Posts By Rev. Catie Scudera

Interfaith, Intergenerational Common Read: March, by Rep. John Lewis

By , Published on April 17, 2017
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Book Three, April 25th at 7 pm (Congregational Church of Needham)

Is the rumor true that Congressman John Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results”? Find out for yourself through reading the National Book Award-winning graphic novel he co-wrote, March. March is the story of the Civil Rights Movement in three parts, and each Book is being discussed at a different congregation: Book One at First Baptist, Book Two at First Parish, and Book Three at the Congregational Church. Even if you missed Books One and Two, you are welcome to join for conversation about Book Three. Youth and adults are welcome to attend all or any of the discussions. All three parts of March can be ordered separately or together through or our local bookstore, New England Mobile Book Fair.

Ecunemical Holy Week Services

By , Published on April 3, 2017
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Palm Sunday (4/9) at 9:30 am on the Needham Town Common
Good Friday (4/14) at 7:00 pm at First Baptist Church in Needham
Our Christian neighbors invite us to join in ecumenical Holy Week services. First, there will be a brief blessing and procession of palms on Sunday April 9th at 9:30 am on the Town Common. Then, on Friday, April 14th, First Baptist is hosting a Good Friday service at 7 pm, featuring a renowned storyteller to share the Passion narrative and the traditional stripping of the altar. Rev. Catie has been invited to participate in the services and plans to attend. Please contact Rev. Catie with any questions.

Our Awe-some Reality

By , Published on April 1, 2017
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Some time ago, I found myself in Buffalo, New York, for a wedding. I had just twenty-four hours in Buffalo (had to get back to Boston for Sunday worship!) and a free afternoon before an opening reception. Thanks to Google Maps, I discovered I had enough time to take the public bus up to Niagara Falls. It was raining lightly, but my maid of honor (a meteorologist) assured me over text message that the storm would be gone by the time I arrived at the falls.

I had been to Niagara Falls on a school trip ages ago, but frankly I couldn’t remember much of anything about it. I kept my expectations low because of the weather and because I had been told my whole adult life that the American side of the Falls just wasn’t very impressive.

After an hour’s bus ride, I arrived in Niagara and walked into the park. I ambled along the river for a time, glancing now and again up the clouds and (I’ll admit) often down at my phone as a distraction from the gray day. “What was I thinking taking such a long ride all the way up here, and for what?” I asked myself… Then, when I had finally found my way to the main lookout, tada! the sun came back out (just as my dear friend predicted), and ping! the light ricocheted off the suddenly visible waterfall, and wow! I was in awe! The Falls were beautiful!

I can clearly remember other times when awe has overtaken me: kayaking with friends amidst the bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico; the view of Mount Rainer towering over the city of Seattle on my bus ride to work during my summer hospital chaplaincy residency; and, each time I have visited the Taj Mahal, which never fails to impress all over again.

But, one needn’t travel cross-country or around the world to stumble on awe. Research psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner told Parade magazine, “People often talk about awe as seeing the Grand Canyon or meeting Nelson Mandela, but our studies show it also can be much more accessible—a friend is so generous you’re astounded, or you see a cool pattern of shadows and leaves.”

This resonates with me, too, like when I’ve attended family weddings and reunions and I notice, yet again, common familial hand gestures, facial expressions, and laughter; or, when the tree down the street is suddenly awash in fall color or spring flowers; or, when our congregants shore up their courage to sing or play their instrument in front of the church — and they’re incredible.

I finish writing this article on the spring equinox, which means I’m very aware of the coming of spring and the trickling away of winter. This reminds me, once again, to take note of my immediate surroundings that are ever changing and not to be too lost in my head, in thoughts of other times or places. If I am not in the present moment, I lose any chance I have of being captured by the awe-some reality in which we live. There is much, big and small, with which to be amazed in our day-to-day lives.

I find the ability to connect with my surroundings with awe is particularly helpful during times of trial and stress. Many programs for people of all ages who have survived loss, trauma, addiction, and illness include access to and adventures in the great outdoors and the arts as part of their healing mission. Though there is always injustice, illness, and death lurking around corners, instead of letting fear or anger overwhelm my senses, I allow my senses to soothe me. Even if there is nothing particularly special to capture my attention, it is calming for me to consciously notice the shape of the clouds, the sound of the train whistle, the smell of new leaves and grass, the touch of the wind, the taste of my meals. And, sometimes, when I’m in such a mindful moment, I am rewarded with an awe-some experience!

Have you had a recent experience with awe?

Heed Their Direction

By , Published on March 24, 2017
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Worship Service
Sunday, April 30, 2017
10:30am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Catie Scudera, preaching

During this special weekend, First Parish is hosting the Icons of the Civil Rights Movement art exhibit. For our worship service, the icons of Unitarian Universalists murdered in Selma — Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo — and of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will join us in the sanctuary for a service that reflects on the power and purpose of iconography and the heroes they depict. Rev. Catie shares leadership of the worship with our honored guests of the weekend, artist Pamela Purdy and her husband Rev. David Purdy.

Children attend the first 15 minutes followed by Religious Exploration classes. Childcare available for infants and toddlers.

Junior Youth Group meets at 5pm in the Parlor.

Senior Youth Group meets at 7pm in the Parlor.

Ecological Imbalance


Worship Service
Sunday, April 23, 2017
10:30am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Catie Scudera, preaching

Especially since the Industrial Revolution, human beings have disturbed the careful ecological balance of our world. Can we live in harmonious homeostasis with our fellow living beings?

Children attend the first 15 minutes followed by Children’s Worship about gardening and the Seventh Principle led by our LRE Program Assistant Jen Duhamel. Childcare available for infants and toddlers.

No Youth Groups.

Easter Sunday: Prophetic Disruption

Worship Service
Sunday, April 16, 2017
9:00 am (family-friendly) and 11:00 am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Catie Scudera, preaching

A significant part of Jesus’s ministry — and, potentially, one cause of his arrest and execution — was his disruption of cultural, political, and spiritual norms of his time. How does his prophetic disruption inspire us today? The 9:00 am (note the earlier time) service is family-friendly/multigenerational, and features our UU Ringers and Song Squad; at the 11:00 am service, come for music from the First Parish choir and five professional musicians — a string quartet and a trumpeter.  Don’t forget that there is just one social hour and the annual Easter egg hunt, both happening in between the services at 10 am!

Children attend the full service. Childcare available for infants and toddlers.

No youth groups. Senior Youth Group on annual service trip.

Represent First Parish at the UUA General Assembly!

By , Published on March 23, 2017
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Wednesday, June 21st – Sunday, June 25th
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Join Rev. Catie, DLRE Mark LaPointe, and thousands of other Unitarian Universalists in “The Big Easy” for the annual national Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly. The theme this year is “Resist & Rejoice!” There will be worship, workshops, a major lecture from lawyer and prison reform activist Bryan Stevenson, an exhibit hall featuring dozens of UU organizations, and opportunities for service and public witness. If you act as a delegate from First Parish in Needham, you will also have the opportunity to vote on important denominational issues, including who will be our next denominational president. Scholarships are available from the UUA and from First Parish, and you can participate virtually via your home computer through the off-site registration program. Visit the UUA’s website for more information, or speak with Rev. Catie and Mark.

Not Today, Satan

not today satan

Worship Service
Sunday, April 9, 2017
10:30am in the Meetinghouse
Rev. Catie Scudera, preaching

One of the great blessings of our lives in Boston MetroWest is that there are scores of ways to be involved in an array of activities: within a half an hour’s drive of our church in Needham, we could find ourselves at multiple theaters, scores of music venues, countless restaurants, innumerable gyms and studios, and adult education opportunities sponsored in nearly every nearby town. However, with this blessing looms a curse: the busyness trap. How do we prioritize what really matters when our choices to fill our day feel endless?

Children attend the first 15 minutes followed by Earth Month Class with special speaker Susan McGarvey. Childcare available for infants and toddlers.

Senior Youth Group meets at 7pm in the Parlor.

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