Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton & Rev. Lynn Harrison.
Welcome to the beginning of an exciting new year in the life of our congregation.
On Sunday, we will gather together for our annual Water Communion service in Sunderland Hall. The choir and resident musicians will be serenading us with our own Lucas Marchand’s arrangement of “The River” by Coco Love Alcorn. Dallas Bergen, Rev. Lynn Harrison, and I will lead you through various rituals to honour the place of water in our lives. Whether your journey in recent months has taken you far away or been lived close to home, we encourage you to bring water that symbolically marks some meaningful moment from your summer. (We’ll have water available for those who don’t bring water with them.) There will be opportunities to pour your water to reflect moments of sadness and grief, transition and change, as well as renewal and joy. In this we honour the bittersweet blend that is life itself. We will also begin a new ritual this year that I’ll explain more fully on Sunday.
At the end of the service, I will make a few important announcements. Here’s a preview:
While Sunday mornings are important to our congregation, it is in our Journey Groups where we go deeper by engaging with a monthly theme with a circle of five to ten other members of the congregation. This year, we are changing up the format a bit, with more focus on discussion while still listening carefully to one another’s hearts. The themes will tie in closely with the content of the sermon series we have planned for the year. Registration for Journey Groups, which will begin in the second half of October and meet each month through May, will open in the coming week (you’ll find the link for this in next Friday’s First Light).
As you may already be aware, there is a widespread call for a truly global General Strike on Friday, September 27thto demand action on climate change. People the world over are being asked to go on strike that day to draw attention to the peril for all future life on our planet. You will be hearing more from Rev. Lynn and I in the coming weeks about this—including plans to have a First Unitarian meeting spot at the demonstrations and marches that will mark the day. In the meantime, our Green Team is providing the art supplies to support us all in making banners and signs that we can carry with us. For the next three Sundays, beginning today at 12:15pm, you can go to Shaw Hall and create your own sign. You can even leave it here to dry over the coming week!
Finally, over the past three years, we have had the privilege of sponsoring six refugee families from Syria. We have helped to raise the needed money—at this point approaching a total of a half-million dollars—to bring these people fleeing the horrors of war to Canada. In addition, numerous people from our congregation have volunteered to help these newcomers settle in Toronto and make a new life, by helping them learn how to navigate the TTC or the health care system, showing them around the city and teaching them about what it means to live in this city. It has been highly rewarding work, and a labour of love. The happy news is that our work is not done. We have two more large families on the way, due to arrive in Toronto in the coming three to six months. We urgently need more volunteers. Today and next Sunday, current volunteers will be hosting information sessions downstairs in the Board Room to share their experiences with anyone who is interested in joining them in this amazing work. If you haven’t yet gotten involved, I encourage you to do so.
I am excited to join with you—in hope and joy—to begin a new year together.
See you on Sunday (and remember to bring your water…!)
In faith and love,
View the Order of Service.