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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

March's Theme: Equality

There must be more equality established in society, or morality will never gain ground, and this virtuous equality will not rest firmly even when founded on a rock, if one-half of mankind be chained to its bottom by fate.

Mary Wollstonecraft

 

We live in a vastly unequal society. Some have more money than they could possibly spend while others are struggling to get by day to day. Perhaps this has always been true. Many societies in the past had such vast differences between the rich and the poor. But that does not excuse it. Today we see the ridiculousness of the inequality. By lunchtime on the 3rd of January the UK's top bosses had made more money than the typical UK worker works all year to make. How can that be justified?

But it is not just economic inequality that plagues our society. We also live in a society where women earn considerably less than men and are disturbingly often subject to sexual violence. Racism still rears its ugly face and Muslims are currently being deliberately targeted by the policies of the President of the United States.

It is easy to condemn all these evils of society while feeling like we're above it all. But the fact is that every one of us is caught up with the human obsession of where we are in the "pecking order." It is a human tendency to constantly worry about whether we're "better" or "worse" than those around us. This stuff is bad for the soul as well as bad for society.

The Way of Jesus (that we strongly emphasise as Unitarians) is to know the sacred worth and dignity of every human person. We need to learn to treat both ourselves and others as children of God, because that is what we are. This is the path of spiritual assurance that removes our anxiety about status. It is out of this deep conviction that we are all children of God that we must work towards a world of paradise where inequality is defeated.

In peace and love,

Stephen

Minister’s Letter

February's Theme: Paradise

 

Expulsion from Eden grows indistinct

in the presence of flowers so blissful,

and with no disrespect to Genesis,

Paradise remains.

Emily Dickinson

 

Hello! I'm back! Although by the time this comes out I'll have been back from my sabbatical for a couple of months, this is the first time I am writing a "Minister's Letter" in the Calendar. I think I have spoken to all members in person by now but it's worth saying again here - hello - it's good to be back with you all again.

Thank you for allowing me this time of rest and study. I'll write next month in more detail about some of the things I got up to on sabbatical. But the main thing I did was write a book (tentatively) called Seeking Paradise: A Unitarian Theology of Mission and Evangelism. I'm not going to try to summarise all of it here! But I will say that my main point is that our purpose as Unitarians, the very reason we do what we do, is to create paradise here on earth, and that we do that by realising, in some strange way, that we already live in paradise.

I think this is what Jesus taught, except he didn't use the word "paradise," the New Testament says he used the Greek word "Basileia" - a word we usually translate as "kingdom." But I think it's worth keeping the word untranslated because it reminds us that this is an idea we can't easily get our heads around. Indeed I think it takes a lifetime of effort to try to understand what Jesus meant by the Basileia.

Our purpose is to seek paradise/Basileia. Unfortunately we all know that this is a challenging task in 2017. The United States of America has a new President in Donald Trump. Now as a general rule it's right that religious groups shouldn't be too caught up in party politics. Our faith is political in the sense that we must seek justice in the world, but churches shouldn't endorse political parties and should recognise that there are legitimate disagreements we can have with each other in a free society.

However there are limits to this in extreme times. One of those extreme times was Germany in the 1920s and 1930s when many churches remained silent on the topic of politics, until it was too late. And this again, I think, is one of those times. I believe Unitarians, Christians, and all good people of faith must now make a very clear stand against Donald Trump. This is a man who incites racism and violence, who demonises Muslims, and who we have heard bragging about sexually assaulting women (this is a crime). This is an American President endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. Not only that he genuinely seems psychologically imbalanced and erratic in his behaviour. There's no way of getting away from this reality. This is not good.

Many Americans, including our sister and brother Unitarian Universalists, will be mobilising resistance in the coming months and years and we must stand with them in solidarity. The Unitarian Universalist Association have released a "Declaration of Conscience" and this is reproduced below. This is not a time for silence. It is a time for action and resistance.

But such action and resistance must be rooted in prayer and contemplation. That's what it means to seek paradise by realising we already live in paradise. It means seeing beauty and love and the spirit all around and letting that beauty and love and spirit guide us in this world. This is our mission, and for me every day it feels more and more important.

In peace and love,

Stephen

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