Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

11 December 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am


Hull Service ~ 4 pm

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Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601

Passcode: 130597



3rd Sunday Advent

“Human Rights Sunday”

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love



O Holy Night (arranged by Dan Coates)





Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!


Adolphe Adam, v3 O Holy Night



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.




SYF 178 (CD SYF 3/TK 19)

“Together now we join as one”

words by Clifford Martin Reed


Together now we join as one

our common faith to sing;

to render to this pilgrim world

our heartfelt offering.


We strive to be a fellowship

with mind and conscience free,

to search for truth and saving light

in cosmic mystery.


We worship God – love’s source and power;

we celebrate the life

that all earth’s children freely share

beyond their sinful strife.


We would, in love, serve humankind

with caring, justice, peace;

and with the earth seek harmony

that pride and pillage cease.


We hold in reverence the man

who walked in Galilee,

who healed the sick and loved the poor –

revealed divinity.


We welcome truth, we welcome light,

all prophecy and song,

whoever they be channelled through

to all they shall belong.



Today is a Sunday that often is dedicated to Blue Christmas themes, the affects of this time of year, both meteorological and liturgical, with depression and a worsening of mental health in various individuals.

We note how people feel cast adrift in this time. Much of it due to cultural expectations and beliefs of how we all must be happy, joyful, and up beat, as well as the oft mentioned images of perfect loving families gathered together around a shared table. And then this is compounded with a sense of grief and shame when we do not really feel that way or live up to the experience of those expectations.


Equally this is a time that progressive and liberal religious communities celebrate the development of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and also of remembering the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS.


In the study of spirituality and faith practices there is one issue that is consistently raised in these studies: the nurture of the mystic and the empowerment of the activist. How do we do justice and retain a spiritual healthiness, and that too must enter into our conversations around cultural expectations and celebrations focused on family, joy, and good will toward all.




Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10): Introduction

By Christine Marie Smith

from Preaching God’s Transforming Justice (Lectionary Commentary). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.


In the shadow of World War II, the United Nations set forth the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This document asserts that all human beings are free, equal, and entitled to dignity, safety, peace, and security regardless of nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. It prohibits actions that deny these values (such as slavery, torture, or discrimination). Commemorating it in Advent, the preacher could help the congregation to repent of violations of these rights and to recognise that living by them can be an important component in preparing for Advent.


“Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts … and [call for] the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want (Preamble). All are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of [mutuality] (Article 1). Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being (Article 16). United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Any preacher who decides to preach about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during Advent will not find it difficult to connect the great human vision and hope that the creators of this declaration had for a more just and humane world with the eschatological visions and hopes of this season. During Advent we actively await the transformation of our world, and we give voice to the kind of visions of repentance, hope, and justice that just might help the global human community create such a world.


This Sunday is an important time to remind our religious communities that we do indeed have a global agreement, a global declaration, that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, and that there is still so much work to be done to make this declaration of human rights a reality for all God’s people. In this blessed Advent season, preachers are called to proclaim a word of truth and indictment for our human failures to uphold and ensure the basic human rights of all people. If Advent is a season of waiting, then let us have the courage to remind ourselves that millions of people around the globe live in unbearable cycles of waiting: waiting for water and food, waiting for shelter and a place to call home, waiting for an end to daily emotional and physical violence, waiting for just a taste of God’s promise of justice. Speaking the truth about the horrible, crushing waiting that the majority of human beings spend a lifetime experiencing could be our humble, heartfelt Advent confession.


Also, it is our responsibility to proclaim words of hope and promise. It is never too late to take action on behalf of most of the human community, who suffer from extreme oppression and injustice and who die unnecessary, heinous deaths while we who are privileged lead lives in which many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have come to fruition. We need to work for and defend the kind of basic human rights that all people need in order to survive and have some measure of safety, freedom, and dignity. This might be our heartfelt Advent vision.



SYF 142 (CD SYF 3/TRACK 17)

“Shining through the universe”

words by Roger Mason based on the Tao Te Ching


Shining through the universe

runs the golden thread;

woven in along with white,

black, yellow, green and red.


Cooling water, burning fire,

metal, wood and clay,

in the earth’s five elements

the gold thread marks the Way.


If we try to pick it out

from the fabric fair;

when the threads are pulled apart

the gold’s no longer there.


Under heaven, over earth,

north to southern pole,

if you trace the golden thread

the Way will calm your soul.


“Turn your feet along the Way”,

sages taught of old;

live life well and tread the path

marked by the thread of gold.




  • Magnificat

Luke 1:46-55

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


Mary said:

 “My soul proclaims your greatness, O God,

and my spirit rejoices in you, my friend.


For you have looked with favour

upon your lowly servant,

and from this day forward

all generations will call me blessed.


For you, O Mighty One, have done great things for me,

and holy is your Name.


Your mercy reaches from age to age

for those who fear you.


You have shown strength with your arm;

you have scattered the proud in their conceit;

you have deposed the mighty from their thrones

and raised the lowly to high places.


You have filled the hungry with good things,

while you have sent the rich away empty.


You have come to the aid of Israel your servant,

mindful of your mercy—

the promise you made to our ancestors—

to Sarah and Abraham

and their descendants forever.”



The Day Continues Lovely



With Fear and Trembling I studied my Kierkegaard, with Sickness unto Death


I contemplated with him my spiritual shortcomings, and it didn’t occur to me then


but does now that in the Kierkegaard I’ve read he never takes time to actually pray.


Odd . . . This isn’t to question his faith—who’d dare?—but his . . . well, agenda.


All those intricate paradoxes of belief he devotes his time to untying, re-tying.


Can it be that Kierkegaard simply forgets to pray, he’s so busy untying, re-tying?


I understand that: I have times I forget to remember I can’t pray. Can’t. Pray.


This June morning just after sparkling daybreak and here I’m not praying.


My three grandsons asleep on their mats on the floor of my study, sh


shining, all three, more golden than gold, and I’m still not. Not praying.


Why aren’t I? Even our dog Bwindi sprawled beside Turner, the youngest,


Turner’s sleep-curled fist on her back: why haven’t I prayed about them?


I can imagine someday something inside me saying: Well, why don’t you?

Something inside me. As though suddenly would be something inside me.


There’s a Buber story I’m probably misrepresenting that touches on this.


A Rabbi spends endless hours deciding whether to do good deeds or pray.


He thinks this first, then that: This might be good; maybe that would be better,


and suddenly a VOICE that can only be God’s erupts: STOP DAWDLING!


And God, he thinks: he’s been chastised by God. STOP DAWDLING!


And what happens then? In my anti-Bubering of the tale, everything’s lost,


the fool’s had his moment with God—even Moses had only how many?—


and he’s squandered it because all he could do was stand stunned,


mouth hung metaphorically open, losing his chance to ask for guidance,


but he’d vacillated again and What happens now? he wonders in anguish.


Maybe I should get out of this business, find a teaching job, write a book, on my desolation, my suffering, then he hears again, louder, STOP! STOP!


but this time it’s his own voice, hopelessly loud, and he knows he’ll forever be


in this waiting, this without-God, his glimpse of the Undeniable already waning.


And me? Leave aside Kierkegaard—who did, I’ve heard, pray—and Buber:


just me. Haven’t I spent my life trying to make up my mind about something?


God, not God; soul, not soul. I’m like the Binary Kid: on, off; off, on.


But isn’t that what we all are? Overgrown electrical circuits? Good, bad.


Hate, love. We go crazy trying to gap the space between on and off,


but there is none. Click. Click. Left: Right. Humans kill one another


because there’s no room to manoeuvre inside those minuscule switches.


Meanwhile cosmos roars with so many voices we can’t hear ourselves think.


Galaxy on. Galaxy off. Universe on, but another just behind this one,


one more out front waiting for us to finish. They’re flowing across us,


sweet swamps of being—and we thrash in them, waving our futile antennae. . . .


Turner’s awake now. He smiles, stands; Bwindi yawns and stands, too.


They come to see what I’m doing. Turner leans his head on my shoulder to peek.


What am I doing? Thinking of Kierkegaard. Thinking of beauty. Thinking of prayer.



SFY 70 (CD3 / TK12)

“I wish I knew how”

by Billy Taylor & Dick Dallas


I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.

I wish I could break all these chains holding me.

I wish I could say all the things I could say,

say em loud, say em clear for the whole world to hear.

Say em loud, say em clear, for the whole world to hear.


I wish I could share all the love in my heart,

remove all the bars that still keep us apart.

I wish you could know what it means to be me,

then you’d see and agree ev’ryone should be free.

Then you’d see and agree ev’ryone should be free.


I wish I could give all I’m longing to give.

I wish I could live like I’m longing to live.

I wish I could do all the things I can do,

though I’m way overdue I’d be starting anew.

Though I’m way overdue I’d be starting anew.


I wish could be like a bird in the sky.

How sweet it would be if I found I could fly.

I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea

then I’d sing cause I’d know how it feels to be free.

Then I’d sing cause I’d know how it feels to be free.



“Singin the Blues”


This is the time of year that we get the blues…..


This is the time of year that we don’t…..


Way too many expectations….


Exterior and interior…..inside and out…..

Times of family cheer completely get overblown….


The conversations stir away from any real emotion, stick to the weather….


But the thing is….


We all get the blues some times….. it is good to sing the blues…..


In the south park movie, pure satire, sarcastic, and biting humour… they have satan singing …… very much in a Disney Little Mermaid style…. About wanting to experience life up there, real life, under the sun, out in the open…..


And he sings…..


But what is evil anyway?

Is there reason to the rhyme?

Without evil, there could be no good

So it must be good to be evil sometimes.


Which is a really astute theological insight….


It is the same with the blues…


Without the ability to have the blues, we cannot experience the joys, the bliss, life.


At the same time, we must be mindful that some of us experience deep depressions and with these times we need assistance to help us find the balance again….and we also need to be mindful that what works for me may not work for you.


Equally, how we respond can or cannot assist in the recovery of balance…


When I was in University, I went through a time of depression, a dark night of the soul, when I felt completely cut off, from God, from others, from life. It was a time that I simply prayed a simple prayer of “get me through this night for I don’t want to face it…. And in the morning it was through the day…..


It was the hardest three months I went through….


The worst moment during this was when a friend told me the smile, to quit being so sad looking….etc.


What she didn’t know up to that moment I was beginning to feel really good, my smile was interior…..but once she said that, all in good intent, I was down again…..


It was horrid….


That said within a couple of months I was clearly coming out of the darkness…. And I survived…


I do know that my experience is my experience. I also know that it helped me to know others who also lived through their depression.


Silence can be dangerous, finding those we can speak with, to talk about things, to simply be with…. Is important. So if the christmas blues get to you, then find someone you can speak to….. professional help or with a friend over a cuppa….


Talk, pray, light a candle, and know that you are not alone….


And if you need to sing the carols in a blues style, then by all means


Sing the blues….


Sing the complexity of life,

Enjoy the grumble


Sing the blues.



Silent Night



And so we enter into a time of prayer,

May these words, A Winter’s Blessing, by the Rev Sheena Gabriel


Speak for us…


(Written during a winter of discontent)
Taste winter – let it nourish you.
Drink deep from the icy draught
the frozen lake holds out;
it is medicine for the soul,
more potent
than the sugared promises of summer.
Let the broken trees,
made wise by their losses,
cradle you in skeletal arms.
May the open sky be your canopy;
a vast expanse of possibilities,
uncluttered by the mirage of warmer days.
Let the biting wind gnaw at exposed flesh,
kneading your inner marrow
into a leaner shape.
Allow the whiteness of driven snow
to purify the landscape of your mind –
washing clean the gaudy colours
of the rushing world.
Let the clogging mud stick firm to weary feet,
a reminder to hold fast to the good earth.
Listen to the stillness of air now emptied of birds
and reflect upon your inner songs
which grow in silence.
Look deep beneath the crust of frosty earth,
where dormant shoots pregnant with promise,
tell of the births yet to come through you.
Here the lone shriek of the curlew
echoing across dark waters;
throw back your head
and join its desolate cry
as it waits
for certain spring.



Our offering is a retiring collection, may all we bring, financial, material, emotional gifts be for the health of our world and the good of our neighbours.


Thanks to our musicians.



SYF 198 (CD SYF 4/TRACK 21)

We’ll build a land

words by Barbara Zanotti


We’ll build a land where we bind up the broken, we’ll build a land where the captives go free, where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning. O we’ll build a promised land that can be.


                     Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by                                 God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings to all the afflicted and all those who mourn. And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes. O we’ll build a land where peace is born.


                     Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by                                 God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


We’ll build a land building up ancient cities, raising up devastations of old; restoring ruins of generations. O we’ll build a land of people so bold.


                     Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by                                 God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.


Come, build a land where the mantles of praises resound from spirits once faint and once weak; where like oaks of righteousness stand her people. O come build the land, my people we seek.


                     Come build a land where sisters and brothers, anointed by                                 God may then create peace: where justice shall roll…. down….

                     like waters, and peace like an ever flowing stream.



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.



Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas (arranged by Dan Coates)

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