“A Good Value Faith” – by Mark W. Harris – Many of us think about money all the time. This is not an obsession, but a reality that bills need to be paid, or we have to see if we have enough for retirement. Can we afford dental implants or a vacation? Our feelings about money often reflect scarcity, fear and limitations. How is that relevant to our faith?
“Shepherds and Psalms” by Andrea Greenwood -Somewhere I read that it was shepherds who started the whole notion of counting; that as their flocks grew too large to keep track of by name, they started to develop systems of numbering – which later transferred into methods for counting stitches in knitting. This put a whole new spin on the old advice to count sheep as a way to fall asleep, and got me thinking about shepherds . . .
“The Sacred in the Profane” by Mark W. Harris – The President of the US has brought profanity to a new level by using it in public settings. The use of offensive language in reference to certain countries where he preferred not to see immigrants coming from was a recent example. Yet all of us swear, some more profusely than others. What is the purpose of swearing? Can it be used for good?
“Slipping on the Shoes” by Andrea Greenwood – I realized that this year Valentine’s Day coincides with Ash Wednesday; the holiday devoted to love mingled with one that asks us to reflect on temptation and sin. How might these themes combine to send us out into the world with courage and hope?
“What Makes a Church?” Mark W. Harris – This morning is a participatory service, where people will ask the question of themselves, what are you hoping to get out of church? Is it a place where you are trying to be a better person, or do you only want a community that affirms the person you already are? Is it about affirming your needs, or is it about having a vision for what a true community can be?
“Happiness is a Warm Gun” by Mark Harris – Gun violence is a terrible blight on our country. Bowing to the NRA, every politician seems to affirm the “Right to Bear Arms.” Drawing on the old Beatles song, we see how fear grips us all, and we need to regain our faith and trust in each other.
“Birthdays and Bicycles” by Andrea Greenwood – The other day, Mark and I were talking about what Martin Luther King, Jr. would be doing were he alive today. I was thinking about income equality and the poor people’s campaign. Mark was thinking about gun violence. Then I remembered a story about the year Martin Luther King, Jr. got a bicycle for his birthday. What did it represent? Where might it carry him?
“I’m On the Prayer Chain” by Mark W. Harris – Last year when I was having issues with my heart, the women in the office at St. Patrick’s Church asked if they could put me on the prayer chain. Thinking every prayer helps, I said, yes. What does it mean to be on the prayer chain?
Christmas Eve Homily – “Decorating Our Lives” – How do the ornaments we hang on our trees symbolize the stories of our lives, and the meaning we can share with others.
“Finding Sacred Places” by Mark W. Harris – Jesus is born in Bethlehem. His family goes down into Egypt to escape from King Herod. Places play such a huge role in all sacred stories. Time and place are often what define each of us. Where do you come from, and what does it say about you?
“Mixed Blessings” by Mark Harris – A Mixed Blessing is something that mostly seems favorable to us, but also has some unfavorable features, too. For some of us, it might hold us back from complete gratitude, but it is also true that what seems unfavorable may actually be a blessing in disguise.
“Something from Nothing” by Andrea Greenwood – By coincidence, several of the books I’ve read in recent weeks center on islands, and oddly – locksmiths have popped up in two. When there is water all around, how can we be strengthened, and made whole?
Lay Service – November 5, 2017
“Good Without God : Non-Theistic Beliefs and Practices”
The Worship Committee has invited three First Parish members to speak on this topic; Nick Woebcke, Victoria Grafflin and Tom Ostfeld. (This is the companion service to one on Theistic Belief and Practices that will happen in the spring How has God played a role in your spiritual journey.)
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Are UUs still Protestants? Does it mean we are Christians or just like to challenge any orthodoxy?