Reflections 1/1/12


While it is a new calendar year, it is almost half way through the church year. We had a very full first half: major work on the steeple, the resignation of our Director of Religious Education, Sadie Kahn-Greene, and the arrival of our intern, Russ Menk. All this in addition to the normal church activities and events. The Thanksgiving-Christmas season is always special to me with its music, pageantry, and candlelight. It is a thoughtful, gratitude-filled time, both solemn and joyful. But now, we return to “ordinary” time.

Mid-year is a good time to see where we are, to evaluate and perhaps reset our expectations. The steeple work is coming along, but taking longer than originally proposed. Please remember to be careful around the kitchen and front entrances, when the steeplejacks are working.

Progress continues in the search for a new DRE. More information on this can be found elsewhere in the newsletter. But I want to take a moment to honor and thank the work of the Religious Education Council, the RE Youth Council, all the RE volunteers, teachers, and children and youth, and Jill Hayes. You all have done a wonderful job keeping our religious education program spiritually vital.

Russ has brought us his many gifts and new perspective. He is now entering the second and final half of his internship with us. I appreciate how seriously you have taken your role as a teaching congregation. You have much to teach about ministry—not just to Russ but to me.

A quick note: I will begin a religious education class on Jesus, beginning this Sunday, January 8th, after church at 12:15. Our first meeting will be in the chapel. This class is open to adults, youth, college age, anyone who wants to learn more about Jesus, how he is portrayed in the Bible, and who he can be for us as Unitarian Universalists. This class is running in parallel to the Sunday School doing the “Market Place 29 AD”, which examines life in the time of Jesus.

I received the following journal reflection from Heron Dance. Rather than focusing on resolutions, or making commitments we rarely can keep (or at least I can’t seem to—whether it is to lose 10 pounds or keep my office clean), it invites us to consider what we have learned over the past year that we might bring out in the new. I offer it here:

“I think back over the year past. What worked? What didn’t? 

Big plans didn’t work. Small ones did. Going inside worked: seeking the silence.

Expectations of others—having high expectations of others, of myself, didn’t work. Getting emotional didn’t work. I was sometimes successful hiding it, but anger seemed to well up inside me when I encountered uncomfortable truths about myself, my life. Catering to my desires didn’t work. I did some chasing of illusions. 

Doing before thinking didn’t work out very well.

Acceptance worked. Avoiding confrontation, seeking peace worked. Simplicity worked.

Love worked. Anger didn’t. Patience worked. Focusing on the basic structure of my life produced better results than reacting to this or that circumstance. Changing the structure rather than funneling the energy into disputes worked. 

Once again, the deepest, most profound moments of the year were in wild nature, especially paddling a river.”

Happy New Year! -Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824