Reflections 10/9/11


Let me begin with a couple of notes. First, Sadie’s resignation is now a reality and she has left. We have a strong religious education program and leadership, and I have full confidence that we will be fine in offering wonderful religious education for our children and youth. That said, I imagine that there may still be feelings and questions about Sadie’s resignation. If you do have questions or feelings you want to share, please feel free to contact me. I may not be able to offer answers, but I can always listen.

Second, I have been asked to be on an interfaith panel for a conference entitled “Sexual Orientation and Religion” this Saturday, October 15th at UMass Lowell. The conference is sponsored by the Pride Alliance at UMass-Lowell. I feel very honored to be asked to represent Unitarian Universalism at this event. The conference runs from 9 am until 1:30 pm and will take place at the UMass-Lowell Inn and Conference Center, 50 Warren Street, in Lowell. The focus will be a film entitled “Because the Bible Tells Me” which examines what the Bible teaches and does not teach about homosexuality.

Third, speaking of the Bible, I am offering a Sunday morning Bible class, 9 am in Room 3. We read and discuss well-known biblical stories, see also how they are portrayed in art, music and literature and explore traditional and alternative interpretations. Adults and youth are all welcome. This Sunday, October 16th, we will be looking at the story of Cain and Abel. This is a drop-in, come when you can class. Bring your coffee and your imagination!

Last weekend ended the holiest week in the Jewish year: the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. On October 2nd, I reflected on the meaning of this holy week and teshuvah, the Hebrew word for repentance, for the sermon at the evening service. Here is an excerpt from that sermon:

Arthur Waskow tells this Rosh Hashanah story. He saw an ancient rock from the wall of the old city Jerusalem that had the letters LEG X carved in it. This was the mark of the 10th Roman Legion which had conquered the city and destroyed the temple. Thousands of years later, after the Romans were long gone, this rock was taken and used as the stand for a street lamp in the city. Seeing this, Waskow muses: “This is the eternal task of our people–to keep turning stone back into light. And that is what this Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the world comes to tell us. A new year has been born and is waiting to be shaped by us into a season of healing, for ourselves and those we love, but not only for them” (p. 6 in Rosh Hashanah Readings, Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, ed.). I find that image so powerful, this idea of taking what is stone and shaping it into light. If we could understand repentance, teshuvah, the work of a new year, the work of our souls, as taking the stones that weigh us down and pull on us and hold us back and cause us to carry heavy burdens and grudges, if we could take those stones and reshape them and create out of them light, imagine, imagine the lightness of our spirits and beauty and healing of our world. One thing we do share with Judaism is this idea that how we choose to live our lives truly matters. We are given this gift of life, with all its joy and heartbreak, and we choose whether to honor it as a sacred gift or to wear it is a stone around our necks. Life is not easy and there are plenty of times of heaviness and burden. Our task as a religious community is to engage with one another and with the holy and sacred as we each know it to turn those stones into light. It is not a task that we can do on our own, for we are relational creatures, connected to one another and to the creation and to that sacred mystery that we know by so many names. So in this season of turning, I invite you to consider how it is with your soul, and the stones that weigh you down. I invite us all to help one another leave the stones upon the path or to find ways to turn them into light.

-Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824