Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

05 September 2021


“across the barren plains to find a home”



“Looking back upon the year’s accumulated heap of troubles, Margaret wondered how they had been borne. If she could have anticipated them, how she would have shrunk away and hid herself from the coming time! 


Yet day by day had, of itself, and by itself, and by itself, been very endurable — small, keen, bright little spots of positive enjoyment having come sparkling into the very middle of sorrows.”

~ Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 ~1865)

                      Unitarian novelist





We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of our connectedness, our community, and of our journey on this spiritual quest called life….


We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week… as we reflect…. explore and ask of yourself….

          What was good? Healthy?

          What was not good? Unhealthy?

          What moments, events, conversations, time alone

          that allowed me to connect to another, to life,

                               to that which may be called Divine.


In taking the time to explore, ask, reflect, and finally to name what was good, what wasn’t, and those important connections for you, there is a release for you to grow, to change what needs to be changed, and to reflect-fully live your life.


May the Great Spirit of the Journey walk with us today.




SYF 178 (CD SYF 3/TK 19)

“Together now we join as one”

words by Clifford Martin Reed


Together now we join as one

our common faith to sing;

to render to this pilgrim world

our heartfelt offering.


We strive to be a fellowship

with mind and conscience free,

to search for truth and saving light

in cosmic mystery.


We worship God – love’s source and power;

we celebrate the life

that all earth’s children freely share

beyond their sinful strife.


We would, in love, serve humankind

with caring, justice, peace;

and with the earth seek harmony

that pride and pillage cease.


We hold in reverence the man

who walked in Galilee,

who healed the sick and loved the poor –

revealed divinity.


We welcome truth, we welcome light,

all prophecy and song,

whoever they be channelled through

to all they shall belong.





“Q2: Where does the word Unitarian come from?”

Unitarian? What’s That?

by Cliff Reed


Its roots lie in the Reformation of 16th-century Europe. At that time Protestant Christians claimed the right to read the Bible in their own languages and to interpret it for themselves.


Some who did so found that it spoke of one God, without qualification. This did not square with the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which says that God consists of three “persons.” Because these people believed God to be a “unity” rather than a “trinity” they became known as “Unitarians.”




“The Call of the Disciples”

a Sonnet by Malcolm Guite


“He calls us all to step aboard his ship,

Take the adventure on this morning’s wing,

Raise sail with him, launch out into the deep,

Whatever storms or floods are threatening.

If faith gives way to doubt, or love to fear,

Then, as on Galilee, we’ll rouse the Lord,

For he is always with us and will hear,

And make our peace with his creative Word,

Who made us, loved us, formed us and has set

All his beloved lovers in an ark;

Borne upwards by his Spirit, we will float

Above the rising waves, the falling dark,

As fellow pilgrims, driven towards that haven,

Where all will be redeemed, fulfilled, forgiven.



from the  Wisdom Distilled From the Daily

by Joan Chittister O.S.B.


“The Rule of Benedict clearly emphasises the need to listen to the people with whom we live….Benedict, who began religious life as a hermit – the norm for that time – soon left the cave to live in community and listen to the demands and insights both of the shepherds in the hills around him and of the monastics who gathered around him. No one was excluded from the role of heavenly messenger: ‘Receive the guest as Christ’, Benedict said. ‘Let the Abbot ask everyone beginning with the youngest’. In monastic spirituality, life together….is an opportunity for the presence of God to manifest itself, not an obstacle to it.


Not to listen, then, is not to grow. But more than that, to be unable to listen is the be unable to give as well. It is easy to know what is good for someone else. It is difficult to listen and let them define themselves. Benedict puts the entire Rule in one sentence when, as his last will and testament of community, he says at the end of the rule… ‘Anticipate one another with honour, most patiently enduring one another’s infirmities, whether of body or character: vie in paying obedience to one another, tender love chastely, fear God in love; love one another’. It takes a lot of listening to hear the needs of those around us before they even speak them. But there is no good human community without it.


Listening and love are clearly of a piece.


Benedictine listening is about more than attending to the Scriptures, praying, and being sensitive to the needs of those around us, though. Benedictine listening is about seeking out wise direction as well. It is one thing to try to hear what is in front of us. It is another to willingly expose our ideas to the critical voice of a wiser heart.


Seeking wise direction is central to personal growth.


Monastic life does this by living in the community, trusting its elders, its wise, its holy ones, even its simple ones.


In life we find that wives do this for husbands; husbands do this for wives; parents for children; counsellors for clients; etc…


We must all learn to listen to the truths of those around us. We are poor shadows of listening hearts if we think that listening has something to do with simply taking orders.




Listening has something to do with being willing


          willing to change ourselves


          willing to change our world.


Listening is a religious discipline of the first order that depends on respect and leads to conversation and to conversion.”



from Fingerprints of Fire….Footprints of Peace

by Noel Moules


“My fingerprint is a symbol of who I am, an icon of my identity. Fingerprints are common to every human being, yet unique to each individual. I rarely think of my fingertips and the marks they make, yet each time I touch something they leave their impression. Not only do they imprint the surface with microscopic contours as distinct as a personal signature, but also they leave behind molecular DNA that can trace every touch I make directly back to me.


Fingerprints remind me of the physical power of touch; whether an intimate expression of love, or a hind and compassionate gesture that reaches out to draw someone to a place of safety. Without physical touch, neither animals nor humans will thrive. A fist leaves no fingerprints, only bruises. Touching should always be life-giving.


Once I was at a conference for young activists, invited to speak about the way different faiths understand the concept of peace. The session went well, provoking animated discussion during our mealtime conversations. There was much talk about spiritual influences and choices. Around the table phrases such as ‘I am a Christian’ and ‘Are you a Buddhist?’ began to be used.


Across the table from me sat a young woman.


She thoughtfully listened to everything being said.


She took her time; I could see she was reflecting.


Then in a clear, gentle voice she asked:


‘I am Fran, who do I have to be anything else?’


This question, simple yet so profound, hit me like a thunderbolt, like a koan – that disturbing statement given by a Zen Buddhist master to aid enlightenment: this question lives with me to this day.


Her question is about identity; how do I understand it? Is it about me: who am I and how do I understand myself? What is my unique fingerprint?


The brilliance of Fran’s question is the way it reveals how culture and religion each tend to deal with personal identity by wrapping us in ‘garment’ designed and sewn together by other people for us to wear.


We take them without thinking and dress in them with gratitude, because we want to belong.


This almost always leads to a self-understanding that is conformist and creates attitudes that easily become doctrinaire, leaving personal individuality and true identity as secondary, and in extreme circumstances virtually erased.


Clothing is a very powerful symbol of identity; it is intriguing the way it both covers and reveals us at one and the same time. If we choose to use the metaphor of ‘garment’ when thinking about identity, we need to see ourselves as ‘bespoke people’, with an identity that is tailored to communicate who we really are and not one that is like a uniform or an ‘off-the-peg’ fashion item.


It is the statement, ‘I am Fran’ that cuts to the heart of the issue.


Authentic identity always begins with who and what we are deep within ourselves.


The Rabbi Jesus said ‘Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”


Maybe it is not so much who am I? as it is How do I respond?



SYF 204 (CD SYF 2/TRACK 24)

“When I am frightened”

words by Shelley Jackson Denham


When I am frightened, will you reassure me?

When I’m uncertain, will you hold my hand?

Will you be strong for me, sing to me quietly?

Will you share some of your stories with me?

If you will show me compassion, then I may learn to care as you do,

then I may learn to care.


When I am angry, will you still embrace me?

When I am thoughtless, will you understand?

Will you believe in me, stand by me willingly?

Will you share some of your questions with me?

If you will show me acceptance, then I may learn to give as you do,

then I may learn to give.


When I am troubled, will you listen to me?

When I am lonely, will you be my friend?

Will you be there for me, comfort me tenderly?

Will you share some of your feelings with me?

If you will show me commitment, then I may learn to love as you do,

then I may learn to love.





This is my third reflection on what it means to be church. Or to say it better on how we reflect our understanding of who we are and what we are called to be and to do.  In some ways our simple statements of who we are, or our self descriptors show us an answer to this question.


Traditional descriptors are Kingdom of God/Heaven, updated in some places as Commonwealth of God/Heaven. These are essentially political boundaries, and my understanding of the biblical texts are that Jesus meant them in a counter cultural sort of way, and with the Constantinian synthesis these did infect become political boundary.


Recent ones have included Paradise and Beloved Community. Both trying to pick up the need for the descriptor and contemporary concerns. Paradise has a more ecological direction, and it is necessary in our era of changing climatic conditions. Beloved Community emphasises the communal aspects of religion, and speaks to the contemporary need of belonging and identity.


One that I have heard many Unitarians use is Movement. Picking up on the activist side, organising, and making a statement. It also picks up the political side.


There is nothing wrong with a sense of political about who and what we are. The question some are asking is in fact is this all we are. Do we have a sense of being something more than a political body? If you think yes we are, then what are the dimensions of this being more than? Likewise if you think no we are not, why does this make sense to you?




“We are still waiting:

prayer for living under the threat of a mushroom cloud”

by John Carter


We face times when we have no words to speak,

stunned into a silence not of our making….

          how can we respond

          are there words that will reach


Churches, governments, local committees and boards

          all a mixture of care and control

          trying to do well in response to their job description

          trying to be responsible to all within their constituency


Yet the others who sit at the table

          seem to see their call as a cash machine

          as a right to do what ever they want

          speaking concern while exploiting the situation.


and we are left waiting


We listen to death throbs of politicians

          making the world a safer place


Our country, those countries, our world

          on the edge again

          reliving fear, not reviving


We watch their acolytes naively dance

          in happy ways for their beloved leaders actions or inactions

          blindly accepting the 140 characters they dribble

          as if it was pure honey, gospel, holy .


Over and over and over again

          each time wishing, wanting, hoping against hope

          that this would be the last bellicose thing they do


and we are still waiting…….


We pray for empowerment to stand

We recognise that this is the calling of humanity

          to care for the world on which we live

          to treat with dignity all who live on it

          to act for the good of all


and yet




What can resurrection mean for us?

          is it just mythos without meaning

          is it the prompt for liberation

          or is it a hide in which we can ignore and be ignored


What can justice be for us?

          a sitting back because our side lost

          a call for recognition

          a demand to be heard and respected.


What can hope mean for us?

          is it mere fantasy of things getting better, onward and upward?

          is it political rhetoric designed to inspire

          is it that spark of life that keeps us moving, trying, acting for LIFE.


What can these things mean for us,

          can we find them as resources which empower our life and living


Or are we resigned to sit and await our end?




Spirit of life, Divine other

          what ever name we call you


we ask for the desire to serve you, to serve life,

          not for control of others,

          but for their being able to simply live their life



we ask for the ability to stand for and alongside

          those who cannot and will not

          as well as those who do, who want to do.


may we be your voice,

          your hands

          your action in this world


that justice may come

peace may reign

hope may enliven


may we be servants of life,

life abundant

life fulfilling.


Spirit of life,

may we be yours.


so say we all,




SYF 208 (CD SYF 2 / TK 25)

“When our heart is in a holy place”

words by Joyce Poley


          When our heart is in a holy place,

          when our heart is in a holy place,

          we are blessed with love and amazing grace,

          when our heart is in a holy place.


When we trust the wisdom in each of us,

ev’-ry colour ev’-ry creed and kind,

and we see our faces in each other’s eyes,

then our heart is in a holy place.


          When our heart is in a holy place,

          when our heart is in a holy place,

          we are blessed with love and amazing grace,

          when our heart is in a holy place.


When we tell our story from deep inside,

and we listen with a loving mind,

and we hear our voices in each other’s words,

then our heart is in a holy place.


          When our heart is in a holy place,

          when our heart is in a holy place,

          we are blessed with love and amazing grace,

          when our heart is in a holy place.


When we share the silence of sacred space,

and the God of our heart stirs within,

and we feel the power of each other’s faith,

then our heart is in a holy place.


          When our heart is in a holy place,

          when our heart is in a holy place,

          we are blessed with love and amazing grace,

          when our heart is in a holy place.

          When our heart is in a holy place.



Words by John Carter


In our searching to become

The Beloved Community…


As we wander

As we grow, and

As we become…


May Good guide us

May Love sustain us

May life empower us….


As we live out our answering of these questions in our quest to be faithful to the task set before us.

The Digest - YUU Blog