March 2020: Wisdom

Dear Friends,

The theme for services during the month of March is Wisdom. March is also the start of our annual pledge drive so over the next month or so, you will hear brief statements from members of First Parish to hear what the congregation means to them and why they support the parish.

The wisdom one finds in a UU congregation such as First Parish is a wisdom from many sources. Over the years I have heard the wisdom of many of the great religions of the world as well as inspirational lessons from humanists and atheists. These lessons came not only from the people speaking in the pulpit, but also from the members of the parish. My children were raised in this congregation and learned life lessons that have made them the thoughtful, compassionate, and civic-minded young men they are today.

Each week just prior to the collection, we hear the words “We drink water from the wells we did not dig and sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.” An ancient Greek proverb says (loosely translated and updated for the modern world): “A society grows great when old men and women plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” I am grateful for the previous congregations of First Parish for keeping this place for me and for my family

JRR Tolkien said “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near one.” Friends, we cannot ignore the dragon represented by the financial difficulty of operating a small congregation, but we also cannot let the focus on that dragon keep us from continuing to live out our UU principles by our work in the broader community. My proudest days as a member of this church are the ones on which we do works for the greater community, be it lunches for MainSpring house, blankets for the family shelter, or holiday gifts for children in need. One of my favorite events was the 2019 Brewfest on the lawn, which not only provided a welcoming space for a community event, and not only raised about $600 for FPUC through the sale of food, but also because it raised over $800 for the local food pantry and an equal amount for the Stoughton Clean Energy Committee, through the proceeds of the event.

During this pledge drive, I would ask us all to consider what First Parish means to us and, therefore, what each of us might be able to contribute to the congregation. I cannot underscore enough the need for funds to run the operations of the parish, BUT I also know that we all have different financial means. And so I would ask each of us to consider not only contributions of funds, but also of time: time to help with the work of committees, time to help with fundraising and community events, and time to plan the fantastic services that we have seen since the start of the lay-led ministry of the parish and which continue to spread wisdom throughout the community.

Folksinger Bob Zentz, in the song “All the Good People,” sings
This is a song for all the good people,
All the good people who’ve touched up my life.
This is a song for all the good people,
People I’m thanking my stars for tonight.

I could not have said it better.

With gratitude for all you do.

Mark Racicot, Treasurer,
For the Board of Trustees