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First Parish Universalist Church
790 Washington Street, P. O. Box 284, Stoughton, Massachusetts 02072 
(781) 344-6800
Worship: 10:30 AM
Children's Chapel:  10:30 AM
Church School: 10:45 AM
 

The Fabric of Our Lives

Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, April 17, 2005


It's funny how these minds of ours work. Our pasts never totally dessert us. The ties that bind us to the past are always there within us—like blocks upon a neatly-tied quilt, one after another. While we might think we’ve moved beyond them, or left them in the past-- sometimes the least little spark can reenergize them and-- and bam!-- there we are, back where we thought we'd never be again.

The fabric of our lives is a seamless garment; and it extends back, as well as forward. The past is as much of its warp and woof as whatever we do today. And truly, what a gift of grace it is to be able to summon them up all those gifts of the past, and to have them touch our lives so gently with their smile-- as though to remind us of just what a precious gift this life is. Life is even more precious than this beautiful quilt we celebrate today, unique and exceptional symbol of our congregation and its community. Of course, we can't live in the past. But we can live with the past. The past lives inside of us still, through all the days of our sojourn on this Earth. And that can be a real blessing, as well as a real challenge.

But life does not go backwards. The inevitable, illimitable lesson of these lives we lead is that we have to learn to let go-- let go of so many things as time passes. Time hurtles into the future just as fast as some Batman roller coaster at Six Flags, and sometimes it sure seems as though there's somebody upstairs with His (or Her) finger stuck on the "fast-forward" button. Life goes not backward, and it sure doesn't tarry for anyone.

So it is that we are forging ties, right now, that bind us to the future, as well. A future that will be here before we know it. We need to leave ample space in our hearts (and even on our walls) for those who will come after us. These are the blocks of our life’s quilt that will show how well we have cared for our children… How well we have cared for one another… How well we have cared for the earth… The decisions we make today (the lives we lead right now) determine how vivid and how bright those future blocks on our quilt will be.

That's what hope is about: Hope is our willingness to do our work well today, so that tomorrow will be good for those who come after us. Hope is about strengthening the ties that bind us to one another-- and beyond one another, toward all others-- so that our ties to those who come after us will be firm and secure and life-supporting, and their memories will be sweet dreams of the past and not haunting nightmares. Hope is about measuring and blocking and cutting and sewing and quilting and binding for a finished product we may never see. Hope is about weaving a fabric of life that extends beyond us, and points toward all time.

Being a part of a church is a lot like rowing a boat (not something I have done much of either, but the image is a good one nonetheless). When you row a boat, you don't face the direction in which you're going. No, you face backwards. You look back, but move forward. That’s what being part of a church—or any caring community—is all about.

We look back toward where we've come: We behold and cherish and savor the wonderful stories of the dear souls who have worked hard through so many years to keep this special church going.

We love them still, even though, very often, we abide not with them any longer. We move forward, relentlessly and fearlessly and unashamedly, toward the future that our children (and our grandchildren) will inherit.

We move forward, while looking backwards.

Now, we have this precious church quilt hanging on our walls: an outward symbol of an inner reality; a living symbol of the fabric of life that binds us all, and of the web of life which connects us all. Reminding us to strengthen the ties that connect us to the past and to the future; and inspiring us to reach out and make new ties, and reconnect those that have been severed.

How magnificent this beautiful quilt truly is! How splendid the cast of characters that cross the paths of any of us in the course of our days upon this earth! With what an array of humankind we are blessed to share this earth! We seek to create ties so strong that neither differences in age or in lifestyle or circumstance, nor the passage of years, nor the divide of miles, nor even the passing away of dear, dear friends can ever untie.

How blest we are, my friends, to have this dear church of ours which makes these strong connections of our hearts and souls possible. How precious this church truly can be in the lives of all of us, if we let this church live through our hearts and our hands.

Amen.

 


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