Online Service – 29th March 2020

This on-line service has been written by Reverend Sue Woolley, the Midland Unitarian Association District Minister.

Prelude I will be starting the service by playing some quiet, reflective music, at 11.00 am on Sunday morning, to centre me and prepare me for this time of virtual worship. You may wish to do the same.

 Opening Words

 In this time of insecurity and social upheaval, When we are unable to meet in person, I invite you into this time of online worship.

For this one hour, Let us put our worldly cares aside, Close our eyes and imagine ourselves To be in our places of worship,

Surrounded by members of our beloved community, And be together, if only virtually, For this one hour.

Chalice Lighting (you may wish to light a candle in your own home at this point.) Words by Martin Whitell, shared with permission.

As I light this personal chalice flame, I am grateful that I am not alone.  I remember with affection those who are doing the same and I look back with happy memories of the countless times I have observed it before.  What a privilege it is to belong to a faith which unites people and see the divine in many ways.  During the coming days may I keep our values of care, kindness and hope burning strong no matter how difficult things become.  One thing is certain, the time will return when I can meet again with those I love and care for and then I will appreciate the meaning and strength of this ritual more than ever.

Opening Prayer

 Spirit of Life and Love, Be with us as we gather for worship, Each in their own place.

Help us to feel a sense of community, Even though we are physically apart.

Help us to care for each other, In this difficult time, Keeping in touch however we can, And helping each other, However we may.

We hold in our hearts all those Whose lives have been touched, In whatever way, By the coronavirus and the fall-out from it. Amen

Reading from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?  And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.  Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.  Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.  Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.  Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.  Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.  For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.  And stand together yet not too near together:  For the pillars of the temple stand apart,  And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Alternative Lord’s Prayer

 Spirit of Life and Love, here and everywhere, May we be aware of your presence in our lives.  May our world be blessed.  May our daily needs be met,  And may our shortcomings be forgiven,  As we forgive those of others.

Give us the strength to resist wrong-doing,  The inspiration and guidance to do right,  And the wisdom to know the difference.

We are your hands in the world; help us to grow.  May we have compassion for all living beings,  And receive whatever life brings,  With courage and trust.  Amen

Reading from the First Letter of John, Chapter 4

Let us love one another, because love is from God. Whoever does not love God does not know God, for God is love. No-one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us.  God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them. There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.  Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers and sisters are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  No-one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us.