Unitarian Sunday Reflections
(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)
23 May 2021

Order of Reflection
“Spirit of Fire, Spirit of Wisdom”
Zoom Service at 1600/4pm

Worship Leader: John Carter
Musician: Graziana Presicce
Subash Chellaiah
Nick Morrice
Jeff Prest
Adrienne Wilson
Sandra Worland


“In the solitude of each, which none can lose and none by share,
as also in the fellowship that binds us thus together,
O Holy Spirit,
make Thy dwelling with us.”

~ A Powell Davies
We light our chalice, this candle, as a sign of our connectedness, of our journey on this spiritual quest….

We take a moment to reflect on our life and living of this week…
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.

May the Great Spirit of the Journey walk with us today.

SYF 195
We sing a love
words by June Boyce-Tillman

We sing a love that sets all people free,
that blows like wind, that burns like scorching flame,
enfolds the earth, springs up like water clear.
Come, living love, live in our hearts today.

We sing a love that seeks another’s good,
that longs to serve and not to count the cost,
a love that yielding finds itself made new.
come, caring love, live in our hearts today.

We sing a love, unflinching, unafraid
to be itself despite another’s wrath,
a love that stands alone and undismayed.
come, strengthening love, live in our hearts today.

We sing a love, that wandering will not rest
until it finds its way, its home, its source,
through joy and sadness pressing on refreshed.
Come, pilgrim love, live in our hearts today.

We sing the Holy Spirit, full of love,
who seeks our scars of ancient bitterness,
brings to our wounds the healing grace of Christ.
Come, radiant love, live in our hearts today.


by Malcolm Guite

Today we feel the wind beneath our wings,
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays,
Today the church draws breath at last and sings,
As every flame becomes a tongue of praise.
This is the feast of Fire, Air and Water,
Poured out and breathed and kindled into Earth.
The Earth herself awakens to her maker,
Translated out of death and into birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release.
Today the gospel crosses every border,
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace.
Today the lost are found in his translation,
Whose mother-tongue is love, in every nation.

The Story: Act Chapter 2
“Happenings, (ACTS) chap 2, excerpts”
from the Cotton Patch Gospel
Translation and dynamic equivalence by Rev Clarence Jordan
(Note: Clarence was a Southern Baptist minister, from Georgia state, US, who in the 1940’s founded Koinonia Farm cooperative, former US president Jimmy Carter describes them well… “a few miles from where I grew up in Plains. Clarence was a fearless and innovative defender of human rights. Christians at Koinonia Farm rejected violence, lived in interracial fellowship, and embraced their neighbours, many of whom were black tenant farmers. ….the people of surrounding Sumter County met their efforts with suspicion, hostility, and harassment. Boycotted and bombed — but never defeated — Koinonia Farm survived and served ever since.)

(Note: Jordan undertook translating the bible into the vernacular of his community and region. This translation highlights the radicalness of Jesus and Jesus’ teachings, and the liberating effect upon the followers of Jesus then and even now)

Chapter 2:

When Thanksgiving Day arrived, they were all gathered in one place.

Then all of a sudden there came from the sky a rumbling like a tornado, and it filled the whole house where thy were gathered. They saw forked flames as from a fire, and it stayed in contact with each one of them.

Everyone was bursting with Holy Spirit and started talking in whatever different language the spirit directed.

Now at that time there were a lot of delegates gathered in Atlanta, religious people from countries all over the world. So when they heard this great noise, they all came running together. When they heard these folks talking to each one of them in their own native tongue, and were they excited! Amazed and astounded no end, they said, “Look, aren’t all these speakers Americans? Then how is it that each of us is hearing it in our own native tongue — French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Burmese, Hebrew, Swedish, Afrikaans, Hindi — in our own languages we are hearing them tell of God’s mighty doings” Everyone was dumfounded and puzzled, saying one to another, “What is the meaning of this?” Yet others sneered, “They’re tanked up on white light-ning”….

Those who accepted Rock’s explanation of the mornings doings were initiated, swelling the membership to about three thousand.

They were all bound together by the instructions and the sense of community, by the common meal and the prayers. A great reverence came over everybody, while many amazing and instructive things were done. The whole company of believers stuck together and held all things common. They were selling their goods and belongings, and dividing them among the group on the basis of one’s need..

Knit together with singleness of purpose they gathered at the church every day, and as they ate the common meal, they had a joyful and humble spirit, praising God and showing over-flowing kindness toward everyone.

Day by day, people were being rescued, and the Spirit would add them to the fellowship.

An Interpretation:
“On Pentecost: Accepting the Other”
Excerpts from a Transylvanian Unitarian Sermon
by Kinga Reka Szekely …. Read by Nick Morrice

Pentecost is the holiday of community makers.

It’s a holiday when we should stand in the church with one heart and one soul. We should talk about common goals, common problems and we should accept each other.

At Christmas time we focus on the family, Easter time we focus on the individual.. on Thanksgiving day we say thank you for the harvest which is the result of the work of the individual.

At Pentecost our horizon is wider. We talk about the community that one chooses. We have chosen to be here together in this church, and we decide on how we are going to celebrate this this holiday.

The huge question is: can we, are we able to celebrate this Pentecost with pure heart and with joy? Can we look at each other with acceptance?….

Today we keep the mirror in front of ourselves, let us look into it….

There are some who were born in this community, and there are some who come to us, choosing us their spiritual home. We do know each other in some ways, and in many way we are foreigners to each other.

However we all proclaim the same big truth, and that is, that we are in these communities because we like to be among like minded people. Our goal is to accept the other, trying to respect the other, to praise the divine in the human, and to forgive the weaknesses.

SYF 180
“View the starry realm of heaven”
words by Norbert Capek

View the starry realm of heaven, shining distant empires sing.
Sky song of celestial children turns each winter into spring,
turns each winter into spring.

Great you are, beyond conception, God of gods and God of stars.
My soul soars with your perception, I escape from prison bars,
I escape from prison bars.

You, the one within, all forming in my heart and mind and breath,
you my guide through hate’s fierce storming, courage in both life and death,
courage in both life and death.

Life is yours, in you I prosper, seed will come to fruit I know.
Trust that after winter’s snowfall wall will melt and truth will flow,
walls will melt and truth will flow.



We have heard the story and two interpretations. In greek the word for spirit is feminine, some theologians like to use this as a way of speaking for the divine feminine. Equally in the Hebrew bible we see wisdom portrayed as feminine….then there is the image that Acts 2 gives us of the spirit as a tongue of fire. In a sense pentecost confronts us with images that are scary, even contradictory, and yet very moving. Fire speaks of passion, and we also have an image that may be cool with is wisdom. There are so many ways for us to speak of spirit.

So… we are confronted by a multiplicity of image, that is the ideal of the spirit, uncontainable and dangerous. As well as comfort, compassion, mover of real justice.

Spirit of fire, Spirit of wisdom. Mover of community, of justice, of passion.

“O Oriens”
by Malcolm Guite … read by Sandra Worland

First light and then first lines along the east
To touch and brush a sheen of light on water,
As though behind the sky itself they traced
The shift and shimmer of another river
Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;
The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.
Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice
Are bathing in it now, away upstream…
So every trace of light begins a grace
In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam
Is somehow a beginning and a calling:
‘Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream
For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,
Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking.’

“Psalm For The Oversubscribed”
by Carla A. Grosch-Miller …read by Subash Chellaiah

Pushed to the edge
by forces within and outwith,
I catch my breath.

Stepping back
to recollect in calm,
I labour against the flow
of strong feeling.

Seeking wise counsel,
breathing deeply,
I contemplate consequences.

Surprised by the river of rage
flowing so close to the surface,
I labour to bring a broader perspective.

Diminished by exhaustion,
resentment and rage bubble up
and boil over with little provocation.

A gentle voice calls: Be still.
Drink deeply. Rest surely.
You know the Way.

My hands are open now.
The shore does not fear
the pound of waves,
but welcomes them,
lets them soften
shell and stone
into sand.

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.

“Echoes of Eckhart”
(a theopoetic exploration of the teachings, sermons, prayers by Meister Eckhart)
by Richard Skinner…read by Jeff Prest

How does the Pilgrim
With God?

By meditation

By ecstasies

Or by the fireside
In the stable?


Pilgrim gazes
At the grate

Where fire gives birth to fire
In the logs

Until the logs themselves
Are one with the fire

Pilgrim picks up
The poker

And pokes
The fire


Putting a log on the fire
Pilgrim marvels
As a flurry of sparks
Flies up
Each spark
Is of the fire
And the fire
Is in each spark.

“O Sapientia”
by Malcolm Guite…read by Adrienne Wilson

I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken;
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s bounding line, defining me:
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

SPECIAL MUSIC Graziana Presicce

REFLECTION: The Spirit of Fire, Spirit of Wisdom
A Theopoetic Reflection by John Carter

I saw it there
sitting amongst various Madonna and Child icons….
rivalling various crucifixions….

Basic standard icons….
you could buy or view anywhere.

Yes I do have examples of these in my collection.

But this other one…
I hadn’t seen before
it drew me in,
spoke to me,
called me to reflection…

In a room
they were arranged…
12 men in a semi circle
in the centre was a tall statuesque woman…

At the bottom a kingly figure, yet small and almost insignificant in presentation…

I lifted it
turned it over
to see what it was….

To me it look to be a icon of Lady Wisdom, Sophia, instructing…

But no name was present for this intriguing icon….
I asked the clerk…
who asked one of the brothers….

None of them knew who or what it’s title was….

I opined the wisdom connection.

They understood it,
they saw what I saw….

I have been long drawn to wisdom,
One of the Hebrew Bible’s images of the Divine feminine.
Wisdom calling, seeking, searching the streets…..

A few weeks later when I was asked to write a reflection for a Minister’s Retreat…
I turned to this icon, did some research, and found a similar image…
It was called Pentecost.
The explanation showed the reasons for that connection.

and I saw it as it was intended to be seen….

The very light tongues of flame on everyone’s foreheads….
unseen until you knew to look for it…

Did you know that in greek
the word for spirit is feminine….

For some theologians
this was their entry point for
advocating a Divine feminine
image, metaphor, inclusive and liberating presence.

The value of art,
of the multitude of icons,
is that they allow us to see ourselves in the divine stories…
they allow us to see the divine within us…

It can be empowering for minority people
it can be comforting for hurting people
it can be liberating for powerless people…

The story of pentecost has been linked so often to the story of Babel…

In Babel humanity lost the ability to communicate.,,
In Pentecost that ability was empowered by the Spirit…

For radical thinkers
Pentecost is the birthing of the beloved community
of the united struggle for justice and peace…
bringing us together in equity…

We flow in love,
we serve the world in love,
we welcome love’s empowerment for the other
for the downtrodden…
for the marginalised…
for the those without power…

Chapter 2 reminds us
not of the beautiful speech of Peter
not of the overwhelming visual display
but of the simple fact, that something happened
and it was envisioned in a gathered community
sharing all goods,
eating together,
serving all….

Like the resurrection story of the road to Emmaus…
Pentecost shows us that the divine, that Love,
is shown in the simple things of life,
sharing a meal
breaking of bread at a common table
serving others.

In this the fire of passion meets the flame of wisdom
and we are called to become a better people,
and a healthy faith community can empower us
can strengthen us
can liberate us
To actually be that people,
that community.

all in all
I prefer to see wisdom in that beautiful icon….


“By the Sword”
by Malcolm Guite

This word is still suspended like a sword
Above our heads who have refused to hear it,
Too sharp and clear for us, too bright and hard,
Too close to home for anyone to bear it.
Our swords are long since beaten, not to ploughshares
But into guns and tanks and bombs and planes,
And darker weapons still, and hidden fears,
And still the sword of Damocles remains.

What would it take to turn us to your wisdom,
Make us pursue the things that make for peace?
A radical conversion to you kingdom,
A casting out of fear, a deep release
Of trust and hope until that prayer is true:
None other fighting for us, only you.

Silent reflection

“O God who in the loneliness”
by A. Powell Davies

O God who in the loneliness and mystery of life has given us friendly meeting places and fellowship with one another, be with us in the purpose of this time.

The pace of our lives is slackened now and we are unhurried. There is time for confusion to be dispelled and the fevers of haste can melt away.

If we will, we can see more clearly, think more truly, choose more worthily, and our lives can be lifted up to a higher plane.

So let it be with us, O Holy Spirit!

Help us to be willing for what we most need rather than eager for what, in our carelessness, we thought we wanted.

Remind us how much contentment can come to us when we do our duty and how radiant life can be when we give ourselves to its highest meanings and its noblest purposes.

Cleanse us, O God! Heal us and make us whole! Show us that the truth we see with our minds will never be greater than the truth we love in our hearts.

May we know that only when we do your will can our hearts contain your peace.


SYF 157
“The flame of truth and flame of love”
words by D. Elwyn Davies

The flame of truth and flame of love we need both – you and I –
the one will show us how to go, the other tell us why.

When first this flame of light was lit above the great abyss,
the truth became a garden, fair, and love became a kiss.

The earth before the altar kneeled and heaven with her stood,
for God and light had made them one and said that all was good.

I bear the flame of truth and love now as I walk along.
I hold it forth in words and deeds and fan it with a song.

This borrowed torch of truth and love – the light of liberty,
I want to pass it on to you as it was passed to me.


May we be inflamed by the spirit of passion…
empowered for justice….
filled with wisdom….
acting in love.

May we be inflamed by the spirit of passion.


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