Murray UU Church
Sermons 2016-2017

505 North Main St, Attleboro, MA 02703
 Phone: 508-222-0505
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June 18, 2017  "Flower Communion" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

It's the last official Sunday of the church year - a time when we celebrate Flower Communion. It's also Father's Day, a time to honor the fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers and other men who love and nurture the children in their lives. Everyone of all ages is invited to bring a flower to add to the community-wide bouquet we build together at the front of the sanctuary. Your individual flower symbolizes the many gifts you bring to our shared life together here at Murray Church. After we bless our gathered bouquet, everyone is invited forward to take a different flower home with them, to symbolize the many gifts you receive here.

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June 11, 2017  "Reflections From Our Favorite Pond" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

He was a young 28-year-old bachelor, when he left traditional work behind to go live beside a small pond near Concord. Henry David Thoreau went to Walden Pond, to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life." In this bicentennial year of Thoreau's birth, let us celebrate this Spartan young man, his friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Unitarian Transcendentalists of his time, the two years he spent living close to nature, and his seminal work, Walden, a cornerstone of American nonfiction.

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June 4, 2017  "Celebrating 100 Years of Humanism" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

Rev. John Dietrich, a Unitarian minister, is considered the father of Religious Humanism. It was 100 years ago when he began to preach the radical notion that each of us is accountable for the possibility of human life in the here and now. We must not wait to be rescued or saved. The world can only bend towards love and justice when it is shaped by human hands. We are the powerful agents of salvation. Join us as we celebrate the development and evolution of Humanism and how it has influenced our faith movement over the past 100 years.

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May 28, 2017  "Remembering" Len Yutkins

Today, Len Yutkins takes a look at how we "support the troops," who is really at war, and what can be done to bring back the real meaning of Memorial Day.

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May 21, 2017  "Roots and Wings" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Join us for our annual bridging ceremony, where we will celebrate our two graduating high schoolers,Kenny Laferriere and Arlyss Milne. The service is co-led by Kavita Vansant, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education, and members of our Youth Group.

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May 14, 2017  "Mothers for Peace" David Egan

David Egan, the ministerial intern from First Parish Unitarian Universalist Canton will lead worship. While on this day we celebrate and honor the women in our lives, today David will focus on the origins of Mother's Day. This day was first created as a movement for peace by Julia Ward Howe as a response to the bloodshed of the Civil War. Let us not forget the original meaning of Mother's Day as we continue to struggle to find peace in our world today.

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May 7, 2017  "Unconscious Bias" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

We want to do a good job of welcoming in the stranger. But sometimes unconscious bias - those snap judgments we often make based on initial appearances - can get in the way of seeing the humanity of someone who is different from ourselves. We often have to get past our unconscious biases - and we all have them - before we can build meaningful relationships with people of other races, faiths and socio-economic or national backgrounds.  Thanks to the work of this church and our involvement in the Greater Attleboro Interfaith Network, the Attleboro Police Department will be among the first in the state to receive unconscious bias training, in an effort to overcome prejudice and discrimination in their work with all members of the community. As people of faith, what do we also need to know about unconscious bias, if we are to open ourselves to deeper, more meaningful relationships across difference with others.

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April 30, 2017  "What You Need to Know About Addiction" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

When a dose of heroin costs less than a pack of cigarettes, is it any wonder that we find ourselves in the middle of an opiate addiction epidemic? Our hearts break, as we have seen at least five drug overdoses touch the lives of people in this congregation over the past several years.  As people of love and faith, what do we need to know, and what can we do to help stem the tide of addiction? The service will include words from Jeremiah Falvey, Donna Palmer and Joel Piggott.

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April 23, 2017  "The Gift & Glory of Trees" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

This Earth Day Sunday, we celebrate the wonder and beauty of trees, essential life-sustaining partners in the interconnected web of life. This is a multi-generational  service. Kavita Vansant, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education leads us into a guided meditation, followed by our first reading by Bertha Young. Judy DePue, Chair of the Green Sanctuary Task Force next offers a reflection. Our second reading is by Maddie Galvin and Rev. Gretchen Weis offers the final reflection. 


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April 16, 2017  "The Empty Tomb" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

Resurrection and life after death: myth or reality? If Jesus' story had ended on the cross, chances are he would have been long forgotten - one more poor, illiterate Jew of thousands crucified by the Roman Empire. But the Easter stories - stories written 60 to 100 years after Jesus' death about Good Friday, an empty tomb, and about a resurrected Jesus appearing to some disciples after death - these stories would help nurture and spread beliefs that would become one of the world's largest religions today. So many of us might stumble on these tales, if we think of them as factual. Scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan challenge us to get beyond the question: did these things happen or not? And seek instead to explore: what might these stories mean?


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April 9, 2017  "Sharing Our Stories: Memories of Murray Church by Rev. Gretchen E Weis and members of Murray Church

Our church is blessed to have a quite a number of folks who grew up here in the congregation. In some cases, their parents and grandparents were also long-time members. Join us as several of our muti-generational members share their stories, and an appreciation for the many gifts thay have received by being a part of the Murray Church faith family.


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April 2, 2017  "Stronger Togther"  Dr. Umer Akbar

This Sunday, we focus on the work of AHOPE (Americans Helping Others ProspEr). Dr. Umer Akbar shares information about the volunteer work of AHOPE, which has helped to resettle more than 65 refugee families from Syria, the Sudan and other trouble hot spots in our area over the past year. Many in our congregation have given generous furniture donations to help settle the families. Several members of our congregation volunteer in other ways to welcome in these newcomers to our shores. Click here to learn more about AHOPE.


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March 26, 2017  "This is the End" Rev. Paul Sprecher

Death is hard to talk about, but it touches us all.  If we can bring ourselves to accept its reality, we can focus each day on the love we want to share and to leave behind us.


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March 19, 2017  "Community" Murray Writers Circle

We join communities for many reasons: to share common interests or values, for mutual support and friendship, for spirituality and more.  What does community mean to you and why are your communities important? Writers from the Murray community share their original work about community.


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March 12, 2017  "Our Giving Bears Fruit" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

You are a wonderfully generous people, whose gifts of time, talent and treasure continue to build an active, energized, committed church community, filled with love and care. Join us for our traditional Stewardship Sunday, when we lift up and celebrate the many ways we contribute to the creation of Beloved Community, together.


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March 5, 2017  "Shaping Worth" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

The ancient root of the word "worship" means to shape worth and meaning, to honor what is most worthy. As we gather to worship together, why do we do what we do each Sunday morning? What do the different elements of our service symbolize? What theological statement do we make in our call to worship? What about our shared rituals, such as lighting the chalice or sharing stones of joys and concerns? Why do we sing hymns? And what is that benediction at the end of each service all about? Come join us, as we explore the whys and hows of our worship experience, as we come together to shape and honor the worth and meaning of our lives? The congregation will pick your favorite hymns to sing.


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February 26, 2017  "Living Our Faith" David Calusdian

As Unitarian Universalists, we promote 7 Principles that we use to guide our lives. But what do these Principles mean in practice? How do we really "live our faith?" At Murray, we do this in many ways, and this service will explore how we as a church community and as individuals, really do live our faith. We'll hear from seven different members of our church family on how each Principle is "lived" at Murray Church. Today's speakers include Sandy Stuart, Janet Richardi, Kenny LaFerriere, Len Yutkins, Charlie Adler, Bruce Field and Judy DePue.


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February 19, 2017  “"The New Better Off" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

What's happened to the American Dream? For the first time in history, the majority of American parents don't think their kids will be better off than they were. Very few people work at the same career, or for the same company all of their work life. Salaries no longer leap frog in increases from generation to generation. And far less people are able to afford home ownership today. In her book, The New Better Off, journalist Courtney Martin, asks the question:"What constitutes the 21st Century good life?" Is a new American Dream possible? And, if so, what would it look like? By what metrics might we measure the quality of our lives?


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February 12, 2017  “"Be Still, and Know..." by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

When was the last time you actually sat in stillness? Found a quiet, centered space, amid the busyness, the bustle, the digital noise of your life?   How long has it been since you heard that still small voice within? Many religions encourage the faithful to look outside themselves to discover truth and meaning. Ours is a faith that directs us to turn inward if we are to continue to know and rediscover who we are and what we hold to be true and meaningful about ultimate wonder and mystery. This is the Talent & Treasure sermon topic selected by Len Yutkins for his winning bid in last spring's silent auction.


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February 5, 2017  “"Finding Hope" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

Hope. How the human heart yearns to believe we can be delivered from our current loss, grief, pain and suffering -- to be restored to a future of wholeness and happiness once more. Yet one person can't "make" another feel hope. We can only provide the encouragement and support to help another choose hope for themselves. What are the wellsprings of hope that lift and encourage you when times get tough? What helps you endure?


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January 29, 2017  “"Let's Talk About Sin" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

Religious liberals often avoid talking about the problems of sin and evil, because if we did, we would be forced to examine our own capacity to inflict damage and harm.  What does the concept of sin mean to our faith?  And how does the religious humanist tradition help inform our moral decision making?


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January 22, 2017  “Whose Are We?" by Rev. Gretchen E Weis

When we ask the question, "Who am I?" it can often lead to a deeper question: "Whose am I?" Our personal identity is defined by relationship. Who needs you? Who loves you and whom do you love? To whom are you accountable? Whose lives are altered by your choices? Quaker teacher Douglas Steer reminds us that our lives are transformed by the bonds we create and keep with others. In our faith, those bonds are defined by covenant: the promises we make to one another to create relationships built on mutual respect, trust and caring. In a world growing more rude and cruel each day, it is no small thing to pledge to treat one another with kindness.


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January 15, 2017  “Thanksgiving - Moment by Moment" by Werner John

Werner John presents musical exploration of the American holiday and what it can teach us about life. Selections include live Native American flutes. His new composition, "A Thanksgiving Suite" for Native flute and drum, harpsichord and cello is presented in it's entirety following his sermon.

Werner John is an independent musician and recording artist specializing in wood flutes. He currently lives in Vermont.


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January 8, 2017  “Fresh Start, New Beginnings" Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Are there some behaviors and habits that are holding you back?  What beliefs, expectations or stories have you outgrown, or no longer serve you?  Shedding the old to make room for growth and deepening is a natural part of the rhythm of life.  Come join us for our traditional New Year’s fire community, as we write down what we would like to let go of, and release it into our communal burning bowl to make room for a fresh start and new beginnings in the year ahead.         


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January 1, 2017  “Starting Over" Religious Services Committee

There comes a point in your life when you realize that turning the the page is the best feeling in the world because there is so much more to the book than the page you have been stuck on. Welcome the New Year with stories of starting over, original poetry and music for a fresh start!


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December 18, 2016  “Jesus: The Radical Rabbi" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

How did Jesus, the revolutionary rabbi of first century Galilee become Jesus the hrist? In his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, scholar Reza Aslan explores the historic Jesus of Nazareth, and the two competing camps that began to shape entirely different meanings to his life, his teachings and his death following the crucifixion. An interesting look at how the Jesus-as-God narrative ended up as the winning story of the early church.  


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December 11, 2016  “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

This is the third Sunday of lent, where we are reminded to pledge ourselves anew to the some of the hardest work of all - creating peace on earth. Peace among humankind begins with peace in our own hearts.


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December 4, 2016  “Finding the Sacred in the Season" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

The season of over-doing is upon us. We are pressed at every turn to over-commit, over-schedule, over-spend, and over-indulge in food and drink. Many of us may no longer find a religious connection to the stories and traditions of Christmas. What do you find sacred in this time of year? How can we stay centered and nurture our spirits as the mother of all holidays is about to catch us up in the swirling whirlwind of holidays past, future and present   


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November 27, 2016  “Peace on Earth" by Rev. Richard Trudeau

This sermon offers a meaning of Christmas that we can hold onto while the tidal wave of commercialization washes over us.

Rev. Richard Trudeau was for 17 years the minister of the UU Church of Weymouth, and for 35 years a teacher of math and the history of astronomy at Stonehill College in Easton. 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, Massachusetts.     


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November 20, 2016  “Choosing Gratitude" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Come join us for our traditional multi-generational cornbread and cider Thanksgiving worship service.       


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November 13, 2016  “Gratitude for Those Who Serve" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

From the front lines in World War II, to the Korean War, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as peacetime, - our church is home to those who have served the nation as veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces during these conflicts. We pause to honor the sacrifice and service of those veterans, and their families, as well as those who served in peacetime. In this season of gratitude, let us be thankful for this sacrifice and service.     


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November 6, 2016  “Who Loved You Into Being You?” by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It is that time of the year when many faith traditions and cultures honor the memory of ancestors.  On this Sunday, let us remember and honor those in our lives, both living and dead, who nurtured, encouraged, challenged and inspired us to become the people we are today, including teachers, scout leaders, coaches, ministers, Sunday School teachers, family members, neighbors and friends.     


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October 30, 2016  “The Season of Inbetween” by Rev. Sandra D. Fitz-Henry

The ending of the summer season and the falling of leaves often stir memories of times past; losses - joys, sorrows. In many cultures there are customs and traditions which reflect this seasonal change and suggest that, at such transitional times, a kind of passageway occurs which invites the life that has died in previous years to re-emerge from the spirit world. What might some of these customs and traditions suggest about All Hallows' Eve -- about darkness, fear and playfulness?


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October 23, 2016  Into the Locker Room” by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

I had another sermon planned, but given recent events, I cannot remain silent about a systemic culture that encourages the objectification, harassment and abuse of women.  We will focus on the issue, not on any candidate, past or present.  But, yah, we’re going there.  Into the locker room.

Note:  This sermon talks about sexual abuse, assault, rape and harassment.  Please consider the sensitive nature of this topic and take good care of yourself before deciding to listen to the sermon.


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October 16, 2016  To Forgive, And Begin Again In Love” by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Yom Kippur, the annual Jewish high holy day of atonement, was celebrated around the world earlier this week.  Considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, people of that faith are asked to reflect and to make amends for harm they might have done to others and to themselves in the year just past.  But isn’t this a good spiritual discipline for people of all faiths?  Let us make time ourselves to pause, reflect, and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with those whose feelings or fortunes we may have harmed, even unintentionally.  In our faith, it is never too late to forgive ourselves and each other, and to begin again in love. 


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October 9, 2016  "Being Muslim in America, Today" by Dr. John Robbins

Today, Muslims in America find themselves faced with a multitude of challenges: from hostile work environments, prejudice by law enforcement, and bullying at school to widespread unfamiliarity with, and even outright hostility toward, their religion. In an environment in which hate crimes against Muslims and mosques are at record highs and many Americans view their Muslim neighbors with suspicion, it is more urgent than ever to build bridges and show the deep connections between communities that are too often presented as fundamentally opposed. Being a Muslim in America today means confronting real fears and prejudices, but also embracing an opportunity for increased engagement and sharing the hope for a future filled with greater love, hope, and understanding.


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October 2, 2016  "The Heart of Democracy" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

It is not enough that we have the right to vote.  Our faith, and our fifth principle, call us to action – to register and vote our conscience in local, state and national elections.  Yet, as our electoral process becomes ever more polarized, we seem to be talking past one another, instead of with one another.  Quaker educator and pacifist Parker Palmer, in his book Healing the Heart of Democracy, believes we must engage in respectful dialogue across our political differences.  We must seek and identify the common ground we share, if we are to preserve the best of democracy and tackle effectively the many challenging issues we face as a nation here at home and abroad.


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September 25, 2016  "We are Held in Love" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

This is John Murray Sunday, when the birth of American Universalism is celebrated.  It was on September 30, 1770 that John Murray preached his first sermon in America -- introducing the theology of universal love, forgiveness and salvation — in a small meetinghouse on Thomas Potter’s farm on the shores of the New Jersey colony.  It is an extraordinary story how the two men met, and a new, uniquely American religion was born.  This church began as a Universalist congregation.  Come learn more about the man whom our church’s name honors.


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September 18, 2016  "Pilgrim's Progress" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

This summer, I participated in a minister’s pilgrimage to Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains in modern-day Romania – one of the European birthplaces of our Unitarian faith. What does it mean to be a pilgrim?  Pilgrims are called to open their hearts to mystery and wonder.  A pilgrim must also be willing to experience discomfort, because it is when we are most uncomfortable, we open ourselves to the possibilities of transformation.  Looking back on my two week pilgrimage, where did I experience wonder and mystery?  When was I most uncomfortable, and how was I transformed?


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September 11, 2016  "Ingathering Water Communion" by Rev. Gretchen E. Weis

Welcome to the start of a new church year!  People are invited to bring a small water sample from as far away as your summer travels to as close as from your own backyard garden hose or kitchen faucet.  We will combine our individual water samples into the ingathering bowl to symbolize the shared blessings of our community life together here at Murray Church.  This will be a multigenerational service.

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