Minister’s Message

Dear Holy Ones,


In his book “The Search for God at Harvard” former New York Times religion correspondent and current Columbia University professor of Journalism Ari Goldman writes about his experiences during  the year the Times paid for him to  study world religions at Harvard Divinity School.  Goldman was and still is an orthodox Jew.  One of the chapters in the book is called “Sabbath Candles” and tells of how he and his wife Shira invited people they met at Harvard Divinity School to eat Sabbath Dinner with them on Friday nights.  They invited professors and students and friends of Shira’s and other parents they met while taking their young son to the park and daycare. Each Friday night was a great conversation.  Goldman writes:

Shira and I found that the sharing of our Sabbath rituals broke down barriers rather than created them. As we made the blessing over the wine, ritually poured water from a cup on our hands and cut the challah, our guests questioned and compared and shared their own religious experiences. They talked about their lives and their families, their religious awakenings and disappointments and the meanings they derived from them…

One week as our friends Lisa and Jim were ready to leave they asked us the question we got most often, “You do this every Friday night?” We had to answer in truth that we did. There was no party, no show, no dance, no assignment, no opening that could stop us.  “Why?” No it wasn’t the Biblical mandate to observe the Sabbath or its rabbinic interpretation, although that figured into our observance.  Our greatest motivation was also the most inexplicable: It was the magic that happened when Shira lit the candles.

This month we will learn about the Jewish practice of Sabbath,  the virtue of taking time out, slowing life down, and paying attention to things that matter.  Our fourth Unitarian Universalist principle is “the responsible search for truth and meaning” or in the its children’s version, “everyone has the right to search for what is right and true in life.” The Sabbath is time set aside for truth and meaning; time to search for these things and to ponder them. It is time set aside for foster relationships that fill our lives with truth and meaning. It is time for family and friends. In his book about Sabbath, Wayne Muller writes that Sabbath “is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true.” This is where the magic of Sabbath happens. This is where the magic of life happens.

It is my sincere hope that during our month of engaging the idea of Sabbath, you will begin to learn how to create the magic that happens when you light the Sabbath candles. For you this might mean lighting a chalice and turning the world off to rest and focus on yourself and your family, or to spend time walking and reading and listening and making music and writing and drawing and dancing. I hope that you are inspired not only to create magic but that you also feel its effects on your heart and soul.


Rev. Tony