Events under 'Sunday Services'

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

Event Name

Date

Peace and Quiet (7 pm)

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, February 10, 2019 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

What Is My Faith?

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Though I’m away on sabbatical, I look forward to being back again for this Sunday morning’s service, ending our series on Change.

This particular service springs from a question asked by Anne Murdock, who bought “the auction sermon” in last year’s auction: “What Is My Religion?” In my attempt to answer her question, I’ll be exploring how we tend to develop and evolve in our spiritual or religious identity over time. For each of us, this journey has almost certainly—and hopefully!—involved significant change. We call ours a Living Tradition, so what does that mean for us, as individuals and as a congregation?

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 17, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet (7 pm)

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, February 17, 2019 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Women Working for Change

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

This Sunday marks the conclusion of our worship series on the theme of change, which has carried us through the ever-changing weather of January and February.

In anticipation of International Women's Day on March 8th, we'll focus on women around the world working for change in a wide variety of courageous ways. During the Time for All Ages we'll hear the important historical story of Viola Desmond. As well, we'll hear an original poem read by Helen Iacovino which was included in this year's packet for International Women's Day prepared by the Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women's Association.

With uplifting music composed by the Wyrd Sisters, Catherine Dalton and Holly Near, it will be an inspirational way to conclude our change series, before we begin to explore contemplative practices in "A Wing and a Prayer" during the month of March. (Next Sunday, as we did during our "Still" series, we'll hold quiet space in the sanctuary before the beginning of the service.)

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, February 24, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Peace and Quiet (7 pm) [Cancelled Due to Weather]

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, February 24, 2019 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This event does not repeat

Wing and a Prayer: Hello

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

This Sunday marks the beginning of a new worship series devoted to prayer and contemplative experience.

Inspired in part by Anne Lamott’s book “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers”, the series includes two other services as well: “Sorry” (on March 17th) and this Sunday’s service, “Hello.”

At its essence, prayer is a conversation. “Talking,” as Lamott says, “with something or anything with which we seek union.” It involves as much listening as speaking, as much unknowing as knowing. It has also been described simply as a “stance”—a way of opening to life, which allows us to set aside our preconceived judgments and be open to deeper wisdom.

On Sunday, we’ll reflect on the many ways we can say “hello” to life through contemplative experience and prayer. As we did during our “Still” series in December, we’ll have a few minutes of quieter-than-usual-time in the sanctuary before the service begins. (Of course, perfect silence is not expected nor necessary.) We hope this series will be a time of renewal, reflection and insight for all…as our conversation with Life, and with each other, continues to unfold.

In faith and love,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 03, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Wing and a Prayer: Help

Sermon by Rev. Stephen Atkinson.

This week, we continue our "Wing and a Prayer" series by exploring the sometimes tricky idea for UUs of praying for help. What’s prayer if one doesn’t believe? Can we pray without faith? What kind of help might we pray for? Do prayers actually get answered? How?

The service will contain a few kinds of ‘prayer’ that all of us might find acceptable: some won’t feel like prayers, others might; some are traditional, most not.

As a UU who embraces faith, prays and has prayed in a variety of ways—and sometimes very pointedly has not—Stephen Atkinson will help us answer all these questions in a tidy one-hour service! (Let’s all pray for that.)

With love,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 10, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Wing and a Prayer: Thanks

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

As I write, I am taking in the tragic news from New Zealand. The once unthinkable has become increasingly common. These murders in the mosques of Christchurch now join those in the mosque in Quebec City, the synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the churches in too many U.S. cities, including the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Knoxville, where, in 2008, seven people were injured and two people died. Beyond the senseless loss of life, these despicable acts violate what should—and must—be inviolable: the ability for people to come together in sacred space to make meaning. In the wake of yet another tragic act of violence, let us do what we can to honour and defend this fundamental right for all people. One small way to do that is to join me and other interfaith leaders next Friday at 1pm as we form a Ring of Peace around the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre at 1168 Bloor Street West to welcome worshippers as they arrive for Friday prayers. In whatever ways you are able, raise your voice against hate, and reach out in love.

This Sunday, continuing our series of services on meditation and prayer, we will consider the ways that gratitude is at the very heart of our theology and identity as Unitarians. This is a sermon near and dear to my heart, and I hope it will be to yours, as well. The choir will sing “Down to the River to Pray”, as well as Eric Whitacre’s beautiful setting of e. e. cummings’ “i thank you god for most this amazing day”. To the degree possible, we invite you to enter the sanctuary and hold a space for quiet contemplation before the service begins; that said, we understand this isn’t easy for everyone, and especially small children. Let us be gracious with one another in this.

Finally, a personal word of thanks. I’m deeply grateful for having had a break over the last several weeks, which included time for vacation, for sustained study, and making progress toward some initiatives related to my work at First. My well has been replenished. Thank you.

And for anyone who still wishes to see it, I’ll be taking to the stage at the Tarragon Theatre on Monday, the 18th, for the final performance (I promise!) of “The Clergy Project”, the show I co-created with a rabbi and Anglican priest. Proceeds from this performance will go to strengthening interfaith work in our city. You can find ticket information here.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 17, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Wing and a Prayer: Sorry

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

Spoiler Alert: If you are perfect in every way—if you never drop any balls, never cause offence, never have to apologize—this Sunday’s service really isn’t for you. If you’ve somehow been able to extract yourself from systems of oppression and live a blameless life that causes no harm to other people or the planet, sleep in this Sunday morning! But if you wrestle with your limitations and are frustrated (or worse) by your shortcomings, you may find this Sunday’s service helpful. As we continue our series on prayer and meditation, we’ll take up the topic of saying “sorry”, and consider what it is required of us to live in right relationship with ourselves, with those around us, and with the wider web of life.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 24, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Wing and a Prayer: Wow!

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

This week, we conclude our “Wing and a Prayer” series with perhaps the most unexpected (and often delightful) of prayers: “Wow!”

When we witness, or experience, something that renders us speechless or takes our breath away, we’re opened up to the Interdependent Web of Life in a whole new way. Reminded suddenly of the meaning and mystery of existence, we can find new energy and strength for our unique callings in the world.

We’ll hear soul-stirring music this week from our resident musicians and a special guest singer, and the Story for All Ages will bring a classic tale to life. Then, after service, make sure to stay for the exciting live auction in support of the congregation.

Spiritual writer Anne Lamott writes that spring is surely the season of “Wow.” On this springtime Sunday, we’ll revel in the wonder of being here, now, together. I hope you’ll join us!

With love,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, March 31, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

A New World Waiting To Be Born

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

This Sunday, we begin an eight-week series of services inviting us to intentionally deepen and restore our relationship with the web of life. Our focus will be on what Buddhist scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy calls “The Great Turning”—the revolution that is possible when our awakening to the ecological distress of our times is coupled with our love of life to effect meaningful change. Over the course of this series, we will be exploring, as a community, how to bring our values to the challenges of our time in ways that support and uphold life. This week, I begin the series with a sermon titled “A New World Waiting to Be Born.” The choir will sing Srul Irving Glick’s “The Time Has Come.”

In more personal news, I am delighted to share that Bob and I finally became citizens of Canada on Monday morning. It was a joyous and deeply moving occasion that brought me to tears at several points. We are so glad to call this country home, and we’re grateful to everyone at First Unitarian who has been so instrumental in teaching us what it truly means to be Canadian! Thank you, from the bottom of our now-Canadian hearts!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 07, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Interconnected Web of Nature of which we are a Part

Sermon by Rev. Wayne Walder.

On Sunday, April 14th, we welcome Rev. Wayne Walder to our pulpit once again, as we continue our series on the Sacred Depths of Nature.

Wayne writes: “In our fast paced and technological culture, we can forget that we are nature. We are the lyrical, seasonal, sequential, beings who are formed with the same patterns as the trees, and the creatures of the earth. Join us for a open-eyed meditation of images, music and thoughtful reflection.”

A former member of Toronto First, who began the Neighbourhood UU Congregation in 2000, Wayne and his family have deep roots with our community and it is always a pleasure to welcome him. I’ll open the service with original music connected to Wayne’s inspirational message.

We look forward to seeing you as we all continue to reflect on the Sacred Depths of Nature at this crucial time in history. Come to be moved, renewed and inspired!

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 14, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

"All will come again into its strength"

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

This Sunday, as we mark both Easter, Passover, and Earth Day, we celebrate the miracle of resurrection, the wonder of renewal, the marvel that things seemingly long dead can spring to life once again. My sermon will explore how we might deepen our trust in the resurgence, the resilience, that is so much a part of the cycles of the earth and of life itself. In the challenges we face, can we come to truly trust, like the poet, that “all will come again into its strength”?

 

All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches
where God is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering in all relations,
and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife,
no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth,
lest we remain unused.

            - Ranier Maria Rilke

 

The choir will be singing “Rise Up My Love, My Fair One” by Healey Willan, as well as “Wie Lieblich sind deine Wohnungen” from the German Requiem of Johannes Brahms. In whatever ways you spend this long weekend, may you be filled with the possibility of renewal that comes with Spring’s arrival.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 21, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

From the Roots

“The courage to listen to our own conscience and live our own truth is essential to joining,
rather than merging, with the larger circles of life we belong to.”
         — Joanna Macy, Active Hope

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Protecting biodiversity is one of many urgent priorities being identified now, as the world responds to climate change. Affirming our own diversity as human beings is essential, too, as we seek to make our personal contribution to the healing of the whole.

What are the “roots” that hold us steady, when we feel anxious about the world? What particular strengths can we draw on—from our family history, our faith traditions, our personal gifts?

When we ground ourselves in these depths, we connect more deeply with others, while at the same time discovering our own capacity for growth that serves the world.

Join us on Sunday April 26th, as we continue our “Sacred Depths of Nature” series with music and reflection from the roots, to sustain us all.

Love and blessings,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Interdependent Web

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

We continue our Sacred Depths of Nature series this week by looking more closely at “the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.”

Each of our lives has an impact far beyond our little corner of the globe. In a single moment, we can wear a shirt sewn in Bangladesh and eat an avocado grown in Mexico, while listening to a stereo manufactured in China. Our lives intersect in complicated ways—sometimes for good, and sometimes not—with the lives of people around the planet. Perhaps without fully realizing it, for better and for worse, we are citizens of the world. Given that, how might truly understanding ourselves as part of the great web of life help to bring about positive change?

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 05, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Youth Sunday

Sermon by Maya Ferguson-Klinowski.

These last few days and weeks have been particularly meaningful for me as I’ve worked with this year’s Coming of Age cohort to prepare for Sunday’s service. I have known this group of young people for a long time—in fact, for most of their lives. The same may be true for many of you. It has been wonderful to watch them stretch and grow this year, to come into their own, to come of age. On Sunday, four of our youth will present their Credo, a statement of what they believe or find must important about some of life’s biggest questions. A couple from the group will serve as our worship leaders. A couple will gift us with songs. In all of it, they will be reminding each of us of what it means to grow spiritually, for each of us is always coming of age.

I am also delighted to welcome Maya Ferguson Klinowski as our preacher for the day. Maya grew up in our religious education program and took part in her own Coming of Age service a four years ago. She will graduate from high school this spring. It has been such a pleasure to have her serve as a Worship Leader this year. I can’t wait to hear her sermon.

Coming of Age Sunday is, for many of us raised in other religious traditions, one of the most powerful services we offer. People frequently tell me they find it so meaningful to hear the heartfelt reflections of our youth, especially given that so many of us didn’t have a similar opportunity at their age. Let us savour this gift of having our young people lead!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 12, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

The Gifts of Reconciliation

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

The work of reconciliation in Canada between Indigenous Peoples and settlers is often cast in zero-sum terms. For non-Indigenous people, there seems to be an underlying fear about what we may be asked to give up. And while justice and equity require a rebalancing of resources, what if we were to turn the fear upside down? What are the unexpected gifts that reconciliation might bring to everyone? As we reflect on our relationship with the earth in a time of climate crisis, these are no idle questions.

On Tuesday, at 7pm, we will be hosting at First a Green New Deal Town Hall, part of a network of such meetings happening across the country this month. Already over 250 people from the wider community have registered to attend our event. If you would like to join us or learn more, please visit act.greennewdealcanada.ca/town-halls/toronto8/.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 19, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

Let Us Flower

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

Join us on Sunday for our annual celebration of Spring—which has arrived just in the nick of time!—as we create a grand bouquet of flowers to reflect the wonder of both our individuality and our diversity on this good green earth. Please remember to bring a flower (or a few!) with you to mark this ritual. (If you are unable to bring a flower, know there will be flowers waiting for you.)

As we conclude our Sacred Depths of Nature series, we will reflect on the joy that the Earth offers to us all. I’ll be joined in offering reflections by Leslie Solomonian, Eliot Feentstra, and Rev. Lynn Harrison.

A reminder that following the service and coffee hour this week, we will hold our Annual General Meeting, starting at 12:30pm.

Finally, we will celebrate the life of Larry Wulff next Tuesday morning at 11am in Sunderland Hall. The flowers in front of the pulpit this Sunday are being given by his family to honour his memory.

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, May 26, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat

What We Wish People Knew about Us

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

A few months ago, Rev. Stephen Epperson, the minister of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, challenged UU ministers across the country to briefly share what they wish others knew about our tradition. The responses were thoughtful and compelling--and have recently been compiled into a pamphlet for use in our congregations. On Sunday, we'll be lifting up a number of these voices in our service as a way of helping us all to better articulate what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist in our time. In my sermon, I'll be sharing reflections about the complications of living our faith out loud. Our choir will sing Daniel Caesar's "We Find Love."

In faith and love,
Shawn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, June 02, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Ahhhhh.....

Sermon by Rev. Lynn Harrison.

As the summer months approach, many of us are noticing a changing rhythm. As we let go of some of the year's activities, new space may open up for reflection or movement in new directions. Letting go, though, isn't always easy. Especially in anxious times, it may be difficult to find the peaceful simplicity for which we yearn, in so many seasons of life.

On Sunday, we approach the transition into summer with reflections on breathing out, letting go, and finding rest...wherever we may be. This will be the Choir's last Sunday before the summer...and mine as well, as I begin a time of study leave and vacation lasting until mid-August. This service will include a beautiful arrangement of "Tis a Gift to be Simple" by the choir, and I'm looking forward to singing with our resident musician Joanne Chapin to open our service.

I hope you'll join us for a Sunday morning of inspiration and renewal, as we move to the rhythms of a changing world.

Love,
Lynn

View the Order of Service.

Sunday, June 09, 2019 10:30 am - 11:30 am
This event does not repeat