This Sunday’s “sermon” will be the annual question-and-response sermon at First Unitarian in New Bedford — those who show up at the worship service will have the opportunity to write down a question on a religious topic, and I will answer as many questions as I can during the sermon time. The New Bedford congregation asks the best questions, and the questions last year gave me material for lots of sermons.

In any case, I racked my brains to day trying to come up with a good reading for this year’s question-and-response sermon. I still haven’t come up with a satisfactory reading, but I did come across this passage in Thoreau’s Walden that I like very much:

After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what — how — when — where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward! Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask.

No questions needed. Just look outside your door….

2 thoughts on “Questions

  1. UU Jester

    If you come up with a good reading for it, let me know. I’m doing my first question box sermon on Father’s Day. Should be interesting!

  2. Administrator

    UU Jester — Anything for you. From last year’s question-and-response sermon:

    [My intro] This is from one of Mark Twain’s speeches, given at a 1909 banquet honoring one of his friends, Mr. H. H. Rogers. I should tell you that at the time of this speech, a half crown would have been worth about sixty cents. Mark Twain said:

    “[Others have said] Mr. Rogers is full of practical wisdom, and he is. It is intimated here that he is a very ingenious man, and he is a very competent financier. Maybe he is now, but it was not always so. I know lots of private things in his life which people don’t know, and I know how he started; and it was not a very good start. I could have done better myself. The first time he crossed the Atlantic he had just made the first little strike in oil, and he was so young he did not like to ask questions. He did not like to appear ignorant…. On board the ship they were betting on the run of the ship, betting a couple of shillings, or half a crown, and they proposed that this youth from the oil regions should bet on the run of the ship. He did not like to ask what a half-crown was, and he didn’t know; but rather than be ashamed of himself he did bet half a crown on the run of the ship, and in bed he could not sleep. He wondered if he could afford that outlay in case he lost. He kept wondering over it, and said to himself: ‘A king’s crown must be worth $20,000, so half a crown would cost $10,000.’ He could not afford to bet away $10,000 on the run of the ship, so he went up to the stakeholder and gave him $150 to let him off.”

    Thus Mark Twain’s ideas on the importance of asking questions….

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