Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

Sunday 09 October 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am

lead by John Pavey


Hull Service ~ 4 pm

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Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601

Passcode: 130597



I wondertherefore I praise


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…..


First Movement

Opening Words

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.    

~ Marcel Proust


If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,

it will be enough.

~ Meister Eckhart


Chalice Lighting


We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of connectedness….

                     that we are on a quest,

                               a spiritual journey moving us beyond our narrow and petty                                                                                                                     preoccupations,

                                         moving us to embrace all the transcendent beauty of life.

                                         moving us toward each other, all life, all creation…


Opening Reflection and Prayer


In our reflections today we move into gratitude and celebration….


Yet even as we express our gratitude we need to take a moment and reflect and name our concerns.


What are the things in my life that worry me?


Are there situations in the life our congregation and in our denomination that concern us?


Are there situations in our nation that are painful for us?


Are there situations in world that frighten us?


Are there situations in the world that need our thoughts and prayers and our will to peace and justice?


In our naming of these things, we release them so that we may move, truly into gratitude and to celebration of the all the good gifts of life.




Come and be present, Spirit of Life,

Come and be present, Spirit of Joy

Come and be present, Spirit of Compassion


Come and listen as we speak our gratitude for all that we have and live.


so say we all.



HYMN: SYF 125 (CD SYF 2/ TK 7)

“One more step along the world I go”

words by Sydney Carter


One more step along the world I go, one more step along the world I go,

from the old things to the new, keep me travelling along with you;

          and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.


Round the corners of the world I turn, more and more about the world I learn;

all the new things that I see you’ll be looking at along with me;

          and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.


As I travel through the bad and good, keep me travelling the way I should;

where I see no way to go you’ll be telling me the way, I know;

          and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.


Give me courage when the world is rough, keep me loving though the world is tough; leap and sing in all I do, keep me travelling along with you;

          and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.


You are older than the world can be, you are younger than the life in me;

ever old and ever new, keep me travelling along with you;

          and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you.


Second Movement/First Question



FOREWORD to the Book of Psalms by Stephen Mitchell

The Hebrew word for psalm is mizmór, which means a hymn sung to the accompaniment of a lyre. But when the ancient rabbis named the anthology that we know as the Book of Psalms, they called it séfer tehillím, the Book of Praises. That is the dominant theme of the greatest of the Psalms: a rapturous praise, a deep, exuberant gratitude for being here.


The mind in harmony with the way things are sees that this is a good world, that life is good and death is good. It feels the joy that all creatures express by their very being, and finds its own music in accompanying the universal rapture.


Let the heavens and the earth rejoice,

     let the waves of the ocean roar,

let the rivers clap their hands,

     let the mountains rumble with joy,

let the meadows sing out together,

     let the trees of the forest exult.


Thus the Psalmists, in the ardor of their praise, enter the sabbath mind and stand at the centre of creation, saying, “Behold, it is very good.” This is the poet’s essential role, as Rilke wrote in a late poem; when the public wonders, “But all the violence and horror in the world — how can you accept it?” Rilke’s poet says simply, “I praise.”


The praise is addressed to whom? to what? When gratitude wells up through our whole body, we don’t even ask. Words such as God and Tao and Buddha-nature only point to the reality that is the source and essence of all things, the luminous intelligence that shines from the depths of the human heart: the vital, immanent, subtle, radiant X. The ancient Jews named this unnamable reality yhvh, “that which causes [everything] to exist,” or, even more insightfully, ehyéh, “I am.” Yet God is neither here nor there, neither before nor after, neither outside nor inside. As soon as we say that God is anything, we are a billion light-years away.


How supremely silly, then, to say that God is a he or a she. But because English lacks a personal pronoun to express what includes and transcends both genders, even those who know better may refer to God as “he.” (Lao-tzu, wonderfully, calls “him” “it”:


There was something formless and perfect

before the universe was born.

It is serene. Empty.

Solitary. Unchanging.

Infinite. Eternally present.

It is the mother of the universe.

For lack of a better name,

I call it the Tao.)


In the following adaptations, I have called God “him” for lack of a better pronoun. You should, of course, feel free to substitute “her” if you wish.


“Sing to the Lord a new song.” My primary allegiance in these psalms was not to the Hebrew text but to my own sense of the genuine. I have translated fairly closely where that has been possible; but I have also paraphrased, expanded, contracted, deleted, shuffled the order of verses, and freely improvised on the themes of the originals. When I disregarded the letter entirely, it was so that I could follow the spirit, wherever it wanted to take me, into a language that felt genuine and alive.


The Psalms speak as both poetry and prayer. Some of them are very great poems. But as prayer, even the greatest poems are inadequate. Pure prayer begins at the threshold of silence. It says nothing, asks for nothing. It is a kind of listening. The deeper the listening, the less we listen for, until silence itself becomes the voice of God.



I invite you to consider the language of the mystics.  Meister Eckhart identifies that that the sum of spirituality is gratitude. We have heard the voices of Unitarian theologians and ministers who also identify this marker of gratitude.  Stephan Mitchell  moves me with his sense and understanding that as we move away from strict identifiers, or literal ideas we begin to move into the realm of the divine, into the place of deep listening, where the silences may move us to that divine sense.


I would like to invite you to reflect on the story of Elijah. Who after an amazing performance against the ruling classes of the northern kingdom, the king, queen, and their religious leaders, the prophets of a national religion that wants to subject the poor, the widowed, the orphan, the stranger and refugee. He outshone them in debate and spiritual performance, so much that they threatened him.


Their threats against him, drove him to run, and in the negative way to moan about it all, instead of being thankful for his holding true to his understanding of faithful living. He runs and he winds up in a cave, in the Sinai desert, wondering where God was in all of this…. And as he sat there moaning there came the hurricane, the earthquake, the raging fire, all traditional ways that divinity was displayed …. And in this God…. was no where……


Then after all this cacophony, there came the silence, and it was in this still, unimpressive way, silence, that Elijah heard the voice of God….


It is within that deep listening that you can find the voice that leads, blossoms, and grows into full gratitude.  Where there is no need for other form of prayer.  Just the simple, relaxed, complete knowing of the divine, and gratitude is the only response.


So today we consider gratitude, as it relates to parts of our life, our denomination and our own spirituality.


So I invite you to spend a few moments in silent reflection….look over your life, your living, your choices, your joys, even your regrets…..and ponder these.  Equally I invite you to do these things with your congregation…….


and ask yourself…..


Questions:  What are you grateful for in your life? In the life of this Congregation?




HYMN: SYF 150 (SYF CD 1/TK24)

“Stillness, creeping through this place”

words by Andrew McKean Hill


Stillness, creeping through this place, softly come and gently hold us; here, apart from urban race your quiet calmness be among us.

May we rest within your calmness; rest beside you, quiet stillness.


Silence, spreading all around, quietly seeping in between us; here, away from city sound with your peacefulness enfold us.

May we feel  and trust your presence, know your peace, deep healing silence.


Spirit, moving through this space, weaving in and out among us; here, your pattern brings new grace, with your breathing, life endow us.

May we your first breath inherit, feel your breathing, primal spirit.



Third Movement/Second Question



Fearful Joy by Rabindranath Tagore


“Is it beyond thee to be glad with the gladness of this rhythm?

          To be tossed and lost and broken in the whirl of this fearful joy?


All things rush on,

they stop not,

they look not behind,

no power can hold them back,

they rush on.


Keeping step with that restless, rapid music,

          seasons come dancing and pass away.




and perfumes pour

in endless cascades in the abounding joy that scatters and

gives up and dies every moment.”



Sometimes we forget the things for which we need to express gratitude.  I do wonder if in our missing of these, our gratitudes that are unknown and unacknowledged, that we, in essence, have limited ourselves, even worse that we invite into our lives a negative personality, and we become pessimistic.


I know that I have done this in my life, that in my years of exile from religion I was angry, pessimistic and unfocused.  As I began to reconnect to church, to the broader sense of spirituality.  When I began to read the mystics I began to see that connection of wonder, joy, even realistic optimism that grew out of gratitude.  I began to experience it when I began to work at expressing my gratitude for life, and yes even for mundane things, like human organisations, like congregations, like denominations or even religious movements. Gratitude has opened me to knowing more of the life of the Spirit….which moves me to being more grateful.


I now invite you to take another moment of silence, to reflect upon your life and living, to focus upon not just our congregation, but your connections, what you know and have experienced with our district and with our denomination, our wider church. 


And in your reflection ask of yourself….


Questions:  What are you grateful for in the life of our district? Our Denomination?




HYMN:SYF 211 (SYFCD 3/TK 23)

“Where are the voices for the earth?”

words by Shirley Arena Murray


Where are the voices for the earth?

Where are the eyes to see her pain,

wasted by our consuming path,

weeping the tears of poisoned rain?


Sacred the soil that hugs the seed,

sacred the silent fall of snow,

sacred the world that God decreed,

water and sun and river flow.


Where shall we run who break this code,

where shall tomorrow’s children be,

left with the ruined gifts of God,

death for the creatures, land and sea?


We are the voices of the earth,

we who will care enough to cry,

cherish her beauty, clear her breath,

live that our planet may not die.


Fourth Movement/Third Question



What can I do? by Rumi


“What can I do, Muslims? I do not know myself.


I am neither Christian nor Jew, neither Magian nor Muslim,

I am not from east or west, not from land or sea,

not from the shafts of nature nor from the spheres of the firmament,

not of the earth, not of water, not of air, not of fire.


I am not from the highest heaven, not from this world,

not from existence, not from being.

I am not from India, not from China, not from Bulgar, not from Saqsin,

not from the realm of the two Iraqs, not from the land of Khurasan.


I am not from the world, not from beyond,

not from heaven and not from hell.

I am not from Adam, not from Eve, not from paradise and not from Ridwan.


My place is placeless, my trace is traceless,

no body, no soul, I am from the soul of souls.

I have chased out duality, lived the two worlds as one.


One I seek, one I know, one I see, one I call.

He is the first, he is the last, he is the outer, he is the inner.

Beyond He and He is I know no other.


I am drunk from the cup of love, the two worlds have escaped me.

I have no concern but carouse and rapture.


If one day in my life I spend a moment without you

from that hour and that time I would repent my life.

If one day I am given a moment in solitude with you

I will trample the two worlds underfoot and dance forever.


O Sun of Tabriz, I am so tipsy here in this world,

I have no tale to tell but tipsiness and rapture.”



Throughout most of my ministry I have spoke, pushed, prodded about this link between having a healthy spirituality and how that is lived out in our actions for justice, for care of the world, for compassion. 


We know that a Spirituality that is self centred, only focused on one’s self is in fact narcissism. And this self serving spirituality is contrary to all that the great spiritual teachers taught. 


We can never lose that connection we have with the world.  With those who are hurting and need compassion and healing. To the life of the creatures around us.  Even to the land.  If our spirituality is connected we will be connected to all.  That is something for which we can celebrate.  And it feeds our sense of gratitude, which also feeds our spirit.


A few years ago I was worshiping with an inter faith community, and while much of the service wasn’t all that different than many others, what I found that was enlightening and a joy was when it came to the way they took the collections.


It began with a large basket that was filled with good things, words of encouragement, fruit, chocolate coins, colourful ribbons, flowers and many other items.  All representing the gifts of the universe, or life, or God gives to us.  This basket was passed around and we were invited to partake, in doing so we ritually acted out our reception to what life gives us.  Then after some other liturgical movements this basket was then passed around for us to give our gifts, our offerings, our gratitude for what we have received.


In this liturgical moment, they expressed that deep listening, that deep spirituality, that dynamic which we live…..gratitude is the only response that affirms life, that expresses what we have come to know in our living…and just in case we should never forget that gratitude  cannot be forced nor demanded it must come from our depths and our centre. 


So….I invite you to enter once again your safe inner space, to reflect yet again upon your life and your living and to simply ask yourself…..


Questions:  What are you grateful for in the life of our nation, our region, our world? How do you hope to or are able to live out this gratitude?




Musical Offering 

“Hallelujah, Amen”

by by Dave Barnes, Lucie Silvas and Jeremy Spillman.

Preformed by Reba McEntire, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope: album released 2016.


It’s a Sunday mornin’, choir just a little off key

First kiss wasn’t what you’d thought it be

The call you got that you thought could only be a bad dream

Your only child leavin’ home when they turn eighteen

Breakin’ up ends up bein’ the best thing

When you realize what you wanted, what you need


Hallelujah for the heartache

Hallelujah for the good days

Hallelujah for every breath we get

Hallelujah, Amen


It’s a Saturday night you never want to end

It’s a broken heart you never got to mend

It’s the words that you heard that you can’t unhear again

It’s the way you didn’t know was the last goodbye

When you learn everything has a last time

The same mistakes that you made you see in your little girl’s eyes


Hallelujah for the heartache

Hallelujah for the good days

Hallelujah for every breath we get

Hallelujah, Amen


For the times we get

For the chance we don’t

From the very first breath

Till it’s carved in stone


Hallelujah for the heartache

Hallelujah for the good days

Hallelujah for every breath we get

Hallelujah, Amen

(Hallelujah… hallelujah… hallelujah)

Hallelujah for every breath we get

Hallelujah, Amen

(Hallelujah… hallelujah… hallelujah)


(Hallelujah… hallelujah…)




Fifth Movement

Reflection of the whole service



God acts within every moment

     and creates the world with each breath.

Speaking from the centre of the universe,

     in the silence beyond all thought.

Mightier than the crash of a thunderstorm,

     mightier than the roar of the sea,

is God’s voice silently speaking

     in the depths of a listening heart.






As we end our time of reflection may this formal prayer from Unitarian Minister A Powell Davies speak our gratefulness…..


We Pray…..


“O God who hast given us the earth in its beauty to be our home, help us to rejoice and be glad in it. Let us come to each new day with freshness of mind, and may our sense of wonder never forsake us. 


Help us also to be grateful for human fellowship and for the joy of discovering common aspirations and of sharing in combined achievements. For the power and outreach of the mind, lighting the dark places of fear and ignorance; for imagination and insight and the impulse to discover and create; for courage strengthened by defeat, spurring us on to greater efforts; for the resolve to take our part in the world, increasing the common story of good: for these and all the powers that Thou hast given us, help us now to be newly thankful.     


And give us to know, O God, that even as the earth about us is our home, so also beauty, truth and goodness are the home of our spirits. Help us to dwell at peace with them. Lead us away from all that would debase us and deplete us of life’s zest. Cleanse Thou our hearts, O God, and lift us up.”         


So say we all,




HYMN SYF 144 (SYF CD1/TK 21)

“Sing, sing for joy”

words by Peter Sampson


Sing, sing for joy, our voices loud we raise and join to offer our thankful praise.


Hope makes us strong to see through to the end

that work our spirits yearn to comprehend.

Sing, sing for joy, our voices loud we raise and join to offer our thankful praise.


Hearts, minds, and hands are needed for the task;

to build a peaceful world is all we ask.

Sing, sing for joy, our voices loud we raise and join to offer our thankful praise.


‘Swords into ploughshares’ is our vision clear;

one world our dream; the miracle is near.

Sing, sing for joy, our voices loud we raise and join to offer our thankful praise.


Happy are we when we leave fear behind

and share our wealth to serve all humankind.

Sing, sing for joy, our voices loud we raise and join to offer our thankful praise.




May the gratitude, the thankfulness we express this day,

be in our lives, today, tomorrow, in each moment of our living,

for all our life.


So say we all.