Inquiry and Preconception (Audio Available)

February 17th, 2019
- Rev. Diane Rollert with music by Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert & Lillias Lippert & the Parts in Peace Choir

Let’s be honest. We often begin with preconceptions and judge before we’ve even had time to ask the questions. How do we shift our patterns and embrace new ways of thinking? This is a Sunday of true confessions from our minister as she considers her own approach to inquiry.

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The Religious Experience (Audio Available)

February 10th, 2019
- Special guest: Rev. Fred Cappuccino, with music by Sandra Hunt and Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert

The classic Religious Experience was that of St Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul immediately stopped persecuting Christians, and became one himself. Many religious people have devoted their lives to seeking a religious experience. One fellow named Mert inquired of (Methodist) Bishop Quayle, "Bishop, How can I have an experience of God?" The bishop said, "Well, Mert, Go into a deep forest…." The Rev. Fred Cappuccino finishes this story in his guest appearance at our Sunday Worship Service.

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Grow your Mind - Ask a Question! (Full version coming soon)

February 3rd, 2019
- Chloe Hart, Camellia Jahanshahi, with music by Sandra Hunt and Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert

Our Unitarian ancestor Sophia Lyon Fahs encouraged children to ask questions and for the community around them to follow their curiosity and help them learn, tending the seeds of kindness, justice, and spirituality within them.  On this all-ages Sunday we explore the wisdom of asking questions and how we can all grow the garden of our minds.

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Before Birth and After Death

January 27th, 2019
- Rev. Diane Rollert

I clearly remember the moment when it hit me. I must have been 10 or 11 years old, in school, being introduced to the basics of chemistry. I was sitting at my desk, finding myself mesmerized by that most intriguing visual representation of all reality, the periodic table of elements.

What a revelation to learn that each element had its own weight and properties, and that, alone and when joined with other elements, they formed molecules that became the substance of everything we experience. It was a complete shift in my thinking as a child, from seeing the world as it appeared, to considering a deeper truth, that everything was so much more complicated than you could ever imagine.

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Voices of Mystery (Audio available)

January 20th, 2019
- Rev. Diane Rollert with music by Brooke Dufton, soprano, Geneviève Jalbert and Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert

In every relationship there remains an element of mystery. Each of us perceives the world differently, and we can never fully know the other. Yet what beauty there can be in trying! On this interactive Sunday, we make room for many voices to be heard as we share thoughts about our understandings of the mysteries of faith.

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The Tranquil Star (Audio Available)

January 13th, 2019
The Tranquil Star: Reflection on a Story by Primo Levi

You have come with stardust in your hair, with the rush of planets in your blood, your heart beating out the seasons of eternity, with a shining in your eyes like the sunlight.”

 These are the words I’ve been using to begin a child dedication for years. I don’t know where the words come from. They were passed on to me, like a gift out of time, from someone who got them from someone else, who got them from someone else. There is something so powerful that happens as you hold a child in your arms, surrounded by their parents and family and the whole community, and you speak those words.  

“You have come with stardust in your hair, with the rush of planets in your blood, your heart beating out the seasons of eternity, with a shining in your eyes like the sunlight.”

Perhaps that’s as close as we get to a foundational story in this tradition. “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden,” as Joni Mitchell once sang.

This is the mystery of who we are. We are atoms, molecules, that were once the stuff of stars. We are this amazing something that comes to life — and we still don’t know how or why. Our existence, itself, is a mystery.

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Stories of Sanctuary (audio available)

Sunday, December 16th, 2018
Rev. Diane Rollert with special guests the Nakhla and Al Mohammad families with music by Sandra Hunt, Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert and the Yellow Door Choir

Immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers come to Quebec and Canada looking for sanctuary. In our own small way as a spiritual community, we've done what we can to help. On this celebratory Sunday, we heard from members of the two Syrian refugee families we helped to sponsor in 2017-18. You can hear the full service here.

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Our Blue Boat Home: Earth as Sanctuary (audio available)

Sunday, December 9th, 2018
Rev. Diane Rollert with music by Sandra Hunt, Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert Shawn and Geneviève Dohring

“Help!” someone writes after the recent release of the world’s scientists’ report on climate change. The picture is worse, so much worse than we feared. Time is running out. Voices call out, “Talk to us about the earth! Tell us what to do!”

And I am caught, standing here, wondering where to even begin.

Do I start with my own love letter to the earth? (Carole did that so brilliantly in her poem earlier.) How many precious sanctuaries have we each known; how many sanctuaries has this earth given to us without asking for anything in return?

The crook of a tree to rest in as a child. The feeling of our hands deep in the soil as we plant in the garden. The sifting of sand through our fingers, and the sound of waves against the shore. Salt marshes and barrachois. The scent of summer roses, musky and almost cinnamon. Vast expanses of forests and canyons. Quiet meadows transformed by each season. A downy woodpecker’s surprise appearance outside my window. The snow falling on Mount Royal, the revelation of nature on the urban landscape. The earth reaching out to gather in sunrises and sunsets that lift our spirits and fill us with longing.

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Las Posadas: A multigenerational celebration to begin the holiday season (audio available)

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018
Yvette Salinas, Rev. Diane Rollert and Katharine Childs with music by Sandra Hunt and Eleuthera Diconca-Lippert and the Parts in Peace Choir

At Christmas time in Mexico and other Latinx communities, groups re-enact the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter (las posadas) for the baby Jesus to be born.  Families go from house to house in the neighbourhood for nine nights, singing, carrying candles, and asking for the couple to be let in.  Of course, everyone has an excuse for why they can't offer refuge — until the final night! Then the real celebration begins. In these times when sanctuary is too often denied, this story has much to tell us about the meaning of opening our hearts. 

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The Hero’s Journey (audio available)

November 25th, 2018
Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana and Rev. Diane Rollert

Three years ago, the Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, founder of the Unitarian Church of Burundi, faced attacks in his church and was kidnapped. He was ultimately forced to flee his country and came to Montreal to seek asylum. Today he and his family are living in Saskatoon and he is embarking on a new ministry to build a French-language online UU website and community, based on the model of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Click here to hear Rev. Fulgence's reflection on his journey.

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Vers la fraternité ou la parenté universelle

Présentation au Congrès vers la fraternité, organisé par Religions pour la paix - Québec
17 novembre, 2018
Par La révérende Diane Rollert, Centre St-Pierre, Montréal

La semaine dernière, j'étais à Toronto au Parlement des religions du monde. C'était très beau de se réunir avec 8000 personnes du monde entier qui sont rassemblées pour partager en harmonie et travailler pour la paix, un peu comme ce rassemblement aujourd'hui.

Mais j'ai été frappé par un participant qui a partagé une idée provocatrice : dans notre travail interreligieux, nous sommes souvent coincés au niveau des platitudes. Nous ne nous laissons jamais confronter aux vrais problèmes qui nous divisent.

Je vais donc prendre un risque aujourd'hui pour dire que si l’on rêve d'atteindre la fraternité universelle, on devrait se permettre de s’engager en dialogue sur les problèmes difficiles que l’on évite souvent lorsque l’on se réunit en tant que personnes de religions différentes.

On peut dire que la fraternité universelle est au cœur de la foi unitarienne universaliste - mais peut-être nous l'exprimons différemment. Nous avons toujours été une foi qui laisse place à l'indépendance de pensée, sans dogme, et à l'acceptation de la diversité. Nous cherchons à ouvrir de portes à ceux qui ne sont pas les bienvenus dans d'autres communautés.

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The Silent Hero

November 11th, 2018
By: Rev. Diane Rollert

Last week, I spent seven days in Toronto at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. One of the highlights was an invitation that I and the other Unitarian Universalist ministers attending the parliament received on behalf of the City Shul, a synagogue in downtown Toronto. We were asked if we would please come to form a circle of peace around the synagogue, in response to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

Eleven Jewish worshipers had been massacred in Pittsburgh the Saturday before, on October 27, by a man who shouted that he wanted to kill as many Jews as he possibly could. The pain, grief and horror were still so raw in everyone’s hearts.

The City Shul is a small synagogue that rents space at the Bloor Street United Church. It was early when we arrived, the chilliest morning of the week. At first we were just a few, but with time, the circle grew and we succeeded in surrounding the building. We were joined by the members of the Bloor Street church, along with Muslim neighbours and others. As members of the City Shul congregation arrived, they greeted us with the words “Thank you so much for being here. Shabbat Shalom.” Before their worship service began, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein and other leaders of the congregation walked the perimeter of the circle, thanking us with tears in their eyes.

Clergy and community representatives were invited inside for the service. It was an incredibly moving experience. The congregation was emotionally overwhelmed by the number of guests who filled their sanctuary. After prayers were sung, local dignitaries and visiting clergy spoke. A local imam said that he and his community were there because the synagogue had supported them when their mosque had been attacked.

The memory of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones was lifted up as well, two African Americans who were shot in Louisville, KY, the week before, by a man who had intended to attack an African American church. Finding the church closed, he mercilessly executed two strangers in a grocery store, simply because of the colour of their skin.

The Rabbi Goldstein spoke powerful words as she honoured the dead in Pittsburgh.

Read the full text here.

What Makes a Super Hero?

November 4th, 2018

This year, on the first Sunday of every month, the children are invited to stay in the sanctuary for a multi-generational service. The prayground is set up with materials, and both children and adults are invited to participate in the service today. Today’s service takes the form of a play, with a script and all!

To see the full text version of this service, click here.

Bringing Your Spirit Home

October 14th, 2018
Reflection by Rev. Diane Rollert

As I think of our ancestors, I keep returning to this quote from African American writer, Ralph Ellison:

“Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.”

I love the beautiful messages of gratitude that many of you wrote to your ancestors last week for our Thanksgiving service. There were thanks for life, love, courage, song, traditions, eyebrows, thick skin, health and longevity. Our ancestors have given us many blessings. But ancestry also comes with the burdens of the past.

Unitarian Universalism is my chosen faith, and Unitarian Universalists are my chosen ancestors. I come here holding onto the teachings of the family I grew up with and the ancestors who connect me to my racial, ethnic, religious and cultural roots. This faith has enabled me to hold onto what is good in my past and to let go of what I don’t need, as I engage in this ever unfolding process of bringing my spirit home.

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