We are gathered by the fire

My family goes on vacation together every summer.  Much effort goes into finding the right place each year.  There are three deal breakers.

1.  They have to allow dogs.
2.  There has to be water nearby.
3.  There has to be a fire pit.

The most important one for me is the fire pit.

No matter what else we do on vacation, my favorite part is everyone sitting by the campfire at night.  We gaze into the flames.  We talk.  We laugh.  We connect.

Each Sunday morning, I sit by another fire – at church.

Most, if not all, Unitarian Universalist churches light a chalice at the beginning of each worship service.  In 2005, I wrote the following as part of a special chalice lighting ceremony for one of our worship services at First Parish Church in Taunton.

In the early days of the first people, fire meant life.  It meant warmth and protection.  It also meant community.  The people would gather by the fire and share its light and heat.  At these times, the people would also share their stories, passing on their traditions to future generations.

The flame was always cared for and protected.  If it was lost, so would they all be lost.

Today, we cherish our flame as a symbol of our church community.  Around it, we gather each week to share its warmth and light – a spiritual warmth and a guiding light.  We gather around the fire each week to share our stories and pass along our faith.

Today, we celebrate and share the flame that is the symbol of our proud Unitarian Universalist history.

Like the flame, our faith is not diminished as we share it.  It grows, spreading its warmth and light.

We are gathered by the fire.

Leave a comment


  1. I have always felt like family with all our new friends. Thank You for this,it is very true

    • Thanks for visiting the blog, Paula, and thanks so much for all you have been doing at First Parish. The place looks great.


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  • Barry Sanders

    Barry is the Director of Religious Education at First Parish Church. He is also a husband and father of two, a social worker, an avid soccer fan and an aspiring harmonica player.

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