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Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts Open Minds

Wake up! And smell the God. 

Spirituality has one simple purpose: to get us to wake up.

We usually live half-asleep, half-blind, half-dead.

Wake up!

Wake up to the simple truth that there is so much to experience in life.

You are surrounded by so much love and so much beauty.

You are surrounded by so much God.

God is not a man in the sky. God is a way of seeing the world when you're fully awake.

So wake up, open your eyes, and take it all in.

Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts, Open Minds

If God had wanted gay marriage, she would have created love.

And she did.

And so we celebrate that love by offering marriages to all couples.

We are a religion that believes that love makes a marriage.

We are a religion that believes that love makes a church.

God is love.

When we say that, we really meant it.

God doesn't care that much what we believe.

She cares that we love.

And so we do.

Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts, Open Minds

Jesus said love one another. Let's stick to that.

 

Jesus said love one another. 

Love your neighbour. Love your self. Love your God.

What if he actually meant it? What if it's like, that simple?

We love. That's it.

We love our neighbours. We love Muslims. We love gay people. We love atheists. We love immigrants. We love all sorts of people.

And how about we don't make it any more complicated than that? How about we forget about believing impossible things? How about we forget about heaven and hell and rising from the dead and a thousand other things we're supposed to believe? How about we just concentrate on LOVE, and maybe worry about those other things if we have time?

That's what we've decided to do at Bank Street Unitarian Chapel.

We have decided to stick to one commandment: love. And when we get that one right, we'll start worrying about other things.

If you want a religion that cares more about love than doctrine, maybe you could join us.

If you want a religion that is more interested in getting heaven into people than getting people into heaven maybe you could join us.

If you want a religion that keeps things simple, if you want a religion that's committed to the simple idea we should love one another, you're most welcome to join us.

 

 Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts, Open Minds

Minister's Letter

August 2016

 "Come away... and rest a while."

Jesus of Nazareth

"Only that which changes remains true."

Carl Jung

I write this letter, knowing it will be the last one I write for four months. Next month Lynne Readett, our sabbatical minister, will be writing the letter. In a few days I will be off for my sabbatical and I won't see you all again until December!

One of the purposes of a sabbatical is rest and renewal. And that is something we all need. Some of us will be on holiday in these weeks getting that important time away, time to slow down, to do something different. I still get a little frisson of excitement at this time of year with the childhood memory of the long six weeks summer holidays from school. The prospect of all that time to play and do what I wanted was so exciting! I didn't hate school. But I loved the summer holidays. We all need less busy times occasionally. That's the insight at the heart of spiritual practices like the Jewish Sabbath.

My ministry is a great privilege and a pleasure. But it is also stressful and stretching. The work seems endless and I am constantly worrying about you all and where we're going as a community. That's OK, it's the nature of the beast, but ministers are recommended to take sabbaticals because sometimes you need to take a step back if you're not going to burn yourself out.

But my sabbatical will not only be about relaxation. Far from it! I'm very ambitious in wanting to use my time to read a lot of books, and maybe write a few! It will be an intense time of thinking, praying and studying. I can only be a minister because first and foremost I am a Unitarian, a person of faith, a Christian, a lover of God. That is where the energy for my ministry comes from. And in my sabbatical I will be returning to these things to remind myself what they mean. I will be working on my own faith so that I am capable of helping you with yours. I believe I will return a more spiritually-grounded and better minister.

Meanwhile back here at Bank Street it will be a time of change. This is a good thing! You have heard my preaching for eight years and it will be good to hear other perspectives and other ways of doing things. Lynne, who will be taking a good proportion of the services when I'm away, is an experienced and energetic minister. She is also nothing like me! This is good because it will mean you will experience ways of doing things totally different to my ways, and that will offer something I could never do. Unitarianism is all about hearing many different voices, different ways in which the divine speaks to us, and so it's good if it's not all about one voice. I believe this will be an exciting and growing time for Bank Street, as you experience different Sunday services and different ways of doing things.

But I will of course miss you all. It will be strange for me every Sunday morning when I'm not with you and I will be thinking of you. I'll see you on the other side!

In peace and love,

Stephen

Minister's Letter July 2016

"Darkness can't drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate can't drive our hate; only love can do that."

Martin Luther King

I'm writing this letter in the week of the brutal and shocking murder of Jo Cox, MP, as well as the week of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting. Such events shock us beyond words. It's not just that these events were violent, although violence is shocking enough, it's that they were mindlessly, pointlessly, gratuitously violent. These things just don't make any sense.

Violence literally sickens me. Sometimes I just can't get my head around it. Whether with nuclear bombs or knifes the idea that humans deliberately harm each other is completely sick. The idea that humans have created tools (whole industries!) with the sole purpose of harming human flesh is scandalous. It makes me feel sick. I can't bear to think of it.

I've felt pretty emotional all week. But I knew what I wanted to be doing on Sunday. I wanted to be with my people, with you, lighting our chalice and saying the chalice lighting words we have been using all year: "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Because it is. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. And that's what we do. We light the candle. We gather light and love and open our hearts to the Universal Love. In the busyness of chapel life we might forget it - but what we are doing is really important. Sometimes I think it might just be the most important thing in the world. We stand for hope, for love, for light. And in the darkness, we light the candle.

In peace and love,

Stephen

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