Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
A few years ago, I saw a painting created to visually depict Unitarian Universalism. Among many other symbols, the painting included a stack of three books meant to visually convey the different sources of inspiration and authority in our tradition. On the bottom was a copy of The Bible, representing our Jewish and Christian heritage. Next was a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the one-time Unitarian minister who went on to challenge much of the religious orthodoxy of his day. And on top of this stack was a blank book—a book without a title on the spine, a book with pristine pages without a word of text. This book was meant to convey our conviction that “revelation is not sealed”—that the wisdom of the world wasn’t granted, once upon a time, and once and for all. Instead, we affirm that the journey of insight and understanding about the meaning and purpose of life is an ever-unfolding adventure. On Sunday, as we take up this month’s theme of Revelation, we’ll explore what our approach to the evolving nature of knowledge means in a world of competing and conflicting revelations, especially when so much is at stake.
Earlier in the service on Sunday, we will dedicate our new memorial space that has been created on the landing near the base of the stained glass tower. The memorial will provide a tangible way those within our congregation can mark the deaths of loved ones and honour their loss in a shared space. The names of members who have died and those added by others will be displayed for the year following the person’s death. At the end of each month, cards that have been in place for a year will be collected and held until our annual Day of the Dead service in late October, when they will be burned and the ashes scattered in our Secret Garden. While this part of the service will be brief, it will be a meaningful moment to create this sacred space that will surely benefit us all for years to come.
Finally, it is good to be home! I used my sabbatical month this year to delve more deeply into my understanding of European religious history. As you might expect, I hope to share stories about it all in the weeks and months to come. Thanks, as always, for the time away and for your commitment to my ongoing growth and renewal. It is a great gift.
In faith and love,