Monthly Archives: October 2015

ANCESTRY

Our faith agrees with Ellison: there is a difference between relatives and ancestors. Relatives give us our brown eyes and bowed legs; ancestors bless and burden us with a legacy. Relatives are those we tell stories about; ancestors call us to carry the story forward. Our relatives allowed us to be here; our ancestors tell us why we are here and why being here right now matters. Click on the title (ANCESTRY) to continue reading…

Sermon: Our Faith in the Vote

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
Seven months ago I recounted to you an amazing moment in my life and ministry that embodied in the photo you see on the cover of your order of service. Having come for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights marches in Selma, Alabama I found myself crowded together with hundreds of others along the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the Bloody Sunday beatings a half century before, in one of the most diverse assemblies of people I’ve ever been a part of. Despite being pressed together, though, there was an easiness among us communicated in smiles and casual banter amid the singing of freedom songs and the laughing of children that gave me a glimpse of what racial peace and racial justice might look like in this country. Click on the title to continue reading…

Sermon: Opening a Way to Reverence (text & audio)

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
It’s funny how some words can ignite great controversies. Some years ago, just as I was ending my training in seminary, reverence turned out to be one of those words for us Unitarian Universalists.
The controversy was prompted by a 2003 newspaper report that in a sermon the then-president of the UUA, William Sinkford, had called for adding the word “God” to the Unitarian Universalist purposes and principles. (Actually, in a sense it was already there, though technically not in the principles themselves but in the list that often accompanies them of six sources of our “living tradition.” Among those named sources are “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.”) Click on the title to continue reading and/or to listen…

Sermon: Learning from a “Watchman” (text & audio)

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
The voice is a familiar one, like that of relative who surprises us every once in a while with fascinating, chatty phone calls: updating us on the family gossip, relating some slightly scandalous old stories, and puzzling over all that we lose in the relentless passage of time.

I recognized Harper Lee from the moment I opened her newly-released novel, Go Set a Watchman. To be honest, though, I wasn’t sure at first that I wanted to buy the book, given all the controversy over the circumstances of its appearance, apparently some 50 years after it was written. Did she really write it? Did she really intend to release it, or was she bullied into it by relatives seeking to enrich her estate? Click on the title to continue reading and/or to listen…

Sermon: Finding Home (text & audio)

Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister
The first place I remember calling home was a ranch-style house built on an acre of bottom land carved out of second-growth forest about 20 minutes from Princeton, New Jersey. Our young family – my parents, my 5-year-old self, and two younger brothers (a sister and another brother were yet to come) – had just moved to the area, where my father was starting a psychiatry practice. Click on the title to continue reading and/or to listen.

LETTING GO

We cling. You name it, we’ve wrapped our grasping fingers and anxious hearts around it: success, safety, society’s standards of beauty, personal desires to be accepted, perfectionism, duty, fear, grudges, hurts, hopes, stuff, shame and privilege. Whether the object of our grasping is good or bad is not, as we learn, truly the issue. Click on the title (LETTING GO) to continue reading…