Presence in the Mystery

Date: Sunday, December 17, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Sermon by Rev. Wayne Walder.

This Sunday, we welcome to our pulpit Rev. Wayne Walder, the founding minister of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Many will recall that Wayne was a member of First Unitarian before beginning seminary and launching Neighbourhod, with some assistance from our congregation, almost twenty years ago.

Over the past year, leaders from our two congregations have been in conversation about how we might strengthen the ties between us, especially as each of us is in discernment about our future real estate options. We have committed to more regular exchanges with each other, so that our congregations may come to know each other better. While Wayne and I are leading this coming Sunday’s service at First, Rev. Lynn Harrison will be preaching at Neighbourhood. In February, I’ll lead a service with Wayne at Neighbourhood, while Lynn preaches at First. Such “pulpit exchanges” have been a feature in our tradition going back to the 17th century, allowing our congregations to hear the insights and wisdom of different members of our clergy. I am excited for us to return to this practice.

Of his sermon on Sunday, and mindful of our theme of Presence for the month of December, Wayne wrote: “It is difficult to be ‘present’ when family and holidays are near. Maybe even more difficult to find our presence in the mystery of the season.” In this service, we will also light our Advent Wreath, our Yule Log, and our Menorah, with help from the kids. Our Resident Musicians will sing Scott Reimner’s “Solstice Carol” as the Introit, and the choir will sing “Veni Sancte Spiritus” by Zanaida Robles as the Anthem.

Finally, between now and New Year’s Day, there are eight worship services on offer at First to help you journey through this season:

  • For those seeking the “quiet centre,” our contemplative Peace & Quiet services continue at 7:00 pm on Sunday evenings (with the exception of Christmas Eve).
  • On Thursday, the 21st, we will gather at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm for our candlelight Winter Solstice Vespers (the two services are identical), which will include Celtic harp music, my homily about seeing the beauty all around us, and the invitation to journey through the vast spiral of evergreens that will be at the centre of this service in the round.
  • On Christmas Eve morning, I’ll be preaching about the spiritual lessons we can take from Santa Claus, while we share in some of the more secular music of the season. That evening, our Candelight Christmas Eve Service will be held at 7:00 pm, with glorious music from the choir. Lynn will offer the sermon, and I will lead the candlelighting.
  • On New Year’s Eve morning, we will mark the transition from this year to the next with our annual Fire Communion Service, as we let go of what we need to relinquish to 2017 and embrace what we most hope to carry with us into 2018. That evening, at 7:00 pm, Lynn will lead the last Peace & Quiet service of the year—a perfect and thoughtful way to welcome the new year.

Please feel free to being family and friends to any of these services.

In whatever ways you celebrate, may this season fill you with light, with hope, and with joy!

In faith and love,

View the Order of Service.

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