Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

04 December 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am


Hull Service ~ 4 pm

Join Zoom Meeting



Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601

Passcode: 130597



2nd Sunday Advent

“Advent, preparation and reflection of

universal themes & desires”

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love





“Sharers of Gentle Joy”

by Abraham Joshua Heschel


“Mindfulness of God rises slowly, a thought at a time. Suddenly we are there. Or is God here, at the margin of our soul? When we begin to feel a qualm of diffidence lest we hurt what is holy, lest we break what is whole, then we discover that God is not austere. God answers with love our trembling awe.


Repentant of forgetting God even for a while, we become sharers of gentle joy; we would like to dedicate ourselves forever to the unfoldment of God’s final order.”



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.




So lets begin with the news, I apologise that this is kind a self centred reporting….this service has been a struggle, after the upheaval of the past three weeks, I feel I need to bend ministerial convention and invite you to celebrate and join in my meandering theological thoughts of these past weeks.


So yes the flat is sold, and yes there was much we took on faith would happen, but we did have back up plans in place and in thought. From moving out before the contracts were exchanged to starting to buy a new car before the funds had arrived, again plans in plans within even more plans….. we survived and are loving the new community.


So…. During this time I began working on today’s service, next Sunday’s service and our Carols and Readings service…. Now to flesh it all out for our reflections and I always hope our, including myself, Spiritual development…..


HYMN (Lincoln)

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.


HYMN (Hull)

SYF 89

“Let there be light”

words by Frances W Davis


Let there be light,

let there be understanding,

let all the nations gather,

let them be face to face.


Open our lips,

open our minds to ponder,

open the doors of concord

opening into grace.


Perish the sword,

perish the angry judgment,

perish the bombs and hunger,

perish the fight for gain.


Let there be light,

open our hearts to wonder,

perish the way of terror,

hallow the world God made.



“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord,

the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


“Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?”

Bertrand Russell


“Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there, do seem to stir and move to bear you witness.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson



     “…[W]e are called to be witnesses of God’s by the love we extend to others; precursors of his justice by our unfailing commitment to what is right and good; lamps reflecting the light of God’s Christ in our forgiveness, mercy and compassion; harvesters of souls through our humble and dedicated servanthood.”


Christmas doesnt come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more …” – Dr. Seuss



Moving stirs up all sorts of things, looking for new places to live, getting the right new vehicle, arranging rooms, schedules, life….. as well as saying good bye to old neighbours, your home congregation, even eating out at a favourite restaurant for the last time…… life gets stirred up and thrown into flux, and what is worse I missed Stir up sunday, and made our Christmas pudding on Wednesday in the midst of picking up a new car and getting reading to return to life.


Advent is to be a time of reflection, a time to stir up our lives, not to getting but to giving of ourselves, to reexamine our lives, our values, and making hopefully better choices….


Theologically that is the sense of the season, and why low liturgical non creedal churches emphasise values during this time and not belief, why we would sing of hope instead of reflecting on the lives of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs….Peace, Joy, and love…..


It is also the theological sense of the divine spirit, the Holy Spirit…. Something that is unpredictable and that can move us to greater life and heart felt hopeful life choices.



SYF 148 (CD 1/TK 23)

“Spirit of Life, come unto me”

words by Carolyn McDade


(sing 2 times)

Spirit of Life, come unto me.

Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.

Blow in the wind, rise in the sea; move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.

Roots hold me close; wings set me free;

Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.



I write to bring hope

by Melanie May, from A Body Knows: Theopoetics of Death and Resurrection,1995.


I write what I write the way I write to have a say in bringing hope and faith back into the world.  I write to keep hope alive and to heal the fracture of faith on earth.  And I write to wrest a blessing from the faithful Presence I name God, to be healed by the Risen One who I believe bodies forth hope for abundant life.


It is not at all incidental that the text of my first Hebrew Bible exegetical essay as a theological student was Genesis 32:22-32, the story of Jacob wrestling at the Jabbok.  I have, as the preceding pages attest, wrestled and I have not let go. I have wrestled, and people and places have bestowed a blessing.  I believe angels watch and keep us.


And I am still wrestling.


Not least because the times in which we live are threshold times.  I stand on Holy Saturday, straddling tensive days of drama.  We live amid signs of hope and signs of danger, signs of faith and signs of despair: all jumbled and juxtaposed.  I believe living in these times we are “living in the interregnum,” to borrow a turn of phrase by Nadine Gordimer, who in turn echoes Antonio Gramsci.  I believe, this is to say, we are living between the times and the orders of things.  We are privileged to witness and to participate in a passing away and a coming to be.  There is never one without the other.  We can, of course, choose to keep company with those preoccupied with survival and shoring up sagging structures.  We can also choose the ways we can greet the future that is coming, with or without us.



My Sundays away I was able to attend services at my home church in the UK Unitarian world, Croydon. It was lovely to visit with those I knew, and to be able to say goodbye. The Rev Art Lester’s reflection started me to pondering about this season. The juxtaposition of our standard all gifts a blazing “give me give me” culture, with the ideals of faithful living, religious virtues expressed as hope, peace, joy and love.


Then the next Sunday I was in Suffolk, worshiping with a new community, one that wasn’t mine, but potentially my husbands, I joined in where I could….and I begin to think of the meaning of incarnation….. and, for me, the rigidity of the focus on characters, as examples, but with minimal focus on how we incarnate the divine.  Or the human spirit in this time…..


How do we live out those virtues, or values, in our lives, our individual communities?



SYF 110 (CD SYF 1/TRACK 15)

“Now we sing to praise love’s blessing”

words by Anna Briggs


Now we sing to praise love’s blessing all through our lives, laughter, joy, surprise, confessing all through our lives, love that dreamed a new creation, love that dares through incarnation, love that offers transformation all through our lives.


How our wounds ache for love’s healing all through our days, how our world needs love’s revealing in all its ways. Fearful hearts suspect the stranger, hardened nations arm for danger, love live on, the powerful changer, all through our days.


Love’s the grace that makes us caring all through our lives, urges us to warmth and sharing all through our lives, speaks in us, oppression naming, strives in us, injustice shaming, lives in us, true peace proclaiming all through our lives.


Love’s the clown that mocks at winning all through the world, midwife of each new beginning all through the world, in the struggles that confound us, in the chaos all around us love’s wide arms with hope surround us all through the world.


In God’s faithful love we flourish all through our lives, known and loved, each other nourish all through our lives; though the world’s demands are pressing, what life brings is left to guessing, still we sing to praise love’s blessing all through our lives.




So when I came home on Thursday, it was a joy to drive a new vehicle, especially one that is hybrid, trying to be ecologically friendly. I also enjoyed reconnecting with my neighbours, and relishing the new people I met this past week in Suffolk, the time that Ashley and I had together. As well as my deep appreciation for both congregations in allowing me to go home and be attentive to my partner, and to assist in wrapping up the house and the move.


The over whelming sense in all of this is the beauty of world around us. The goodness of people you have just met. The sense of welcome, deep welcome that was expressed.


And while I observed worship, listened to the vagaries of theological conversations, laughed where appropriate, and yes smiled, smirked at moment inappropriate, I realised that I carry that progressive, liberal hermeneutic, that calls us to look beyond our simplistic literalism and see values and virtues for better living and life.


For me it is why instead of incarnation I choose to speak of embodiment, instead of salvation I choose to speak of a relational move of reconciliation, of bringing people together, even those who once were enemies.


It embodies the sense of faith as being present in the now, not focused on the what ifs of a disembodied future.


We incarnate, embody not a belief system, but a lifestyle, a way of living, the way of compassion, hope, joy, peace and love.





“The highest good may be likened to water.

Water benefits all creatures yet does not strive or argue with them.

It rests content in those lowly places which other despise.

Thus it is very near the Tao (the Way).

                                                                        ~ Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching

Thou who are unnamed and named,

Multitude of divine unity,

The great Thou,


We pray…


Let us never be afraid of innocent joy;

God is good, and what is done is done well;

resign yourself to everything, even to happiness;

ask for the spirit of sacrifice, of detachment, of remuneration, and, above all, for the spirit of great joy and gratitude —


That genuine and religious optimism which sees in the Divine, a friend, a parent, a lover, that asks no pardon for all the benefits of life.


We must dare to be happy, and dare to confess it, regarding ourselves always as the depositaries, not as the authors of our own joy.


                                                              ~ prayer by Henri Frederic Ariel

                                                                        (re-envisioned by John Carter)



SYF 204 (CD SYF 2/TRACK 24)

“When I am frightened”

words by Shelley Jackson Denham


When I am frightened, will you reassure me?

When I’m uncertain, will you hold my hand?

Will you be strong for me, sing to me quietly?

Will you share some of your stories with me?

If you will show me compassion, then I may learn to care as you do,

then I may learn to care.


When I am angry, will you still embrace me?

When I am thoughtless, will you understand?

Will you believe in me, stand by me willingly?

Will you share some of your questions with me?

If you will show me acceptance, then I may learn to give as you do,

then I may learn to give.


When I am troubled, will you listen to me?

When I am lonely, will you be my friend?

Will you be there for me, comfort me tenderly?

Will you share some of your feelings with me?

If you will show me commitment, then I may learn to love as you do,

then I may learn to love.



Go with the blessings of Hope,

With the blessings of Peace, and

The blessing of Love in your heart..


Go in the blessings of Life, the blessings of God.




The Digest - YUU Blog