Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario

About Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda

Unitarian Universalist Church Of Olinda Photograph This church was founded on the faith that love is a more positive force for good than fear. It exists as a haven of religious freedom, offering fellowship, knowledge and inspiration to all who would seek truth, live responsibly and courageously, and be of service to humanity.



 

Current Sunday Services for 2020

March 18th, 2020 . by William Baylis

In-person Services suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Executive Committee of the Board together with the Minister of the church are monitoring advisories on the current coronal virus outbreak. At their meeting after the service on March 15, they elected not to offer in-person worship services for the next few Sundays. They will be replaced by new online materials and, as possible, virtual services using Zoom. For future worship services, the situation will be re-evaluated with the latest medical and societal information then available.

Please check back on this site for updates, and visit canada.ca/coronavirus for more information on the virus.
The UU Church of Olinda plans to hold only one live service in July, on July 26, and one in August, on August 9.
Please check this site for details. You can also join live UU services across Canada. The Canadian Unitarian Council is hosting a series of live online Sunday Services during the summer, and these will be led by a different Canadian congregation every Sunday.

Below are the links to the main information page, as well as a link to pre-register (required). The Zoom rooms can hold up to 1,000 people – if you’re unable to log on, you can also view the service on the CUC YouTube channel.

Sunday Summer Services Series – Schedule
Pre-register: here.
FREE
Simple Registration (Name, E-mail address, Confirmation that you’re not a robot)

CUC YouTube Channel

Date Speaker Title Musician(s)
May 3 Rev. Rod ESQ Hold –  In times of uncertainty, it is difficult to stay still… and yet, the wisdom of practices such as meditation is that we can sometimes do a whole lot
when we do less.
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 10 Rev. Rod ESQ The Time to Plant a Tree –  – Today, we benefit from the fruits of seeds that were planted before us – by parents, ancestors, founders. This opens much room for reflection… and opens up
the question – what can we plant today?
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 17 Rev. Norm Horofker Cross-Canada Sunday Service –  The host congregation for our national Conference, the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, presents a live worship service for all of us across Canada. It spans several time zones, and we’ll be able to join at 12:30PM our time (Eastern). Join us on Zoom. Virtual Service with Zoom at 12:30 PM
May 24 Rev. Rod ESQ The Special Time –   Different times in history have been remembered by memorable names… sometimes, they only tell part of the story – other times, they tell many stories at once.
Virtual Service with Zoom
May 31 Neil Buhne Today’s Interconnected World –   discussing what is currently shared in the world in many ways – using examples from Asia and linking those to experience from Canada and elsewhere..
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 7 Rev. Rod ESQ For Your Service –  Our Church has always existed upon the foundation of shared service.  This tradition of mutual ministry continues into new spaces, as we recognize that each contribution is vital in upholding our interwoven web. Virtual Service with Zoom
June 14 Rev. Rod ESQ Parallel Timelines –  
Sometimes the reality we live in looks different than the one we had in mind.  The space in between these realities can bring about a range of emotions, and how we bridge the two can help us be better together in space and time.
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 21 Rev. Rod ESQ Thank You for the Music (Flower Ceremony) –  The value of beauty, wherever it may be, and however it may appear, includes the power to offer comfort, gratitude, and inspiration.  Rather than a frivolous frill, an appreciation for the beauty around us can be the key to a more deeply meaningful life.  We can celebrate this power in our yearly Flower Ceremony.  (Send pictures of flowers by June 15, to share at our service!)
Virtual Service with Zoom
June 28 Daniel Blaikie, MP for Elmwood-Transcona, MB Annual Howard Pawley service: The transformative Impact of the Coronavirus –   a Canadian Perspective on Desirable Socio-Economic Changes
Virtual Service with Zoom
July 26 Ray Stone Ancient Wisdom for Timeless Problems: Ashoka, Emperor of IndiaAshoka ruled a vast empire encompassing much of present day India plus parts of Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan for 36 years from 268 to 232 BCE. Although a figure in Indian mythology, archeological and documentary evidence of his actual exisence and remarkable rule emerged in the 19th century. His benevolent and ethical philosophy of government was a great inspiration to Nehru and had a profound influence on newly independent India in the 1940s. Virtual Service with Zoom
Aug. 9 Rev. Rod ESQ TBA- Virtual Service with Zoom

You are welcome to attend our Sunday Services

February 3rd, 2019 . by William Baylis

Services begin at 10:30 AM on Sundays and last about one hour. Children are invited to attend religious education classes during the service. Weather permitting, we meet every Sunday between Labour Day and the end of June and once a month in July and August. About three services every month are given by our new minister, the Reverend Rod Emilio Solano-Quesnel and typically include an engaging sermon on a  timely topic. Other services often feature an invited guest speaker. Services are usually followed by good tea, coffee, and conversation. Please see the monthly newsletter on this site for scheduled sermons, speakers, and musicians. We welcome atheists, agnostics, and theists, pagans, humanists, Christians, members of other religious faiths and from LGTBQ communities and others seeking fellowship, knowledge, and inspiration.


The UU Church of Olinda is a welcoming congregation

September 5th, 2014 . by William Baylis

UUA Chalice Rainbow You are welcome here!welcominglogo_200


Summer 2020 Newsletter

July 16th, 2020 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!


“The Transformative Impact of the Coronavirus – Building For a Better Normal On the Other Side”, by guest speaker Daniel Blaikie (Howard Pawley Memorial Lecture)

June 28th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #118 This Little Light of Mine

Words & Music: African American spiritual, c. 1750-1875
harmony by Horace Clarence Boyer, 1935
Tune LATIMER

Interpreted by Sister Rosettta Tharpe

Reflection – The Transformative Impact of the Coronavirus – Building For a Better Normal On the Other Side – Daniel Blakie, MP (Video only)

Recording during live online service of the UU Church of Olinda.

Service Leader Bobbye Baylis begins by offering background about Howard Pawley and the Memorial Lecture in his name. She then introduces the Howard Pawley Memorial Lecture guest speaker, MP Daniel Blakie, who begins his Reflection with a Reading from Luke 18:1-8 “The Parable of the Persistent Widow”

Watch:

Reprise Hymn #118 This Little Light of Mine

Words & Music: African American spiritual, c. 1750-1875
harmony by Horace Clarence Boyer, 1935
Tune LATIMER

Interpreted by Sam Cooke


Thank You For the Music

June 21st, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #65 The Sweet June Days
~)-| W: Samuel Longfellow, 1819-1892
M: English melody, arr. by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958,
used by perm. of Oxford University Press
Tune FOREST GREEN

Interpreted by Julia Stubbs

Time for All Ages –Thank You For the Music by ABBA – The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (YouTube)

Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home.  Details are in our Newsletter.

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

There are very large stories circulating this week.  I will name some areas of global concern today, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives.  And I invite you to recognize your personal stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration.

Today is Indigenous People’s Day, which accompanies the Summer Solstice.  In our area, we particularly recognize the Caldwell Nation.

Last Friday was June 19 – Juneteenth, which is a holiday to recognize when slaves in Texas received news of liberation.  While it has long been recognized by Black people across the United States, it is gaining wider recognition, as more folks grow in awareness of the significance of Black history.

We also recognize that the Supreme Court of the United States has reached a decision further affirming LGBTQ+ rights.

Closer to home, we receive with sadness the news of numerous outbreaks in agricultural work places, which has severely impacted migrant workers, including two deaths.

We also recognize Father’s Day, acknowledging that it may bring opportunity for celebration, along with complexity in different relationships with fatherhood, as well as grief in remembering fathers who are no longer with us.

Homily – Thank You for the Music – Rev. Rod E.S.Q.

Watch:

Read [downloadable print-ready PDF available]:

Norbert Čapek was a Unitarian minister in what was then Czechoslovakia, where he defied German occupation during World War II.  That is also where he began the Unitarian ritual that is the Flower Ceremony, which has now been adopted by Unitarians and Universalists across Europe, North America, and beyond.  He also wrote the original Czech lyrics to a hymn we sing around this time of year Color and Fragrance.

The Flower Ceremony or Flower Festival began as an exercise of inclusion – anyone who shows up for it can take part in it, regardless of whether or not they are card-carrying members of the faith, and regardless of whether you have brought or shared flowers – everyone gets to leave with a token of the beauty that flowers offer.

Beauty is one of those concepts that is prevalent, sought after, idolized, and somehow, still underrated.  It is underrated, not because it’s not desirable, but because we don’t often consider just how powerful it really can be.

And when I speak of honouring beauty, I don’t mean an idealized form, or an unattainable body that’s commercialized, commodified, and objectified, but rather, the ability to see an incredible worth and dignity accessible to all of us, that inspires us and brings us a deeper sense of appreciation for all that can be good, wholesome, and pleasant.

And yes, tastes can differ.  I often say that my favourite flower is the dandelion – and I suspect some of you might differ from that preference.  In fact, my own taste can change depending on the season – in the wintertime, my favourite flower is the poinsettia.

But differences in taste aside, we can see a deeper value in the presence of flowers – as cradles of life, as connections among plants and animals, with insects that pollinate them, and fruit that feeds us.  Flowers offer colour and fragrance, they herald new life, they allow us to express many dimensions of love.

Along with beauty, another underrated power is the impact that art can make.  Art expresses connection and points out where there is disconnection.  It glorifies beauty – in all its forms – and exposes where it is lacking.  It allows us to feel “all the feels”, to communicate what is missing in simple transfer of knowledge, and often, inspire change.

A member of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, Elena Perez, observes that music specifically, and art in general, is perhaps one of the most powerful forces for us, especially at times like these.  She quotes a recent meme that’s circulated online, which goes like this: “As you binge watch your thirteenth entire series or read a book or sleep to music, remember.  Remember that in the darkest days, when everything stopped, you turned to artists.

The latest cover of TIME Magazine, for June 15, 2020, shows a painting by artist Titus Kaphar (see the cover painting here). The cover shows what Kaphar calls a merger between painting and sculpture – a picture of a Black woman holding the silhouette of her missing child.  The silhouette is physically cut out of the canvas, and illustrates poignantly the loss that many Black parents feel when their child is murdered as a result of systematic racism.  We have heard this story before, in this painting – we see it and we feel it at another level.

In this way, art, by appreciating beauty and exposing where it’s missing, can tell a fuller story, a more powerful story, that cuts through the numbness of the numbers.  And the numbers are important – it is important to have facts when seeking solutions to problems.

Yet, as statistics mount, be they infection case counts and death counts in the pandemic, or case counts on racist interactions and deaths, it can be easy to forget the human part of the story beyond the scope of the problem.

And when we experience the deeper reality of others’ life experience, we can make better sense of our relationship to the interconnected web of our shared existence, as well as a better sense of the action, and the mission that is required of us.  Along with that, we can feel the passion that may inspire us to maintain and create more wholesome connections.  And every once in a while, we may find comfort, and a reminder that beauty – and our appreciation of it – is essential.

And so, my friends, in days like today, we share flowers – to remind us that the appreciation of beauty and the nurturing of art are powerful forces in the search for connection and action.  And when we share in the presence of the flowers around us at this time of year, we are exercising the practice of a deeper power than can shape the world

May we make it so,
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

Closing Hymn #78 Color and Fragrance
~)-|Words: Norbert F. Čapek, 1870-1942
~)-| trans. by Paul and Anita Munk, © 1992 UUA
~)-| English version by Grace Ulp, 1926-
~)-| Music: Norbert F. Čapek, 1870-1942
Tune O BARVY VUNE

Interpreted by Sandra Hunt (piano) and Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert at the Unitarian Church of Montreal


Parallel Timelines

June 14th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

#279 By the Waters of Babylon
Words: Psalm 137
Music: Anon.
Tune UNKNOWN

By the waters, the waters of Babylon,
we sat down and wept, and wept for thee, Zion.
We remember, we remember, we remember thee, Zion.

Time for All Ages – Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho (YouTube) – 3 June, 2020 (9:27 mins.)

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows
There are very large stories circulating this week.  I will name one area of global concern today, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives.  And I invite you to offer personal stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration.

This week, we have seen the conversation on racism – and ways to dismantle it – continue, not just in the US, but also at home in Canada.  As we see ongoing unrest resulting from systemic racism in our society, and as we hear that another black man Rayshard Brooks, was killed by police in Atlanta GA, we continue to bear witness to the stories of marginalized people at home and abroad.

We also see some hope as the Province of Ontario has given the go-ahead to collecting race-based data on their interactions with the public.  Acquiring knowledge on the problem of racism, and how it is manifested in our communities, is one part of the work needed in dismantling racism in Canada.

Meditation Hymn #1042 Rivers of Babylon
Words & Music: Trevor McNaughton, George Reyam, Frank Farian, and Brent Dowe, © 1978 EMI Al Gallico Music Corp. (BMI).  All rights administered by Warner Bros. Publications US Inc. All rights reserved.  Used by permission. Warner Bros. Publications US Inc., Miami, Fl 33014, arr. Matt Jenson, 1964-

Interpreted by Boney M

Offering
Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home.  Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic.  Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”.  When in doubt, ask someone who you trust.  Let us take care of each other!

Sermon – Parallel Timelines – Rev. Rod E.S.Q.

Watch:

Read: [Download Print-ready PDF file]

There are some things that we have become used to seeing and being part of around this time of year.  Some of us make vacation plans, to visit people or places that are special for us.  Some of us simply look to spend more time outdoors, in the public areas that are usually accessible across Windsor-Essex, including events and festivals that are part of the yearly spring and summer cycle where we live.  Some of the younger folks in our lives, may have looked forward to graduation ceremonies, or graduation celebrations, like prom.  There may have been summer jobs in the works, or new school settings to explore, some of which may now be in question, or will likely look different that what was expected.

As we go on our current lives – the real ones that we wake up to in the spring and summer of 2020 – those other lives that we thought were going to happen may also be living alongside us, in a kind of parallel timeline, that nags at us… “around this time, we would have… done such and such.”

We’ve all reached different levels of acceptance to these discrepancies in our realities, but it is likely that these parallel lives are there, somewhere, in the back of our minds.

There is a strong biblical tradition of dealing with discrepancies in our reality.  These are often found in the book of Psalms, and in other portions that are categorized as Lamentation.

The hymn Rivers of Babylon, by the reggae group The Melodians (and later popularized by the group Boney M), draws from two psalms – 137 and 19.

If you ever sing the hymn, which in our hymnal uses the original lyrics by The Melodians, you may have wondered who “King Alfa” is in the lyric how can we sing King Alfa’s song, since the original biblical text uses the words are how can we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land.  But The Melodians wrote the song as a Rastafarian hymn, where King Alfa stands in for Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a messianic figure in Rastafarian tradition.  With that imagery, Babylon can be used as a stand-in for any oppressive force.  And Zion is a symbol of a long-lost home.

Let’s talk a bit more about Psalm 137.  It has the distinction of being perhaps one of the easiest psalms that we can date.  Because it refers specifically to the Jewish exile to Babylon, or Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, we know that it was written after the year 537 BCE.  From this history of exile and captivity, we hear it as a song of lament.

Its verses speak of a longing for a long-lost home.  It gives witness to the oppression of an enslaved people, whose traditions and songs were mocked.

It also speaks with a surprising frankness about how the people feel about that oppression…

Among the verses from Psalm 137 that are not included in the sung versions in hymns and The Melodians’ song, is the anger and desire for vengeance upon their oppressors.  If you’re curious, I invite you to read Psalm 137 – it isn’t very long – and the last few verses may be shockingly violent… which probably explains why they aren’t included in the most popular musical adaptations that you might hear.

And that’s the thing about psalms.  They are frank.  They speak of things lost, or things longed for.  They speak of injustice, and they speak of deep anger.  Tellingly, they are characterized by describing life as it is, with all its imperfections, and sometimes, its horrors.

Lamentation is an entire genre in the collection of biblical texts.  And there is so much of it, not just in the Psalms, but in other biblical books, because it serves an important purpose.

The art of lamentation has many layers, but it can probably be summed up as the ability to unapologetically recognize, and name, the fact that things can “suck”.  Sometimes we can phrase this politely as “things aren’t how we’d like them to be”, or “it could be better”.  But the frankness in the tradition of the psalms also invites us to more… direct language.

My friends, over the past three months, I’ve been expressing many of the affirming aspects of our response to the pandemic.  The fact that our church can continue to exist, survive, and even thrive, while outside of our building… in an exile of sorts.  The fact that many of us have found ways to maintain our community, and even strengthen it.  These are things worth celebrating, and it is important to make space for that – we’ve been doing that, and will continue to do that.

It is also important to allow space for lamentation.  To recognize that things can also suck.

It sucks that we haven’t been able to share the same physical space together, and that we feel compelled to keep that practice for some time still.  It sucks that we are required to forego, or sometimes reimagine, many of the parts of our church life, including the ways in which we can be involved in each other’s lives.

Many of you will also note – and lament – unwelcome changes in your lives.  It sucks that you cannot meet with, or hug, your grown children or grandchildren.  It sucks that summer plans have had to change, or have even evaporated.

Members in you family may have voiced similar sentiments.  In many cases, you may have heard children voice an unexpected longing for school.  Maybe they simply miss their friends, often enough they miss a special teacher, or the structured learning, or the sense of community among their peers, or the rituals of end of year, like graduation, or signing yearbooks, or even the feeling of the last day of school.  And children and teens will, quite unequivocally and without euphemism, tell you that “this sucks”.

In the wider world, you will have seen people commenting – or you may have commented yourselves – about those things that suck in society – we’ve been talking about racism, we’ve talked about economic inequality, and inadequacies about how people’s work is valued, and sometimes unappreciated.

It is important to be able to name these things, and recognize that they have an effect on us.  To recognize that we can get grumpy, angry, or sad, about the chasm that exists between the parallel timelines of different realities.

But – and there is often a “but” in the tradition of psalms – there is also opportunity to participate, or even create, a new direction in the parallel timelines ahead of us.

In the biblical text, there is often a turning point after the lamentation portion – what my Old Testament professor, academically referred to as “the but clause” – that moment when we have recognized the parts of our lives that don’t conform with our expectations of how our life or the world should be, and then search for those things that support us, naming our longings and a new resolve to see them through.

We often do both of these in our ritual of Joys & Sorrows.  And when we do that, we name our laments, as well as recognize those who are around us, and those things that inspire us to be in a new relationship with life.  Be that the stars, the flowers, the people we rely on, or our breath – the spirit of life that allows us to get up in the morning.

My friends, we do not need to shy away from the gaps in our lives that leave us wanting more.  But, it is helpful to name them, sit with their reality, and then search for the resources that will allows us to create something different and inspiring.

May we make it so,
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano-Quesnel

#377 & 379 (Old Hundredth)
M: Genevan psalter, 1551
Tune OLD HUNDREDTH

Interpreted by organist Rob Charles

#377
In greening lands begins the song
which deep in human hearts is strong.
In cheerful strains your voices raise,
to fill the whole spring world with praise!

#379
~)-| Words: Kenneth L. Patton 1911-1994 © 1980 Kenneth L. Patton
Ours be the poems of all tongues,
all things of loveliness and worth.
All arts, all ages, and all songs,
one life, one beauty on the earth.


For Your Service

June 7th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #128 For All That is Our Life
~)-| Words: Bruce Findlow, 1922-
Music: Patrick L. Rickey, 1964- , © 1992 UUA
Tune SHERMAN ISLAND

Interpreted by Chelsea Sardoni, mezzo-soprano

Time for All Ages – Systemic Racism Explained – act.tv (YouTube)

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows
There are very large stories circulating this week.  I will name one area of global concern today, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives – the offer personal stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration.

This week, we continue to pay attention to the unrest resulting from systemic racism in our society, highlighted by the killing of George Floyd by police.  As we do so, we remember that while systemic racism may sometimes be manifested differently in Canada, it is also a reality in our own neighbourhoods, and we commit to participate in dismantling the culture and the system that perpetuates it.

We also remember all Joys and Sorrows left unsaid, recognizing that in this larger community, none of us is alone.

We are in this together.

Meditation in Stillness – Breathe – Lynn Ungar

Meditation Hymn #169 We Shall Overcome

Words & Music: African American Spiritual, c. 1750-1875, Musical and lyrical adaptation by Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton, Guy Carawan and Pete Seeger.  Inspired by African American Gospel Singing, members of the Food & Tobacco Workers Union, Charleston, SC, and the southern Civil Rights Movement.  TRO–© Copyright 1960 (Renewed) and 1963 (Renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, International Copyright Secured.  Made in U.S.A.
All Rights Reserved Including Public Performance for Profit.  Used by Permission.
Tune Martin

Interpreted by The Moorhouse College Glee Club at the 2009 Candle on the Bluff Awards

Offering
Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home.  Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic.  Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”.  When in doubt, ask someone who you trust.  Let us take care of each other!

Sermon – For Your Service – Rev. Rod E.S.Q.

Watch:

Read:

[Downoald print-ready PDF document]

My friends, in June, it is customary for us to set aside some special time to recognize our volunteers, because it bears regular reminding that ours is a shared ministry.  In principle, we already know this, but it takes on special significance when we take a pause to see the specific faces attached to this truth, knowing that there are personal stories behind this truth, and perhaps considering more deeply how you are part of this truth or how you might want to be more involved in it.

One of the fundamental traits of volunteering is that it is not typically remunerated.  And yet people do it, because it brings on other rewards – a sense of connection, a sense of achievement, a sense of contributing to something larger than ourselves.

Another, aspect that is sometimes overlooked, is that unpaid work is indeed work.  It brings value to a community, and it brings value to the individual.  It also takes time, it takes dedication, and to some extent represents sacrifice.  It means putting energy and passion into something other than whatever else we might also be doing.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable – it often is, just as paid work can also be enjoyable, if you’re fortunate to have that kind of position.  That doesn’t make it less work, and it warrants recognition.

We thank you for your service.

Which brings us to one other dimension that is not always articulated.  Folks volunteer to do this work – which is to say, we do it willingly… out of our own volition.  Each of you who has taken a volunteer task, will have your own reasons.  Some may call them selfless, or sometimes selfish… I suspect they’re often a combination of both, which are part of what I like to call self-full.

In our wider society, there is another kind of unpaid work that often also goes unrecognized.  And that is the work of social justice by folks who are experiencing social injustice, in real time.

This work is also work, and it is often unpaid.  Sometimes it is unpaid because it is unappreciated.  Often it is even received with hostility.  And because of this, this kind of work, this kind of ministry, is also not always taken on voluntarily… given the choice, some folks would rather not have to do it.  But the reality is that it sometimes becomes a necessity to advocate for oneself.

Now, I want to recall, for a moment, that there are many forms of oppression and many ways to be marginalized.  For those of you who haven’t experienced racial oppression, you might have otherwise lived marginalization due to your gender, or your age, or ability, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or where you fit in the construct of socio-economic class.

If you fit into any of these, or similar categories, you might recognize that sometimes you have to advocate for yourself.  This is work, it is unpaid, it is usually not voluntary.  It is not fair, and yet, it has become necessary.

Sometimes the categories of privilege and marginalization overlap… for those of us who may find ourselves in the privileged position, there is also work to be done – it will be work, it will likely be unpaid, and is necessary… a duty, for the sake of fairness.

That is the work of solidarity, to be side by side with those who do the work of advocating for justice, especially when they’re advocating for themselves.

Now this work can take many shapes.  These past couple of weeks, you’ve seen that it has often been expressed in the form of public protest, often at danger to oneself.  Now, I’m not going to spend time debating the specifics of how that is carried out, because today, that will distract from the larger truth, that people are advocating for themselves, and other folks are being in solidarity with them.

That particular expression of solidarity may not be possible or appropriate for you.  There are other ways, that may make more sense in your specific situation.

And perhaps you’re struggling with how to show your support.  These conversations can be tricky, and it’s easy to be daunted by the rules of engagement, which can often shift unexpectedly.

There is one way that I want to highlight.  When in doubt – listen… take a breath, and listen.  If marginalized folks are speaking to an experience that is different from yours, listening is one of the most basic ways to show support.

And yes, it is also work to do that.  It takes self-restraint to put aside our opinions for a while, and really seek to engage with information that may be new to us.  It may be unremunerated work.  And it will be just work.

We’ve had this conversation – several times before – in this community of faith.  By now, many of you are used to hearing about the need to listen to the stories of marginalized folks, and you are well aware of the need to advocate for justice that truly applies to everyone equally.  This is not news.

What I want to stress today, is that the work doesn’t end.

It certainly doesn’t end for the folks with marginalized identities – who constantly live the experience of oppression and who also often find themselves having to explain that experience to other folks who have trouble identifying with their experience.

It is for this reason that we have guest speakers in February, who give witness to why Black lives matter.  And it is why we also talk about different types of justice, outside of the designated day, or week, or month when that matter is featured.  The work is ongoing.  It necessitates repetition, and practice, because that is one way in which lasting change comes about.

You may have already engaged in some of this work over the past few days.  And there is always room for more.  If you’re wondering today, how you might show support.  There are a couple options I’d like to offer.

On this web version of the service, I am including a few reflections, with different perspectives on the current conversations of racial justice.  I invite you to take a look at them.

My friends, the articles or reflections I’m posting on the web page are not a comprehensive list.  It is only one starting point.  You are invited, to follow your own journey, as many of you already do.

And, my friends, there is one other concrete action we’ve been invited to do.  The Canadian Unitarian Council has set up a study group for dismantling racism.  Part of the work includes a survey of Unitarian Universalists across Canada, because knowledge about where we are informs what action we need to take.  Many of you have completed that survey.  And as the Dismantling Racism Study Group progresses in its work, I invite you to explore how you might be involved.

And when in doubt, my friends, listen.  Whenever the opportunity shows up, listening can be one of the most effective kinds of work you can do for the sake of justice.

So may it be,
In Solidarity,
Amen

Some Materials for Personal Growth

Dear Liberal Allies by Trungles

https://www.uua.org/worship/words/reading/dear-liberal-allies

Want to support Black people? Stop talking, start listening by Laura Hensley and Olivia Bowden in Global News

How Change Happens by Rebecca Solnit in Literary Club

let your grief rise by Rev. Theresa Inés Soto

https://www.uuma.org/mpage/SotoPoem

#34 Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire
Words: Hal Hopson, 1933- , (1 Corinthias 13:1-3), © 1972 Hope Publishing Co.
Music: Trad. English melody, adapt. by Hal Hopson, 1933- , © 1972 Hope Publishing Co.
Tune GIFT OF LOVE


Today’s Interconnected World (Neil Buhne)

May 31st, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #298 Wake, Now, My Senses
~)-| Words: Thomas J. S. Mikelson, 1936- , © Thomas J. S. Mikelson
Music: Traditional Irish melody, harmony by Carlton R. Young, 1926- ,
renewal © 1992 Abingdon Press
Tune SLANE

Interpreted by Daniel Wiebe


Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

It is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, we are also mindful of stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we recognize racism in our society, keeping in mind the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. While this incident occurred in the United States, we are aware that racism is also prevalent in our country, and we are all called to action in acknowledging and dismantling it.

Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!

Reflection – Today’s Interconnected World – Neil Buhne

Watch:

Read:

http://uuolinda.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Olinda-Buhne-Interconnected-Post.pdf

Thank you – it is a privilege to be among you this morning.  I heard about the Olinda church back when I was 6 or 7 and went to the UU fellowship up the road in Windsor.  Going to that Sunday school, thanks to my Mum and Dad,  helped me to learn values that still motivate me and which I still try to aspire to fulfil.   I have thought back to those values since I became involved from beginning February in the work of the United Nations in the difficult job of diminishing the effects of the corona virus on peoples and community’s health and well-being.  I am always reminded of  the relevance of what I absorbed then to the universal challenge all people now face – to differing degrees.

Universal in that the virus affects everyone everywhere, regardless of nationality, of gender, or religion, starting in China, with Thailand where I am speaking from  the second country with a recorded case,  and there are people affected in all the places I have lived, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, other places and even now  in Kingville/Leamington.

Universal.. but to differing degrees. In India, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia and the Philippines the challenges are still very big -as COVID  is still spreading,   But in places like Vietnam (zero), Japan,  Taiwan, S. Korea, Bhutan and Thailand, the disease has much less effect.

But how it affects people is different too. Here in  Thailand in a country almost twice as big as Canada less than 60 people have died since beginning February – Canada has had nearly 7,000 death. But the economic and social effects may end up being more in a country in which tourism is vital and trade crucial.  So fortunately, there are many less people who have died or had their lives turned upside down by illness…- but there are homeless  and hungry people where there were none before.  This is an issue here – but where I was living before in Pakistan or its neighbors India  and Bangladesh – hundreds of million who had slowly  pulled themselves out of poverty have quickly fallen back; with all the hardships associated with that.

Five  years ago,  the world committed itself to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be met between 2015 to 2030 – fundamentally to leave no behind.   Despite Asia being the fastest region to economically grow – progress was slower already  in early 2020 on most of the goals.  Ironically, the ones where there was the most progress the last years:  education and health and progress on reducing poverty,  are the ones most at risk now of falling back. 

So why is the effect different on countries and on different groups of people so much?   What is the same – is that the most vulnerable are made more vulnerable: the migrant informal work in Mumbai India, the partly employed middle aged black man living in the Cass corridor near first UU in Detroit.      The frustration at this injustice can have other effects – the destruction from frustrated demonstrators – even just 50 km from here in Detroit – has roots in frustration at  being left behind. (excluded from salvation).  This includes being left behind on how the justice system treats them – but accentuated by more middle- aged black men and women dying from COVDI and losing their job.  How countries help or don’t help their move vulnerable is shaping the differences among countries (and within countries) now.

So it is a bleak situation.  – But it need not be. When Michael Fox founded UU Olinda -it was just a few months from the massacre of the Donnelly family 200 km NW – killings based on intolerance, misplaced righteousness and jealousy. This was  followed  months later by a ferry sinking near London killing 182 people   It was brave of him to found a church based on rejecting  the doctrine of eternal punishment. As you know – the  Universalists believed in a God who embraced everyone, and this eventually became central to their belief that lasting truth is found in all religions, and that dignity and worth are innate to all people regardless of sex, color, race, or class.

What was believed by those people in Olinda in  1881 would be consistent with the basic reasons the UN was founded in 1945:

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours

So you may think now…… what do the Black Donnelly’s and Michael Fox and the founding of the UN  have with the effects of COVID -19??  Neil must be tired  – late on a Sunday evening in Bangkok!

“Let me quote my boss, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres:

Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.

What the world needs now is solidarity.

With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world.”

*******

How we apply that solidarity can unite us or can divide us more!

The UN – and others did warn about the effects of pandemic -especially after ebola and SARS. But the world  did  not act on this warning.  If there is good news it is in this case,  a situation that we can cope with  — and with persistence and goodwill and solidarity we can overcome it.

Unlike in 1881 – we have more tools in our box  to make it through  this: we can communicate, we do have science, we have the capabilities – we  just need the will to cooperate.  But that will  does not come out of  nowhere.  It comes in good part  from the values we have and how we apply them.

Values of community and solidarity have helped the Olinda UU community come through much in 120 years.    The will to act in solidarity is rational –  but it also  come from the values people have.

So these values  from 1881, are as relevant now as  they were  when this church was founded. And applying these values  can have an effect on this community and if applied by everyone – on the world.

One of the keys sources of the UU  principles is to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science.  When the church was founded,  in 1881 Louis Pasteur found the first vaccine.  Applying that science now to a vaccine and to treatment is crucial – but that openness to science and objective approaches is also key to dealing with the economic and social effects of the pandemic. (Thailand has been good in doing this..)

But as the SG says – as important is,  the value of solidarity – and  the principles that UN is based on, especially “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations”.

Societies with solidarity are societies where there is trust.  Studies – including those I learned about at the University of Windsor from 1978 to 1982 and also much more recently  –  show that  the presence of trust brings a wellspring of positive outcomes: Communities with a strong sense of trust are better able to respond to crises.  Trust is associated with stronger economic growth, increased innovation,  greater stability, and better health outcomes.

It is associated with better success in overcoming the virus – in Switzerland compared with France,  in Germany compared with the UK,  in South Korea compared with Italy, in Thailand compared with Indonesia and even in Canada compared with the USA.

So the values remain relevant, which helped create an enabling environment that permitted the hard work of my parents as immigrants to give me more chances. Such  values helped create a  relatively prosperous, empathetic (if still imperfect) society, a society that can deal with the virus – and use values drawn from Universalism  to better apply the tremendous capacities we now have to meet the global – universal – challenges that still remain: in the health response, in the humanitarian actions, and in the socio-economic response.

The UN SG Guterres recently said: “Let’s not forget this is essentially a human crisis. Most fundamentally, we need to focus on people – the most vulnerable.”

And to conclude with two quotations  from the former UN SG I knew the best, Kofi Annan.  They are relevant to the moment:

As long as inequality and other social problems plague us, populists will try to exploit them.

——

We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race

That quote  summarizes   what I believe  and which I first learned from UU and what is relevant to remember, and to feel, now.

Universal truths

Universal values

Science and objectivity informed by values..

When the church was founded…….local global…

Today…. Universal roots of spirit of what motivate Fox still relevant

Today SG…

Today – most successful – where there was community – where there was science – where there was value on human life

Need to be relevant..

Did not listen to warning  – but a warning we can cope with

Need to use those value to cope with  challenges that may be harder to cope with

But unlike 1881 – we can communicate, we do have science, we have the capabilities – we need the will – and will comes from reason but will also come from value

Relevant now almost 120 years since this church was founded

Where  the Asia region was  – and I was – in  the beginning of 2020.

What happened to people and societies in the regions since then.

What has worked and not worked.

What is different than in Canada.  What is the same as in Canada.

The roles of shared values,  of science, of community and of solidarity 

What next – is there a roadmap, or guide book?

Played on weaknesses and build on strengths…

he “Black” Donnellys were an Irish family who emigrated to Ontario. Five of the family were murdered by an armed mob in the township of Lucan Biddulph in February 1880 and their farm was burned down, the culmination of long-standing conflict between the family and other residents. No one was convicted of the murders, despite two trials.

  • May 24 – The overloaded steamer Victoria’ capsizes on the Thames River near London, Ontario, killing 182 people.

The Universalists believed in a God who embraced everyone, and this eventually became central to their belief that lasting truth is found in all religions, and that dignity and worth are innate to all people regardless of sex, color, race, or class.

—————–

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours

——————

Finally, when we get past this crisis — which we will — we will face a choice.

We can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises.

Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy.

Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.

What the world needs now is solidarity.

With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world.

Thousands of people working in the shadows of the Swiss economy lost their jobs overnight in March, as hotels, restaurants and families fired their undocumented cleaners and maids in response to a lockdown enforced by the central Swiss government.

Unable to draw on state support, most were then forced to rely on charity to survive. Ultimately, that demand led volunteers and city officials to set up a weekly food bank at the ice-hockey stadium near the river.

After years of attempting to infect animals, he announced that he had developed a means of protecting sheep against anthrax – by neutralising the virulence of baccilus anthracus and then injecting this into the animals – but few believed him. He was asked to prove his claim by a public demonstration, and immediately accept the challenge. Although there is agreement that Pasteur inoculated a number of animals with his vaccine on 31 May 1881, and the demonstration took place at a farmyard in Pouilly le Fort near Melun, France on 2nd June, different accounts have related the numbers, and species of animals used.

Choose the civilizing way…

Research shows that the presence of trust brings a wellspring of positive outcomes: Communities with a strong sense of trust are better able to respond to crises.1 Trust is associated with stronger economic growth,2 increased innovation,3 greater stability,4 and better health outcomes.5

  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Meanwhile, citizens of Europe’s high-trust countries have had it relatively easy. Germany has had little confrontational policing. The Netherlands implemented what it terms an “intelligent lockdown”, closing schools and restaurants but allowing socialising with up to three visitors. There are no limits on circulating outdoors other than staying 1.5 metres apart. Mark Rutte, the prime minister, says people are “treated as adults, not as children”.

As for Sweden, it has no lockdown at all. Schools and restaurants are open, though citizens are advised to avoid non-essential travel. “We use the phrase ‘freedom under responsibility’,” says Lars Tragardh, a Swedish historian. On Mr Hale’s index Sweden and Germany were the only eu countries that never reached maximum stringency.

The Swedes and Dutch are following government recommendations: mobility is down by about 40%, according to Google data. But in France and Italy it is down about 80%. Worryingly, Dutch and Swedish covid-19 mortality rates outstrip those in neighbouring countries. The Dutch death rate per head is almost four times that in Germany. Sweden’s is double that in Denmark, which has a tight lockdown.

This suggests that during epidemics trust is a double-edged sword. High-trust countries will probably do better economically, as they usually do. But in public-health terms, high trust may have lulled Dutch and Swedes into a false sense of security. For now, most are satisfied with their governments’ responses. But so are most Romanians. Perhaps that will help to close Europe’s trust gap. ■

Copyright © 2020 Neil Buhne

Closing Hymn #134 Our World is One World
Words & Music: Cecily Taylor, 1930- , © 1988 Stainer & Bell, Ltd., all rights reserved, used by perm. Of
Galaxy Music Corporation
Music arr. by Richard Graves, 1926- , © 1988 Stainer & Bell, Ltd.
CHERNOBYL

Interpreted by Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert and Sandra Hunt from the Unitarian Church of Montreal (Lyrics in the videos description – click “Show More”)


Cross-Canada Service (17 May, 2020)

May 28th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

On May 17, 2020, about 1000 Unitarian Universalists joined in a virtual service shared across the country, and beyond. It was hosted by the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax and the Canadian Unitarian Council.

Watch and edited recording:

One Storm – Many Ships
Cross-Canada Service (17 May, 2020)


June 2020 Newsletter

May 28th, 2020 . by William Baylis

Click here and enjoy!


The Special Time

May 24th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #63 Spring Has Now Unwrapped the Flowers
Words: Piae Cantiones, 1582
~)-| Music: Thomas Benjamin, 1940- , © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
Tune BLACKBURN

Performed by:
Choir Director – Mike Menefee
Brian Kenny – Piano
Vocals and Vocal arrangement – Alena Hemingway
For Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship during COVID19 closure

1 Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, day is fast reviving,
life in all her growing powers t’ward the light is striving.
Gone the iron touch of cold, winter time and frost time,
seedlings working through the mold now make up for lost time.

2 Herb and plant that, winter long, slumbered at their leisure,
now be stirring green and strong, find in growth their pleasure.
All the world with beauty fills, gold the green enhancing;
flowers make glee among the hills, set the meadows dancing.



Time for All Ages – Planting & Gardening

One activity that folks do both for paid work and as a hobby is gardening. Here is an introduction to the basics of plant growth

How Does A Seed Become a Plant? – SciShow Kids

And here is a fuller description by a young gardener, on how she grew her own salad!

How to Start a Garden | Gardening for Kids
by Samiah Rose Knows



Meditation on Joys & Sorrows
In this unusual time, it is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic, and with good reason. Covid-19 has infected over a million people, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the lives, livelihoods, homes of billions.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, I will mention some stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we keep the people of Pakistan in mind, as a plane crash has resulted in the deaths of 97 people. There are at two survivors. We keep our thoughts with the dead, the living, and with all mourners.

At the same time, there is space for rejoicing tonight, which is Eid al-Fitr, when Muslims around the world and in our neighbourhoods share in a ritual breaking of the fast at the end of the month of Ramadan.

Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz, from the Saskatoon Unitarians, shared this message of hope as a response to vandalism to several churches in Saskatoon, which had homophobic graffiti scrawled on them earlier this month. This video was made in collaboration with folks from Anglican and United churches, which were also affected, to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

There is a soothing song about halfway through the video!

message of hope 2020 – Saskatoon Unitarians – 10:56





Meditation Hymn #108 My Life Flows On in Endless Song
W: Traditional, Verse 3 by Doris Plenn
M: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899
Tune SINGING

Sung by Rivers of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation Choir




Offering
Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home. Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!



Hymn #204 Come, O Sabbath Day
Words: After Gustav Gottheil, 1827-1903
Music: A. W. Binder, 1895-1966
Tune SABBATH

Tune performed by Cantor Erik Contzius, produced by the Society of Classical Reform Judaism

1 Come, O Sabbath day and bring
peace and healing on thy wing:
and to every weary one
let a word of blessing come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.

2 Welcome Sabbath! Let depart
Ev’ry care of troubled heart.
Now the daily task is done,
let a word of comfort come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.

3 Work and sorrow cast away!
Sabbath is for prayer and play.
With the rising of the sun,
let a cheering message come:
thou shalt rest.
Thou shalt rest.




Sermon – The Special Time – Rev. Rod

Watch:

Read:

[Download print-ready PDF document]

If you ever talk to someone who lived in Cuba in the early 1990s, and they happen to share some of their story with you, you might hear something about a time called “The Special Period”.

This is the time soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Cuba lost much foreign economic support. The years 1992 to 1994 were the most markedly difficult for the Cuban population, with shortages of food, fuel, and infrastructure.

The official name for this time in Cuban history is “The Special Period in Time of Peace”. A perhaps cynical view of this name might be that it is a euphemism for a difficult and challenging time, when livelihoods and lives were at stake. I see a good deal of truth to that. And I also suppose that the significance of that time in history also reflects its status as “special”, since it marked significant shifts in Cuban society, its politics and economics, as well as its culture.

Among the many outcomes of The Special Period, was a significant shift in agriculture, as the sugar cash crop became less useful, and the country diversified to more fruits and vegetables, as well as methods that were less reliant on industrial agriculture techniques. The economy also shifted, with wider foreign partnerships, and renewed interest in its tourism industry. Ingenuity came about, out of necessity, and people figured out ways to collaborate in order to get to work, grow food, and stay in community.

It’d probably be inappropriate for me to assess whether the net effect of this time was positive or negative. While many of the shifts were helpful to a recovery that was less reliant on one major benefactor, it came at considerable cost to individuals’ quality of life, and major social unrest. There are mixed views on how The Special Period affected the population’s health – malnutrition left many people susceptible to diseases… at the same time, the diversification of food production, and a shift from a meat-heavy diet to one higher on fibre and complex carbohydrates, also appears to have led to drops in diet-related ailments, including type-2 diabetes and heart disease. This, of course, is inconclusive.


Now, I don’t know if we’ll call the current time we’re living through something other than “The 2020 Pandemic”. I’ve seen a few candidates around. Some folks are talking about “The Great Quarantine”, or “The Great Pause”. Over the past couple months, I’ve sometimes made the case for something like “The Great Revelation”, as we find an enhanced awareness of important issues in our time, which have become more sharply visible and more evidently critical. I don’t know that we’d call it “The Special Period”, but I suppose that, whatever we end up calling it, it may indeed qualify as a “special time”.


One of the more elusive effects of this special time has been the phenomenon that many people are having trouble keeping track of time. The calendars and clocks still work just fine, but our perception of time can often feel warped, as many of our routines have been disrupted. Sometimes, it can feel like time is both going slower and faster than usual, all at the same time. Any day of the week can easily become “Blurnsday the something of Maypril”.

And this can be true whether or not you find yourself having paid work at this particular time. If you find that you have… an excess of leisure, one day can easily meld into another, with a sense that time is still… until a month suddenly goes by. And if you’re currently in paid work, it is possible that the routine looks different, especially if you’re working from home, when it’s difficult to tell apart work and home spaces. A few weeks ago, I shared a video that offers some tools to help with that, but I want to go a bit deeper today.

Many monastic traditions have ways of keeping time in addition to clocks and calendars – using ways to embody time by giving each part of the day different meaning through specific activities. Since medieval times, what are called “books of hours” stipulated prayers for certain times of day, and each monastic order would have other duties during the day by which members could participate in the life of a monastery or convent. These ranged from cooking, to transcribing texts, to carpentry and masonry, to artwork, or from gardening and planting, to making cheese, or brewing beer.

Many of you have taken part in some kind of similar activity, either as your paid work, or as a way to unwind. Perhaps the most important aspect here is that those times can each be made special, either by what that activity offers others, or by what it offers you.

Now, setting aside the monastic model, there is an even more ancient tradition about making time special. In the Hebrew bible – the Tanakh – we find the tradition of the sabbath. In the Jewish tradition, that is counted from what is now Friday evening into the daylight hours of Saturday.

In the early Christian church, the sabbath got shifted to a day that commemorated the account of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth – Sunday. And the commandment remained – to rest and feast. The feasting aspect is so engrained that, for those who observe Lent, it is not permissible to fast on Sunday – each Sunday is a “mini Easter” when fasting is not permitted, and feasting is the rule (if you’ve ever noticed that there are more than 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, that is why – Sundays don’t count in the fast).

The meaning of the sabbath is both simple, and perplexing. The commandment is very straightforward: “Thou shalt rest”. But it starts getting tricky when we try to figure out: “what is rest?”

Even in biblical times there were disputes as to what constitutes “work” and what counts as “rest”. In the tradition of rabbinical debates, we might see questions on how to categorize something as work and something as rest. And in the New Testament, there are stories where the followers of Jesus are challenged by religious authorities in relation to contravening the sabbath. I won’t list the specific answers here, they’re not always clear, but the important part is that the conversation is ongoing.

So, for those of you who may currently have… what feels like an abundance of rest, it might be difficult to figure out how to sabbath.

Well, if we stay with the biblical source for a bit longer, we get some clues. Part of resting on the sabbath includes a provision for worship. Now, in our specific circumstances, the meaning of worship can sometimes have broad meanings, but I find it helpful to think of it as a time to consider – and give due regard – to what is most important… our values, our relationships, our communities. Things that are sacred, things that are special. A sabbath can be a special time to nurture our spirits.

So, if your current “problem” is that you have too much rest, then seeking a sabbath can mean finding ways to… take a rest from rest. Or perhaps finding a difference between leisure time and rest for the sake of renewal. That can mean seeking, and maybe even finding, activities that nurture your sense of what is special. Some of them might have affinity to the monastic examples I mentioned: gardening, cooking, reading or writing. I suspect you may have your own ideas of what is important to you and what might work as sabbath-ing.

And if you have an opposite situation, where paid work is there, or may have even increased, then seeking sabbath is, of course, just as important. Finding some time to do something other than your work, is a way toward a larger wholesomeness. It may mean having some time to get groceries, or connecting with family and friends. It could mean a hobby, another kind of work that is not your paid work, but a personal passion. It could mean finding time to play.

One of the things that strikes me from the different possibilities of sabbath-ing is the need to find a special time to let go of some responsibilities for a while, or perhaps take a shift in responsibilities. It could mean changing focus from the self to others, or from others to oneself. This might sound selfish, though, as I have observed before, I think it’s more useful to think of it as self-full – which is to say, finding a way to feel more wholesome, so we may better serve ourselves and each other.

Now, having a whole day – a sabbath day – is helpful, because it allows a good deal of time… special time, to really get into something that feels like rest – whatever that may be. But some of your lifestyles, or chosen professions, or other circumstances, might not allow for something as seemingly-indulgent as a whole day.

My friends, sabbath can still find a way. There is something we can call “sabbath moments” – special times that we can take throughout the day. Most kinds of work allow for breaks, and meal times. These can be sabbath moments. Or that hour or two after work, to watch that favourite show, or make a call, or devote to something that helps bring a larger wholesomeness to your being – that can also be a way of doing sabbath. The practice of meditation, is a way of bringing sabbath in discrete moments, with every breath.

Muslims have daily prayer practices, several times a day – times to take a break from whatever else is going on, and considering what is most important. And there are larger times that are also made special. As the month of Ramadan comes to a close tonight, that special time is also celebrated with the feasting of Eid – a time marked by the sighting of a crescent moon.

My friends, how you find, and how you seek special time, will be your own task to figure out, and carry out. And yes, finding rest can sometimes feel like work, and it is work well worth it – a responsibility for ourselves and others. For in finding the special time, we can allow ourselves to feel the deeper meaning of time.

So may it be,
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel


Closing Hymn #113 Where Is Our Holy Church?
W: Edwin Henry Wilson, 1898-1993 ~)-| © 1992 Unitarian Universalist Association
M: Genevan psalter, 1551, adapt. By William Crotch, 1775-1847
Tune ST. MICHAEL

Performed by the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church


The Time to Plant a Tree

May 11th, 2020 . by Rod Solano-Quesnel

Opening Hymn #409 Sleep, My Child

~)-|W: Adapt. by Alicia S. Carpenter, 1930- , © 1990 Alicia S. Carpenter
M: Welsh melody, c. 1784
AR HYD Y NOS 8.4.8.4.8.8.8.4

(Original Welsh and English lyrics interpreted by harpist Siobhan Owen)


Time for All Ages – Liberation of the Netherlands – Canadian Heritage Minute

On the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, a new Canadian Heritage Minute was created to commemorate the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces.

Meditation on Joys & Sorrows

In this unusual time, it is easy to find ourselves wrapped up into the larger story of the Pandemic, and with good reason. Covid-19 has infected over a million people, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected the lives, livelihoods, homes of billions.

We also remember that we may give space to all other stories that bring up Sorrow and Joy in our lives. Some of these other stories may be related to the pandemic, while others might not be directly connected to it.

As we think about our own stories of transition, of landmarks, of celebration and commemoration, I will mention some stories from around the world, recognizing that what touches one affects us all.

This week, we keep the people of Andrha Pradesh, India, in mind, as a chemical leak from an LG Plant has killed at least 13 people and injured thousands of others. The incident has eerie parallels with the chemical leak in Bhopal in 1984.

Closer to home we share in the grief of another shooting incident in our country.

This Sunday is also Mother’s Day in many countries. Mother’s Day can be a time for celebration for many, and it may also be painful time for others. As we recognize the contributions of mothers around the world, we also keep in mind all for whom this time is complicated, sometimes in ways that are not easy to express.


Meditation Hymn #177 Sakura

~)-| Words: Japanese folk song. English words by Edwin Markham, 1852-1940
Music: Japanese folks song
SAKURA 6.7.7.7.7.6.6.

(Interpreted by Karen Miller)

#UUA & #CUC #Olinda #SundayService #Music for #Meditation: It is Spring time and time to reflect on the beauty of…

Posted by Karen Andersen Miller on Sunday, May 10, 2020




Offering

Our church, within and beyond the walls of our building, continues to share its ministry thanks to your ongoing generosity, according to your means, in this unusual time.

Our treasurer, Helen Moore, has offered to receive your donations by mail, sent either to the Church address, or to her home. Details are in our Newsletter.

I remind you to Please beware of telephone and internet scams – no one from the church should be asking you for money, other than through official channels like the newsletter, post mail from our finance and membership committees, or our weekly appeals during our services.

If you see an e-mail that looks like it’s from someone you know but looks “off” in its style or its request, do contact them through another means, like phone, or a new e-mail from an address that you know to be authentic. Also beware of any talk about gift cards, or vague requests for “a favour”, especially if it’s made to sound “urgent”. When in doubt, ask someone who you trust. Let us take care of each other!



Reading – “The Old Man and the Fig Tree” – Talmud

In this a Talmudic story of an old man planting a new fig tree, we get interesting answers to the question of when it’s best to plant

https://www.uexpress.com/tell-me-a-story/2016/3/27/lesson-of-the-figs-a-tale


Sermon – The Time to Plant a Tree – Rev. Rod

Watch:

Read:
[Print-ready PDF available for Download]

There’s an expression used on the internet to describe when someone appears to speak modestly about themselves – maybe even in a self-deprecating way – even though they’re actually drawing attention to something that they’re proud of. This is called a “humblebrag”.

I’m going to share a bit about myself in a way that may sound like a humblebrag, but I hope is more of the opposite – something that sounds like I’m showing off, but is actually meant as an illustration of humility… a “brag-humble”?

I have shared before about my workout routine – a simple regime of four body weight exercises, and some running in place, where the only equipment required is a floor – and since I have a floor at home this works out fine (and if you’re curious, the source of this is a 1960’s booklet called The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness – it was a hand-me-down from my mom).

Now the reason that I’ve shared about this isn’t so that you can marvel at how fit your minister is, but to illustrate the fact that I started this by doing only a few repetitions – or reps – per day, maybe just a couple times a week at the beginning, and I gradually built myself up to dozens of reps, several times a week, over several weeks and months.

This is the lesson of “eating the chair”, whereby small, incremental steps lead to considerable progress over time – a story that I shared some months ago, in which a couple of college students ate a chair over several months, by filing it into sawdust with a rasp, and adding the dust to their salads and cereal, until they ate the whole chair… for kicks, and extra credit on their summer philosophy paper.

But there’s a hidden truth to this reality. Not only did this kind of workout routine that I… “brag” about build up from a few reps to a longer, more vigorous workout over time… but that small start also had to begin at some point. There was a time when I hadn’t exercised for a long time, and it sometimes felt like I had missed the boat. It took a conscious decision to start, knowing that, with a few reps at a time, I might not see any visible benefits to the routine for some time. The RCAF’s Fitness Guide even has an exhortation: Do not Delay! Start Today!

And there’s an even hidden-er truth to this, because I have actually fallen off of the workout wagon… several times. Maybe I’ve gotten sick and have had to take a break, or been travelling, or felt I was too busy with something else. And I’ve had to start again, incrementally.

And with that, I’ve found that one of the hardest things of starting, or starting again, is battling with the regret of having missed out on that time when I could have been doing that which I thought was good for me or for those around me. That deceptive regret that seems to whisper that there’s no use to doing anything now since we haven’t done it anyway – and what use will it be now?

Last week, I mentioned Pastor Charleen’s reflection that “comparison is the thief of joy”. She was mainly talking about when we compare ourselves to others, but it also applies to when we compare ourselves to ourselves. Be this comparing ourselves to our past selves, or to a self we wish we had been – and sometimes these are the toughest comparisons we make.

In the Talmud, there is a story of an old man planting a fig tree, and when the emperor sees him do this, the emperor asks the old man why he would plant a tree, since it’d be unlikely he’d have a chance to eat its fruit – the emperor tells him: “The time to plant it was in your youth”.

The old man gives a few answers – for one thing, he’s used to working and sees no need to stop, also… who knows? maybe he’ll just live a bit longer and taste the tree’s fruit after all. And in any case, even if he’s not around to taste the fruit of the tree, he’ll gladly leave it to his son, just as his father left him the fruits of his labour.

The story of the old man and the fig tree is sometimes summarized in the saying: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago – the second best time is now.

The best time to have healthy habits is last year, or twenty years ago, or as a teen, or as a kid, or whenever it was that we weren’t doing it. The second best time is now. And with that approach, a lot is possible. A solid second best is much better than other alternatives, and that is good enough.

Now, this isn’t a Public Service Announcement to make you converts to The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness. Your situation, abilities, and personal goals will be different, but I imagine there are some things you wish you had started before, and would still like to carry out, but wonder if it’s really worth it. The lessons of the second best time to plant apply throughout.

When the pandemic was declared, and shelter-in-place orders kept us from meeting in person, I remember feeling regret that I hadn’t already secured a Zoom account for the church. But that regret wasn’t going to be very helpful in allowing us to continue our community with other options.

I was also blessed by having already had some experience using this platform as a Trustee on the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Board, which has been meeting on Zoom for several years. The seeds that had been planted by them, gave me some confidence in learning to host Zoom for our community of faith. This includes an ongoing learning curve, which you are now sharing with me, as we explore how this tool can help us reach all who wish to be part of it.

And that is another lesson from the story of the Old Man and the Fig Tree. A humility in recognizing that, what we have now comes from trees and seeds planted long ago, by people who we no longer have around, or by people we have never even met or heard about. And some of what we’re doing today will become seeds for others to harvest.

This week was a landmark commemoration of Victory in Europe Day… and depending on how you count the signing of the treaty, the anniversary was this past Friday (May 8) or on Saturday (May 9). And the heritage of war is always a complicated one, comprising seeds and scars.

One thing that we can say with confidence, is that our world would not be what it is today, were it not for the many acts that were carried out by millions of people during the time of the Second World War, from resistance fighters in Europe, to soldiers and other service personnel, to engineers, and people at home, seeking to support each other, offering the abundance of themselves in times of scarcity. Many seeds were sown then, and very often, we benefit from the fruit of those trees that some of us had no hand in planting.

Today is also a recognition of a major demographic in society – mothers. This too can be a complicated day, including many seeds, and sometimes, scars.

One thing we can say is that our lives would not be what they are today, were it not for the work of mothers, and parents of many genders, who have offered of themselves in raising children throughout the world. Often nurturing generations, not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of the generations afterward. Many seeds have been sown by our ancestors, and very often we eat from the fruit of trees that we have had no hand in planting. And seeds we are sowing today, will impact generations to come – regardless of whether we see their fruits or not.

These days, we’ve been exploring ways to make our church more accessible, and for folks to be part of it in different ways, through different media. And we plant these seeds with the backing of the seeds that were planted in 1880 and 1881 by our church founders, Big Mike Fox, and the blessed company that teamed up with him.

And in our wider community, there are also some discussions, or actions, that have taken the backseat for some time, and are now coming into sharper focus, especially because their absence is being felt more strongly at a time of crisis, like this one.

Matters such as poverty, homelessness, food security, work safety standards, migrant worker’s rights, a robust healthcare system, science literacy, environmental awareness.

Many of these are conversations where we might sometimes feel like we missed the boat… where it might feel like we really should have gotten our ducks in a row, like, yesterday, or last year, or back in the twentieth century.

And yet, my friends, we are better off seeking swifter and stronger action on these issues now, than if we stayed wallowing on the fact that we might not have been as active before.

In fact, my friends, this may well be an opportune time to make a stronger case, as the effects of inaction are more clearly visible. Many people who might not have felt affected by these issues, now see them closer to their home, or even affecting them, illustrating how what touches one affects us all.

My friends, as we look for ways in which we may find healthier ways of being at home, healthier ways of being in community, and healthier ways of connecting with our wider world, let us be mindful of that deceptive regret that comes with not having engaged before, remembering that now is a fine time to recognize what is possible. Though we may be long overdue, we can always start anew.

So may it be.
In Solidarity,
Amen

Copyright © 2020 Rodrigo Emilio Solano Quesnel

Closing Hymn #151 I Wish I Knew How

W & M: Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas,
~)-| arr. by Mary Allen Walden, 1946-1997, © 1992 UUA
MANDELA 11.11.11.6.6.6.6

(Interpreted by Nina Simone)


« Previous Entries