Minister’s Update 27th March

Dear Members and Friends of Godalming Unitarians
I hope this finds you physically well and in reasonable spirits. With the new social distancing measures in place, you remain in my thoughts as we all hunker down to different ways of living and communicating. I’ve tried to be in touch with as many people as possible and it’s heartening to know so many of you are keeping in touch with each other. If you feel in need of support (whether a phone call or practical errand) or can offer support to others – please contact me, or the Chapel trustees via office@unitariangodalming,org.uk
In addition to 1 Sunday service we’ve now had 2 meditation sessions at a distance. Around 20 people have so far signed up for the Wednesday meditations and we’ve had our first virtual prayer circle. I feel encouraged to know that people are uniting in spirit at certain times in the week, lighting candles, meditating and praying for the needs of this community and our world. If you’d like to be part of this please contact Rob on robert.oulton@btinternet.com

It’s been a bit of a learning curve on the tech side, but I’m pleased to say I’ve successfully navigated several online meetings via Zoom and feel ready to offer our first online service this coming Sunday (an adapted version of a service on the Beatitudes.)
Zoom is fairly straight forward and can be accessed via a computer or smart phone, by copying the blue link below into your web browser:
Sheena Gabriel is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Sunday Service
Time: Mar 29, 2020 11:00 AM Greenwich Mean Time
contact: webadmin@unitariangodalming.org.uk for weblink invite
Remember the clocks go forward on Saturday night and if you’ve not accessed Zoom before please allow enough time to get online before the start time!
Below is a link to the service for those who would rather read it through at another time.
 
I’m also offering what I hope will be the first of regular community chats via Zoom on Tuesday 31st March @ 3pm – a chance for anyone who wants to meet-up virtually, to see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices, and share news, joys and concerns. Details as follows:
Sheena Gabriel is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Time of sharing
Time: Mar 31, 2020 03:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time

contact: webadmin@unitariangodalming.org.uk for weblink invite

As I’ve been out for my daily exercise I’ve never felt more thankful for the sunshine, and beauty of the spring flowers. And I’ve been struck by the number of people who now smile and say hello – ready to exchange a few words – even at a keepSmilingdistance. People are finding new ways to reach out in solidarity;

from the thousands who opened their front doors yesterday evening to applaud our brilliant NHS workers, to the children adorning house windows with painted rainbows – signifying promise and hope.
Thank you to all of you who have sent me poems which capture something of this strange new reality we are facing. I sign off with one such poem.
In faith and hope, Sheena

Lockdown – by Br. Richard Hendrick, OFM – 13th March 2020
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
 
But, they say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
you can hear the birds sing again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
the sky is no longer thick with fumes
but blue and grey and clear.
 
They say that in the streets of Assisi
people are singing to each other across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them….
 
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number
so that the elders may have someone to call on….
 
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at neighbours in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality:
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters. To Love.
 

So we prayer and remember that yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
 
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic.
The birds are singing again. The sky is clearing.
Spring is coming and we are always encompassed by Love.
 
Open the windows of your soul
and though you may not be able to touch across the empty square,
Sing.
 
Rev. Sheena Gabriel