“Love That Dares”
Unitarian Sunday Reflections
(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)
Sunday 25 September 2022
Lincoln Service ~ 11 am
Hull Service ~ 4 pm
Lead by Chris Carr
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601
“Art: Creative Prayer in Action”
We continue to Pray for the Ukraine, Yemen, and all places of war and destruction and all people, creatures and the environment effected by these wars.
May Peace come
“No more war, please”
WORDS OF WELCOME
Welcome to each and to all:
seekers, journeyers, questing, and content.
May our time of reflection and worship,
fill our desire for wholeness and belonging.
In this time together we are made worthy…..
~ jennifer yane
words by John Carter
We light our chalice, this candle,
as a sign of connectedness….
a symbol forged in the violence of Nazi Occupied Europe,
it was a beacon of hope, welcome, security
a promise of assistance on the journey to safety.
We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week… as we reflect…. explore and ask of yourself….
For what am I most grateful?
For what am I least grateful?
When did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, nature, the universe, God?
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.
1st Hymn SYF 21 (CD1/TK2)
“Come and find the quiet centre”
words by Shirley Arena Murray
Come and find the quiet centre in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the space where we are freed: clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
Silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace; God it is who speaks and names us, knows our being, touches base, making space within our thinking, lifting shades to show the sun, raising courage when we’re shrinking, finding scope for faith begun.
In the spirit let us travel, open to each other’s pain; let our lives and fears unravel, celebrate the space we gain; there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care; in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare.
As you know I have an interest in narrative theology, focusing on the practice of theological imagination, also called Theopoetics. In this discipline the work of theology is also the work of the artist.
The growth of Theopoetics mirrors the growth within the communities of spiritual directors of the use of art to explore one’s own spiritual journey, and their development within a theological, creative framework.
In our reflections together today we explore some of the material as well as reflect on our own ways of creative expression.
Our first reading is from the poetry of the Hebrew Bible. It sings of a theology of creation, and of humanities call to be co-creators with the divine.
Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.
Notes in italics, by Rev John Carter
IN THE BEGINNING* God created…..
or more importantly it needs to be read….
At the beginning of God’s creating….
After the various actions of creating we hear these words…
Then God said,
“Let us make humankind in our image, to be like us. Let them be stewards of the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, the wild animals, and everything that crawls on the ground.”
Humankind was created as God’s reflection:
in the divine image God created them;
female and male, God made them.
THOUGHTS ON THIS TEXT:
This text is often seen as a command for humans to procreate, as child bearing is the only way of creation available to us. The problem with such an interpretation can be seen in the hysteria around contraception, giving birth, and over population. It excludes the people who choose not to or who are unable to have children from being included as a part of this divine image. It minimises both children and human creativity.
Creative folks like artists, musicians, etc… see within their art, something holy happening, a spiritual side that comes from our exploration of beauty….
So lets listen to the Poem of Genesis 1 again….
Poem by James Weldon Johnson
And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said: I’m lonely–
I’ll make me a world.
And far as the eye of God could see Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights Down in a cypress swamp.
Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!
Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!
Then God himself stepped down–
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked,
and where he trod His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.
Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas–
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed–
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled–
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.
Then God raised his arm
and he waved his hand Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!
Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.
Then God sat down–
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!
Up from the bed of the river God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;
Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
HYMN SYF 189 (CD 2 / TK 20)
“We celebrate the web of life”
words by Alicia S Carpenter
We celebrate the web of life, its magnitude we sing;
for we can see divinity in every living thing.
A fragment of the perfect whole in cactus and in quail,
as much in tiny barnacle as in the great blue whale.
Of ancient dreams we are the sum; our bones link stone to star,
and bind our future worlds to come with worlds that were and are.
Respect the water, land, and air which gave all creatures birth;
protect the lives of all that share the glory of the earth.
Art as Mediator of the Sacred
by Betsey Beckman from Beckman, Valters Paintner, Awakening the Creative Spirit, 2010.
In our support of others in their opening to the sacred, living deeply with mystery, and awakening to an ongoing encounter with the Divine. We might ask, How does one actually nurture an encounter with mystery? How do we come to know God? Traditionally, we might suggest that our encounters with the holy can be deepened throughout sacred texts, study, prayer, relationship, church, nature, and meditation, but what if we consider the possibility that a primary way we can experience the revelation of God’s mystery is through the process of our own creative expression?
When we engage in the arts, we dip into our souls to discover deep pools of wonder, breath-taking gifts of beauty, and quite revelation. As we create, we are invited into playfulness, poignancy, and surprise — energies that renew us and revitalise our sense of purpose. The arts are the language of the soul.
The Arts as a Spiritual Practice
by Christine Valters Paintner, from Beckman, Valters Paintner, Awakening the Creative Spirit, 2010.
Art and prayer have much in common. They are both rooted in an intense encounter involving a surrender of wilfulness, openness to inspiration, and lead to a deep engagement with mystery.
A commitment to spiritual practice engages us actively in a relationship with the sacred dimension of our lives and also cultivates particular qualities and ways of being in the world. Engaging the arts prayerfully helps us to develop ways of deeply listening to what is stirring within us. The arts teach us about mystery, giving us room to live into the paradoxical places of our lives. Through making art we come to know ourselves more deeply and provide space to discover and express our own voices. We take risks so as to become more visible to the world through gesture or colour or song. We learn to slow down and to see more deeply with graced vision. The arts help us to give meaningful expression and form our commitments, values, and ideas, and make beauty present in the world. When we engage the arts, we discover the values of improvisation, play, and creativity as holy action.
HYMN SYF 28 (CD SYF 4/TRACK 5)
Dear weaver of our lives’ design
words by Nancy C. Dorian
Dear weaver of our lives’ design
whose patterns all obey,
with skilful fingers gently guide
the sturdy threads that will survive
the tangle of our days.
Take up the fabric of our lives
with hands that gently hold;
bind in the ragged edge that care
would sunder and that pain would tear,
and mend our rav’ling souls
Let eyes that in the plainest cloth
a hidden beauty see;
discern in us our richest hues,
show us the patterns we may use
to set our spirits free.
“Thoughts on Creativity and Spirituality”
by Julia Cameron, from, The Artist’s Way, 25th Anniversary Edition, 2016.
“Creativity, I believed, was a spiritual practice. We had only to open ourselves up to the Great Creator working through us. We became channels for spiritual energy to enter the world. Writing, painting, dancing, acting — no matter what form our creativity took, the Great Creator caused us to flourish…
The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity. Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist. I am suggesting you take the term creator quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator. Accepting this concept can greatly expand your creative possibilities.
Creativity is an experience, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity.
These spiritual principles will assist you as you walk the artist’s way…
These are the principles on which creative discovery, the artist’s way, can be built and explored.”
HYMN SYF 51 (CD SYF 4/ TK 8)
“God of grace and God of laughter”
words by Carl P Daw Jr.
God of grace and God of laughter, singing worlds from nought to be;
sun and stars and all thereafter joined in cosmic harmony,
giving songs of joy and wonder, music making hearts rejoice;
let our praises swell like thunder echoing our Maker’s voice.
When our lives are torn by sadness heal our lives with tuneful balm;
when all seems discordant madness help us find a measured calm.
Steady us with music’s anchor when the storms of life increase;
in the midst of hurt and rancour, make us instruments of peace.
Turn our sighing into singing, music born of hope restored;
set our souls and voices ringing, tune our hearts in true accord
till we form a mighty chorus joining angel choirs above
with all those who went before us in eternal hymns of love.
I had just finished with a agency as a case manager and was feeling a bit burned out. In conversation with the district minister, he suggested that I take advantage of the district’s program of professional development. So after three days of taking various tests around personality, about calling, and values.
I learned that my highest value in life is creativity.
I wasn’t surprised, after all throughout seminary I at times submitted art pieces as my main project instead of the standard written format. I had been writing stories for my addresses at church to explore the various themes the texts were opening up.
All of this was a move of creative theological imagination.
So today I invite you to explore your creative side, and yes we all have one….
So what is your image of beauty?
What is sacred for you? How do you image this? Metaphors that speak to you?
What pictures in your mind represent this sacred image for you?
What hymn speaks the best to your spiritual and religious sensibilities?
by John Carter
Joy of Creation
Devotion’s Act breaking forth
of many names
of none (no thing)
Our lives are but creation’s breaking forth afresh, anew.
There is no contest in this, but a stillness, a silence, and a breaking down of our doors, our boundaries, and of our lives.
We are drawn to your creating presence, as blood to heart, sinew to bone, a joyous burning within, creation’s light shining through our living.
We are willing to abandon our voice to your loving summons, that to hear the other with a fresh openness, with a desire to creative that vision of humanity, connected, artful, dramatic, and lyrical.
We witness to love breaking forth in our lives, incarnation that is breaking forth and stirring deep within us.
Creative breath of love.
Breaking forth in our lives, showing us that we too take part in your creative activity in our lives and living.
May this focus move us in our actions,
May this love be giving, shared, and a challenge for our lives, living, and relationships with all the beauty of Your creative breath.
HYMN 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.
May we go forth with creative intent,
Celebrating life, showing love, being a people of welcome.
“Love That Dares”
Oliver’s Journey Home Available To View On YouTube
“Art: Creative Prayer in Action”