Specific Prayers for particular situations
Rev Dr Linda Hart
Spirit of love and life,
be with us in these moments as we gather to do the business of the day.
May we remember to listen well, and speak clearly,
may we be present to one another here in this time as we are in our worship.
And gathering to do the business of the church, let us always remember its work:
to find the lost,
to mend what is broken,
to offer a word of healing where there is pain and trouble,
to speak into the world a word of hope and of peace
a word of justice into a world so in need
and always to speak an alleluia for life in its glory and grace,
an alleluia for life in its worry and trouble, alleluia for all.
Alleluia and Amen
Andrew M Hill
We look, this Easter, to rise above tombs of unreasonableness:
From the tomb which confines God to supernatural orders
Let God rise respecting nature's universal laws.
From the tomb of literalism and exclusivism and fanaticism
Let rise imagination and inclusiveness and co-operation.
From the tomb where we hear nothing but our own voices' echoes
Let rise voices reasoning together.
From the tomb which chains human minds
Let rise minds which test and quest without resting.
From the tomb of never ending sorrow and despair
Let rise new beginnings and new hope.
From the tomb of conflict and war
Let rise listening, tolerant and participatory government.
From the tomb where after-life claims all life's meaning
Let rise new meanings for this life.
Most reasonable God warm our hearts and may our hearts’ fires be led by reason.
Andrew M Hill
Bethlehem is wherever a baby is born and wonder-filled parents enjoy the moment.
Bethlehem is wherever new lives are birthed and nurtured towards independent being.
Bethlehem is wherever renewed spirit and fresh perspective emerge from out the human shadows.
Bethlehem is wherever human imagination unfolds into stories and sculptures and symphonies.
Bethlehem is wherever seeds of peace and renewal are scattered across fields of waste and war.
Bethlehem is wherever new life sprouts in contexts of death and decay.
Bethlehem is wherever a generation of old life overlaps with a generation of new.
Bethlehem is wherever gifts offered with good faith are accepted with thanks and grace.
Bethlehem is wherever the starry sun rises and ‘rests’ above our homes.
Bethlehem is wherever caring innkeepers find room for the needy of refuge and asylum.
Bethlehem is wherever choirs sing ‘Gloria’ and bands make joyful noises to the Lord.
Bethlehem is wherever some new saviour or some new redeemer quietly slips into the world.
Bethlehem is wherever hope pushing gently comes through smothering blankets of despair.
Bethlehem is wherever and whenever . . .
It was there and then and it is here and now.
Bethlehem is . . .
Rev Dr Linda Hart
Spirit of Love and of Life, we gather here this day to remember,
to remember those
who have touched our lives
by their living and their dying.
Blessed be their lives, and our memories of them.
We stand in the presence of a mystery, that life is, that we know the pleasures of family and friends, that we can celebrate the gentle joys of community and companionship. That we have breath is a mystery, that we live is itself a mystery.
In the presence of these memories, these spirits who still touch our lives, let us open our hearts in thanksgiving. Thankful for their presence in our lives, thankful for the blessing of time that was ours to share with these friends, loved ones, partners, companions. Let us open our hearts
with gratitude for all they have given to us, and let that gratitude spill over the loss that we feel, let it fill that which is left empty within us. Gratitude for all the gifts, living on here in these tokens, in our hearts, in our lives.
Open your heart in thanksgiving for those who still grace your life. Our time is too short to be taken with petty disagreements, and angry divisions. Our time is too short to hold our love within. Open to those around you, for the treasures that they may yield in your life. Open to those around you for the treasures they may find within you, that precious and wondrous spark of life that you embody.
The world is more mystery than not, and we are ever in the presence of gifts beyond measure. In the quiet of our time, may we reach to touch that treasure, that giftedness, and may we return to our lives with a new sense of kindness and care, of gentle love and compassion for those who fill our lives.
Induction of a Minister
Andrew M Hill
I invite you to share a time of reflection, of meditation and of prayer.
I call you to be alone, together.
I call you one by one to the priesthood and the prophethood of all believers,
and together, I call you to the ministry of the whole congregation.
Ministry – it’s not the task of one person especially called by God.
It is the task of many persons called to be together.
Ministry – it’s not the responsibility of one person dispensing grace.
It is the responsibility of many persons caring for each other.
Ministry – it’s not the proclamation of one person crying in the wind.
It is the proclamation of many persons acting together.
Ministry – it’s is not the prophethood of a single lone voice.
It is the prophethood of many voices speaking truth to power.
Ministry – it’s is not the priesthood of one ordained person.
It is the priesthood of a whole community.
Ministry - it is the responsibility of a whole congregtion
helped by someone whom they have specially chosen.
Ministry - it is a whole congregation sharing love
guided by an insightful observer of the human condition.
Ministry - it is a community of justice and love
encouraged by someone brave enough to confront prejudice.
Ministry - it is the priesthood and prophethood of all believers
shared with someone who is a prophet and a priest among them.
Ministry – it is many persons in mutual care
blessed by one person in whom they have particular trust.
Sacred, silent, ministering presence – in, around and among us - we rest awhile in your being as we reflect upon the meaning and the significance of ministry among us.
Gentle ministering presence bless us here together now; and bless this city and bless this nation and bless its many communities of faith and culture; and may wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity be the guidance of our days.
Rev Ant Howe
Out of love,
Out of concern of our Chapel,
And because we take seriously the call to fund its work and its witness,
We are grateful for these gifts,
And grateful to each other for giving them.
Rev Dr Linda Hart
This church is sustained by what we are able to bring to it:
Our time and our energy,
Our love and our resources.
The morning collection will now be gratefully received to support the work of this congregation.
The purpose of this church is to encourage all who gather here to grow more generous
in peace, in spirit and in action. This is the great end of all the world's faith
traditions: to bring the human being closer to the divine by acts of love, creation
We now take an offering that allows us to exercise that all-important generosity of spirit, an offering that will support this church and its ministries. The offering is most gratefully received.
Unitarian General Assembly
Rev Feargus O'Connor
Eternal Spirit, we celebrate the unity and diversity of our Unitarian
General Assembly and the congregations of individuals it joins together
in loving fellowship.
May we guard and cherish always the right of religious free thought won for us by the sacrifices of past generations.
We celebrate the joy of being together, of exploring in community the mystery and wonder of Life, the transient and the eternal.
May we in our diverse Unitarian family gently engage each other's hearts and minds. Wherever we are on our common journey may we see ourselves in others and respond to their needs.
We celebrate the spirit of goodwill shown by all who serve our General Assembly, its congregations, its Districts and its affiliated societies. We celebrate and value the precious ties of fellowship with Unitarians and Universalists worldwide.
May we reach out to people of goodwill the world over who strive for global justice, international peace and the rights and dignity of all.
We celebrate our links with the United Nations Association, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Amnesty International and all organisations bearing witness for human solidarity and the protection of our common human rights worldwide.
May we see ourselves in the faces of all victims of injustice. In a spirit of universal compassion may we show we care by our actions.
Spirit of Life and Love, inspire us by the unfading vision of the peaceable kingdom imagined by Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth and other prophets and sages throughout the ages. We fondly dream of that ideal commonwealth in which all living creatures may dwell in love and peace.
Touch our hearts to struggle, with passion and with invincible hope, to realise that vision here on Earth.
As we gather today, thinking especially of the
myriad forms of life with which we share this world, we
pause in the quietness of wonder.
We think of the immensity and grace of the whale, and the power of the elephant; of the might of the great wild cats and the freedom of the birds; of the usefulness of horse and sheepdog; and of the soothing nature of a purring kitten.
For all these creatures we are grateful, recognising the spark of divine life in each of them.
We give particular thanks for the animals we have known personally - who have proved their worth as working animals, or who have found a place in our hearts as beloved pets.
Let us pause now in the quietness, in our own silent ways paying tribute to the wonder of creation.
Included in Marking the Days.
The spirit that lived in the people who built this place lives on
in their work and in their successors too.
We are inheritors of their tradition of faith and fellowship,
charity and friendship, hope and love; and we gather, today
especially, in memory of their struggles and achievements, with
joy in the present and in our own company, and in hopeful
anticipation of the future that is to be our memorial too.
To our successors and to ourselves we rededicate our lives and
this building, that they may stand tall in years to come as we
stand tall today.
May the spirit of this place enrich all who pass through its
doors and remain in their hearts and ours forever.
Included in Stirrings, 2007.
As we leave this place, we shall extinguish the chalice flame,
and bid farewell to (Name)'s physical body; but we carry her/his
spirit in our hearts. May it continue to shine through us, now
And so, let us pause together, in the fellowship of quietness, as
we allow the wishes of our hearts to make themselves felt.
Let us pray.
We gather today in sadness before the veil which has fallen
between us and (Name) whom we loved. We bare our grief before
that which we hold most holy, and pray for the strength to endure
We remember with gratitude the blessings which (Name) brought to
our lives through her/his love, and we pray for the ability to
share those blessings with others.
We think of those most keenly touched by this loss, and we pray
that they may find consolation in all that (Name)'s life has
meant to them and to others.
We remember particularly those close to (Name) who cannot be here
today, especially ...(as appropriate)... . May they find comfort
in the knowledge that we remember them.
May the words and feelings and remembrances we share in these
quiet moments strengthen us in our sympathy and support for one
another and renew our dedication to the underlying and eternal
realities of kindness and love which give our lives meaning and
partly adapted from words in Celebrating Life
We gather at this time of harvest, to give thanks
for the many blessings we receive, and to acknowledge the
work which has made them possible. So much of our lives is
disconnected from the earth which sustains us, and we pause
now to remember its bounty.
Along with the bounty, life on earth meets much hardship.
At this time of harvest, as the weather turns, we prepare
for the coming winter. We pray for the strength to endure
the coming cold and we give thanks for the food and the fuel
which will help us to survive it.
As we prepare for the future, we remember also the past.
All of us hold in our hearts the memories both of joy and of
sorrow. We give thanks for the happiness we have known, and
we pray that we may survive the hardships of the spirit as
well as of the body. As the winter is made easier by the
harvest stores and the knowledge of the following spring, so
may our spiritual winters be made easier by the memory of
joy and the good things still to come.
So may it be.
Having gathered in this Oasis of Peace: having come
from many places and with many differing thoughts: we pause in
the quiet to reflect on our lives, and to offer to that which we
find most holy our worship and our prayers - our hopes and our
dreams - our confessions - our thanks for the blessings we have
We pray for a better world - more peaceful and more caring, and
we ask for the strength and the courage to do what is needed to
fulfill our dreams. We confess that so often we fall short of
our own ideals, and we remember Jesus' saying that the one who is
without sin should cast the first stone. For all our mistakes,
we pray for forgiveness, and we pray too that we may find it in
our hearts to forgive the mistakes of others.
May we have the power of vision to look past both the specks in
our own eyes and the outward appearance of other people in order
to see that divine spark of life - that of God - which is present
in all human beings.
We pray today particularly for those who are marginalised within
our society - those whose inherent divinity is so often
unrecognised - and for those who live or work in conditions we
ourselves could not accept. For them, and for all people who
find life difficult, we pledge ourselves to the task of helping
to make this world a better place - even if it is simply by a
smile or a welcoming word.
As we pause now in the quietness of our own thoughts, let us
consider both the blessings and the trials of our lives, and
dedicate ourselves to sharing our blessings and to doing what we
can to ease the trials of others.
We pause in the shared good silence ...
(Written on 18 May 2008 for Not For Sale Sunday (18 May) 2008,
the day suggested by CHASTE (Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking
across Europe) to look at the issue of sex (and other)
trafficking and of prostitution more generally.)
We gather today as always from many different places
with many different thoughts and feelings. Let us pause in the
quiet so that our minds may be calmed and our bodies relaxed. We
shall not forget those things which occupy our minds, but rather
let them become peaceful memories which remain a part of us.
We remember with gladness our many joys. We recall ...(amend as
appropriate)... , and other recent events both at our church
and outside it. We give thanks for the blessings of being with
We acknowledge with sadness the many hardships of life. We pray
for the strength to overcome the difficulties which face us, and
for the ability to support our companions through their
We think today particularly of the family and friends of (Name),
and of our own experiences of loss. As the immediate sting of
pain fades, whether fast or slow, to an ongoing ache, may we all
find consolation in the many good memories which remain with us
May we be strengthened in our sympathy and our support for each
other and for all people, and may we renew our dedication to the
underlying and eternal realities of kindness and love which
give our lives meaning and worth.
As we gather in this springtime of marbles and piracies,
hop-scotch and jump-rope, we look forward to the coming
summer - the lengthening of the days, and the warmth of promise.
But we remember also the winter just gone, and the seeming
barrenness of the sleeping earth, and we think too of the seasons
and faces of the past: people and places that have touched our
lives - whether through friendship and support, or simply because
the knowledge of their existence is itself an encouragement.
And in remembering those whose dedication has shaped our lives,
we are aware too of the wider influence we have, as we as
individuals and as community touch the lives of those around
us, through our own initiatives and through the wider causes
which we support.
May our interactions amongst ourselves and with others be infused
with the increasing light, so that those we meet may likewise take
joy in this puddle-wonderful world.
To the sweet spontaneous earth, for all its riches and wonders,
we breathe our thanks, grateful too for the knowledge that,
whatever happens, Spring is with us still.
May its joyous message of awakening lighten our hearts and
enliven our steps throughout the coming seasons.
The images are taken from the poetry of E. E. Cummings: 'in Just- spring' and 'o sweet spontaneous'
Summer is a joyous time.
The promise of spring has been fulfilled in the lengthened
days and the warmth of the sun.
In this time of happiness, it is good to think of the past
winter, and to remember the broken saplings and the trodden
flowers - plants, animals, people who have been taken from
us, always too early. We think too of those whose company
we do not have for other reasons - illness or force of
Let us pause for a while to remember with love our absent
Those we love will live in our hearts forever, and so it is
appropriate also to celebrate, especially in the warmth of
summer which has been so long awaited.
We have much to celebrate in our gatherings - the joining
together of familiar friends and new acquaintances, united
in recognition of our common humanity.
Let us pause once more in the quietness. Not the silence
which is the absence of noise (for there is always noise):
rather, the peace of of a quiet lake; the calm of a child
sleeping; the reassurance of a friend listening.
Let us be quiet together.
Partly adapted from words by Bruce T Marshall and Lionel Blue; written in July 2002 and intended to be followed by the meditation 'I have seen a [parent] at a crib...'
O Spirit of the ages
who transcends all time and space,
we are pilgrims on the path of love,
seeking light and warmth to carry us on our journey.
Like our ancestors before us,
we ask for your strength and your guidance,
your protection and your care,
as we walk along this day.
O Spirit of the ages,
know that our hearts are uplifted
and our burdens are eased by your presence.
For this, we thank you.
May morning sun blesses the day
While I walk amongst the garden blooms
Admiring the Mother's handiwork
Woven on dear nature's loom.
Trees standing tall, branches outstretched,
Limber arms reaching towards the sky,
Leaves of olive, emerald and mauve -
Quiv'ring with the song of life.
Long-stemmed bell flowers, cupped flowers
And broad clusters of flowers aflame,
Blossoming yellow, white, lilac, red,
Grow up from the Earth untamed.
Chickadee and blackbird take turns
To call from the thorny hedge, unseen.
Butterfly brushes the dew away
From grass sharp and brightest green.
May morning sun blesses my day
While I walk amongst the garden blooms
Admiring our Mother's handiwork
Woven on sweet nature's loom.
Peace in the Holy Land
May the cruel winds of Winter
be gentled by the faithful promise of Spring.
May the bitter mantle of ice and snow
be warmed by the green shoots of hope.
May the misery of this war's pain and despair
be overcome by the fragile power of love.
Let us be quiet in our hearts as is
The still cormorant watching from the sunlit rock,
The tranquil sea fret stealing over the water,
The gentle wave caressing the shingle,
The sea campion motionless in her gown of white.
For these are the mute harbingers of a loving God
And the promise of His peace.
May the sea be calm for us,
The little waves sing a soft Goodnight for us,
The stars gently light the darkness for us,
The full moon heavy and low above the shadowy horizon
Unroll her soft gold carpet for us,
So that we may walk quietly into the East of the morning.