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,
View the Order of Service.