Pastor’s Page

Happy Anniversary Pastor Rich!
During worship service on Sunday 24 July 2022, we celebrated Pastor Rich’s 40th Anniversary of Ordination that took place on his birthday, July 18, 1982. We also recognized his 15th Anniversary as our pastor. Rich officially started at our church August 1, 2007.
A special responsive prayer was led by Choir and Worship and Spiritual Life Committee members Bunny D. and Anita U.
A note from Rich:
Just a short message to say how much the anniversary celebration of my ordination meant to me and having all the folks’ participation! I'll remember the feeling tone and the heart tone of the special words of recognition and the spirit and the shining faces for the rest of my life. Thank you and all the good folks of MLC and the wider community. I really did feel blessed and hope to be a blessing to others for as long as I can. Blessings and love and Gratitude, Rich
5/27/2020 Pastor's Message
Dear members and friends,
This coming Sunday, May 31st is Pentecost which culminates the Easter season and is often considered the “Birthday of the Church” because it transformed Jesus' followers from fearful people into spirit empowered people who went out into the world and spread the “Good News” around the whole Mediterranean area. It combines Jesus' Ascension with the Holy Spirit's descending. Pentecost Sunday celebrates the many and varied expressions of God’s love and wisdom. The divine dancer moves through all creation bringing forth life and love and inspiration. Fire and wind are everywhere. Inspiration and revelation are just a moment away and can come either by surprise or as a result of the interplay of God’s wisdom and our intentional spiritual practices. The spirit blows where it wills, in all directions, and embracing all peoples.
The word “pentecost” comes from the Greek and means “fifty.” That is 50 days after the resurrection. But the origins of Pentecost derive from our Jewish sisters and brothers,
where it was traditionally observed as an agricultural festival, and later it was used to commemorate the giving of the Law (torah) to Moses on Mount Sinai. (I'm indebted to John Pilch for much of this information)
The Scriptures readings this Sunday and the pastor's message will hopefully shed more illumination on this important event in Christian history.
If you are planning to join us via Zoom, I invite you to share a tradition with us, which is to wear something red, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the “tongues of fire” that appeared over the head of Jesus' disciples. I hope many of you can join us in worship and celebration of Pentecost, which I believe is not over yet!
With Love and Blessings,
Pastor Rich
As One


Dear members and friends
Last Sunday the Scriptures were about the disciples who confined themselves in an upper room, frightened and fearful after what happened to Jesus. It was the same upper room where they shared the last supper with Jesus. It was as if they wanted to go back and hold onto the image and presence of the One who changed their lives forever.
There's somewhat of a parallel with our situation today dealing with the Pandemic of Covid19. Many of us feel confined, our lives have been altered by fear of the invisible virus.
Many of us would like to go back to the way things were, but that's not really possible. We have to move forward, creatively, compassionately and with vision for a new world.
I see signs that this crisis is bringing people together, not physically, but spiritually, in that we recognize our common humanity and vulnerability, and despite our differences reach out to be helpful and comforting to those in need.
So many statistics cross our TV screens each day, we become mesmerized by numbers. But behind each number lies the life story of a human being, embedded in a web of relationships interlaced with love and struggle, with hopes and fears. We are the same.
I believe our “confinement” time can be a time of incubation to bring about new possibilities and new ways of being in the world with one another, a birth of awareness and planetary consciousness that God needs us all to come together to bring about the “birth of the daughters and sons of God” and of all creation.

Crises almost always precede transformation
Problems are “evolutionary Drivers”
Nature takes jumps through greater synergy and cooperation within and
among species (Barbara Marx Hubbard)

I love the way our community understands this, and rallies their hearts and spirits to help and support folks in need wherever they may be. Together with others we become “Universal humans” because we are connected through the heart to the whole of life. We are awakening from within with a desire to find greater life purpose, and are lit up with a mysterious sense of the future. This newness is moving toward Cosmic consciousness (Christ Consciousness), and an ever-deepening spirituality of oneness. (Barbara Marx Hubbard)

Love, Rich Fournier


Journey To Easter 04/09/2020
It's been kind of hard for me, and I imagine for many of you, to observe our Holy Week services without our physical presence in the church and to one another. And yet I do appreciate the measure and quality of presence we've been able to accomplish through the “Virtual” services, and am very grateful to all those who make it happen, and all those who take the time and effort to virtually be with us.

And now we head toward Easter - the Resurrection, the new life in Christ that arose out of deadly circumstances. And, my sisters and brothers, I trust that we too will arise out of the truncated versions and limitations of our lives that Covid 19 has imposed upon us. And it will be glorious when our invisible lines of connection, through love and prayer will become much more visible and real, and we will appreciate one another in a new and renewed way. I look forward to that time even as I look forward to Easter Sunday service. We will make the flowering of the cross vividly in our hearts, and when the time comes, we will make it more beautifully than ever in our Church.

Join us for Easter Worship on Sunday 4/12 at 10:30 a.m. Sunday's calendar has details, click here.

Blessings and Love,


April 3, 2020
Dear members and friends of MLC,

We are excited to be following up on last Sunday’s virtual worship service. It was so uplifting to “see” and hear so many of you, it's been a while.
This Sunday, April 5th is Palm Sunday.
The service will be at the same time 10:30 a.m.
You can download or view our Order of Worship PDF document to follow along with us. Click here.
Use the same meeting number and Zoom conferencing link as last week. For details, click here
Looking forward to being with you all again.

Pastor Rich

Dear members and friends of Mary Lyon Church,

What a surprisingly wonderful time we had on Sunday, March 29th, gathering together via Zoom conferencing through our computers and telephones. Over 30 members and friends of Mary Lyon Church participated from all over the county and all over the country - Florida, Arizona, California, Cape Cod, etc.

For me it felt so good to see faces and hear voices that I've really missed. I'm grateful for Annie's initiative and suggestions. I'm grateful for all the wonderful folks we have on various committees who helped spread the word, and thankful for the website folks for keeping everything moving and keeping folks informed, and thanks to Luahn for her encouragement and keeping my spirits up as I entered the brave new world of online tech existence.

We got a lot of positive feedback and constructive comments to help make our next one even better. We welcome everyone's ideas as we head toward Palm Sunday (next Sunday April 5th), Holy Week and Easter. We will find our way to worship, although not physically together.

The biggest takeaway for me was the love and spirit that was palpably present and circulating among us, reminding us who we are and what we are to and for one another. Thank you all for that blessing.

Please keep safe and healthy. I know that you are all precious in God's sight, and I want you to know that you are all precious in my heart.

Be filled with the fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, understanding, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, faith, etc. God be with you ‘til we meet again......

Your Pastor, Rich Fournier

The Pastor's message for Sunday morning

Dear Folks,

It’s another week without meeting. I miss you all and the spirit of our gathered community.
This Sunday's gospel reading would be John 9:1-41. While I won't be physically with you to preach about it, we can still read a part of it together.
I will make comments on the verses for you to ponder and think about. Hopefully you'll get your own insights into it and understandings from it.
If you find it helpful, we could do a “Part 2” during the middle of next week to finish the chapter. Hope you have a Bible handy!
Lent is flying by...this Sunday is the fifth one in two weeks it'll be Palm Sunday, then Holy Week, and then Easter.

John 9: Part One

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth...verse 1

This is not a random sighting of a man who is physically blind. In this one man, Jesus sees the essential human condition he was sent to alleviate. The fact that the man is ”blind from birth” symbolizes that this blindness comes with the territory of the human. It is a “not seeing” that afflicts all, a characteristic of creation. Of course not all people are born physically blind. So this one person's physical blindness is a symbol of a universal opaqueness.
At the beginning of the story the man will be quickly cured of his physical blindness. This cure will be a “sign,” a manifestation on the physical level of the spiritual need to move from darkness to light. The rest of the story will be a contrast between the formerly blind man and the Pharisees.
The formerly blind man will gradually learn to follow the sign of his own physical healing into spiritual sight. The Pharisees will not allow the sign to lead them. They will do all in their power to discredit the sign. As the man who was formerly blind becomes illumined, the Pharisees become benighted.

(read verses 2-5)

The disciples assume this man's physical blindness is the result of sin. What they would like to nitpick is: whose sin?
Jesus refuses this question and the theological quibbling it creates. He will not answer it as posed. This may be because he does not hold the underlying assumption that the result of sin is physical impairment. The idea of God visiting suffering on people for their transgressions or the transgressions of their ancestors (see Exodus 20:5) is not how Jesus thinks. However, Jesus is also pointing the disciples to the larger symbolic level.
The point is not to argue how this condition of blindness came to be. Rather the blindness is the occasion for the works of God to become manifest. Since the first day of creation to the present, the work of God is to bring light out of darkness. Jesus and his disciples have been sent to do just that--”The works that God has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf -That the God has sent me (see John5:36 and John14:12, for similar ideas). They have only so much time to accomplish this. Since this is Jesus' essence, “I am the light of the world' (John 8:12), he must be about “bringing light to the world.” He has no choice. There is an urgency and eagerness for him to do much so that....

(read verses 6-8)

In the beginning (Genesis 2:4-7) God made “clay of the ground” (v.7), breathed into it, and the human person became a living soul. Now, Jesus spits, a symbolic gesture that conveys the bestowal of his inner reality, makes clay, and anoints the man's eyes. Jesus is not making a second human; he is not starting from scratch because the first effort was defective. Rather he is completing creation. Creation is a work in progress, and Jesus is activating the latent but underdeveloped spiritual sight of the human person. This is why one of the titles for Jesus in the early church was “eye salve.”
The man born blind is sent to a pool called “Sent.” The word resonates. Jesus had just done the work he was sent to do and that he will send his disciples to complete creation by opening spiritual eyes to see and respond to the Divine Source. However, after the man has washed in the pool called “Sent,” the man himself becomes “Sent.” He becomes a witness not only to what happened to him on the physical level, but also he eventually witnesses to the spiritual truth that was manifested in his physical healing—a truth about the one who opened his eyes.

If you have any questions or insights to share, please feel free to contact me by email or by phone 413-634-5451. I am deeply indebted to John Shea's insights on this material.

Love and blessings,

Please click on the "About Us" tab above. Select "Messages of Hope" for inspiration.
Click on "Pastor's Sermons" below to listen to past sermons.

Staying Connected

My brothers and sisters,

These are strange and chaotic times...It's strange for me to be up early on a Sunday morning and not be heading to meet you all at MLC to conduct a worship service. I hope you all have received the message that there will be NO Service today. I thank the Worship and Spiritual life committee for making the decision after a lot of deliberation, and for making calls to the members to let them know. Also, thanks to the MLC website group for the wonderful webpage that is "up" and alive and can keep us up to date. For those not online we will do our best to be in phone contact.

We have a special and precious church community. I love you all, and cherish our time and our growing and sustaining together.

We don't want anyone to be put at risk. But at the same time, we need to stay in touch and support the ways and means our church functions. We can continue to communicate with one another and creatively make our way forward. Please feel free to contact me by email or by phone 413-634-5451.

Gratitude and blessings to all,

-Rich 03/15/2020

Please visit our Messages of Hope page

The following is a piece by a UCC pastor from the Cape, Rev. Dr. Bruce Epperly. He provides some inspiration, and closes with a helpful prayer.


I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of hands; for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

One version of the Chinese word for “crisis” describes a situation that joins danger and opportunity. With the emergence of COVID-19, we are clearly in a time of crisis both medically and spiritually. The future of this pandemic is uncertain. It has already transformed our lives. Our church service has been cancelled.

In response to the Coronavirus, many of us have cancelled holidays, family celebrations, and business trips. We have stocked up on toilet paper, canned soup, pasta, water, and in some cases adult beverages.

Most of us are anxious, and some of us are verging on panic. Denial of our fears and anxieties is not the solution. Life has changed and we must adapt. In contrast to denial, some are attributing to the Coronavirus the characteristics of an angry and omnipotent god, hellbent on destroying everything in its path, is not a solution either. In both cases, we give up our ability to respond creatively. We react, rather than act. We see ourselves as powerless at the mercy of malevolent forces beyond us.

From the vantage point of a German concentration camp, Viktor Frankl notes that “everything can be taken from a person except one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” Moreover, according to Frankl, “when we are not able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Let us choose peace, love, compassion, and caring. Faith not fear.

These days, we need to claim our vocation as God’s children, wise, active, and compassion. We can bring beauty to the world despite the challenges of the Coronavirus.

As followers of Jesus, we are not victims, but actors and agents, who can partner with God in healing the world one action at a time. In the weeks ahead, let us choose to live by love and not fear. Let us claim our freedom to choose healthy habits, explore new forms of behavior, and reach out to persons in need.

Prayer: Holy God, remind us to choose love and not fear. Help us to trust that the future is your hands. Guided by your love, let us choose to be your companions in changing the world. Let this crisis become an opportunity for service, hospitality and love.In Christ’s Name. Amen.

The Presence of God

Every Sunday, I arrive at church several hours before the service begins. I love to sit in the silence of the sanctuary and look across the empty pews, at the solid walls, and stained glass windows leaking the early morning light into this sacred space. And I pray....And, of course, the church space is never really empty. It is filled with presence - the presence of God, the presence of the living past, of the women, men, and children, who have sat here, stood here, sang here, prayed here, and laughed and cried here. I can feel the echo of our ancestors, and even the lingering energy of last week's service still reverberating and permeating the atmosphere. What a blessing it is for us to be here in this place because of them, with all the invisible lines of connection holding us as one. “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.”

I am truly blessed to be a part of this legacy of love, and the ongoing story of the people and the place known as Mary Lyon Church.

Blessings To You,

Rev. Rich Fournier

Entering the Lenten Labyrinth, a pastor’s message…

Dear friends,

We are now entering the Lenten season, an ancient tradition in the Christian churches.

It's a 40-day period for reflection and preparation as we approach the mysteries and symbolism of Jesus' final weeks. It's a time of “Spring cleaning” of our hearts and souls.

Lent is often called a journey. Ideally, that means that at the end of Lent we should expect to find ourselves somewhere different (not geographically), but somehow different in our ways of being in the world, somehow different in the qualities of our hearts and in the strength of our spirits.Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, and in some traditions, you are marked on the middle of your forehead (the so-called “third eye”) and reminded that from dust thou art and to dust you shall return. In Genesis 2, God does sculpt the first human from the humus of the earth, but it continues by saying that God breathed God's very own breath into the sculpted form, and it (we) became living beings. So even though our bodies are made of dust and have a limited life span and purpose, we are also bearers of God's own spirit that has eternal life and eternal purpose, and we will journey on toward God when our bodies have given way.

There is so much to explore and learn and grow from on this Lenten journey. The Bible texts for each Sunday “In” Lent are profound and instructive. So, I hope you will join with us as we make our way through the “Lenten Labyrinth” as a community of people loving, exploring, questing and questioning, as we make our way through the maze of life into Amazement of the wonders and possibilities of growing from one degree of glory to another into the image and likeness of God. I look forward to sharing this journey with you all.

-Rev. Rich Fournier

Pastor's reflections on 2019

Pastor's reflections on 2019

Another year has come and gone. Is it just me, or does it seem to you as well that each new year goes faster than the last? And while each year has its own unique fingerprint in time, the patterns of experience, the challenges, loving and learning, growing and changing, the deepening of friendships and community, seem similar.

Here's the opening paragraph from the Pastor's report several years ago:

“The past 12 months have been very full ones for our church and wider community. Our personal lives, our lives together, and our lives with God have been tested, challenged, and I believe deepened by the joys and sorrows, the loss and letting go, and the growing turbulence in the world at large. The vitality of our caring and connection has never been stronger. The way and the truth and the life of Jesus Christ has never been more important for us to follow and embody in our lives. The Spirit of God has inspired many people and leaders throughout history to teach and live aspects of this Way (Buddha, Ghandi, Mohammed, and countless mystics and holy women and men) and we need to continue to be a loving part of that vanguard of humanity that seeks to manifest the Way of Love, Hope, Peace, Compassion, Joy, Nonviolence, Forgiveness, Patience, Kindness, healing, and Joy. In this Way we contribute to the transformation of the world and the coming of the kingdom. A large task indeed. But I have seen the large-heartedness of our community, and the deep reservoir of love and forgiveness that we share, and I trust and have faith in you, all of you, that together with God and Christ's spirit, we will continue to move forward on the WAY.”

I think that about sums it up for most any year...

I continue to cherish and celebrate our life together at Mary Lyon Church, and Luahn and I appreciate the love and support of the members and friends of our church community. I/we hope that you feel our love and support as well.

Time itself not only seems faster, but the times we are living in seem more chaotic with world activities, climate change, competing truths, "fake news," refugees with no place to go, and threats of war.

And yet... I still believe that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the daughters and sons of God." (Romans 8:18-19)

In this season of Epiphany, this season of growing light, let us be light bearers for these times and for the world. Not necessarily in any grandiose way, but in our own quiet and deep ways that we have been doing and experiencing together for years. This will make a difference. This will help us to keep centered in the purposes for which we entered the "Earth School" this time. It's as if God is saying..."Hold my hand and we're halfway there, take my hand and I'll lead you there, someday somewhere somehow......starting now! I can't think of a better group of people to take this journey with than all of you!

Love and Blessings,

Your Pastor

Rev. Rich Fournier