Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

31 October 2021



“Deadly Saints Days”

Season of Samhain, Halloween, All Saints/All Souls, Day of the Dead








“The only difference

between the saint and the sinner

is that every saint has a past,

and every sinner has a future.”                                                                                                                    

~ Oscar Wilde



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.


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.




“Mother Spirit, Father Spirit”

words by Norbert F. Capek



Mother Spirit,

Father Spirit,

Where are you?

In the skysone,

In the forest,

Sounds your cry.

What to give you,

What to call you,

What am I?


Many drops are

In the ocean,

Deep and wide.

Sunlight bounces

Off the ripples

To the sky.

What to give you,

What to call you,

Who am I?


I am empty,

Time flies from me;

What is time?

Dreams eternal,

Fears infernal

Haunt my heart.

What to give you,

What to call you,

O, my God?


Mother Spirit,

Father Spirit,

Take our hearts.

Take our breath and

Let our voices

Sing our parts.

Take our hards and

Let us work to

Shape our art.



A History


Tony Johnston, who wrote a children’s story about the Mexican celebration called the Day of the Dead says this….


“The Day of the Dead, El dia de los muertos, is one of Mexico’s most important holidays. It actually spans three days, from October 31 to November 2, and it is a time to remember loved ones now gone. Families prepare favourite foods of the departed and picnic at their graves They adorn the graves with marigolds, the traditional flower of the dead, and strew paths of petals to lead the spirits to the offerings, which, along with the delicious food, usually include salt and weather, symbols of ongoing life. The people dance, sing, and share memories of their loved ones, welcoming their spirits, who are thought to return briefly to take part in the celebration.”


The thing is when we review the various celebrations of this season, Samhain, Halloween, All Saints, All Souls….even Remembrance Day, or in the US, Memorial Day in May, all of these have elements of people visiting the graves of their beloved departed, some also have picnics, some just place flowers, others have individual rituals they develop to honour the ones that have died….


Today during this hour we will take time to remember the souls that have touched our lives, be they family or part of our congregation family….


“Models and Heroes”

by Joan Chittister,

from The Liturgical Year: the spiralling adventure of the spiritual life


          “I want to be just like you when I grow up,” I heard a young woman in her teens say to a speaker. “Tell me how to do that.” She was eager, serious, sincere — and in search of a hero. The question is, how does anyone respond to something like that? How do we find heroes and discover how to become them? There are certainly many levels to the question. But one dimension of the answer is sure: hand them a calendar of the liturgical year.


          We live in a generation unusual for its heroes, we say: Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence drove the British out of India. Martin Luther King, Jr., preacher of nonviolence and equality, brought integration to the United States. Thomas Merton, cloistered monk, led a peace movement from behind monastery walls and helped to bring the war machine in Vietnam to a halt. Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made a role for women in international politics. Mother Teresa brought the plight of the poor to the sight of the world. Dorothy Day lived a life of protest for more than fifty years and gave the process of public protest both spiritual grounding and public intractability. She — and they — simply would not go away, would not quit, would not stop even in the face of apparent failure…


          These people risked their reputations, their support, their friendships, their positions, their jobs — and their very lives — to give voice to the voiceless, to empower the people, to halt the machines of domination, even if it meant having to lay their own bodies down to do it.


          The church calls them “witnesses.” We call them unusual. But the fact is they aren’t.


          The liturgical year has always been a veritable roll call of people who gave their own lives to follow Jesus. The church called them saints. And that’s unfortunate. The word has a foreign ring to it. As Dorothy Day once said,


“Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily!”


          There is something about the word saint, obviously, that dampens the meaning of the mission. People like these were not marshmallow figures in stain-edglass windows. They were the models, heroes, icons, stars of their times whose lives made real what Scripture could only talk about. They were the worthy and the brave, the simple and the centred ones, who saw the truth and lived it, whatever the cost.


The liturgical year is about more than liturgical seasons, feast day cycles, theological solemnities, or a record of enduring devotions. It is also about the cloud of witnesses who have lived the life before us. By their very lives — in every era and every age — they prove to us that it is possible to be other than those around us who live to exploit life here rather than to grow in the light of the hereafter. They are about living wildly rather than living flamboyantly.


          Without role models, then, how shall any of us ever know that what we seek is possible, that what we want is doable, that what we are is enough?


“Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal”

by Naomi Shihab Nye


After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:

If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,

Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.


An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,

Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.

Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her

Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she

Did this.


I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.


Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,

Sho bit se-wee?


The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—

She stopped crying.


She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.

She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the

Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.


We called her son and I spoke with him in English.

I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and

Would ride next to her—Southwest.


She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and

Found out of course they had ten shared friends.


Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian

Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then.

Telling about her life.



She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered

Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—

And was offering them to all the women at the gate.


To my amazement, not a single woman declined one.


It was like a Sacrament.


The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,

The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same

Powdered sugar.

And smiling.

There are no better cookies.


And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—

Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African

American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice

And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.


And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—

Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves.


Such an old country traveling tradition. Always

Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.


And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,


This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped

—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.


They took the cookies.

I wanted to hug all those other women too.


This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.


HYMN: GH78  “Honourable Saints”    CD4/Tk6


We will honour Michael

For his quest in God,

Challenging convention

Everywhere he trod.

When he reached Geneva

He was cast in gaol,

Sentenced, burned and damned, but

All to no avail.


Next we honour Faustus

For his reasoning mind,

Which — applied to scripture —

Insights there refined.

From his southern homeland

Europe he did roam,

Till the Polish Brethren

Gave him welcome home.


Now we honour Francis

For debating skill;

Who in land beyond the trees

Is remembered still.

Faith to faith he travelled

On until he came,

Searching scripture’s pages,

To the simple name.


Praising you, our Father,

God in unity;

Honouring our Jesus

In humanity.

We who now acclaim these

Stars for work begun,

Also still proclaim in

Faith that God is one.




Ancestors / Community / Saints?

by John Carter


Exodus 34.7b


“by no means clearing the guilty,

but visiting the iniquity of the parents

upon the children

and the children’s children,

to the third and the fourth generation.”



Jeremiah 31.29-34


“In those days they shall no longer say:

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,

   and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’


But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”




I grew up hearing the stories of my ancestors….


isn’t it funny how they often are linked to the great and the good, (as well as the not so good & yet still famous)


We forget the everyday, the common worker, the nameless woman who washes the feet of the anointed one.


You know them, they are named, Cart-ter, Smith, Weaver, etc.


Thus it was so in my family,

the stories and myths spun about, interwoven with fact, with fancy, with truth, with embellishment…


I knew the family lines that connected to royalty,

I knew the family connections to historically remembered heroes/anti-heroes

I learned these from an early age….heard them well up to my maternal grandmothers death at 104yrs and 11 months…


you should be proud for you are of the ______ family


Yet for all of the grandeur which I heard

I also heard with greater pride the stories of the family lines, myths, deemed unacceptable….


Of our potential Jewish heritage…

hidden Jews in the catholic areas of the Duchy of Savoy,


Of my great how many times over grandpa was hanged for being a horse thief, …or was he bushwhacked, ….or was he an abolitionist in confederate leaning Missouri, or was all of this just myth…..


(actually research has confirmed one of these as being true)


And now I learn more, DNA tests, opening up new connections, community, tribe and family….


and I laugh as I discover something


I would have loved to tell my mother this,

and also I am indeed, maybe oddly, thankful that my maternal gran is not here to hear this…


For in all these discoveries….


I find that family connections which made my mother far greater than my unworthy father (gran mama’s opinion)…




and I suspect that you may have figured this out….


I am connected to those very lines of ancestors through my father as well, except these may potentially be to an older sibling than the one of my mother’s connection….


This also connected me to the hero/anti-hero.


Gran would have hated that…. mom would have loved it…


and me I laugh….


Oh how I love family history….

it lifts up the honourable (according to the world)

and smashes them down to reality……


after all the secular and societal myths to honour the unredeemable

even after the generations to generations……


grace sets us free.




Who is a hero or she-ro of yours?


What person in your life sparked some light in you?


Which member of this congregation who is living that sparks a deeper knowing within you?




A Prayer for the Faithifiers

By Hilary Allen (from the UUA Worship Web)


Gracious One:

Keep watch on the innovators, the trailblazers, the takers of risk.

Invite us to be persons of vision and integrity.

Help us to remember the mystery from which possibility is born.

Lead us to honor the sacred space where ministries, idealists, and realists meet.

Encourage us to imagine more than just what is.

Fill our hearts in times of discouragement.

Keep our eyes on the long now.

Through our efforts, let us know the fruits of connection and a deeper faith.




HYMN: GH208 (CD3(WST)/Tk21)

“Forward through the ages”

words by Frederick Lucian Hosmer


Forward through the ages

In unbroken line,

Move the faithful spirits

At the call divine:

Gifts in differing measure,

Hearts of one accord,

Manifold the service,

One the sure reward.

Forward through the ages

In unbroken line,

Move the faithful spirits

At the call divine.


Wider grows the kingdom,

Reign of love and light;

For it we must labour,

Till our faith is sight.

Prophets have proclaimed it,

Martyrs testified,

Poets sung its glory,

Heroes for it died.

Forward through the ages

In unbroken line,

Move the faithful spirits

At the call divine.


Not alone we conquer,

Not alone we fall;

In each loss or triumph

Lose or triumph all.

Bound by God’s far purpose

In one living whole,

Move we on together

To the shining goal!

Forward through the ages

In unbroken line,

Move the faithful spirits

At the call divine.





May our days be filled with saintly and not so saintly purpose,

may we embrace that which makes us different and that which connects us all.


In our desperate world


Being guided by the Good

Sustained by love

Empowered to live


May we live our life


As instruments for compassion, joy, peace, justice, spiritual wholeness for the whole of creation…..



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