What’s New

SERMON: On Terror

Mourners in Beirut following the November 12th terrorist attack. Credit: Hasan Shaaban/Reuters

Mourners in Beirut following the November 12th terrorist attack. Credit: Hasan Shaaban/Reuters

In light of the Paris terrorist attacks Friday night and the Beirut terrorist attacks on Thursday, I made the decision yesterday morning to bring a different sermon than the one I had planned to preach…. I feel grief. I feel a need to mourn. I am angry. I am frightened. I am confused. I suspect many of you feel similarly. With these feelings at heart, I want to offer a three reflections in response to these terrorist attacks. I hope they will bring comfort, peace and hope to you. I hope they will suggest ways to understand some of the reasons why attacks like these are happening and what they mean. And that I hope they will offer some preliminary ideas for how we as residents and citizens of the United States can best respond. Continue reading….

SERMON: Now Thank We All Our God

Rev. Martin Rinkart

Rev. Martin Rinkart

The most memorial services I’ve ever conducted in a year is eight—and that makes for an exhausting year. For a period from 1636 to 1637 Rev. Martin Rinkart was apparently conducting an average of ten or eleven funerals daily. He was witnessing excruciating devastation, a total breakdown of the social order, not to mention the deaths of his wife, children, friends, colleagues, parishioners. I won’t call it unimaginable, because we can imagine it. We may not know about the Thirty Years’ War, but we have knowledge of other wars, of genocides, of the Holocaust, of slavery, of refugees streaming as I speak out of war zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan into Europe—many of them heading for the “promised land,” Germany. Even if we or our families have not been touched directly by these things, even if we cannot know what it feels like to live through them, we can imagine them. But what might be unimaginable, at least to some, is that in the midst of this devastation and horror, in the midst of relentless death, Martin Rinkart sat in his study, read his Bible, and wrote the words, “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mothers’ arms, has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.” How was such gratitude possible given everything he was witnessing? Continue reading….


ON THE RADIO: “Politics, Tragedy and the Public Sphere” on On Point.

Michel Martin

Michel Martin

I was honored to be invited to appear on WBUR Boston’s National Public Radio program “On Point” on July 6th. The title of the show was “Politics, Tragedy and the Public Sphere.” It was guest-hosted by Michel Martin. You can listen to the podcast here.




10 Responses to What’s New

  1. Robert Cox says:

    Dear Rev. Pawelek,

    My wife and I heard you on On Point on Friday afternoon driving from Newtown, where we had attended the funerals of two friend’s grandchildren. Lynda and I lived in Newtown for over 40 years and were returning to our home home on Cape Cod were we have lived only since June.

    We were driving through Manchester where I was born and grew up on the farm right down the hill from you. My brothers and I played Army and other non-pacific games during the Cold War on the land where your meetinghouse is located before my father and mother sold the land to the church. My parents ashes rest beneath the copper beach tree behind the meetinghouse.

    All of that is by way of explaining why we payed attention when you were identified at the start of the broadcast and why at the conclusion I looked up your sermon from last Sunday and read it in full. I shared it with my wife and sent it to my son Rob in Newtown who, though his children were safe in other schools in town, has been galvanized by the horror of what happened in our little community.

    Rob has been instrumental in establishing an organization there called “Newtown United” which has a Facebook page and a growing following dedicated to promoting a sane firearms policy in the wake of the Newtown murders. Because he is a journalist who started his career with Michael Bloomberg we are hopeful that Newtown United will have access to resources that might be successful in taking advantage of this “once in a lifetime … Longed for tidal wave of justice”. As our president said from the stage where both my sons graduated years ago, “let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.”

    We are deeply grateful of your rejection of the posture of the caller who urged us to “man up” and accept the murder of this latest 26 with a shrug, deeply grateful for your words that brought us both to a teary eyed pause on interstate 84.

    If you can in your capacity spread the word of the work “Newtown United” is trying to do in these early days to members of your congregation (I know, not “flock!”) we would appreciate it.

    From my childhood experience back in the 50’s as a Unitarian teen on Pearl Street in Hartford and my experience of watching the wonderful members of your congregation who welcomed my father and mother in their last years, among them the Gravers and the Packards and Nancy Gould who may or may not still be members, I know that when looking for activism, idealism and hope, the Unitarian Universalist Meeting house is as good a healing well as one is likely to find.

    Thanks again,

    Bob and Lynda Cox

  2. admin says:

    Hi Bob. Thanks so much for your note. What a blessing to hear from you. I will gladly spread the world about Newington United and will plan to be in touch with you and your Rob soon. We can work on this!

  3. Bill Graver says:

    Hi Josh,
    Thanks so much for sending this along to us. Bob’s parents Barbara and Allan are well remembered by us and many other folks who have been around since just about the beginning. In your recent sermon you reminded us of a few of the connections we have with the Newtown community and now here is another solid one. By the way your “flock” took strong exception the “man up” comment as well.
    Bill Graver

  4. Harry Mangle says:

    Hello Josh,
    I came across the “On Point” program unexpectedly this evening and was happily surprised and proud as a fellow UU from UUS:East that you were one of the guests on Tom Ashbrook’s 12-21st program. Thank you for articulating our values so well on this well-respected program that dealt that day on how people of faith struggle to make sense of this senseless tragedy. And what a small world it is when Barbara and Allan’s son hears your voice on a Boston radio show. I also remember them as a wonderful and kind individuals. Thanks again, Josh.

  5. Michael Roberson says:

    This sermon reminded me of this short story: http://qntm.org/responsibility

  6. Chris Sanders says:

    Hi Rev. Josh

    I used to come to UUSE many years ago and continue to be interested in UUSE and receive the newsletter. I heard Starhawk and was interested in your upcoming sermon on 4/21. My hope is that you not only cover our disconnections from the earth and those results but how we can move ours and the world’s disconnections to connections to address the results. Thanks so much.
    Chris Sanders

  7. homepage says:

    I actually want to know why you branded this particular
    blog post, “Rev Josh Pawelek”. In either case I actually admired the article!
    I appreciate it-Bryant

    • admin says:

      Bryant: I’m not sure which post you read. But in answer to your question, Rev. Josh Pawelek is the name of the website. It’s just my personal website. Every post should have it’s own title. But sometimes on social media it shows up as “Rev. Josh Pawelek” instead of whatever the title is. That may be what happened.

  8. mike gruber says:

    You blocked traffic and someone in an ambulance could have died. Martin Luther King is NOT proud of you.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your concern Mike. So you are aware, we specifically selected a location that is not on an ambulance route, and we had plans to make way for emergency vehicles in the event of an emergency. Anyone trained in nonviolent civil disobedience knows to consider this in planning an action.

      MLK is dead and I do not–and never have–pretended to know what he thinks.

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