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Connector November 27, 2013

Connector November 27, 2013
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Minister’s Column by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

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“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” (Wayne Dyer)

A sense of abundance is not something the we can acquire nor is it something that someone can give us; it is a state of mind that we choose. In a world that assigns value to items that are scarce, it is  no wonder that we disregard the bounty of abundance that exists all around us. We tend to seek and treasure the items that are difficult to find. Think about gold or platinum, both considered a commodity because they are rare, and yet at the end of the day they are still rocks. Diamonds are beautiful based on the clarity and cut of the stone, but again they are just stones. Oil over time has become a commodity, especially since it has become less available; when we first started using oil it was a prevalent and a cheap source of energy but our mass consumption has made it less available and expensive. We value that which is not prevalent, and we ignore that which is all around us. What is this all about?

Water, we literally need it to survive and yet we pollute it, waste it, and do not give it a second thought. There are people in this and other countries who have to walk miles to get clean drinking water and realize its worth. We could consider time in the same way. When we have so much of time in front of us we are unconcerned, and yet when we are faced with the reality of the finite nature of life we take stock and get serious about a bucket list. Why do we only recognize and value the scarcity in our lives instead of revel in what exists abundantly all around us?

Last Sunday, I shared in my sermon that First Parish is in good financial shape, and afterward I was asked how could I possibly say this because there is clearly a deficit budget. Based on what I have seen with regard to your budget and the commitment to this community you are so close to having a balanced budget, you have funds set aside which are growing, and you care about the future of First Parish. If every member extended their pledge by $100 this fiscal year we would reach our goal of being balanced. Think about it, the difference between a sense of scarcity and abundance is $100. If that isn’t good news I am not sure what is. Yet First Parish propagates a history/story of scarcity instead of abundance. You are concerned about not having enough, and that “story” holds this community back from truly blossoming. I wonder if this is just the human condition rearing its “fear-based” head? Do we need that sense of scarcity to value what we have in our community? Is it possible to imagine abundance at First Parish and still want to participate, donate, volunteer? Last Saturday we had the fall cleanup and there were quite a few people pitching in and let me tell you more is way better than less… it was easier to do the work together, it was way more fun, and we got the work done faster.

Here is a truth — abundance is always available to each one of us; we just need to wake up, open our minds and hearts, and tune into abundance. We are wealthy in all the stuff that really matters: air, water, food, laughter, friendship, music, love, spirit, and we are comfortable with many of the commodities in life. Do we need more of the commodities to be truly happy? What do we need in our lives to feel like we have enough to be truly generous?

Thank you for all that you do and share with the First Parish community and one another!

In love and peace,

Rev. Marjorie

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R.E.flections by a chaliceD.R.E.amer

by Roberta Altamari, Director of Lifespan Religious Education

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be in Worcester shopping and thought I would stop at the grocery store to pick up an assortment of $10 gift cards to give to our teenagers as a thank-you gift this Christmas for helping in our Religious Education program. As I was checking out, first I had to wait for the cashier to negotiate with the customer in front of me. Apparently, she was trying to use two coupons that the computer system rejected because her purchases did not match the requirements. After a minute, she decided to override the register and not continue to argue with the customer. When my turn to check out came, she eyed me suspiciously with my handful of gift cards and then declared that I couldn’t use my credit card because it didn’t have my name on it. I replied that my name was right under the “First Parish of Sudbury” title. Then she loudly proclaimed that it was not me because the name said “Robert”. She added that people play all sorts of tricks to steal gift cards and if I didn’t show her an ID that I’d have to deal with the manager. At this point, I had lost my patience and cool and said I would only be dealing with the manager for now on. The manager came over who quickly saw that my name was indeed on the card and the cashier claimed that the glare caused her to not see the “a” at the end of my name. It didn’t matter that the manager apologized to me as I was just upset beyond words. Annoyed at the time wasted and embarrassed at the humiliation I experienced in front of a line of customers. It wasn’t until a few minutes after I was out of the store that I realized why I was really angry … that she didn’t trust me. I felt horrible that her bottom line was distrust and questioning. As a white woman spending most of my time in middle class communities, I realized that I hardly ever have experienced what it is like to be automatically not trusted. People normally either start out positive or neutral to me.  It is so rare that someone starts out suspecting something bad about me. Is this what it would be like to live in downtown Worcester?

My daughter experienced her own version of the “middle class” lack of trust. She was inquiring about a job working at the Kumon center my younger daughter goes to, and the owner declared that she would have to volunteer twelve hours to make sure she liked the job before they would process her paperwork. I could understand her intention since several teens she hired in the Fall quit after only a few weeks, but it really sends a message of distrust to my daughter. It isn’t as bad as the cashier thinking I’m trying to steal the gift cards, but lack of trust is lack of trust. It feels awful to not be trusted.

In our own relationships, when things get heated, it can be far too easy to lose trust. When things aren’t going the way we want, we can be quick to assume that the other person isn’t proceeding with good intentions. Experiencing this extreme version of lack of trust reminded me to make two promises this Thanksgiving season. First, I will be grateful for all that I have in my life. There’s the obvious health, food, housing, a good job, family, and friends. I will also be grateful for the stuff I take so much for granted that I don’t think at all about it when I’m making my Thanksgiving list of gratitudes, such as living in a community where people have a basic trust of me, no questions asked. The second promise is that I will do my best to assume good intentions. I will take a deep breath and try to trust that a happy solution for both parties can be found.

What promises do you make this Thanksgiving season? What hard times have inspired lessons for you this year? What would you like to express your gratitude for that you haven’t included before?

Blessed be. Roberta

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Religious Exploration NEWS

Christmas Eve nativity pageant is coming!

nativity silhouette clip artEveryone (children, teens, and adults alike) who is interested in participating in the Christmas Eve “Nativity Pageant” during the 5pm family service should contact Roberta at You are welcome to join in with a reading, a part in a skit, and/or singing in the “carolers’ choir.” ALL are welcome! Just let Roberta know how you would like to participate by December 9th. Participants will receive their parts ahead of time to rehearse at home and we will all come together for a dress rehearsal on Monday, December 24th at 9am.

Simple Gifts with Our Children

xmas gifts 2Incorporating many Unitarian Universalist values such as caring, compassion, and taking care of our Earth (by reducing, reusing, and recycling), we are pleased to invite all First Parish children and youth on Sunday, December 22nd at 10am to our “Very Special Christmas Shop” where they can take a re-gift new or gently used gifts to give to their loved ones. We will also enjoy inspiration from our Unitarian and Universalist ancestors on celebrating the holidays with UU spirit; plus holiday cookies and cocoa. Anyone who has new or very gently used gifts and/or wrapping paper you would like to donate, please drop it off to Roberta anytime before Saturday, December 22nd.

“Becoming a Person” ~ our 2014 multigenerational theatrical performance

theaterThis year’s theatrical performance will feature the theme of “becoming a person”. We have several participation options to match your interests and time availability. Adults and children alike are welcome to sign-up for any part. Please check out the parts below and let us know what you would like to join us for (by contacting Roberta or on the sign-up genius at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050D45A9AD23A46-multigenerational

 Students Together Opposing Prejudice

STOPWe are proud to continue to be part of S.T.O.P, an interfaith initiative working with 7th and 8th grade youth that empowers them to be part of the most innovative and timely program for understanding stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination; to learn strategies for confronting intolerance and bullying; and to develop leadership skills in a fun and safe environment. Young people from all of the congregations in Sudbury and the surrounding area are invited to join. Older teen graduates of the program facilitate the meetings. The students meet seven Wednesday evenings in January through March from 6:45 to 8:15pm, participating in games, activities, and discussions led by high school alumni of the program. First Parish will be hosting the February 26th meeting. It starts Wednesday, January 8, 2014, but now is the time to sign up! We know 7th and 8th graders like to do things with their friends, so feel free to invite them as well!! ALL are welcome at the S.T.O.P. Table! To sign up or ask questions, contact Susan Murphy or Sheila Goldberg at or www.stoptheprejudice.net

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Living Our Faith

 Share the Plate – Sunday December 8 with the Food Pantry

Sudbury Community Food Pantry, based at Our Lady of Fatima, is a 100% staffed by unpaid volunteers. It distributes almost 100,000 pounds of free food annually to any resident who needs it, without prerequisites such as needs tests or letters of referral. As a result of current economic conditions, the need for it’s services is more urgent than every. It has served over 1,000 families in Sudbury and twelve other MetroWest towns this year.  On December 8, please give generously to help our neighbors near and far.

From Your Faith In Action Team

Next meeting  —  It is scheduled for December 8th at 8:30am in the First Parish library. You are very welcome to attend.

Our full Offering for Philippine Relief on November 24 was $1591. Thank you to all who contributed then and who are doing so in other ways.

Share the Plates (STPs)  —  Our main agenda item will be our coming STPs. It is possible that we shall decide them through June. If there is an organization for which you’d like First Parish to Share the Plate, please fill out the form on the Faith in Action bulletin board, give it to me or put it in the office FIA file , and/or come to the meeting to voice your wish in person.

Jobs Not Jails Campaign  —  This campaign is a coalition of about 50 organizations statewide that are collecting signatures on a petition, preparing for a rally on the Boston Common on April 26, and building public and legislative support for ending mandatory minimum sentences, providing drug treatment.

I shall be collecting signatures some coffee hours; you can obtain petitions and more information at jobsnotjails.org..

This same organization asks if we have people in our congregation who want to help change the laws that put so many people in prison. A statewide network of UUs who care about these issues is being built. If you’d like to be one of them, connect with <> and please also tell me.

UUMassAction asks that we help fight housing discrimination by calling Senator Flanagan (617 722 1230) and ask that his Welfare Reform Conference Committee remove the section in the so-called welfare reform bill that could cause hundreds of mixed status immigrants to be thrown out of public housing;

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UU Animal Ministry

turkeysTo see a non-violent and loving video about turkeys, click  youtube.com/watch?v=sZBNll5Y4SY

UU Animal Ministry is a group of concerned Unitarian Universalists and UU friends who desire to grow and express their faith as compassion towards all beings. For more information go to www.uuam.org.  [break-wrap]?

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From Your Welcoming Congregation Committee

Boycott Coke?  After months of ducking the issue, Coca-Cola refused to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws. Coca-Cola’s statement completely ignored people facing discrimination and abuse in Russia. Instead, they tried to rely on their history of supporting equality in countries like the US.  That’s not enough – you can’t support lesbian, gay, bi and trans people when it’s convenient and stay silent when they need you the most.   In the time it took for Coca-Cola to finally issue their weak statement, the violence in Russia escalated.  Anti-gay thugs broke into a meeting of organisers, beat people with baseball bats, and even shot one man in the eye. Over the weekend, another group even fired guns at a gay club in Moscow.  Please consider this news as you purchase your soda choices.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Multicultural Growth & Witness staff added the word “queer” to the language the UUA uses to describe marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions.  Adding “queer” is a step forward in conceptualizing the work of welcome and inclusion.  Although any attempt to label people can never capture the wholeness of experiences and identities, the language we use is a critical tool for making visible what might otherwise remain invisible.  So now it’s LGBTQ Ministries!

Nov. 18 marked ten years since the historic ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that same-sex couples in Massachusetts could no longer be denied access to civil marriage.  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the inspiring elected officials, community leaders and thousands of volunteers who made Massachusetts a shining example for the nation. In Chief Justice Margaret Marshall’s majority opinion, she eloquently describes the history of constitutional law as “the story of the extension of constitutional rights and protections to people once ignored or excluded.”   In Massachusetts over the last ten years, that story has continued because of the precedent the Goodridge decision set for our community and your commitment to seeing it through. Thank you for being a part of this amazing moment in our movement’s history, and for your support of the on-going work to ensure that all members of the LGBTQ community are equal, safe and free, from cradle to grave.

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Gathering of Men Dec. 7, Newcomers Welcome

gathering of men 1Men, if you’re around on Saturday, Dec. 7 between 11:00 am -12:30 pm, drop by the Brackett Room for coffee and donuts and informal conversation with other guys from the parish. Bring your testosterone and find out what other guys are thinking about sports, politics, jobs and life. Contact Tom A with questions. [break-wrap]?

 

1st Saturday Seeker Potluck & Discussion Dec. 7

soupEvery first Saturday, Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty will be presenting her thoughts on the monthly theme, and the gathered will engage in conversation on the topic. On Saturday, December 7 the Seekers Potluck is all about celebration and family with the showing and sing-a-long of a holiday classic, The Sound of Music.  Dress up, bring food, and get your voices ready for some good clean fun!  Attendees will be encouraged to act out out their favorite scenes.  Potluck setup begins at 5:30 with the movie starting at 6:00pm. We hope to see you there! [break-wrap]?

 

All Women of First Parish Invited to the Women’s Alliance Holiday Open House at Rev. Matty’s on Dec. 8

femclipThe next get-together of the Women’s Alliance is our Annual Holiday Open House, which will be at Rev. Marjorie Matty’s home at 64 Barton Road in Stow on Sunday Dec. 8. This is a potluck where we all contribute appetizers and desserts.  The party is great, another marvelous opportunity to get to know the women of First Parish better.  Come anytime between 5:30 and 8:00 pm!  You’ll have great fun if you come.  You may drop in any time and stay as long as works for you, with everyone pitching in to clean up by 8:30 pm.. Carpooling is always encouraged, and you may contact Betty W. or Carolyn L. if you are looking for a ride or have space to offer.

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Secret Santa Now through Dec 15

christmas giftLive your faith and participate in our annual “Secret Santa” project. For over 15 years, our parish has solicited the names of MetroWest and Sudbury children whose parents need our help in making Christmas a joyous day for their kids. We solicit names of children from the Framingham Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Sudbury social workers with suggestions for what each child would like or need. The names are available at coffee hour. We encourage you to pick the name of a child or children, buy and wrap a gift for them, and bring the gift back to First Parish. All presents must be brought to the parish hall no later than December 15. However, we would appreciate receiving the gifts a week earlier – on December 8.

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Come Out of Hibernation!  In-Home Dinners in January!

potluck-dinner-invitations-294dhqySATURDAY JAN.25, SUNDAY, JAN. 26, and FRIDAY, JAN. 31

Early in January you will receive an email inviting you to join in the In-Home Dinners, which are fun and informal, and take place in the homes of First Parish hosts. They are a wonderful opportunity for longterm and newer members and friends to become better acquainted. The dinners are potluck, scrumptious events, a great time to shake off those winter blues! So be looking for that invitation in early January!

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Use Amazon and Support First Parish

You can support First Parish while you shop! If you shop at Amazon.com, please start by using one of the links below. When you do, then at least 4% of what you spend will be given to First Parish. All you have to do is start by clicking on the link and then everything is all set.

http://www.amazon.com/?&tag=firsparisudbu-20

or  http://tinyurl.com/amzfps

You can make this into a bookmark or favorite in your web browser and then you will always have the link to hand. Or visit fpsudbury.org and use the link on our homepage. If you have any questions, ask Marc K and he will be happy to help.

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Stewardship @ FPS

Thanksgiving is upon us – a holiday celebrated with family, friends, and food to express our gratitude for the abundance in our lives. And what a perfect time for the Stewardship Team’s kickoff meeting! Team members are: Susan S, Chair; Stephen G; Kelsey T; Lois S; Marjorie Matty, ex-officio; Sheila M, Trustees’ liaison. Our kickoff meeting was all about abundance and, especially, abundance at First Parish, starting with the Stewardship Team itself – an abundance of skills, enthusiasm and vision.

What does abundance at First Parish mean? Well, first there is our financial strength, built on the generosity of members and friends, combined with careful and thoughtful financial management and planning. Our historic stories are full of acts of generosity and commitment. For example, we often tell of the time in 1904 when the congregation couldn’t afford the minister’s salary and the Women’s Alliance stepped forward with the funds. Today’s stories are also filled with that kind of commitment although, fortunately, against a very different financial backdrop. More than a hundred years after the Alliance paid Ida C. Hultin’s salary, First Parish is a financially strong congregation. Thanks to careful planning, each year the First Parish budget includes a contribution to a fund with the sole purpose of financing future major building expenses and the Building & Grounds Committee has a plan ten years out to perform the major improvements necessary to maintain our historic meetinghouse. Thanks to the generosity of those who went before us, there are similar funds to support other long term financial needs. Even our current budget gap is modest and can be filled.

But our abundance goes far beyond money. Many thousands of volunteer hours caring for First Parish by making coffee, ushering and greeting, serving on committees, caring for the Memorial Garden, volunteering to work at the Harvest Fair or the Service Auction or the July 4th grill, raking leaves, planting flowers, mentoring a youth in Coming of Age, writing Connector articles to keep us all informed, teaching RE, providing child care, and much more.

And even more hours building the beloved community of caring and connection at First Parish – visiting those who are ill, driving members to medical appointments, providing meals for families going through hard times, being there for each other at happy times and at times when life has taken us to a difficult place. And yet even more hours spent living our faith in the world by volunteering at Open Table, buying gifts for kids through Secret Santa program, donating to the Backpack Collection every fall, participating in the Barakat Walk for Literacy or the Walk for Hunger, supporting First Parish youth in their service projects. Through all of these and so much more, we build community, grow connections and do good in the world. We are, indeed, a place of abundance and generosity.

Recently the Board of Trustees, with the support of the Finance Committee, voted to take generosity to a new level by adopting the idea of “secured pledges”. Sometimes really difficult financial times hit and we simply can’t keep our commitments. Secured pledges is a new piece of the First Parish community of hope and generosity in which members who are experiencing difficult and unforeseen financial circumstances can talk to Rev Marjorie about a plan that includes not just relief from paying their current pledge, but also the option of requesting First Parish to return their pledge payments made during the current fiscal year. As Rev Marjorie said in a recent sermon, during those times we want First Parish to be part of your support system. Or, put another way, First Parish will have your back.

From the Stewardship Team – have a wonderful Thanksgiving with all your old and new traditions! May we all take a moment to be grateful for abundance in our own lives and may we celebrate our connections to this community of abundance.

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Our Newsletter is Switching to Monthly

image015Starting with the December 11 issue of the Connector, our First Parish newsletter will be published monthly instead of every other week.  Updates about happenings will be sent to you every Friday in weekly email called ENEWS – a brief listing of events for the weekend and coming week.  We hope this change improves communication and inspires you to keep in touch and stay involved with the many opportunities found in our congregation. [break-wrap]?

Thank you

 In the last Connector the Unsung heroes listed left out some heroes of SpiritPlay in error.  Please thanks  Karen Neurath, Suzanne Whittlesley and Amy Prince for their awesome work.

The Landscape Committee is hugely appreciative of the amount of help we had during the Outdoor Clean-up on Saturday, Nov. 16th.  Many arms and legs, young and old, working together, made this our most efficient and thorough clean-up ever. We are VERY grateful for the help: Thank You!

Sad News

Our hearts go out to Maxine Yarbrough on the Nov. 24th loss of her husband, Dean, who died at Wingate in Sudbury surrounded by his children and grandchildren.  Dean and Maxine were long-time long-ago (1970’s) active friends of our congregation.

Free Tables

Need any tables? We  cleared out some of the older heavier banquet tables, some of which may need a little TLC. They are in the carriage sheds for you to take. Questions? See Jan H.

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Our Pastoral Associates

Julia Dixon Eddy, Mary Ellen French,  Heather Merrill, Fred Pryor, Paul Reising

In the event of a pastoral need,

please call any of our First Parish Pastoral Associates

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Emergency Closing Information

Find out if worship at First Parish is cancelled: (NOTE: For cancellation of other gatherings, contact the committee chair/group leader)

By phonecheck the recorded message at the First Parish number, 978-443-2043.

First Parish websiteGo to www.fpsudbury.org. The front page will have an update.

CBS Boston websiteGo to www.CBSBoston.com, click on “Weather” then “School Closings” for cancellation of Sunday worship service only.

By televisionTune in to WBZ-TV and watch the crawl at the bottom of the screen for cancellation of Sunday worship service only.

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Local, District, Denominational News/Events reflecting UU values

image026Please check the bulletin boards in the Parish Hall for events at other churches, the Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts of UU Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) and others who share our values.

Remember the UUA Bookstore when shopping for holiday gifts:  www.uuabookstore.org

The Halalisa Singers – In Concert! Tickets from Terry L.  Dec 8th 3:00 PM First Parish in Sudbury (also Dec 7th 8:00 PM  First Parish in Lexington  7 Harrington Road.

An Evening of Conversation and Resources for Families and Children Navigating the Gender Transition Process.   BodyImage4Justice (BI4J), along with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Greater Boston PFLAG, and the Livingston Pangburn Transgender Access Partnership, is pleased to present a lively panel discussion on supporting transgender children, moderated by Corey Yarbrough of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition.This event will take place on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at Fong Auditorium, Boylston Hall at Harvard University from 6:00-9:00 pm.

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Quote to Ponder

There is no such thing as only a test.  All of life is testing, trying things out, experimenting to see what will happen.  Our only choice is whether we pay attention to the results of our experiments.  How will you change something in your life based on what you’ve learned today?

 


FIRST PARISH OF SUDBURY UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST

327 Concord Rd., Sudbury, MA 01776

www.fpsudbury.org 978-443-2043

WORSHIP & RELIGIOUS ED. SUNDAYS 10:00 AM

*Newsletter submission deadline is 5 pm Wed., Dec. 4 for the monthly issue of Wed., Dec. 11*

Send to administrator or phone 978-443-2043

We are a diverse and welcoming community of spiritual seekers; we strive to learn together and support one another as we celebrate life’s important moments and serve the larger community. At First Parish of Sudbury we welcome all who wish to explore their own spiritual journeys in the company of others and any who are seeking a religiously liberal community of faith. Our ministry is for people of all ages: we are a religious community that combines spiritual exploration, religious education, music, caring and compassion, service, advocacy, public witness and action. Our community is not confined to Sunday worship, rather we live our faith in service and action both inside and beyond our historic meetinghouse. Please visit or call or check out our website.

Minister: Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty —

Director of Lifespan Religious Education: Roberta Altamari —

Director of Music: Debra Morris-Bennett —

Congregational Administrator: Donna Scalcione —

 

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Events Calendar Link

Click here to see the block calendar.