We provide a focus for liberal religious worship and reflection and a centre of fellowship for people of religious sentiment.
|Bury Unitarian Church|
will also be
held on "Zoom" at 2.00 pm on each Sunday afternoon until further notice
and Documented Services will be distributed to congregation members who
are unable to join the zoom meetings
Here is the most recent on-line service
Sunday May 2nd 2021
Beltane: a service-at-home.
We are currently meeting to worship together on Zoom at 11.15 on Sunday mornings. If you would like to join us, we would love to see you. If you would like a link, please just let the minister know.
You can also join us for this service by phone.
If you have a candle, you are invited to bring it with you to light at the beginning of the service.
And after the service, we gather again for tea, coffee, and conversation. We’d love it if you wanted to stay for that. Please know that as you read through this service, others may be doing so too, and that this will help to hold us together in community.
The light is getting stronger and braver. Fires burn brighter, and the sun gets bolder. Let us find our strength, our brightness, and our boldness, as we light lights and greet the sun. Apart in body, we gather in spirit.
Hymn: Wide green world
Wide green world, we know and love you:
clear blue skies that arch above you,
moon-tugged oceans rising, falling,
summer rain and cuckoo calling.
Some wild ancient ferment bore us,
us and all that went before us:
life in desert, forest, mountain,
life in stream and springing fountain.
We know how to mould and tame you,
we have power to mar and maim you.
Show us by your silent growing
that which we should all be knowing:
we are of you, not your master,
we who plan supreme disaster.
If with careless greed we use you
inch by extinct inch we lose you.
May our births and deaths remind us
others still will come behind us.
That they also may enjoy you
we with wisdom will employ you.
That our care may always bless you
teach us we do not possess you.
We are part and parcel of you.
Wide green world, we share and love you.
The Lord’s Prayer:
You are invited to say, or sing, the Lord’s Prayer, knowing that other members of our congregation are saying it along with you, in their own homes.
Reading: May Day
Sara Teasdale 1884-1933
delicate fabric of bird song
small leaves of the maple
I must pass nothing by
how can I be sure
Yesterday, May 1st, was Beltane: May day. It is one of the really important days in the Pagan year – about halfway between the Spring equinox and the Summer Solstice.
If Imbolc, which we talked about in February, is about the very first glimpse of spring, and the Equinox, which we looked at only a few weeks ago is about balance, then Beltane is about those promises starting to come true in ways we can’t ignore.
I’m very sure you’ll have noticed how much more light there is now. Since we marked the equinox, we’ve been averaging around two minutes more light in the evenings, and it’s quite astonishing how quickly that adds up.
And if you’ve been lucky enough to get out somewhere there are trees or flowers in the last few weeks, you’ll have seen those promises coming true there, as well. It only feels like a very few weeks ago that I was getting all excited at the first little signs of buds on trees, and that we were remarking on the first snowdrops, and now the trees are heavy with their outrageously pretty blossom: I’ve been particularly aware of the loveliness of one particular tree in the church garden: most of you will remember that it was attacked a couple of years ago and we were worried about it. But it’s healing itself, and it is showing us its glorious blossom right now.
I always feel that Beltane is the time where we can stop looking for signs of spring, and start revelling in the fact that it is being flung in our faces. May is bringing forth its flowers, even if it hasn’t fully thrown off the March winds and the April showers. We’re no longer heading out of winter and into spring, we are galloping from spring into summer. Promises are being fulfilled and confidence is being restored.
There are many traditional ways to mark Beltane, and we can indulge in some of them even though we’re technically a day late. Some probably aren’t practical for most of us: spending the night in the woods and washing your face in morning dew is probably beyond the commitment of most of us. As a child, I loved doing maypole dancing. That’s impractical for most of us, but it springs from a simpler tradition of blessing a tree by adorning it with ribbons. And even that can be simplified further: you may find you could go and spend some time with a tree you particularly love. Touch it, notice all its different parts, and admire it. Even talk to it. Even hug it.
Do something with flowers. Wear them, draw them, find out the name of some new ones, plant some seeds.
Create something. Beltane is all about fertility and creation, and fertility and creation are huge fields.
Light fires. Beltane is a fire festival. Your fire might be a candle, or it might be a bonfire.
Even if none of these appeal I really do encourage you to do one thing to mark Beltane, and that’s just to acknowledge it. If you get to go into the garden, or even to an open window, just take a moment to look for signs that all those promises are being made real. That the light is winning. That the year is continuing its unstoppable cycle.
Summer is definitely coming in, and I send you bright blessings.
Let us join together in a time of prayer and reflection.
Let us praise the earth itself, and be grateful for gifts of seeds springing forth, grass growing green, wind blowing gently, rivers flowing, and sun shining gently down on us.
Let us know the blessings of the warmth of the sun’s embrace, the gentle breeze, the rhythm of seasons.
Let us offer thanks for these blessings, as they become more and more apparent, and as we, once again, become more and more confident in them.
Creative spirit, let us hear your voice in these great blessings. Let us see your creativity in all of these, and let us see your love and generosity in sharing it.
It is beautiful to think that we can glimpse you in all of creation, that your will to be seen and found and known is made clear to us in these ways.
Let us open our eyes as we walk through this world. Let us feel the wind and the sunshine, and see the majesty of creation unfolding before us.
And let us feel creation’s fire in our hearts and our souls, and let us pledge to honour it.
Hymn: Wonders still the world shall witness
Wonders still the world shall witness
Never known in days of old,
Never dreamed by ancient sages,
Howsoever free and bold.
Sons and daughters shall inherit
Wondrous arts to us unknown,
When the dawn of peace its splendour
Over all the world has thrown.
They shall rule with winged freedom
Worlds of health and human good,
Worlds of commerce, worlds of science,
All made one and understood.
They shall know a world transfigured,
Which our eyes but dimly see;
They shall make its towns and woodlands
Beautiful from sea to sea.
For a spirit then shall move them
We but vaguely apprehend —
Aims magnificent and holy,
Making joy and labour friend.
Then shall bloom in song and fragrance
Harmony of thought and deed,
Fruits of peace and love and justice —
Where today we plant the seed.
We blow out our candles, but the light that shone from them is not extinguished. Let us know ourselves sources of light as we move through our lives. And let us know ourselves joined in community still.
Bury Unitarian Church
0161 761 3785
|Back to top|
Charity Registration No. 1078570