Dear Members and Friends of First Parish Church:
Tomorrow will be my last Sunday with you. I have changed the topic of the sermon to “Love the Hell Out of the World” to fit with the sermon the I preached on June 3rd. In that sermon I suggested that part of ministry with you had been organized around three questions: Why does the First Parish Church exist? What difference does it make in your lives? What difference does it make in the wider world? On June 3rd I offered one way to answer those questions. Tomorrow I will offer another.
As part of the service there will be a second special collection to support the UUA’s Practice and Promise Campaign. The first special collection caught a few people off guard and we fell short of our fundraising goal. The Parish Committee decided hold a second special collection to give people who hadn’t yet had an opportunity to contribute to do so.
I am excited about the BBQ after the service on the common. It will be bittersweet for me. I have really loved the year that I have spent with you. It is difficult to say goodbye to your charming church building, historic graveyard, farms, farm houses, and greening woods.
After Asa and I left church on Sunday we visited with some members of the congregation who gave of us rhubarb and stumbled upon a small farm selling duck eggs, chicken eggs, and homemade teas. I also found a chicken-of-the-woods mushroom which the farmer was gracious enough to give me. The whole experience underscored just how special of a place Ashby is and how much we will miss being with you twice a month.
The poem I close with today will be used in the service tomorrow. It’s by the poet Kenneth Patchen. A few of the words aren’t quite pulpit appropriate and I’ll gloss them tomorrow morning. Here, however, is the poem in full:
“The Way Men Live is a Lie”
The way men live is a lie.
I say that I get so goddamned sick
Of all these pigs rooting at each other’s asses
To get a bloodstained dollar–Why don’t
You stop this senseless horror! this meaningless
Butchery of one another! Why don’t you at least
Wash your hands of it!
There is only one truth in the world:
Until we learn to love our neighbor,
There will be no life for anyone.
The man who says, “I don’t believe in war,
But after all somebody must protect us”–
Is obviously a fool–and a liar.
Is this so hard to understand!
That who supports murder, is a murderer?
That who destroys his fellow, destroys himself?
Force cannot be overthrown by force;
To hate any man is to despair of every man;
Evil breeds evil–the rest is a lie!
There is only one power that can save the world–
And that is the power of our love for all men everywhere.
PS In case you haven’t seen it, I had a piece in the most recent issue of the UU World. You can read “The Universalist Klansman” online.