Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

04 June 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:

Prayer encounters the Political ”





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…..




“The most remarkable observation one can make about this interface of exilic circumstance and scriptural resource is this: Exile did not lead Jews in the Old Testament to abandon faith or to settle for abdicating despair, nor to retreat to privatistic religion. On the contrary, exile evoked the most brilliant literature and the most daring theological articulation in the Old Testament.”

~ Walter Brueggemann,

Cadences of Home: Preaching among Exiles



by John Carter


We light our chalice

         As we open ourselves to our spiritual journey

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.



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


  • Is all right within myself?
  • Is all right between me and others?
  • In this past week, when did I 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



(Lincoln) HFL 143 WWSfT/13 “Die Gendanken Sind Frei”/((Dee guh-dank-en zint fry))

 (Hull) SYF 97 “Love knocks and waits…” words by Daniel C Damon




Today’s reflections began as a conversation at GA, about putting together worship and study packets around the various themes of immigration, refugees, and seeking asylum. Then in conversations we were suggesting stories that highlight these stories and our responses to them. When no body mentioned biblical narratives I brought these into the conversation, and then we ended up speaking about the Hebrew Bible and Exodus, and Exile.


As we listen today, listen to hear the voice of otherness, of despair, even of the desire for revenge. Listen to hear life, life as experienced by being other.


“Whose side are you on?”

By lucille clifton


the side of the bus stop woman

trying to drag her bag

up the front steps before the doors

clang shut    i am on her side

i give her exact change

and him the old man hanging by

one strap his work hand folded shut

as the bus doors i am on his side

when he needs to leave

i ring the bell i am on their side

riding the late bus into the same

someplace    i am on the dark side always

the side of my daughters

the side of my tired sons


Caged Bird

by Maya Angelou


A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.


But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and   

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.


The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.


The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.


But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   

so he opens his throat to sing.


The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.


Exile (I)

by William Stafford

         Magnolia Arkansas

          May 1942


In this tray pine-he land of furtive eyes

and captured kneeling hills, where whimsy dies,

where men fear other men, and fear to know,

where laughter of near friends is cruelest foe —


In this plow-battered land, clay insolent —

fire-shattered forest, ragged and wind-rent,

where valiant on the clay the grass is dry,

where men-beasts carry wood and fear the sky —


I stand and dream another world instead,

where easy wind flows river over head,

and quail call outdoor reverence through the day,

and men look far to cove and sheen blue bay.


Friends, gravely wise, I want to want to sing

(but know men’s needs and live remembering),

If I had leave, I’d soon address trail sand —

and speak with lisping feet about this land.


Exile (II)

by William Stafford

         Magnolia Arkansas



The burning city of my sorrow hurts

And blinds the eye turned carelessly on it,

Avert the face; look full on it at night;

Be wary days. Increase the time of gaze

As time goes by, and hate grows strong,

And sight grows dim, and cities burn and die.



(Lincoln) HFL 218 21HYMNs/17 “Liberation”

(Hull) SYF 85 “Keep me from helplessness” words by Andrew Pratt



“I stand outside your door”

by Frank R. Clabburn


I stand outside your door, will you admit me?

I have no home, no land,, no friend, no life.

I ask so little form your great abundance,

a place to sleep, some food for child, for wife.

I have no pride, no plea except ‘asylum,’

a place of peace, beyond our world of strife.


We heard a promise from you distant country:

a whisper of your peace through sounds of war:

we travelled long, rejected, cast asunder,

no rest we found, far from our native shore.

We have no pride, no plea except ‘asylum,’

will you provide for us an open door.


And so we come and wait upon your borders;

anonymous, forsaken and alone.

Where now you promise? Where is love, compassion?

Where now the hope? Has your heart turned to stone?

Forget your pride, and hear our plea ‘asylum,’

and let us know one country and one home.



by Malcolm Guite


We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want.

For even as we sing our final carol

His family is up and on that road,

Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,

Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower

Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.


Psalm 137

Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible (pp. 1362-1363). Sheed & Ward.


by the rivers of Babylon

we sat and wept, remembering Zion. 


on the willows there

we hung up our harps.


For there our captors taunted us to sing our songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy:

“sing us one of the songs of Zion!”


But how could we sing a song of YHWH

in a foreign land?


If I forget you, Jerusalem,

may my right hand forget its skill!


May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth

if I ever forget you,

if I ever stop considering  Jerusalem

my greatest joy.


Remember, YHWH, what the children of Edom did

the day Jerusalem fell,

when they said,

“tear it down!

tear it down to its foundations!”


Brood of Babylon, doomed to destruction,

a blessing on those who will repay you

for the evil you have done to us!


A blessing on those who will seize your infants

and dash them against the rock!



(Lincoln) HFL 180 3/12 “This Old World”

(Hull) SYF 70 “I wish I knew how” words by Billy Taylor & Dick Dallas



“being other”



Looking at otherness…. Those people who are outside my personal experiences…. Those persons that are simply different to me, my culture, my life…..


I ponder how do I respond to this otherness…


I begin with my theological assumptions when it comes to conversations around otherness and the various situations where political necessity becomes part of the conversation, especially when these necessities create harm in the life of our planet and all that live upon her.


I know from whence my assumptions come.


I am theologically trained in the Anabaptist tradition of Christianity. Which sees community and community building as the focus for the spiritual life. This is not being anti-individual conscience and lifestyle, but of seeing that the individual components choose to work together, to explore, develop and support all life as they join in their mutual searching and development. This ideal of mutuality is described as being in healthy relationship with the others of your immediate community, as well as  your wider community, and yes even those that live beyond your defined political boundaries. This sense of transcendence of the political boundary includes what we understand and define as God.


Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it.


And like all things that sound wonderful, it doesn’t always happen. It can become violent, destructive, and harmful.


Such as demanding total allegiance and obedience to those in authority. Or using life affirming ideals to force compliance with harmful, even deadly, activity.


Such as hiding cases of abuse by church leadership. Using the ideal of forgiveness to keep an abused wife in a life threatening marriage. Using your position to intimidate and even cause the death of someone you are meant to be training.


These situations get covered up due to the political necessity of those in authority, who often shape the conversations in such a way to make the different, the other, the one not like myself as being the problem, the threat, and the face of evil.


In many unfortunate ways that is a basic summation of history.


Yet, if I fail to recognise this dynamic, I too can get caught up in the militaristic, propagandistic, parade of hatefulness and violence. I may feel good for a moment, even proud, but it carries a sinister quality of programming me to become an active participant in violence and destruction of the other.


In most cases it is often done to stop me from seeing myself in the despised other.


Or is it that it stops me from connecting with the other.


Or does it keep me from realising that what our government or our media or even our community does to the other, they could very well do it to me, or you, or us.


We are currently living in a time where many governments are demonising those who are simply wanting better lives. Be it asylum so they can being able to live as they are without fear of persecution and death, or they are fleeing an horrific situation, or they simply realise that in order to have a healthy life they need to migrate to another country.


Our task in this is seeing these people, not as political problems to be stopped, but as humans who are different and yet like us too. They breathe the same air we breathe, their heart beat as our does, they care for their children as we do, they are human as we are human.


Our task is to see these people, as people, as our people, as ourselves.


To recognise that we are, in truth, the other.






To Savour the World or Save It

Gilbert, Richard S.. In the Holy Quiet: Meditations. iUniverse.


“It’s hard to know when to respond to the seductiveness of the world and when to respond to its challenges. If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”   —E. B. White


 I rise in the morning torn between desires: to save the world or to savour it, to serve life or to enjoy it, to savour the sweet taste of my own joy or to share the bitter cup of my neighbour, to celebrate life with exuberant step or to struggle for the life of the heavy laden. What am I to do when guilt at my bounty clouds the sky of my vision, when the glow which lights my every day illumines the hurting world around me?


To savour the world or to save it? God of justice, if such there be, take from me the burden of my question. Let me praise my plenitude without limit. Let me cast from my eyes all troubled folk. No, you will not let me be. You will not stop my ears to the cries of the hurt and the hungry. You will not close my eyes to the sight of the afflicted. What is that you say? To save, one must serve? To savour, one must save? The one will not stand without the other?


Forgive me in my preoccupation with myself. In my concern for my own life I had forgotten. Forgive me, God of justice, forgive me, and make me whole.





(Lincoln) HFL 198 3/16 “For the healing of the nations”

(Hull) SYF 56 “God, who stretched” words by Catherine Cameron,

1st verse with the music



Today our blessing as we depart

          is to be open to life as a fine art…

                     to sculpt love, peace and justice

                               composing the shape of our heart.





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