Be My Guest – 21/11/21

Opening Music: ‘Gow’s Lament’ by Abby Lorimier, Georgia Morgan Turner, Georgia Dawson

Opening Words: ‘We Bid You Welcome’ by Richard S. Gilbert (adapted)

We bid you welcome, you who come with weary spirit seeking rest.
Who come with troubles that are too much with you. Who come hurt and afraid.

We bid you welcome, you who come with hope in your heart.
Who come with anticipation in your step. Who come proud and joyous.

We bid you welcome, you who are seekers of a new faith.
Who come to probe and explore. Who come to learn.

We bid you welcome, you who enter this space as a homecoming.
Who have found here room for your spirit. Who find in this people a family.

Whoever you are, however you are, wherever you are on your journey,
we bid you welcome. Settle in. Make yourselves at home.

These opening words by Richard S. Gilbert welcome all those who have gathered on Zoom this morning to take part in our Sunday service. Welcome to regular members of the congregation, to friends and visitors with us today – particularly the contingent from Brighton Unitarians who are joining us on a virtual away-day – also those who might be listening to our podcast, or watching on YouTube, at a later date. For those who don’t know me, my name is Jane Blackall, and having been part of the congregation for 22 years I’m Ministry Coordinator here.

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 – a little bit of warmth and comfort on this chilly autumn day, perhaps – maybe a challenging new idea to chew on, or a little spark of inspiration. 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.

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 congregation – 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 but 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.

This morning’s service is titled ‘Be My Guest’. Today we will reflect on hospitality from both sides: what does it mean to be a good host – and a good guest – in an ever-changing world? Might we have to reconsider some of our long-held views on etiquette and what counts as ‘good manners’ in order to give and receive an authentic sense of welcome that meets people where they are? And what does true hospitality look like these days for a church that wants to be welcoming?

Chalice Lighting: ‘What We Need this Day’ by Brian Kiely (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.

In times of darkness we stumble towards the tiny flame.
In times of cold and isolation we seek the warming fire.
In times of repression we reach for the lamp of truth.
In times of loss we pray for the comforting light.
In times of joy we light a candle of celebration.
Spirit of Life and Love, as we kindle this light, help us find what we need this day.

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.

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 loving-kindness, as we move into an extended time of prayer now, based on some words by George Kimmich Beach and the enfleshed collective.

You might first want to adjust your position for comfort, close your eyes, or soften your gaze. There might be a posture that helps you feel more prayerful. Whatever works for you. Do whatever you need to do to get into the right state of body and mind for us to pray together – to be fully present here and now, in this sacred time and space – with ourselves, with each other, and with that which is both within us and beyond us. (pause)

Prayer: based on words by George Kimmich Beach and the enfleshed collective.

Spirit of Life, God of All Love,
in whom we live and move and have our being;
Giver of being and freedom,
thou who touches our lives in unforeseen ways,
who unsettles our ease and upsets our self-satisfactions;
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)

We wait in these moments of stillness to let the hidden processes
of healing and growth do their silent – sacred – work within us,
and to let the quiet work of reconciliation be renewed among us.

Because we know that the ultimate concerns of life —
healing and growth, reconciliation and renewal,
insight and transformation — these cannot be forced,
neither by excess of activity nor by tumult of words, we seek out this stillness.
We seek the quiet—the resting place—of our restless and troubled hearts.

Because we live with mystery, we trust that which is deeper than we know—
that which touches our hearts—which steadies us and rekindles our spirits— which,
finally, in faith, may be named the love that has laid hold upon us, and will not let us go.


When so much of our world is groaning with fatigue and injustice,
we are invited to turn to God and to one another; turn to
the deepest reality we know: the oneness at the heart of all.
We are not meant to carry the struggles of the world alone.
And so, in a spirit of collective embrace this morning,
may we share together in prayer for all that troubles our hearts.

For all of the bodies in suffering – deprived of resources,
withheld from care, or made into targets of violence. Hear our prayers.

For all whose spirits are in despair – those who are facing loss or grief,
those who are isolated, or those struggling to accept their own worth. Hear our prayers.

In a few moments of silence and stillness now, let us call to mind
those sufferings and struggles that weigh heavy on our hearts this day,
and let us hold them gently in the light of love; that larger love that holds all. (pause)

Just as we are not meant to shoulder the world’s pain alone,
we are equally invited to delight with one another in the joy that sustains us.

For the beauty that grows around us and within us, despite everything – we give thanks.
For the gifts of sharing and relationships that transform and sustain us – we give thanks.
For art and music and stories and truths that foster love and connection – we give thanks.
For every source of courage in the face of all that makes us anxious and afraid – we give thanks.

In a few moments of silence and stillness now, let us call to mind
some of the many gifts we have been given in the week just passed,
and inwardly treasure these blessings, be they large or small, with gratitude. (pause)

For your presence within and around us, in our highs and lows,
our hope and our despair, God, we give thanks.
Hear our prayers and deepen our willingness to show up for one another,
sharing in each other’s burdens and working for one another’s protection and care. (pause)

Spirit of Life – God of all Love – as this time of prayer comes to a close,
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: ‘For All That Is Our Life’ sung by Kensington Unitarians (2016)

Time for our first hymn, ‘For All That is Our Life’, sung by our own congregation back in 2016, which means you’ll probably hear a fair amount of shuffling, rustling, and coughing. This hymn in a way is a continuation of our prayers – a song of thanksgiving for the gift of life – in all its mess and complexity. The words will appear on screen so that you can sing along – or you might prefer just to listen – we’ll do our best to make sure you’re all kept muted so nobody will hear you.

For all that is our life we sing our thanks and praise
For all life is a gift which we are called to use
To build the common good and make our own days glad.

For needs which others serve, for services we give,
For work and its rewards, for hours of rest and love:
We come with praise and thanks for all that is our life.

For sorrow we must bear, for failures, pain and loss,
For each new thing we learn, for fearful hours that pass:
We come with praise and thanks for all that is our life.

For all that is our life we sing our thanks and praise
For all life is a gift which we are called to use
To build the common good and make our own days glad.

Reading: ‘Welcome All Souls’ by Tom Owen-Towle (excerpts, adapted) (read by Sonya)

The following piece, by Unitarian Universalist minister Tom Owen-Towle, was written nearly twenty years ago. It’s from his book, ‘Growing a Beloved Community’, which reflects rigorously on how we might put our Unitarian ideals into practice if our congregations are to live up to our aspirations. What is it that we need to do in practice to make our communities little microcosms of the Beloved Community, or the Kingdom of God? How can we truly be the change we want to see in the world? In this excerpt, titled ‘Welcome All Souls’, he reflects on the importance of hospitality in our churches.

The mission of every Unitarian community is to offer an open door to all souls, then to be good hosts, lovingly attending to those who choose to join our household. Outsiders are kindly welcomed and sensitively treated once inside. Extending the hand of fellowship, and steadfast caregiving, comprises the hospitable rhythm of a community of faith. Mature church life begins with hospitality, the most ancient religious rite, hallowed in every tradition – at least in writ, if less successfully in practice. All of us, in one way or another, at one time or another, are the caves in which others find shelter and kinship through the ritual bond of hospitality.

In the First Church of San Diego, we regularly say the following affirmation at the beginning of our services: ‘Welcome, one and all, to our Unitarian Universalist religious community. We welcome you, whoever you are, whatever tradition, gender, race, sexual orientation, or age you represent. In our presence may you walk the ways of truthfulness, service, and holiness. And through all your days and nights in our presence may you experience love.’

On paper this is a pretty solid statement, but on reviewing it recently, I noticed two oversights. First, we left out class, an often ignored category, particularly given the overwhelmingly middle-class make-up of many Unitarian churches. And the phrase “may you walk” assumes that everyone is able-bodied. There are people in almost every congregation who aren’t able to walk.

Clearly, one could ferret out some flaw or another in the well-intentioned welcoming words or mission statements found in any of our liberal churches, and we repeatedly fall short of our ideals. However, our goal remains to become, without growing obsessive, gradually more inclusive – paying sincere attention to who might be left out in our hymn or reading selections, where representation is lacking – or in all the practices of congregational life. Healthy congregations discover new ways to be genuinely expansive, while realising that people are fallible, and our churches will keep missing the mark.

Tom Owen-Towle closes with some excerpts from a membership ceremony in his own church which sum up the essentials of this message to the newcomer: ‘We are happy that you are with us. We gladly share with you in everything that strengthens this congregation. And we stand with you against anything that will injure or weaken it. We believe that membership in our beloved community will enrich and enlarge your life as well as ours. We need your gifts. We offer you ours. Know well that in our membership you are truly accepted to come as you are and to grow who you wish to become.’

Meditation: ‘Blessing for a New Home’ by John O’Donohue

Thank you Sonya. We’ve come to a time of meditation. I’m going to share a blessing by the Irish philosopher-poet John O’Donohue to take us into stillness. It’s titled a ‘Blessing for a New Home’ but I wonder if, this morning, we can think of it as a blessing for our spiritual home – this home we co-create each time we gather together, whether it’s in-person, or online – and a reminder of our aspiration to be truly hospitable here, to build beloved community, and ‘Welcome All Souls’.

These words will be followed by a few minutes of shared stillness during which we’ll have our virtual chalice on screen. The silence will end with a lovely jazzy piece titled ‘After Sunrise’ performed by our music scholar Abby Lorimier on cello, Georgia Morgan Turner on guitar, and Georgia Dawson on French horn. So let’s each do what we need to do to get comfortable – have a wiggle if you need to – or put your feet flat on the floor to ground and steady yourself – maybe close your eyes as we let these words of blessing from John O’Donohue take us into stillness:

May this house shelter your life.
When you come home here,
May all the weight of the world
Fall from your shoulders.

May your heart be tranquil here,
Blessed by peace the world cannot give.

May this home be a lucky place,
Where the graces your life desires
Always find the pathway to your door.

May nothing destructive
Ever cross your threshold.

May this be a safe place
Full of understanding and acceptance,
Where you can be as you are,
Without the need of any mask
Of pretence or image.

May this home be a place of discovery,
Where the possibilities that sleep
In the clay of your soul can emerge
To deepen and refine your vision
For all that is yet to come to birth.

May it be a house of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is never lost
Though the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be great delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.

May you have the eyes to see
That no visitor arrives without a gift
And no guest leaves without a blessing.

Silence: 3 minutes silence accompanied by chalice video

Musical Interlude: ‘After Sunrise’ by Sergio Mendes performed by Abby Lorimier, Georgia Morgan Turner, Georgia Dawson

Reading: ‘The Fine Art of the Good Guest’ by Jeffrey A. Lockwood (read by Harold)

The following reading, by Unitarian Universalist minister Jeffrey Lockwood, comes with a content note for any vegan or vegetarian listeners (or indeed anyone with a delicate constitution). It is a reflection on what it means to be a ‘good guest’ – but remember, this is just one person’s perspective – later in the service we’ll think about some alternative views which bring in other considerations and paint a broader picture of the relationship between host and guest. Jeffrey Lockwood writes:

The most important thing that I’ve learned in traveling to more than twenty countries is the art of being a guest. And I’m a particularly fine visitor at the supper table. I’ve consumed live fish in Inner Mongolia, not-quite-coagulated blood sausage on the Tibetan plateau, shredded pig’s ear in China, grilled lamb fat in Uzbekistan, horse steaks in Kazakhstan, vodka made from fermented mare’s milk in Siberia, vegemite in Australia, goat in Brazil, and snails in France. I don’t have an iron stomach, by any means, but I do have the will to be a virtuous visitor.

We are all visitors—even when we are home. Our time in any relationship or place is ultimately limited. We are passing though; nobody stays forever. How we might act if we consider ourselves guests in the lives of friends and family? Being a good guest is rather simple in principle but occasionally challenging in practice.

One begins by demanding nothing more than the bare elements of life and dignity, which every host is more than delighted to exceed. The good guest then simply allows the other person to be a good host—to share his gifts, to play her music, to tell his stories, to show her places, and to serve his foods. Finally, a guest should cultivate and express genuine gratitude. It need not be effusive or exorbitant, only sincere.

We might also think of ourselves as uninvited, but not unwelcome, guests of the planet. And I think the rules for being a good guest of the world are just the same: Ask little, accept what is offered, and give thanks.

Reflection: ‘Be My Guest’ by Jane Blackall

Once upon a time – it seems to me – there was a ‘one size fits all’ approach to hospitality. You could, at least in principle, consult an etiquette guide which would spell out in fine detail the proper way to conduct yourself as a host or as a guest (in a particular cultural context). And most of us will likely have been brought up with at least an approximate sense of what counts as ‘good manners’ relative to the expectations of the class and culture we grew up in.

In the piece we just heard, Jeffrey Lockwood is pretty clear about what is required of him if he is to be a ‘good guest’, and that’s to ‘ask little, accept what is offered, and give thanks’. He’s making a broader point of course – these are good principles for being ‘a guest of the world’ – but consider his examples of consuming live fish, horse steak, and fermented mare’s milk vodka on his globe-trotting travels. The message is that a virtuous visitor should just eat up and be glad.

By this measure I’d be a very bad guest. I don’t think I could bring myself to eat much on his menu. And in this day and age we might well be concerned to allow for people’s ethical principles – what about the guest who is vegan or vegetarian – who has allergies – or religious constraints? Perhaps if we’re in a place where food is scarce then we might think differently. And if someone has offered you their best, a local delicacy, to honour you, it seems a poor show to turn your nose up at it. But the rules for being a ‘good guest’ are perhaps not as clear-cut as they once seemed. If we reflect on the matter more deeply we might well uncover some conflicting values/priorities which are at stake. What’s the more important consideration: honouring the host’s offering or upholding, say, your vegan principles? Or from the other side, as the host, what’s more important: offering food which is culturally significant to you, or accommodating the guest’s preferences? This sort of balancing act, this back-and-forth of anticipating each other’s needs and preferences, and the values, expectations, boundaries, resources that lie behind them, seems key to hospitality.

In preparing this service I temporarily disappeared down a rabbit-hole of contemporary online articles on ‘how to be a good guest’ and ‘how to be a good host’. In conclusion: it’s complicated. Many of the tips I found were cancelled out by other tips stating more or less the opposite advice somewhere else (for example ‘Guests: take the initiative to make yourself comfortable and state your needs, as hosts can’t read your mind’ vs ‘Guests: don’t ask your hosts to turn the heating up, just put an extra jumper on, rather than risk imposing on your hosts or embarrassing them’). Still, a few common threads emerged, which might be useful principles for us to bear in mind both as individuals and as a congregation attempting to practice hospitality and ‘Welcome All Souls’.

One key aspect of hospitality is sensitivity to the particular needs and preferences of your guests. On a very mundane level this might mean checking about any dietary restrictions they might have, you know, before you serve up the pig’s ears. But there are more subtle things to be aware of too. In Tom Owen-Towle’s reflection, which Sonya read for us earlier, he spoke about the importance of reflecting on aspects of our practice, our norms, our ways of being as a congregation, and being alert to the ways in which we might inadvertently be making people feel unwelcome or excluded. And as the years go by we – if we are paying attention – become aware of more and more ways in which we can do better in this regard. One example: over the last few years I’ve begun to get a bit of insight into issues relating to neurodiversity – that is, issues which affect autistic people, people with ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, highly sensitive people and (depending on how broadly you define it) people with mental health diagnoses and dispositions to anxiety, depression – there’s a lot we need to learn about how different people experience the world differently.

In a way this is stating the obvious but it’s an error to assume that everybody has the same needs and preferences that we do (and if we only offer precisely the sort of hospitality we would want to receive then we’ll likely only be truly welcoming to people who are very much like us – which I don’t think is our intention – it’s like the difference between the ‘golden rule’ and the ‘platinum rule’ – the higher aspiration is surely to treat other people as they would wish to be treated). We could be far more welcoming to a more diverse spectrum of people if we listened to what people in different groups – such as the neurodiverse community – are saying about their needs. Often it seems that small, and easily overlooked, adaptations – such as giving a wider range of options for participation –making available (before the event) detailed and accurate information about what to expect – and allowing people a pass option or an easy exit route – make our gatherings more accessible for all. This is just one example, but one that Tom Owen-Towle wouldn’t have been aware of when he wrote his reflection twenty years ago, so I offer it as a reminder that there is always more to learn, and we shouldn’t rest on our laurels when it comes to offering a truly inclusive welcome.

Another thing that seems important is to be clear about expectations (and then, crucially, stick to any agreements you make, to avoid setting anyone up for anxiety, embarrassment, or resentment).  It’s alright, in fact it’s healthy, for both host and guest to set the limits and boundaries you need. If, as a host, your default assumption is ‘my house, my rules’, it is worth spelling out those rules as best you can, ahead of time, especially if any of them are a bit unexpected or out of the ordinary. Then, your prospective guest knows what they’re in for, and perhaps if they don’t like the sound of it they can choose not to come, or at least they can come prepared. And there’s been a lot more of this sort of explicit spelling-out-of-expectations in the past year or so of pandemic.  As the official Covid-restrictions have come and gone there has been – at least in the circles I move in – a lot of care taken over negotiation of consent around in-person meet-ups to account for everybody’s differing levels of risk-tolerance. If someone invites you over there might be a preliminary check-in: What are our expectations and our boundaries at this moment? Will we be outdoors or indoors? Distanced or not? Masks or no-masks? Hugging or no hugging? Will we all take lateral flow tests? Such considerations are a very real aspect of what it means to be a good host (and guest) in 2021. Which is not to say there’s necessarily a right answer – again, no ‘one size fits all’ – but whatever you decide will rule some people in and some people out. As long as you communicate it clearly – and, crucially, follow through on the agreements you make around these boundaries – then your guests can make informed choices about where they feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. Covid-safety is the obvious example with which to illustrate the idea at this moment in history but there are many more run-of-the-mill areas in which everyone could benefit from such clarity.

And though there’s so much more than we could say about hospitality than I have time for this morning I’ll perhaps just offer one more aspect to consider and that’s the value of give-and-take. Mutuality. Hospitality implies a generosity of spirit that goes both ways. Our meditation, by John O’Donohue, concluded ‘no visitor arrives without a gift and no guest leaves without a blessing’. And spiritual writer Marjorie J. Thompson has also got something to say on the matter. She writes: ‘In offering shelter, nourishment, rest, and enjoyment to our guests, we often discover that they gift us with their presence. The relationship of host and guest is a mutual one; the very root of the word ‘hospitality’, ‘hospes’, means both host and guest.’ She continues: ‘Hospitality entails providing for the need, comfort, and delight of the other with all the openness, respect, freedom, tenderness, and joy that love itself embodies… Hospitality is concerned with the total well-being of the guest. It is a movement to include the guests in the very best of what we ourselves have received and can therefore offer. It is the act of sharing who we are as well as what we have. Thus, hospitality of the heart lies beneath every hospitable act.’ Words by Marjorie J. Thompson.

In today’s complex and ever-changing world, we probably know better, don’t we, than to try and codify the art of being a good host, or good guest, in a simple set of etiquette rules to be followed. There are, perhaps, virtues to which both host and guest might aspire: sensitivity, awareness, caring, generosity, clear communication, gratitude. You might have qualities you’d add to this list. Maybe we can think of it as being more like a dance, in which host and guest might hope to tune in to each other’s needs, carefully communicate their expectations and boundaries, and show generosity of spirit – especially in those moments when they tread on one another’s toes.

And with that image in mind, let’s have our final hymn, recorded by the Unitarian Music Society: ‘Let it Be a Dance’ – feel free to sing (or dance) – or if you want to you can just listen and enjoy.

Hymn: ‘Let It Be a Dance’ sung by the Unitarian Music Society

Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times and the bad times, too, Let it be a dance.

Let a dancing song be heard.
Play the music, say the words,
And fill the sky with sailing birds.
Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance.
Learn to follow, learn to lead,
Feel the rhythm, fill the need
To reap the harvest, plant the seed. Let it be a dance.

Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times and the bad times, too, Let it be a dance.

Everybody turn and spin,
Let your body learn to bend,
And, like a willow with the wind,
Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance.
A child is born, the old must die;
A time for joy, a time to cry.
Take it as it passes by. Let it be a dance.

Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times and the bad times, too, Let it be a dance.

Morning star comes out at night,
Without the dark there is no light.
If nothing’s wrong, then nothing’s right.
Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance. Let it be a dance.
Let the sun shine, let it rain;
Share the laughter, bear the pain,
And round and round we go again. Let it be a dance.

Let it be a dance we do. May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times and the bad times, too, Let it be a dance.


Just a few brief announcements this morning: Thanks to Hannah for co-hosting, Sonya and Harold for our readings, and Abby and the two Georgias for today’s particularly lovely musical offerings.

Don’t forget we’ll have virtual coffee-time after the service, 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 for the first Sunday in advent. Feel free to share the link with your friends.

As ever there are a number of opportunities to connect congregationally in the week ahead: This afternoon there’s a ‘Getting to Know You’ walk setting off from the church at 2.15pm. Carolyn Appleby is leading this walk and if you want to join it’d be good to send her an email, she’d like to have a mobile number for you, but if you just turn up on time it should be fine. Coffee morning 10.30 Tuesday – always excellent conversation – newcomers always welcome. Heart & Soul, our contemplative spiritual gathering – on ‘Good Faith’ – tonight and Friday at 7pm. Even if you’ve not been before it’s never too late to start. The congregation very much has a life beyond Sunday mornings; we encourage you to keep in touch during the week, drop each other a line, let’s look out for each other as best we can, especially while we’re still mostly-online.

We’re still looking for volunteers to be involved in a ‘virtual choir’ singing Christmas Carols to include in our Christmas Eve service. You don’t have to be a brilliant singer! The idea is that this is a fun community singalong. If you want to be involved please get in touch and I’ll send out instructions during the next couple of weeks. All you’ll need to do is video yourself singing a few well-known carols – we’ll send you the words and some guide tracks to sing along to – and then me and Marilisa will put them all together into a composite video. We can coach you! The more the merrier so drop me an email if you want to be a part of this fun community project.

An advance notice: As part of moving towards hybrid in-person services we are going to change our service time from the start of December to a 10.30am start. We are currently planning to hold an in-person Sunday service on Sunday 12th December. This may not be a fully hybrid service, by which I mean we may only manage to offer a passively-streamed experience for those joining in from home, because it doesn’t look like we’re going to have all the necessary technology installed in time. You’ll still be able to view the service on zoom as usual but for this week only you may not be able to fully interact with the candles of joy and concern for example. Apologies for this. We’re doing our best and I sincerely hope we’ll have the full hybrid system up and running early in the New Year so that everyone can participate as equals regardless of where they’re joining us from. That’s hospitality, right! I’ll be looking for a number of helpers to take on stewarding roles that day. Keep an eye out for a special update message towards the end of the month with more details.

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 and get a sense of our gathered community as we close.

Benediction: based on words by Sarah Lammert

The worship of this gathered community is now ended.

Go in peace, embraced by the light and warmth of our gathering.
Go in love, ready again to struggle on.
Go in beauty, shining forth like a lamp for freedom.

And let us share in the ongoing worship of the community in dispersion,
taking what we have found here back out into the world,
and passing it on, for the greater good of all. Amen.

Closing Music: ‘Be Our Guest’ by Abby Lorimier, Georgia Morgan Turner, Georgia Dawson

Rev. Dr. Jane Blackall

21st November 2021