Reflections June 2017

This past Sunday, I reflected on the meaning of thresholds: stepping out of one way of doing or being into another, and how thresholds give us time to pause—to look back at what has been, to imagine what is in front of us, and to discern what to take with us and what to let go.

We are always at threshold moments, but now is a particularly “threshold-y” moment, if there was such a word. We just celebrated the Coming of Age service for seven of our young people: Dan, Bill, Emily, Isabella, Olivia, Artem, and Devin. Each of them presented a thoughtful and powerful credo that reflected their unique personalities and experiences, authentic and heart-felt expressions of themselves. Yet, underneath, they expressed common themes of the values and practices they learned growing up here: welcome; compassion; generosity; accompaniment; an open mind; questioning; and community. Their credos offer feedback for us about our religious education and faith formation program, our congregation and our living of UUism. This is what we are giving our kids to bring with them for living the world. It gives me hope. Dolores and I also met with our graduating seniors who will present their bridging speeches at the Flower Communion service on June 18th. Again, we will have an opportunity to hear from our young people, at the threshold of the next stage of their lives, share their perspectives.

We will be celebrating Justine’s threshold moment, as she ends her internship with us on June 18th and is ordained by her home congregation on June 11th. She will officially step from being a “student minister” to being an ordained one, although we all know she has been a minister already for quite awhile. Rituals like Coming of Age, Bridging and Ordination are ways to acknowledge truths we already know—that our young people are growing up, that one among us is ready to take on their call—but to name them as sacred as well as true.

Of course, we have been standing at the edge of a literal threshold for awhile now: renovating our building to make it more accessible. We are so close, we can see through the doorway.

About ten years ago, we had an all-church retreat, led by Larry Peers, which became the foundation for our current First Parish covenant. It was a threshold moment. I have asked Larry to come back to facilitate another all-church retreat next September 30th . As we stand at a threshold moment again, with all that is going on with our building, with Unitarian Universalism, and our country, it is a good time to revisit our congregational story, our congregational covenant. It is important that our covenant not just to be something we say but something that belongs to us, and to which we belong, something that guides and inspires us. It is time to bring new members and friends into the story and the covenant as a living thing, and to weave their stories and experiences in. Perhaps we will change the words, perhaps we will not. But there is value in pausing, to look back and see what is precious and important to bring with us, before we look forward again.


In faith,

Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824