Front of a church

Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula

In my web page I have included an article that CNN wrote about my passion for volunteering at various local organizations.  Right now I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Grove Library Friends and Foundation Board, the Local Rotary Club, the Blind and Visually Impaired Center and the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula (UU). As a UU, I am also a member of the Finance Committee and the Worship Associates.  If you are not already volunteering, I suggest that you look for opportunities in your local communities where you can use your talents and make new friends for your own benefit.

As UU Worship Associate. I am called upon to do a reading, prepare a sermon or organize a whole service when our ministers are on vacation.  Below a reading I did this morning and a brief sermon after the Reading.  UU’s don’t like services that last more than one hour. 

Here it goes: 

Second Reading – Celia:

The second reading is by Rabbi Ron Isaacs, written in 2016. It’s called:


“As we approach the threshold of the New Year, he says, I have been reading many predictions about what 2017 may have in store for us and the world. But is it really wise to try to predict the future?  The future has been defined as something that everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever one does, whoever one is. But there has always been a vast curiosity to know the future before we get there.”

“Every day millions of Americans read their astrological horoscopes in the newspaper to learn what the planets have in store for them. Astrology is a popular occupation in America today, in which thousands of people are employed full time. We consult the stars, palm readers and crystal balls in an effort to part the curtain that veils the future.  I once saw a cartoon in which a young girl was reading her diary to her friend.  The girl commented: “This is one book where I wish it were possible to peek in the back and see how it all comes out.”

“Even Jacob in the Bible, third patriarch of the Jewish people, attempted for a fleeting moment to unravel the secrets that are hidden in the womb of time. As he lay on his deathbed, he gathered his children and said to them: “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.” (Genesis 49:1)

“As we read further into the story, however, there are no predictions of things to come. And the rabbinic sages point out that although Jacob wanted to foretell the future, the Divine Presence departed from him. God apparently did not want the future to be revealed. But what was God’s reasoning?”

“If you and I knew what was going to happen tomorrow and the day after and on all the days to come, wouldn’t life lose much of its zest and excitement? A terrible boredom might even set in as we mechanically play out the roles that have been predetermined and foretold for us. And if we knew in advance the disappointments and broken dreams and sorrows that awaited us, could we find the courage to even venture into the future at all?”

“But the most compelling reason no one can predict the future is that the future does not actually exist. According to Judaism, we all have the freedom of will to determine the shape of tomorrow by what we do today.”

“The American historian James Truslow Adams put his finger on the truth when he said that while an astronomer can predict precisely where every star will be at 11:30 tonight, he can make no such predication about his young daughter.”

“What the future has in store for us depends largely on what we place in store for the future. Only our actions — not the stars nor the cards — will determine the shape of things to come.”

“Several years ago, I read a quote on a wall in the Diaspora Museum inTel Aviv that has greatly influenced the way I live my life. The quote was attributed to an anonymous survivor of a World War II German concentration camp.”


“Our lives are enriched when we recall and honor the past and those who came before us, when we live each day to its fullest and do as much good as we can, and when we have faith in the future.”

“May the coming year bring you happiness and fulfillment, health and well-being, tranquility and peace.”

MUSIC – Music Director

SERMON                     Past, Present and Future             Celia Barberena

>>>>> TECH

  • 14a Sermon Slide
  • 14b Camera A – pulpit tight 


Sermon July 7th, 2024

In an article originally by Sondra Murphy for the Peculiar Travels Blog, she says:

“Everything has to happen in its own time. Sometimes you have to learn hard lessons in order to be ready for other events in your life. Nothing is inherently positive or negative, it’s just another learning experience. When you’re ready to receive something, it will find its way to you, even if it’s a forgotten book sitting on a shelf, she says.”

What I say, not being one who thinks she is wise, is I am trying to figure out how to live my life, like many of you, living in the present, but also being grateful for what is my past and taking actions that lead me to continue a life of service in the future.

When I had my DNA decoded through Ancestry, I found that I am Iberian and Native from the tribes living in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.  This was of no surprise to me, but what was surprising is that I have Roman, Greek and Moroccan ancestry woven in my DNA.  Well, in the Mediterranean, there was a lot of commerce traversing thousands of years ago, as now. So the Roman and Greek soldiers and merchants coming and going had children with the Iberian women who were in their paths of conquest.  So were the Muslims who occupied Spain for 800 years. The men who came from Spain to the Americas had children with the native women in Nicaragua.  And all of this, Iberian, Roman, Greek, Moroccan and Native ancestry are in me. Culturally and racially, this is intricately woven in my past, and informs and influences my present and future.

In my immediate family, one hero in my life was my mother.  At the age of 3, I could speak clearly and seeing kids go by my house early in the morning I said to my mother: “Mama, I want to go with them”. My mother knew that they were going to a pre-school down the street and that they were older than me.  Nonetheless, she asked the teacher if she would let me attend, younger than the rest as I was, and the teacher said, yes, she would teach me my ABC’s and numbers. Did this encouragement lead me to learn all through the coming years ahead?

When I was 11 years old, my mother enrolled me in a bilingual school where I completed my high school in a bilingual program. During my last year of high school, representatives from the American Embassy came to my school to recruit students who wished to study in the US. I applied and passed the requirements. Findlay College, now University of Findlay, Ohio, offered me a scholarship. I completed my undergraduate degree there, later pursuing an MA and PhD at Bowling Green State University also in Ohio. If my mother had not been so attentive, would I be who I am today.

Upon arriving in Findlay I noticed that people that looked like me were not represented in the student body, faculty or staff. But, we were very well represented in the tomato fields picking the crops. Their cultural and racial experience was in my past and is in my present and influences what I did, have done and will do with my life in the future. Since graduating, I have dedicated my life, like many of you, to improving opportunities for all through education, but the Latino experience and the immigrant experience is in my past, and informs my present and future. In September, I will be going to U of Findlay to receive a Distinguished Alumna Award because of my life of service. Looking forward to this has provided me with an opportunity for introspection.  A lot of my past, defines and informs my present and future. I know that many of you can relate to my experience even if the details are different. Who are the heroes that encouraged you to pursue big challenges in your lives?

In 1980 I moved to California for family reasons. The California Community Colleges gave me a home. I started working as a part-timer and 25 years later I was President of Chabot College in Hayward. I came to Monterey County in 1996 because Hartnell College offered me the position of VP for Student Services. It’s because of this past, that I am here as your friend. There were steps in our past that have brought us to be this UU family today.

Each one of you has a unique story that encompasses our past, our present and informs the way we build our future.

As Rabbi Ron Isaacs says:

“Our lives are enriched when we recall and honor the past and those who came before us, when we live each day to its fullest and do as much good as we can, and when we have faith in the future.”

So shall it be.
And now please rise in body or in spirit and join in singing our closing hymn.