Selected Sermons (Text and Audio)
(Complete audio of entire services is available for most Sundays in the member's area (sign-in required)
- Love and Freedom
Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, comes just before the conclusion of the celebration of Passover, the Jewish holy days remembering the exodus from slavery into freedom. In the spirit of these days, the sermon explores the understanding of love in stories from the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the relationship between the affirmation that love is the spirit of this/our church and the centrality of freedom. Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, March 31, 2013. listen
- Safe Home
We welcomed guests from Safe Homes, a program for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) young people between the ages of 14 and 23, who took part in the service on March 17th. Offering support and resources in a safe and nurturing environment, the goals of Safe Homes are to decrease isolation and to nurture the health and well-being of GLBTQ youth through education, outreach, advocacy and support. Reflections on what it means to be an ally as individuals and as a community across identity differences were delivered by the Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris.
- A Different Kind of Time -
As I learn anew how to relate to my parents, both of whom are living with dementia, I’m learning that hours, days, schedules, are beyond remembering. They provide no useful framework around which to organize day to day, and are often cause for confusion and anxiety. This sermon grows out of my experience of this different sense of time and my growing curiosity about how we organize and structure our lives individually and in community. Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, February 10, 2013.
- This Great World House -
This sermon looks at the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through the lense of interfaith relationships and cooperation. Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, January 20, 2013.
- Feeding The Spirit -
This sermon explores the notion that we human beings are hardwired to be religious. What is that wiring for? Is it god? Is it worship? Or is it something else? Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, January 6, 2013.
- The Pursuit of Happiness -
“. . . They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In Inventing America Garry Wills writes that when Jefferson spoke of pursuing happiness, he had nothing vague or private in mind. He meant a public happiness which is measurable; which is the test and justification of any government. This sermon explores the pursuit of happiness and the task of governing. Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, November 25, 2012.
- The Seventy Percent Rule - This sermon explores why folks become part of religious communities like First Parish. What needs and hopes bring us through the doors? How do we meet our needs while welcoming and including folks with diverse identities,beliefs and needs? Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, October 21, 2012.
- Under Our Charge On this Sunday closest to the traditional Columbus Day holiday, the sermon tells the story of the relationship between the Northern Ute and the American Unitarian Association and explore what this history, now more than a hundred years old, means to and for us today. Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, October 7, 2012.
- To Forgive, To Repair This is the time of the High Holy Days – the Days of Awe – of Judaism: Rosh Hashanah (New Year) was celebrated from sunset Sunday, September 16 ‘til nightfall on Monday, September 17, and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is celebrated from sunset on Tuesday, September 25 ‘til nightfall Wednesday, September 26. The days in between are a time for amending behavior and seeking forgiveness for wrongs. In the spirit of these Days, the sermon explores our relationships with the planet and with each other. In the context of these relationships what does it mean to forgive, to repair, to turn ‘round right? The service includes a spoken/sung litany entitled “We Begin Again in Love.” Delivered by Tracey Robinson-Harris, September 23, 2012.
- Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory As envisioned by its founder Julia Ward Howe, Mother's Day would be a festival of peace and women's empowerment. Her own life is a window on both the private and public struggles of women past and present to attain the full expression of their humanity. Delivered by Gary Kowalski, May 13, 2012
- The Seven Habits of Highly Spiritual People First Parish has a phenomenal aptitude for the arts, with Morris Dance troops, a fantastic choir, theatricals, quilting groups and more. But what exactly is the connection between spirituality and creativity? Between the fine arts and the broader art of living well? Reflections by Gary Kowalski, delivered May 6, 2012
- Celebrate Yourself! No two snowflakes are alike, yet as a class they have much in common. In this sermon, our interim minister reflects on the nurturing qualities that make First Parish of Sudbury a village-style community, as well as on the the distinctive traits that make this parish stand out from other liberal congregations in the area. Delivered April 29, 2012.
- In Defense of Planet Earth Unitarian Tim DeChristopher is renowned for the courage of his convictions, currently serving two years in federal prison for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management auction of sensitive wilderness near Arches National Park. His message of citizen activism and empower challenges each of us to consider how far we are willing to step out to halt global warming in defense of Mother Earth. Delivered by Gary Kowalski, April 22, 2012
- Singers of Hope The central claim of Easter is that suffering and death are not the end of the story. Rather suffering can be redemptive and transforming. The experience of three great AmericansAbraham Lincoln, Marian Anderson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. suggest the truth of that claim. Delivered by Gary Kowalski, April 8, 2012.
- Einstein's God "Religion without science is blind," said Albert Einstein, adding that "Science without religion is lame." This maverick genius developed his own quasi-mystical ideas of deity, providing a unique bridge between the world of physics and the realm of faith. Delivered by Gary Kowalski, March 25, 2012
- Religion in a Spiritual Age How many times have you heard the disclaimer, "I'm spiritual but not religious." Our UUA Mass Bay District Executive Rev. Sue Phillips suggests that religion is a communal undertaking, involving the give-and-take of learning to live with differences but offering bonds of friendship and loyalty not found in private epiphanies. Delivered March 18, 2012
- A Faith That Chooses Us Choice is a central principle, almost a sacred precept, for religious liberals. But the events that transform our lives arrive at moments not always of our own choosing. Reverend Kowalski share stories of two famous Unitarian Universalist, Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller and her grandnephew Buckminster Fuller, who were saved by the unexpected. Delivered March 4, 2012.
- Let's Talk What would happen if people talked more? Not blaming each other, or editorializing, or pontificating, but conversing about their own lives and what really matters? The world might be a little more tolerant and understanding. Rev. Kowalski has some interesting ideas for how we might re-invigorate the vanishing art of conversation. Delivered February 26, 2012.
- To Bigotry No Sanction Most portraits of our nation's first president are as wooden as his false teeth. Yet George Washington was a complicated, perceptive, large-souled individual whose own religion centered more on liberal values of character and conduct than on any creedal formulations. Rev. Gary Kowalski offers a spiritual biography of this best and least known of all Americans. Delivered Feb. 19, 2012.
- What Is Marriage For? What makes a healthy marriage? How can partners keep their love alive? Our interim minister reflects on some of the weirder weddings he has presided over, and on the underlying meaning of the bond, in this Valentine's Day special. Delivered Feb. 12, 2012.
- A Free Faith The history of our faith is interwoven with the history of our country and Unitarian Universalism, in its briefest definition, is the democratic method applied to religion. Rev. Kowalski reviews highlights from First Parish's role in this democratic saga and reflects on challenges to our future. Delivered Jan. 29, 2012.
- A Not So Little Faith Rev. Brock Leach, Vice President of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, discusses Martin Luther King's dream in connect to our Unitarian Universalist social justice work in Haiti and other nations. Delivered January 15, 2012. listen
- Meet Joseph Campbell Rev. Gary Kowalski
Not a sermon, but a dramatic impersonation of the mythologist whose words and remarkable insights come to life a one-man show starring our own interim minister. Delivered Jan 8, 2012. listen
- Moments of High Resolve Just say no? Willpower, scientific research suggests, comes in limited quantities and is directly fueled by the body's glucose level. But physiology is not destiny. There are means to stay in the driver's seat. A New Year's sermon by Kevin Tarsa, ministerial intern at First Parish of Wayland, delivered January 1, 2012. listen
- Jesus: The Man and the Myth Scholars have begun to fill in a portrait of the historical Jesus that is both more human and much more compelling than the familiar Christ of myth and doctrine. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Dec. 18, 2011. listen
- A Lover's Quarrel with the World Robert Frost was perhaps America's most beloved poet, odd because popular tastes run toward the sentimental, while Frost was keen-eyed and flinty in his estimate of both nature and human nature. This morning we explore the wintry spirituality of a man who disclaimed all formal religious affiliation, yet spoke to folks of every faith. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Dec. 11, 2011. listen
- Occupy Your Faith The Occupy movement that started in New York's Zucotti Park has grabbed the world's attention, taking its slogan from Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who pointed out that 1% of the population now controls 40% of the nation's weath?. But what does that bare statistic really mean? This morning we unpack the grievances and goals of the demonstrators and determine whether we ourselves are part of the 99%. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Nov. 27, 2011. listen
- The Zen of Unitarianism Our faith, like Zen, is sometimes difficult to explain to the uninitiated. But Unitarian Universalism, like Buddhism, is an experiential, this worldly and life-affirming religion. There are more similarities between our traditions than you might expect. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Nov. 6, 2011.
- Blessing of the Animals Inspired partly by my daughter who was asked in her fourth grade Bible stories class, what she would do differently if she were God and re-creating the human race? Give them some nice warm fur and a long tail for keeping balance, she replied. That and the ability to scratch my left ear with my right leg would, I think, make my life just about complete. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Oct. 31, 2011.
- The Bible As Poetry Religion might be defined as the poetry of life. And the purpose of a poem is not so much to discuss the purpose or meaning or life as to deliver the adrenalin rush of actually being conscious and alive. How we reclaim the Bible as poetry, rather than mistaking it for a textbook of laws, history, or (out-of-date) science? Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Oct. 23, 2011 listen
- Are We The Gay Church? Several years ago, First Parish voted to become a Welcoming Congregation. But recently some have wondered, or expressed confusion. Why do we extend a special welcome to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals if our aspiration is to include people all kinds and conditions? Garrison Keillor and the Prodigal Son provide clues to answer. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Oct. 16, 2011 listen
- How To Lose Control Of Your Time And Life As John Lennon famously remarked, "life is what happens to you while you're making other plans." But how to we plan for those unexpected moments of beauty, intimacy, and wonder that are beyond our power to schedule or control? Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Oct. 9, 2011 listen
- At-One-Ment The High Holy Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a moment for self appraisal, taking a long critical look into the mirror. Admitting our own limitations and shortcoming is the mark of maturity, for only people who can see their own rough edges have growing edges. Leading to the question, do we dare to change the world, beginning with ourselves? Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, Oct. 2, 2011 listen
- The Power of the Rev The professional pitfalls and occupational hazards of ministry (like being accosted by strangers on airplanes who want to challenge your knowledge of Bible verses) are balanced by the privilege of being given instant access to the most intimate details of other people's lives and, occasionally, the power to say words that make all the difference. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, 9/18/2011 listen
- Wisdom from the Wizard Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man and Scarecrow turn out to be characters from the story of our own lives, where everything dependable sometimes gets tossed sky-high, sending us searching for the way home. Delivered by Rev. Kowalski, 9/11/2011 listen
- We Are Seekers Contains highlights of Unitarian Universalist history and describes how we see ourselves as people on a life-long quest for meaning.
- Linus Shaw: Patriot or Prophet? Features the eighth minister of First Parish whose 22 years of service to this congregation lasted through the Civil War.
- The Faith Quilts Project Discusses a three-year long project where people of faith collaborated on quilts as a means of fostering interfaith dialogue.
- Have Faith in Democracy Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote the use of the democratic process in all our affairs. How does it work?
- The Trinity Rev. Crane explains how and why Unitarians came to take issue with the theological concept of the Trinity.