Peter Hawkins will be speaking on the relevance of the wisdom of Sufi poets for today at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Queen Square, Bath, on 16 March, 7.30-9.30pm. More information should be available through the BRLSI website.
Meetings for worship at Sarah's home in Marshfield have a special quality. This is partly due to the lovely room in which the meetings are held, offering tranquillity, art and a view into the garden. On Sunday we were considering themes around the new year: looking forward and looking back. Poetry seemed a particularly suitable medium for expressing thoughts and reflections, as the theme was so much bound up with personal memories and perspectives.
We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas service, coordinated by Peter, with the Nativity performed splendidly by the children. A heart-warming occasion that brought the Christmas story to life as we travelled from Bath to Bethlehem.
adapted from Cloth for the Cradle, Wild Goose Worship
In these times of shortened days and long darkness;
In these times of quiet hope and anticipation, we pray.
Open our eyes, Lord,
when they are half-shut because we are tired of looking
Or half-open because we fear to see too much
Or blurred with tears because yesterday and today and tomorrow are filled with the same pain
Or narrowed because we only look at what we want to see.
Open our eyes Lord
To scan the life we lead,
The home we have and the world we inhabit,
And so to see in this season
Among the drear greyness,
Signs of hope, the light that never fails.
Give us a bigger vision of what You can do
With the hopeless cases
And the lost causes.
Show us the world as in Your sight,
Riddled with deceit and despair,
Yet also shot through with possibilities
For redemption and renewal.
And should we fail to distinguish vision from fantasy,
Today, tomorrow, this week, this month,
Open our eyes to one person or one place
Where we, being even for a moment prophetic,
Might discern a holy potential.
And with all this
Open our eyes in looking for God,
On the hills and in the valleys,
In the towns and cities,
Through the corridors of power
And streets of desperation;
To help, to heal,
To confront, to convert.
O come, O come, Immanuel.
The Bath Unitarian Fellowship meets infrequently, only once a month and occasionally not even that. The question was raised after the last service, how do we maintain a sense of spiritual continuity between monthly services. One answer is perhaps to have occasional devotional material from the previous service (or any other source) - prayers, poems, readings - posted here.
This prayer was one of those used at the service on 16 October. It is adapted from a prayer of Andrew Usher.
'We pause together now, to settle into this place at this time and reflect on our presence here.
Let us give thanks for all the moments which make our lives so special.
May we recognise in those moments that divine grace which is present at all times if only we were aware of it.
We acknowledge with regret those moments when we have been less than we would wish to be, and the moments when we have failed to see the divinity within ourselves and within others.
We acknowledge the moments when life seems hard, when our worries, fears and sorrows are difficult to bear.
May we have the strength to seek the divinity in these moments too.
May we might see divine grace working wherever we look, and may that recognition lighten our burdens.
And even when we cannot see that grace, may we still have the faith to offer grace, compassion and hope wherever it is needed. Amen'
The next service will be held on 20 November at Barrow Castle. It will be led by Kay Millard, the theme to be announced.
We gather at Barrow Castle on Sunday 20 December at 10.45 for 11.15.
A kaleidoscope service, we invite you to bring readings, prayers and other contributions to celebrate this happy season.
Our January 2015 service will be on Sunday 18th, at Barrow Castle. 10.45 for 11.15.
We gather at Barrow Castle on Sunday 21 December at 10.45 for 11.15.
The service will be on the theme of “Coming to the Manger” and led by Peter Hawkins. Everybody is invited to bring a reading from one of the original participants at the Bethlehem Stable, or from an imaginary visitor from another time. The children are welcome to dress up as one of the Stable visitors. The service will include the dedication and blessing of Guy Rainer Brown and will be followed by a secret Santa for the children. All are welcome and if you wish bring food for a shared lunch afterwards.
May's service on Joy was a particularly joyous occasion. Sunshine, 7 happy children, seeing old friends again, a picnic afterwards. As a worship leader, and indeed the leader on this occasion, I never know how much of the theme, if any, the children take in. George (aged 7) gave me an answer, with an entirely unprompted drawing. Tim Powell
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