Murray UU Church
Sermons 2015-2016

505 North Main St, Attleboro, MA 02703
 Phone: 508-222-0505  Fax: 508-222-2859
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June 12, 2016  "Pride Sunday: By Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

In June 1969, the Stonewall Bar riots in Greenwich Village in New York City sparked the beginning of the gay, lesbian and transgendered rights movement.  It is nearly 50 years later, and the struggle continues, as states draft laws to allow businesses or individuals to refuse to serve same sex couples based on religious beliefs, or to ban transgendered people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.  As we prepare to march again this year in the Providence Pride Parade, let us remember that our work for equal rights and inclusion is not finished.  Our service will be co-led by some GLBT members of the congregation.   During the service this moring, Rev. Gretchen also shares a YouTube video that addresses transgender issues from a uniquely, Unitarian Universalist perspective.  The video can be viewed here.


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June 5, 2016  "God, Revised" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

At its best, religion unites everything we know with everything we long for.  Yet, can we reconcile the consolations of faith with the certitudes of modern science?  In his groundbreaking book, God, Revised, colleague Galen Guengerich starts with what we know scientifically about the universe, and then moves – without supernatural, magical thinking – into how this knowledge can guide us religiously in creating a life of meaning and purpose.  RE Teachers and Volunteers will be recognized.


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May 29, 2016  "Taps" Len Yutkins

A short melody of only 24 notes but so many memories. Len Yutkins will reflect on Taps from both a historic and personal point of view. A fitting topic on Memorial Day Sunday.


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May 22, 2016  "Roots and Wings" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis & Murray Youth

It is our annual bridging ceremony where we bid an official goodbye to the three high school seniors who will be graduating this year and bless them as they move into the next chapter of their lives. We will also be symbolically welcoming our eighth graders as they bridge up to the senior high youth group for next year. The teens will help co-lead this service.


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May 15, 2016  "Random Acts of Love and Kindness" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

What if we did something nice or needed for someone else at least once a day, but anonymously?  We didn’t expect recognition or thanks in return.  It could be something as simple as washing someone else’s dishes left in the sink, or picking up litter from the sidewalk, making an anonymous donation, or leaving a chocolate on a coworker’s desk.  How might these secret acts of kindness change the way we feel about ourselves and other people? How might they express living our religious values out loud to brighten lives and help make this world a kinder, gentler place?  


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May 8, 2016  "Celebrating Love and Nurture" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It’s Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate not only the love and nurturing of the mothers and grandmothers in our lives, but to appreciate the often challenging, extremely important work of parenthood in general, and how, as a community of faith, we help to nurture and support families.  This will be a multigenerational service.   


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May 1, 2016  "Spiritual, Not Religious" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Church attendance is down across nearly all denominations – except our faith! -- as a significant number of Americans are searching for the sacred anywhere but in a church.  They claim to be “spiritual, but not religious.”  But what does this mean?  Let’s explore this self-styled spirituality based on the insight and wit of Lillian Daniel, author of “When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ is Not Enough.”


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April 24, 2016  "Earth Day: Think Globally, Act Locally" presented by Roy Belcher and Charlie Adler

Framed against the global problem of climate change, we will celebrate the local work of the Attleboro Land Trust, as they preserve and protect wilderness acreage in our community.  In this way, the Attleboro Land Trust is helping to mitigate one small part of the world’s carbon footprint issues and provides a template for other communities to do the same. Murray members Charlie Adler, one of the founders of the Attleboro Land Trust and Roy Belcher, the Land Trust treasurer, help co-lead worship.  Our dedicated offering will also be taken to benefit the Attleboro Land Trust. Learn more about the Attleboro Land Trust.


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April 17, 2016  "Open Arms or Closed Doors" presented by Shelley Stark and Monica Staaf

The immigration question. We are a community and nation of immigrants. Striving for our own piece of the pie we seek a path to carve out our own space from a world of others. When some of us or our ancestors first settled here we came with our hopes and dreams for a new life. Some of us were forced to come and had to forge a path to freedom. But many have found the road to a new life hard and unforgiving. What does it mean to welcome immigrants? What does it mean to secure the lives of those who seek freedom and prosperity? Are we big enough to expand our hearts and our policies to give others the opportunities we enjoy? Or is there no room at the inn?


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April 10, 2016  "Continuing to Wake Up White (Part 2)" by Rev. Gretchen Weis

In February, we explored the first part of Debbie Irving’s groundbreaking work, “Waking Up White.”  Her teachings reminded us that white people do, indeed, have a race, and how white dominant culture shows up in our culture.  In this second sermon, Irving leads us deeper into white dominant culture ways of thinking and behaving that builds more walls than bridges, hampering our best efforts to help dismantle racism.  Irving gives us hope that with greater awareness, we can become more effective allies in this important work. 


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April 3, 2016  "Living in the Questions" by Rev. Gretchen Weis

Our faith encourages us to learn to love living with the larger questions of life, as we live our way over time and experience into answers.  What are the big questions you currently walk with as you seek to deepen the meaning and shape of your life?  What additional questions might you add to your list?  Our sermon is inspired by the poet Rilke, who challenges us:  “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…  Live the questions now… Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”


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March 27, 2016  "Easter Sunday: Love Never Dies" by Rev. Gretchen Weis

Today is our multi-generational Easter Sunday service, where we celebrate the metaphors of resurrection in this season of blooming.  We open with a reading by Victoria Weinstein titled "Being the Resurrection" followed by a trio of homilies: "There once was a goddess names Eastre," "Celebrating the Return of Spring." and "The Promis of Easter: Love Never Dies."


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March 20, 2016  "Beyond Palms and Parades" Guest Minister, Rev. Ann Fox

Holy Week and the journey of Lent are about an alternative…journey…on the path of personal transformation. Scholars Borg and Crossan explore the symbolism and metaphors of the Easter story to see what the Gospels really have to teach about Jesus’s ministry and his final days in Jerusalem.


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March 13, 2016  "Kindness and Generosity by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Generosity is a way of life -- a willingness to share the gifts of our time, our talents and our treasure to create the common good and serve needs greater than our own. On Stewardship Sunday, we explore generosity as a spiritual practice, as we lift up and celebrate the wonderful generosity of this Beloved community.

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March 6, 2016  "Exodus: Ready, Set, Go" with Guest Speaker, Tony Smith

The Religious Services Committee welcomes Tony Smith, founder and executive director of New Start Project, an advocacy group for career development of returning citizens, will speak on justice reform in Massachusetts.

New Start Project advocates and supports the successful reintegration of people recently released from incarceration back into their communities and works to reduce recidivism through  job referral and placement, mentoring, and community building. leadership and policy advocacy.

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February 28, 2016  "Mother of Us All: A New Look at Eve and the Serpent" by Guest Minister Rev. Richard Trudeau 

A careful reading of the story shows that it is NOT about sin or the inferiority of women. It is, in fact, a very UU story, and Eve is the hero!

Rev. Richard Trudeau served for 17 years as the minister of the UU Church of Weymouth. He also taught math and the history of astronomy at Stonehill College in Easton for 35 years. His latest book is Bible Stories for Skeptics. He is married to Susan O'Connor, who works at a non-profit that teaches computer skills to residents of Roxbury.


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February 21, 2016  "Waking Up White" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Systemic racism is huge, it's everywhere, and often white folks feel helpless in the work to dismantle it.  How can we be more effective in the fight against racism?  In her groundbreaking book, Waking Up White, Debby Irving challenges white people to turn inward and examine first what it means to be a white person in today's America.  To paraphrase Irving:  "Growing up, I thought race was about people of color -- Asian, African American, American Indian, and Latino, those were the real races. White was the raceless race -- just plan, normal, the one against which all others were measured."  Come join us as we take a closer look at America's dominant culture.


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February 14, 2016  "Choosing Open Eyes" by Guest Minister, Rev. Karen Johnston

How do we choose between savoring the world and saving it?  How do we keep our eyes open when we put our foot in our mouth? Let's explore how to be clumsy and how to begin again in love.


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February 7, 2016  "Make Time for Laughter and Play" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

When was the last time you had a really good laugh?  You know, the kind of deep, belly laugh that goes on and on and often brings tears to your eyes?  In the words of colleague L.M. Montgomery, a good laugh is as good as a prayer sometimes.  Life can be hard at times: challenging, sorrowful.  Our spirits need laughter, delight, silliness and play from time to time, to let go, feed our hope and refresh our perspective.  The average child laughs 400 times a day, the average adult, 18.  How about a little bit of laughter, play and silliness to brighten your spirits?


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January 31, 2016  "Leaning Into Discomfort" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

What lessons does discomfort have to teach us?  When we are out of our comfort zone, our first instinct is to pull back, retreat.  Yet Buddhist monk Pema Chodron reminds us that our spiritual challenge is to lean into and become fully present when we find ourselves uncomfortable.  We are called to live with our discomfort, to pay attention and to learn.  Winter is a physical uncomfortable time of the year for me – I find myself pulling back, dreading the cold weather to come.  As a spiritual exercise, I am leaning into my seasonal crankiness.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far.


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January 24, 2016  "Living a Life of Beauty" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It is easy to dismiss beauty as something frivolous.  But isn't it so much more?  Has the experience of something beautiful - from a favorite piece of music, to a painting, a sunset, a flower, or a beautiful poem - ever pulled you into relationship with something larger than yourself? Helped sustain you through difficult times?  Helped to heal your own brokenness, or helped to repair a piece of our world? How does the gift of beauty nourish the deepest parts of ourselves and help us fall back in love with life?


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January 17, 2016  "An Irish Ceili" a Murray Church Music Committee presentation

Music is such an important element in Irish expression. Here, the Murray Church Musicians present the music of Ireland from the 17th century to the present. Many thanks Tom & Sandy Stuart and all the others who donated their time and talent to this tremendous effort. Songs include "The Rocky Road to Dublin," "The Minstrel Boy," 'The Famine Song," "Molly Malone," "Mo Ghile Mear (My Gallant Darling)," "The Parting Glass" and "Denis Murphy's Polka."


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January 10, 2016  "Fire Communion" Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

What old habits or behaviors might be holding you back? What expectations, beliefs or stories have you outgrown or no longer serve you? Growth and deepening -- letting go of the old to make room for a new, fresh start -- is a natural rhythm of life. Join us for our annual Fire Communion, as we release the old and welcome in new blessings for the New Year ahead!


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January 3, 2016  "Slow Down, Savor" Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It's another New Year, a time when many of us look at our waistlines, and make resolutions to shape up and get fit in the year ahead. Buddhist monk Jan Chozen Bays, MD challenges us to be more mindful of our relationship with food. She offers a variety of suggestions from listening more carefully to our bodies' hunger cues, to being more fully present to each bite, slowing down to savor and truly enjoy the food we eat. Come to explore eating as not only an essential biological need, but also as an intentional spiritual practice. 


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December 27, 2015  "Kwanzaa Celebration"" the Mixed Magic Theater & the Religious Services Committee

Mixed Magic Theater of Pawtucket, RI returns to share the rich spiritual tradition and principles of Kwanzaa through dramatic storytelling and music.


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December 20, 2015  "What Are We Waiting For?" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

This is the season of advent, the season of waiting.  The season of expectation that something good, something important is about to unfold.  Our Christian friends await the birth of a messiah, a savior.  As Unitarian Universalists, what do we anticipate?  What do we hope for?  What do the spiritual lessons of patience and waiting have to teach us?  Murray Church children will also share a little holiday joy during worship..

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December 13, 2015  "The Angels of Our Better Nature" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Believe it or not, we live in the safest time to be alive in the history of the world. The incidence of violence is actually declining in the world. A look at the work of Professor Steven Pinker explains why and gives us hope.

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December 6, 2015  "The Festival of Lights" Rev. Gretchen E. Weis w/ Leah Cardullo and Max Volterra

Hanukkah begins at sundown. This Sunday, we celebrate our Judeo-Christian heritage with a retelling of the Maccabee story and the dedication of the new temple during the annual festival of lights.

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November 29, 2015  "Delight or Dread?" Liz Lamaoureux & the Religious Services Committee

In today's service, Liz shares stories and stratagems to help us navigate through the holiday season.

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November 22, 2015  "We Come with Praise and Thanks" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Please join us for our traditional multigenerational Thanksgiving service, featuring cornbread and cider communion. 

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November 15, 2015  "New Beginnings" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

OK, everyone, take a deep breath.  Today is the first day of the rest of our church life.  After 43 years, the Markman daycare will be officially moved out of the back half of our building.  Another Holiday Fair has ended, to great success.  We are blessed as, together, we reclaim, repair, refurbish, re-imagine and re-energize our Religious Education wing classrooms, first and foremost for our children, youth and teens.  And, we will be able to house a variety of adult religious classes, fun and fellowship activities, programs and other meetings during daytime and evening hours.  Our Religious Education offices will move to the larger offices vacated by Markman. Our Food Pantry will move to significantly new quarters in Room 7 by the back door.  The old Nursery can be turned into a Library, which might also serve as another meeting room.  In this season of thanksgiving, let us be grateful for the gift of fresh starts and new beginnings.      

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November 8, 2015  "Nickel and Dimed - Living on the Edge by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich went underground for a year, working a series of minimum wage jobs to see how difficult it would be to make ends meet.  Her goal was to report first hand on the challenges of today’s income inequality gap.  Living in different parts of the country, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, and a clerk at Walmart.  And she struggled – she was never able to meet even the basic needs of food and safe shelter, no matter the region, no matter the job.  How can we help the millions of hard-working, working poor folks living on the edge?      

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November 1, 2015  "To Be Enough"  Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

We live between the extremes of having or being everything and nothing. One Holocaust survivor told the story years later of two objects that sustained her during that time: She carried a crust of bread hidden on her person, and a broken piece of comb. The bread was in case someone needed it more than she did, and she used the broken comb fragment to comb her hair every day to affirm her humanity. What small thing do we each carry, whether an object or a hard-won piece of wisdom, that we can give to others to help sustain them?  And what do we carry or do each day to affirm our inherent worth and dignity?

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October 25, 2015  "Our Five Promises"  Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

What does it mean to live our religious values out loud in the world?  When we align our lives and our values with the seven principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism, we are making five core promises:  to live relationally, to live ethically, to live pluralistically, to live evangelistically and to live globally.

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October 18, 2015  "To Walk with One Another in the Ways of Truth & Love"  Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Our faith ancestors -- the religious refugees who set foot on New England soil beginning in early 1600s, came to found a new kind of church. A free church, governed by the members themselves, with no bishop or other clerical hierarchy in charge. These hardy Pilgrims chose covenant as the cornerstone of their self-governance. Covenants were promises of commitment and loyalty, to walk with one another in the ways of Truth and Love. And our faith forebears agreed that covenants needed to be revisited, reconceived, and reformed from time to time to keep the promises we make to one another fresh and vital in our lives. "Love is the spirit of this church..." 

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October 11, 2015  "Where is Home?"  by Janet Richardi

Homelessness is the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." Living in the Northeast it is particularly easy to empathize with the homeless; the bitterly cold nights signature to our region - when you arrive home and are welcomed by the warm and cozy place you call home - it is in those moments that your heart aches for those who must brave the cold night in a tent under the bridge with no end in sight.

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October 4, 2015  "Could You Forgive?"  by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Simon Rosenthal was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration work camp. One day, a dying Nazi  soldier, a member of the SS, confesses to Weisenthal a horrible act of cruelty he participated in, against some Jewish prisoners. He asks Weisenthal to forgive him. Weisenthal is stunned. Was forgiveness even possible? What would you do?

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September 27, 2015  "All You Need is Love" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It was 245 years this week that John Murray set foot on American soil and preached the very first Universalist sermon.  A new faith movement was born, preaching of a God of Love with no exceptions.  This theology of love has evolved for more than two centuries, from personal salvation to social salvation, from the concept of an afterlife to life here and now, and from the love of people to the love of the planet and the interconnected web of all life.  Our theological heritage informs a vision of a world made whole:  faith without dogma, hope through action, and all inclusive, all embracing love that changes lives.  

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September 20, 2015  "The Inner and Outer Weather of Our Lives" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

We make much of the changing weather outdoors.  But what about the inner and outer weather of our lives?  Our outer weather we experience daily — in our encounters with others at work, school or home.  But what of our inner weather?  It signifies the workings of the spirit.  It measures the meaning of our lives.  It enables us to endure, prevail and thrive, no matter what twists, turns and fortunes life hands us.  How is your inner weather?  Bright and sunny?  Fair to partly cloudy?  Or, is there a storm passing through?  Inspired by a reflection by Richard Gilbert.    

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September 13, 2015  "Water Communion Ingathering" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

We gather to celebrate the start of the new church year with our traditional Water Communion Ingathering service.  People are invited to bring a small water sample to pour into our communal ingathering bowl.  Our water samples are symbolic of where we have been and what we experienced over summer break.  Water samples can come from a far away vacation spot, from a day at a nearby beach, or from as nearby as your kitchen sink or backyard garden hose.  And don’t worry if you forget to bring a water sample.  Pouring imaginary symbolic water into our collective gathering bowl is encouraged and welcomed!      

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September 6, 2015  "Finding Sabbath" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

We live "plugged in" lives. Often over stimulated, over scheduled, and utterly exhausted. Whatever happened to the spiritual discipline of Sabbath  -- carving out intentional time at least one day a week to put away work in order to rest, reflect and restore our spirits for the week ahead? What can you do to unplug, unwind and reboot?

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