Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.
On Sunday, following the service (more about that below), I’ll begin my summer break, which this year will include a mixture of denominational work, study time, and vacation.
Next week, I’ll be in Columbus, Ohio, attending the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. In mid-July, I will be in the Netherlands to attend the biennial meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. I’ll spend time at this conference with our co-religionists from around the globe, and specifically continue strengthening our ties with the Kenyan Unitarian Universalists, with whom First Unitarian is in a Mentoring Coalition.
I’m also looking forward this summer to joining Angela Klassen for an intensive eight-day Encounter World Religions Program in Toronto; the course involves multiple lectures each day, and visits to nineteen different faith communities in the GTA. I’ve long wanted to take part in this program (which I’ve heard many people rave about through the years), as it offers a unique and fascinating way to deepen in my understanding of and appreciation for the amazing diversity in our city.
Beyond these structured activities, I’ll be devoting some quiet time to writing for my doctoral program, planning programs for the coming year at First, and taking two weeks of vacation with Bob. (I’m grateful that while I’m away, Stephanie Gannon will serve as our Summer Minister, leading most Sunday services and offering pastoral care, along with our Lay Pastors.)
Aside from these plans for the summer, my bigger project will be to unplug. I’m feeling a deeper than usual need to catch my breath and gain perspective—the kind of perspective that can’t easily be found amid our crowded calendars or through the constant barrage of information that comes through our round-the-clock news cycle. Instead, I feel the need to listen to life. To sit with the state of the world, in all of its present heartache and promise, and try to see the way forward to my part, to our part, in the work of healing, justice, and peace. My sense is that this is work—soul work, even—that many if not all of us might benefit from. So, Sunday’s service, here as we approach the Summer Solstice, will be an invitation to revel in the gift of summer, of life lived at a different pace, so that we may be renewed and strengthened for our work in the world.
In faith and love,
Donations may be made at this service to our Aboriginal Awareness Group social justice project.