Click on a title listed below to view the full sermon text.


Fight Fair


We're coming into the holiday season folks. And what arrives with those times? I'm sure you know the answer to that question. It's a time of increased effort, higher stress, hopeful endeavors and endless events. Sometimes, as pitcher Satchell Paige once observed, "The social ramble ain't restful!" I want to discuss human relationships in an effort to discover some ways we can all benefit from better communication and a more "likeable" holiday time.


Universalist Heroes and Heroines


From time to time it is appropriate for us to examine some of the high points of our Universalist heritage. This sermon will be dedicated to the memory of the father of Universalism, John Murray and will seek to acquaint the congregation a little more deeply with a faith that once was the fifth largest denomination in this country.


Baseball as Gospel Truth


Play Ball!


Utrum sit Deus? Is There a God?


Being an "unrepentant" theist, I am often asked history’s second most vexing question as the title suggests. Too often Unitarian Universalists, in an effort to make sure they have separated from their religious past, are tempted to sort of "throw the baby out with the bath". I have found that there are enough approaches to this question so that naturalistic theist and philosophical humanist alike can find agreement. Such diversity is what makes the liberal faith so alive.


The Whys and Ways We Worship


It is surprising for some to find that there are those who struggle with the word "worship". Recent religious currents speak of "spirituality" and "celebration". These concepts are nothing more or less than the symbols we use to express what often is inexpressible – the yearnings of the human heart in its quest for life’s meaning. Invite a friend to share the warmth of this church.


Understanding Ministry


A shared sermon between Reverends Dick Fewkes and Jan Knost. Shakespeare has one of his characters repeat the phrase, "The strangeness of this business." In no less a way is ministry often misunderstood by those whom it would serve. Ours will be an effort to clarify terms such as "Called Minister", "interim Minister" and Minister Emeritus.


Final Service: Rev. Richard M. Fewkes First Parish, Norwell, MA


Reflection: Intermingled Lives - This was the final farewell service for Dick and Ellie Fewkes. Dick Fewkes spoke along with the Rev. William Zelazny (Ballou Channing District Executive), Judy Campbell, Rachel Tedesco, Patricia Tummino, and others. The choir’s fond farewell took the form of a veritable musical smorgasbord. Members, friends, guests from other churches, and representatives from the community were all invited to attend.


Thoughts on Memorial Day 2000


Reflection by Rachel Tedesco


Prayer for Memorial Day




An Opportunity for Service


One of the best ways to honor the dead is to serve the living. In this service we will explore with representatives of the Friendship House organization some possibilities for doing just that.


Heroes and Mentors of Ministry


It has given me pause to think back upon who some of the heroes and mentors of ministry were for me as I sought for models to measure my aspirations for becoming a minister.


The Late Flowering Magnolia


Easter Service


Sermon for Membership Sunday


On this occasion when we welcome new members, into what sort of community do we welcome them? What do we expect or hope of each other? And what do we expect to give?


The Light of One Small Candle - Unitarian Church, Kadacs


Sermon delivered in Kadacs


Pilgrimages to Holy Places


If a trip to Transylvania is a pilgrimage to the origins of Unitarianism in Eastern Europe, then a trip to Concord, Mass. can also be a pilgrimage to the literary and religious sites of Unitarianism and Transcendentalism in New England. Dick Fewkes reviews a pilgrimage he made to Concord many years ago when Dana M. Greeley was minister there and led his ministerial colleagues on a pilgrimage of Concord’s holy sites.


Whom Do We Help?


The First Parish Service Committee distributes more than $4,000 in aid to various programs and individuals. The "good works" we do are an expression of the service component of our church covenant and mission. Whom do we help? Come and learn the answers to that important question.


Lent For Religious Liberals


What does the Christian tradition of Lent mean for those who consider themselves to be religious liberals? Is it necessary to "give something up" to gain spiritual benefit from Lenten disciplines?


A Meditation on Guilt, Repentance and Forgiveness


Pastoral Meditation by Rachel Tedesco


A Passages Parable


A new look at the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the light of the psychology of ages and stages and politically correct thinking.


The Language of the Mystics


For the sixth consecutive year UU ministers, congregations and choirs from Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate and Norwell will have a joint celebration of our common liberal religious heritage. This year First Parish in Cohasset will host this magnificent gathering. The theme of this year’s service will center on "Celebrating Our Sources of Wisdom."


You Do The Hokey Pokey


Would you believe that four UU ministers are preaching on this topic—the hokey pokey—this very morning? We got the idea at a meditation prayer group we all attend. One of our group referred to a cartoon that appeared in a recent issue of The New Yorker that depicted a scene along the lines of my story about Alfie and the guru. We all said, there’s a sermon in there somewhere, and so we challenged one another to make a sermon out of the Hokey Pokey on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day. So, like it or not, that’s what you’re going to get.


A Gallery of Spiritual Leaders


First Parish in Norwell has had 27 ministers in its 358 year history. Judy Campbell and Dick Fewkes will lead a special service of celebration of our 27 spiritual leaders followed by the dedication of the framed portraits of most of our ministers. Joanne Howard was the coordinator of the portrait gallery which will be on display in the Parish Hall and eventually to be put in the meeting house.


The World as the Body of God


One way to think about God is as incarnational in the world. This concept is being explored and developed by feminist and ecological theologians. Thinking about the universe and the world as being the body of God affects the way we think about things like creation, the sacredness of nature and the goodness of our own bodies.


God & Einstein's Universe


TIME Magazine recently named Albert Einstein as Person of the Century. What impact did Einstein's view of the universe have on religion and theology?


Social Concerns Portfolio 2000




You're a Good Man Charlie Brown -
The Gospel According to Peanuts


Charles M. Schulz, creator of the comic strip, "Peanuts", announced his retirement effective, January 4, 2000. "Peanuts" has entertained children and adults for nearly 50 years. Years ago the message in Schulz’s comic strip was compared to the message of Jesus in the Gospels. What message or messages has Schulz given to us these past five decades? What is the Gospel according to Peanuts?


The Light of One Small Candle


Christmas Eve Candle Light Service Reflection


Thoughts on the Millennium




A Transylvanian Pilgrimage


Dr. Judit Gellerd, General Secretary, U.U. Partner Church Council

Judit Gellerd was born in Simonfalva, Transylvania in the village right next to our Partner Church in Kadacs, Romania. Her father, Imre Gellerd, was a noted Unitarian minister, theologian and church historian, who was imprisoned and martyred by the former dictatorial regime in Romania. Dr. Gellerd, a trained psychiatrist, is currently enrolled in post-graduate studies at Boston University School of Theology. The Partner Church program in Romania and Hungary was her brainchild and she has served as the General Secretary of the U.U. Partner Church Council, making frequent trips to Transylvania and helping to coordinate partner church relationships for American and Canadian UUs and the Unitarians in Romania and Hungary.


The Courage to Change


A reflection on the famous Serenity Prayer of A.A. which was originally composed by the Protestant theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr: "God grant us the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference."


Thanksgiving Meditation




Honk if You're Not Sure (Or Learning To Live with Doubt)


It has been said the Unitarian Universalists are the "doubting Thomasas" of the religious market place. Are faith and doubt incompatible or are they in fact needful to one another? If it is true that there is no such thing as faith without doubt, it is also true that there is no doubt without an element of faith.


An Inside-Out Approach to Happiness


Our modern society takes a "quick fix" approach to happiness and improved personal relationships through self-help books and seminars. More often than not, these don't work...or only work temporarily. Might the problem be in the way we see the problem? We'll look at popular author Stephen R. Covey's analysis and see how we can change our perspective , change ourselves and achieve greater happiness.


All Souls Reflection: On Being Existentially Challenged


One of the funniest sketches in the old Monty Python episodes is the one about the dead parrot. Coming to terms with the death of a parrot is one thing. Coming to terms with the death of a human being, especially the death of those we love and hold dear, is another. You’ve all heard the expression, "When you're dead, you're dead." But is it true?


All Souls Circle of Remembrance


All Souls is a remembrance of those who have died, not just the saints, but all the other ordinary folks, just like us, who have lived and died, and bequeathed to us heritage of memory and of hope. The dead are not dead so long as we remember them.


In Memoriam: Elizabeth Tarbox


A fond remembrance of our former ministerial intern.


Illusions and Realities


Philosophical Hinduism talks about the difference between "maya" (mere appearance or illusion) and reality (which is grounded in the inner spiritual principle of Atman-Brahman or God). What are the illusions and realities in our lives and how can we distinguish one from another?


Is Religion a Crutch?


Minnesota Governor, Jesse "the Body" Ventura, waded into the fray of religion and politics in a recent Playboy interview, by saying that "organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers." Is religion a crutch? And what’s wrong with that? Can it also be a shovel?


Rediscovering Columbus


What actually happened when Columbus and his crew landed in the New World? Were they heroes or villains? It depends on who you ask.


Evolution and Creationism in Kansas


There have been many attempts in the 74 years since the Scopes trial to either prevent the teaching of evolution in the nation’s public schools or to insist on "equal time" for what has been called the "creationist" or "scientific creationism" position. All of them have been declared unconstitutional in that "creationism" is not really a science, but is an attempt to impose a religious point of view in a science course.


Reflections on the Summer of '99


It is hard to believe that we have all come through the last summer of the 20th century. The summer of ’99 was a good one for us.


A Quiet Summer


I'm so glad to be back here at the First Parish Church. These are some of the lessons I learned this summer.


Eternal and All Conquering Love


One of the core affirmations of our Universalist heritage is the belief in God as "eternal and all conquering love". What does that affirmation mean for Unitarian Universalists living today?


Are You A UU Mystic?


Mysticism, naturalistic or theistic,is a part of every religious heritage. How does mysticism fit in with our Unitarian Universalist heritage? Are you a UU mystic?


From Kosovo to Colorado


To what extent is the violence in Kosovo and Colorado a reflection of the troubled soul of western culture and the depths of our own being?


A Letter from Rev. William Fish on the 125th Anniversary of the James Library


The Rev. William Fish was minister of the First Parish in South Scituate in 1874 when the James Library was constructed and dedicated. In a letter to our current minister he extends his regrets that he could not be with us to celebrate the 125th anniversary, but he shares with us the early history of the James and congratulates the church and the town on this significant achievement.


Learning to Live with Guilt


An overburdened conscience can be a sign of what Freud would have called "an excessive superego" or "neurotic guilt", and can destroy all spontaneity and enjoyment of life.  The lack of conscience, the inability to feel guilt, can be indicative of a psychopathic personality, and can be harmful to others.   In the  Unitarian Universalist church we try not to lay guilt trips on members, but we also seek to awaken the conscience to the call of justice and compassion in self and society.


Easter 1999 Reflection: Born in the Grave




Looking Back on 30 Years of Ministry


April 1st marked the 30th anniversary of Dick Fewkes' ministry at First Parish in Norwell. In his sermon for this occasion Dick reflects on some of the highlights of the past three decades of his ministry among us.


Looking at Jesus Through Non-Christian Eyes




Walking Together


Though we are a church and denomination that honors and treasures the quest for truth and individual freedom of belief and conscience we are also a religious movement that makes covenants (promises and agreements) on how we shall walk together in spiritual fellowship and community.  What is the difference between a creed and a covenant and what is the basis of our covenant and agreement on how we shall walk together at First Parish in Norwell?  Is it time to re-covenant our agreement as a congregation as we face the transition to the year 2000 and the change of ministry which that entails?


Social Concerns Portfolio 1999


As we embark on this the last year of the 20th century what are the important social and ethical issues of the time that will demand our attention and response?


Love and Friendship


The ancient Greeks spoke of friendship love as philia, a love based on reciprocity and affiliation. Love between friends is a love between equals. It is also the basis of a good marriage relationship which includes eros as well as philia.


What Does a UU Humanist Believe?


In the fall of 1997, a survey of individual UU's was conducted through our magazine, The World. Nearly 10,000 UU's answered the survey.  Of these, 46% stated that they were Humanist in their theology.  What do we mean by Humanism?  What is its history in our denomination?  What is its future?   Rachel Tedesco, Student Minister


Journey To Wholeness


The UUA has described the effort to end the roots of racism in ourselves, our churches, and society, as a journey toward wholeness.  How have we fared on that journey and how far have we yet to go to reach "the wholly land"?


Schweitzer and King: A Tribute in White and Black


Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous jungle doctor who established a hospital to serve the natives of Lamberene, Africa, and Martin Luther King, Jr., American Civil Rights leader, share January birthdays a day apart, Schweitzer on the 14th, King on the 15th. Each of them won a Nobel Peace prize for their lives of loving service. One was white, the other black, but the pattern and motivation of their lives had much in common.


A Religion of Depth


We seek a religion that goes to the heart of life and the depth of the soul. A religion without depth has no real substance or endurance.


Some Pre-Millennial Ruminations




The Promise of the Doll - Christmas Eve 1998




Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About First Parish, Norwell... And Then Some


Time and again it has been proven that churches grow best when the members are enthusiastic about their church and the services it offers and tell their unchurched friends about it. This sermon introduces members and friends to our historic heritage as a church dating back to 1642 and gives a synopsis of the beliefs characteristic of Unitarian Universalism today.


From Sukkot to Thanksgiving


The annual ecumenical Thanksgiving service at the United Church of Christ included a joint message by Rachel Tedesco, student minister, and Dick Fewkes.


Thanksgiving Reflection - Do You Know How Lucky You Are?




Commentaries on Murphy's Law




Flick Your Blik


A "blik" is the way you view and understand your world.   Have you ever had to change the way you viewed the world?  Have you ever changed your beliefs about God, human nature, moral values?  Have you ever changed your mind or had a change of heart?  Is it time to flick your blik?


Remember a Courageous Jurist Who Ruled Against the Institution of Slavery


Once a year on All Souls Sunday, as we remember friends and loved ones who have died, we pass among the congregation one of the silver communion chalices given to the Parish by Hannah Cushing, wife of Mass. Chief Justice William Cushing who outlawed slavery in the Commonwealth of Mass. long before the nation ended it with the Civil War.  Both were members of First Parish in Norwell.  Who were they and what can we learn from them as we recall what they did and accomplished?


Phebe Ann Hannaford: Universalist Foremother


Rev. Hanaford was one of our remarkable Universalist foremothers.   She was ordained as a minister by the First Universalist Society in Hingham in 1868.  In addition to being the third woman ordained in the U.S. and the first woman in Massachusetts, she was a feminist activist and prolific author.   Her friend and mentor, Rev. Olympia Brown from Weymouth, attended her ordination and extended the "right hand of fellowship."


Secrets, Lies & Forgiveness...In Our Public and Private Lives


Have you ever lied about something important? Are there secrets in your private life that you would rather keep to yourself and God? Have you ever needed to ask for forgiveness? Are there some things better left unsaid and unrevealed? Are people in public service permitted to have private lives or is everything now open to public scrutiny and investigation? Who of us could stand up under the examination of an investigator with unlimited powers to probe into our private lives and personal affairs? What we can forgive in others is a measure of what we can forgive in ourselves.


From Tintern Abbey to A Boathouse in Laugharne


Some highlights from a three week visit to England and Wales.


Smile, You're on Cosmic Camera


A recent movie tells the story of a man whose every waking and sleeping moment from birth to adulthood was a living soap opera on global television. The whole world knows it except him. One day he awakens to this true condition and claims his freedom. What is our true condition and can we awaken and claim our freedom? How would you live your life if you thought you were being watched 24 hours a day.


Ordination Sermon for Patricia Tummino


Sermon given by the Rev. Richard M. Fewkes at the Ordination of Patricia Tummino, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleboro, Middleboro, Mass.


My Life Journey (in Brief) and Call to Ministry


In a letter to the Parish, our new Student Minister, Rachel Tedesco, shared these plans for her first sermon:  "Since I have lived 51 years on this earth... I suppose there's a lot I could say about my life.  But I will focus on those parts which led me from being Jewish to being a Unitarian Universalist and which then led me from being a "UU in the pews" to a divinity student at ANTS [Andover Newton Theological School].  I'll also share with you my areas of special interest in ministry and some projects I hope to be working on this coming year."


Fulfilling the Promise: GA 98 Rochester




Cosmic Catastrophes at the Movies


Summer blockbuster movies never seem to tire of telling us that the world will likely end not with a whimper but a bang, a Texas size asteroid hitting the earth, a deep impact giant meteor, or an X-File alien invasion waiting to happen.   What do these end time scenarios tell us about our view of life and death and the meaning of our existence?  Can we only save ourselves if threatened from without or is there sufficient health in us to live with hope and dignity in spite of the fact that all life, animal and human, will someday end?


Loving Connections Across the Waters


Unitarianism endures in Erdes (Transylvania), Land of the Forests, and in the green hills of England and Wales.  Dick Fewkes shares his reflections on his five week sabbatical trip to Transylvania, England and Wales and the enduring legacy of our spiritual roots abroad.


The Beautiful Gate




How Do Know When You're Saved?


Christianity through the centuries has often been preoccupied with the question of salvation--who gets saved, how you're saved, when you're saved, and which place you will go after you die. Universalists got their name because they believed that in the end everyone gets saved--universal salvation in contradistinction to salvation of the elect.  What can salvation mean to us today?  How do you know when you're saved?


The Theology of Eating


Eating and drinking is something we do every day of our lives, but we rarely give much thought to it, at least not of a theological nature.  Where we eat, when we eat, what we eat, how much we eat, with whom we eat-- all carry implications about our view of ourselves,of others and the world.  One of the radical things about the ministry of Jesus was his willingness to sup with just about anybody.  He kept an open table.  What does our cultural preoccupation with eating and drinking and dieting say about ourselves?  Does the eating of food connect us with the source of life and the springs of gratitude, or is it an act devoid of theological and ethical implications?  How open in theory and fact is the table we set?  These are interesting questions to contemplate on the one time of year we serve communion at First Parish.   The communion service is a remembrance of the life and teachings of Jesus, but it is also a celebration of human connection to the holy and the renewal of life in the face of brokenness and loss.


A Visit from Samuel J. May


Samuel Joseph May, minister of First Parish Norwell (formerly South Scituate) from 1836-42, and uncle of Louisa May Alcott, was renowned as a Boston abolitionist, temperance leader, peace advocate, and supporter of women's rights.  We are pleased  that Mr. May could find time in his busy schedule to come back for a pulpit guest appearance and to share with us some of the significant moments of his ministerial career.


Rules of the Net and The Soul of Cyberspace


The world of the Internet has created a whole new culture of communication and interaction between people.  Are there any rules of behavior while surfing the net or does anything go? Is there a soul out there somewhere in cyberspace?  Can you get your religion on-line?


Politically Correct Parables


What would the teachings of Jesus sound like if put into the terminology of politically correct parlance?  Robert Martin Walker, a Methodist minister, has done just that in a book about Politically Correct Parables.  We will compare the New Testament originals with some of the "politically correct" versions and see what if anything we can learn from them.


Amistad and Race Relations 1998



2/ 8/98

Mars Meets Venus in the Bible and the World




The Search for Meaning


Viktor Frankl, the great existential psychiatrist, died in Vienna at age 92 last fall.  He called his new form of treatment "logotherapy" based on the human quest for meaning in existence.   Frankl forged his existential logotherapy out of his experience in the Nazi death camps.  What he learned from that experience was that no matter how dire our circumstances or situation we always have the capacity to choose how we will respond to what life puts before us.  This sermon is in fulfillment of "The Sermon of Your Choice" which was bid on and "purchased" by Jeff Angley at the 1997 Goods and Services Auction.


Lessons from the Titanic


Within the past year or so there have been new books and documentaries, a television movie,and a blockbuster disaster film all on the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage in 1912.  Titanic is more than just a historic tragedy.  It has become symbolic of the inequities and presumptions of the human condition then and now.


Don't Sweat the Small Stuff


This sermon reflects on the title and some stories from a best selling book.  Not everything in life is "small stuff," but much of what we fret about is not worth the psychic energy and worry we give it.  Jesus said, "Be not anxious for itself.  Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." Good advice then and now.


Carl Sagan's Cosmos


Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote many books about science and the stars.  He was the most renown of American writers because he attempted to write for the general public and did it well.  His novel CONTACT was made into a movie.  He died before it was completed.  One of his deepest concerns was the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence and the relationship between science and religion.  This sermon, which was also "bought" by Paul Coolidge at a previous Goods and Services Auction, explores some of these themes from Carl Sagan's cosmos.


The Gospel According to Norman Mailer


Novelist and writer, Norman Mailer, has written books about Mohammed Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, and convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore.  In this latest book, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SON,   he takes on the challenge of writing about Jesus, someone who, in his own words, "is nicer than yourself," which he admits, "is very hard to do."   What if Jesus were to come back and tell the story of what happened to him in his own words, first person singular?  That is what Norman Mailer attempts to do in his novel.  Does he succeed?  Is his Jesus believable?


Emerson's Grave Encounter


This sermon was "purchased" by Paul Coolidge at the First Parish Goods and Services Auction last year (1996).  It is a reflection on some powerful personal experiences in the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson based on the award winning biography "Emerson:  The Mind on Fire" by Robert D. Richardson, Jr.


The Scarab at Jung's Window


A recent best-selling book talks about "extraordinary coincidences from everyday life" (otherwise known as "small miracles") that are indicative of significant meaning in human existence.   We human beings are meaning seeking animals.  Do we sometimes "read meaning into the stars" (or other happenings) that are not really there, or do we seek meaning because the ultimate meaning of being draws us to itself?  What small miracles or extraordinary coincidences have impacted your life with meaning?


Promises to Keep


The deeply conservative men's movement known as The Promise Keepers recently gathered in Washington for a rally or crusade to call men back to their spiritual roots and moral responsibilities according to seven promises that have their foundation in ancient biblical values.  What are those promises and do they pose a threat to so-called liberal humanistic values?  What, if anything, can we learn from The Promise Keepers and the values they espouse?


Bring in the Clones


If we can clone a sheep what about a human being? Will there ever be another you or me? If one of us is enough or too much what about two or three or more, a "multiplicity" of selves to figure out who we are? Cloning around raises some interesting moral and humorous questions. For instance, could a woman literally become mother to her own self by carrying her "fertilized/clones" ovum taken from a cell of her own body? What would it mean to love your neighbor as yourself when your neighbor could very well be yourself? Bring in the clones may sound kind of funny, but it is no laughing matter.



Installation message given in Brookfield, Mass.



The Jewish high holy days begin with Rosh Hoshana, the new year, and concludes with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is a time of renewal, reflection, reconciliation, and making amends. If making amends and apologies is good for the individual soul does it also make sense for nation states and governments? Why not?



The UUA General Assembly met in Phoenix, Arizona, June of 1997. The theme of the Assembly, interfaith cooperation, included Native American spirituality, ecumenical Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and other world religions. Interfaith cooperation is not only a challenge between UUs and other religions, but also something UUs must work on within our own churchess. We may not all have the same theology within the UU church, but we nonetheless all belong to an interfaith religious fellowship that encourages a common quest for spiritual and moral truths to live by.


The People's Saint


Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died within days of one another. If Diana was the people's princess, then Mother Teresa was the people's saint. Her life and her message is a moral and spiritual challenge to people of all religious persuasions. Though we may not hold to the same religious beliefs, she was after all an ardent Roman Catholic, there is much we can learn from the moral example of her life.