Events under 'Sunday Services'

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Events under 'Sunday Services'
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Event Name

Date

Love and the World​'​s Religions

Sermon by Brian Carwana.

I look forward to being back at First this Sunday, as we welcome to our pulpit Brian Carwana, the Executive Director of Encounter World Religions. I first met Brian three years ago, when I took part in the week-long program he guides to help people discover the richness of Toronto's religious diversity. Over the course of the week, Brian presented a compelling series of introductory lectures about eleven of the world's great religions. Amid these lectures, my group visited nineteen houses of worship—from mosques and gurdwaras and synagogues to Hindu and Buddhist temples. Though I majored in comparative religion for my undergraduate degree, the week with Brian provided me with the most integrated education I've received about the religious traditions of the world. To learn more about the program, I encourage you to see this brief and beautiful video.

See you on Sunday!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 11, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, March 11, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Risk Tolerance

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Perhaps more than anything else, it defines how our lives unfold. Our tolerance for risk—and how that tolerance ebbs and flows over time—sets the course for our days on this earth.

      Did we speak our mind, even as a kid?
      Did we stretch to score that goal?
      Did we dare to ask for that first date?
      Did we invest in Apple, Inc. early on?

Rather than asking, at a party or at coffee hour, often awkward or sometimes inappropriate questions about a person’s background or what they do for work, it could be much more engaging to ask someone about their tolerance for risk. On Sunday, we’ll ask that question of ourselves, exploring how our openness and aversion to risk plays out in our efforts to live a life of integrity.

This will be a great service to invite friends to attend. We’ll welcome back our music director, Dallas Bergen, and enjoy the choir’s stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s beautiful “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” as well as much by Gwyneth Walker’s “The Sun Is Love” to welcome the arrival of Spring and honour the celebration of Naw-Ruz.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 18, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, March 18, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Risking it All

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Throughout the month of March, we’ve been exploring the theme of “Risk” in our Sunday services and discussions—taking the risk of vulnerability as we’ve shared stories of risks we've taken (and not taken) in our lives.

This Sunday's Message of Inspiration is titled “Risking it All”—but as ordinary human beings, we can be remarkably cautious even in our risk-taking, and that has consequences for the Whole and for our personal lives as well.

With a change in outlook, could we dare to fly a little closer to our brightest hopes? What might happen if we did?

On Sunday, we’ll hear a classic story of risk-taking in the Time for All Ages, along with beautiful poetry and music to inspire us.

Now that Spring is here and new possibilities are budding, may we come together in the shared desire to take the risks worth taking—to build a better world.

Blessings,
Rev. Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 25, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, March 25, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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"I Feel So Much Spring"

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled with the time change since we entered Daylight Saving Time on 11 March. Somehow, this year, having light later in the day just hasn’t aligned with the weather, with my internal clock, or with my impatience for spring’s arrival. As much as I love winter, I’m ready for longer, warmer, and brighter days. As my colleague Jane Rzepka says, “We’ve wintered long enough.” And so we have.

Truth be told, though, I know my longing for springtime is about more than a desired change in the weather; it is about a deep-seated need for the renewal of life around me—and within me, too. Maybe the same is true for you in this season, as well.

This Sunday, as we celebrate Easter and Passover and mark the slow return of spring, we’ll honour the enduring stories that speak to the power and possibility of new life. The Choral Introit will be a beautiful setting of George Matheson’s “O Love, that will not let me go”. Our Resident Musicians will offer as the Anthem “I Feel So Much Spring” from William Finn’s musical A New Brain. This will be a guest-friendly service, so feel free to bring along a friend or family member to join us on Sunday.

In whatever ways you celebrate this season, may your heart be touched by the joy of a brighter day.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 01, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Question Box

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton & Rev. Lynn Harrison

Join us this Sunday, as Rev. Lynn Harrison and I will engage the congregation in a time of “Q&A” during the service. In lieu of a traditional sermon, Lynn and I will respond to as many questions as we can, in as meaningful a way as possible.

Earlier in the service, everyone wishing to lift up a question will be invited to do so by writing it on an index card. We will then endeavour to group similar questions together and provide our reflections on the topics raised. So, between now and Sunday, listen for the question that’s on your heart—about, perhaps, what it means to be Unitarian, or about some pressing theological question, or some aspect of our shared life as a community.

While there will likely be more questions than we can get to—and the very real possibility that there are questions that cannot be easily addressed without more time or deeper thought—we are looking forward to spending this time together in a more improvisational way. Any rest assured that the questions we may not be able to get to will inform sermons in the future.

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 08, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, April 08, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Come Sleet, Snow or Hail

Due to inclement weather, this service was simplified and the theme was changed.


Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Things Have Changed

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison

In the 1967 film “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman’s character is told that his future success can be summed up in one word: “Plastics!”

A generation later, it’s clear that our convenience-based lifestyle is anything but the route to human (and planetary) well-being.

When it comes to our understanding of success and prosperity, things have changed. On Earth Day Sunday this year, we’ll reflect on how (and whether or not, and in what ways) we can change…to protect life on earth and to care for our souls and spirits during this time of profound planetary change.

On Sunday, First Unitarian’s Green Team will take an active role in our service, letting us know what our congregation is doing to reduce its carbon footprint and inspiring us to do more. Our choir will present Frank Ticheli’s uplifting and powerful “Earth Song,” we'll all learn a beautiful song by Carolyn McDade, and I’ll sing for you, too. It promises to be a thought provoking, inspiring and healing Sunday at First.

Things have changed…and we can change, too.

Come join us.
Rev. Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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What Does It Mean to Be White?

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Dear Members and Friends of First,

It has been a difficult week for Toronto as we’ve absorbed the news of a terrible act of violence on our city’s streets and sidewalks. Yet, it has also been heartening to see so many signs of resilience, as we find our way forward.

In Sunday’s service, we will pause to honour the lives lost this week and hold in our hearts all those affected by Monday’s violence. And we will carry on, doing what we always do, which is working to bring more love and justice into our world. It is, I believe, the best possible way for us to respond and to heal.

This Sunday, we will take up the topic originally intended for the service on April 15th. As you may recall, the plans for that service were upended by the ice storm. Here’s how I described that service a couple of weeks ago:

What Does It Mean to Be White?

I am guessing there aren’t too many sermons bring preached around the globe this weekend on the topic of what it means to be white. But that is precisely what I will be doing.

The service isn’t meant to denigrate white people, of which I am obviously one. It’s, frankly, far more complicated than that. I want for us to look at white racial identity as honestly and openly as we can—not to induce paralyzing feelings of guilt, but to isolate the meaning of whiteness so that those of us who are white can be more effective in working for racial justice.

It is said that in a Unitarian Universalist congregation, the sermon is never the last word on anything. I especially hope that to be true with this topic. My hope is that this service will serve encourage us to take the next step as a congregation, challenging us to deepen our efforts and the quality of our conversation. I hope this will be heard as an invitation, individually and together, to do the soul-work of self-examination that is required if we are to truly live into our principles.

As we dig into this month’s theme of “Change,” let us all bring a full and open heart to the service on Sunday.

Following the service on Sunday, I, with leaders of our Reconciliation Working Group, will lead a Scrupling session on the Calls to Action in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is an opportunity for us all to listen to our hearts and consider how we are being called to help bring healing and reconciliation to the relationship between Settlers and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Lunch will be available. I encourage you to attend.

Finally, an invitation to attend the Feb 27 concert by our congregation’s music program. The concert will present musical responses to significant events of the 20thcentury. In light of this week’s events, may this concert offer a healing balm to us all.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 29, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, April 29, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

"Take Me Out"

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Well, you may be as surprised as I am that I will be preaching about baseball this week. But, that is, indeed, the plan! What initially began as a wild idea to honour our president (and huge Jays fan), Susan Phillips, has become a deepening reflection on baseball’s many rich metaphors for life. Our new worship leader, Niki Andre, will lead us in an “A Capella Jam”; Paul Bognar will offer a poignant testimony; and the choir will sing Stephen Paulus’ beautiful “The Road Home.” It promises to be a unique and joyous Sunday.

I mistakenly reported last week that the Toronto Marathon was being held this past Sunday. It, of course, was not. I confused the dates. It is, however, taking place this Sunday, so plan accordingly, as the marathon(s) will be using both Spadina and Yonge, making First U a bit of an island on Sunday morning. Streetcars and other vehicles will be allowed to cross at major streets during gaps in the marathon.

During last Sunday’s service, I spoke about the meaning of whiteness. You can find the text and audio for my sermon posted here. Many have asked for the link to the video I shared of DeReau Farrar, the music director at First Unitarian in Portland, Oregon. You can find it here. In my sermon I mentioned the recent call to action on racial justice by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada, of which Lynn and I are an active part. Our hope is that we will find meaningful ways in the coming year to build upon the work we’re already doing to respond to this call.

Finally, you hopefully received an email earlier this week inviting you to participate in a census of the congregation. Already, we’ve had a significant rate of response, but we hope for full participation. So, if you’ve not yet done so, please take some time in the coming week to complete the census, as it helps us to better understand who we are as a congregation. Having already seen some of the data coming in, I can say I’ve already learned some things about us that I did not know. We’re even more interesting and diverse than I imagined!

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 06, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, May 06, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Body of Knowledge

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Nietszche once wrote, “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”

On Sunday, May 13th as we continue to explore our May theme of “Embodiment” we’ll reflect on the relationship between body, soul and spirit. Each of us has a “body of knowledge” that’s as close as our breath and as deep as our bones.

What are our bodies telling us? Can we deepen the conversation? On Sunday, we’ll be inspired by music, poetry and storytelling chosen to nourish us in our growing awareness of what it means to be human.

Once again this week, the dynamic physical life of our city calls us to plan our route to First…and perhaps allow extra time to get here. The Sporting Life marathon runs this weekend and may affect your travels if you need to cross Yonge Street.

Blessings,

Rev. Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, May 13, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Moving To(o) Fast

Sermon by Christopher Wulff.

Ramadan began this week for our Muslim friends and neighbours, a period of intentional reflection on faith and charity, supported by fasting and prayer. What does such a practice offer to us as Unitarian Universalists, what space does it invite as spiritual practice? In a month in which our focus is on embodiment, what hunger and thirst is your body speaking to you?

You are invited, as you are willing and able, to join me Sunday in taking the pre-dawn Suhoor meal and then fasting through the day until the sun sets, breaking fast with water and dates before the Iftar meal. We’ll have plenty of lively music (thank you Dallas!) to mask grumbling bellies.

I am delighted to be welcomed back into the pulpit at First Toronto. It is always such a sweet homecoming for me. The last time I visited was in December just days after the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee (on which Shawn serves) welcomed me into preliminary fellowship as a minister, and it was a joy to share that news with you. The next stage in the process is ordination, which I have asked this congregation to perform for me on November 4th, and which you’ll vote on next week at the AGM. I cannot fully express my gratitude for everything that First has offered me in my formation and modeled for me in profound ministry. Thank you

Blessings,
Christopher Wulff

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 20, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Let Me Flower, Help Me Flower

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate the renewal of spring by sharing in our annual Flower Communion service (bring a fresh flower to share, if you can; and, if you can’t, extra flowers will be available for the ritual). This tradition, which originated among our Unitarian cousins in Prague in the early 20th century, invites us to behold the beauty of human community. On Sunday, through story, song, and a child dedication ceremony, we will honour that beauty and explore the many ways that we depend on one another.

You’ll notice, upon your arrival on Sunday, that the sanctuary is set up in a horseshoe configuration that some will recall from many years ago. This seating arrangement will allow for both more intimacy and more interactive services—and it is part of an intentional move to make our services more inclusive. This Sunday will also offer a taste of some experiments we’ll begin in the fall to provide services that speak to a wider range of people, personalities, and worship temperaments.

This Sunday will be my last with you until mid-August. Over the summer, I will be preparing for my comprehensive exams for my Doctor of Ministry program at UofT, so I’m taking an extra bit of time from my sabbatical bank to add to my regular vacation and study leave and hopefully make significant progress in my writing! Thank you for your ongoing support as I work toward the end of this degree.

Happily, Rev. Carly Gaylor and Curtis Murphy will be returning to First in June to serve as our ministry team for the summer. Carly grew up at First and was ordained by our congregation a few years ago. Curtis was our Intern Minister three years ago. Carly and Curtis were married last year and are expecting the arrival of their first child in July (meaning that Curtis will handle more of the preaching). They are excited about this opportunity to serve at First, and I know it will be a treat for the congregation to share in their joy as their family grows. Carly and Curtis will be available for emergency pastoral care; our listening ministry team of Lay Pastors are also available to provide support, as needed.

Wishing you a wonderful summer!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 27, 2018 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet

The chalice will be lit, ambient music will be played, opening words will be offered, and there will be a lengthy and deep shared silence during which you may simply be. The service will end after almost an hour with closing words and the extinguishing of the chalice.

Sunday, May 27, 2018 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat