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Flower Ritual during Sunday Service on last day (newsletter)

Flower Ritual on June 9

Sunday, June 9 will be the last Sunday of our Program Year. As in past years, we will conclude with a flower ritual (some call it Flower Communion), introduced to Unitarian worship by Norbert Čapek of Czechoslovakia in June, 1923. Čapek built a religious movement of Unitarians that, over the course of two decades, grew to nearly 10,000 people. He ministered at what was then the largest Unitarian congregation in the world, in Prague.

The flower ritual was brought to the United States by Mája Čapek in 1940. She was raising money for her husband’s church in Prague. During her tour, World War II broke out and she was unable to return home. Her husband, still in Prague, denounced the brutality of the Nazi regime. Soon after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, Dr. Čapek was arrested. He died in a concentration camp in Germany in 1942. Mája remained in the United States, where she continued to work for international religious freedom until her death in 1956.

In the words of Mája Čapek, “No two flowers are alike, no two people are alike; yet each has a contribution to make; each would help make the world as beautiful as a colorful bouquet. By exchanging the flowers, we signify that we are willing, in the spirit of tolerance and patience, to march together in search of truth, disregarding all that usually divides people.”

On June 9, please bring a flower for each person participating in our pan-generational worship service. The helpful Landscape Committee members will help you put them in a vase when you enter, and then they will be carried into the service before the ritual. If you have any questions, contact Fran in the office.

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Sunday Quaker-style Meeting (newsletter)

Join us for our annual Quaker-style worship service on Sunday, May 26, 2019. The service will take place in the Commons, and will be led by Pamela Strauss.

Today’s service is in the spirit of Quaker services, but is not intended to be an exact replica. Elements of Quaker services were adapted for our use. This service is part of our continuing exploration of spiritual practices. When the sounding bowl is rung, it is a call that our service has begun.

Our service today is based on the idea of ‘Unprogrammed worship’. We will sit in silence, looking inward, seeking the experience of the Spirit within ourselves. As a community, we will create a communal silent space to receive messages from the Spirit. If you experience a thought or idea that seems to come from a deeper place, you are invited to stand and speak aloud this message. There may be many such shared messages, there may be few, or there may be none. Following the sharing of a message, it is customary to maintain a period of silence to allow the shared message to enter our inner selves. You may feel moved to share your message in song, or you may feel moved to join in a song started by another. It is all unplanned, spontaneous, and genuine. At the end of the hour, the sounding bowl will be rung, announcements will be read, and we will end the service by rising and shaking hands. The coffee hour and conversation will follow.

We will not have a plate collection during this morning’s meeting. Please place your offering in one of the wooden bowls near the entrance to the Commons.

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On Truth and Lies, Rev. Richard Fewkes (newsletter)

Join us as we welcome Rev. Richard Fewkes to our pulpit for his sermon titled “On Truth and Lies in Our Public and Private Lives”.

Dick Fewkes has served three churches in the Ballou Channing District: (1) First UU Society in Middleboro (1964-69), (2) is the Minister Emeritus of the First Parish in Norwell, Mass. where he served from 1969 to 2000, and (3) as Interim Minister at the First Parish UU Church, Bridgewater,  2000 – 2002. He resides with his partner Connie Johnson in Sagamore Beach, has a summer home on Cape Cod in West Dennis, is a grandfather to eight grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and is a member of the UU Meeting House in Chatham, MA.

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Sunday Service: “Through a Glass, Darkly” (newsletter)

Service led by FPS members Ashley and Jerry Taylor.

A reflection on faith, mothers, shelves, and door-bell ditching.

Ashley and Jerry Taylor’s greatest accomplishment has been making four real humans, whom they love inordinately. They grew up in Utah and Idaho, respectively, and moved to Sudbury in August. They might never leave.

Today they will share some thoughts about their own spiritual journey as they’ve explored beyond the faith tradition of their youth.

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“The Grace Machine”, Mr. Kurt Leland (newsletter)

Join us on Sunday, May 5 when we welcome Mr. Kurt Leland to our pulpit.

Mr. Leland writes of his sermon: Grace is sometimes defined as “being right with God.” But what does that mean? What if grace was a force pervading the entire universe, a gentle but persistent pressure to turn back toward our divine Source whenever our personal or collective suffering causes us to turn away in pain?  What if the universe was a great grace machine, a mechanism as inevitable as the law of karma perpetually working to make us whole?
Kurt Leland is a national lecturer for the Theosophical Society, an international organization founded in New York in 1875 a promote universal brother/sisterhood, the comparative study of science, religion, and philosophy, and the investigation of unknown laws of nature and the spiritual powers latent in humanity. He is a poet, composer, and author of eight books on alternative spirituality and mystical states of consciousness.
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April 28: Music Sunday Bluegrass Mass with Southern Rail

Annual Music Sunday with guest musicians Southern Rail. Sunday April 28.

An offering of “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” by Carol Barnett. This is an amazing work that beautifully combines traditional choral writing and bluegrass music. Music will include First Parish choir, conducted by Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett.

You wouldn’t think bluegrass music and a traditional choral mass could go together. But be prepared to change your mind on Sunday, April 28. That’s when the First Parish of Sudbury choir will be joined by well known bluegrass group Southern Rail to perform Carol Barnett’s “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass.” It’s a rousing interpretation of the classical mass set to soaring refrains, intricate harmonies and freewheeling instrumentals. Conducted by First Parish Minister of Music, Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett, the performance is free and part of First Parish’s April 28 Sunday service, which begins at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

Southern Rail, the well known and loved New England-based bluegrass group first performed this work with First Parish’s choir in 2013. Members Jim Muller (guitar), Sharon Horovitch (acoustic bass), Rich Stillman (banjo) and John Tibert (mandolin) have invited fiddler Tim Roper and mandolin player Steve Roy to join them for this special musical service. You can look forward to hearing them throughout the rest of the service as well.

“A Bluegrass Mass” was originally commissioned for VocalEssence, an acclaimed professional choir in Minneapolis, with composer Carol Barnett and librettist Marisha Chamberlain on board. According to Chamberlain, “Great bluegrass music is infectious and lively, so it’s easy to see why any church would want to add bluegrass, but why call it a Bluegrass Mass unless there’s liturgy, too—a text in the bluegrass tradition? Bluegrass is more than a sound. The lyrics of so many Bluegrass songs display an unpretentious, earthy philosophy that is easy to sing and easy to understand: Adam lives just up the street and Eve’s the girl next door. Love is the major theme—frustrated yearning love, secret, satisfied love or boldly proclaimed love. And although romantic love between two people is huge in Bluegrass, so is love of God, the Gospel tradition. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, says John in the Gospel, which launches our Bluegrass Mass as an earthy, immediate story of love between Creator and creation.”

Southern Rail’s bluegrass music is high-energy exuberant fun, with riveting harmonies, irrepressible humor, and sparkling banjo and mandolin solo work. This talented quartet has been performing since 1978, and is about to release their 12th recording. Their reputation for strong original material, heart-stopping harmonies, and infectious good humor has spread to both coasts. The group’s performances range from folk festivals to bluegrass festivals, from coffeehouses and concert halls to church services, from art institutes to educational television. For more information, visit http://www.southernrail.com.

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