Recent Sermons at First Church in Jamaica Plain

June 14, 2020: Pride Was a Riot
June 9, 2020: Perfectly Imperfect Participation
May 17, 2020: We Nurture Spiritual Growth
May 10, 2020: But Others Have it Worse
May 3, 2020: Rest and Joy
April 5, 2020: Unveiling
March 29, 2020: We Are One
March 15, 2020: Worship in a Time of Pandemic

Sermon Archive: 2015-2017


Sunday March 19, 2017

READINGS and SERMON Persist in Writing the Future  

Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris 

I begin with a worry and a word.


Here’s the worry.  One of the stated purposes of the current U.S. Administration is, as its Chief Strategist puts it, to deconstruct the administrative state.  The strategies for accomplishing this are many, including the dismantling of agencies, departments and programs that – for all their shortcomings – can help us move toward becoming that more perfect union. The budget proposal overview released by the Administration this past week proposes significant increases in military spending and significant cuts to “domestic programs” including meals on wheels for elders and school meal programs for children. On the way to deconstruction harm is being done, and will continue to be done to human beings, to the planet. This harm is collateral damage. Collateral damage. Every week.  Sometimes every day. Every time. Harm. 


Some who resist have the gift of focus – on a particular community, on an issue, on a strategy. Others who resist – and I am one – try to focus on keeping everything and everyone from harm.  It often feels like a game of “whack a mole.” Do you know that arcade game?  A cabinet with holes out of which mechanical moles emerge. The goal is to hit the mole with a mallet forcing it back into the hole. The faster moles are forced back into their holes the higher the player’s score. Whack the pipeline permit.  Whack the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Whack the immigration ban, refugee ban, Muslim ban. Whack the denial of health care. Whack the loss of Meals on Wheels.  Whack the gutting of the school nutrition programs.  It is exhausting.  I worry about the harm and the exhaustion.


Sunday February 5, 2017

Sermon Feeding Each Other

Rev. Marshall Hawkins


This community does many things well. But one of the things we do really, really well, I think, is a potluck dinner. Such a simple idea, but it works so fabulously. And like many simple ideas, it contains a lesson about how we can live together in a spirit of love and support.  

The term “potluck” originated in the Middle Ages in Europe. The practice of most folks at that time was to never throw away a food item. Leftovers from any meal would be put into a pot and kept warm. If neighbors or visitors stopped by, the host could feed them with what he or she had going in the pot at that moment. Taverns and inns in Medieval times would particularly follow this practice. When customers showed up for a meal, they took the “luck of the pot.” Thus, potluck.


In the late 19th century in North America, the meaning of potluck morphed into its current usage. One contributor to Wikipedia calls it “a communal meal, where guests bring their own food.” But this isn’t really quite it, is it? Because in a potluck we don’t bring our own food. We bring food for others. And others bring food for others. And together we create a feast in which all are fed through our collective gifts. A literal, edible metaphor. And a kind of miracle that gets acted out every time we do it. We arrive with a salad and are treated to a multiple-course meal.


Miracle stories about food are everywhere in scripture and mythology.


January 29, 2017 

READINGS and SERMON Loving the Hell Out of the World 

Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris

Loving the Hell Out of the World


Yesterday was quite a roller coaster – for those held in detention at airports, for those refused access to flights, for those refused access to family members, for those who face uncertainty and fear. Some relief came when a Federal Judge for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay halting the President’s Executive Order banning entry into the US from seven majority Muslim countries.  And more relief came this morning with a similar order from a Federal Judge in Boston. The phrase that became the prompt. . .and now rests at the heart of this morning’s sermon. . .is taking on more and more meaning. . and urgency. . with each passing day. 


The phrase – Love the Hell Out of the World – originated back in 2014 with Joanna Fontaine Crawford, minister of the Live Oak UU congregation in Austin, TX. 


Without scale, without ratio, without carefully allotting how much you will give versus how much you will receive. You love because you must. We work, in great passionate swoops and in slow, plodding routines we do not flee. Bone-chillingly afraid we may be, but we step forward. We are the only form love will take and the work is ours to do. Our job, our mission, is to take all of that love, all that overflowing, passionate, undying love and train it on the hell that exists in this world.  We are Unitarian Universalists -- from one source, to one destiny -- here to love the hell out of the world.


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First Church in JP, UU

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