The Holy Ground – January 12, 2020 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Strangers and Holiness – January 5, 2020 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. The Magi came to Bethlehem, star gazers and scholars from the East, bringing wisdom and treasure from Iran. Many believe that their gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and gold were the reason that Jesus survived when he was a refugee in Egypt, because his family was very poor.
2. The new film “Harriet” was directed by Kasi Lemmons, who wrote the script with Gregory Allen Howard.
3. The notes about the tyranny of Herod come from an on-line article written by Allen Ross from Beeson Divinity School on the Visit of the Magi.
4. Krister Stendahl calls the Magi these “Visiting Ayatollahs from Iran” in “The Roots of Violence”, Paraclete Press.
5. “Stand Up” is the theme song to “Harriet”, written by Cynthia Erivo and Joshuah Campbell, and recorded by Cynthia Erivo.
Giving Things away – December 29, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
- The Quiltmaker’s Gift, by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken
- Psalm 148 describes how we are all connected: the thunder, the stars, the angels, the nations, the whales, the fruit trees.
- The poet David Whyte has written that our final challenge is to give ourselves away.
The Blessing of the Angels – December 24, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. From World War One’s Christmas Truce, by Christopher Klein.
2. The angels bring diverse messages and we sing their songs especially this Christmas Eve night:
Courage to the Shepherds
Justice to Mary
Mercy to Joseph
Self-restraint to John and his parents
Change and repentance to Jacob
3. It just took one soldier to sing one song, one church to send one box of candles, one teacher to teach a child how to speak a foreign language.
4.. On this Day, Earth Shall Ring, “Personet Hodie”, Piae Cantiones, 1582, arranged by Gustav Holst.
The hidden story of Christmas part 2 – December 22, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. Iroquois history, written by Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas) in his book “And Grandma Said… Iroquois Teachings
2. Mary’s Magnificat, Luke 1:46, the opportunity of the hungry to be filled, the blessing
3. Jesus, named as the Savior, rattled the Roman Empire badly
4. Jesus, called “King of the Jews” by the Magi, rattled Herod badly because he wanted to be the only King of the Jews
5. The historian Josephus, in “The Jewish Wars,” and “Jewish Antiquities”, in the first Century A.D.C.E. describes the death of Herod and the huge Jewish uprising as a result.
6. From Richard A. Horsley’s “In the Shadow of Empire”, 2008 Westminster John Knox Press.
7. “I Wonder As I Wander”, the old Appalachian Carol.
The hidden story of Christmas part 1 – December 15, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. Gaby Mann’s story comes from the BBC, The Girl Who Gets Gifts From Birds, by Katie Sewall, 2015.
See The Light Shining – December 8, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Hope – December 1, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. “Searching for Beauty” is adapted from a Jewish story written by Peninnah Schram, printed in Spinning Tales, Weaving Hope, New Society Publishers, 2002.
Jenny Slew—painting by Jillian Bemis, 2019
Silence – November 10, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Thou Shalt Not Kill – October 27, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. We write letters at First Church to prisoners, and we visit, to cry out against the unjust prison system in the United States, and to align ourselves with Christ’s statement “I was in prison and you visited me”.
2. Liz McAllister was part of the Kings Bay Plowshares Project. Most of the information for this portion of the sermon comes from “Democracy Now”.
3. Lo Tirsah, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, was explained by Dr. Marc Brettler, professor at Brandeis University, as “No Killing illegitimately”.
4. “We will do it and then we will understand it” is a theological reflection on the response of the Hebrews to the 10 Commandments, in Exodus 24, described by Professor Avivah Zornberg in her book “Moses, a Human Life”, as a part of the Jewish Lives Series, Yale University Press, 2016.
5. Kari Mashos writes for the Christian Science Monitor: as we reflect on “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, to understand it as a spontaneous and guiding force within us.
Freedom – October 20, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. “Let my People Go” is the theme of the book of Exodus.
2. Araminta Ross was born in Maryland in 1822, born into slavery.
3. Moses’ discomfort with being called by God is described by Avivah Zornberg in her book “Moses, a Human Life”, as a part of the Jewish Lives Series, Yale University Press, 2016.
4. This idea that your biggest problem is also your biggest gift is one that Zornberg describes in all of her books on the Torah.
5. Greta Thunberg, climate activist, also personifies this situation: that your handicap is your greatest strength.
6. Maimonides (1138 – 1204) is the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Medieval period. He describes Moses’ project of discovering a voice that is uniquely his, for the sake of Israel.
7. “And She Said Her Name Was Harriet Tubman” is Holly Near’s brilliant song from the 1970’s.
Doing the Right Thing – October 6, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
- “The Mosquito Extermination Project” is a folk tale from India, collected by folklorist Margaret Read MacDonald and published in her book “Earthtales”.
- The Scripture for the sermon comes from Genesis 9, the story of Noah’s difficulties after the flood.
- “My Paddle’s Keen and Bright” is a round written by Margaret Embers McGee in 1910.
Creation and Equality – September 29, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
- James Weldon Johnson, 1871 – 1938, was a poet, educator, musician, lawyer, civil rights leader, ambassador, and Secretary General of the NAACP.
- His poem/sermon “The Creation” is published in God’s Trombones, 1927. Republished, Random House 2018.
- His poem Deep in the Quiet Woodis published in Camille T. Dungy’s Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (University of Georgia Press: 2009).
- Lift Every Voice and Sing is a beloved anthem written by James Weldon Johnson and his brother John Rosamond Johnson, created in 1905 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
Searching for peace – September 15, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Treasure – August 18, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. This sermon is based on Matthew 6:19: “Set yourselves up for purses meant for heaven”. “For where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also”.
Is Anything Unforgivable? –July 21, 2019 – led by Rev. Tom Lenhart
The Good Enemy – July 14, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh and Harvey Cox
“Mixing Religion and Politics?” – July 7, 2019 led by Dr. Harvey Cox
“The embarrassingly messy, awkwardly bodily,politically vulnerable, funnily real parts of our faith” – June 23, 2019 led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
Hello World – led by Jason Wertz on June 16, 2019
Understanding – June 9, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
- Greta Thunberg, in Suyin Haynes’ Next Generation Leadersin Time Magazine, 2019.
- Pentecost in the Jewish Tradition: Jason Aronson’s Every person’s Guide To Shavuot, Www.myjewishlearning.com; retrieved June 8, 2019.
- Pentecost in the Christian Tradition: fromThe First Church Bible Study, Monday Mornings at 10. 1Meetinghouse Green, Ipswich MA, 01938.
- The Snowy Egrets Tabasco sauce man is Edward Avery McIlhenny, who was born on Avery Island, 1892.
https://www.tabasco.com/visit-avery-island/, retrieved Thursday, June 7, 2019.
- Spirit Of Gentlenessis by James Manley, 1975.
Photographer: Kerry Mackin
Hope – June 2, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. The Appalachian trail crosses several high huts in New Hampshire, and the Zealand Falls hut is open all year.
Tree of Life – May 26, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. Earl Shaffer wrote “Walking With Spring” in 1983, and it was published by the Menasha Ridge Press.
2. The Tree of Life as spiritual sustenance is in many places in Scripture; here we discuss it as John records it in Revelation 22.
3. Shinrin Yoku was described by the Japanese Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries in the early part of the 21st century.
4. Thoreau’s essay “Walking” was published posthumously in the Atlantic Magazine in 1862.
5. De o tino Helado, ne O Que Le Soon Wa is a song written by Rebecca from the Mohawk, “Give thanks to the trees”.
Discipleship – May 19, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1.The story of Julian comes from RJ Palaccio’s Auggie and Me – Three Wonder Stories, Alfred Knopf, 2015.
2.”Love will guide us”comes from Sally Rogers’s Album ‘Love Will Guide Us’- Thrushwood Press Publishing, 1985.
Hospitality – May 12, 2019 – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh
1. Egg and Spoon by Gregory MaGuire was published by Candlewick Press in 2014.
Trust — a message for First Church in Ipswich, May 5, 2019
1. John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Crossan: the Sea of Tiberias, a talk at “The Universal Christ” conference, Albuquerque NM, March 2019
2. St. Gregory, on prayer, from “The word is Very Near You” by Martin Smith: Cowley Publicatoins: 1989.
3. Unamuno. “San Miguel Buono, Martyr”. 1939.
4. James Taylor. “You can Close Your Eyes.” 1971.
Treasure – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on January 27, 2019
1. The notes on the ship Ada K. Damon, built in 1875 in Essex and wrecked in 1909 in Ipswich, come first from Gordon Harris’ excellent article “The Wreck of the Ada K.Damon” on the Historic Ipswich website. The wind measured 72 miles per hour on the night of the terrible storm.
2. The notes about coal replacing the wind-filled sail, to the wreck of the ship, come from Dan MacAlpine’s “Ipswich Wreck: An Information Treasure Trove”, in the “Ipswich Chronicle”, July 22, 2015.
3. The song comes through the Folk Tradition, taught by Audi Souza at the funeral of Bob Pigeon, originally from the poem “Crossing the Bar”, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Being present – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on July 29, 2018
Sin – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on July 22, 2018
Youth Sunday – a sermon led by our Youth Voices
Families – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on June 24, 2018
Strong Souls – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on June 17, 2018
Power – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on June 3, 2018
Suffering – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on May 27, 2018
Notes from Standing Rock – led by Ali McCormack
Up – a sermon about renewal led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on March 11, 2018
The Work goes on – An Easter Sermon, led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on April 1, 2018
Unity – led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on April 8, 2018
Damascus -God takes our bad habits, led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Pugh on April 29, 2018
“He was in the wilderness 40 days, tempted by Satan, and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” Mark 2: 12-13