Opening Prayers


Opening Prayers

In this Sacred Gathering
Rev Ant Howe
 In this sacred gathering may the joyful find space to praise.... 
 May the inquirers feel safe to question..... 
 May the lonely find the touch of a friend...... 
 May the singers be given a tune to sing..... 
 May the lost discover the way..... 
 And may we all experience the touch of the Holy in this hour. Amen. 
 In this sacred gathering may the joyful find space to praise.... 
 May the inquirers feel safe to question..... 
 May the lonely find the touch of a friend...... 
 May the singers be given a tune to sing..... 
 May the lost discover the way..... 
 And may we all experience the touch of the Holy in this hour. Amen. 

General Prayers

Worship is a patchwork quilt
Andrew M Hill
Worship is a patchwork quilt of people of different shapes, different characters, different sizes, different prejudices, different colours, different enthusiasms, different ages, different moods: all arranged, sometimes higgledy-piggledy, sometimes in arranged groups, sometimes half-higgledy and half-arranged, sometimes crazy.
Worship is a patchwork quilt of patchwork people, joined sometimes by one sewer, sometimes by a principal sewer and assistants. Sometimes worship is a quilting bee.
Worship is a patchwork quilt with quilting stitches which are sung, spoken, silent, and felt.
Worship is a patchwork quilt with quilting lines stitched counterpoint to the pattern of the patchwork; quilting lines which are sometimes arranged according to common themes of sorrow and sorry, or delight and dedication - the lines of common worship. Sometimes a special quilting theme is stitched counterpoint - a topical concern, a human condition, a where/why/how? question. Sometimes quilting lines just happen, just emerge unplanned - light in the first hymn found its unseen echo in the last.
Worship is a patchwork quilt to creep under from the cold of solitariness, fear and partialness, and to experience the quilt’s warmth of companionship, wholeness and love. It is to leave the quilt’s warm cosiness for the openness, opportunity and challenge of the wider world in which we live.
Worship is a patchwork quilt - a whole in which the many become one while keeping their individual identities - a patchwork quilt in the vast inter-dependent patchwork of creation.
Patchwork God bless us now.
Peter Teets
With your spirit, guide the efforts of humankind to bring peace and justice to the nations of the earth, and give strength to rulers and all who work to establish peace and justice in the world.
Prosper the activities of those who work to preserve human rights. 
Promote the endeavours of all who work for reconciliation and justice. 
Deliver us from the forces of malice, jealousy and fear. 
Direct us into the ways of understanding, cooperation and mutual respect. 
Bless all peacemakers. 
Sustain all peace keepers. 
Break down all barriers of ignorance, suspicion and fear. 
Build up those things that make for peace, justice and freedom.
Enable us to live with dignity as brothers and sisters united in our diversity and our desire for a world where war itself is but an event only dimly remembered. 
Prayers for Remembrance
Peter Teets
Remember Them
They have lived their lives in service.
They have left their loved ones.
They have secured our freedom.
They have been hated and despised.
They have lost lives in service.
They have been left fragile and broken.
They have maintained our peace.
They have been cheered and honoured.
They are our brothers and sisters.
They are our sons and daughters.
They are our mothers and fathers.
They are not forgotten. 
They will never be forgotten.
They are remembered.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall
Rev Margaret Kirk
We see barriers erected between people of different lands,
We see sheets of steel and towers of concrete called Protection.
We see boundaries policed, 
watch men, women and children running from hunger and persecution,
looking for a gap in the wall………
Something there is that doesn't love a wall…………
We see walls of fear –
Fear of the young, fear of the stranger,
Fear of sexuality that is different, fear of the educated, fear of the poor,
Fear of the Muslim, fear of the Jew – 
Fear upon fear, endless and perpetuating,
And we offer our silent prayer that solid walls of fear will crumble to dust.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall…………
We hear the language of separation,
The jingoistic chant, the racial slur,
words of indifference and dismissal,
words arranged for the purpose of exclusion,
words that sting and taunt, 
words that lie.
Let us find words that ring with love and truthfulness,
that reach out through the emptiness of separation.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall…………
We see the deluded barriers of the mind protecting self,
We see relationships stripped of affection
as one person becomes closed to another.
We see people trapped in misunderstanding,
old hurts re-ignited,
bricks placed higher on the wall,
goodwill and trust suspended.
and we ask for boundaries that are not impenetrable, 
through which light can shine and distance be dissolved.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall………….
And when we need these boundaries for our own well being,
Let us know them for what they are,
Use them wisely and kindly,
Recognising our own vulnerability and that of others – 
So each of us can find the space for retreat and succour,
find that peace that passes all understanding
and be renewed with strength and love
for the task of living life joyfully in communion with all others.
A Humble Haiku
Linda Haggerstone
Dear Poet of Life, 
We offer up this simple haiku 
as a prayer for difficult days, 
when mistakes big and small get the better of us 
and we regret our naughty ways, 
when we struggle to find peace 
and shake our heads at thoughts gone astray. 
A candle burns bright 
welcoming each one alike, 
both shadow and light. 
May we find courage and inspiration 
in these humble words 
to move forward 
and do our best to live 
a more loving and creative life. 
Heavy Baggage
Andrew M Hill
Words of the Muslim Sufi Mystic Jelaluddin Rumi 
“We worship devoutly when we’re with others . . . as minerals in the ground rise inside trees and become a tree, as a plant faces an animal and enters the animal, so a human can put down the heavy body baggage and be light” 
Let us pray
In these few moments 
we put down the heavy baggage of our bodies and allow the pews to share the weight;
in these few moments
we put down the heavy baggage of sole responsibility for others and allow others to share it with us;
in these few moments
we put down the heavy baggage of busy weekday lives and allow weekend laziness to balance the weight;
in these few moments
we put down the heavy baggage of narrow concerns for ourselves, for others and for the world, and with fellow worshippers place them briefly before the one who sees all concerns in perspective.
In these few moments we are light of heavy baggage. 
So may the rest prepare us for the heavy weights ahead. 
Golden Threads
Andrew M Hill
We gather the golden threads of life and weave from them a rich tapestry:
the golden thread of common, everyday human life speckled with small, unidentifiable little decencies;
the golden thread of human pain and human pleasure from which together each human biography is writ;
the golden thread of vision and example set by known and unknown prophets, saviours and good samaritans;
the golden thread of communal sorrow and public despair transformed by Easter resurgence, Passover liberations and the resurrection of crucified human spirits;
the golden thread of broken promises mended, held slaves freed, captive people liberated, exiled friends returned;
the golden thread of hope and life which shines despite social cold, political darkness and autocratic power;
the golden thread of many-spleandoured life – spider, human and lion, fish, plant and toad;
the golden thread of human families when the generations sensitively appreciate their roles and times;  
the golden thread of literature, art and music - Job, Beethoven, Hamlet, Renoir, Burns and ‘Greek Thompson’;
the golden thread of wonder, increased human understanding walking hand in hand with a greater sense of mystery;
the golden thread of human communities loyal to commanding and transforming visions of how things may be 
O God, we thank you that in the texture of our common life, there shines forever this golden thread.
Fond Words
Andrew M Hill
Jan Struther wrote:
Hard words will break no bones:
But more than bones are broken
By the inescapable stones
Of fond words left unspoken.
And so let us pray:
So let us in the quiet of our minds speak fond words:
for those to whom we are close and who are close to us;
for those whose presence is now a memory;
for fond friends and helpful neighbours;
And let us in the quiet of our minds speak fond words for those we too often forget:
for those who are struggling with poverty, with tyranny, or with disasters
for those who seek work, a home, or better health
for those who are discriminated against because of who they are.
And let us in the quiet of our minds try speaking fond words for those for whom we find it difficult to speak fond word:
for those whom we never see but on whom we depend
for those who irritate us because they are only doing their job
for those with whom we are out of sorts
And let us in the quiet of our minds just hope that someone else is speaking fond words:
for those whom we love to hate
for those whom we cannot love and who are unlovely to us
for those whom we have forgotten
Hard words will break no bones:
But more than bones are broken
By the inescapable stones
Of fond words left unspoken.
Each Day
Rev Andy Pakula
With each new day, we are offered another step in life's sacred journey
an invitation to join in the flow of life that streams around us
Today, we may face a barren desert landscape to cross
Parched as our reserves of hope dwindle
Some days, a lush oasis appears
Offering its succulent gifts of joy to delight our hearts
Each day, we arrive, but not to stay
We travel on…
Pilgrims in search of the holy land that glistens in our dreams
Journeying toward a destination that we must seek
And that none ever reach
Spirit of the journey, God of many names
May we step out boldly
Venturing eagerly forward
Accepting all that each mile has to offer
May we know that within the journey itself lies our destination
And that the holy city waits to be discovered in every heart.
The Midst of the Busy City
Andrew M Hill
In the midst of the busy city we find:
a sanctuary
a place of quiet
a place for reflection
So let us pray:
Into the stillness and the quietness of this place come the noises of the city:
A train rumbles through the railway tunnels below, reminds us that people like us are born travellers - but along the way we need places for rest and for refreshment, and also a destination. For rest and for refreshment and for a destination in this special space we are grateful.
An ambulance speeds along the street outside - its blaring siren telling us that therein is a fragile life hastening towards the hospital - reminding us that human life is vulnerable and that rigid independence is not always in our interest. For interdependence with friends and families and for this shared space we are grateful.
A mighty hammering - metal upon metal - echoes through the neighbourhood and rudely interrupts our quietness reminding us that the living city is always changing, always repairing, always rebuilding. For the opportunities which this space provides for repairing and rebuilding our sometimes shattered lives we are grateful.
In the midst of the busy city, in this place of reflection, quiet and sanctuary, we make a prayer of gratitude for its noisy reminders.
A Prayer
Rev Ant Howe
Eternal One, Life-Giver, Father, Mother, Companion, Lover and Friend, 
We come to you in these quiet moments, seeking that which is beyond ourselves. 
We make a sacred space; a time when we can express our hopes and our dreams...... 
For the world: We pray that we would wisely use the precious resources we have been given; that we will be diligent stewards of the earth. 
For the religions of the world: May their be understanding between religions. May we learn to worship in our own way, but to live in peace with those who worship differently. 
For the people of the world: We pray for those whose lives are marred by poverty, lack of food or water. When we hear about these things happening in countries far away, may we never forget that these are our brothers and sisters. May we work to end poverty in among the people of the world. 
For our Unitarian & Free Christian Movement: may we be rightly proud of our past achievements, but be aware that we cannot be complacent. At a time when less people feel the need to worship in traditional churches, may we be a beacon of liberal religion. 
For ourselves: We pray that we our faith will bring us strength; that our faith will give us a love for our fellow men and women. We pray that our faith will be real to us and that it will help us when we are faced with difficult times and tough decisions. 
And finally we pray for those who are ill: those loved ones of ours who need our thoughts and prayers. We name them silently in our hearts.... 
We dedicate our prayers to you God, Divine Unity and we ask these things in your many names. Amen.
Calling Prayer
Andrew Usher
Friends, draw close, and let no-one be a stranger under the 
roof of this place, for we are all of one humanity. 
We come to this quiet place of beauty from many different 
places and with many different thoughts and feelings. Let 
this be a time when we pause together from the busy-ness of 
the world so that the still small voice of calm may speak to 
our hearts and refresh our souls. 
As we gather at this time, remembering both the rain and the 
sun, may we accept the world as it is - nature both 
beneficent and threatening - but may we also strive always 
to make our small part of life less threatening and more 
kindly. Let the love which we find in this place find 
expression also in our daily lives, touching all with whom 
we share this journey. 
The first sentence is adapted from words by Keith Gilley.
Small Moments
Andrew Usher
We have gathered in this Oasis of Peace from many 
places, with many thoughts. We pause together now, to allow 
ourselves to settle into this place at this time, letting the 
cares of the outside world relax their grip. As we take the time 
to reflect on our presence here, let us give thanks for all the 
small moments which make our lives so special. May we recognise 
in those small moments that divine grace which is present at all 
times if only we would be aware of it. 
We acknowledge with regret the moments when we have been less 
than we would wish to be: the moments when we have forgotten the 
divinity within ourselves and within others: the moments when 
life is hard on us, when we cannot face the world, when our 
sorrows seem too much to bear. 
May we have the strength and the courage to affirm that there is 
divinity in these moments too. May our hearts be turned, that we 
might see divine grace working wherever we look, and may that 
recognition lighten our burdens. And where we still cannot see 
that grace, may we be filled with the spirit to bring love, 
grace, compassion and hope ourselves to those places where it is needed. 
May we find peace and renewal in this place, and may we take that 
peace with us, that it may fill the world. 
Inspired by words of Bruce T Marshall
O Source of All Beauty
Yvonne Aburrow
May we see the beauty in the humble and unexpected: 
the patient spider and the wayside flower, 
the daisy and the buttercup; 
the wheeling of silver birds against a leaden sky. 
May we manifest the sacred art of love 
in all our words and deeds, 
and to forgive ourselves and begin again when we fail. 
May we tread gently on the Earth 
who is our holy Mother 
and protect her from harm. 
May we honour the sacred in the everyday: 
a smile, a look, a word; a simple act of kindness; 
a meal shared, or help with mending. 
O Genderless Engenderer
Yvonne Aburrow
Flame of life at the heart of all things 
Holy, holy, holy are your names. 
Your republic of informed hearts is always within us and around us. 
Your mysterious way unfolds before us 
as matter and spirit dance together to create life. 
May the finite tell its stories to the infinite 
and may the infinite nourish the finite 
with everlasting peace. 
May our hearts be open to forgiveness given and received 
and may we move accurately in harmony with all 
and remain present in the now. 
The republic is all and each of us 
reverberating with glory and power 
in infinite space-time. 

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
 Xmas 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. 
Offering Prayer
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 give. 
We are grateful for these gifts, 
And grateful to each other for giving them.
Offering Prayer
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.
Offering Prayer
Peter Teets
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 and compassion.
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. 
Animal Service
Andrew Usher
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.
Anniversary Service
Andrew Usher
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.
Andrew Usher
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 always. 
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 
our pain. 
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
Andrew Usher
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. 
Intercessionary Prayer
Andrew Usher
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.) 
Memorial Service
Andrew Usher
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. 
Andrew Usher
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 Time
Andrew Usher
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...'
Pilgrims' Prayer
Linda Haggerstone
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. 
Beltane Garden
Linda Haggerstone
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
Naomi Linnel
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.
Inner Peace
Naomi Linnel
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.
Night Time
Naomi Linnel
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.