Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

02 July 2023


Lincoln Service

11 am

Musician: Jennifer Young

Worship Leader: John Carter



Hull Service

4 pm

Musician: Graziana Presicce

Worship Leader: John Carter



“Spiritual Explorations:

Calling & Transformation”




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…..




“Jacob does what all of us must do if,

 in the end,

we too are to become true.

He confronts in himself the things that are wounding him,

admits his limitations,

accepts his situation,

rejoins the world,

and moves on.”

~  Joan Chittister



by John Carter


We light our chalice

         As we open ourselves to this spiritual journey we call life

We light our chalice

         to confess our willingness to be a light to our world,

We light our chalice

         to confirm our desire to become

                                    co-creators of passionate life

                                    and of a world of justice, love and peace.


We light our chalice



Once again we gather, and we take time to reflect on our lives and living….

  • For what are you this most grateful for this week?
  • For what are you the least grateful for this past week?
  • When do you feel connected, a sense of deep belonging, to another, to myself, to nature, to the transcendent, life, God?


May our reflections continue in this time together, as we join to reflect on the deep things of the divine, and so we pray…

“May the spirit of life, guide us today” AMEN




SYF 186 (2/18) “We are travellers on a journey” words by Andrew McKean Hill



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



Today we explore the connections between Call, Calling, Blessing, Conversion, and Transformation.




the message of crazy horse

by lucille clifton


i would sit in the center of the world,

the Black Hills hooped around me and

dream of my dancing horse. my wife


was Black Shawl who gave me the daughter

i called They Are Afraid Of Her.

i was afraid of nothing


except Black Buffalo Woman.

my love for her i wore

instead of feathers. i did not dance


i dreamed. i am dreaming now

across the worlds. my medicine is strong.

my medicine is strong in the Black basket

of these fingers. i come again through this


Black Buffalo woman. hear me;

the hoop of the world is breaking.

fire burns in the four directions.

the dreamers are running away from the hills.

i have seen it. i am crazy horse.



by Langston Hughes


Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble and kind:
Beware the day
They change their mind!
In the cotton fields,
Gentle Breeze:
Beware the hour
It uproots trees!


A Litany for Survival

by Audre Lorde


For those of us who live at the shoreline

standing upon the constant edges of decision

crucial and alone

for those of us who cannot indulge

the passing dreams of choice

who love in doorways coming and going

in the hours between dawns

looking inward and outward

at once before and after

seeking a now that can breed


like bread in our children’s mouths

so their dreams will not reflect

the death of ours;


For those of us

who were imprinted with fear

like a faint line in the center of our foreheads

learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk

for by this weapon

this illusion of some safety to be found

the heavy-footed hoped to silence us

For all of us

this instant and this triumph

We were never meant to survive.


And when the sun rises we are afraid

it might not remain

when the sun sets we are afraid

it might not rise in the morning

when our stomachs are full we are afraid

of indigestion

when our stomachs are empty we are afraid

we may never eat again

when we are loved we are afraid

love will vanish

when we are alone we are afraid

love will never return

and when we speak we are afraid

our words will not be heard

nor welcomed

but when we are silent

we are still afraid


So it is better to speak


we were never meant to survive.



  1. E. Hulme (1883 –1917)


Lighthearted I walked into the valley wood
In the time of hyacinths,
Till beauty like a scented cloth
Cast over, stifled me. I was bound
Motionless and faint of breath
By loveliness that is her own eunuch.


Now pass I to the final river
Ignominiously, in a sack, without sound,
As any peeping Turk to the Bosphorus.




SYF 202 (3/22) When earth is changed” words by Ruth C. Duck



SYF 29 “Deep in the shadows of the past” words by Brian Wren



Genesis 32:22-32

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


22 In the course of the night, Jacob arose, took the entire caravan, and crossed the ford of the Yabbok River.*

23 After Jacob had crossed with all his possessions, he returned to the camp,

24 and he was completely alone. And there, someone† wrestled with Jacob until the first light of dawn.

25 Seeing that Jacob could not be overpowered, the other struck Jacob at the socket of the hip‡, and the hip was dislocated as they wrestled.

26 Then Jacob’s contender said, “Let me go, for day is breaking.” Jacob answered, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

27 “What is your name?” the other asked. “Jacob,” he answered.

28 The other said, “Your name will no longer be called ‘Jacob,’ or ‘Heel-Grabber,’ but ‘Israel’—’Overcomer of God’ —because you have wrestled with both God and mortals, and you have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked “Now tell me your name, I beg you.” The other said, “Why do you ask me my name?”—and blessed Jacob there.

30 Jacob named the place Peniel—“Face of God”—“because I have seen God face to face, yet my life was spared.”

31 At sunrise, Jacob left Peniel, limping along from the injured hip.

32 That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on an animal’s hip socket, because Jacob’s hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.


Conversion and Change in Hebrew Texts

Richard Elliott Friedman, From his Commentary on the Torah. HarperCollins.


“There is little character development in Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, or Rebekah, all of whom remain basically constant figures through the stories about them. But Jacob changes, and the matter of deception is intimately related to that development. As Esau points out, Jacob’s very name connotes deception: to catch. And Jacob starts out as a manipulator. But Jacob is changed after his experiences in Mesopotamia. He has been the deceiver and the deceived. He has hurt and been hurt. He is now a husband and a father, a man who has struggled and prospered.


For the rest of the story he is no longer pictured as a man of action but, more often, as a relatively passive man, like his father Isaac, seeking to appease his brother, avoiding strife and risk. And precisely at the juncture that marks this change in Jacob’s character he has his encounter with God at Penuel.


Is this divine encounter the signpost of the change in Jacob’s character, or the cause? Either way, as his character changes, and he ceases to be the deceiver, just then he sheds the name Jacob (the one who catches) and becomes instead Israel (the one who struggles with God).”




SYF 87 (1/13) “Leave behind your bags” words by Peter Sampson


Address & Conversation:

“Ya’acov and Adversary at River Jabbok”


So I went into the Jacob text with a couple of questions. Based on the use of blessing and name change within this narrative.


Blessing was the way the text speaks of calling and charge. So my questions were is this a calling story? What is the nature of call? Is it an individual calling? Is there a communal nature to call?


So Jacob’s narrative is basic and direct.


He is the second of twins. His name means to grasp, or seize another…. In this case, he was born with his hand grasped on his brother’s ankle.


Early on it became clear that Jacob was conniving, devious, and out to get his own. Whereas Esau was actually a dutiful son. It is clear that the author of this part of the text saw Esau as a good man, a victim of his brother’s machinations.


This is evidence in the story where, after Esau inherits the properties of his father, Isaac. Jacob orchestrates a wager with Esau and wins it. Esau accepts his loss.


When the time came for the spiritual blessing, Isaac is blind, and Jacob impersonates Esau, and wins the final blessing. Rightly Esau is aggrieved, and spouts off in anger, and Jacob runs away.


His mother, Rebecca, send him to her kin, family.


Where he is conned by his cousins, he falls in love with the second daughter of the family. And works for 7 years to marry her. Her father tricks him by having the older daughter dress as the younger and tricks him into a marriage with a woman who he does not love. So he also marries Rachel, but has to work for another 7 years.


So he then cons the father in law out of prized animals and builds up a wealthy portfolio….


And now he returns to his home country.


What will his brother do?


Again Jacob comes up with plans within more plans and yet more…..


All this to protect his wealth, but also to placate his brother. The text implies that Jacob has some sense of awareness that he does owe his brother, and that is part of this whole staging of different camps.


And on the evening before meeting his brother he camps at the ford of the River Jabbok…


And he meets an Adversary and they wrestle for the whole night, and at the end of it, he receives a blessing, a new name, and a dislocated hip. These all have deeper meaning…. Dislocated or dislocation is linked to the language of fall, when the Hebrews failed to follow the commandments, the word that is used, is dislocation. That may be a better way to describe sin… being dislocated.


Adversary is also interesting as it links to blessing. Harper’s Bible Dictionary, states that within the Hebrew text, “anyone or anything standing in the way of the completion of God’s will, blessing, of opposing God’s people… is the adversary. So in this story the real adversary is Jacob himself….in his contending with God and others, he continues a change in his life and the way he operates. In essence he ceases his fight against his very blessing.


This is the basis of a change of his name to Israel, the one who contends with God and humans. Now as things progress, for the rest of his part of the hebrew story… his name interchanges between Jacob and Israel often…. It is a long term conversion happening here…..


The power of this story is not it’s mythic structures, but it’s very human nature. We are often our own worse enemy or adversary. We often reflect on how we set ourselves up for failure. Sometimes it is self fulfilling prophecy…. Sometimes it is simply our own pig headed ness at play. We do it as individuals, and as communities. Look at all the political reactions to politicians who have been caught out, and no one listens to these reports and believe in the rightness of said politician.

That is the other power at play here, we always get the chance to change, to turn to a new direction, to a different way of living.


And that leaves us with the question of what do we want to happen now, here in this place, at this time.


The answers we reach are ultimately yours…






By John Carter


On the day of your passing,

I awoke to my shadows…

          griefs, disappointments, pain i have caused

Friends, beloved animals, Family all…

          not to forget my biological family…

          a missed phone call before my mum’s passing

          an angry teenaged rebellion argument before my dad’s passing

          my failure as a husband, a brother, an uncle and a friend….




So I pause

And I simply feel


Somewhere in the night as I wrestle with my shadow…

Unknown, unnamed, unloved and unwelcome


I find my guilt is equally grief

Equally disappointment

Equally a myriad of other things


So, not with a broken hip, but a broken heart I greet this day….


And I wonder


O Thou,

Who wrestled by the Jabbok

Who stretched out your hand

And touched fragile flesh

Who fled the tent at the break of day


Will you stay and wrestle with me, awaking my shadow to a new day…a new beginning….


A new name?



Thank you to Graziana for playing for us today





SYF 73 (2/3) “If every woman in the world” words by Karen MacKay



SYF 110 “Now we sing to praise love’s blessing” words by Anna Briggs



We walk in light

We walk in shadows

          we meet ourselves in our journeys

          we meet the great spirit of life….


We answer our call by walking in shadow

          by walking in the night

                     bearers of that light that shines through and for all.



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