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The Unitarian - July 20, 2023

Services are Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Parish Hall

FCB Sermon Archive

Visit this link for sermon recordings (summer services are not recorded).

From Your Minister

This is the beginning of my sermon from July 16th, podcast version coming soon…

I sat on the deck and felt like I was locking eyes with the bird.

We both breathed deep and seemed to say to one another,

“I know, right?”

One more deep breath and the bird was off, only to return moments later to the sweetly cacophonous little nest, cozied right outside the three season porch at a little house on a little lake.

I had just cooked and laid out one of many meals for my family, my own little baby birds and my beloved.

They had all eaten with the fervor and abandon of adventurers, and had left the table, off to more frolicking, and I breathed deep into a moment of rest.

And there was the bird, having just brought up some bugs or worms or other edibles, ready to head back out to find more, but it perched on a branch to catch its breath, away from the nest of open mouths and sweet, nonstop pleading.

It rested. I rested. A sweet moment.

It matters that we put it all down.

That we perch on the branch, that we rest from our exertions.

Especially now, as our attention is stretched, as we can be all the time engaged and connected, as we are so keenly aware of the need in the world, it matters that we put it all down.

I am getting better and better at this.

In part this is because I wasn’t very good at it to begin with.

In part this is because I love my work and my ministry, I love you all and the rest of our folks, I love our staff team and our creative collaborations.

There is so much possible, so much that we can do and create together, and still, we need, I need to put it all down for a while so that I can take it back up again with a refreshed mind and heart.

Every summer I have a bunch of books I sink into, a mix of things which you will hear about over the coming months, a few of which you will hear about today.

At the very beginning of my time off this year I found this book of meditations by Howard Thurman.

Thurman was the founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, the first interracial, interdenominational church in the United States. He was a poet, a mystic, a philosopher and a theologian. He also served many schools, working at Howard University School of Religion, Morehouse and Spelman College and finally at Boston University.

As I sank into the beginning of my time off, always a complex time, slowly letting go, slowly easing in, I found these words.

He writes,

“It is good to make an end to movement, to come to a point of rest, a place of pause. There is some strange magic in activity, in keeping at it, in continuing to be involved in many things which excite the mind and keep the hours swiftly passing. But it is a deadly magic, one is wise to not trust it with too much confidence.

The moment of pause, the moment of rest has its own magic. [We come] to that moment with all the confusion of [our] lives full upon us. At first only a tiny fragment of [ourselves] are we able to bring to this moment of pause…”

He continues,

“Often, there is a real struggle to call in one’s self from some phase of experience that has one deeply involved in a consuming fashion…The experience keeps claiming one’s thoughts, one’s unconscious attention.”[1]

I love how he says that there is some magic to activity, to being involved with things that excite the mind and keep the hours moving.

I get swept up in the hundreds of tasks of ministry, thinking of new ways to serve our mission, thinking of creative ways to engage and deepen.

There is a consuming magic, especially when you are passionately connected to the tasks before you.

But if we do not rest from that magic, it can be deadly.

It can lead to burnout, as we have seen in record numbers since the pandemic, ministers, teachers, so many people leaving their professions.

And so it matters that we are mindful of what truly restores us.

Thurman calls us to rest in the magic of the moment of pause.

This putting it all down.

This particular magic I approached on that porch in the morning hours.

With an expanse of water before me.

With the tiny noises of the hungry birds welcoming home their parent and their coming meal.

With the sound of fish rising and loons calling out in the distance.

And this pause magic is my prayer for you all this summer.

I am back, and your church is very much here for you.

We have great services every Sunday. Come by and check us out.

But do rest. Drink in this time.

So much love to you all,


[1] Thurman, Howard, “Meditations of the Heart” p.29

Meal Train for Family of Baby Rowan McNamara Garvie

Welcome to the world, Baby Rowan! In order to support your parents with some nutritious meals and free them up to spend time with you during the first few weeks of your precious life, we are setting up a meal train: friends, family, co-workers and community members will make dinner or order delivery for the family.

Ian and Clare live with Clare's mom, so please make enough food for three people. Please review the allergy/restrictions at the link below carefully. They also invested in a new freezer for make-ahead meals and leftovers.

Please feel free to email Marion Westgate with questions, and thank you for participating in this meal train. Clare and Ian are grateful for the support (and might just share some more baby pics as we go along!)

Meet the baby: Rowan Timothy McNamara Garvie DOB: 6/27/2023 at 11:43am. Clocked in at 7lbs 4oz.

Meet the parents: Clare McNamara is a Chorus Member at Handel+Haydn and a vocal artist with the Skylark Ensemble. Ian Garvie is the Director of Music at The First Church Belmont, Unitarian Universalist.

Second Friday Season Tickets Are On Sale!

The Second Friday Concerts 2023-24 Season is going to be amazing -- and Season Tickets are now on sale! Each season ticket grants you one admission to all Second Friday Concerts, Community Concerts and Classical Concerts at First Church and 100% of the net proceeds benefit our chosen charities. Visit our website to get yours today! Have a great summer!

Sandy Island Retreat: Register by August 31

Join us for a weekend of fellowship, reflection, relaxing, kayaking, games, tennis, shared meals, interesting conversation, bocce, swimming, volleyball, and fun. All are welcome.

Registrations are open till August 31. Register early, so we can book the whole island.

Questions? Email

Recurring Weekly and Monthly Programs

FCB Sangha: Mondays at 7:30 pm (online)

Contact: James Hencke

Meditation practice allows us to dwell in the present moment.

Social Action News

Updates on local Afghan families -- and requests for your continued help

The Sulaimanis, living in Arlington, welcomed Sophia in early May. Nearly 3 months, she is thriving. Arezoo, the rock of the family, will return from parental leave to her job in Cambridge this fall. Sami (a former dentist) is thrilled to begin a new position as a Dental Assistant at Boston University Dental Health Clinic in August. Seto, 8, has recovered well from an emergency appendectomy earlier this month. Subhan, 13, is thriving in school, taking piano lessons, and is an avid soccer player. Shayan, 18, graduated from Arlington High School in June. He has been working for more than a year at Dunkin' Donuts, and is beginning this at Bunker Hill Community College, where he plans to study business. Any contributions toward his college expenses would be greatly appreciated and can be made here:

The Bakhshis are settling into their new apartment on Flett Street in Belmont. Amin is working at Trader Joe's in Arlington. Zakirah, who has been working at Cheeky Monkey in Belmont Center, will be looking for a new job in the next few weeks. A new job will require additional training, which may require some financing. Asma, age 17, is taking English language classes in Cambridge this summer. Ali, age 14, is taking summer courses through the Boston Leadership Institute. Both would like some paid employment to help with family expenses. Contributions to supplement their rent, utilities, transportation, and other ongoing needs, especially in light of Zakirah's anticipated temporary unemployment and training, would be enormously helpful and can be made here:

Thank you for your past and continued support of these two families as they continue to rebuild their lives.

Thank you!

Kathy Crawley wishes to thank the Adult Programs Committee and the First Church community for a wonderful Book Launch and Dance Party on June 22nd. More than 125 attendees enjoyed delicious snacks provided by First Church friends, danced to Mid Life Crisis, and listened to a chapter from Kathy's novel "Walking on Fire." Several "outsiders" commented they wished they had a community like ours; one Chicago visitor is seeking out a UU church in her city. Thanks again for helping celebrate, purchasing a book, and for buoying Kathy's spirits!

>> A note about summer building use

In July and August, the entire church is rented from Monday - Friday by the BASEC Summer Camp program.

If you need to access the building during the summer, please contact Janice Zazinski, Congregational Administrator.

Summer staffing

Most staff are away during July and return to work in August.

Remote office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. The church office will be closed August 7 - 18 for vacation.

  • Call/text 781-400-4587

  • Email the church office

  • Mail to: 404 Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass. 02478

The Complete Calendar of Building Use

In July, we Share the Plate with PFLAG

PFLAG ​is the nation's largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. You can make a worship offering here, text the word “offering” to 617-819-8168, or mail a check to the church. Please make checks payable to The First Church in Belmont and write “offering” in the memo line.

In August we share the plate with the UU Urban Ministry.

Next Issue: Thursday, August 24

Please use this form to submit your news or event (you can upload photos and graphics and paste links to further information) by noon on Wednesday, August 23. Submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

The Unitarian is published the first and third Thursdays of the month, September - June, and on July 20 and August 24 over the summer.

Forms for church members

Outside groups and non-church events, start here to inquire about rental space, even if you have rented from the church previously.


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