‘Through interfaith relationship we can learn to love unconditionally,’ says Barbara Sheffield
Opinion Jan 08, 2020 by Barbara Sheffield Toronto.com
Ever wonder what the fuss is all about when it comes to different religions and how the faithful practise them? Sometimes fear of the unknown or fear of the other drives our opinions and leads to lack of understanding or connection. Have you ever been in a faith conversation with a neighbour or friend about mindfulness or spiritual movements like tai chi or yoga or music that reflects our different faith traditions and wonder whether you need to drill down more into the subject matter?
Increasingly, we live in a pluralistic society where we can learn from each other about inner peace and spiritual harmony. Media reports these days talk about the rise of authoritarianism, nationalism and isolationism, which leads to division. Our world is more broken than ever, but we can be part of the healing in our own neighbourhoods. Through interfaith relationship we can learn to love unconditionally, to love our neighbour and promote respect and trust. Exploring interfaith practices allow us to deepen our own faith by learning from others.
Our Islington United Church Interfaith Circle is trying to build new relationships with others to find what we share in common, to find new pathways that lead to unity and peace. This month, on Wednesday evenings, we are offering a three-lecture interfaith series, Pathways to Spiritual Practice, which might be just the right educational experience for you. Contrary to what we might think, exploring interfaith should not create fear, but should help us connect. Through dialogue and collaboration, we become more open to new ideas and learn from the wisdom of traditions other than our own.
Our third annual lecture series begins on Jan. 15, as we explore prayer and mindfulness inspired by our Abrahamic roots, as well as by the Eastern traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism with Dr. Timothy Gianotti and Dr. Ranjini George.
On Jan. 22, we are focusing on the union of body, mind and spirit as a binding life force with Helen Wu (tai chi) and Marcia Wilkinson (yoga), as well as learning more about inner peace from lecturer Tevfik Baba when he shares with us the Whirling Dervish practice that comes from the Sufi Muslim tradition.
Jan. 29 will give us an experience of spiritual harmony in music and chanting. Our lecturer is Hussein Janomohamed, a composer, conductor, singer and music educator, who has a wonderful story to tell about the unifying role of music that comes with new relationships.
Come and join us at Islington United Church, 25 Burnhamthorpe Rd., for this community education event 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, 22 and 29, where we will connect and learn about Pathways to Spiritual Practice. You can register through Eventbrite to let us know you are coming.
Let’s engage and enter into relationship with others in the community to discover what we share in common. Islington United Church sees interfaith activity as a fulfilment of our mission — Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.
Barbara Sheffield is Islington United Church’s Interfaith Circle co-chair.
Rev. Maya Landell says the season invites us to notice colours ‘as an artist would’
Opinion Dec 16, 2019 by Rev. Maya Landell Toronto.com
Oscar Wilde once wrote that mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.
As we have prepared for the special seasons of Advent and Christmas at Islington United Church, I could not help but notice the colours of life all around us — red poinsettias, orange in candle flames, yellow star-shaped sugar cookies for coffee hour, greenery, blue in the Mary costume for Christmas Eve, and white twinkly lights lighting up the night. I see these colours in the eyes of children and adults alike who are paying attention to the mystery of Christmas all around them, who are finding the colours of their story interwoven with the colours of God’s story.
This season invites us into noticing, as an artist would, how these colours show up in our lives: the colour of hope, the colour of peace, the colour of joy, the colour of love. I hope others will notice the colours of Christmas differently this year as we prepare for Christmas Eve.
I am deeply grateful to serve in ministry at Islington United, to be part of a community that places welcome, generosity and compassion at the heart of all we do. We are a colourful community that is passionate about faith in action. We are a community that serves from the heart. We are a community that doesn’t always agree and works to make room for difference of opinion. We are a community that is moved to care and reach out. We are a community that trusts the peace that passes all understanding is always with us, guiding us through the Christ-light, to make a difference.
We have also made room for the colours of remembrance and grief in a service for those who are finding the holidays difficult. The Blue Christmas service, a special time of music, prayer and candlelighting, designed to assure us of God’s support and presence, demonstrates our love and caring. Grief and suffering will not last forever. Gradually, heavy hearts lighten, feel comforted, less sad and less lonely, knowing that we can all trust in God’s love, in the light beyond darkness.
At Christmas in Islington, the colours of Christmas were given a soundtrack, a time when we heard choirs of all ages, handbells, orchestra and community singing, celebrating the season of light.
Join us on Sunday, Dec. 22, at either the 9:30 a.m. service or the 11:15 a.m. service, or on Christmas Eve — when more than 1,500 people will join us for four services — families with young children at 5 p.m., carols and readings 7 and 9 p.m., followed by candlelight communion at 11 p.m. And, if you are homebound, see the colours online as the 7, 9 and 11 p.m. services are streamed live at islingtonunited.org. On Sunday, Dec. 29, we are offering one service for people of all ages, to have another taste of Christmas together.
The baby is coming, the Christ Child who changes hearts and calls us to co-creating a better world together. Don’t miss it! No matter what you are doing, take a moment to pause and notice the colours of Christmas around us. Blessings. Rev. Maya Landell is the lead minister of Islington United Church.
Article in Etobicoke Snapd. December 2019. Reproduced with permission.
Islington United Church was once again transformed into a shopping extravaganza on October 25 as it hosted its annual Rummage and Christmas Sale. Bargains were sought after in every nook and cranny of the church. Attendees bustled in the themed rooms, including a Christmas room, as they searched for that special something. Shoppers had lots of choices such as gently used and new clothing, accessories, collectibles, vintage treasures, home decor, clothing, accessories, costume jewelry, shoes, books, toys, games, linens, household goods, sports equipment, small appliances, arts & crafts, china, antiques, furniture, food stand and much more. The packed church was as busy as ever with many people finding coveted treasures.