I left my phone in “on” mode instead of “sleep mode.” In “sleep mode” if the same number calls twice in a row it rings through. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 29, 2019 - What We Can Do

    A member of our congregation did something big this week. Jon Love, one of our newest members, published another novel this week, and it’s now available for purchase on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733710701/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=There+ariseth+light&qid=1558984158&s=gateway&sr=8-2

    I was lucky enough to have a chance to read an advance ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 22, 2019 - Asked and Answered

    Many of us know that over the past few months we have been working with monthly spiritual themes. The theme of “covenant” this month was one that included some discussion in worship as well as some action in our annual meeting on the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 14, 2019 - Standing Before Us

    Dear friends. Only hours ago, I received the news that Dorothy May Emerson passed away. A social media post explained that she collapsed in her new home and could not be revived. There has been a great outpouring of fond memories and support ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 8, 2019 - Floating Ideas

    The rumbling of the jets overhead is near constant. And the roar from those few that streak out of sight makes it hard to hear the television. Flapping helicopters chop the air, too. And then, of course, there is the noise of traffic. It’s ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 1, 2019 - Never Forget

    I forgot a friend’s birthday yesterday. He lives in England and the time differences make it a challenge to remember to call him when he’s awake. But still, forgetting an important date is something I try to avoid when I can. It helps to ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 17, 2019 - Coming Through

    I laughed a little when the text came through: “So what exactly do Unitarian ministers do for holy week?” No doubt, my minister friend at a Christian church was staring down this week of worship in Christian communities and wondering what it might be ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 10, 2019 - Asking for a Raise

    Yesterday I received a question by email:

    Who/What raises UUs up?

    And I took a little while to think about it. The question was inspired by the song You Raise Me Up which was written by a little-known folk duo in Europe in 2002. But ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 3, 2019 - Peace of Advice

    Someone asked me yesterday, “What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?” And I was a little stumped. I thought about parents. I thought about teachers. I thought about close friends. But nothing came. There wasn’t a clear winner. Rev. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 27, 2019 - We’re Cool…Right?

    When this month began, some folks at the church shared their experiences with balance with me, the spiritual theme for March. And some folks shared with me what they thought was the best or closest Hawaiian word or principle that stands as a corollary ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 13, 2019 - Well In Hand

    As I sat at the gym, I heard it. The blib-blip-bloop came from the tiny device in the child’s hand, and his rapt fixation on the tiny screen and the noises that tracked progress of the characters on the screen was familiar. The ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 6, 2019 - On Balance

    The great teacher gathered her students one evening at the school. As the students were seated around her, she said to them, “We have learned much together about prayer. We have learned how best to say our prayers.” And then the teacher rose and ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 27, 2019 - Where There Is Hope

    For many years, I had a saying. “Where there is breath, there is hope.” This meant that if someone is still breathing, there is a chance—a chance at redemption, a chance at healing, a chance a reconciliation, a chance of some kind. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 20, 2019 - Wonderful

    Years ago, in a lifetime far away, I was at a party with Gwyneth Paltrow. I remember passing by her—she’s tall—and sort of chuckling that she was drinking a Corona Light. In those days I kind of thought Corona was light enough. But a few ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 13, 2019 - Last Resort

    This month’s spiritual theme is Spirit / Mana. To deepen our understanding and our conversations around these themes it helps to experience different perspectives. Each month I’ll be putting together a set of writings to help with this. These are taken from essays, poetry, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 6, 2019 - Free Exercise

    Many of us grow up hearing about the separation of church and state in the United States. And the idea seems relatively simple. Religion or religious bodies and the civil government should not be too intertwined. That’s the idea. But that idea, the separation ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 30, 2019 - Worthy of Hire

    Many of us know the reality of living in this place. It comes at a price. For many more of us, the price of living is getting higher and higher while wages are not keeping up. The legislature will look at three proposed ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 23, 2019 - I Got It

    A friend of mine described himself once as someone who likes to be alone in a crowd. I remember where I was sitting when I heard that. And I remembered the crossword puzzles I’d worked on at tables for one in busy brunching ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 19, 2018 - In Humble Gratitude

    My friends. I want to thank you so much for the generous and welcoming way you took the next step of bringing our ministries together in a more cohesive way on Sunday. By voting to extend a call to me, you have accomplished ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 12, 2018 - To So Love The World

    This morning I was part of something kind of extraordinary.I took part in a call with Mary Evelyn Tucker, one of the foremost writers and educators in the intersections between religion and ecology. The call was sponsored by the Council on ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 5, 2018 - A Way of Caring

    Last week I was eating lunch with a friend not too far from the Ward theaters. It was one of those rare days when we both realized that we both had a few free hours in a row. And an even more ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 28, 2018 - What Relationship Asks

    Friends, we are coming to a very important time at our church. As many of you know, among some of the most important work this church does happens at the monthly meeting of A.D.O.R.E., a Dialog on Race and Ethnicity. And at this ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 21, 2018 - At Once

    This week the world lost Stan Lee. He started as a comic book writer and was the creator of a universe of superheroes now called the Marvel universe. Blockbuster movies, millions of comic books sold—there is little doubt about the regard in which our ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 14, 2018 - To a New Land

    Well, here it comes—the Bermuda Triangle of holidays. We are gathered on this vessel together, navigating that course through a time of year that holds a lot for people. For some there are memories of past holidays that are fond, warming, and ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 31, 2018 - A Common Heart

    Those of you who were present at my ordination might remember the sermon that was delivered by Rev. Christopher Mathewson. He is a childhood friend of mine. But before he was a friend, he wasn’t. Let’s just say that one swim class my ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 24, 2018 - This Little Light

    It’s always a bit of a surprise. A pumpkin in a window. A string of electric lights with little plastic jack-o-lanterns illuminated all in a row. It’s going to be Halloween in a few days, but it’s a surprise to me. The holidays ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 17, 2018 - Heavenly Rest

    I didn’t want to go on. I wanted to stop and go back…a lot. The path up Ka’ala, the highest peak on this island, was more than I felt I could do. But my friends let me take my time. They called out when ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 10, 2018 - The Rose Petal Rebellion

    The scene was perfect. Rippling water lapped against the shore of the hidden lake. Small beautiful structures, windows and doors wide-open, let guests mingle and move freely with icy beverages in hand. The perfect rows of white chairs gave form to the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 3, 2018 - What Are You Thinking?

    I don’t know what has come over me. Last night at the meeting of your Social Justice Council, one observant member noticed that I was yawning. I assured her that I believed my yawning had little to do with exhaustion or boredom ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 26, 2018 - I Can See Clearly Now

    I have spoken before about the fun we can have when visitors are here and we get to play tour guide. We dip our toes in waters we haven’t in a while, we ascend the heights of hikes we miss, we ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 11, 2018 - Where We Were

    Most of us remember exactly where we were when it happened. We remember exactly what we were doing. Though seventeen years have passed, most of us can feel it like its was yesterday, or even today. The faces around the rooms where we ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 5, 2018 - Patient

    Patience is a virtue, so we are told. In many of our own personal experiences, this phrase is parroted by people who want us to wait or who want us not to take some kind of action. As wise as the sentiment is in theory, ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 28, 2018 - Not So Easy

    This past Sunday I asked for a show of hands during the sermon of people who had seen 13TH by filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time). From my rough count I saw possibly a dozen hands go up, maybe less. I ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 22, 2018 - Manifest

    Have you seen them? Have you seen the signs? Swirling, driving, building, the signs are springing forth in all corners of these islands. They are bubbling up once more to reveal the truth that we all know: the swirling, driving, and building up are telling ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 15, 2018 - A Greater Testament

    I used to talk to myself. Not a lot, but sometimes. Maybe I was preparing statements I’d present in court. Maybe I talk through parts of sermons to be sure certain points get across. But aside from these, there was a time when ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 8, 2018 - The Story of a Hurricane

    Since I’ve arrived back home I’ve been hearing some chatter about the hurricane churning off the southerly part of the big island. My friend assures me that the reports of hurricanes here are frequent but rarely come to much. “You’ll see,” ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. August 1, 2018 - I’ll Leave This Here

    Friends, I’m writing to you from under the gray, gloomy clouds of Portland, Oregon. I am here because over the coming days I will have the honor to serve the UU Musician’s Network as the conference chaplain for the UUMN annual meeting. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 25, 2018 - This Guy’s Crazy

    As I sat in the airport waiting area, we heard the first sign of trouble. “Ladies and gentlemen in the waiting area, we are getting information now from Canada air traffic control that due to weather and traffic over Toronto, we are looking ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. July 3, 2018 - Gone Reflectin’

    We have done so much this year together. From bringing joy and music to our community parades, to bringing new and exciting worship experiences to our sanctuary; from bringing fun and engaging lessons to our keiki in worship and the classroom, to organizing our ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 27, 2018 - Message Received

    When I read the news I was trying to eat a bowl of rice and beans. My friend was trying to tell me about the things going on life. I was trying to do anything else but think about it. But I was failing. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 20, 2018 - When Words Fail

    As I sit here in the airport, I can’t miss it. Families are everywhere. They are watching bags for each other while taking trips to the kiosks and water fountains. They are checking around them as they get up to board their flights ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. June 6, 2018 - The Struggle Is Real

    Friends, you may know that for the last few weeks members of this community have been taking part in planning an event to participate in the national movement of the Poor People’s Campaign. Through organizing meetings, though discussions, and through some ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 29, 2018 - Staycation

    So, Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, right? Well, in the spirt of taking part in this worldwide phenomenon, I am taking a vacation in Hawaii this week!

    Already I’ve had the chance to take in a jog around Diamond ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 23, 2018 - Short Days Ago

    2018 marks a century since the end of the first World War, the Great War, The War to End All Wars. This last moniker, The War to End All Wars, is today often used as an indictment of the state of militarism around ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 16, 2018 - Happy Returns

    Did anybody notice? I think we all kind of missed something yesterday. I’m sure they won’t care, but we might owe a belated greeting of some kind. I’m sure they’ll understand, right?

    See, some other things happened yesterday so we just kind of missed it. ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 9, 2018 - Crashing Tide

    Anyone ever see real passion? I’m not talking about romantic, amorous passion. I’m talking about the kind of passion that sweeps into someone’s life and tugs, pushes, cajoles, and otherwise propels the afflicted toward something they hope to accomplish or attain. It can seem ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. May 2, 2018 - The Thing with Feathers

    “Hey there, buddies. How you doing? I’ll see you later, OK?”

    These words, or those like them, are words we’re all used to hearing. Maybe someone speaks them when leaving a social situation. Maybe they’re said to children when a parent is leaving ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 24, 2018 - More Than What Divides Us

    Aloha from Portland, Oregon!

    This is the week of the Regional Assembly for the Western Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Unitarian Universalists from across the western states will gather for education, worship, and to work together to strengthen the bonds that ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 18, 2018 - What Dreams May Come

    Ask a dozen people, “What is money?” If you only get a dozen answers, congratulations. Among the responses you’ll hear are things like, “Money is what we use to secure needed or wanted goods or services.” Very true. But you might also ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 11, 2018 - Paths to Wonderland

    There was a period of time a while back when Disney was making some really out there movies. I remember watching parts of Dumbo, especially when the elephants were on parade in Dumbo’s dream sequence, and thinking, “This is just weird.” I remember ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. April 4, 2018 - Take My Hand

    One of the smartest people I have ever known, someone who has seen more, weathered more, suffered more, than I might ever see, ever whether, or ever suffer, often listens thoughtfully and quietly to what is going on in my head. A lot ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 21, 2018 - On a Jetplane

    “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…”

    I remember when those words were sung to me for the first time. My mother’s cousin David was playing his guitar and singing along in my great grandfather’s living room. I remember not wanting the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 14, 2018 - All the Things

    I have a friend who says often that he is “doing all the things.” He says this to mean that through times of sadness or stress, he does those things, indeed, all those things, which he knows he needs to do to get ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. March 7, 2018 - Something Is Happening

    There is a plant in my room here at the church. It was there when I arrived. Not knowing much about plants, I took a look at how it seemed to be surviving (with water) and I kept it up. I added water ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 28, 2018 - Inspired

    One of the most beloved songs we sing as Unitarian Universalists is the song Sprit of Life by Carolyn McDade. In it, the singers beckon the arrival of a spirit that touches the soul and builds in us something of use to the world. As ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 21, 2018 - A Place in the Choir

    I will never forget watching that videotape. There on the second riser, he stands. He is playing with his tie. OK, now he is hitting other children with his tie. And what is he doing now? Oh my…he is now pretending ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 14, 2018 - The Archer’s Mark

    Throughout many of this nation’s streets, and certainly in its bars, the celebration of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday to those who skipped out of French class, will herald the arrival this week of…Valentine’s Day? That’s right, that amorphous holiday purporting to celebrate ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. February 7, 2018 - Visitors

    Growing up, I was a fan of the science fiction miniseries V. The “V” stood for “visitors” and it was an imaginative take on what would happen should visitors from another planet come to our own planet. The series I remember had a trademark gaseous ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 31, 2018 - Homeward Bound

    “Ladies and gentlemen. As you can see the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign indicating that we have begun our initial descent into Honolulu. As the crew moves through the cabin to collect any remaining service items, please return your chairs and ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 17, 2018 - A Shared Blessing

    Who is your minister?

    You might be thinking of the person you see on Sundays delivering a sermon. Or you might be thinking of some other person who was a minister of the church in the past. But most of us have ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 10, 2018 - Getting In Line

    I turn off the ringing alarm. I pack up my documents. I get in my car and head down. I want to arrive early so that I can beat the line. Surely, there can’t be too much of a line before they ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. January 3, 2018 - Talk About The Weather

    I never spent a lot of time worrying about the weather. And being here in Honolulu has effectively cured me of any lingering habit I might have had to worry much about checking the weather or fearing for what it will bring—surely ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 27, 2017 - Skip My Turn

    Well, here we are again, my friends. Every year we put Thanksgiving behind us, we vault out toward the winter holidays, and then we are here, in this space together. We traverse this distance, this final leg of our journey together through the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 20, 2017 - Reason for the Season

    This time of year it’s common to hear people saying, “Remember the reason for the season.” And the implication is to remember that this is this time of year that we remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to his parents Mary ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. December 13, 2017 - Always Remember

    I think I will always remember last night, when Doug Jones defeated his opponent in the special election for the seat in the Senate vacated by Jeff Sessions in the State of Alabama.

    I think I will always remember a few days ago, hearing from ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 29, 2017 - Leftover

    So, who’s still eating leftovers? That’s OK, there’s nothing wrong with leftovers. I know some people who appear to be constitutionally opposed to eating leftover food, but more and more, the big meals of the holiday season seem to lend themselves to the pleasure of ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 21, 2017 - We Give Thanks A Meditation and a Prayer for First Unitarian Church of Honolulu

    In a space out of time, out of our human knowledge and understanding,

    A spark lit the flame of the existence, the reality, the web of life we share today.

    In a space out of ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 14, 2017 - Gentle Mercies

    I once led a children’s chapel service on the subject of “generosity.” This was during the annual fund drive at a previous church. As the grownups were asked to give money to support the important work of the church, the children and I talked ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. November 8, 2017 - Moments of Silence

    One of the most memorable vacations I ever took as a child was to a place famous for its lazy river. For those of you unacquainted with a lazy river, I feel for you. For those of you only acquainted with a lazy ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 31, 2017 - In a Holy Place

    I missed you all this Sunday. I took a trip to nearby Moloka’i with some friends to do some camping. We were able to make use of some property a church owned. There was even a rickety old church piano in the ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 24, 2017 - Boo!

    Is anybody else as shocked as I am that Halloween is next week? I know that must be a really “new-to-the-island” thing to say, but I feel like it crept up on us this year…almost like it wanted to scare us! And that’s entirely appropriate.

    Worlds ... read more.
  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 18, 2017 - Winds of Change

    Greetings and Aloha, my friends.

    I hope you’ve been enjoying some of the shifts in the weather this week. I know that the swell we had in the ocean made for some very happy surfers, boogie boarders, and fans of those sports. Yesterday I ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 10, 2017 - Not Only the Lonely

    This week, the Harvard Business Review ran a very interesting cover story. I encourage everyone to read it (you can click here). You will see that it was not written by a business professor or by an economist. The article ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. October 4, 2017 - I Am Angry

    I am angry. The scenes of chaos, terror, and dread on the streets of yet another city made me sad for a time, but now, mostly, I’m angry.

    Violence in Our Lives

    The New York Times Editorial Board ran an article on Monday about ... read more.

  • Our Sanctuary is Open Today – October 3 October 3, 2017 -

    Dear Loved Ones,

    Our hearts ache for those families, friends, loved ones, and all members of our shared human family devastated by the events of the past days in Las Vegas. Answers or solutions in these times are not always clear and are rarely simple. But ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 27, 2017 - Send in the Clowns

    Greetings, friends!

    Have you ever felt that some ideas are better in the planning than in the execution? I learned this last night. A friend asked me to see the movie It, the most recent adaptation of the Stephen King novel. The movie ... read more.

  • Weekly Message from T. J. September 20, 2017 - Boston Calling

    Greetings and Aloha!

    These past three weeks were a bit of a whirlwind. It’s hard to believe that today marks three weeks of being here with you at First Unitarian. In my first two weeks I spent a lot of time to getting to know ... read more.