Easter: Still Here – 04/04/21

Opening Music: ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’ performed by the Salwa Quartet (1.33)

Opening Words: ‘An easter as small as a seed’ by Rev. M Barclay (adapted)

Keep your proclamations of grandeur.
Give me an easter as small as a seed.
One that can be planted while it’s still cold outside.
One that can be watered with tears,
and demands time and patience to grow.

I don’t need to know how large it will become,
how long until it blossoms,
or even if it will be pretty.
I only want it to grow roots that dig deep down,
striving for life in the underbelly of the world.

Spare me the cosmic promises of other-worldly escape
and point me to the Sacred possibilities within reach.

Tell me again about how the nutrients born from decay
keep even the saddest places brimming with potential for life.


These opening words by M Barclay set the scene for our Easter Sunday service here on Zoom. Welcome to members of the congregation, to friends and visitors with us ‘live’ today – and also those may be listening to our podcast, or watching this service on YouTube, at a later date. For those who don’t know me, my name is Jane Blackall and – having been part of this church for going-on 22 years – I’m now the Ministry Coordinator for the congregation, also currently your ministry-student-on-placement, as part of my final year of training with Unitarian College.

If you are here for the first time today – we’re especially glad to you have you with us – welcome! I hope you find something of what you need here – a bit of consolation or spiritual uplift perhaps. Please do hang around afterwards for a chat or drop us an email to introduce yourself if you’d like. Or you might think about coming to one of our small-group gatherings during the week as they’re a good way to get to know people more organically and get a rounded sense of the congregation. And if you’re a regular here – thank you for all that you do to welcome all who come each Sunday. Even on Zoom, we have a part to play in co-creating this sacred space, this sense of community. So whoever you are, however you are, know you are welcome in this space, just as you are.

As we always say, feel free to do what you need to do to be comfortable this hour – it’s always lovely to see your faces in the gallery and get a sense of our togetherness as a community – but we know for some it will feel more comfortable to keep your camera mostly-off and that’s fine. Similarly there’ll be opportunities to join in as we go along there’s no compulsion to do so. You can quietly lurk with our blessing – you know how to find us if you want to say hello later.

In this morning’s service we’ll be reflecting on the Easter Story. As Unitarians we will each have our own particular perspective on Easter, indeed our own relationship to the Christian roots of our Unitarian tradition, so hopefully this morning’s service will provide a space to explore what this powerful story means to you, set free from any fixed interpretation of its meaning. I’ve given this service the title – ‘Still Here’ – as, for me, the story speaks of human suffering, and endurance – what comes after what seems like a final defeat, when all seems lost, and we are utterly spent… but we’re still here. So what comes next? Through words, music, and silence, we’ll search for those little seeds of hope that might still remain.

Chalice Lighting: ‘The Old, Old Story’ by Ian W. Riddell (adapted)

I’ll light our chalice now, as we do each Sunday, and at other times when we gather. This simple ritual connects us with Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists the world over, and reminds us of the historic and progressive religious tradition of which this gathering is part.

(carefully take and light chalice – hold it up)

We gather today to remember and relive
the old old story of death defeated by emptiness,
of hope and newness triumphant over fear and separation.

We come, hearts heavy – perhaps – with pain and anxiety,
spirits flattened by exhaustion and apathy,
vision darkened by strife and injustice.

Still, we come seeking – and sharing – connection and love in this place of community.
So may the old, old Easter story of hope and rebirth uplift our hearts
and make us glad in the presence of each other’s love and care.

And may this little chalice flame be to us a symbol of
the light we can hold on to even in life’s darkest hours.

Candles of Joy and Concern:

Each week when we gather together, whether it’s in person at the church in Kensington or here as an online congregation, we share a simple ritual of candles of joy and concern, an opportunity to light a candle and share something that is in our heart with the community. So we’ve got a good few minutes now, for anyone who would like to do so, to light a candle (real or imaginary) and say a few words about what it represents.

When you’re ready to speak, unmute your microphone so we can all hear you, and then re-mute yourself once you’ve finished. If you are going to speak, please be aware of how long you’re speaking for, so that there’s time for others to say something too. Let’s leave a pause between one candle and the next, so we can honour what’s been shared. And don’t worry too much if two people end up speaking at the same time, or there’s a technical hitch of some sort – these things happen on Zoom – please do persevere! At this point it’d be nice, if you can, to switch to gallery view so we can all see everybody.

(candles – thank each person)

I’ve got one more candle here and – as we often do – I’m going to light that candle to represent all those joys and concerns that we might be holding silently in our heart today.

Let’s take a moment now to think of all those joys and concerns we have heard expressed… and let’s hold them – and each other – in compassion and loving-kindness as we move into an extended time of prayer now, based in part on words by the Unitarian Universalist minister Liz Weber. So let’s each do what we need to do to get ourselves into the right state of body and mind for it – maybe shift your position, intentionally adopt a prayerful posture – close your eyes or soften your gaze – whatever helps you get your heart in the right place to be fully present with yourself, each other, and that larger presence which holds us all.

Prayer: based on words by the UU minister Liz Weber

Spirit of Life, God of All Love,
in whom we live and move and have our being.
As we turn our attention to the depths of this life –
the cosmic mystery and wisdom that abides in All-That-Is –
we tune in to your Holy presence within us and amongst us. (pause)

Spirit of Life, help us to be present with all that is our life,
both our deepest sorrows and our greatest joys,
so that we can truly live: engaging fully in our own life and in our community.

Spirit of Community, Help us know how linked we are,
how each one of our cares touches us all.
Help us to ask for support when we are in need,
and offer our support to others when we are able,
so that we may rest in the solace of one another’s love.
Spirit of Love, help us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves,
so that we might fully embody love and resist hatred.

Spirit of Resistance, help us to stick up for what is right,
even when we are tired or afraid.
Help us to dream of the world as it should be
and act to bring that world about.
Help us to find hope each day.

Spirit of Hope, help us through this day and each day.
Help us to be present for all that is our life. (pause)

And, in a quiet time of reflection now, let us look back with kind eyes over the week just passed.
Let us call to mind a few moments, however small they may seem, that brought some sense of uplift, consolation, or even joy. Let us pray inwardly to give thanks for these everyday blessings.
(pause – 30s)

And let us also gently call to mind those moments in the last week that we found hard going.
Times when we felt uneasy, agitated, or disheartened. Times when we made mistakes, perhaps.
Let us pray inwardly for the comfort, compassion, or guidance we need to face those struggles.
(pause – 30s)

And, widening our circle of concern, let us focus our prayers on those people and situations that are concerning us – whether close to home or far away – those who are struggling with physical or emotional pain, with insufficient resources to meet their basic needs, with conflict and cruelty, with oppression and injustice. Let us send loving-kindness wherever it is needed this day.
(pause – 30s)

Spirit of Life, God of all love, we offer up our joys and concerns,
our hopes and fears, our beauty and brokenness,
and call on you for insight, healing, and renewal.

As we look forward now to the coming week,
help us to live well each day and be our best selves;
using our unique gifts in the service of love, justice and peace. Amen.

Hymn: ‘Now the Green Blade Riseth’ (Kensington Unitarians 2018)

Time for our first Easter hymn, ‘Now the Green Blade Riseth’. This version is sung by our own Kensington congregation back in 2018 so please do forgive any rustling or coughing you can hear! The words will appear on screen so that you can sing along – or you might prefer just to listen, it’s rather a lovely hymn with a mournful tune – and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re all muted so nobody will hear you if you do choose to join in. Our hymn will be followed by an extended reflection on the Easter story, written by Kathleen McTigue, and read for us by Antony Bunsee.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again,
like wheat that springeth green

In the grave they laid him, Love by hatred slain,
thinking that never he would wake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again,
like wheat that springeth green

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
he that for three days in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again,
like wheat that springeth green

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Love’s touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again,
like wheat that springeth green

Reading: ‘Easter Resurrection’ by Kathleen McTigue (read by Antony)

The Easter story as told in the Gospel of John revolves around the experience of one person, Mary Magdalene. It’s Mary who gets up before dawn on the day after the Jewish Sabbath and goes alone to visit the tomb. Her beloved teacher has died a horrible death, and it was only by the unexpected generosity of a wealthy man that Jesus was given even the small, late dignity of a real burial place instead of a pauper’s grave. Because of the Sabbath, his body has not been cleaned according to tradition, and Mary set out early with her herbs in order to do the last grieving service. But when she got to the tomb she found that the stone blocking its entrance had already been rolled away, and his body was gone.

It isn’t hard to imagine her despair and anger at being robbed of even this last farewell. She ran to some of Jesus’ other followers with the news, and they came back with her to see for themselves. They probably stood there for a while arguing about what to do, but there was nothing to be done. Who would you complain to when you risked your life even admitting to the authorities that you had known him? Filled with that bitter realisation, they finally left again.

But Mary stayed, alone and weeping; maybe something defiant crept in with her grief that made her brave enough to stay. Then she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned to find someone standing there. “Why are you crying?” he asked. “Who are you looking for?” Thinking he must be the gardener, she said, as carefully as she could, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him and I’ll take care of it. I won’t tell anyone, I’ll just take his body and clean him up so he can rest in peace.” Then Jesus – because of course it was Jesus standing there, and she didn’t recognise him – Jesus just called out her name: “Mary.” And then she knew, and she said back to him, “Rabbi.”

For those of us who believe that Jesus was a human being like us, the idea of his literal resurrection from death is a leap of faith we can’t quite make. We know that when our bodies die, they die. We belong to the earth, and it is comforting and right to know that we dissolve again into that sweetness. But we can believe in Mary’s resurrection. When Mary heard her name called, suddenly her eyes were opened to a new reality. She was called out from the blindness of her grief and despair, and from within herself she found a new way to see and to understand what had happened to her.

I take that Easter story as truth. It points to the moments in every life when something within us is called out, called forth, called to a deeper understanding of our world. Easter raises the question: In this bright opening of the earth, in this turning season when new life is pouring out all around us, what will we bring forth from within ourselves? It’s a time that calls us to open our eyes in a new way, to see not just what we expect to see but perhaps some bright and mysterious truth we could not fathom before, something completely new and unexpected.

We are a troubled tribe, we human beings. The unfolding story of our time on earth is clouded with pain and cruelty, with missed opportunities, unthinkable heedlessness, and indifference. It is also marked by the bright notes of decency, kindness, freedom, and courage. Easter proclaims that we each have a part to play in how the story unfolds, if we are willing to wake up. We listen for what is calling to us, and like Mary, when we hear our name we answer, rising anew to meet the life that will not stop calling our names.

Meditation: ‘Blessing for the Brokenhearted’ by Jan Richardson

Thanks Antony. We’re moving now into a time of quiet meditation. You might like to have a wiggle and rearrange yourself to get as comfortable as you can in your chair (or on your bed) – put your feet flat on the floor to help ground and steady yourself – maybe close your eyes.

There’ll be just a few introductory words to lead us into our time of meditation this morning. It’s a short poem by Jan Richardson titled ‘Blessing for the Brokenhearted’. For me one of the gifts of the Easter story is how it holds a mirror up to all our heartbreak – the pain, the loss, the disappointment, the betrayal, the humiliation, the relentless struggle of living in a world that so often seems stacked against us – and stacked against justice – our human condition. So I reckon this ‘Blessing for the Brokenhearted’ likely speaks to us all, when we reflect on the sufferings we’ve known in life, and perhaps which some of us are feeling this very morning.

These words will take us into a good few minutes of shared stillness, during which we’ll put our chalice-cam up on screen, in case you find it restful to watch the moving flame.

Real treat today with music from Salwa Quartet – that’s our own Abby Lorimier on the cello and her colleagues Ilhem Ben Khalfa and Caroline Heard on violin, and Cameron Howe on viola –playing the first movement of Fanny Hensel’s quartet – something to sink into – 4 ½ minutes.

As we always say these words, these images, this music for meditation are simply an offering. Feel free to use this time to think your own thoughts or meditate in your own way.

Jan Richardson’s short poem opens with a quote form Henry David Thoreau: ‘There is no remedy for love but to love more.’

Let us agree for now that we will not say
the breaking makes us stronger
or that it is better to have this pain
than to have done without this love.

Let us promise we will not tell ourselves
time will heal the wound,
when every day our waking opens it anew.

Perhaps for now it can be enough
to simply marvel at the mystery
of how a heart so broken can go on beating,
as if it were made for precisely this—

as if it knows the only cure for love is more of it,

as if it sees the heart’s sole remedy for breaking is to love still,

as if it trusts that its own persistent pulse
is the rhythm of a blessing
we cannot begin to fathom
but will save us nonetheless.


Silence: 3 minutes silence accompanied by chalice video

Musical Interlude: First movement of Fanny Hensel’s quartet by Salwa Quartet (4.26)

Reading: ‘Holy Saturday: The Practice of Remaining’ (abridged) by Rev. Anna Blaedel

I’ve got an extra reading for you this week – a powerful piece by Anna Blaedel of enfleshed – on the challenging message of Holy Saturday and what they call ‘The Practice of Remaining’.

In the Christian calendar we’re coming to the end of Holy Week, marking Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Of these holy days, Holy Saturday will receive the least attention. It is an awkward day, one without clear rituals. It marks the liminal space between life and death, the ways both life and death are real and present. Holy Saturday calls us to confront the horrors in our internal and external worlds that haunt us. To face how empty and hollowed out we can feel, even when we know the tomb, too, is empty.

Holy Saturday is an uncomfortable day, inviting us to tend to the realities of the world that make us uncomfortable. It remains holy, and calls us to remain in the chaos and confusion of a world, a life, that is overflowing with horror and wonder, both. Loss and gift, both. Beauty and brutality, both. Terror and tenderness, both. Crucifixion and resurrection, both.

On Good Friday, Jesus is crucified by empire, executed by the state. He is tortured by a system hell bent on stoking fear, preserving power, responding to perceived threat with retaliation and retribution. Killed by people unwilling and unable to sit with pain, and discomfort. How tempting it is, for us too, to rush to fix or resolve or numb our pain, pretend away our discomfort, rather than learning to bear with it, and bear witness. How tempting it is, for us too, to rush to healing without remaining in the work of repair, reparation, redemption.

Bearing witness to what is—to the complexity, to the pain and sorrow and despair that is real, to the possibility and healing and glory that is real—is a practice of remaining. Remaining faithful. Remaining with. Resisting either/or narratives of victory or defeat or triumph or despair, and remaining with the both/and realities of suffering and redemption and fear and flourishing.

The call of Holy Saturday is to practice remaining. To remain with pain, bear witness to wounds. These are practices of new life, practices opening new possibilities, practices of resurrection. Redemption is encountered not in victory over death, but through remaining with death in a way that honours both life and loss, gift and grief, fear and wonder. No easy answers. No quick fixes. No superficial platitudes. God meets us in deep, complicated, and messy ways and places.

When we remain, when we practice remaining in and with, bearing witness to the realities of crucifixion in our world, we prepare for and practice resurrection. We remain with the realities of trauma, terror, and pain we’d rather ignore or explain away. We bear witness to a Power that opens possibilities we can barely begin to imagine. We bear witness to a Presence that persists in every season and seasonal shift. We bear witness to a Love that remains—with us, in us, and through us—and remains urgently needed, in and through it all.

Sermon: ‘Still Here’ by Jane Blackall

I invite you to imagine, as best you can, what it might have been like to be a follower of Jesus, one of his inner circle, in the week or so that led up to his death. Being a disciple was a big ask. You’d probably have had to make some serious sacrifices to commit yourself to following him. I can’t help thinking of the hymn we used to sing at my Catholic secondary school: ‘Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family, leave your fishing nets and boats along the shore…’

Something about this itinerant teacher Jesus – his presence, his message, perhaps the promise of something more he seemed to offer – his teachings about the ‘Kingdom of God’, a realm of love and justice that is ‘close at hand’ – this vision drew people to drop everything and follow. A few people, anyway, and as they joined him on the road a kind-of momentum gathered. During the time of Roman rule, when people were under the thumb of Empire, many were crying out for liberation of some sort or another. For hope of a better life than the one they had. And Jesus caught people’s imagination. By Palm Sunday, you’ve got to say, it was looking good. Jesus and his followers entered into Jerusalem – the seat of power – to a rapturous reception. But the hubbub around Jesus didn’t go unnoticed by the authorities. It was a threat to order; a disturbance that might challenge the status quo. Within days Jesus had gone to the temple and chased out the money changers. And the powers-that-be couldn’t let this go unpunished. Jesus was arrested, paraded through the streets, humiliated, and brutally executed by the state.

Imagine being one of Jesus’ followers – someone in his inner circle – as this horror story went down. The crucifixion was meant to put the frighteners on you. So most of his supporters scattered, and went to ground, in fear of the consequences of being associated with him, probably in fear of their own lives – of course they did – most of us would likely have done the same. Just a few stayed to the bitter end and saw him tortured and killed in the most horrific way.

If you were a follower of Jesus that day – his death must have felt like the end of the world. A crushing blow. You’d given up everything to follow him and the hope that he represented. And now he was dead – hope was dead – the future you’d dared to dream of was swept away. Reality, in that moment, must have been unbearable. It was a catastrophe; the end of everything.


The power of the Easter story is, for me, in the way in which it speaks to those moments of devastation in our own lives, and how it speaks to the collective suffering of the human condition. You know that saying ‘we each have our own cross to bear’? Every life has these moments – often not just fleeting moments but long, hard seasons – of suffering, hardship, devastation. OK – most of us are not literally headed for crucifixion – but life seems to have an endless variety of ways to bring us suffering and torment, physical or emotional, at varying degrees of severity. And there’s probably not much to be gained from comparing one person’s suffering with another. When you’re in the midst of pain – when it feels like the end of the world – that is reality for you.

Maybe each of us has a different threshold for what counts as a catastrophe – some of us are more stoic than others – but I doubt many of us have made it this far through life without having some experience of facing an unbearable reality, and losing sight of all hope, at least for a time. ‘End-of-the-world’ moments in my own life include the sudden death of a loved one, 13 years ago, and the loss that came with it of the imagined future that I’d hoped we’d have together; or, on a less personal front, waking up to news that an election had not gone the way I wanted, and feeling a real sense of devastation that we’d lost a chance to collectively choose a path of greater justice and equality; or, one which I guess most of us can relate to, the moment last March when the full implications of the pandemic really started to sink in, that realisation that life-as-we-knew-it would be put on hold for a long, long time (and indeed that things might never be quite the same again). Each of these events, to different degrees of intensity, led to a period of devastating grief and disorientation.

As I shared those personal examples, memories of your own might have come to mind too – ‘end-of-the-world’ moments in your own life, or in the lives of your loved ones – perhaps you’ve known breakdowns in mental or physical health, traumatic relationship break-ups, bereavements, losses of job or home. So many sources of suffering in the run of our everyday lives. No life is untouched by sorrow.


But what happens after the end of the world? When the worst thing imaginable has happened, and then we wake up the next morning anyway, whether we especially want to or not. We’re still here. In an unbearable reality we would never have chosen but which we – somehow – have to live in.

In the immediate aftermath, it might come down to emotional first-aid, self-care, community-care. You might have to spend days, or weeks, or months, just doing whatever it takes to get by. You might need to hunker down, take to your bed, or use every self-soothing technique in the book. You might need to lean heavily on friends and family or wider systems of social support.

Let’s return to the Easter story, though, to see what else we might learn from it, for our darkest times. Because Jesus’ disciples do wake up the next morning, after this end-of-the-world moment of his crucifixion, in a state of utter brokenness. They’re still here, even if he’s gone, and they are faced with the despairing question: ‘what now?’

For Mary Magdalene, the worst thing imaginable has happened, the death of her beloved teacher. So what does she do? Well, first, she hunkers down – she waits in darkness – as she observes the Sabbath. And then, she does what needs to be done. Just puts one foot in front of the other. She sets out to perform the necessary burial rites. There’s still work to be done in the name of love. She shows up for Jesus, devoted to him even in death, even after all hope is – apparently – lost. But when Mary gets to the tomb, she finds the stone has been rolled away, and his body is gone. This is one more blow – just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse – one final indignity. But as Kathleen McTigue says: ‘Mary stayed, alone and weeping; maybe something defiant crept in with her grief that made her brave enough to stay.’ Mary is very much Still Here. Or to use Anna Blaedel’s term – Mary remains – fully present to reality in all its pain and sorrow. Then someone calls her name. And in that moment she recognises that Jesus is Still Here too.

You don’t have to believe that Jesus was resurrected in body, temporarily reanimated after his death, to believe that something of him lived on beyond his brief 30-odd years on Earth.

In the act of waiting, attending, remaining – bearing witness to the grim reality of the situation – a new vision came to Mary. The light, the love, the hope, that Jesus brought to his disciples, lived on. And that light, that love, that hope – so fragile and faltering in that moment – could be passed on. Mary ran to the other disciples and told them what she had seen. And – slowly – they caught on. After Jesus’ death – ‘the end of the world’ – they were still here. So they took whatever tiny bit of light and love and hope they could muster – and they did all they could to nurture it in the world. In the weeks, months, and years that followed (read the book of Acts if you want to know more) the disciples spread out – in the hostile environment of the Roman Empire – and spread the word. They spoke of the ‘Kingdom of God’ – the realm of love and justice – that was still ‘at hand’, despite everything, despite the crushing blow they had suffered, despite ‘the end of the world’. They held fast to that vision of light and love and hope – that possibility of a world transfigured – which slowly spread across the globe, and down the generations, evolving as it went, and taking on different emphasis as it branched into different traditions – including our own Unitarian way.


Perhaps the Easter story – not so much the story of Jesus’ resurrection – but the story of how Mary Magdalene and the disciples found a tiny seed of light and love and hope in their darkest hour – and how they nurtured that tiny seed even in the most inauspicious and hostile conditions – maybe that’s the example we need to look to when the worst happens in our own lives. We hunker down for a bit, we wait in darkness, we really bear witness to the awful reality. Then we wake up again the next morning, and find ourselves still here, and ask ‘what now?’ Are there seeds of light, and love, and hope we can still find, and nurture – no matter how tiny? Are we being called to share these seeds with others? Is there work that’s uniquely ours to do? As Kathleen McTigue said: ‘The unfolding story of our time on earth is clouded with pain and cruelty, with missed opportunities, unthinkable heedlessness, and indifference. It is also marked by the bright notes of decency, kindness, freedom, and courage. Easter proclaims that we each have a part to play in how the story unfolds, if we are willing to wake up.’

Easter, understood this way, doesn’t offers us an extravagant kind of hope. It’s pretty modest, quite humble, compared with most interpretations of the story. But – for me – it feels more real. Within reach. And after the year we’ve had it’d feel all wrong to be exuberantly optimistic. So I’m going to conclude with an echo of the words from M Barclay that opened our service this morning:

‘Keep your proclamations of grandeur.
Give me an easter as small as a seed.
One that can be planted while it’s still cold outside.
One that can be watered with tears,
and demands time and patience to grow…

Spare me the cosmic promises of other-worldly escape
and point me to the Sacred possibilities within reach.

Tell me again about how the nutrients born from decay
keep even the saddest places brimming with potential for life.’

May we each discover, and nurture, those tiny seeds of Easter hope in our own lives. Amen.

Hymn: ‘Give Thanks for Life’ (Unitarian Music Society)

Time for us to sing once again – our second hymn is ‘Give Thanks for Life’ – this time sung by the Unitarian Music Society with a proper church organ and alleluias and everything – the full works! So feel free to join in with singing this uplifting finale with gusto (or as ever you can listen along).

Give thanks for life, the measure of our days,
mortal, we pass through beauty that decays,
yet sing to God our hope, our love, our praise:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Give thanks for those whose lives shone with a light
caught from the Christ-flame, gleaming through the night,
who touched the truth, who burned for what is right:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Give thanks for all, our living and our dead,
thanks for the love by which our life is fed,
a love not changed by time or death or dread:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Give thanks for hope that like a seed of grain
lying in darkness, does its life retain
to rise in glory, growing green again:
Alleluia, Alleluia!


Just a few brief announcements this morning: Thanks to Jeannene for hosting, Antony for reading, and the Salwa Quartet for our lovely music.

As ever there are a number of opportunities to connect congregationally in the week ahead: Coffee morning 10.30 on Tuesday – always lively conversation – newcomers always welcome. Heart & Soul, our contemplative spiritual gathering – on ‘Calling’ – just a couple of spaces tonight and Friday. Even if you’ve not been before it’s never too late to start.

Don’t forget we’ll have virtual coffee-time afterwards, to chat in small groups, if you’d like. If that’s not your thing, as I said at the start of the service, do get in touch via email if you’d like to introduce yourself, as it’s harder to get to know people during online services. And if you can bear it we like to take a group photo after the closing music so stick around. We’ll be back next week on Zoom at 10am. Feel free to share the link with trusted friends. Next week Sarah will be leading the service on the theme of ‘Beauty All Around’ – it’ll be a celebration of beauty in the natural world and also in human creativity – Sarah invites anyone who has photos that relate to that theme to email them to her in the next few days so she can use them for a slide show in the service (if you don’t have her email send them to me and I’ll be sure to pass them on).

We’ve just got our closing words and music now – so I invite you to select gallery view at this point, if you can, so we can all see each other for the benediction and get a sense of our community-and-connectedness as we close.

Benediction: based on words by Elizabeth M. Strong (1 min)

Out of the earth
Rises light,
Rises life,
Rises spring.

May we join with the miracle that is springtime,
and enter into life with lightness and joy.

Out of the spirit
Rises faith,
Rises hope,
Rises love.

May we join with the miracle that is Easter,
and enter into life with hope and love.

And in the days to come, whatever they may bring,
may we indeed give thanks for life – for we are still here –
and each fresh morning brings us another chance
to share our gifts for the greater good of all. Amen.

Closing Music: ‘Give Thanks for Life’ performed by the Salwa Quartet (1.27)

Jane Blackall

4th April 2021