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Retractions and Corrections

January, 2011

It is a common practice, in the newspaper business, to print corrections and retractions, when an error has been discovered in their reporting. In preaching, too, mistakes can be made, and so I would like to make the following correction:

On December 21st, at our annual Winter Solstice service, I mentioned in my remarks that our planet was then at its greatest possible distance from the Sun. I was entirely wrong; on December 21st, the Earth is actually physically closer to the Sun than it is for most of the rest of the year. I had remembered to picture the Earth’s orbit as an ellipse rather than a circle, but I had forgotten that the Sun is not at the center of that ellipse – it actually centers one of the ends. I am usually more careful about references I make to scientific facts, particularly in worship. Our faith is distinguished, in part, by its reverence for scientific inquiry and the insights of observation, reason, and1 experimentation. I was raised by a scientist, one who just so happened to be in attendance on the evening of December 21st. My father came up to me after the service, congratulated me warmly on it and, very gently, suggested that we make a little time to brush up on my knowledge of celestial mechanics. It was just a little bit mortifying, I’ll admit, but if we are to be called on our mistakes – and friends, we all need that sometimes – it is nice to be called out with compassion, by the people who care about us.

So together we come now, to 2011. A new year. A fresh start. The end of certain old promises, the beginning of a whole set of new ones. There is much to look forward to in this year – opportunities to learn and to grow, to make justice and share love with one another. Simply to live and enjoy living; to live simply, and to enjoy simplicity. 365 days stretch out before us like the empty page, ready for the first headlines. But as we prepare to write the story of the new year, it is worth our time to think also of how we wish to close the year just past. It may have been filled with joy or layered with grief, but it was not a perfect year; it never is. So in the first days of 2011, I invite you to reflect on 2010 and whatever pieces of it you would like to make amends for.

What retractions or corrections would you like to make from your life in 2010? Probably you won’t be able to think of every mistake you made this year – I know that I myself have far too many for that. Times when I was prickly when I should have been patient, or thoughtless when I wish I had been compassionate. In some cases, the errors that come to mind may be things no one else has or will point out to us – and these, most of all, are the matters we need to address. So somewhere in the tumult of the next few weeks, as holiday lights come down and resolutions are made for the year to come, take a moment for the year just passed. Find something you wish to correct or retract and do it – write that apology or say it in person, even if the only person who needs to hear it is you.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson


First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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