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A Time of Transition

Sermon by Shawn Newton.

Earthrise

It’s often been stated during the pandemic that we are living through a liminal time. In truth, of course, life is always in a state of flux. But it does seem all the more true at this particular moment, as the changing colours of the leaves signal a new season, as we continue to wend our way through the ups and downs of the pandemic, as so many start to navigate the return to school and the office, and as voting in the federal election begins with advance polls this weekend. Amid this time of transition, we will gather on Sunday to begin a new and hopefully exciting year in the life of our congregation.

On Sunday morning, we will hold our annual Water Communion ceremony during our online service. Through words, silence, music, and ritual, we will reflect on our experiences over the past year of sadness and grief, rest and renewal, joy and gratitude. As is our custom, we will use water as the enduring symbol of change. To participate fully in this ritual at home, I encourage you to have on hand a vessel of water and some sort of basin in which to pour water. (I’d also suggest keeping a towel handy!)

We will also during the service share in a ritual “blessing of the backpacks and briefcases”—a time when we, as a congregation, send our best wishes to all of those who are returning to school and work outside their homes. If you or those you live with fall into this category, please have your bags at close hand for the ritual.

At 12:30pm on Sunday we will hold a Congregational Meeting to learn more about the potential new home of First Unitarian. This is a momentous decision for our congregation, in no small part because it has been so very long in coming. If you haven’t been plugged into this process, now is the time! Please plan to attend the meeting this Sunday, as well as the Congregational Meeting at 12:30pm on the 19th, when we will make the final decision about whether to purchase this property.

Lastly, in this federal election season, I hope you will engage in the democratic process by increasing awareness—for yourself and for your neighbours—about the critical questions we face as a country. I also hope you will vote, recognizing it not only as a civic duty, but as a true spiritual practice. To help the discernment of those in the riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s (or beyond), First Unitarian will host a virtual all-candidates conversation on Monday, the 13th, at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.

In faith and love,
Shawn