Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

19 September 2021



“Growing Peace”



“Everything is changing, nothing is our own.

Not seeing clearly, we perpetuate the disease of the world.

May we, living rightly, come to know Truth;

That, abiding in peace, we may bring peace to all beings.”

~ Anonymous (Buddhist)





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.


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 30 (CD SYF 1/TK 6)

“Each seeking faith is seeking light”

words by Brian Wren


Each seeking faith is seeking light,

and light dawns on our seeking,

when clashing tongues combine

to pray that light will shine,

and guide and gather all on earth

in peaceful greeting.


Each seeking faith is seeking truth,

for truth is lived by seeking,

and though our faiths conflict,

no dogma can restrict

the power of truth set free on earth

in honest meeting.


Each loving faith is seeking peace,

and peace is made by seeking

to spin the strands of trust

in patterns free and just,

till every family on earth

is in safe keeping.


Each living faith is seeking life,

and life flows through our seeking

to treasure, feel and show

the heart of what we know.

In every faith the Light, the Life,

is shining, speaking.




“Q4: Do Unitarians have anything to do with the New Age?”

Unitarian? What’s That?

by Cliff Reed

Unitarians have been around for centuries. We are not a manifestation of the New Age movement. Nevertheless, as with any phenomenon relating to human spirituality, Unitarians are prepared to look at the vast range of New Age practices and ideas with an open mind.

      Having done so, though, it must be said that many of us regard a good deal of what we see as highly suspect, even dangerous. Old superstitions have been revived, new ones developed, and populist pseudo-scholarship favoured over the real thing. We Unitarians value our heritage as rational religionists, as well as valuing life’s spiritual dimension. Much New Age material seems to fail the tests of both reason and healthy spirituality.

      On the other hand, Unitarians also see valid and valuable insights in some of what is dubbed “New Age”. In particular, many Unitarians welcome holistic interpretations of the human person or the planet. We are prepared to see the value of some forms of alternative and complementary medicine, for example. We also share the revival of interest in a spirituality that focuses on the natural world, and believes we must get back to living in harmony with it. This is an area where our civilisation has much to learn. We are also sympathetic to approaches that value the intuitive and the feminine.

      The whole New Age movement reflects the spiritual hunger of our times. Some of its responses to that hunger are highly dubious, but others deserve serious, though discriminating, attention. Unitarians are willing to give that.

      We would not wish to dismiss anything that genuinely meets a need. Neither, though, do we wish to retreat into the spiritual and mental obscurity of a pre-Enlightenment, pre-scientific age that is anything but “New”!


“Make a better world”

by David Usher

from 12 Steps to Spiritual Health


“An unfortunate consequence of much of contemporary interest in spirituality is that it tends to focus exclusively on the individual.


‘It’s all about me’ is the cry. ‘My purpose in life is to be a whole person, to tend to the needs of myself and those in my immediate circle.  I cannot save the world if I am not fulfilled and happy in myself.  Peace in the world begins with me and who I am; therefore I will concentrate on myself, and being a happy and contented and spiritually fulfilled person will be my contribution to the peace of the world.’


Many people spend great sums of money and devote considerable amounts of time to self-improvement courses, attending residential workshops, and reading books, all of which are designed to help turn them into better and more enlightened people, as if their life’s work was to do no more than tune in to their own karma.


If that is your view of spiritual health, perhaps you have already realised that what I am saying is simply not for you.  If you think that the responsibilities of your spiritual life begin and end with you, then the really bad news is that not only have you wasted some of your time and even your money in this, but your quest for spiritual health is fatuous and doomed to fail.  A healthy personal spirituality is impossible if it does not include an ambition and a sense of responsibility beyond self.


Yes, work on self is an important and essential part of work in the world.  Yes, espousing peace in the world is a hollow cry if you are in conflict with yourself and with those immediately around you.  But the work of true spirituality is the work of being engaged with the world, not withdrawing from it.  Charity might begin at home, but it does not end there.  Charity that does end at home is not charity at all, but narcissism and self-centredness.  Spirituality that ends with self is not real spirituality, but a stunted distortion.  True spirituality is found in the interface between nurturing one’s own inner core and being fully involved with the world.


If you wish to be a spiritually alive and fulfilled person in the world, then you must be active in the world, your presence in the world must be a positive asset to that world, and your spirituality must serve needs greater than your own.”



by Lao Tse, author of the Tao Te Ching


If there is to be peace in the world

There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities

There must be peace between neighbours.

If there is to be peace between neighbours There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home, There must be peace in the heart.


My Book of Forgiving

by Desmond and Mpho Tutu


Here is my book of forgiving

The pages are well worn

Here are the places I struggled

Here are the places I passed through with ease


Here is my book of forgiving

Some of its pages are tear-stained and torn

Some are decorated with joy and laughter

Some of it pages are written with hope

Some are etched with despair


This is my book of forgiving

This book is full of stories and secrets

It tells how I finally broke free from being defined by injury

And chose to become a creator again


Offering forgiveness

Accepting that I am forgiven

Creating a world of peace.


“Sign of the Disarmed Heart”

by Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

from Wisdom Distilled From the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today


…Benedictine spirituality says be gentle with yourself, be gentle with the other, be gentle with the earth. Give to others whatever they need (Rule of Benedict ((RB)) 34). Care for the stranger with the best you have (RB 61). Listen to one another (RB 3). Be kind of speech to one another (RB 31). Take care of the guest and the sick and the children and the traveler and everyone in the community whoever they are, rich or poor, young or old, titled or not (RB 30, 38, 53, 55, 59, 63). Handle everything with reverence (RB 32). And work for the good of all (RB 48).


I was to Benedictine monasteries that refugees streamed in the Middle Ages. It was Benedictines who sought to make warfare a moral matter in the Middle Ages. It was Benedictines who demonstrated that all classes of society — cleric and lay, young and old, slave and free, Romans and foreigners — could live together as sisters and brothers in Christ.


Benedictine spirituality intends a nonviolent world where the least favoured, the most needy, the totally defenceless are protected and heard and provided for with justice. In the prophetic Book of Baruch. God names the Chosen “the Peace of Justice.” Benedictine spirituality brings this model of peace through justice to every place it builds and breaths.


Atomic Cake Sermon (10 November 1946)

by A. Powell Davies, from the book A. Powell Davies and His Times by George N. Marshall [Boston: Skinner House Books, 1990]. pp 139-140


“I have with me here in the pulpit this morning a page from a newspaper. From a very fine newspaper. It contains a picture—as it seems to me, an utterly loathsome picture.




If I spoke as I feel I would call it obscene. I do not blame the newspaper for printing the picture, or the photographer for taking it. What fills me with bitterness is the fact that such an event could take place at all. It is a picture of two high naval officers and a very beautiful lady.[2] They are in the act of cutting what is called an atom-bomb cake. And it is indeed a cake shaped in the form of an atomic explosion. The caption [in the Post’s photo] says it is made of angel food puffs. I do not know how to tell you what I feel about that picture. I only hope to God it is not printed in Russia—to confirm everything the Soviet government is telling the Russian people about how ‘American degenerates’ are able to treat with levity the most cruel, pitiless, revolting instrument of death ever invented by man.[3]


How would it seem in Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, to know that Americans make cakes—of angel food puffs—in the image of that terrible, diabolical thing that brought sudden death to thousands of their friends, and a lingering, loathsome death to thousands of others? It is a crime—a crime against whatever may be left of decency here in America—to do this incredible thing.


It is the most corrupt and rotten thing I have seen in eighteen years of living in this land that I love [Editor’s Note: Davies was born in Birkenhead, England, a suburb of Liverpool and emigrated to the United States with his wife, Muriel, in 1928]—and which, to me, is the only hope for the human future on this globe. The naval officers concerned should apologize to the armed service of which they are a part, and to the American people. No apology would be sufficient to efface what it may mean to the people of the world.[4]


If you do not understand this, may God awaken you! Try to imagine yourself for a moment—for a moment at least—a continental European, wondering, brooding, asking yourself a hundred times a day, “Will America lead us? Is there enough decency left in the world, enough conscience left in America to lead us back to hope, back to liberty, back to being human beings again?” Try to imagine yourself day by day appealed to by Soviet propaganda, but still hoping—still having faith in America. In America, the one great free country, the one land where war has not brutalized the people. Faith in America—try to imagine yourself half-starved, half-dehumanized, but holding on to this faith. Then imagine yourself being shown this picture!


If I had the authority of a priest of the Middle Ages, I would call down the wrath of God upon such an obscenity. I would damn to hell these people of callous conscience, these traitors to humanity who would participate in such a monstrous betrayal of everything for which the brokenhearted of the world are waiting. But—perhaps fortunately—I have no such authority. And so I only pray that God will give me patience and compassion. That I may be just—and merciful—and humble. And still speak the truth that is in me.”



Found on the Blog-site CONELRAD ADJACENT, 6 September 2010: author of blog is Bill Geerhart.


[1] “Picture of Atomic-Bomb Cake ‘Obscene,’ D.C. Pastor Declares,” Washington Post via Associated Press, November 11, 1946.


[2] The woman Davies is referring to Vice Admiral Blandy’s wife. In a November 22, 1946 letter to the editor of the Washington Post, Colonel David H. Blakelock, U.S. Army and Captain Fitzhugh Lee, Joint Task Force 1 wrote, among other things, that “Mr. Davies remarks also did a great injustice to Mrs. Blandy, who was brought up and married and whose children were christened in the same church in which Mr. Davies has but recently become the pastor.” According to Rev. Davies biography, he became the minister for All Souls Church in 1944.


[3] In fact, the photograph was published in Russian newspapers. A November 18, 1946 Washington Post article headlined “Soviet Papers Comment on ‘Atom’ Cake” reported that Izvestia commented that “American ‘atomists’ [would] ‘like to stew a big atomic kasha and make millions of peaceful people bear the consequences.” The Post added that the story was illustrated with a picture of a “portly gentleman in a morning coat cutting a cake.” According to the same article, a Russian trade union newspaper, Trud, referred to Blandy’s infamous dessert as an “atomic cake.”


[4] No apology was ever issued. When the Associated Press asked Blandy about the cake, he responded that he did not wish to “comment offhand.”: “Picture of Atomic-Bomb Cake ‘Obscene,’ D.C. Pastor Declares,” Washington Post via Associated Press, November 11, 1946.



We Will Forgive

a retelling of a news item by John Philip Carter


“It was a warm October day when Joshua heard this news item….


A gun man walked into a one room school house today and after allowing several women and all the boys to leave, he barricaded the room and after a few hours standoff with the local police he shot 10 young girls, killing five of them before turning the gun and killing himself.


Over the weeks that followed Joshua was puzzled by the responses to this incident that he heard.


There have been many responses, and much judgment of the way that the community of the victims responded…all forgot or simply didn’t notice the spirituality or spiritual centre of this community. Judging the Amish to be inferior and naive in their response.


What the wider community found most bewildering is that the night of the shootings the elders of the Amish community came to the family and the widow of the gun man and visited with her and them. It was reported that they simply wanted to let her know was that “we will forgive”.


What wasn’t reported was that night as they sat and spoke, one of the elders held the gun man’s father in his arms as the man cried over what his son had done, that they offered to help the family in what ever ways they could, without limitation. And that the only non-Amish person invited to the funerals was the widow of the gunman.


All this was done because the Amish decided that “we will forgive.”



SYF 219 (CD SYF 4/TRACK 25)

“You are the song of my heart”

words by Kendyl Gibbons


You are the song of my heart in the morning; you are the dawn of truth in my soul; you are the dew of the rose’s adorning; you are the woven whole.


Yours is the grace to be steadfast in danger; yours is the peace that none can destroy; yours is the face of the need-riven stranger; yours are the wings of joy.


You are the deep to the deep in me calling; you are a lamp where my feet shall tread; your way is steep, past the peril of falling; you are my daily bread.


Yours be the praise of my spirit uplifted; you are the sea to each flowing stream; yours are the days that are gathered and sifted; you are the deathless dream.




Worship as Non Violent Resistance:

A Theo-poetic reflection of Pentecost

by John Philip Carter


A moment of fiery breathe


A fluttering of the heart and wings


A cosmic yet personal transformation


The Divine loci


                     here with us

                     here within us


A scattered mass of followers

                     suddenly energised




Community formation at its finest


          conflicts solved in relational ways

          peace at the core of their being

          honesty and integrity watchwords of the soul

          hospitality to all…. regardless of class, tribe, sect or ontological/biological understanding

          all things held in common, communal, communist, community

          a rainbow of people, personality, divine diversity, flowing freely in welcome


The Divine loci


                     here with us

                     here within us


A place to resist the ways of corruption

A home of safely so one could be oneself

A light upon the hill


A lived worship


Now as then, we are the artisans of a Joy that the powerful cannot comprehend


Now as then, when we gather we are declaring that there is more to life than cultural compliance


Now as then, the divine spirit calls us to greater, love, compassion, justice ….calls us to Shalom.


Now as then, our worship is non-violent resistance to the evil forces of our world….


To the state religion of violence and oppression

To the state addiction to power and greed

To the state command of unquestioning obedience


Now as then, we are artisans of a life, a joy, that the world cannot comprehend

                     where love trumps greed

                     where cooperation trumps narcissistic individualism

                     where life trumps profit

                     where the symbols of hate, power, greed, slavery are cast down

                     where dominion and empire no longer reign


The Divine loci


                     here with us

                     here within us


When we worship we are participating in the life affirming, non-violent resistance to the evils of our culture.


With every prayer we take,

With every action we make,


The smile,

The cup,

The sandwich

The service of life


We worship and we participate in the greater sense of life, compassion….Justice.


Worship is non-violent resistance


The place where divine compassion calls out for our transformation


Our Metanoia,

Our walk to Damascus


Our shining fiery moment of clarity and call

Spirit and action


Our yes to life




          1) What does spirituality mean to you?

          2) What does Justice, or Peace mean to you?

          3) Can you be an activist for justice, or peace, and a person of spirit?



“Prayer for Peace”

based and adapted from a prayer by James Martineau, by John Philip Carter


Divine Thou,

Whose eye is over all humanity,

          over all creation,

                     over all the cosmos,

Thou who hast called us all,

          by the one we call the Prince of Peace,

                     into a beloved community,

                     one that is not of this world yet in this world:

          thou who hast sent the spirit of Peace

                     into the shadowy places of our lives, our guilt and our woe.


May the piercing power of thy Spirit,

                     full of grace, love and peace,

          reach into the heart of all oppression, and may it make all arrogance fall silent before Thee.


May it still the noise of our strife, and the tumult of our age;

May it put to shame all our false idols;

May it empower us to carry

          faith to the doubting;

          hope to the fearful,

          strength to the weak,

          light to the mourner;

May this holy calling increase, more and more, the pure of heart,

          so that all of creation may know and see Thee the Divine Thou.


May we be committed to Thy way,

          may our lips, heart, mind, and soul be faithful to Thee and Thy creation,

                     may we be Thy hands, heart, and eyes

                               so that Divine Love,

                                         may cover all of creation as the waters cover the channels of the deep.


May the Beloved Community be realised,

May Divine Way be known and done, here and now, even as we envision it filling the cosmos.





SYF 124 (CD SYF 1/TK 17)

“One more step, we will take one more step”

words by Joyce Poley


One more step, we will take one more step, ’til there is peace for us and everyone, we’ll take one more step.


One more word, we will say one more word, ’til every word is heard by everyone, we’ll say one more word.


One more prayer, we will say one more prayer, ’til every prayer is shared by everyone, we’ll say one more prayer.


One more song, we will sing one more song, ‘till every song is sung by everyone, we’ll sing one more song.



words found in Ely Cathedral (adapted by John Philip Carter)


May the divine Spirit of Pilgrimage

be with us upon our journey through this life;

          guard our steps

          defend and shelter us

          feed, challenge and most of all inspire us.


May we be taught and lead in this our journey

          to the ways that make for love, justice and peace in our world,

          so that when our days are ended,  we are welcomed home at last

          to rest fully in Love for ever.

The Digest - YUU Blog

12 Sept 2021 – Rev John Carter’s Sunday Reflections

Rev John Carter Unitarian Minister at Hull & Lincoln chapels gives his reflections on the theme of Story – “Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the Universe together into one garment for us.”

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