Bittersweet Blessings

Sermon by Shawn Newton.

Broken jar of tomato sauce

So much of life is what we make of it when things go sideways. Last week, as I was walking up Yonge Street, near College, I came upon a dramatic and somewhat disturbing scene. I first noticed the overwhelming smell of garlic. And then I spotted a jar of marinara sauce that had shattered rather spectacularly on the sidewalk. It was obvious what had happened. The plastic shopping bag that had once held the jar was ripped to shreds and there on the ground as well, splattered with sauce and shards of glass. What really grabbed my attention, though, was what else was strewn about the scene: there was a box of dry pasta, a baguette of some sort in a paper bag, and the ingredients for a fresh salad. All of it abandoned on the spot, though everything but the sauce seemed to still be in good shape. Clearly enough, someone’s hopes of a lovely Italian dinner had not gone according to plan. But what struck me was that those hopes had been so easily dashed. In the days since, my heart has gone out to this hapless person who, by all evidence, just couldn’t cope with literally picking up the pieces and making a meal with what was left (and, maybe, buying a replacement jar of sauce). The scene was a call to compassion. After all, this far into the pandemic, few, if any, of us have as much capacity or resilience as we once did.

As we turn to December’s congregational theme of “Blessings,” my sermon on Sunday will speak to how we carry on, how we endeavour to make the most of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, even when—and maybe especially when—things are a bit of a mess.

Our resident musicians will offer their renditions of “Come, Sing a Song with Me” and “Both Sides Now.” We will mark Advent and Bodhi Day, and we will celebrate the closing days of Chanukah. We will also honour, on the eve of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the fourteen women whose lives were taken in violence at École Polytechnique 32 years ago.

This service, as is so often the case with life, will hold both the bitter and the sweet. In it all, may we seek the blessings that endure.

In faith and love,

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