Presents or Presence? – 5/12/21

Opening Music: ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ performed by Sandra Smith

Advent Candles: based on words by Megan Visser and Anna Blaedel (adapted)

On this second Sunday in Advent we light two candles.
We light the second candle as a symbol of our longing for peace.
We bring our hope into the world when we practice peace-making.
Our caring community aspires to be a source of freedom from violence and exclusion.
May we become the ones “we have been waiting for”.
Together, may we strive to create a lasting peace.

The Peace of God-With-Us does not come as law and order, or enforcement and control.
Peace cannot be imposed from on high. Peace cannot be commanded.
The Peace of God-With-Us is chaotic, wild, unruly, unpredictable.
The Peace of God-With-Us is collective, liberating us from deadly complicity.
Peace is gestating in darkness; it comes unexpectedly.
Peace invites our expectation, and demands our participation.
Prepare the way, for peace with justice.
May Peace be birthed among, within, and through us, this Advent.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…

Opening Words of Welcome:

These words by Megan Visser and Anna Blaedel – words for the second Sunday in Advent – when we light our Advent candle for peace – these words welcome all who have gathered here on Zoom for our Sunday service. Welcome to regular members of the congregation, to friends and visitors – also those who might be listening to our podcast, or catching up on YouTube, at some time in the future. For those who don’t know me, my name is Jane Blackall, and having been part of the congregation for 22 years I’m now serving here as Ministry Coordinator.

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 this morning – comfort, company, challenge maybe. Please do hang around afterwards for a chat or drop us an email to say hello or ask questions if you’d like. Or you might try coming to one of our small-group gatherings during the week as they’re a good way to get to know people better and get a sense of what it is we’re all about. 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 be in touch later.

This morning’s service is titled ‘Presents or Presence?’ – it works better in writing – at this time of year when there’s usually a lot of palaver around buying and exchanging Christmas presenTS we’re going to take some time today to think about presenCE instead. Presence as a present – the gift of showing up, being there – and there are many different ways to be there for each other – even when circumstances might mean we can’t be in the same room, or city, or country, for now. This is a congregational service featuring a diverse selection of contributions from our very own Liz, Marc, Marianne, Rita, and Maria – so there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming hour.

Chalice Lighting: ‘Community Chalice Lighting’ by Atticus Palmer (adapted)

And now I’ll light our chalice, 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 proudly progressive religious tradition of which this gathering is part.

We call this light before us in faith and hope
that we may always remain a strong community,
being there for one another through life’s ups and downs,
working together to make the world a better place.

When we are grieving or sad,
When we are challenged,
When we need help,
This flame guides us out of the darkness.

When we feel cheerful,
When we celebrate,
When we accomplish a great task,
The chalice reminds us to share our happiness with others.

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 – in the spirit of prayer – 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 to represent all those joys and concerns that we might be holding silently in our heart today, those stories which we don’t feel able to share out loud this morning. Let’s take a moment now to think of all those joys and concerns we have heard expressed… all those little windows into our shared human condition and the life of the world we share… and let’s hold them – and each other – in a spirit of loving-kindness for a moment or two. And let’s take those joys and concerns into an extended time of prayer now.

Prayer: based on words by Carter Smith

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.

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. (short pause)

We seek to know grace, so that we might
honour our interconnectedness this morning,
with each other and those who have gone before us.

When we witness suffering, in ourselves, in our loved ones,
and in the world around us, may we know compassion.

When we are at a loss for words,
when we’re unsure of the path ahead,
may we be guided by this compassion to be witnesses still;
To know and to feel that this human family is broken, in so many ways,
and that it is further wounded with every life lost,
with each estrangement and fracture of relationship,
with each time someone’s inherent worth and dignity is denied.

When we find ourselves exhausted and defeated,
and unsure of where to go, may we keep witnessing,
turning ever further toward your still, small voice. Towards Love.

And, Spirit of Life, remind us too that the experience
of suffering does not close us off from the possibility of joy.

May we know that our interconnectedness is a miracle,
and may it be a refuge for us, felt in the voice of a friend,
the momentary kindness of a stranger, in the touch of a loved one,
in the comforting memories of days spent in good company.

May we remain grateful for the goodness
we’ve witnessed and enacted in the world,
and may the warmth of our lives together hold us in love
as we move into a future that is as uncertain as ever.

Spirit of Life, God of All Love, help us to truly know your presence,
that it may remind us of what is sacred in each precious moment,
even when in our suffering, exhaustion, and brokenness.
And may you teach us that sacred presence too,
that we might know ourselves here and now,
that we may be present for each other,
and for this one wild and precious life we share. (short pause)

And in a good few moments of shared stillness now,
may our hearts speak silently all the prayers of our lives—
our souls’ greatest joys and deepest sorrows, our triumphs and failures,
our regrets and fears, our disappointments and losses, our hopes and dreams.
Let us offer up our deepest reality to the One who holds All. (long 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: ‘Blessed Spirit of My Life’ by the Unitarian Music Society

Our first hymn today is called ‘Blessed Spirit of My Life’, recorded by the Unitarian Music Society, and in a way it’s a continuation of our prayers. The words will appear on screen in a moment for you to sing along – we’ll try to make sure you all stay muted – but if you don’t fancy singing it’s absolutely fine to just listen instead. And after our hymn we’ll hear from our first two contributors – a short story by Liz which sets out our theme (‘PresenTS or PresenCE?’) – and a personal reflection from Maria on some of the different ways we can be present to each other.

Blessed Spirit of my life,
give me strength through stress and strife;
help me live with dignity;
let me know serenity.
Fill me with a vision;
clear my mind of fear and confusion.
When my thoughts flow restlessly,
let peace find a home in me.

Spirit of great mystery,
hear the still, small voice in me.
Help me live my wordless creed
as I comfort those in need.
Fill me with compassion,
be the source of my intuition.
Then when life is done for me,
let love be my legacy.

Short Story: ‘Presents or Presence?’ by Liz Tuckwell

‘Mum, it’s Sam,’ her son’s voice boomed. ‘Just to let you know you’ve got a delivery tomorrow.’
‘What is it?’
Sam laughed. ‘It’s a surprise. Your birthday present, silly. Something you’ll love. Sorry, got to go. We’re going out for dinner. Bye.’
Sam could have checked whether she was going out tomorrow. He probably thought she had no social life. He wasn’t far wrong, she ruefully acknowledged.

The doorbell chimed at nine o’clock the next morning. Her surprise was a dishwasher.

The phone rang again that evening.
‘What do you think of your surprise?’ Sam asked eagerly.
Mary hesitated. ‘It’s very nice,’ she said eventually.
‘It’s top of the range,’ he said. ‘I chose a slim line model especially for you. It’ll save you doing the washing up.’
‘But I don’t mind washing up,’ she wanted to say.
Sam rang off shortly afterwards, clearly disappointed with her reaction. But she hadn’t asked for or wanted a dishwasher.

She discussed this with her friend Erin when she popped around for a cup of tea and a chat.
‘It was very kind and generous of Sam,’ she said.
Erin snorted. ‘Did he ask you if you wanted a dishwasher?’
‘Did you ask him if he could come and see you on your birthday?’
‘No. But I know the answer. He’ll be too busy. He always is.’
‘You need to let him know that you’d much rather see him than an expensive and unwanted present.’
Erin had always been a plain speaker.
‘But he’s got so much on his plate, running his business and looking after his family. I’ll see them at Christmas.’
‘You’re his family too,’ Erin said.
Mary changed the conversation.

On her birthday, Mary told herself she was going to enjoy the day even if she was on her own. She opened her birthday cards, few as they were. Erin had a hospital appointment, but they’d go out the next day.
The doorbell chimed at three o’clock. Mary opened it to see Sam on the doorstep, smiling at her.
‘Sam? Come in.’
Sam laughed. ‘Oh no, Mum. I’m taking you out for afternoon tea. Get your coat on.’
Bewildered, Mary allowed herself to be bundled into a jacket and then into Sam’s car.
‘I wasn’t expecting to see you today,’ she said.
‘I had a phone call from your friend Erin. She gave me a right talking to.’
Mary cringed. ‘I’m sorry about that. She shouldn’t have done that.’
Sam spoke up. ‘Yes, she should. I’m sorry, Mum, I wanted to do something nice for you for your birthday. I just didn’t think about what you’d like.’
‘You don’t have to buy me expensive gifts,’ she told him. ‘Your presence is present enough for me.’
‘I’ll try to remember that in the future,’ he promised.

Reflection: ‘Nurturing a Sense of Presence’ by Maria Petnga-Wallace

I had a masterclass in being present for someone from my mum and her relationship with her mum and dad, my grandparents. My mum was the only one of her ten siblings to leave Belfast during the early 70s and set roots in London. Despite this throughout my childhood and adulthood I felt a deep emotional connection to the family there; in many ways more than family who are based in North London. I’ve recently reflected on why this is. My conclusion – it was the emotional bond and connection that my mum and grandparents continued to carefully nurture over the decades despite their physical separation.

In looking through my Gran’s belongings after her death this July. We found hundreds and hundreds of photos of myself and my two sisters. We were three of over 30 grandchildren but you wouldn’t have guessed so from the mementos. Amongst the photos, were cards, gifts, artwork that we had sent years before. Carefully nurtured in creating a presence of memory despite the distance between us. Now that they’ve stopped I now realise, appreciate and miss the weekly updates from granny Helen, via mum about all the Belfast family updates.

My mum recently arranged for a painting I had done for my grandad, of his beloved local chapel, to be sent over. I remembered his insistence on me doing it despite my average artistic skills. Why didn’t he ask a local painter? As it hung on his office wall every day since the summer of 1991, on reflection, I realised it was another way for him to nurture my presence between our summer visits.

Fast forward to 2021 and my son uses modern methods to nurture presence whilst he’s away from family for the first time a Durham University. He sends photos of the food he’s cooked, the sunset from his halls and tells me to get off Spotify when we’re both on together. Luckily he hasn’t given me a bankrupting Christmas wishlist for expensive hi-tech presents. However he is completely insistent that I’m home, present to see him when he gets back for holidays on December the 11th. Now that I can manage.

Meditation: ‘Presence – Showing Up – Being There’

Thanks Maria and Liz. We’ve got three more reflections to look forward to later in the service. We’ve come now to a time of meditation. I’m going to offer just a few suggestions to take us into our meditation today. This will be followed by a few minutes of shared stillness during which we’ll have our virtual advent wreath on screen. The silence will come to an end with some lovely piano music which was recorded for us this time last year by Sandra Smith. So let’s each do what we need to do to get comfortable – have a wiggle if you need to – perhaps put your feet flat on the floor to help ground and steady yourself – maybe close your eyes. And as I always say, these words, these images, this music, it’s just an offering – feel free to meditate in your own way.

So in this time of meditation I invite you to call to mind experiences of presence in your own life. When has someone else been there for you – showed up for you when you needed them – given you the gift of presence? Maybe someone was physically present, as a companion, during hard times. Maybe they couldn’t be present in person but showed they were there for you in other ways. Maybe they showed solidarity in a moment when you thought you were on your own and isolated. Maybe you’re thinking of a different sort of presence, the feeling that someone’s still around and looking out for us, in a spiritual sense, even if they’re no longer with us. Or perhaps you could call to mind an occasion where you gave the gift of your presence to show care to someone else.

Let us take these special memories of presence into a time of shared silence and stillness now.

Silence: 3 minutes silence

Musical Interlude: ‘Patience’ performed by Sandra Smith

Reflection: ‘An Enduring Gift of Compassion’ by Marianne Harvey

I often tell the story of my Maths teacher who played a profound role in my future when I was 17 years old. He was a young teacher, tall and shy. Like other pupils, I knew nothing of his life, simply because we were not interested, so full of our own egos were we – as one does at 17. Algebra and geometry were a mystery way beyond my brain’s capabilities: I had been struggling all year long and my exam results had suffered. In those days in Belgium, you did not sit national exams and you had to take extra exams called ‘maturity exams’ to confirm that you mastered certain subjects in order to be allowed to go to university.

The hour of reckoning came on a late June morning for 20 pupils in their last year; on the blackboard, looming large and ominous the following words had appeared: “the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of the triangle”. Demonstrate. OH NO!!!! THE CURSE OF PYTHAGORAS!!! I tried to compose myself, bravely spelt the title correctly, underlined it with my ruler, drew a triangle and then my brain disappeared into impenetrable fog. Yes, I didn’t have the foggiest idea.

After what seemed an eternity, students started to put their pens down and leave.

So here I am, alone in the classroom with my teacher towering over the platform in front of the blackboard. He can see my blank page and my distress and addresses me by my name: “’Marianne, this is not difficult, all you need to do is ….” and proceeds to demonstrate the whole tortuous affair on the blackboard. He speaks slowly without turning around and I write down every single shaky word until the page is full. He then turns around, collects my paper and wishes me good luck.

Now you might say this raises questions of ethics but my teacher knew that I had no hope in hell of reaching the so-called required ‘maturity ’in maths by resitting an exam which would have poisoned my whole summer. He also knew that I excelled in other subjects and that I probably would never again need to cross paths with Pythagoras and his hypotenuse.

This man was present at my time of need and his gift had a profound influence on my life without me realising this until I was much older. Many years later, I tried to contact him but heard that he had died young.

By the way, his name was Monsieur Lamy (as in ‘l’ami’ – the friend). I like to think of him as a friend, a travelling companion and imagine his hand reaching for mine when the going gets tough. Through my telling this story, I honour his memory and lend him my voice so that he can continue passing his message of kindness and compassion.

Reflection: ‘Fragments’ by Marc Viera

I was 18 years old when I moved away from home to go to uni. Not only was this before zoom and facetime, this was also before regular people had mobiles and emails. Long distance communication was primarily the landline telephone and the letter. I didn’t know it at the time, but nearly all of the marbled powder-blue letter-writing paper I packed would end up with my best mate Dave.

I would lay on my top bunk most evenings slowly collecting more and more almost legible content before judging there to be enough to justify the postage. What a rush of excitement it was when a reply arrived. I really never knew it was coming, and I could hear his unique voice in the reading. Adding to the delight, he sometimes finished his letters on the back of a bit of bark or a pub coaster. We exchanged interesting bits from our journals, drafts of poems, and little anecdotes filled with experiences and observations that were particularly striking to adolescents morphing toward adulthood.

In addition to our letters, my mate drove up roughly fortnightly to collect me. Driving an hour and a half to get to me, I’d get in his black VW straight away, and we’d head back home. The ride was the best bit: 90 minutes of uninterrupted talking mixed with silence. We had no idea how rare that kind of presence would become, but boy did we enjoy it. Clearly we were seeking and comforted by each other’s company.

I miss his presence: now separated by an ocean… and circumstance. We still write, but the frequency continues to wane with time. But what never fades is the rush of mystery and wonder at the moment a letter from him arrives. I have some of them. Any reasoning behind which were kept is long lost. And while it is hard to imagine there would be any interest in them when I am gone, to me, the box at the bottom of my bedside table is like my own personal little cave at Qumran with fragments of sacred texts carefully preserved within.

Reflection: ‘Presence is so Precious’ by Rita

Leaving the UK in January 2019 due to Brexit was hard. My husband and I were leaving behind family, our beloved Unitarian congregation in Bangor, north Wales, who we had helped to set up in 2008, as well as many friends. I also had to give up my job as a specialist mentor supporting students with mental health problems and students on the autism spectrum at Bangor University. It was a role, although challenging at times, utterly rewarding. I was able to be alongside young people who had a difficult start in life, but determined to achieve their goals, earning their degree and finding a career. I worked with a fantastic team in Bangor, people going the extra mile for students, listening with compassion and empathy to their many problems and concerns and being there for them in difficult times.

When the pandemic hit Europe in spring 2020, we had just been living in Germany for a bit over a year and we had barely started making new friends. Social life came to a standstill. We felt quite isolated here. Then, all of a sudden, congregations in the UK discovered Zoom and offered gatherings for worship remotely. We heard that Jane offered Heart & Soul and decided to join. It has come to mean a lot to us, it is a space to connect, for deep listening, to share and reflect on life’s issues, in a very inclusive and welcoming environment. We reconnected with old friends and met new people who soon became friends too. We have been participating regularly and now refer to the people we meet as our ‘Friday family’.

Inspired by our experience with Heart & Soul, we also made contact with our Bangor Unitarian friends and suggested having a go at offering gatherings for worship using Zoom as a medium. This really took off and generated interest also among friends living further afield, some who were Unitarians, others were Quakers. My husband and I are not the only ones joining from Germany, some of our new friends have joined too and connected with the group. Our treasurer joins from Uganda. The group has grown and is now more vibrant than in the past. Gone are the days when our friends in north Wales were unsure whether they’d be able to ‘keep the show on the road’ in 2018 / 19. Technology enabled us to reconnect. For me this was an unexpected development, a gift, a real blessing. Whereas pre-pandemic Bangor Unitarians were able to offer one gathering for worship per month, as well as an informal ‘House Group’ meeting, we are now in a position to offer two gatherings for worship (one via Zoom, one hybrid), as well as two informal meetings per month.

In the summer of 2020, I heard from a former fellow mentor, that Bangor University was delivering mentoring support remotely due to Covid. I didn’t want to raise my hopes too high, but thought there’d be no harm in asking, if I could perhaps do some remote mentoring for Bangor University. The answer was yes, I could. My colleagues and I (as well as of course the students) had to adapt to the new format. I wondered if this would work, whether I’d be able to build rapport and if the quality of the mentoring relationship would be the same as with my previous students. Now, rather than meeting in a small office space face-to-face, we would connect via a screen from our respective homes. I would encounter students in their living space and sometimes meet their pets. I also soon found that some students felt so anxious that they preferred to switch their camera off, which meant I had to go with their voices. I focused on the tone of their voices and paid close attention to their choice of words when describing their problems.

I felt that my ability to listen and make out nuances increased. I felt as connected as with the students I mentored face-to-face.

Reflecting on my experience of online gatherings for worship, Heart & Soul and my experience of mentoring online, I can say that this format doesn’t prevent me from being fully with someone and listen deeply, nor does it prevent me from feeling fully connected and listened to. Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that “mindfulness is an energy of attention, a capacity to be present one hundred percent to what is happening within and around us”. This kind of presence is so precious. And I feel it is possible online.

Hymn: ‘Life’s Great Gifts’ by Unitarian Music Society

Thank you Rita, Marc, and Marianne for your lovely reflections on ‘Presence’ in all its varied forms. One last chance to sing together now. This hymn, ‘Life’s Great Gifts’, reminds us that in this season of gift-giving the greatest gifts of all aren’t ones we can order off the internet and wrap up with a bow. As always we’ll try to make sure you’re muted so feel free to sing or listen as you’d rather.

Life is the greatest gift of all
The riches on this earth;
Life and its creatures, great and small
Of high and lowly birth:
So treasure it and measure it
With deeds of shining worth.

We are of life, its shining gift,
The measure of all things;
Up from the dust our temples lift,
Our vision soars on wings;
For seed and root, for flower and fruit,
Our grateful spirit sings.

Mind is the brightest gift of all,
Its thought no barrier mars;
Seeking creation’s hidden plan,
Its quest surmounts all bars;
It reins the wind, it chains the storm,
It weighs the outmost stars.

Love is the highest gift of life,
Our glory and our good;
Kindred and friend, husband and wife,
It flows in golden flood;
So, hand in hand, from land to land,
Spread sister-brotherhood.


Quite a few announcements this morning so brace yourselves: Thanks to all our contributors – Liz, Maria, Marianne, Marc, and Rita – extra thanks to Maria for hosting, and to Sandra for our music.

Don’t forget we’ll have virtual coffee-time after the service so you can stay and chat 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 – and in person – at 10.30am. If you’re planning to come along in-person then it would be helpful if you could email to let me know (as it will help us decide how to set out the chairs). Please read and take note of the Covid-safety precautions that we’ve laid out in this week’s email. You’ve probably gathered that setting up to livestream the service is quite a palaver so anything you can do to help things go smoothly on the day (including not turning up too early) would be appreciated. This is a one-off experiment prior to us having all the proper gear to run hybrid services installed in January so bear with us if things look a bit cobbled-together this time. And for those of you who are joining from home via Zoom, your experience shouldn’t be too different from usual, except I’m afraid you won’t be able to join in with joys and concerns this time (we definitely plan to fix this so that everyone can join in as equals once we’re doing this regularly). After the in-person service there will be a ‘Getting to Know You’ walk departing from the church.

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. 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 – send your videos back – 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.

Looking further ahead: I encourage you to sign up for our ‘How to be a Unitarian’ online course that will take place on six Thursday evenings, alternate weeks, starting on the 6th January. The idea of this course is to help people get a sense of our Unitarian tradition and find their place in it. It’s nowhere near as dry as that might sound! This should be particularly valuable for newcomers but I want to encourage long-standing members to sign up too so you can share your wisdom and make connections with others from our own congregation and others around the country. There will be some taught content and some relatively short readings to look at between sessions if you’ve got the time and oomph for it but – despite the tongue-in-cheek title – the heart of the course is personal reflection and group exploration of what it means to be a Unitarian today.

As ever there are a number of opportunities to connect congregationally in the week ahead: Coffee morning 10.30 Tuesday – this week hosted by Liz – newcomers always welcome. Heart & Soul, our contemplative spiritual gathering – ‘Hand Made’ – 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’ve just got our closing words and music now. So I invite you to select gallery view at this point, so we can all see each other and get a sense of our community-and-connectedness as we close.

Closing Words by Gary Kowalski (adapted)

May the blessings of life be upon us and upon this congregation.
May the memories we gather here give us hope for the future.
May the love that we share bring strength and joy to our hearts,
and the peace of this community be with us until we meet again. Amen.

Closing Music: ‘Hills of the North Rejoice’ performed by Sandra Smith

Jane Blackall and Members of the Congregation

5th December 2021