Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

06 June 2021

Order of Reflection

“the food of love”


“If music be the food of love, play on…”

Duke Orsino: Twelfth Night act 1, scene 1, 1–3

~ William Shakespeare


“Prayer invites God to be present in our spirits and in our lives. Prayer cannot bring water to parched land, nor mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city, but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart and rebuild a weakened will.”

~ Abraham Heschel


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…

          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.

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




Music and hymns are important to the life of a religious community, in a way we can think of it as corporate prayer. Much like the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible were a way to express the people at prayer, celebration, mourning, and remembering.



SYF 215 (SYF CD3/TRACK 24)

“Where there is faith there is love”

Traditional Transylvanian words translated by Elizabeth H. Norton

Part One:

Hol hit Ott szeretet; hol szeretet ott beke.

Hol beke ott aldas; hol alias ott Isten.

Hol Isten ott szukseg nincsen.

Part Two:

Where there is faith there is love; where there is love there is peace.

Where there is peace there is blessing; where there is blessing is God.

Where there is God, there, there is no need.


“Rejoice in the Spirit always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Let your gentleness be known to all. For the Spirit is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with gratitude let your joys and  concerns be made known to God. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.”

~ Philippians 4:4-7 (JPC inclusive)

“Religion is a present reality”

from the Preface to the 1964 UUA Hymnal

Hymns For The Celebration of Life

Religion is a present reality; it is also an inheritance from the past. This hymnal is edited in the conviction that a vital faith must be a singing faith and that each generation needs to express itself freshly in its own idiom through song and spoken word. Hence, to a solid core of songs and readings, of enduring significance, there have been new materials added, things old rediscovered, and other material newly fashioned.  Von Ogden Vogt describes worship as “the celebration of life.” This hymnal presents a wide gamut of life’s varied experience, since no part of life may be excluded from our religious concern.

“When in our music God is glorified”

words by Frederick Pratt Green (SYF 206)

When in our music God is glorified,

and adoration leaves no room for pride,

it is as though the whole creation cried


How often, making music, we have found

a new dimension in the world of sound,

as worship moved us to a more profound


So has the church, in liturgy and song,

in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,

borne witness to the truth in every tongue,


Let every instrument be tuned for praise!

Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!

and may God give us faith to sing always


“On Hymnals”

by Rebecca Slough, from the Foreword of Hymnal Companion

for the Anabaptist Hymnal: A Worship Book

Hymnals, like family albums, record in words and music God’s walk with ordinary people in all parts of their lives. Hymnals tell of spiritual experiences in a form that present and future generations can sing or recite, praising the God ‘in whom we live and move and have our being.’

Behind every hymn there is a story — how it was conceived, who inspired it, how it is used.

The Christian life is best understood through story.

The Hebrew Bible begins with a story of creation. Stories about Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Ruth, David, and Jeremiah teach us the nature of faithfulness. Jesus taught profound insights about God through parables. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection becomes real to us. Stories of our saints, martyrs, leaders, parent, and friends attest to God’s faithfulness and love in times of suffering, doubt, and joy. The Spirit, who brings forth poetry from writers and music from composers today, is revealed in those creative stories.

Hymnals help us to see how the Spirit moves — unrestricted by gender, race, time, or place. These hymns and resources show us something about the writer’s experiences that gave rise to expression of how God lived and moved in the lives of these artists.

Our hope is that in understanding this, it will strengthen our sense of heritage with people of faith past and present by allowing their stories to enrich our own stories of God’s ongoing love and faithfulness.





“from the light of days remembered”

by Jason Shelton & Mary Katherine Morn

From the light of days remembered burns a beacon bright and clear,

guiding hands and hearts and spirits into faith set free from fear.

          When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze;

          when our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way;

          when we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within,

          then our promise finds fulfilment and our future can begin. 

From the stories of our living rings a song both brave and free,

calling pilgrims still to witness to the life of liberty.

          When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze;

          when our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way;

          when we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within,

          then our promise finds fulfilment and our future can begin. 

From the dreams of youthful vision comes a new, prophetic voice,

which demands a deeper justice built by our courageous choice.

          When the fire of commitment sets our mind and soul ablaze;

          when our hunger and our passion meet to call us on our way;

          when we live with deep assurance of the flame that burns within,

          then our promise finds fulfilment and our future can begin. 




“Giftedness: Making Music Together”

by Joan Chittister, from Wisdom Distilled From the Daily

There are those who would consider it a strange collection of musical instruments for a monastic liturgy. There is an organ, of course, but the major difference between the liturgical music we have now and liturgical music as we knew it years ago is that the organ is not the only instrument on which we depend for services. On the contrary. There’s a set of handbells and a pack of guitars and a grand piano and a harpsichord and hammered dulcimer and a flute and a trumpet and a recorder and a bass guitar and a harp and a xylophone and dozens of finger bells. And they’re all played by different sisters. I love the music that comes from all those variations, but more than that I love what the grouping itself says about the place of the person in community.

Some of those musicians are professionally trained. Some of them are amateur instrumentalists from their earliest years. Some of them know little or no music at all. All of them love what they’re doing. And all of them are doing it for the Sade of the community as well as for their own pleasure. All of them are using their gifts together in praise of God. All of them respect one another’s talents, none of them expects to be the whole show, and each of them knows that without the other her own contribution will fail. But, when each of them does what she can do with the best possible spirit and best possible preparation, then the entire community liturgy is deeper and more beautiful for all of us than  it could possibly be without her.

In fact, the whole community is stronger because its individuals have brought their very special strength to it.


My grandfather Carter, while a farmer, travelled around the state of Missouri during the week, but mostly on weekends teaching singing through the Shaped Note Singing School system. Music ran in my family, my father played multiple instruments, he was a part of a local trio, playing in local places, my mother played piano, organ and both of them sang. My brother was in all the school choirs, and I sang in choir and played in the school symphonic orchestra.

I learned to sing in church.

I began to learn on how to read music there as well.

Most of the churches we went to didn’t just sing in unison, we sang in parts.

Somewhere in this milieu I picked up something about the importance of hymnody and music.

No matter if in parts, or in unison, or back up to a soloist, music, hymns, and singing is an important part of a worship experience.

We see this in many faith traditions….

Use of music, sound, and melody to heighten our spiritual connections.

Historically we see this as well, in biblical studies, we learned that the Psalms were considered the prayer book of the Hebrew people, for corporate worship and prayer, and this consisted of voice, word, and instrument.

It contained psalms that dealt with grief, anger, contrition, remembering, crying out for vengeance, gratefully expressing confidence, hope, thanksgiving, and praise. To bring the people together to explore the full range of emotional and moral aspects of life, faith, and spirituality. To allow us a change to look at who we are, and a way to speak even when we cannot find the words… the Pauline text in Romans (8.26) says it this way….

“in the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

In many ways this thought connects to the view that singing is a form of corporate prayer, it allows for emotions to be expressed, to be explored, and to bring a form of closure….

It was during my first year of alternative service, and I was working in the community of Normal Illinois, and yes that is the name of the community. When I wasn’t needed on the weekends, I attended worship at the local Mennonite Church. They welcomed me in, and I formed several friendships there durning that year.

It was a cold, wintery, early November  when an early snow and ice storm hit the area. The youth of the congregation were away for a youth retreat when the storm hit. Then on Sunday when I arrived at church I noticed there was something amiss in the congregation, o they were friendly, and welcoming as always… yet there were quiet conversations happening around the edges as we were gathering…

“was anyone hurt?”

“what happened?”

“when will they get back?”

So the congregation gathered, not united, nor having a sense of worship, they were hurting, and I didn’t know why.

So our service began, we sang hymns, heard words spoken, and the pivotal moment arrived, Joys and Concerns. Again standard words of joy were spoken, and of personal concerns, when the mother of one of the youth stood and said…

“I think we should sing 606, in praise that none of our youth were hurt in road accident on Friday”

Then without pause, the congregation stood, and while I was trying to find the hymn, began to sing, one of the most glorious doxologies, I have ever heard, in four parts harmony from memory.

The sopranos started the lift, the tenors and altos in support and the bass voice undergirding and advancing the hymn into a moment of reflection and prayer.

Each line, each verse, each person connecting….

And by the end,  each Alleluia begin to punctuate the need, the response and the release….




And when they sang that final

Alleluia Amen.

They were together in worship, their pain, fear, and unease were answered, and

They were one.


Take a moment of silence and reflect….

How does music enhance your life?

How does music enhance or detract your worship?

Does it assist your reflections?

What is your favourite hymn? And why?


“O God who in the loneliness”

by A. Powell Davies

O God who in the loneliness and mystery of life has given us friendly meeting places and fellowship with one another, be with us in the purpose of this time.

The pace of our lives is slackened now and we are unhurried. There is time for confusion to be dispelled and the fevers of haste can melt away.

If we will, we can see more clearly, think more truly, choose more worthily,  and our lives can be lifted up to a higher plane.

So let it be with us, O Holy Spirit!

Help us to be willing for what we most need rather than eager for what, in our carelessness, we thought we wanted.

Remind us how much contentment can come to us when we do our duty and how radiant life can be when we give ourselves to its highest meanings and its noblest purposes.

Cleanse us, O God! Heal us and make us whole! Show us that the truth we see with our minds will never be greater than the truth we love in our hearts.

May we know that only when we do your will can our hearts contain your peace.



SFY 68 (CD SYF 3/TRACK 11)

“I dream of a church”

by Kate Compston

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s laughing

as she rocks in her rapture, enjoying her art:

she’s glad of her world, in its risking and growing:

’tis the child she has borne and holds close to her heart.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s weeping

as she crouches, weighed down by the sorrow she sees:

she cries for the hostile, the cold and no-hoping,

for she bears in herself our despair and dis-ease.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s dancing

as she move like the wind and the wave and the fire:

a church that can pick up its skirts, pirouetting,

with the steps that can signal God’s deepest desire.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s loving

as she bends to embrace the unlovely and lost,

a church that can free, by its sharing and daring,

the imprisoned and poor, and then shoulder the cost.

God, make us a church that joins in with your living,

as you cherish and challenge, rein in and release,

a church that is winsome, impassioned, inspiring;

lioness of your justice and lamb of your peace.


The Eternal Now

          is always breaking into our lives

          is always pushing our comfort zones

          is always beckoning us to life….

So what is keeping you from saying yes…..

May we each say yes,

          each moment,

          each movement,

          each step into life and living…

yes, Yes, YES

The eternal now

          is breaking into our lives…

                     and we say yes!

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