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Insights: Powerful Beyond Measure

Posted by on Sep 4, 2018 in General News, Minister's Column

 

by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

We are powerful beyond measure, humankind, each one of us has a capacity for a range of personal skills. Gifts that we have spent a lifetime cultivating through times of joy, hours at work and play, as well as times where we have faced life challenges. Within us we hold knowledge, skills and the motivation to reach beyond. We are powerful beyond measure.

Courage, love, Compassion, fierceness, commitment, acceptance, communication (listening), adaptability, self-reflection, being open to feedback, learning and growing, a constant moral compass, just to name a few.

There are many skills that one can develop throughout their lives and at times we rank them in importance. Being innovative is usually highly prized, as we interact, work and play we pull each skill forward as it is needed. We multi-thread skills weaving them around situations, interactions or experiences; very rarely do we use just a single skill. Maybe in a given situation we require the skill of patience, compassion and love, and add to that our curious nature and a spark of inspiration, roll it all up in a wrapping of motivation and commitment, toss in a dash of fierceness and we are powerful beyond measure.

I think of skills as the ingredients of our life. If we pull together a palatable concoction we create a recipe for success or happiness or whatever our minds/hearts desire. If we are not willing or able to gather what is needed what we need/desire may not manifest in the way that we had hoped for. If we each have a different recipe in mind how, one may wonder, can we cultivate a menu that is simpatico?

As we arrive at First Parish’s Homecoming Sunday, hopefully rested from this summer, let us gather our skills and recipes for an amazing and enlightening church year. Let our ingenuity, creativeness and commitment bring us to new and exciting places. There is an important reason that we gather in comm-unity… because it is far more fulfilling to do this work of living a life, developing our skills, learning and growing when we do it together.

We have everything that we need if we dare to invite, welcome, imagine and unite as the community of First Parish!

Much love and see you soon,

Rev. Marjorie

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Insights: Beloved Community

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in General News, Minister's Column

by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty
Beloved Community, our theme for May, is what I believe that Rumi, the Sufi poet, had in mind when he called all of humankind into relationship with, “Come, come, whoever you are.” The ideal for beloved community that we are all welcome has been sought for millennia, certainly within the earliest Christian communities, way before the use of the “beloved community” phrase was coined at the beginning of the 20th Century by the philosopher-theologian, Josiah Royce.

I yearn for the beloved community of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have been struggling with the saber rattling that has occurred on the political stage over this last year. The threat of “pushing the button” and whose button is bigger than another’s … I would just disregard it as pure idiocy but these dangerous boys with these toys literally have buttons to push and are unstable enough to use them. That is why this week I watched with hope in my heart as the leaders of North and South Korea stepped across a boundary that has existed for over 6 decades to discuss peace and unification. I wondered if it is possible that old disputes and suspicion of one another could resolve the conflicts that divides them? In the same right I wondered, skeptically, what the real endgame is for Korean politics and how it will affect global politics. I am skeptically hopeful.

My hope is that maybe this example of small steps made across literal boundaries is real and that it could inspire us all, to face the ancient disputes that exist in this world, helping us to move towards a kinder and gentler way of being? Then I think of all of the resources that so many folks around this world are desperate to get their greedy hands on, like oil, or the missile defense systems that North Korea would love to disassemble and I pause… I am not naive… I just want to choose to be a hopeful Unitarian Universalist – with a healthy dose of skepticism and maybe some distrust thrown in for good measure.

Friends, I call us to be founding members of the beloved community because it is not just a nice notion, it is an imperative. If we are not all in, and only we can know this in our heart, I invite us to each get all in; because if we are not part of the solution we are part of the problem. As a religious/spiritual community at the dawning of the twenty-first century we face, in many ways, a reality that is devoid of ethical underpinnings. It has become commonplace in our society to lie, to cheat, to steal, to oppress and take advantage of one another. Let me say that none of this is ok nor should it be tolerated. We have free will in this human condition, we may not face hell, but there is evil and there certainly is sin in this world and believe me when I say that there needs to be repercussions at all levels for wrong doing.

What I now realize is that the cure for what ails our world will not be found in politics, it will not be sorted out and patented by for profit corporations in a system based on greed. The cure will come from communities just like ours who band together with ethical intentions to watchdog and heal the world’s ills. My friends, we truly need one another, to be part of this beloved community, and we truly need one another to understand, to commiserate and to carry on because we are and need to be all in this together.

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“Insights: Evolution of a Community” by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in General News, Minister's Column

By Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty, February 7, 2018

For those of you in our worship service last week I shared about my time away at the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Institute (UUMI)–a time for learning, sharing and pushing the edge of how ministers understand and do ministry. There were 400-500 other UU ministers at the conference and it was a mind- and heart-opening experience for me. I attended different worship services, I learned about different types of ministry, realized important insights, met new people and together we collectively imagined what a just world might look like. I had the privilege to see one of my ministry friends from my Association days who is now running for US Congress, Rev. Carlton Smith. Carlton still works for the UUA and he is called to and believes that he can find ways to “tell new stories about his home state of Mississippi: a scenic, overwhelmingly rural state where many of his constituents are ready to move beyond the divisions of the past. He wants to be among those legislators in our nation’s capital advocating for affordable healthcare, well-paying jobs, quality education for children, and equal treatment under the law.” I saw the courage burning brightly in Carlton’s eyes and his deep conviction that he will be elected to Congress and that he will help lead Mississippi to important change. He believes that with commitment and hard work that we—together–all of us, can swing that arc of history back towards justice.

I want to believe, in my heart of hearts, that we can turn the tide, encouraging political and corporate leaders to work, vote and act based on their conscience. I know some corporate execs who are doing just that–changing the world one decision at a time from the inside and I applaud you! I am able to sometimes imagine all of the companies that are consistently making good and important decisions that help to lead our world towards a time of positive and ethical change. Of course, Forbes magazine has a list of the most ethical companies of 2017.

I came back from the Institute wondering what our place, as the First Parish of Sudbury and as the Meetinghouse in Sudbury, might be as our world continues to evolve. In this global and in large part secular story I wonder if we are needed and have a place. Are we leaders or are we troops, do we “watch-dog”, protest, bandage the broken, shore up the infrastructure or finance the “revolution of change?” For certain we each have a roll and only you know yours. I asked this question last Sunday:”What are you called to do, what is your passion, what is your idea or your story that you feel called to share?” As I have said many times, we are each a piece of a larger puzzle, our journeys intersect as we co create, evolve our community, but more than ever, confirmed by my colleagues, this is the time to figure out how we all fit together. During a month that is about love, deeper connection and the celebration of membership here at FPS I invite us to engage deeply these questions of call, purpose and place.

The first step and each successive step is all about each one of us as individuals, each takes courage, and we can find courage in abundance within this dedicated community of journeyers on a weekly basis.

I love this community, I love each one of you as my own, Happy Valentine’s Day and if you ever need me I am here.

Rev. Marjorie

 

 

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“Insights” by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 in General News, Minister's Column

Heat it up with Justice January
What better way to get warm in a very cold January than to allow your blood to boil a bit. All one needs to do it take a look at the news, Twitter or Facebook and be assured that your state of calm, cool and collectedness will be gone. I have spent some time over the last year being frustrated, angry and concerned with the state of our union and yet when I do I remind myself that I am a Unitarian Universalist I feel better. Being a Unitarian Universalist to my mind equates with a philosophy that is synonymous with a belief that we are agents of change and that we can speak our truth to power even when those in power refuse to listen. What can we do when we are overwhelmed or enraged by what seems like thoughtless or misguided and selfish behavior? We mobilize…we resist and we persist. Therefore, to help us to warm up in January we have invited the theme of Justice to take front and center stage.
Many would ask why is the theme of Justice so special? We clearly focus on justice throughout the year in special events such as the Waking Up White conversation that will take place with the author, Debby Irving on March 10th at 12pm or the walk to end homelessness in April, we sponsor fundraisers with our teens, we build houses for those who are in need, we work at food pantries and work tirelessly for the many causes that we are passionate about. We endeavor to make the world a better place each and every day and we will continue on even though at times we just want to tune out. We cannot, no matter how raw or tired we might feel, tune out! This month we will focus on what it means to resist and persist, how to keep the passion alive for the causes and our energy up for the endless calls to action. This Sunday I will consider the Science of Justice, what that looks like, and how history has formed a shift, through evolution, to a need for our species to embrace compassion, equality and action for the good of the whole.
This month we will have two guest speakers sharing their thoughts about Justice–Laura Wagner from UUMassAction will speak about some of the ongoing legislative work that she is leading in Massachusetts. We will also hear from Matt Meyer who has previously shared his rhythm music ministry at First Parish.
When I get downhearted about the news or some new twist or plot thickening that is uncovered via Twitter (someone has to own some stock in Twitter–just saying), I turn to what it means to me to be a UU. How knowing that we are all in this together is salve for my soul and it ignites within me the spark to make a difference. I look forward to resisting and persisting with each of you as we continue to work towards justice in 2018.
Much Love and Light,
Rev. Marjorie
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“Insights” on Hope

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 in General News, Minister's Column

by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty, Minister, First Parish of Sudbury UU

I struggle with hope even though I remind us on a weekly basis to find or create a place for hope in our lives. My rational mind wants to sit next to, Friedrich Nietzsche who explained that, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” I agree that hope can be a dangerous emotion because it pulls our attention away from the present moment and coping with what is real in this moment. Hope can blind us from the truth of a situation, stall us from moving into, and in some cases, beyond this moment. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I believe that, “hope is also an emotion that gives us the energy to live despite challenges, to love despite uncertainty, and to embrace both who we are in the moment and what we may become.”

This month as we enter into the shorter darker days of winter it can be harder to find hope, harder to create joy in our lives. I think that is why we have the traditions that we do this time of year–the bright lights, the smell of pine, the festively wrapped gifts, the food, the music, the reveling these traditions remind us of the possibilities and opportunities that exist in this life, the possibilities that exist in the birth of a child and the expansive hopes that one must have when raising children come what may.

At times, the messiness of life, the challenges, losses, and fears that we face in this moment are great motivators and at other times they can cause a sense of paralysis. Hope can be either a salve to ease one’s suffering just enough to keep one bound in chains, or hope can be seeded inspiring us to take action in this moment – to live beyond our expectations. As we turn inwards during this time of expectant waiting, as we tend to our preparing, tend to our concerns or maybe even tend to our pain, let us turn to thoughts of hope. What do we hope for? How can we turn our hopes and dreams into action and reality, create and cultivate our biggest joy?

I encourage us to hope and to let our hopes inspire us to face this moment charged with the energy to carry on, to make change, to turn our hopes and dreams into reality. I have heard in many recovering circles that one needs to “fake it to make it” and in a way I believe that is what hope helps us to do.

The holidays bring a mixed bag of emotions for many of us… are we willing to change what we expect from these darker introspective times, are we willing to take a chance on hope, are we willing to alter what we choose to cultivate moving forward?

Dearest ones, I share this poem with you as I lovingly invite us to embrace this life in all that it has to offer us. Think of this piece, written by e.e. cummings, as a pledge to one’s very own self:

 

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

 

Peace, Love and Light of the season,

Rev. Marjorie

 

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Insights: What do we feel about Faith?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in General News, Minister's Column

What do we feel about Faith? This month’s theme is all about faith and we are beginning the sermon series with “Faith – The other “F” Word.” I am purposely being irreverent here to gain your attention and to challenge straight-on the concept of Faith. Many religious communities consider the trinity of faith, hope and love, written about poetically by the apostle Paul, as the keys to any healthy flourishing community and relationship. I do not necessarily disagree with Paul. What I disagree with is that there is any certainty to be found within the practice of Faith. Faith is the first in the list and, in many ways, based on my experience, I believe that it is the hardest, as Unitarian Universalists, to embrace. Why is this the case? What is it about Faith, and Hope for that matter, that cause us to pause in our search for solace and spiritual connection?

Maybe it is the connection with the idea of “blind faith” that is the hardest for us to get behind. Blind faith requiring that we do not question or challenge a set of tenets and beliefs. Without the ability to question we lose the ability to evolve and attain deeper wisdom. Some religious adherents are expected to have faith in something that has not been substantiated. In the Torah, Hebrews 11 it is explained that:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

What is seen was made from things that are not visible. I can get behind this understanding, but many needed more from their leaders in order to feel safe or to be productive with a story that fills in the details and keeps humanity accountable. This concept of the word of God or the creator producing everything in the known and/or unknown universe, galaxy out beyond our wildest imaginations seems so far-fetched that it has been relegated to stuff of myth. Anything manmade we can hold in our hands and have certainty about their origins… such as a piece of paper that comes from pulp which comes from trees which comes from seed which comes from trees which ultimately has evolved from a single cell organism that came from the stars which came from the big bang that came from where? What created matter, what impetus inspired the big bang how can we comprehend dark matter or an infinity that continues to expand? When I contemplate these aspects of our reality that we cannot now know I think about the scientists, astronomers, explorers, and futurists I think about their theories and imaginings. There is questioning and yet there is also a sense of faith in the work and methodology that they undertake. They have faith in their call to know more and their cause of furthering the understanding and wisdom, they have faith in humanities collective wisdom and our ability to embrace proven empirical data with full knowledge that at some point a new revelation will unhinge all that we know.

What is it that we fear the most about faith? I would offer that it is our fear that faith, and hope in some way, will stop progress. That humankind will accept a story whether it be myth and/or science and we will be content with what we have conceived and just stop our push for understanding and wisdom. This is where faith turns back on itself. We have to have faith in humanity that having a sense of faith will not stall us from our quest to seek. Just because we have a hypothesis and mythology does not mean that we will grow too comfortable and decide not to continue on towards the knowledge,  towards seeking further out or further into this elusive petri dish of life.

Here are some quotes for you to ponder as we enter into this all elusive month of Faith.

  • To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true wisdom. (Socrates)
  • Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith. (Paul Tillich)
  • Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. (Confucius)
  • The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. (Einstein)
  • Faith is spiritualized imagination. (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Faith is a passionate intuition. (William Wordsworth)

With Love and Light,

Rev. Marjorie

 

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