Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

19 February 2023


Lincoln Service

11 am


Hull Service

4 pm

Musician: Andrew Palfreman



“Let us Party

for tomorrow…”



Lincoln: Jenny Young

Hull: Durch die Walder, durch die Auen, by C.M.Weber.



“Spring is natures way of saying, Lets party!”

~  Robin Williams



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…..




by John Carter


We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of connectedness….

                     of a beloved faith community,

                               reaching beyond our boundaries…

                                         seeking equity and justice for all creation….

                                                   learning what the human spirit can do and be…




HFL 43 (HFL CD1-TK4)

“Mother Spirit, Father Spirit”

words by Norbert F. Capek


Mother Spirit,

Father Spirit,

          Where are you?

In the skysong,

In the forest,

          Sounds your cry.

What to give you,

What to call you,

          What am I?


Many drops are

In the ocean,

          Deep and wide.

Sunlight bounces

Off the ripples

          To the sky.

What to give you,

What to call you,

          Who am I?


I am empty,

Time flies from me;

          What is time?

Dreams eternal,

Fears infernal

          Haunt my heart.

What to give you,

What to call you,

          O, my God?


Mother Spirit,

Father Spirit,

          Take our hearts.

Take our breath and

Let our voices

          Sing our parts.

Take our hands and

Let us work to

          Shape our art.




SYF 67

“I am that great and fiery force”

based on words by Hildegard of Bingen


I am that great and fiery force sparkling in everything that lives,

in shining of the river’s course, in greening grass that glory gives.


I shine in glitter on the seas, in burning sun, in moon and stars.

In unseen wind, in verdant trees I breathe within, both near and far.


And where I breathe there is no death, and meadows glow with beauties rife.

I am in all the spirit’s breath, the thundered word, for I am Life.



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.




1866? Letter to Jeanne Carr  

by John Muir


“The rarest and most beautiful of the flowering plants I discovered on this first grand excursion was Calypso borealis (the hider of  the North).


I had been fording streams more and more difficult to cross and wading bogs and swamps that seemed more and more extensive and more difficult to force one’s way through.


Entering one of these great tamarac and arbor-vitae swamps one morning, holding a general though very crooked course by compass, struggling through tangled drooping branches and over and under broad heaps of fallen trees, I began to fear that l would not be able to reach dry ground before dark. . . . 


But when the sun was getting low and everything seemed most bewildering and discouraging, I found beautiful Calypso on the mossy bank of a stream, growing not in the ground but on a bed of yellow mosses in which its small white bulb had found a soft nest and from which its one leaf and one flower sprung. The flower was white and made the impression of the utmost simple purity like a snowflower. No other bloom was near it, for the bog a short distance below the surface was still frozen, and the water was ice cold.


It seemed the most Spiritual of all the flower people I had ever met.


I sat down beside it and fairly cried for joy,  It seems wonderful that so frail and lowly a plant has such power over human hearts… How long I sat beside Calypso I don t know. Hunger and weariness vanished, and only after the sun was low in the west I plashed on through the swamp, strong and exhilarated as if never more to feel any mortal care.”




HFL 37 (CD2/TK4)

“Thy Kingdom Come”

words by John Andrew Storey


I sent my6 soul some truth to win;

My soul returned these words to tell:

“Look not beyond, but turn within,

For I myself am heaven and hell.”


And  as my thoughts were gently led,

Half-held beliefs were seen as true;

I heard, as new, words Jesus said:

“My friend, God’s kingdom lies in you.”


Now though I labour, as I must,

To build the kingdom yet to be,

I know my hopes will turn to dust

If first it is not build in me.




SYF 63

“Hope is born in springtime”

words by Barbara S. Russell


Hope is born in springtime though the cold wind chills;

hope as strong as snowdrops, gold as daffodils.

Hope be in our planting, hope be in our prayer,

be the key that opens hearts to greet the year.


Summer bids us welcome, strong and brave and bright;

warms us with her sunshine, cheers us with her light.

Sudden storm, then silence; feel the pulse of power,

everywhere around her, springtime buds in flower.


Autumn’s golden glory seems to hold the sun;

singing through the cornfields “Look what God has done —

ripened field and fruit trees, filled your barns with grain,

seeds for next year’s sowing harvested again”


Patient winter teaches we must somethings pause;

listen to the silence, learn the living laws.

Gather strength in quietness, ponder nature’s ways;

still our souls with praying, lift our hearts with praise.


Though the years may bring us sadness, gladness, strife;

birth and growth and living make the joys of life.

Count the many blessings of our daily lives;

then, through joy and sorrow, all that’s good survives.



“The Street is for Celebration”

by Thomas Merton, from Love And Living, 1965


Celebration is not noise.


It is not a spinning head.

It is not just individual kicks.


Celebration is the creation of a common identity, a common consciousness.


Celebration is everyone making joy.


They who celebrate are not powerless.

They have become a creator because of their love.


Celebration is when we let joy make itself out of our love.


We like to be together.


We like to dance together. We like to make pretty and amusing things. We like to laugh at what we have made.


We like to put bright colours on the walls —more bright colours on ourselves.


We like our pictures, they are crazy.


Celebration is crazy: the craziness of not submitting even though “they,” “the other,” the ones who make life impossible, seem to have all the power. Celebration is the beginning of confidence, therefore of power.


When we laugh, when we celebrate, when we make our lives beautiful, when we give one another joy by loving, by sharing, then we manifest a power they cannot touch.


We can be the artisans of a joy they never imagined.


“The Worth of Cherry Blossoms”

A Children’s story by Sarah Conover


In Japan two centuries ago, there lived a Buddhist nun named Rengetsu.


Her life as a nun began in tragedy when her husband and young children died. To support herself, she worked as a potter, poet, and as an artist. Her poetry was wonderfully beautiful and she became very famous.  She soon found that she needed to avoid the constant press and desire for her poems that she began to move from house to house to avoid them.


Even as she became richer for her work, she never held on to the money that her art brought in —she gave it to those who need it most.  She often parted with her warm kimono when she saw a shivering street beggar.  There is story of the time when a robber entered her home during the night, that she lit a lamp for him to see by, fixed the thief a cup of hot tea while inviting him to speak of his desperate situation.


Rengetsu said that she moved about like “a drifting cloud blown by a fierce wind.” Her poems sparkle with images from her journeys through forests and mountains….


There was one such pilgrimage to a remote regions, where she had hiked most of the day without passing through a single village. As dusk descended, she came upon a small settlement near a river. She knocked upon the door of the village inn to ask for a night’s lodging. But the Inn was already full.


As she rested, the stars began to appear out of the advancing darkness. The village grew steadily more quiet. Sounds of families enjoying their suppers faded into those of preparing for the night. Rengetsu was tired, but not discouraged.


Beyond the village she had earlier spied a forgotten orchard with lush soft grass beneath the trees. She retraced her steps down the road and bedded down for the night under a cherry tree.


In the middle of the night, she sensed a bright light upon her face. It awakened her.


When her eyes opened, a hazy, snowy moon loomed in the cloudless sky. Directly above her, thousands of cherry blossoms had opened while she slept, and each flower no held bright moonlight in its petal cup. It was so lovely that Rengetsu gasped.


She then bowed toward the village, giving thanks for this unexpected gift: a gift of nature far more meaningful than a comfortable night in a bed.


She composed this poem:


Through their

Kindness in refusing

Me lodging,


I found myself

Beneath the

Beautiful blossoms


On the night of the

Misty moon.


Rengetsu was named the patron saint of the Arts for Japan.




HFL 172 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 13)

“All are Welcome Here”

words by Peter Galbraith


Now open wide your hearts, my friends,

And I will open mine,

And let us share all that is fair,

All that is true and fine.


We gather in this meeting house —

People of many kinds:

Let us, below the surface, seek

A meeting of true minds.


For in our company shall be

Great witnesses of light

The Buddha, Krishna, Jesus — those

Gifted with clearest sight.


Like them, we seek to know ourselves,

To seek, in spite of fear;

To open wide, to all, our hearts —

For all are welcome here.



SYF 98

“Love will guide us”

words by Sally Rogers


Love will guide us, peace has tried us,

hope inside us will lead the way

on the road from greed to giving.

Love will guide us through the hard night.


If you cannot sing like angels,

if you cannot speak before thousands,

you can give from deep within you.

You can change the world with your love.


Love will guide us, peace has tried us,

hope inside us will lead the way

on the road from greed to giving.

Love will guide us through the hard night.




“Go to the streets and flip a pancake”

and other thoughts around Mardi Gras


This time of the church year for much of my early life was a blank, much like the month of February, cold, windy, with intermediate heat waves announcing the breaking forth of spring. Yet during February and March there was a strange ritual that happened in one of our neighbouring towns to the south of us.


Some Tuesday during this time of year, in the city of Liberal Kansas, women would gather at a starting line, dressed in pioneer clothing and proceed to run a race flipping pancakes as they ran….and if you are aware of this event, you will know that they were competition with a city, village or town here in the UK.  Who ever ran the fastest time won the race.


No reward as far as I know, other than the pride of the race and your home town.


When I began to study and learned about the liturgical year, as well as the rituals related to this time. The pieces fell into place, Fat Tuesday, Carnival, Mardi Gras, Pancake day. A ritual of celebrating the marking of the end of the feasts before Lent begins.


At some point I actually started to take note of Ash Wednesday. Not as a start to lent, but as a time to reflect on the finite hood of life. This was during the hedonistic worship of youth individualism of the US 1980s, and my observation of Gay male culture and it hyper worship of looking young, a denial of the devastating effects of HIV AIDS sweeping through the community at the time.


Fat Tuesday was a time to clean your house of fats, sugars, etc to prepare for the lenten fast. Ash Wednesday was a time to remember you will die, and to take life reflectively.


Then we hit Lent, but more on that next week.


In a sense the themes of this beginning period is basically Eat, Drink and be Merry for Tomorrow we Die. So maybe I should have read the well known passage from Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, a season for every purpose under heaven:”


We live, and we die…


But it is more than that physiological fact of which we all participate, we reflect and we party to declare the kind of life we choose to live.


One of the interesting things I have read reading the religious cleaning house motif of fat tuesday, is that scholarship thinks that these practices developed as a way of helping people have focus during the lean time when the stores are low, and the first harvest happens.


In a way this is about stepping back so we can live…. The reflective side of this hopefully moves us to see greater purpose in life. Which we explore during the lenten season, but for now…. We party, we take to the streets, we express joy, we celebrate and in doing so we may set a liberating power free through out the world.


And maybe the link with Ash Wednesday is that we recognise the seriousness of love, we count well the cost of truly acting out that love in our lives, and in doing so we may experience hardship, pain, yes even death.


We do so for the cause of Justice, and for Peace.


For a better world, where all may live.


Is that not worth the party?



MUSICAL INTERLUDE Somewhere, there’s a place for us (from West Side Story) by Leonard Bernstein.



A fat ash wednesday prayer

by John Carter


Gentle Spirit


We are called to celebrate

          we seek to walk joyfully through this life

                     we ask only to be of some good for this world on which we walk.


Gracious Spirit


We are called to gratitude

          we seek to live in thanksgiving for this life

                     we ask only to allow our gratitude to be of service for this world.


Passionate Spirit


We are called to love

          we seek to walk this world affectionately,

                     we ask only that we may welcome all that we meet on this way.


Blessed Spirit


We are called to follow

          we seek to walk the divine way of love, grace, peace and justice,

                     we ask only that love, joy, peace

                                                   be in all our relationships upon this good green earth.


Thus we pray

          and so shall we live.






HFL 233 (CD HFL 4/TRACK 20)

“Others Call it God”

words by William Herbert Carruth


A fire-mist and a planet,

A crystal and a cell,

A star-fish and a saurian,

And caves where cave-folk dwell:

The sense of law and beauty,

A face turned from the clod —

Some call it evolution,

And others call it God.


Haze on the far horizon,

The infinite tender sky,

The ripe, rich tints of cornfields,

And wild geese sailing high;

And over high and lowland,

The charm of golden rod —

Some people call it nature,

And others call it God.


Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,

When the moon is new and thin,

Into our hearts high yearnings

Come welling, surging in,

Come from the mystic ocean

Whose rim no foot has trod—

Some people call it longing,

And others call it God.


A picket frozen on duty,

A mother starved for her brood,

And Socrates drinking hemlock,

And Jesus on the rood;

And millions, who, though nameless,

The straight, hard pathway trod —

Some call it consecration,

And others call it God.




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 in celebration and joy, this day, tomorrow, and all days after.



POSTLUDE Rivers of Babylon. (on accordion)

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