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


Misunderstood Mister Emerson


Ralph Waldo Emerson is perhaps best known and loved for his passionate exhortations to self-reliance and non-conformity. But, as our Emersonian preacher points out, Mr. Emerson was hardly a non-conformist himself, nor was he any less dependent on friendship and other relationships than any other man.


Slings and Arrows of Ordinary Fortune


Poor Hamlet. He is caught in an existential crisis that we are too wise to be caught in ourselves, or are we? Our minister muses about the melancholy Dane in a sermon originally commissioned by a woman who wondered if "to be or not to be" really is the question.


The Children on the Bridge


As our eyes are still turned toward Bagdad, we reflect on our myriad reactions to and convictions about the war in Iraq, and the role of the church and the faithful in today's complicated new sense of the world community.


Who Are We To Forgive?


Given the reality of human evil, what are reasonable and moral expectations for forgiveness? Simon Wiesenthal's great autobiographical work, The Sunflower, provides the frame for our Palm Sunday reflection.


Two of My Fathers


On the 20th anniversary of her father's death, and in recognition of the recent loss of another father figure, Mr. Fred Rogers, our minister will consider modes of masculinity, our church's ministry to men, and father figures.


Shall We Gather At The River?


We shall gather at the church on the (North) River and contemplate together the ways that the river and the ocean work their watery magic on the tides of our souls, and we shall hear lovely water themed music by our glorious choir while we do.


The Book of Esther: The Whole Megillah


Purim is a curious holiday that derives from a curious, and most disturbingly violent, story in the Hebrew Scriptures. This morning we look at faith and deliverance and violence, and how the whole megillah (scroll) weaves these three elements into a compelling story for our times.


The Ungodly, Godly Principles


On January 13, 2003, a Texas newspaper quoted the Unitarian Universalist Association President William Sinkford as calling for inclusion of the word " God" in our Principles. The reaction from Unitarian Universalists was, as you can imagine, swift and passionate. A retraction was issued soon thereafter. This morning we look at the controversy and the relative godliness of our principles.


Onward and Upward ...Forever?


There comes a moment in time when every religious idea and every ideological position stand challenged, perhaps on the precipice of extinction. As religious liberals we claim to be open to such cataclysmic deterioration, even when the cherished principles that face a steady dismantling are our own cherished notions. Our faith calls us to be brave; courageous enough to receive fresh revelations about the nature of humankind and Divinity and ever ready to abandon those outworn ways of thinking that no longer serve even those truths we hitherto believed unshakable.


What is This Thing Called Love


UNION SUNDAY at Seond Parish Hingham
Join with other South Shore Unitarian Universalists at the Second Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Main Street in Hingham. Ministers LaurieAnn Yeisley-Drogin, Ken Read-Brown, Patricia Hart and Vicki Weinstein will ruminate on, in the immortal words of Cole Porter, "this thing called love."


Thanks, Ooops, Gimme, Wow!


Prayer is one of those religious concepts that is worth examining, or perhaps re-examining, from the liberal perspective. Today we look at the varieties of prayer and some of the reasons this spiritual discipline is central to so many people of all faiths.


On the Dais


When we think of terrorism we often think in terms of foreign extremist groups. Yet those who work for reproductive freedom in the U.S. are well aware that terrorists are used to harass, intimidate and sometimes kill pro-choice allies in this country. On the anniversary of Roe v Wade, one minister shares her story about why it is so important to be "out there" for choice.


How Can We Keep From Singing?


Installation Sunday. Breathing together, deep listening, creating harmony: these are all things we do when we sing together, and when we share spiritual life together. On this morning of the Installation of our 28th Settled Minister, we will reflect on singing as a metaphor for religious life.


The Year in Religion


I have to agree with Martin Marty that it was not a particularly good year for religion; or should we say it was not a particularly good year for religion's reputation.


The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids


This service is intended as respite for hectic hearts at the holidays. Enjoy a Bach Cantata and a message about slowing down and unplugging the Christmas materialism machine.


Lost and Found: The Drama of the Prodigal Children


I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a Child of God, the Beloved of God? I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God.
from The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henry Nouwen


Thus Do We Covenant


To "kick-off" our re-covenanting process, we will look at the history and meaning of covenants, and particularly the tradition of covenants in our Unitarian and Universalist heritage. How do we promise to walk together, and more essentially, why?


Wearing Out Our Shrouds


Mary Moody Emerson, Waldo's aunt, was somewhat notorious for traveling in her shroud during her lifetime. Today's All Souls service gives us an occasion to examine our own relationship to Death, and to remember and bring into our circle of remembrance those loved ones who have passed away this year.


How We Got Here: The Big Bang, How it Happened, and Why


Alan MacRobert
Editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine
Those of you who heard Alan's talk a year ago on The Exact Location of God, know that Alan will deliver on both the religious and scientific aspects of his topic. The "Why" in the title is not just a teaser.


Naming the Unnamable


This sermon gives us opportunity to reflect together on how our theologies change over time, and whether our old "gods" can be of any use to us now.


Sent Forth as a Boomerang


Along with many other Unitarian Universalist congregations this Sunday, we will be reflecting on the relative absence of young adults in the life of our churches. In conversation with Derek Sulc, a young adult who has been a member of First Parish since babyhood, we will strive for awareness of this important issue and consider some possible causes and solutions. Bring a youth or young adult with you to church today!


Coming Full Circle


Many of us have hyphenated religious identities. We might be Jewish-Humanists or Feminist Christians or Agnostic-Buddhist-Mystics. This morning our minister will share the story of how she became again, after years of searching and through many hyphenated religious identities, a Unitarian Universalist.


Enemies, Opponents


Only the most naïve among us would deny that every one of us as individuals, as Americans and as religious liberals are likely to have ideological opponents. But do we have enemies? What is the difference, and how does our religion call us to respond to antipathy?


A Palace in Time


The Jewish High Holy days give us an occasion to reflect on the meaning of the Sabbath: its history, its religious significance and its status in our overworked society. Today's service encourages us to more intentionally create a sabbatical spirit into our own religious community.


Safe and Sound


Welcome back to church, as we come back together from our various summer plans and places. Our newly called minister, the Reverend Victoria Weinstein, will preach on "Safe and Sound," thoughts on safe congregations in an unsafe world.


Thomas Jefferson - Patriot or Racist?


"The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this and learn to imitate it . . . The parent storms, the child looks on . . . and puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves . . . And thus nursed, educated and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals, undepraved by such circumstances...."

Thomas Jefferson - Patriot? .....or Racist? It is for you and for history to come to decide.


A Brief Visit with Dr. Seuss


A Children's Day Sermon


Teaching the Gentle Art of Nurturing


A Mother's Day Sermon


My Wish List for This Church


Soon, we will be saying good-bye after two exciting and challenging years together as Interim Minister and Congregation. I would like to take another opportunity to speak of some of the dreams, ideas and concerns we have shared.


Reflections of a Lifelong Universalist


"He drew a circle that shut me out.
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in."

-Edwin Markham, Outwitted

The words I have just shared with you were taught me by my Dad. I have been repeating them to listeners ever since. They constitute what I think is one of the most succinct descriptions of a Universalist that I ever remember hearing. They are what one might call the "jumping-off place" for sharing my "becoming" religious beliefs.

Today, however, I want to approach the process in a little different way this morning. I want to talk about the word "change". A question occurred to me: "How had my religious beliefs changed - or had they - over the years?"


Is Confession Good for the Soul?


There are an awful lot of people who are carrying around a load of guilt that saps the vitality of their daily lives. Indeed, it's been said that Unitarian Universalists are among the worst at dealing with guilt. As we observe our annual Canvass Sunday ritual of depending upon each other to give generously to the advent of the next church year it is wise to consider a few new ways of approaching the whole matter of commitment and generosity.


Resurrection or Rejuvenation?


Easter Family Service


Hoofing It To Jerusalem


The Palm Sunday story is an exciting narrative of Jesus's triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the final days of his radical ministry. Our tradition invites us to see ourselves in Jesus, in the cheering crowds, and even in the power-brokers who interrogate, torment and finally execute Jesus. This morning, for a change, we will look at our relationship to one of the most forgotten and overlooked characters in the story. And who might that be...?Rev. Victoria Weinstein


The Well: Deep Calls to Deep


So the Psalmist writes, "As a deer longs for the flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." A sermon by Rev. Victoria Weinstein


What Makes The Clown Tick?


I have often characterized some of the strange business of ministry as being akin to the role of the clown in the circus. Like it or not, we work much of the time alone and, in our dedication to people and our visions of effective church life we are like the clown - a tragi-comic figure in the midst of the crowd. My hope is that we will discover in this journey some of the opportunities and pitfalls that lay ahead in welcoming a new spiritual leader to work with this distinguished congregation. -jvk


Breaching the Wall


During these beginning years of the third millenia, we are witnessing more and more stridency by the radical religious right. Questions involving the public accountability of congressional leaders is seldom heard. And, under the cover of an undeclared "war on terrorism" there is a lot of religious mischief afoot in state and federal legislatures. I want to address this issue and share some of my anger at its continuing.


Welcomed Heroes


A sermon for Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday


A Homily on the Theme of Peace


Family Christmas Service. Children's Program.


The Miracle of the Eighth Day - A Hanukkah Sermon


The season of Hanukkah begins on December 10 and Jews the world over will celebrate its historical and spiritual meanings for eight days following. Since Unitarian Universalism comes out of the Judeo-Christian tradition, it would seem appropriate for us to brush up on our knowledge of the same. See you in Church.


The Light Of the First Candle - An Advent Sermon


The traditional meaning of Advent, a celebration of the coming of the Son of God, is not a dictum most Unitarian Universalists accept. In orthodox Christian faiths it also can refer to the Second Coming of Christ. I would aver that too often in the heat of the moment we are apt again to "throw the baby out with the bath". There are wonderful elements to the season of preparation for the Christmas season that we can appropriate to our faith journeys. Join me in finding new ways of lighting our candles of joy.


"...for What?!"


In the aftermath of the Trade Towers; in the harsh daily reports of war from Afghanistan; in the constant tennis match of emotions from guilt at killing starving innnocents to anger at the madness of the Taliban; it is certainly time to slow the pace and take stock. We need to look with more precision at the simple things around us that give life its meaning. Nothing profound; not even intellectually provocative. But beautiful, nonetheless.


Emily Dickinson - The Incorrigible Non-conformist


Among the many "Concordians" who graced this earth during the 19th century, Emily Dickinson stands as one of the most enigmatic. Her poetry charms and disturbs. Simple in plan, it jolts the reader to new perspectives regarding the human condition. My hope is that you will enjoy another visit with this charming figure. Her words on paper continue to illuminate our lives.


Immortality - A View from the Bridge


This year's Prairie Group Conference has chosen the Old Testament Book of Job for its study topic. There will be five academic papers with responders and much discussion. In that gem of wisdom are the words, "If a man die, shall he live again?" Unitarian Universalists give little attention to the implications of such a question. However, there may be some merit in considering some of the more sensible ramifications of the word in the living of these days.


Sex, Sin and Salvation


Bishop John Shelby Spong's recent visit as our Fogg Lecturer left everyone with high praise and gratitude for the clarity of his words. Though he remains an Anglican in practice, his theological perspective is so in keeping with much of what Unitarian Universalism celebrates that there were few who would have taken harsh issue with him.As a follow-up, I want to deal with some of the more salient points of his books that he did not cover that evening. It will be helpful for us to discover some of the basic fundamentals of early Christian teachings that have led Bp. Spong and other liberal Protestant theologians to take issue with the current trend in main line orthodox churches today.


One Nation - Potentially Divisible


As the telling events of the past weeks begin to crowd in upon our daily consciousness, the startling possibilities of what can happen in our country if we become engaged in another war where the rules are made by guerilla tactics, i.e. "Hit by surprise, run and hide", rivet our attention.Already we read of student protests against war; of vigils calling for peace. But the startling hurt caused by the Twin Towers Tragedy cause us to say, "Yes, but....!" At the same time misguided zealots such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson stun us with their gospel of hate and revenge by making a deliberate attempt to manipulate the nation's anger.At such a point history can instruct us. I sincerely hope so as my words will point out


Jihad !!!


A sermon on the topic of Islamic "Holy War" for the Sunday following the attack on the NY Trade Towers and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (9/11/01)


Remembering Our Past


Over the past weeks I have had a number of requests for sermons about various figures of our liberal faith. I thought it might be appropriate for us to place within the "Sacred Shrine of Memory" some of the great figures out of Unitarian history. Their example and, in some cases, their martyrdom to truth continue to cast a beacon of challenge to us in this often dangerous world of mandated thinking that comes so often from the religious right. -jvk


Nudis Verbis (Plain Talk)


"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1


Speak The Exultant Word


The season of Easter is usually a very difficult celebration for the conscientious Unitarian Universalist. Our tradition, by-and-large, has rejected the usual story of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. As such, we risk being branded with being religious diplomats if we do observe the occasion, or as nihilists if we interpret it merely as a Spring Festival.

It has often been said that "it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God". I would add that it is an awesome thing to feel the loneliness of striking out into the realm of thinking for oneself. And yet, this is precisely the premise of this work. The message we remember is the same. The difference is that that message is one that is different for our time.

So let us Speak The Word Exultant in poetic terms that might discover new hope and promise for us all.


The Only Unitarian King Who Ever Lived


Service on the Theme of the Partner Church Program
Guest Speaker: Dr. Judit Gellard


New Maundy Service


Written and adapted for use in UU Churches by Jan Vickery Knost


When we ask the Ultimate Questions


A Sermon on Death and Dying Sooner or later there comes a time in each person's life during which they experience what has been called "THE ONTOLOGICAL SHOCK", i.e., the full realization of one's finitude. Obviously, many questions evolve out of such a moment. But most folks usually avoid even thinking about the topic of death. Here's a chance to look together at some of the more helpful observations made about what seems so troublesome a topic to some.


Exemplars of Life Series –My Friend, Annie Dillard


All of us have our favorite writers. Of note is the wonder that Annie Dillard shares with her readers regarding her observations of the natural world. Her words possess a singular clarity of expression that delves deeply into the religious impulse of humanity and what it means to quest for the divine in life. Join us. I'd like to introduce you to her world.


William Ellery Channing


Channing, who died in 1842, was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential of the early American Unitarians. A biographer of Channing called this forefather of Unitarianism an enigma and a reluctant, radical. What was Channing all about? Who do we still honor him today with the name of our district?


It's A Long Road That Has No Turning


A Sermon on Change Recently I have been alluding to a sermon that I've been writing for some time. It's a sermon on the topics of change and transition. These are not bad words. But for some they are a bit threatening. I want to defuse them of that power so that together we can prepare the ground for the eventual arrival of your wonderful new minister - whoever he or she may be. -jvk


You're Damned if you do and Damned if you Don't


A sermon on the Old Story of Salvation So many have problems with Scripture; what it means, how it came about, what authority it has. But one certainty abides which is that the "Old Story of Salvation" told in the Old Testament Book of Genesis is one that eventually confronts even the most liberal mind. I have asked for some assistance from Bob Detwiler in one of the readings. Over all the topic is intriguing and one which I am sure many will find provocative.


Seeking the Buddha


"I do not see any reason to spend one's whole life tasting just one kind of fruit. We human beings can be nourished by the best values of many traditions... It is good that an orange is an orange and a mango is mango. ... We cannot say one is a real fruit and the other is not."

I'd like this morning to share with you one of the great religious and philoso-phical fruits of the world. Buddhism.


Dreaming the Dream Alive


They killed the dreamer but they haven't killed the dream. For some time the Service Committee has acted on behalf of this congregation in various fields of endeavor in order to bring surcease to suffering and to answer human need. There are many who are unaware of their efforts. The service will be designed to bring to your attention these programs and to consider others that could unite the congregation even more in the future.


Turning the Corner


A sermon on the subject of Prayer Over the past few weeks one of the most frequent statements made to Lorna and me in regard to our son, Keith's terrible accident has been, "You all are in our prayers." Our liberal faith has often questioned the efficacy of prayer. But is there something more to it than a mere knee jerk reaction to orthodoxy? I'd like to investigate it and see what we might really be saying with such statements as these.