2016 Sunday Sermons:

Click Sermon title to read or listen in full


December 4             Small Group Ministries Mysteries                                                      Robert Rice 


Bob Rice, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, reflects on the considerable activity in small groups at UUMH, which raises questions about the place of small groups and how they will affect the future of the congregation and the Meeting House.


Bob Rice graduated from Bates College, BU (MSW), and the State University of New York at Buffalo (PhD). He had a long career in Family Service organizations in Portland, ME, Akron OH, Highland Park, NJ, and Buffalo NY, and was Director of Policy Analysis and Development, Acting CEO, and Executive VP at Family Service America. After retirement, Bob and his wife Cil lived in Sunday River, ME until settling in Chatham. He is a life-long Universalist; his father was a UU minister.


November 27           Sing!                                                                                  Rev. Edmund Robinson


A service with a focus on uplifting music, seasonal and otherwise. Bring your favorite requests from the hymnbook or outside it. [no sermon this day].



November 20          Come Ye Thankful People, Come                                    Rev. Edmund Robinson


Some Native Americans observe the third Thursday in November as a National Day of Mourning rather than Thanksgiving. We do not need to choose. We can remember the oppressions and atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples by the European settlers and their governments while still counting the blessings we all receive in this life. We make our gratitude concrete in a Cornbread and Cider Communion.


November 13         Love and Longevity                                                         Rev. Edmund Robinson


This congregation is blessed with long-lived people and on this Sunday we will honor our nonagenarians. We know life is not always a bed of roses for those who have attained the exalted age of ninety, but we find much to celebrate. A special coffee hour will follow the service.

November 6           Freedom to Lie?                                                                 Rev. Edmund Robinson


We are coming to the close of a political season in which candidates have felt free to play fast and loose with facts. We believe deeply in freedom of speech, but should this principle be used to shield lies? How can people get away with such distortions? The service will include a Day of the Dead remembrance, and you are encouraged to bring a photograph or other memento of a deceased loved one and speak his or her name aloud in our worship space.


October 30              Make a UU Turn!                                                               Rev. Edmund Robinson


The bumper sticker that our President Beth Avery devised inspires me to talk about turning, as the leaves turn and the world turns. The ancient Celts considered this the time when the year turned, and they called it Samhain.



October 23           There’s an App For That!                                                   Rev. Edmund Robinson


The word “app” is short for application, and it seems that in the world of high technology, someone has devised an app to do almost anything anyone could want. Are there problems that apps can’t fix?



October 16       The Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge    Rev. Dr. Barbara Whittaker-Johns


Some take the story of The Garden of Eden in the Bible literally, and as implying that obedience to authority trumps human knowing. A deeper reading of the story invites us to reflect on the sacred power of human knowing – in its biological and cultural evolution, in its development through the stages of our lives. And such sacredness calls us to open, with courage, to what we do know, and to use the power of knowledge for good. Or, as Joni Mitchell wrote in earlier turbulent times, "You know, life is for learning" (Woodstock).


Rev. Dr. Barbara Whittaker-Johns is a Unitarian Universalist parish minister, having served churches in Arlington, MA and Amherst, MA, and having had a previous career in special education. She grew up in Maine, studied at Harvard Divinity School and interned at First Parish Brewster. She is married to Frank Toppa, our Music Director, and they have one adult son, Isaac Toppa. Since 1984 Barbara has been a leader in the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) and currently devotes much of her professional energy to serving as IRAS' President.



October 9                 Words: A Lie We Tell About the Truth                                       Rev. Dave Monroe


David Monroe graduated from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas and served several Methodist Parishes in Texas. Later he did Institutional Chaplaincy in New York State for 38 years. For 25 years of that time he was Director of Pastoral Care at Middletown Psychiatric Center, Middletown, NY. He served as part time minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Middletown, NY from 1983 to 2003 and was voted Minister Emeritus of that church in 2004. He and his wife Eileen, who split their time between Brewster and Scottsdale, AZ, have three children and 3 three grandchildren.



October 2        UUMH 20/30 Anniversary Celebration   Rev. Jim Robinson & Rev. Edmund Robinson

We will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the UU Meeting House, and the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Chatham UU Fellowship. Rev. Jim Robinson, the former minister at First Parish Brewster, will preach about the seeds he helped plant, and some founding members will share their memories.


September 25        The Sharps’ War                                                                  Rev. Edmund Robinson


Ken Burns has a new documentary on the Sharps, the UU minister and his wife from Wellesley who set up the underground railroad to get Jews out of Europe. Waitstill and Martha Sharp rescued hundreds of Jews in Czechoslovakia before the Nazi takeover, perhaps the finest social justice mission undertaken by a Unitarian minister.



September 17        Journey to Wholeness and Right Relations                     Rev. Dick Fewkes​​

Guest minister Rev. Richard M. Fewkes has been a member of UUMH in Chatham since 2003. He has served churches in Middleboro (1964-69), First Parish in Norwell ( 1969- 2000), where is Minister Emeritus, and as Interim Minister at the First Parish UU Church, Bridgewater(2000-02). He resides with his partner, Connie Johnson, in Sagamore Beach and has a summer home in West Dennis. He has 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.


September 11        Security and Liberty & Water Communion                        Rev. Edmund Robinson


On the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/2001, we can ask whether we are safer, or whether we are freer than we were then. Also, please bring a sample of waters from your summer to pour together into a common vessel.


September 4         The Last Rose of Summer                                                    Rev. Edmund Robinson

Living a long time can be bittersweet, we get more years and days and hours, but our loved ones fall away and we are left alone. This is poignantly expressed in Thomas Moore’s song “The Last Rose of Summer.” But the feeling of loneliness can affect any of us at any age.



August 28             Silos and Bubbles                                                                 Rev. Edmund Robinson


Do you find yourself talking and listening to only people who agree with you? If a lot of your communication is via computer, this natural tendency we have to seek out like-minded people gets multiplied by things called algorithms, whose purpose is to learn what you like and give you more of it, and what you dislike and steer you away from it. As a result we all live in opinion bubbles. Is this heaven or hell?


August 21             Seeing Things Not as They Are But as We Are                   Rev. Edmund Robinson


In the political realm, we often evaluate candidates on whether they are telling the truth. But is there such thing as objective, unvarnished truth? Can we escape our own social location, history, biases and background in evaluating truth claims? 

August 14            How Can I Keep from Singing?                                                  Rev. John Vincze


We have invited John to our pulpit at the request of Eric Riley and Greg Heyl, who heard him preach this year. He grew up in Fairfield CT and graduated from Yale Divinity School, and has served churches in New York, Duxbury, MA and Kingston, RI. He currently resides in Wickford, RI and Sarasota, FL



August 7              Humanity's Core Contradiction                   Rev. Edmund Robinson, Rev. Jarvis                                                                                                                             MacMillan and Joan Caputo

In his speech at Hiroshima this year, President Obama said that the mushroom cloud of that event reminds us that the same species which has learned to bend nature to its will and create all the arts also has this capacity for self-destruction. Rev. Jarvis MacMillan and Joan Caputo of our congregation, along with Edmund, will observe Hiroshima Day in this spirit.



July 31                 Outside the Box                                                                Rev. Edmund Robinson


What would a different way to do church look and feel like?



July 24                 Gospel Sunday


A chance to do some singing with members of the All Worn Out Jug Band.



July 17                  Is Reason Supreme?                                                       Rev. Edmund Robinson


The IRAS conference on Star Island this summer examined the question of how we can know anything, and one of the most fascinating questions connected with this is the role of reason in understanding. Is reason an evolved property of the mind? Is reason adequate to understand reality if reality is itself unreasonable?



July 10                  God the Magician?                                                             Rev. Edmund Robinson


Pope Francis declares that “God is not a Magician” in arguing that Christians should accept the theory of evolution and the Big Bang. This is an important step, but is His Holiness identifying God with the laws of Nature, as Emerson did? If so, what is left of the supernatural



July 3                    Freedom is Not Free                                                           Rev. Edmund Robinson


The theme of this years’ Fourth of July Parade is the occasion for some reflections about what freedom means and what it doesn’t.

June 26               Hope is in Sight: Progress towards the Prevention of River Blindness

                                                                                                                                         Dr. Bill Campbell


River blindness is a horrible condition characterized by the migration of worms through the human body. Now, giving just three inexpensive pills a year prevents people from developing river blindness, with as many as 60 million people treated in any given year.



June 19               Flower Communion*                                                                Rev. Edmund Robinson


We bring and exchange flowers from our own gardens or the wilds in memory of Norbert Capek, the Unitarian martyr who died in a Nazi concentration camp. (*And Father’s Day, the Summer Solstice,

Juneteenth, and Hope & History in the Charleston Shootings)  Our annual meeting will follow the service.



June 12              Children’s Sunday                                                                                          UUYouth


Our vibrant church school will conduct this service themselves



June 5               Are You Spiritual But Not Religious?                                        Rev. Edmund Robinson


What does this common phrase mean? What does it say about religion and religious groups. Is it the same as asking the extent to which our souls are fed by solitude or in the company of others?




May 29             Take Up Our Quarrel With the Foe? Really?                            Rev. Edmund Robinson


Memorial Day honors those who died in wartime. The famous poem “In Flanders Fields” speaks in the voice of the dead soldiers, but then exhorts the living reader to continue the fight. This is a tradition in memorial patriotic rhetoric, from Thermopylae to Gettysburg, that the dead wish the continuation of the conflict through to victory. But if the dead had voices, it is just as likely that they would be urging the readers to go back to their homesteads.

May 22           The Meeting House as the Fountain of Youth?                         Rev. Edmund Robinson


More than 10% of our members are over the age of ninety! The normal way of looking at this is that the congregation is very elderly. Another way of looking at it is that something about participation on this congregation encourages people to live longer. Is church membership good for longevity?

May 15           Who are the Cape Verdeans?                                                                   Barbara Burgo


Barbara Burgo, Vice Chair of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission, and two other representatives of the Cape Verdean community of Cape Cod, will talk about the history of Cape Verdeans here and offer their perspective on the current racial climate in our community.

May 8            Nurturance and Naturance                                                           Rev. Edmund Robinson


A Mother’s Day reflection on how we get to be the people we are, which involves DNA, evolution, carpooling, diaper-changing, talks about the birds and bees. What is the role of grandparents? Why do humans and no other animals have menopause?



May 1          Blessings of May                                                                             Rev. Edmund Robinson

The pagan Celts celebrated May 1 as Beltane, the English knew it as May Day, the international labor movements celebrates it as a day to honor the workers of the world, and the children of the Meeting House will dance with ribbons on the lawn!



April 24      Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt: An Earth Day Reflection      Rev. Edmund Robinson


The refusal of a good part of the American political establishment to accept the reality of human-caused climate change is not mere ignorance, it is the result of a deliberate campaign of misinformation fostered by fossil fuel interests. Corporate America has a sad history of obscuring truth in order to sell harmful products.



April 17       Spring Cleaning                                                                                 Rev. Edmund Robinson


How are we going to bring order into our lives? How are we going to decide what needs to go and what can stay? If the goal is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” how are you going to make room? How will the Thrift Shop help you de-accession the accumulation of a lifetime?



April 10        Nothing Doing                                                                                   Rev. Edmund Robinson


What is meditation? Is it doing anything or is it non-doing? What are the benefits? Is it “religious” and should it be practiced in public schools? (In lieu of a sermon, Edmund conducted a guided meditation.)



April 3           What Is Caesar’s, What is God’s?                                                  Rev. Edmund Robinson


What is the dividing line between the political and the religious? The collective rabbis of Reformed Judaism recently released a statement about a presidential candidate’s appeals to bigotry and prejudice. Is this a proper religious witness? What are religious people called to do when a political campaign intrudes on values?



March 27        Is Death a One Way Street?                                                     Rev. Edmund Robinson


Our Easter meditation examines the notion that death is the irreversible end of life, a notion which some people take for granted. Is this idea consistent with the account of resurrection in the Easter story, and if not, how might we reconcile the two?


March 20            When Gravity Waves, Wave Back                                           Rev. Edmund Robinson


The experimental confirmation of Einstein’s theory of gravity waves reminds us that reality is not a simple thing. Something which was predicted by equations and theories turns out to be real. Yet we know that we believe in theories not confirmed by, or directly counter to, the available evidence. Is science a privileged way of knowing?


March 13           The Four Freedoms                                                                                Rev. Art Lavoie


Seventy-five years ago in his State of the Union Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt identified four freedoms that were part of our national identity. He also stated that these freedoms also applied "everywhere in the world." As we are engaged in another fraught presidential election, it is a good time to reflect again on Roosevelt's words and these freedoms that are enshrined in our way of life.


March 6              The Face of Mercy                                                                          Rev. Tracy Johnson


My recent reading of the UUA's Common Read, Just mercy by Bryan Stevenson has sparked my thinking about what mercy looks like in the wake of injustice brought on by racism and oppression in our country.


February 28       Intersectional Identity                                                              Rev. Edmund Robinson


In the last few years, progressives have lifted up the idea that none of us has one identity, but several. Black and female and Lesbian. Brazilian and male and disabled. What does it do to our thinking about resolving racism to think in terms of intersections?


February 21          Privilege and Responsibility                                               Rev. Edmund Robinson


What is white privilege, and how is it related to disadvantage? What responsibilities go with privilege?



February 14         Loving the Other                                                                    Rev. Edmund Robinson


The Universalist ethic is based on “God as all conquering love.” Is love the answer to racism? How do we love someone who is different from ourselves?



February 7          Is Racism America’s Original Sin?                                        Rev. Edmund Robinson


President Obama in his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, called slavery America’s original sin. Racism is slavery’s child. But our religious traditions reject original sin. How does this affect the way we view racism?



January 31        A Humanist’s Guide to the Spiritual                                                           Dick Eccles


Dick draws on G. Peter Fleck’s idea about life being a “Tale That Is Told”, and the transformative power of story-telling in our lives. Stories which integrate our past, present, and future into a life of accomplishment are tales that, in their telling, can build on our interconnectedness and interchange with each other, and can lead beyond the rational into something spiritual.



(January 24 service cancelled due to weather)



January 17         Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters                                       Rev. Edmund Robinson


We yearn for, struggle for, seek justice, but we will not agree on what it is in particular cases. When is the right time?



January 10       Does Everything Happen For a Reason?                               Rev. Edmund Robinson


Many people believe that there is a reason behind everything that happens, but is this really true? If it were, there would be no such thing as randomness. And all misfortune would be due to something bad we had done to deserve it.



January 3        The Santa Game                                                                          Rev. Edmund Robinson


Good little children, the theory goes, get the good toys and the bad ones get ashes and switches. This is a child’s version of the theology of reward and punishment which says that the stakes in how you live your life are what will happen to you after death. But does this hold water? Does there have to be some cosmic reckoning after death to make us good little boys and girls while we are alive?


​Sunday Service 10:30 AM

Unitarian Universalist

Meeting House of Chatham

Open Minds — Loving Hearts — Helping Hands

© 2015 UUMH of Chatham