Reflections 2/2/14

I would like to first offer my appreciation to this First Parish community for all your love and care in recent weeks. Families and individuals within our congregation have suffered loss and illness at an intense pace. In particular, I would like to thank Will Reiter, Kim and Cindy Gist, Ariel Bliss, and Janice, Henry and Mark Tervo who have provided music for special services, and Linda Newhard who organized a reception for the Grad family, and all the Caring Connection volunteers (and beyond) who contributed food and time. I thank all of you for being there, and bearing witness in difficult times.
All this, plus the snow and the cold have made this winter feel long. But it is clear that the days are getting longer, and there have been some almost balmy days. Although there is much winter to come, I invite us to think about an event coming this summer—the UUA General Assembly, more commonly known as GA.
GA is an annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist congregations and groups from around the country (and even around the world). It includes plenary sessions, where the business of the UUA is discussed and voted on by congregational delegates; workshops on everything from social justice to worship to spiritual practices to religious education to administration; amazing worship services including a bridging service for all graduating high school seniors; lectures by prominent speakers; and youth and young adult programs. There is even dancing! This year, GA will be in Providence, Rhode Island from June 25th through the 29th. Its close proximity offers a chance for a good-sized delegation from our church to attend (next year, it will be in Portland, Oregon!). Dolores, Jill, Nick Kaffine, Sam Spero and I are all planning to go, and would love to take folks with us. In particular, we would love to bring a strong contingent of our high school youth. I will be holding an information session this coming Sunday, February 9th at 12:30 in the chapel. Housing and early bird registration open on March 3rd, and the housing in particular fills up quickly. For more information, you can check out this link on the UUA website: http://www.uua.org/ga/index.shtml. And we do have funds to help with the cost. It is great fun and it is a really empowering experience to be with so many Unitarian Universalists

In faith,

Rev. Ellen

Reflections 1/5/14

As I said in my sermon on Sunday, this year, in our congregation, we have been walking each other through some very painful times: death, illness and other endings, losses and traumas. As I help people walk through some terrible truths and terrible pain, I have wished for a magic wand—that answer which will make everything make sense, or that promise of a miracle to make everything better. As UU theologian Paul Rasor wrote, Unitarian Universalism is a faith without certainty—at least the certainty of heaven, cosmic fairness or a god who knows all and will make it come out okay in the wash. I sometimes wonder if it would be better if I could offer that kind of certainty. But I realize that the reason we are Unitarian Universalists is because we don’t believe this. We bring our own experiences, questions, doubts, and ideas to the table and share them in covenant with one another--promising to honor and celebrate, to nurture, to care and be present, to bear witness, and to be good stewards of each other and the lives we have been given to share.

So, as hard as this year as been for so many of us, I have been touched and inspired by how you all live out our Unitarian Universalist faith. I appreciate the many ways you have taken care of one another and the strangers who have entered our doors, looking for care and comfort. I appreciate the honesty and courage with which you have faced loss and heartbreak, held each other in thoughts and prayer, in meals made and delivered, in prayer shawls blessed and shared, in simply being present and bearing witness. I appreciate how so many of you have stepped up when one or another of you has had to step away to grieve or take care of a loved one, or deal with a personal problem or loss. You have embodied so well our Unitarian Universalist faith, grounded in the practices of gratitude and hospitality, with such grace and love that you constantly strengthen and reaffirm mine, so I can, in turn, be present to those who need it.

In faith,

Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133