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4/19/09

The Three Golden Cups

Stuart Twite
From The Book of Arda Viraf, a Zoroastrian scripture, comes the tale of a spiritual quest that provides the basis for today’s message.

4/12/09

Becoming a Simpleton

Stuart Twite, Easter Sunday
We are surrounded by a continuous barrage of words and images many of which promise to help us make sense of our lives. On this Easter Sunday we will explore the simple mysteries that lie behind our myriad efforts to name and control them.

4/5/09

The Power of Our

Stuart Twite
On this Stewardship Sunday/Palm Sunday we look at the sources and joys of the beloved community. Among other things, Palm Sunday is about power, that which abides and that which fades away. “Now more than ever” we need the power of our.

3/29/09

Living in the Layers

Stuart Twite, Union Sunday
On this Sunday our congregation celebrated Union Sunday with the congregations of other UU parishes in our area.

3/15/09

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Stuart Twite
At this mid-point in the Christian Season of Lent, we will examine the question, “Have we lost the ability to take the long view?" How can we escape our culture of "instant gratification?"

3/8/09

Doing the Works

Sue Robinson, Pulpit Guest
The life and work of Helen Fogg has inspired many and created a legacy for First Parish. What does it mean to accept the challenge of our liberal faith and "do the works" of service to the wider world? Helen’s life of action presents a model to us and is a personal inspiration to many. How will it challenge you?

2/8/09

A Cloud of Witnesses

We celebrate Founder's Sunday with a look at an exciting time in First Parish History. In the years between 1836 and 1885, First Parish was blessed with three fascinating ministers who showed us our best (and our not so best) selves. We will explore how our history has shaped and informed us.

1/18/09

We Contain the Multitudes: The Spirituality of Transformation

This morning, as we celebrate the Birthday of Martin Luther King, and as we look forward to the promise of new beginnings, may we look to our highest ideals, may we dwell with each other in agape, that love that transcends division, suspicion and fear. May we do the next right thing, the day to day work that will secure for everyone the blessings of the dream this day and forever.

1/4/09

We Are What We Worship: The Year in Religion 2009

So, how’s the New Year’s resolution going? Why do I, why do so many, welcome a naturally occurring chance, such as the dawn of a new year, to resolve improvement? I very much believe that this impulse for resolution making is, at heart, a deeply religious one.

12/14/08

A Moment With the Skin Horse: On Being Real

Looking at a moment from the beloved children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, we will reflect on what it means to be authentic within community.

11/30/08

Another Kind of Happy

Nothing says "happy" like the holidays during a serious economic slump! Relax. There's no need to put a fake smile on your face or to feel or be anything different this season. And you may, in fact, be happier than you think.

11/9/08

Building

For this Second Sunday, our offering went to Habitat for Humanity. Rev. Weinstein offered reflections about more intentionally connecting our work lives and our spiritual and reflective lives.

11/2/08

The Good Goodbye

Sermon

On this All Soul’s Sunday we will share thoughts about what it means to say that final goodbye, and how we can say goodbye even if we were not able to say it to the deceased when they were alive.

10/26/08

The Election Sermon: What Leads Us?

Sermon

It has been a tradition for centuries for New England preachers to give a sermon on the pertinent issues facing the nation on the eve of Election Day. This sermon assumes that you already know the issues and have probably already made a commitment to one of the candidates. So today, I’ll be reflecting on Adlai Stevenson’s quote, "Who leads us is less important than what leads us."

10/19/08

Shift Happens: On Metanoia

Sermon

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. We’ll explore what happens when our "little minds" expand, and we change in ways that surprise, or even contradict, our idea of ourselves. (available only as podcast)

10/5/08

What's the Sense of Humor: The Power of Irreverent Reverence

Sermon

The death of comics George Carlin and Bernie Mac this summer deprived us of great irreverent genius. Religious communities are not known for their devotion to laughter, but they should be. Hear more about the Gospel According to George and Bernie, and explore the humanizing power of humor.

9/28/08

The Still, Small Voice

Sermon

This summer, I met with a group of First Parish women to teach them a Quaker process called Clearness Committee, which is centered on the practice of communal discernment. We all have to make many decisions in our lives; how can we bring spiritual groundedness and wisdom to those moments? Learn the difference between deciding and discernment.

9/21/08

On Labels and Liberals

Sermon

Commentary

Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard observed, "Once you label me, you negate me." Today we will remember the victims of the shooting at the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Knoxville, Tennessee, the question of what happened there, and clarify how religious liberalism differs from political liberalism.

9/14/08

The Basic Human Covenant

 

Is there a basic human covenant that transcends any group, any class, any race or creed, that is truly universal and universally agreed-upon? If so, please tell me what it is. Where is it written? Who got to write it, who signed onto it, and how do we all, globally, hold each other accountable to it?

5/25/08

Stuck in a Moment

 

Stuart Twite, Director of Religious Education
Time passes inexorably but a life fully lived in each moment is eternal. How can such a life be lived? 

4/20/08

Enslaved

 

As the Jewish community celebrates the Passover holiday, remembering the story of the Israelites liberation from slavery, we will contemplate the ways that we are enslaved in our own lives, and also confront the reality that slavery is still very much of our global economic system in the 21st century.

4/6/08

Standing at the Crossroads

 

Why are crossroads such magical places? Why have they been regarded with such respect and even fear by travelers, been used as the burial grounds for criminals, guarded by impressive deities like Hekate and Mercury, and used as the location for magickal spells? Why are crossroads also the place where travelers since ancient times traditionally put aside all suspicion and advised and supported one another no matter where they hail from? What does it mean that this congregation stands together at a crossroads?

3/23/08

Easter Can Be Small and Resurrection Comes Sowly

 

The Easter event in the Christian year is a big, dramatic, knock-you-off-your-seat miracle: life out of death, an empty tomb, and timid, terrified followers of Jesus becoming out-and-proud messengers of a crucified and risen man’s liberating gospel. Easter in our own lives, however, does not always come with a "wow" but with a whisper. And those whispers can be just as miraculous and transformative.

3/2/08

Hearing The Heretic

 

Because human beings as a species have tended to prefer comfortable, received truths and conformity of belief and behavior, heretics have been unpopular through all ages and cultures. Yes, some of them have made great art, brilliant theology, raised amazing children, made celebrated discoveries, and become rich, famous and adored. More often than not, however, they are reviled, silenced, censored, imprisoned, crucified and remembered by posterity as villains or madmen and women.

2/24/08

Now Hear This: The Healing Power of Compassionate Listening

 

As the Pastoral Caregivers and I work together to train them to “walk the parish” as spiritual caregivers and friends, we talk a lot about the power of attentive listening and presence. When someone is really suffering, what can listening do? It’s so passive! Can I really be a healing presence when I’m doing nothing but listening?

2/17/08

Everlasting Love

 

Many of us are raised with the idea that we have to earn love; an emotional belief that we carry into adulthood with very serious consequences for physical and emotional health. We will turn to our Universalist heritage for spiritual insights regarding the unlimited love of God/Universe, a teaching that is meant to better equip us for inner life and the life of relationships, and to prepare us for an easier, more compassionate transition into old age and death.

2/10/08

Out Of Control

 

We place a tremendous amount of value on the sense that we're in control of things, events and relationships in our lives. Buddhism teaches that all control is an illusion. Are we ready to consider that? How might it heal our lives to do so?

2/3/08

The Democratic Process

 

On this anniversary of the gathering of our congregation in 1642, we will celebrate the use of the democratic process in our religious lives, considering it in conjunction with our Fifth UU Principle, "The Right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in our congregations and in society at large." Don't think that voting is a spiritual issue? Come and hear the minister argue otherwise.

1/20/08

Theodore Parker Speaks To His Time and To Ours

 

Dressed in period costume and speaking in character, the Rev. Richard M. Fewkes portrays Theodore Parker.

1/13/08

I Call That Mind Free

 

Our Partakers volunteers ask you to consider this: there are hundreds of men and women prisoners who would like to participate in the college behind bars program. Their goal this year is that each team take at least one additional visitor from our congregation into the prisons to see what it's like, and to learn more about Partakers ministry.

1/6/08

This Time Next Year

Sermon

The heart and soul of ministry is presence or is it? Self-importance is an illusion and it traps us very early. We are all treasured in our presence, but perhaps we are also useful where we are not. Looking forward to and planning for my sabbatical. (available only as podcast)

12/2/07

The Free, Responsible (and Sometimes Shocking) Search For Truth and Meaning

Sermon

Our fourth Unitarian Universalist Principle offers us total freedom to pursue the quest for truth unencumbered by creed or doctrine. It all sounds like a great ride until the search takes the seeker somewhere surprising and profoundly uncomfortable. What do we do then? Is there room in Unitarian Universalism not only for seeking but for arriving?

11/11/07

Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations

Sermon

In the context of Veterans Day, we will look at our second Unitarian Universalist Principle, "we covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations." How is justice different from charity, the old biblical virtue? And what's the subtle difference between "equity" and "equality?" (available only as podcast)

11/4/07

The Times They Are A-Changing

 

Rev. Janet Bowering, Guest Minister

In Reverend Bowering’s words: "A Sermon outlining individual contributions to group activity isn’t necessarily biographical. I’d like to share anecdotes, both serious and funny, about folks who have enriched congregations I have known."

10/7/07

Stories from the Cha ChaCha:
Living Out Prophetic Spirituality With Humor and Joy

 

This summer's hit movie, "Hairspray," tells the story of the de-segregation of Baltimore through a fanciful story about dance and teen romance. The wonderfully funny and feisty attitude of the story's heroine, Tracy Turnblad, gives us an opportunity to consider this question: can we laugh, dance and sing while working to change the world for the better? The anarchist Emma Goldman is quoted as having said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." Today we consider her wisdom, and stories from the Cha Cha Cha, a South African resistance movement.

9/30/07

Practicing Common Ground:
Keeping It Real With Our First Principle

 

In this first sermon of a series on our seven Unitarian Universalist Principles, we will look at our claim to affirm and promote “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” That’s such a nice thing to say, but let’s get real: do we really believe it? What about Osama Bin Laden? What about that person at work (or at church!) who just makes us crazy? How do we move this Principle off the embroidered cushion of lovely motto and into our actual lives?

9/23/07

Sacred Work: On the Slow Hard Turning

Sermon

Yom Kippur, the high holy day of the Jewish year, invites the faithful to tshuvah, turning the heart and mind to more virtuous life. This is, in fact, the work of the religious person and the religious community. Hashivenu, Adonai eilecha vena tshuvah. (Turn us toward You, and we will return.)  Have you ever tried to turn from dysfunction toward wholeness? Have you ever tried to change a character defect? Why is it so hard?

9/16/07

Sacred Places: On Pilgrimage

Sermon

For Hindus it is the Ganges River. For Muslims, Mecca. For Jews and Christians, Jerusalem. For some of us in this church, Walden Pond. Why do people leave their homes and undertake long and sometimes dangerous journeys to visit a special place where nothing in particular is happening? How does going somewhere special get you somewhere special?

9/9/07

Sacred Stories, the Scripture of Our Lives

Sermon

Human beings are meaning-making animals, and we do so in a variety of ways: through art, through procreation, through private reflection, and mostly through telling stories. What are the sacred stories of your life? As Unitarian Universalists, what sacred story are we claiming to be part of?

9/9/07

Three First Names

 

Meet our student minister! Misty-Dawn Shelley