Unitarian Sunday Reflections

(Hull and Lincoln Unitarians)

Sunday 17 July 2022


Lincoln Service ~ 11 am



Hull Service ~ 4 pm

Lead by Myrna Michell


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Meeting ID: 851 6409 5601

Passcode: 130597



“Spirituality in an age of Activism”

Hymns, Reflections, and Readings

On Spirituality & Ethics


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”




„The better we know Jesus, the more social do his thoughts and aims become.“

—  Walter Rauschenbusch



words by John Carter


We light our chalice, this candle,

          as a sign of connectedness….

                     of a beloved faith community,

                               reaching beyond our boundaries…

                                         learning with others what the human spirit can do and be…



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.



1st Hymn SYF 21 (CD1/TK2)

“Come and find the quiet centre”

words by Shirley Arena Murray


Come and find the quiet centre in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the space where we are freed: clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.


Silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace; God it is who speaks and names us, knows our being, touches base, making space within our thinking, lifting shades to show the sun, raising courage when we’re shrinking, finding scope for faith begun.


In the spirit let us travel, open to each other’s pain; let our lives and fears unravel, celebrate the space we gain; there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care; in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare.



At the end of June I introduced the exploration of what makes a progressive, liberal, dissenting / non-conformist spirituality, with these questions, which only scratch the surface of this topic.


“Developing a Dissenting Non-Conformist Spirituality”


1)What are the ways that we mark spirituality?

                     – beauty:

                     – that sense of life:

                     – the moments that you soar, feel good, elation

                     – adherence to rites, rituals, practices


2) What makes a faith a Dissenting one?

                     – is this a negative or positive way of faith?

                     – What are we dissenting from?

                     – do we need to continue dissent today?

                     – Can Dissent be proactive?


3) What makes a faith non-conformist?

                     – is this a negative or positive way of faith?

                     – What is it that we do not want to conform to?

                     – do we need to continue non-conformity today?

                     – Can Non-conformity be proactive?


4) What would be the marks of Dissenting Non-conformist spirituality?

                     – positive marks

                               – emphasis upon individual agency

                               – emphasis upon collective connections

                               – desire for proactive goals

                               – tradition is a wealth of inspiration

                     – negative marks

                               – emphasis upon individualism

                               – emphasis upon personal ego over collective good

                               – comfortable with only reactive response

                               – tradition is to be held on to tightly, as is

                     – paradoxical marks

                               – I ask because this is where my “gut” or my “solar plexus” reacts

                               – there is something about us that is paradoxical

                                         – is it positive

                                         – is it negative




Our readings today come from various sources, primary those that are part of the spiritual milieu that formed Dissent, non-conformity, and unitarian thought. We will hear voices from the ancient Hebrew prophetic tradition, to those who have been disowned by their original faith, to those who come from the various dissenting and non conformist theologies, be their reformed, baptist, or unitarian universalist.


AMOS 8:1–12

This is what the Sovereign YHWH showed me:

a basket of ripe figs.

2 God said, “What do you see, Amos?”

“I basket of ripe figs,” I replied. Then YHWH said to me:

“The time is ripe for my people, Israel. I will no longer tolerate their atrocities.

3 The singers in the Temple will wail that day:

‘So many corpses scattered anywhere. Hush!’ ”

—It is the Sovereign YHWH who speaks.


Listen to this, you who live off of the needy

and oppress the poor of the land,

5 you who say, “If only the New Moon were over

so we could sell our grain,”

and, “When Sabbath is over,

we will sell our wheat

charging higher prices for smaller portions,

thus tilting the scales in our favor.

6 That way, we can buy the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals—

and even make a profit

on the chaff of the wheat!”

 7 —YHWH swears by the Pride of Jacob,

“I will never forget a single thing you have done.”

8 Will not the land tremble because of this,

and all who dwell in it mourn?


Will the land not rise up like the Nile,

rising and sinking like the river of Egypt?

9 “That day—

it is the Sovereign YHWH who speaks—

I will make the sun set at noon,

and darken the earth in broad daylight.

10 I will turn your feasts into funerals

and all your happy songs into dirges. I will have your loins all in sackcloth,

your heads all shaved. I will make the land mourn

as one would mourn for a dead child—

all of this on that bitter day!

11 The time is coming—

it is the Sovereign YHWH who speaks—

when I will send famine on the land:

not a famine of bread or thirst for water,


but a famine of not hearing the words of YHWH.†

12 People will stagger from sea to sea

and wander from north to east

seeking revelation from YHWH,

but will not find it.


Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible (p. 1074). Sheed & Ward. Kindle Edition.


“Spirituality for an Activist Age”

by Adam Bucks and Matthew Fox

from Occupy Spirituality, North Atlantic Books, 2013.


This is about spirituality — a Radical Spirituality for a Radical Generation already known for its courage. Since everything humans engage in and give birth to carries a shadow with it, so this movement too needs a mature and examined spirituality that can support its success and reinforce its authenticity and that can assist it to incarnate its truth with both honesty and effectiveness — in this way we hope to provide some language that allows it to dialogue with other generations and multiple spiritual traditions even while it takes seriously the call to birthing new forms and new expressions of spirituality.


Given today’s crises the world over, we can no longer afford to hide our contemplatives in comfortable monasteries. We need to reunite contemplation and action, we need spiritual activists and, indeed, spiritual warriors on the streets and in all our professions and institutions, who can reinvent them with ecological values and the values of social justice that assure our sustainability as a species, as well as the health and beauty of this planet.


We feel it is important to underscore that the current activist generation — what defines it, and what kinds of dreams it cherishes and gives birth to — does not depend on the success of its current campaign. Its vision is more long-term than that. Revolutions will come and go. Movements will change names and forms. But what is emerging in people’s hearts will continue. Most likely it will continue quietly, in small communities, among friends, mostly unacknowledged by the dominant media. It will continue quietly creating a counterpoint to all the institutions and power structures, eventually moving the centre of life from values that no longer serve to relationships that nourish and celebrate life.


The late Thomas Berry, an eco-prophet of immense stature and a deep student of contemporary science and cosmology, reminds us that “the dark periods of history are the creative periods; for these are the times when new ideas, arts, and institutions can be brought into being at the most basic level.”



“Each seeking faith is seeking light”

words by Brian Wren


Each seeking faith is seeking light,

and light dawns on our seeking,

when clashing tongues combine

to pray that light will shine,

and guide and gather all on earth

in peaceful greeting.


Each seeking faith is seeking truth,

for truth is lived by seeking,

and though our faiths conflict,

no dogma can restrict

the power of truth set free on earth

in honest meeting.


Each loving faith is seeking peace,

and peace is made by seeking

to spin the strands of trust

in patterns free and just,

till every family on earth

is in safe keeping.


Each living faith is seeking life,

and life flows through our seeking

to treasure, feel and show

the heart of what we know.

In every faith the Light, the Life,

is shining, speaking.



“(Ana)Baptist Theologies and the lack thereof…”

by James Wm. McClendon, Jr.

from Systematic Theology, v 1: Ethics, Abingdon Press, 2002.


That there are few baptist theologies of merit will be granted by most observers. One task of the present chapter will be to indicate my predecessors in this work, but that is not a daunting duty. Some have supposed that there are so few because baptists have been in the main poor, and alienated from society, and indeed that may be a partial explanation, for like any science or intellectual discipline, theology presupposes social leisure. Yet on British and American soul some baptists have flourished economically and socially —yet without producing a theological literature proportionate to that of their Reformed or Catholic or Lutheran or Methodist counterparts. In the United States Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) alone has attained cosmopolitan stature — and significantly, his starting point was ethics.



“What is spirituality?”

by Alastair McIntosh & Matt Carmichael

from Spiritual Activism, Green Books, 2016.


How is the sense of spirituality used?


Three definitions would be:

  • The presence of God, Goddess, Allah, Christ, Brahman, etc. in our lives.
  • The inner aspect of reality.
  • That which gives life and, specifically, life as love made manifest.


The first understands the spiritual as the expression of our relationship to a supreme being that may, to varying degrees, be personified. It is the idea that there’s more to life than just our own little egos going about on legs of meat. The spiritual journey explores, seeks and, hopefully, receives revelation surrounding that ‘more’.


In this discussion we are taking it for granted that many different words from many different tradition can be sued to designate ‘God’. This is how mystics usually understand divine realities, but the conventionally religious can be very possessive of their terminology and consider, for example, that Allah does not pertain to God, or that Christ is the only valid path to God.


Our second definition of spirituality draws on the theology of the late Walter Wink, a key figure in spiritual activism. Wink saw the spiritual in structural terms. His works suggests that all things in this world have an outward material face, but also an inner spiritual dynamic that animates them, that brings them to life or implicit meaning. A human being is, yes, flesh and bones and genetic code. But there is also an inner spirituality that finds incarnation through the body. Equally institutions, nations, corporations and even buildings and natural objects can all be considered to have their own spirituality because they embody values and meanings.


It is this with which the activist wrestles.


Our third definition views the human experience of the divine as being centrally about life and love becoming manifest in the world. Gustavo Gutierrez is the Brazilian father of Liberation Theology — a theology, we might say, that liberated theology itself so that it can measure up to the task of liberating humankind. Perhaps like Mahayana Buddhism with its Tibetan Book of Great Liberation, Gutierrez sees that true religion is the practice of settling life free.


Thus his formula:


To liberate = to give life.



“The Armies of Everyday Salvation”

Bob Janis-Dillon


Your weekly blessing:



Three or four women, at least,

have rescued me from the jaws of death.

Maria pulled me from traffic

when I had wandered, garrulous, into Albany.

Emilie cupped my skull in her hands, just above the steps of the altar,

and just before the stone emptied the contents after a faint.

Ellen – of blessed memory – and all the crew

of the seminary soccer team got me to the hospital

that time when I was blood, adrenaline and fear.


Though unnamed, whatever OBGYN

helped me emerge from the darkness

probably deserves a mention, as does my mother,

who, in darkness, brought me forth.


So I know that Soteria and Salus are real, and yet

I would also bow my head

to the saving graces of the everyday.


A woman asked what I was reading, while I was ordering

at the beer stall of the local college league baseball field.

Together, we amiably sallied into the lives

of fictional characters living by the Ganges River.

I parked myself at an empty picnic bench, and recognized nearby

the local trivia king, who a few weeks back,

and with no help from me, had won us both a coupon.

I remembered him – though he seemed at abashed at the honor –

and we were joined by another lonely person

(for I was lonely, or had been)

and together we talked about the starting pitchers

various teams boasted in the nineteen-nineties.

Eventually the conversation petered out,

and we all went our separate directions,

with the shared excuse of food.


It’s little details like this

that summer uses

to bring paradise to life.


And – I say this with the utmost respect –

if we are to be saved,

not just at the final gates,

but in every transitory moment,

don’t we all have a role

in the armies of salvation?



“When I am frightened”

words by Shelley Jackson Denham


When I am frightened, will you reassure me?

When I’m uncertain, will you hold my hand?

Will you be strong for me, sing to me quietly?

Will you share some of your stories with me?

If you will show me compassion, then I may learn to care as you do,

then I may learn to care.


When I am angry, will you still embrace me?

When I am thoughtless, will you understand?

Will you believe in me, stand by me willingly?

Will you share some of your questions with me?

If you will show me acceptance, then I may learn to give as you do,

then I may learn to give.


When I am troubled, will you listen to me?

When I am lonely, will you be my friend?

Will you be there for me, comfort me tenderly?

Will you share some of your feelings with me?

If you will show me commitment, then I may learn to love as you do,

then I may learn to love.



The 1970s through the 1990s the focus of much writing on spirituality and on activism was focused on finding the links between the two, one book from 1981 was titled Inviting the Mystic, Supporting the Prophet. Its use of Spiritual Direction was to assist the activist in their work by enriching their spirit.


The writings of Thomas Merton were in the forefront of this, as were works by Henri Nouwen and others…. All examining the links between various spiritual disciplines and activist work. During this time Liberation Theology was making an impact, as was process theology. In conservative and moderately progressive groups the works of Hauerwas as well as various Mennonite and Swartzenau Brethren authors were gaining support, especially in the use of narrative as a way for defining biblical theological conversation, as well as a way of exploring ethics.


Part of that moderate exploration was trying to make sense of a non creedal theology that has a emphasis on praxis, or action as it defining focus.


Over the past few decades many have been seeing this connection, that is of Spirituality and of social justice & peacemaking activism….. two factors are historically seen: Activists that didn’t have any spiritual grounding tended to disappear, Activists that did have a spiritual grounding remained in the struggle for justice throughout their lives.


It is due to these strains of exploration of many different faith groups that I bring us to today’s  conversation and reflection….


The connection between spiritual development and the focus of this development becomes a deep care of and for the world and all that live upon this planet.




by Rev Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918)


“O God,

we thank Thee for this universe, our great home;

for its vastness and its riches and for the manifoldness of the life which teems upon it and of which we are part.


we praise Thee for the arching sky and the blessed winds, for the driving clouds, and the constellations on high.


we praise Thee for the salt sea and the running water, for the everlasting hills, for the trees, and for the grass under our feet.


We thank thee for our senses by which we can see the splendour of the morning, and hear the jubilant songs of love, and smell the breath of the springtime.


Grant us, we pray Thee,


a heart wide open to all this joy and beauty,

and save our souls from being so steeped in care or so darkened by passion that we pass heedless and unseeing when even the thorn-bush by the wayside is aflame with the glory of God.


Enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all the living things, our little brothers and sisters, to whom Thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us.


We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of humanity with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the Earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail.


May we realise that they live,

not for us alone,

but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life, even as we, and serve Thee in their place better than we in ours.


When our use of this world is over and we make room for others, may we not leave anything ravished by our greed or spoiled by our ignorance,

but may we hand on our common heritage fairer and sweeter through our use of it,

undiminished in fertility and joy,

that so our bodies may return in peace to the great mother who nourished them

and our spirits may round the circle of a perfect life in Thee.”



HYMN SYF 83 (CD SYF 1 / TK 11)

“Just as long as I have breath”

words by Alicia S. Carpenter


Just as long as I have breath,

I must answer, “Yes,” to life;

though with pain I made my way,

still with hope I meet each day.

If they ask what I did well,

tell them I said, “Yes,” to life.


Just as long as vision lasts,

I must answer, “Yes,” to truth;

in my dream and in my dark,

always that elusive spark.

If they ask what I did well,

tell them I said, “Yes,” to truth.


Just as long as my heart beats,

I must answer, “Yes,” to love;

disappointment pierced me through,

still I kept on loving you.

If they ask what I did well,

tell them I said, “Yes,” to love.



words by Cara Heafey (adapted)

Let us go out with joy

Awakened to the treasure within and around us,

To bring transformation, challenge and hope to the world.

And may the abundant blessings of God,

Creative, Reconciling and Compassionate

Be ours today and always,


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