Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

Sunday 02 October 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am


Hull Service ~ 4 pm

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Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601

Passcode: 130597



Crying Out in Anguish


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”



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…..



Wringing Out My Clothes


Such love does

the sky now pour,

that whenever I stand in a field,


I have to wring out the light

when I get


~ Francis of Assisi, trans Daniel Ladinsky




words by John Carter


We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of connectedness….

                     of our beloved faith community,

                               reaching beyond our narrow boundaries…

                                         learning with others what the human spirit can do and be…



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.




HFL 150 (CD1 / TK13)

“Pilgim’s Hymn”

words by John Bunyan


Who would true valour see

Let him come hither.

One here will constant be

Come wind, come weather.

There’s no discouragement

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.


Whoso beset him round

With dismal stories,

Do but themselves confound:

His strength the more is.

No lion can him fright,

He’ll with a giant fight,

But he will have a right

To be a pilgrim.


Hobgoblin note foul fiend

Can daunt his spirit;

He knows he at the end

Shall life inherit.

Then fancies flee away,

He’ll fear not what they say,

He’ll labour night and day

To be a pilgrim.



Our readings today deal around the themes of lamentation, grief, concern, angst, and  other strong emotions of loss and fear. In some ways the readings push us to see both the beauty or positive as well as our honest and justified concerns and fears.



Proper 22 [27],Introduction

by William B. McClain,

from Allen, Ronald J.. Preaching God’s Transforming Justice (Lectionary Commentary). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.


The readings for this week are rich in profound questions, laments, and cries. But they also offer the possibility that, if God’s vision is embraced by faith, even “faith the size of a mustard seed” (Luke 17:6), our lamentations can be transformed into celebration, our sorrow into joy. The “overtaken” and “desolate” (Lam. 1:3–4) of earth can realise God’s vision for the city: a place of cooperative community.


We dare not rush so quickly to offer easy answers to hard questions. This week’s texts, especially the Habakkuk and Lamentations passages, provide an opportunity for the preacher to help the congregation wrestle with honest questions on their minds that they might not otherwise speak aloud. And the wise pastor will assure parishioners that such questions do not come from doubt so much as they come from faith.


Walter Brueggemann, in his article “Conversations among Exiles,” helps us to see that “Ancient Israel learned [and helps us] to express sadness, rage, anger and loss honestly…. [The church] can learn to address these emotions to God, for it is God who is terminating our unjust privilege and deceptive certitude.”


The vision for God’s kingdom, a vision of restored justice and real and lasting peace, a vision of God’s people actively working to bring about justice in a weary land. My teacher in seminary was the late Howard Thurman, a mystic, social philosopher, theologian, great preacher, and the first African American dean of a mainline university chapel, at Boston University. Thurman addressed Habakkuk in a day when racial justice issues crowded the minds of so many thoughtful and faithful people (as they still ought to do): Why does God not hear our plea for racial equality and the end of segregation and discrimination? Why does unearned suffering continue? As Habakkuk asked: “Why is there deliberate injustice?” Or, as Thurman challenged: “Why does the ‘evil-ness’ of evil [seem] to be more dynamic and energising than the ‘goodness’ of good?”



Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.



by the rivers of Babylon

we sat and wept, remembering Zion.


on the willows there

we hung up our harps.


For there our captors taunted us to sing our songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy:

“sing us one of the songs of Zion!”


But how could we sing a song of YHWH

in a foreign land?


If I forget you, Jerusalem,

may my right hand forget its skill!


May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth

if I ever forget you,

if I ever stop considering Jerusalem

my greatest joy.


Remember, YHWH, what the children of Edom did

the day Jerusalem fell,

when they said,

“tear it down!

tear it down to its foundations!”


Brood of Babylon, doomed to destruction,

a blessing on those who will repay you

for the evil you have done to us!


A blessing on those who will seize your infants

and dash them against the rock!



HFL 133 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 9)

How Can I Keep from Singing! 

Early Quaker Hymn/Song


My life flows on in endless song

Above earth’s lamentation:

I hear the real though far-off human

That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing:

It sounds an echo in my soul —

How can I keep from singing!


What though the tempest round me roar,

I know the truth, it liveth.

What though the darkness round me close,

Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that rock I’m clinging:

Since love prevails in heaven and earth,

How can I keep from singing!


When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knells ringing;

When friends rejoice, both far and near,

How can I keep from singing!

To prison cell and dungeon vile

Our thoughts of love are winging:

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing!




September 2

by Wendell Berry


In the evening there were flocks of nighthawks

passing southward over the valley.  The tall

sunflowers stood, burning on their stalks

to cold seed, by the still river.  And high

up the birds rose into sight against the darkening

clouds.  They tossed themselves among the fading

landscapes of the sky like rags, as in

abandonment to the summons their blood knew.

And in my mind, where had stood a garden

straining to the light, there grew

an acceptance of decline.  Having worked,

I would sleep, my leaves all dissolved in flight.



HABAKKUK 1:1–4; 2:1–4

Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.



received in a vision.


“How long, Yhwh, am I to cry for help

while you do not listen?

How long will I cry ‘Oppression!’ in your ear

and you do not save?


Why do you make me look upon injustice?

Why do you countenance tyranny?

Outrage and violence—this is all I see!

All is contention, and discord flourishes.


The law loses its hold,

and justice never shows itself. The corrupt triumph over those who are righteous,

and justice is perverted once again.”



Iwill stand on my watchtower,

and take up my post on my battlements,

watching to see what God will say to me,

what answers God will make to my complaints.”


Then YHWH replied, “Write down this vision,

inscribe it legibly on tablets

so that a herald can easily read it,


since this vision will stand as a witness

to the appointed time of judgment;

it gives faithful testimony

about a time that will come. If it is slow in coming, wait for it—

for come it will, without fail:


“Look—those whose hearts are corrupt

will faint with exhaustion,

while those who steadfastly uphold justice

will live.





by David Whyte


It’s still possible to fully understand

you have always been the place

where the miracle has happened:

that you have been since your birth,

the bread given and the wine lifted,

the change witnessed and the change itself,

that you have secretly been, all along,

a goodness that can continue

to be a goodness to itself.


It’s still possible in the end

to realise why you are here

and why you have endured,

and why you might have suffered

so much, so that in the end,

you could witness love, miraculously

arriving from nowhere, crossing

bravely as it does, out of darkness,

from that great and spacious stillness

inside you, to the simple,

light-filled life of being said.



HFL 188 (CD 2 / TK19)

“Let Love Continue”

words from traditional American folk source.


Let love continue long,

And show to us the way,

And if that love be strong

No hurt can have a say;

And if that love remain but strong,

No hurt can ever have a say.


If love can not be found,

Though common faith prevail,

When love does not abound,

A common faith will fail,

When human love does not abound,

A common faith will always fail.


If we in love unite,

Debate can cause no strife;

For with this love in sight

Disputes enrich our life.

For with this bond of human love,

Disputes can mean a richer life.


May love continue long,

And lead us on our way;

For if that love be strong

No hurt can have a say.

For is that love remain but strong

No hurt can ever have a say.



“And then there was….”


Throughout seminary I revised and contemporised Psalm 137 several times. As a call for justice when human justice was missing….. in the 1980s the US Supreme Court was often the focus of my lament. Funny how things repeat…


Laments are more common than we realise. As such I do wonder if we are simply a species that laments everything from death to missing items on a menu…. Things deep and soul rending as well as trivial and kinda narcissistic in focus. When I read much of social media it does feel like a series of one lament following after another. Especially when the population feels that the government isn’t being responsive or even responsible.


This I will admit….


There is always a place for lamentations, we need time to grieve, or even simply to moan about something.  And yes I know we have this “mustn’t grumble” mentality, but that often pushes us to our shadow and does not really deal with the issue at hand.


In studying the literature of lamentation we find that not all laments are just about the negative. Lamenting points us to an expectation that allows for something wonderful to happen, while recognising our clear and deep pain and hunger for justice.


The only all negative version of Lament, I would say are in social media, limited characters, short and snappy memes. Which we may call complaint but are in a way, a lament. In Social Media the memes format tends to be simply all positive or all negative. No nuance, no begging a question that leads to reflection, and it is used by both the right and the left, and yes I too have participated in this lazy form of lament.


It’s quick and snappy but it leaves me wanting, it does not satisfy my inner most desire for justice, for peace, for equity.


So why this conversation?


Well in researching for today, I went to the Lectionary, and the common revised lectionary had for today the two texts I read from the Hebrew bible. In addition the commentary on the lectionary that I use, highlights justice and peace as a preaching focus, but the authors have created addition days to reflect around these themes in specific ways. This past week, there was created a day for reflecting on Justice for Native Nations, with a week earlier the commentary recognised the International Day for Peace.


While many faiths and denominations reflect this as a call for a day of prayers for peace, and Unitarians may also mark this day. We in the UK have designated the third Sunday in October as our day to pray for peace.


Which, I find interesting, in that it follows what is Canadian Thanksgiving, or the US celebration of Columbus, though most progressives have changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Day. That too is reflected in the commentary.


One of my theories around this time of year, is that in our human evolution and development, this was the time of year we began to gather around the fire pit, and we began to reflect on events in our year, and created narratives to find meaning in what we experienced. This includes the lament as a meaning finding process.


In this I find some of my favourite hymns are about these themes, one in particular, is the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, written by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and set to music by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson. It was written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, focus upon the continued struggles of the former slaves up to the time of writing, with the rise of the KKK, the introduction of Jim Crow laws, etc. It is a hymn of lament, remembrance, and hope.


In these next few months we will be remembering, and we will be lamenting, and we will see in all we face a vision of life that is filled with love, justice, and peace.





“Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and  J. Rosamond Johnson sung by the McHenry Singers.


Lift every voice and sing,
’Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed.
We have come, over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
’Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet, stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.[33]




“We breathe thy life, O God, as we breathe the air about us, help us to breathe it more deeply.”                                                          A Powell Davies



It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”


― Mary Oliver




A prayer from Frederick Buechner:


Lord, catch me off guard today.
Surprise me with some moment of
beauty or pain.
So that at least for the moment
I may be startled into seeing that you
are here in all your splendor,
Always and everywhere,
Barely hidden,
Within this life I breathe.





HFL 198 (CD3 / TK16)

“The healing of the nations”

words by Fred Kaan


For the healing of the nations,

God, we pray with one accord;

for a just and equal sharing

of the things that earth affords.

To a life of love in action

help us rise and pledge our word,

help us rise and pledge our word.


Lead us ever into freedom,

from despair your world release;

that, redeemed from war and hatred,

all may come and go in peace.

Show us how through care and goodness

fear will die and hope increase,

fear will die and hope increase.


All that kills abundant living,

let it from the earth depart;

pride of status, race or schooling,

dogmas keeping us apart.

May our common quest for justice

be our brief life’s hallowed art,

be our brief life’s hallowed art.



May this be our blessing this day

That our common quest for justice

Be our life’s hallowed art.