All the Beauty to Behold

Sermon by Rev. Shawn Newton.

cow and staring

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare—
no time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows?

Oh, how I cherish this sacred reminder found in the words of William Henry Davies’ hymn, “What Is This Life.” My love of this particular verse likely has something to do with having spent a fair bit of time around cows as a kid. When visiting my relatives who owned ranches, I would sometimes get to drive the tractors and the trucks as we dropped off feed for the cattle. Though I really had no business operating a motor vehicle at that age (I was no more than twelve years old at the height of my ranching career), it instilled in me a sense of pride to get the vehicle back to the barn, which invariably involved dodging cows—cows who, I’m now reminded, may have been stopped and staring and soaking up the beauty of the world around them. If only our lives were that simple.

As we launch into the (hopefully much more) merry month of May, we give attention to the place of beauty in our lives. My sermon on Sunday will invite us to behold the beauty that surrounds us with deepening intention. Michel and Gaby and Dallas (who we are glad to welcome back from his sabbatical break) will lead the music. I dare say that it will be a beautiful service.

Finally, I draw your attention to the very important message from Rev. Lynn, down below, about her plans to scale down the scope of her position at First in the coming year to make space for new forms of ministry. I greatly appreciate the deep discernment that Lynn has gone through to reach this decision. And while I would selfishly wish it otherwise, I can’t help but respect and celebrate the direction she’s feeling called to follow. Though we are not saying “goodbye” to Lynn, I do hope you’ll join me in wishing her the very best as she undertakes this significant transition.

See you on Sunday.

In faith and love,

Special Message from Rev. Lynn

Beginning in mid-August 2022, I’ll be shifting to a smaller role at First Unitarian, working a very part-time schedule and focusing only on spiritual care. This decision comes after a long period of careful discernment, in consultation with Rev. Shawn and other leaders, and reflects my ongoing calls toward spiritual direction and music ministry as well as health and family needs. Although this will mean a significant change in the way I engage with the congregation, my hope and intention is that it will enable me to continue to serve you well through this profound time of meaningful transition for First and continuing challenge in the world. In the coming weeks, I will provide more details about my new role. As always, I am grateful for our shared ministry together.

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