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A Strategic New Year…

Happy New Year FPSers!

We had an amazing Endings and Beginnings service yesterday, January 5th, to honor and celebrate the milestones of 2013. It was a very meaningful new tradition for me to share our grief and our joy with those in attendance. As part of my sermon on January 5th I called us all to be fully present in the here and now, bolstered but not held back by our history with an eye on the horizon of our future. In reflection about calling you to be more firmly rooted and present in the here and now I also called us to do the right thing for our progeny and the world . How can we effectively do this you may wonder. With a solid foundation would be my response… Here is what that might look like for us as a congregation. I would begin with the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism they hold us accountable to our mission in the world. I am including the children’s version here because frankly it gets directly to the point:

1. We believe that each and every person is important.

2. We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.

3. We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.

4. We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.

5. We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.

6. We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.

7. We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.

Another cornerstone of our free and liberal faith, in my humble opinion, is the golden rule as a means to become grounded in a practice of caring compassion: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. (wikipedia) There is a movement a foot called the Charter for Compassion that would have the entire world endeavor to live by the Golden Rule and care for each other in a deeper manner. To find out more information about this movement please visit their website charterforcompassion.org and please take a few moments to watch Professor Karen Armstrong’s TED talk on the topic: charterforcompassion.org/charter-karen-armstrong.

The third cornerstone is the development of your personal daily practice… I would highly recommend that we all endeavor to include some weekly practices that engage the mind, the body and the spirit. If the term spirit does not work for you how about including a practice that engages your inner child – such as a romp in the woods? I loved the hymn that we sang yesterday I Seek the Spirit of A Child in which we were reminded, “That children are real beyond all art, fears, and lies” and in closing the hymn we ask “May I see Joy, Hope and Faith a gift to our Heart, Tears, and Eyes.” Embracing that child-like essence is in fact very similar to embracing the spirit.

The fourth cornerstone that I would like to reveal is keeping an eye on the horizon of our future while remaining in the here and now. How do we do this… We focus on our daily and weekly mind, body, spirit/inner child practices and at the same time plan strategically for a future in which we realize our dreams. If we imagine and visualize the life and community that we desire we will take the steps, and not always consciously, to achieve our goals. On January 11th the Board of Trustees will be meeting to begin this process of thinking strategically for the future of First Parish of Sudbury. An overall vision will be created which will help the congregation to decide on individual committee goals and tasks to achieve our overall vision. Remember the Board’s mantra: Welcome, Inspire, Connect, Work for Justice! Let us each echo this mantra through the hallowed halls of First Parish!

Friends as we begin again with the New Year may we do so with a light heart, lots of laughter and love three of the primary ingredients to concoct a happy and fulfilling life.

In Faith,

Rev. Marjorie

*** If you ever have comments, concerns, or ideas about First Parish, your life, or any little or big topic please do not hesitate to contact me at

 

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Sharing The Word…

image014Is it me or is time flying by really fast? It seems just like yesterday that I moved into Stow and started officially ministering to First Parish, and here we are in November speeding towards Thanksgiving. I find it important when dwelling, at times, within a whirlwind to reflect and take stock of where I have been and where I am going; it helps me to place my current moment in context. I began in September sharing with you my thoughts about Speaking Our Truth in Love, in October I entered into a discussion about the “Interdependent Web” of which we are all a part, and this month I am entering into the territory of “Relationships.” I do not plan to focus on romantic relationships per se, but instead on how we decide to enter into mutual relationship with one another and how we cultivate and maintain these ever-evolving connections. What helped me to decide on this specific theme is that it is a natural progression from whence we came. We endeavor to be mindful of the words we use with one another and the importance of love. We acknowledge our interconnectedness, and now we make conscious choices to enter into covenantal relationship with one another. Why is a covenantal relationship different than any other? Because it is a formal agreement to be with one another in a manner that is beyond the every day of an acquaintance or passerby. We enter into an agreement to walk this walk or roll this roll together and to do so based on the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is easy to fall out of right relationship with one another as the least miscommunication can cause hurt feelings and a rift. First Parish can be the one community beyond home and work that we can challenge and support one another to stretch beyond where we have felt comfortable before. Stretch not to breaking but to a place of transformative growth. How can we grow together?

As I start to contemplate the eighth sermon that I will share with you this Sunday I reflected on the seven sermons that I have shared with you thus far. History has been kind to church goers of contemporary times. Topics that once took hours to unpack and deliver now stretch our patience at twenty minutes, even though they are filled with engaging stories, metaphor, and antidotes about how to live a good life and do the right thing. I vowed as I began this church year to expand the range of my style from heart-centered to funny to intellectual. I have delivered a varied cadre of speaking styles on a wide range of topics including my most recent invitation to contemplate difficult truths about life and death. What I have realized over these two months is pretty much what I expected… some topics and styles will resonate with some of us while others will not. Here is a perplexing and challenging truth for a minister: what some of you like to hear me speak about others in the community do not. My choice is to endeavor to make some of you happy all of the time or try to make different people happy each week. So as your minister I have decided to continue to vary my style and content to reach as many people as possible from week to week with differing topics. What does this mean? If you do not like a sermon that I preach on any given Sunday…be patient. That sermon that will touch you deeply and that resonates with your soul is not that far away. If you really want to hear me preach on a specific topic just let me know what you are longing to have me read, research and write about because I do endeavor to include your interests into my repertoire. As I said to you during my candidating week and not so long ago: my job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and if you feel challenged from the pulpit on any given Sunday revel in the fact that clearly you are stretching and growing in new ways. I am forever thrilled to be on this journey of hope, love and discovery with you!

Peace and light to you during this season of introspection.

Rev. Marjorie

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