Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

12 December 2021



“Surprised by Joy”

3rd Sunday Advent





A very gracious and Happy 3rd Sunday of Advent morning to you all.

Welcome to this time of reflection, worship and new beginnings.



“When you do things from your soul,

you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

~ Rumi


words by John Carter


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.


What does the word joy mean to you?

How do you experience joy?

Can negative experiences bring joy?


As we end these reflections, as we move to worship, may we continue to reflect on the things that make life whole and how we may grow ourselves into them.


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




SYF 175 (CD SYF 4/ TK 19)

“To seek and find our natural mind”

words of the Buddha, as envisioned by Richard Boeke


To seek and find our natural mind, and suffering let go,

awake from night, behold the light, find every life aglow;

awake from night, behold the light, find every life aglow.


To seek and find compassion’s law and share the holy quest,

awaken to the cosmic awe, find peace and be at rest;

awaken to the cosmic awe, find peace and be at rest.


To seek and find community, the love that will not cease,

begin today the joyful way, walking the path of peace;

begin today the joyful way, walking the path of peace.



Psalm 30

the Voice translation


I praise You, Eternal One. You lifted me out of that deep, dark pit

    and denied my opponents the pleasure of rubbing in their success.

Eternal One, my True God, I cried out to You for help;

    You mended the shattered pieces of my life.

You lifted me from the grave with a mighty hand,

    gave me another chance,

    and saved me from joining those in that dreadful pit.

Sing, all you who remain faithful!

    Pour out your hearts to the Eternal with praise and melodies;

    let grateful music fill the air and bless His name. 

His wrath, you see, is fleeting,

    but His grace lasts a lifetime.

The deepest pains may linger through the night,

    but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.

When things were quiet and life was easy, I said in arrogance,

    “Nothing can shake me.”

By Your grace, Eternal,

    I thought I was as strong as a mountain;

But when You left my side and hid away,

    I crumbled in fear.

O Eternal One, I called out to You;

    I pleaded for Your compassion and forgiveness:

“I’m no good to You dead! What benefits come from my rotting corpse?

    My body in the grave will not praise You.

No songs will rise up from the dust of my bones.

    From dust comes no proclamation of Your faithfulness.

Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,

    Eternal One—be merciful!”

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;

    You stripped off my dark clothing

    and covered me with joyful light.

You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!

    It’s impossible to keep quiet!

    Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.




There are many ways we can explore the season of Advent, one is though the recounting of the various stories within the bible, such as the patriarchs, the prophets and such, the way we will be following is through the virtues and values expressed during this season, Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love….


Today we light a candle of Joy…


“There is nothing in this world comparable in any way to the joy and happiness of the heart and the delight of the eye and closeness of Allah (God).”


Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah



SYF26 (CD SYF 1/ TK 5)

“Dancing Sweet Heart”

words by Andrew McKean Hill


Dancing sweet heart, may your kindness

be to one another shown;

and when human hearts are aching

may true human love be known.

Sweet heart calm us. Sweet heart heal us.

Sweet heart let your love be grown.


Beating small heart in the bodies

of all living things on earth,

pumping life blood through their systems

until death, from day of birth.

Small heart cleanse us. Small heart feed us.

Small heart give us joy and mirth.


Pulsing great heart of the cosmos

beating in the depths of space,

keeping suns and planets turning

placing earth in rightful place.

Great heart warm us. Great heart keep us.

Great heart hold us in your grace.





“Follow your bliss.

If you do follow your bliss,

you put yourself on a kind of track

that has been there all the while waiting for you,

and the life you ought to be living

is the one you are living.

When you can see that,

you begin to meet people

who are in the field of your bliss,

and they open the doors to you.

I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,

and doors will open

where you didn’t know they were going to be.

If you follow your bliss,

doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”


― Joseph Campbell


“The Joy of Work”

by Albert Schweitzer,

from Albert Schweitzer An Anthology


“However limited one’s means are, how much one can do with them!


Just to see the joy of those who are plagued with sores, when these have been cleanly bandaged up and they no longer have to drag their poor, bleeding feet through the mud, makes it worth while to work here.


How I should like all my helpers to be able to see on Mondays and Thursdays — the days set apart for the bandaging of sores — the freshly bandaged patients walking or being carried down the hill, or that they could have watched the eloquent gestures with which an old woman with heart complaint described how, thanks to digitalis, she could once more breathe and sleep, because the medicine had made ‘the worm’ crawl right away down to her feet!


As I look back over the work of two months and a half, I can only say that a doctor is needed, terribly needed, here; that for a huge distance round the natives avail themselves of his help, and that with comparatively small means he can accomplish a quite disproportionate amount of good.


The need is terrible.


‘Here, among us, everybody is ill,’ said a young man to me a few days ago.


‘Our country devours its own children,’ was the remark of an old chief.”



“Letter to Czeslaw Milosz”

by Thomas Merton

from a collection of letters Thomas Merton: A Life In Letters


“To Czeslaw Milosz                                                             15 March, 1968


Let me reassure you. There was absolutely nothing wounding in your letter. Anything you may be tempted to think about the Church. I think myself, and much more so as I am in constant contact with all of it. The boy scout atmosphere, the puerile optimism about the ‘secular city’ and all the pathetic manoeuvres to be accepted by the ‘world’ — I see all this and much more. And I also get it from the other side. Conservative Catholics in Louisville are burning my books because I am opposed to the Vietnam War.


The whole thing is ridiculous. I do think however that some of the young priest have a pathetic honesty and sincerity with is very moving. Beyond that I have nothing to say.


And I have a thick skin.


You can say absolutely nothing about the Church that can shock me. If I stay with the Church it is out of a disillusioned love, and with a realisation that I myself could not be happy outside, though I have no guarantee of being happy inside either.


In effect, my ‘happiness’ does not depend on any institution or any establishment. As for you, you are part of my ‘Church’ of friends, who are in many ways more important to me than the institution…”



Sharers of Gentle Joy

by Abraham Joshua Heschel


“Mindfulness of God rises slowly, a thought at a time. Suddenly we are there. Or is God here, at the margin of our soul? When we begin to feel a qualm of diffidence lest we hurt what is holy, lest we break what is whole, then we discover that God is not austere. God answers with love our trembling awe.


Repentant of forgetting God even for a while, we become sharers of gentle joy; we would like to dedicate ourselves forever to the unfoldment of God’s final order.”




What does joy mean for you?

How does, if it even does, the Christmas narratives speak to you?

Can we find joy in the most mundane, or horrid situations?



SYF 35 (CD SYF 3/TK 7)

“Find a stillness”

words by Carl G. Seaburg, based on a Transylvanian Unitarian Text


Find a stillness, hold a stillness, let the stillness carry me.

Find the silence, hold the silence, let the silence carry me.

In the spirit, by the spirit, with the spirit giving power,

I will find true harmony.


Seek the essence, hold the essence, let the essence carry me.

Let me flower, help me flower, watch me flower, carry me.

In the spirit, by the spirit, with the spirit giving power,

I will find true harmony.


“Our Lady of Guadelupe”

by John Philip Carter


The 12 of December is the feast day for Guadelupe, and it is an important date for myself.


I choose Guadelupe because of the date, and the message of liberation within it, oft hidden, but present.


My confession with this is that I am not a big fan of the various Mary cults, adorations, and such. Yes and at this same moment I am moved by them. There is a sense of empowerment within them for women and yes for men as well.


In the late 1970s and early 1980s the Latin American Poet, Eduardo Galeano, wrote a trilogy of the history of the Americas….Called Memory of Fire. Within the pages he explored and told the story of the Americas from the point of view of the dispossessed and powerless. Basic on original sources and a chronological timeline, he informs us of the history we often miss, or have neglected.


This is what he wrote for Guadelupe….


“1532: Mexico City

The Virgin of Guadelupe


That light, does it rise from the earth or fall from the sky? Is it lightning bug or bright star? It doesn’t want to leave the slopes of Tepeyac and in dead of night persists, shining on the stones and entangling itself in the branches.


Hallucinating, inspired, the naked Indian Juan Diego sees it: The light of lights opens up for him, breaks into golden and ruby pieces, and in its glowing heart appears that most luminous of Mexican women, she who says to him in the Nahuatl language:


‘I am the mother of God.’


Bishop Zumarraga listens and doubts.


The bishop is the Indians’ official protector, appointed by the emperor, and also guardian of the branding iron that stamps on the Indians’ faces the names of their proprietors. He threw the Aztec codices into the fire, papers painted by the hand of Satan, and destroyed five hundred temples and twenty thousand idols.


Bishop Zumarraga well knows that the goddess of earth, Tonantzin, had her sanctuary high on the slopes of Tepeyac and that the Indians used to make pilgrimages there to worship ‘our mother’, as they called that woman clad in snakes and hearts and hands.


The bishop is doubtful and decides that the Indian Juan Diego has seen the Virgin of Guadelupe. The Virgin born in Estremadura, darkened by the suns of Spain, has come to the valley of the Aztecs to be the mother of the vanquished.”


I commend these books to you, if you can still find them…. The power here to me is, while not ignoring the blatant appropriation of the Native Nation mythos, is another aspect that is important, equally oft forgotten by the powers that be.


People take ownership in their lives when they see themselves as valued, in seeing Mary as Aztec, she empowered a sense of esteem within that native nation (continuing to this day for the people of Mexico) and thus a move toward a true sense of liberating empowerment for the people.


And maybe we can find empowerment to change and become better people as we examine the Christmas mythos of God becoming human in a little Jewish Baby.




What does joy mean for you?

How does, if it even does, the Christmas narratives speak to you?

Can we find joy in the most mundane, or horrid situations?




“The highest good may be likened to water.

Water benefits all creatures yet does not strive or argue with them.

It rests content in those lowly places which other despise.

Thus it is very near the Tao (the Way).

                                                                        ~ Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching

Thou who are unnamed and named,

Multitude of divine unity,

The great Thou,


We pray…


Let us never be afraid of innocent joy;

God is good, and what is done is done well;

resign yourself to everything, even to happiness;

ask for the spirit of sacrifice, of detachment, of remuneration, and, above all, for the spirit of great joy and gratitude —


That genuine and religious optimism which sees in the Divine, a friend, a parent, a lover, that asks no pardon for all the benefits of life.


We must dare to be happy, and dare to confess it, regarding ourselves always as the depositaries, not as the authors of our own joy.


                                                              ~ prayer by Henri Frederic Ariel

                                                                        (re-envisioned by John Carter)



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.




Go with the blessings of Hope,

With the blessings of Peace, and

The blessing of Love in your heart..


Go in the blessings of Life, the blessings of God.

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