Events under 'Sunday Services'
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Event Name

Date

Holiday Presence

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Lynn Harrison will lead a service on Christmas morning that also honours the arrival of the first day of Chanukah with readings, reflections, and carols, as well as refreshments afterwards.

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, December 25, 2016 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Fired Up

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

At the dawning of a new year, through our Fire Communion ritual, we will gather to relinquish to the past what belongs to the past and then turn to embrace the promise of 2017 by letting our little lights shine.

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, January 01, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Gift of Creativity

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Whether we work with words, colours, musical notes or our bodies, the act of creativity is a life-sustaining gift…and this can be true both for individuals and whole communities. In fact, it’s been said that at times of pain and upheaval, we need creativity more than ever!

Author Toni Morrison writes, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

Join me on Sunday, as we reflect on “The Gift of Creativity.” How can we receive and nurture this gift and recognize its importance—quite apart from the pressures of the modern marketplace? How can we see creativity (in all forms) as an essential part of our spiritual lives and a powerful force for love and justice? How can we encourage ourselves and others to create, to raise our voices, to bring new life out of darkness?

This is our task: to co-create a new world. See you on Sunday.

Blessings,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, January 08, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Pathways to Creation

Sermon by Danielle Webber, Intern Minister.

In the New Horizons magazine this month, on the topic of creation, I named that creation is often a two sided coin, one side representing our human ability to create something from nothing, or something using tools and imagination. The other side of that coin being that part of creation that we do not have control over, that we might not even have understanding of. Such as how the universe was created why is it still expanding. This richness of the word Creation brings to mind the mystery of creative powers, both of our own powers, but also the creative powers of the Universe. Let us explore these mysteries together, not necessarily to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening, but to revel at the power, the mystery and the creation.

With Love, Danielle

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

On Origins

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”

These three questions comprise the title the artist Paul Gaugin gave to his painting that hangs today in Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. These three questions also relate well to our congregation’s theme for the month of January: “Creation.” And these questions hold particular value at this moment when the world around us is changing in some dramatic and worrying ways.

In looking to the future—both personally and globally—it can be helpful to look back, to consider our origins, to understand where we’ve come from—and to recognise how the journey from our beginnings has shaped us for the journey still to come. On Sunday, we’ll look to stories of creation and give thought to the role each of us is called to play in the ongoing creation of our world.

In that spirit, many of us will be turning out tomorrow in Queen’s Park for the Toronto Women’s March on Washington. If you’d like to join us, Lynn, Danielle, and I will be gathering at 11:45am outside the front doors of Emmanuel College on Avenue Road, near the eastern exit of the Museum subway stop. We will promptly travel from there to the front lawn of the Legislative Building.

Finally, I’m sending all best wishes to the many families in our congregation who will be travelling north for this year’s Family Retreat. May it be a wonderful, bonding time for all.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, January 22, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Ministers at The Improv

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton, Rev. Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister Danielle Webber.

We end our month focussed on the theme of "Creation" with a bit of an experiment in creativity. One of the spiritual exercises in this month's New Horizons suggested creating something with someone else. Danielle Webber proposed the three ministers create a sermon together, so that is what we will endeavour to do--in real time--on Sunday morning. Lynn, Danielle, and I will be offering up an improvised conversation on creativity in the place of a traditional sermon this week. Dallas Bergen and our Resident Musicians will also be getting into the spirit of improvisation by creating musical settings for our seven principles. It should be a Sunday to remember!

I rarely do this, but I very much encourage you to visit the wonderful show, "Mystical Landscapes," on at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibition has been extended to February 12th. Even with the press of the crowds, I have found it to be a serene experience. If inclined, I'd also suggest listening to this episode of "Tapestry" on the CBC which provides a helpful and insightful introduction the show. Enjoy!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, January 29, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The History of a Nation, the Future of a Congregation

Sermon by Danielle Webber, Intern Minister.

This month our theme is “Love and Justice” to coincide with the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Sharing our Faith month. Love and Justice come from the new Vision Statement approved at the May 2016 Annual Conference and Meeting “We, as Canadian Unitarian Universalists, envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice.”

This week will be looking at how human relationships in the history of Canada have fallen short on this vision. A history of promises made, and of promises broken. A history that started hundreds of years ago, and a history that happened just last week. How can we, as Canadian Unitarian Universalists live into this vision of our world? As we learn about the people that we share this country with, both those who have been here for centuries, and those only just arriving, can we begin to forge a sense of interdependence?

After the service I will be offering a Question and Answer session for the group that I will be facilitating over the next three months: The Reconciliation Reflection Group will be looking at the CUCs Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection guide and discussing “understanding colonization, connecting to the present realities and racism, healing and building resilience, and reconciliation through justice work and relationship building.” Please join me and the Aboriginal Awareness Group in Shaw Hall at 12:00 pm.

With Love,
Danielle

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 05, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

All Kinds of Love

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

It’s been said, in Unitarian circles, that if we do something more than once, it’s a tradition! So, I’m happy to announce we’re establishing a tradition of transforming Valentine’s as a time to celebrate not only romantic love, but all kinds of love. Sunday’s service will be another marvelous mix of moving music and powerful poems that speak to the love found in many different types of relationships. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve devoted in recent weeks to selecting the poems I very much look forward to sharing with you. They range from the humourous to the heartwrenching, and touch on most every thing in between. The choir and our resident musicians will be offering music that speaks to the many facets of love, as well. So, come, join us for this celebration of the heart.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 12, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Gilgamesh: A Drama of Life and Death

Sermon by Rev. Peter Hughes.

This Sunday is going to be epic! At the service this week, you have an opportunity to see Dallas Bergen playing Gilgamesh (and on his birthday, no less!). He’ll join with members of our congregation for a retelling of this storied epic, as adapted by our own Rev. Dr. Peter Hughes.

I’ll confess I was a bit skeptical when Peter initially shared the idea with me. How relevant would Gilgamesh feel to our congregation? I wondered how it would tie in to this month’s theme of “love and justice.” But when I read the script, I was deeply moved. And I understood this ancient tale far better than I did when I first encountered it in my grade nine English class. It is, indeed, a story of life and of death, of loss, and of love. So, I hope you’ll enjoy (re-)connecting with this great work of literature and the timeless themes it explores.

In faith and love,
ShawnView the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 19, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Why Black Lives Matter

Sermon by Asha Philar, Rev. Shawn Newton.

Recent events south of the border have challenged Canadians to grapple with the overt but more often insidious ways racism plays out in our country. Here at home, Black Lives Matter Toronto has demanded our city examine the structural racism they contend disproportionately targets black lives, with sometimes deadly results. When BLMT shut down Toronto’s Pride Parade with a sit-in last June, they caught people’s attention—and rage. The actions of Black Lives Matter Toronto have generated strong reactions. What does this moment ask of us as Unitarians? On Sunday, I will be joined in the pulpit by Asha Philar, a remarkable young adult with whom I’ve been in a rich dialogue on these issues for the past many months. I look forward to our being able to share our thoughts with you. In the meantime, I invite you to visit the website of Black Lives Matter Toronto to learn more.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 26, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

A Celebration of International Women's Day

Sermon by Catherine Lake.

Memory is the servant of conscience.

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women and focuses our attentions on the ongoing quest for gender equality throughout the world. Women’s history, like Indigenous and Black histories, have been actively suppressed by those who publish, promote and shared but not-so-common history. “Hidden Figures” indeed.

How can we as people of conscience continue our search for truth and justice when the truth of women’s lives remain untold? How can girls and women be included fully in the present and visualized in the future when we are not included in the past?

“Rehabilitating History” is this week's sermon presented by Catherine Lake who highlights the contributions of women such as Jigonsaseh who helped establish the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy centuries before colonization and Judy LaMarsh who defended the civil rights of four lesbians evicted from the Brunswick Tavern in 1974.

Reconciling history is a critical element of truth as expressed through the Truth and Reconciliation process to which all Canadians and Unitarian Universalists are called to participate. This Sunday’s service will include guest speaker Joanne (Okimawininew) Dallaire, LLD whose Healing Work contributes to transforming the lives of individuals, the culture of agencies and the recognition of and respect for Aboriginal people, their culture, concerns and contributions within mainstream society. Joanne will be speaking about her Healing Work at the YWCA Toronto’s Winona’s Place — a unique and vibrant residence that provides independent living within a supportive and secure environment for Indigenous women and their children.

Joanne Dallaire currently sits as the Elder for Ryerson University’s Aboriginal Education Council, and the Truth and Reconciliation directive and as a Traditional counsellor at Ryerson’s Aboriginal Student Services.

A special collection will be taken up to support the work of Winona’s Place and the Indigenous women they serve.

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 05, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Simple Church

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

This month, we take up the theme of simplicity, which feels particularly timely given the ways our world, and our lives with it, seems to be growing ever more complicated.

Our congregation is not immune from this increasing complexity. Over the past couple of years, the leaders of the congregation have grappled with the question of whether there is another way—of whether there is a simpler way to be First Unitarian. In our discernment, many of us have found a book entitled Simple Church to be a helpful guide. The book has supported us in becoming clearer about what it is that we, as a congregation, are uniquely called to do.

This clarity of focus is all the more important as we deepen in our discernment about our real estate needs and opportunities. On Sunday, prior to our Congregational Conversation on these matters, I look forward to sharing what I believe all of this means for our future in a changing world.

Remember to set your clocks forward this Saturday night!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

Sermon by Danielle Webber, Intern Minister.

During these busy days of early spring, a time of decision making, problem solving, and plan following we take a time to focus on simplicity.

This weekend spend a quiet, contemplative hour considering the thoughts that Henry David Thoreau recorded while spending several years on his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson's land in northern Massachusetts, a cabin on a cove of Walden Pond.

Although Thoreau needed to leave behind the busyness of society in order to find the space to contemplate these writings, we consider them as part of our lives, attempting to integrate new practices into our world.

With Love,
Danielle

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Not So Simple

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Nothing seems as hard to achieve, sometimes, as simplicity. In contrast, complexity is a breeze! It’s everywhere, in abundance. As life grows more complicated, simplicity is ever harder to come by. In its place, it can be tempting to settle for simplicity’s cheap substitutes—for mindless escape or for watered down explanations about the world around us.

But what if we came to better appreciate simplicity’s essential relationship with complexity? What if we were to understand the complications of our life as a vital part of growing in wisdom?

I look forward to taking up these questions with you in Sunday’s service.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 26, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Satyagraha

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

In the current global political climate, with tensions running high, with, quite literally, matters of life and death being handled in increasingly partisan ways, I have heard something new—something I've never heard before. I've heard calls to action amongst progressives that don't rule out the possibility of violence. As one who often says “how is more important than what,” I find this deeply concerning.

In April, our congregation turns to the theme of Resistance, which, though chosen over a year ago, feels particularly timely. (You can find April’s New Horizons here.) Through our Journey Groups and from the pulpit in the coming weeks, we'll consider the many meanings of resistance in our lives. This Sunday, I will take up non-violent resistance, looking to the threads of Unitarian history and theology to explore what resistance means in our tradition. I'll also share Gandhi's notion of "satyagraha," or "soul force." The choir will sing beautiful music based on the words of Rabindrinath Tagore, the Bengali poet (and Unitarian) who won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 02, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Putting Up Resistance

Sermon by Danielle Webber.

“Any day now, any day now, I shall be released.”

Bob Dylan’s familiar words may strike a chord with anyone feeling pressured right now...feeling stressed or weighed down. We naturally resist these feelings, and sometimes our resistance is indeed urgently needed. But this Sunday, as we continue to explore the theme of “Resistance” throughout the month of April, we explore how our personal resistance can at times impede our personal growth.

How are we “putting up resistance” today, and how might we soften our resistance when needed? With poetry, music and both ancient and contemporary wisdom, we’ll reflect on how resistance is an integral part of the human journey, and one we can approach with creativity and love.

Blessings,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 09, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Turning toward the Morning

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

You may have heard there are serious discussions underway to come to a common, fixed date for Easter. Pope Francis and leaders of the Orthodox, Coptic, and Anglican Churches have been in dialogue over the past couple of years to agree upon a shared system for determining the date for the most important date in the Christian calendar. If this goes forward—and it seems it just might, after many previous efforts have failed—in five to ten years, Easter would always occur on a given Sunday in mid-April. There would be advantages to this, to be sure.

A significant disadvantage to my mind, though, is that Easter won't likely align with Passover, or at least not as frequently as it currently does. For me, there is something powerful about taking the messages of these two religious holidays together. As a preacher, I find it fruitful to sit with what both traditions have to say, side by side. This year, more than most, I’m looking to what Passover and Easter have to say to us about resistance, and I’m finding there are enduring messages for us to hear. I look forward to celebrating these two traditions with you all on Sunday, and welcoming the renewal of the natural world all around us, too.

Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

For all that is our life

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

This weekend, we mark a decade of shared ministry together at First Unitarian! With amazement, I wonder, “How did that happen?!” I am deeply grateful for the many wonderful efforts being made to celebrate this milestone in such meaningful ways.

As those closest to me know, anniversaries are very important to me. I believe such occasions invite us to reflect back and to look forward into the future. That is why I, on the day of significant anniversaries in my life, try to assess where I’m at and where I’m going. Every year, on the anniversary of my ordination and the anniversary of being installed as minister at First, I read through the vows I made at those turning-point moments in my life. Doing so helps me to remember the promises I have made and enables me to remain grounded as I endeavour to live more fully into these commitments with guide and define my life.

Last year, in a conversation with a group of emerging leaders in the congregation, it became clear that only one of the group of ten had been at First when I was installed. As a result, there wasn’t a shared understanding of the promises the congregation and I had made to each other. Our anniversary provides us with a meaningful moment to bring newer people into that covenant as we move forward. I encourage you, if possible, to read through the covenant we will share on Sunday. While the litany we’ll share on Sunday has been slightly updated, it remains significantly the same set of promises we shared a decade ago. I am honoured and humbled to be renewing these commitments with you all.

In my sermon on Sunday, I plan to speak to the highlights and challenges of these last ten years, while looking forward to “all that is our life” in the years to come, as we make major decisions about real estate and strengthen our resolve to build a better world.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 23, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Conscious Capitalism

Sermon by Terri Marks.

First, I want to begin by offering my deepest thanks to everyone who helped make last Sunday’s celebration of the tenth anniversary of our shared ministry such a meaningful day. Renewing our covenant was, for me, so much more powerful after a decade together than when we first made our promises to one another at the beginning of this ministry. I am so grateful to be on this journey with you. Your love and generosity of spirit were such beautiful gifts. For those unable to be with us, you can read my sermon.

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate Earth Day with our own Terri Marks in the pulpit. Terri is nearing the end of her doctoral work based on “Conscious Capitalism.” Her sermon will invite us to resist the easy choice of unconscious spending and encourage more reflection on what and why we buy—and especially where we buy our goods and services. As Terri says, we have a lot of power as consumers and need to exercise that power by choosing companies that are socially-conscious.

On this Earth Sunday a special testimony will be given, and donations will be collected to support the work of the Green Sanctuary group. These include investing in Bullfrog power for the church and special nature classes for the children, as well as the Green Moment and co-operation with Eco Justice activities.

Following the service, we will have a Congregational Meeting to continue our conversation about our real estate options. The task force will report on several possible scenarios and explain important steps that are underway as we move closer to making a decision. I encourage you to engage in this conversation, in person or at the very least by reviewing the materials that will be provided at the meeting (and shared again in coming weeks). Lunch and childcare will be provided.

Wishing you all good things in these beautiful days of spring!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 30, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Coming of Age

Sermon by members of our Coming of Age youth group.

This Sunday we mark a very meaningful rite of passage in the life of six young people—and in the life of our congregation. It’s routine on Coming of Age Sunday for me to hear adults who were not raised Unitarian say, sometimes through their tears, they wish they had had access to such a program when they were teenagers.

This week's service is the culmination of the work these young people have done this year, as they have sat in an intentional way, with the help of their teachers and mentors, with life's big questions. What causes many of us to choke up when hearing the Coming of Agers offer their credos from the pulpit is the freedom they have to express their minds, without fear of being shunned or labeled heretics. I'm proud of this group, especially for the work they've done in recent weeks, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts in Sunday's service.

Two notes:

This Sunday morning, the Goodlife Marathon will be unfolding on the streets of Toronto, so plan your travel accordingly.

Also, the powerful story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, the Unitarian minister and his wife, who risked their lives to save children during the Holocaust is now on Netflix. Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, by Ken Burns, describes how this ordinary couple left their children in the care of their congregation for two years so they could help save the lives of hundreds of people. For their heroic efforts, the Sharps were named "Righteous among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem.

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Search Calendar