Events under 'Sunday Services'
Monday, October 22, 2018

Event Name

Date

Life, with and without a map

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. In this sermon, I'll be talking about the spiritual disciplines of living with and without a map. Both have their advantages, both their downsides. How might we, together, begin to live with a clearer sense of where we're going, while still having the courage to go beyond the boundaries of the map? In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, January 19, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Seek, Connect, Serve

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. Seek • Connect • Serve It’s not exactly easy to explain what a Unitarian is, let alone describe how we live out our faith. If you’ve had experiences anything like mine, your efforts have at least occasionally been met with blank stares and baffled expressions. From the outside (and sometimes from the inside, too!), our liberal religious tradition can be a challenge to grasp. The curious rightly ask: “How can you have a faith where people believe very different things? or “How does a religion work without an authoritative set of scriptures or even basic agreement about God?” At times, I’m simply inclined to say, “It’s something of a mystery. I don’t really know how to explain how or why it works, but, for the most part, it does.” That answer, though, isn’t quite sufficient for every circumstance. As I shared last week, a sub-group of wordsmithing board members and I have been working for many months to refresh our existing mission and vision statements by distilling them down to their essence. With thesauri in hand, we’ve reviewed reams of newsprint with ideas generated at congregational meetings and leadership retreats in recent years. We’ve sifted through the various (and, in many cases, lengthy) statements adopted by the congregation over the past decade, carefully searching for recurring themes. We’ve engaged with the board, convenors, and staff in this conversation, as well as with members of First at our Congregational Retreat in November, incorporating their collective feedback with further changes to arrive at: Committed to love and justice, we seek to understand the meaning of our lives, connect with others in common purpose, and serve life to build a better world. Our hope is that we will together endeavour with a spirit of both generosity and curiosity to live with and live into these words, trying them on for size, wrestling with their implications, listening for the deeper questions they may be asking of us. In time, I hope we might even find they help us to better explain what it means to be a Unitarian, and what it means, in particular, to be a part of First. On Sunday, I’ll reflect on how these words not only help us describe ourselves, but also offer a path for us to follow, as well. In faith, Shawn
Sunday, January 26, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Heat of Passion

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. This month, as we take up the theme of what it means to live a life of passion, Lynn and I will be exploring the many different meanings English speakers tend to associate with the word passion itself, ranging from desire to suffering to purpose. In my sermon this week, I'll be inviting us to reflect on how anger relates to passion. We've all likely heard news reports of a "crime of passion"-some unplanned act fueled by a strong surge of emotion. The thought behind the phrase is that such an act is at least somewhat reasonable (if not acceptable or legal), because the person committing the crime was understandably enraged. Sadly, such moments typically play out when a betrayed spouse attacks a cheating partner and his or her new love interest, or when parents, concerned for the life and well-being of their children, take on a suspected perpetrator. The description, "a crime of passion," seems to recognise that there are times when the hot white flash of anger can get the best of us, when our senses simply take their leave, and we behave in ways that would be unthinkable otherwise. This week, I'll be inviting us to consider anger's more productive uses! This Sunday, we'll also be celebrating in story, word, and song the long and dedicated life of the great Unitarian Pete Seeger. See you Sunday. In faith, Shawn
Sunday, February 02, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Passionate Kisses

Sermon by Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister. Love is in the air. Around Valentine's Day, many peoplefind themselves thinking of romance. We're exploring the theme of passion throughout the month of February, and this week's topic is "passion as desire." It may be that desire is literally at the heart of our lives! After all, passionate desire isn't limited to romantic relationships; it's fuel for many of life's pursuits. Passion can be delightfully energizing, but it can create challenges too. It can be difficult to balance our desires with our realities, our passion with our reason. My sermon this week takes its title from the Lucinda Williams song of the same name, which artistically asks, "shouldn't I have it all?" It's a fascinating question, waiting to captivate our hearts this Sunday. Hope to see you then. Blessings, Lynn Harrison Intern Minister
Sunday, February 09, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Heart of Compassion

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. I was in Grade Six when I first heard excerpts from Bach’s stirring St. Matthew Passion. I’m embarrassed to admit, though, that what I most remember today about the experience was my confusion. At the time, I apparently knew only one of the many meanings of the word “passion.” While I understood Bach’s oratorio was about the suffering and death of Jesus, I struggled to square all of that horror with my narrow sense of passion as romantic desire. Only later did I finally come to comprehend that another of passion’s definitions is suffering. This week, as we explore different facets of February’s theme of passion, we take up the common condition of human suffering—and with it, the invitation to live lives of compassion, meaning to “suffer with.” My sermon will consider how “suffering with” helps to alleviate suffering, be it our own or that of others. It will also be my great joy on Sunday to lead the congregation in the Dedication of Charlotte Hannah Martin-Johnston, the newborn daughter of Chad Martin and Eleanor Johnston. Chad, a composer, has written for Charlotte a special piece called “Cradle Song” to be sung by our resident musicians. In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, February 16, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Good for Something

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. “Be not simply good,” Unitarian Henry David Thoreau said, “be good for something.” This Sunday, I’ll be exploring not only what that something is for us as individuals, but inviting us to consider what it might be for us as a congregation, as well. Just imagine what we could accomplish if we were to harness our collective passion and put it in service to the greater good. See you on Sunday! In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, February 23, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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This I Know

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” - Mark Twain With this coming Sunday, we launch the March’s theme of what it means to live a life of “knowing.” It may seem a strange theme, but the exploration of what we know and how we know it is foundational to our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. This week, I’ll talk about how much we—or at least I—don’t know! As you’ve hopefully heard, I’ll be leaving next week to begin a a month of sabbatical time, which has become my general rather than taking several months away all at once. During my time away, I’ll be visiting a number of congregations in California with innovative approaches to ministry. Toward the end of my break, I’ll be preaching in Burlington, Vermont at a ministerial installation for a friend, attending the UU-United Nations Office Spring Seminar in Manhattan with our youth group and their advisors, and then trekking to Boston for meetings at the UUA. While I am away, Lynn and the Lay Pastors will be available, as always, for listening and support should any emergencies or general pastoral concerns arise. Our convenors, board, and staff are well equipped to manage the life of the congregation. I never doubt that the congregation is in good hands! Finally, I want to express my deep thanks for this wonderful gift you provide to me—sabbatical time for research, renewal, and rest. I look forward to returning and telling you all about it. In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, March 02, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Getting to Know You

Sermon by Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister. March 8th is International Women's Day. This Sunday at First Unitarian, we join with women and men around the world in marking this important event, as we continue to explore this month's theme of "knowing." Plus, we'll hear a preview of #Seventh, the afternoon concert generously presented by the resident musicians of First Unitarian, which will take place at 2pm this Sunday afternoon. Getting to know ourselves and others in the context of a changing world, we gain insight gradually through our interconnection, joining our voices towards hope and justice. As always, we hope to get to know you better...and look forward to seeing you this Sunday, both for the morning service and the afternoon concert! If you're staying for both, join us for lunch and board games in Workman Hall before the show. (A special reminder: don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour on Saturday night, for daylight savings time.) Blessings, Lynn Harrison Intern Minister
Sunday, March 09, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Tempest in a Boston Teacup

Sermon by Peter Hughes. We'll be travelling back in time with a dramatic presentation of a play, written by Rev. Dr. Peter Hughes, based upon the record of a meeting of Unitarian ministers in 1843 at which, over tea, the fate of the radical clergyman Theodore Parker was decided. The result of that meeting ever afterward defined the way that Unitarians applied the principle of tolerance and dealt with dissent. Please join us for this rare glimpse into Unitarian history, in which Parker bravely puts forward his understanding of religion, which differs from that of his colleagues. Blessings, Lynn Harrison Intern Minister
Sunday, March 16, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Conversations With Life

Sermon by Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister. Throughout our lives, we are engaged in the continual "call-and-response" of creative interchange. As we talk to each other, listen for the voice within, and open ourselves to Life itself, we may find ourselves "called" in ways we don't expect! Our conversations may be difficult, and yet, they can lead us to wondrous new ways of living. This Sunday's sermon explores how, in conscious and loving ways, we can engage in dialogue with the world. Then, in the afternoon, we're all invited to a congregational conversation on potential next steps for First Unitarian. As our monthly theme of "knowing" continues, we are reminded of its relationship to "un-knowing"--and the blessings of curiosity and community. Lynn Harrison Intern Minister
Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Music Sunday: The Hour Has Come to Love

Sermon by Dallas Bergen, Director of Congregational Music. Sunday's service marks our annual 'Music Sunday' service. We'll be treated to music by our choir, resident musicians, and Aleza Coldevin. Sue Berlove will share a testimony about the role that harmony has played in her spiritual and musical journey. Sunday's sermon will centre on our search for truth and meaning through the arts, philosophy, religion, and science. We'll unravel the works of the poetic mystics and the teachings of science, reconciling our profound significance with our profound insignificance in the vastness of time and space. Through seeking knowledge of ourselves and understanding of our place in the multiverse, we can respond to the call to live a life full of meaning--in harmony with others, with our planet, and beyond. I hope you'll join us! Dallas
Sunday, March 30, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Curiouser and Curiouser

Sermon by Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister. “Curiouser and Curiouser”. Those strange words were first uttered by Alice, the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” This month, we enter our own wonderland at First Unitarian, as we explore the theme of “wonder” in story, song and personal reflection. In this Sunday’s service, we’ll reflect on what it means to be curious. What happens when life surprises us, in delightful or disappointing ways? How do we respond when our experiences don’t conform to what we thought we knew or understood? The first source of insight in Unitarian Universalism is “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.” I hope you’ll join us on Sunday, as we embark on our own adventures in wonder! Blessings, Lynn
Sunday, April 06, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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The Endless Wonders of Human Community

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. This Sunday, the service will explore what it means for us to be and become a healthier congregation. One of the truest tests of any human community is how well it deals with the challenges of conflict. With lessons directly applicable to our individual lives, we’ll reflect on how we can draw on our deepest values to work through our differences with others—for our ability to do that, and to do it well, will, in the end, be one the most enduring measures of our lives.
Sunday, April 13, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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New Member Ceremony

The Reception of New Members will start as the New Members sign the Membership Book, indicating their deepening commitment to participating in the life, health, and vision of this congregation, then stand as a group beside the pulpit, and participate in a responsive reading or an exchange of vows with both the Congregation and the Minister.
Sunday, April 13, 2014 11:00 am - 11:15 am
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Wow!

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. The enduring stories of humanity have a way of making us say, “Wow!” That’s certainly true of the Passover and Easter stories celebrated around the world this week, with their elements of liberation and freedom, hope and resurrection. Those once held in bondage are suddenly slaves no more. Wow! One who was crucified, dead, and buried suddenly lives again. Wow! The details of such stories can stretch the limits of our rational, modern minds. But do we not have stories from our own lives that speak powerfully of freedom and resurrection? Do we not also have a deep and abiding need for such stories that stir our hopes and set our hearts free? Of course we do. So it is to such stories that we’ll turn on Sunday morning, as we celebrate the arrival of springtime come at (long) last and the renewal it brings to us all. In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Webs of Wonder: Earth Day service

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. The word “wonder,” our theme for April, has, of course, many different though connected meanings. As a noun, it can be a splendid mix of surprise and admiration, or something (or someone!) remarkable and strange. As a verb, wonder speaks to that deep desire to know more, to feel a restless curiosity, about something. It can also be a way to express doubt. And, obviously, to feel amazement. All these definitions are relevant to our relationship with the Earth. This Sunday we will celebrate Earth Day by looking at our changing relationship with our beloved “Blue Dot” through the many lenses of wonder. To add to the festivities, the children will be sharing a song by Pete Seeger, Kim Saltarski and Ian French and friends will share a new song called “Blessings,” and we’ll all join in singing a Beatles song at the end!
Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Living Out Loud

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. For the month of May, we’ll be exploring what it means to live an honest life. An obvious requirement of such a life is telling the truth. On Sunday, we’ll look at what it means to tell the truth of who we are: to live out loud, even when doing so goes against the grain of others’ expectations. For inspiration, we’ll be drawing on the lessons that transgender people have to teach us all about the courage it takes to truly be ourselves. In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, May 04, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Such a Lonely Word

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton. Billy Joel famously sang about honesty being such a lonely word. I'm not sure how lonesome it is, but honesty certainly is a complicated word! On Sunday, Lynn Harrison and I will take up those complications in a shared sermon about the upsides and downsides of honesty. We'll be exploring when truth must be spoken, and when an honest word is better left unsaid. In faith and love, Shawn
Sunday, May 11, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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The Darker Side of Nature

Sermon by Chris Moore, Seminarian. Like many Unitarians I have often stood in reverential awe of the beauty and the enormity of our physical universe. And it is truly amazing. I have often said that life needs no reason to justify its existence. But what do we do with a universe that is more capable of snuffing out life, than sustaining it? What do we do when the beautiful green earth begins to shake and break apart and swallow up buildings? What are we to make of a raging forest fire consuming all before it? Where is the beauty in a wasting drought that dries out the land, killing trees, plants, flowers, and starving those living on it? Life and beauty need no excuses to justify their existence. But, if I am honest with myself, somehow I can’t help thinking that death and destruction do require some justification for their existence. It is a natural tendency in many people to look for meaning when things go horribly wrong. But how does one do that exactly?
Sunday, May 18, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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The Rareties of Nature's Truth (Flower Communion)

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton and Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister Join us on Sunday for our annual celebration of Spring, as we create a grand arrangement of flowers that will be a reflection of both our individuality and our place within our community. Please remember to bring a flower (or a few!) with you to mark this ritual. (If you aren't able to make it to First with a flower, know that there will be flowers waiting for you.) Though we won’t read it on Sunday or go into it in depth, I invite you to spend a few moments with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60, as my reflection for this week takes its inspiration from one line in particular: Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d, Crooked elipses ’gainst his glory fight, And Time that gave doth now his gift confound. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow, Feeds on the rareties of nature’s truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow: And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand. See you Sunday! In love and faith, Shawn
Sunday, May 25, 2014 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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