First Unitarian Church of Worcester

Sermons, Memos and other writings from the newsletter and worship services of the First Unitarian Church of Worcester. The First Unitarian Church is located at 90 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Our phone is 508-757-2708 and our webpage is A audio CD is produced for almost every one of our regular services. Call our office or send a note to the office at our website to request that one be shipped to you.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

"My Last Memo" by Rev. Tom Schade

This is it – my last memo before I get a puppy.

Tonight my older daughter will deliver a little puppy to us. A little apartment sized dog, but just a puppy. By the time you read this, we will be deep into puppy ownership. We have picked out a tentative name, but are waiting for her input when she gets here.

Sue and I thought that we needed someone lively around the house. We even wanted to have someone that we could take care of.

We are hoping that our little dog will be suitable for our living situation and life style. We realize that someone watching the way that we live, would think that a “suitable animal roommate” would be one who might put dinner on the table when we come home late, do the dishes and run errands when needed.

We will settle, however, for a friend who loves us unconditionally, and makes a sincere effort toward being housebroken.

In all honesty, I have never wanted to be one of those ministers who writes, talks, preaches, teaches and prays about his dog all the time. You know the kind that draws deep inspiration from the doings of his dog. The preacher who salts his sermon illustrations about how his dog exemplifies faithful service, and peppers his reflections with how God will always take us for a walk when we can stand it no more. Such theologizing about one’s dog or cat always struck me as a cheap ploy to appear human, and even likeable, which we all know is a slippery slope.

But now I am getting a dog, so a new revelation may be at hand. In a couple of weeks, I might be planning a dog biscuit communion for one of next year’s summer services.

But in these last few hours of pre-puppy sanity, I want to remember some of the questions that UU ministers get asked all the time:

Questions like:

  • How can a church not have a creed?
  • Is it true that you can believe anything you want and be a Unitarian?
  • Are you trying to combine all religions into one?
  • Why can’t answer a simple question like “Are you Christians?” with a simple yes or no?
  • Is it true that some Unitarians don’t believe in God? Why do they go to church?
  • Unitarian Universalism – that’s 11 syllables, what is the short version of what you believe?
  • How come there are so many Buddhists in your church?

And then there are the questions, all ministers get asked:
  • What does God want from me?
  • Will God really forgive my sins?
  • Does it matter if I go to church, if I am trying to live a good life?
  • Can I be spiritual but not religious?

You only have to come by the First Unitarian Church in Worcester once to know that our way of being religious is not a new wrinkle. We have been worshipping in the Unitarian manner for over two hundred years here and longer elsewhere.

Modern Unitarian Universalism arises out of a rich and detailed tradition of theological thinking. It is an interconnected set of answers to some of the most troubling questions in religious life, including how to sustain religion that does not become rigid, stultified and eventually oppressive to the human spirit.

If you feel the need to understand the theology and history of Unitarian Universalism more fully, you may be interested in attending the “First Unitarian School of Theology and History”.

There will be a series of classes held about every other week at 9 AM on Sunday.

We will start by listing the most troublesome theological words we know and then systematically exploring how liberal religions has approached the underlying questions.

I hope that you will be able to join us for as many of the sessions that interest you.


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