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What We Can Do, Together

I just finished writing a letter. Very soon, I’m going to walk across Cabot Street and put it in the mailbox. And when I do that, I just know that it is going to make my day. Even after a hard morning of shoveling snow and slogging through more of it to get to the office, today is a very good day. Because today, I get to mail this letter.

The letter in question is addressed to UNICEF, and it includes a check: the money we collected in December at the close of our Simple Gifts campaign. This is the money that we gathered together after a season of more mindful gift-giving. As a community of families and individuals, we set out to show our love and caring for the people in our lives in ways more imaginative and meaningful than just buying lots of consumer goods. We put the money we didn’t need together, to go to benefit folks who really could use it, and our children and youth led the way on who those people should be. They chose UNICEF. So today I am sending UNICEF our check, for $3,114.95.

I got to write the letter, but the check isn’t mine: its all of ours. Everyone who gave anything at all – from a thousand dollars to a nickel – owns a piece of it. Even the folks who weren’t able to give money directly were a part of families that did, or a part of worship services and other church events where the idea was discussed and supported. The check goes out from First Parish Church in Beverly – it is sent in all of our names.

So much of the noise we hear in our daily lives is focused on petty wants and private interest; what Langston Hughes called, in one of my favorite poems, “that ancient endless chain, Of profit, power, gain” and “the ways of satisfying need.” It is vitally necessary, and also greatly refreshing, to hear the opposite voice affirm that there is an interest larger than the personal, and a good that is greater than to have for the sake of having. We need to be reminded as often as possible, that the needs of others and the wellbeing of all are, in truth essential to our own self-interest. We must remember each day, that sharing what we have enriches our spirits and helps our souls to grow.

I am grateful to be a part of a community in which the voice of generosity speaks loudly enough to be heard over the mercenary messages of the wider culture in which we live. And I am proud of this letter I am about to mail. It is a small act, to be sure, but one of many that our congregation has done, and will do in the future, in service to the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

This month, as we are going to talk a good bit more about money, as we undertake our annual

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canvass campaign. You will be invited, in the coming days and weeks,

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to reflect on your relationship to and feelings for our spiritual community, and to pledge financial support to it in the coming year, in accordance with those feelings, and as your material resources allow. An attitude of generosity is one of the natural gifts of a community which is spiritually alive. I remind you of that not to as cheap encouragement to write a larger check to the church, but because it is a gift I value greatly, and if you feel as I feel, then I hope you will join me in making a pledge of support this year in gratitude for that gift.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson


First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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