Compassion is at the core of every religious tradition, yet we don't see enough empathy and loving kindness at work in the world. How might we open our hearts up to embrace and embody greater compassion in our day to day living? Let's explore thoughts from a number of spiritual leaders and religious scholars in our quest to help create a more loving and just world.
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"Digital Distraction: Who Are We Becoming?"
Rev. Gretchen Weis
Technology is certainly changing our lives. But how is it changing our bodies, our psychological health, our brain's ability to focus and make decisions? Entire new industries have sprung up dedicated to capturing and selling human distraction on digital devices. When recent studies reveal that the average American touches their cell phone 2,617 times a day, what does this mean to our long-term physical, mental and spiritual health?
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ON OUR WEBSITE!
If you missed a service, or simply would like to listen to a particular sermon again, our sermons are now available on our website and are downloadable as MP3 files. Use our website link below and click on the sermon link at the top of the page and either listen or download the sermon of your choice. You can also access current and back issues of Murray Notes. Just click on the Church News link. Thanks to Bill Jones for working on these projects!
"Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift," writes the poet, Mary Oliver. Life transitions often come wrapped in a box of darkness. People often disappoint and hurt us. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes without realizing it. Yet, some of our deepest insights, our greatest gifts, can come, eventually, from our experiences of pain, loss and brokenness.
Buddhist poet and philosopher Mark Nepo shares, "I know this to be true. From broken marriages, to losing a rib to cancer, to being laid off after 18 years of teaching, there has always been a gift waiting once the ache and fear and grief have settled. To be clear, it is not the disease or injustice that is a blessing. I would not wish cancer on anyone. But, as cries are absorbed into silence, as the sun always rises just when the night seems like it will never end, as the sky holds everything flying and everything falling, there is something indestructible at the center of each of us; though the pain of being transformed and rearranged while still alive often feels unbearable."
And, Irish spiritual teacher and writer John O'Donohue writes a blessing, "For Someone Who Did You Wrong." I have adapted his haunting and beautiful blessing below:
you sent Had
a mind of
its own. Something
in you knew Exactly
how to shape
some wound-window Left
you forgot, Went
never knew How
that perfect Shape
of hurt Still
new kindness Seems
I can see
my heart In
I would Otherwise
had planted And
Nursery is available from 9:45 am -- 11 am. The nursery is located in the Religious Education Wing and is the first room on the left.
Children (Grades K - 8):
Sunday, January 28th -- We will begin in the service and then head to our classes to learn about Judeo-Christianity.
Youth Group (Grades 9 - 12):
Sunday, January 28th -- There is no morning Youth Group. Teens are encouraged to attend service. We will have Evening Youth Group from 6:00 pm -- 7:30 pm. Bring a game to share!
The Art of Kindness...
Our children made their own symbols to represent kindness.
Mansfield Black Box Theater Production
The Mansfield's Black Box Theater presents
"Of Mice and Men" starring Murray's own
Brian Gustafson in the lead role.
John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a parable about what it means to be human. Steinbeck's story of George and Lennie's ambition of owning their own ranch, and the obstacles that stand in the way of that ambition, reveal the nature of dreams, dignity, loneliness and sacrifice. Ultimately, Lennie, the mentally handicapped giant who makes George's dream of owning his own ranch worthwhile, ironically becomes the greatest obstacle to achieving that dream.
Jan. 25 - 28; Feb. 1 - 4.
Tickets are $29. Call 508-339-2822 to reserve tickets or
If you like coffee, yummy snacks or just enjoy meeting new people, please consider volunteering for coffee hour. To sign-up, please click [HERE].
This year we will not have a separate adult and children's snack table; we will all be enjoying the same goodies, and have eliminated the juice to simplify our gathering. If you are new or if you need a refresher, step-by-step instructions
hands-on training and/or buddies are all available. Goodies may be bought or baked.
It's easy! It doesn't require a lot of extra time (show up at 9 am to get the coffee going and setup, clean up takes about 1/2 an hour) and we really need volunteers! Let's keep Murray
friends caffeinated and in the happy zone after the Sunday service.
The Religious Education Committee is hosting an All Church Potluck and Game Night! Bring a dish* and a fun game to share with everyone! Together as a community we will eat, laugh and play! All ages invited.
Saturday, January 27th from 5 pm -- 7 pm in the Unity Room
Let's meet for brunch at Bella Sarnos Restaurant located at 553 Kelley Boulevard in North Attleboro. It has an omelette station, seafood and pasta dishes, a dessert buffet and a lot more. Check out their website. We'll meet there at noon, after services, for a warm and pleasant start to a winter afternoon. $19 per person.
Do you want to write, but can't find the time? Do you feel like you could write if you were motivated by others, and had the right inspiration? Whether you are a beginner, an expert, or a quieter writer with a hint of shyness, please consider joining the Writers' Circle. We usually meet on the 4th Sunday of each month from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm in the John Murray Room. Bring a snack. Bring your lunch. Of course, bring your coffee. We talk about upcoming events and current works. We give ourselves time to write. And, when we're comfortable, we share what we've written. Sharing is completely optional. If you would like to learn more, please e-mail Heidi Ferreira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our upcoming writers' circle meetings are:
January 28th, February 25th, March 25th, April 22nd and May 27th
All are invited to a watch party of a live streaming event -- Fossil Free Fast: The Climate Resistance. Hear climate movement speakers including Senator Bernie Sanders and Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org talk about the state of the climate movement. They will share stories on the urgency of current political and climate crises and light a path ahead.
Popcorn and hot cider will be served. Feel free to bring another snack or non-alcoholic beverage to share.
All are welcome. Please feel free to bring a bagged lunch. The Mission of the Book Group is for open-minded people to select, read and discuss interesting books that broaden our minds and challenge how we perceive the world. Books are chosen by consensus, of reasonable length, and library accessible.
On Sunday, February 4th, we will discuss, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: a 10% happier how-to book, by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. Harris and Warren present a practical guide to meditation that debunks the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that make many people reluctant to try it. They suggest a range of meditation practices that may lower your blood pressure, mitigate depression and anxiety, and literally rewire key parts of your brain.
This book will serve as a springboard for discussion on how we go about quieting our minds to seek a physical and/or spiritual respite. Even if you don't read the book, this is a discussion you can join!
Saturday, February 10th from 2 pm - 5 pm in the Unity Room, featuring:
In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario's attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists' find that their lives will never be the same.
This will be a fun afternoon for families and friends! We will begin at 2 pm with active games in Fellowship Hall. Then we will transform the Unity Room into a movie theater. We want everyone to be comfy and cozy so bring blankets, pillows or sleeping bags!
We are also encouraging everyone to bring friends. The more the merrier! If you could provide a snack to share and a donation for our Food Pantry, it would be greatly appreciated. We are looking forward to seeing you there!
Our next book discussion group about white privilege will be held on Sunday, February 11th following worship in the John Murray Room. Please grab a cup of coffee at coffee hour and head to the John Murray Room to begin our exploration of pp. 206 - 241.
In January, we showed the short film "White Privilege 101: Getting into the Conversation." If you would like to see this excellent film, click [HERE].
The Food Pantry receives food twice a month, and we need help receiving the delivery. Food pick-up times are the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays each month. The trucks need to be unloaded requiring some lifting.
This is one way Murray reaches out and is visible in the community, but it takes many volunteers to receive and distribute the food. If there are any strong bodies available on those days who would like a light workout, please contact:
Help save a life by giving the gift of life! You can read about the blood giving process on the Red Cross website: http://www.redcrossblood.org/. If you are a regular blood donor, please check your eligibility schedule and plan to be with us on that date. If you have not given blood before, please review the details on the Red Cross website and determine if you are eligible. Please tell your other family members, friends and neighbors and invite them as well. We recruit donors in advance and help with scheduling their appointments.
The month of March "comes in like a lion and out like a lamb." It is a time of change as winter draws to a close, and we prepare for the start of spring.
The Religious Services Committee is seeking Murray writers to share your original work based on a theme of change during service at 10 am on Sunday, March 4th. What does change mean to you? Changes in nature, yourself or your beliefs? Changing your community through volunteering or social justice?
We are seeking a chalice lighting, a meditation, and a collection of readings (2 -- 5 minutes). Poetry, prose, responsive readings, chants, or other styles of writing are all welcome. Writers of all ages and levels of experience are welcome. You may have someone else read your work for you if you prefer.
For more information, or to sign up, please contact Monica Staaf at email@example.com. Space is limited.
An essential part of this inner work - the transformation, over time, of our hurts and pain into gifts of deeper understanding and blessings - involves compassion and forgiveness. Compassion and forgiveness for ourselves, compassion and forgiveness for those who caused us harm.
It is challenging to feel compassion for those who wound us. We often find comfort staying grounded in our hurts, drawing energy from our resentments. Initially, there is often room for only one point of view, one set of feelings - ours. It can be easy to demonize the other person. In some cases, we just don't want to see the humanity of others who have hurt us.
Mark Nepo shares a story about Mahatma Gandhi, who practiced non-violence to free India from the English. The story goes that during one of his famous hunger strikes, a villager -- a man whose daughter had been killed in the violent fighting -- came to Gandhi and pleaded for the great leader to stop his hunger strike, to eat something. Gandhi replied that he would resume eating only when the villager was able to forgive and embrace the man who killed his daughter. It is said that the man collapsed in tears, but did what Gandhi asked, and the violence in that region came to an end.
Nepo observes that it was an enormous thing to ask of someone in grief, of someone who had been violated. "But beyond the vast courage needed to incorporate this kind of love into our daily lives, Gandhi's request reveals the irrefutable wisdom that only when the broken are healed, no matter what they have done, will we as a people heal.
"It is hard to comprehend how this works," he continues, "yet the mystery of true forgiveness waits in the letting go of our ledgers of injustice and retribution in order to regain the feeling in our heart. I am forced to look into my own small life, into my own small and all-consuming pains, and ask: Who am I? Why can't I forgive the wrongs done me? Why can't I, more than forgive, begin to trust again?"
Compassion, Nepo reminds us, is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides between our own feelings, or the feelings of those who caused us hurt. "Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality. Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us. Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us."
Nepo continues, "this does not remove the emotional facts of our lives, nor does it ask us to remain in a hurtful situation. Rather, compassion asks that we open like mountains to the sky, like mountains that can withstand every kind of weather.
How might we open ourselves up, like strongly rooted mountains to the sky, better able to withstand the shifting weather of human relationships? The stormy weather of all that we cannot control?
Come join us this Sunday as we explore opening our hearts up to our boxes of darkness, and to the transforming power of compassion in our lives.
If the weather outside is frightful, the minister and board president will confer to determine if worship services must be cancelled by 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV5, FOX25 and WPRI-12, FOX Providence will air any Sunday Service cancellations during the morning news.
Websites for cancellations:
CBSBoston.com, WHDH.com, WCVB.com Cancellations will also be posted on our website and Facebook page: Be sure to "Like" us to see updates in your news feed.