The Wonder of You

Entrance music – Selection of reflective music

Opening video: The size of the Universe:

Opening words

The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself; the most important you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Some words there from the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle. 


So, good morning, to you all. As has become almost habitual in each of these services you entrust me with leading, I’d like to start by extending to you all, the very warmest of welcomes as we gather here this Sunday. Welcome to those familiar faces, and to those new faces, and to those who cannot be with us here this morning but are with us in our thoughts. Welcome to your feelings of happiness and hope. Welcome to your worries, concerns, and anxieties. No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you believe, no matter what you don’t believe, no matter what accompanies you this morning: you are welcome. You are welcome in this space. This space of reflection and contemplation. This space of humility and vulnerability.

As you walked through the doors this morning, you entered a sanctuary. A sanctuary where you are safe to be yourself. A sanctuary where, no matter what joys, sorrows or concerns you brought with you, the warmth of our welcome remains constant.

Chalice lighting

As is customary to our denomination of Unitarianism, I would like to light the flame of our chalice, the symbol of our movement.

As we light our chalice, may its light remind us of our place in the whole of creation. May we look upon its light and be reminded of the Sun. May we remember that, unlike those who came before us many centuries ago, our home, our planet, is not the centre of all that exists. May we remember that each and every one of us is part of something far greater and more magnificent then we could ever hope to imagine. May we remember to treat our home and our existence with the dignity and respect it so rightfully deserves.


Moment of mindfulness

So, here we are again. The end of another week. You made it. This week may have been one that you relished, one that you embraced and tackled head on. Or it may have been one that you survived. If that is the case, then I’d like you to know that no matter challenges you’re experiencing, you are now one week closer to the resolution, and whatever feelings of pain and sorrow you are feeling, have crossed off one more day on the countdown to them checking out of your life. Whatever feelings you have this morning, this space is safe for you.

In what has almost become another tradition of our time together, I’d like to invite you to just take a moment to sit in your chair and relax. Take a deep breath and notice the movement of your chest as you inhale, and then gently exhale. Focus on the sensations of your body, starting from your head and your neck, and working slowly down through your chest and out to your arms, through your elbows and wrists to the very tips of your fingers. Focus on each and every sensation you feel; move back along your arms and further down your body and into your legs, right down to the tips of your toes. As you do this, take note of how your body feels. It might be energised; it might be tired; it might be relaxed; it might just simply…be. Take 30 seconds to be still.

30 seconds of quiet.

And, in your own time, I’d like you to bring yourself back into the room.

I would like to invite you to listen to, or join in with if you wish, our first hymn of the day.

Hymn 1 – Purple Book 142 Shining Through The Universe

Introduction to the service

So, those of you with a keen eye for detail may have sensed a theme running through this morning’s service already, what with that remarkable video at the beginning, showing the true scale of the universe, my opening words, and our first hymn. And, yes, I must admit that this morning’s service is heavily inspired by space.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by space. I love everything to do with it. From watching Brian Cox documentaries, where I lose myself trying to contemplate the vastness of the cosmos, to enjoying works of science-fiction, whether in the form of films, video games or novels. There’s something about space that has always intrigued me. I remember as a boy, looking up at the moon and trying my hardest to make out the Apollo landing sites. Alas, to no avail. 

I think space has always provided me an anchor with which to ground myself. Whenever I feel lost, stressed, worried or angry about something, I simply have to look up to the sky on a clear night, and remember that in the vastness of the universe, my problems don’t really matter.

And that was going to be the original theme of this morning’s service. I was going to talk to you all about how no matter what problems you’re facing, they all vanish into insignificance against the backdrop of a potentially infinite universe. And yes, while that sometimes provides me with a bit of comfort, it’s feels quite nihilistic. If the universe is so large, why should anything matter?

But the truth is, of course things matter. Thinking about what lies out there, millions of lightyears away doesn’t change our experiences here and now. It doesn’t change the way we feel about things. It doesn’t take away any of the worries or concerns we may have in our day-to-day lives.

So instead, rather than seeing the vastness of the cosmos as a source of comfort, I’d like to explore it as a cause for celebration. I want to talk about you.

But before I do, let me read you a story: 


The lot was filled with weeds, rocks, and broken glass. More than a few people had dumped their trash in the old, abandoned lot. To make matters worse, a dilapidated house sat right in the middle of the grounds. The windows had been broken out years ago. Rumour had it that the house was filled with rats and mice and other creepy things. People went out of their way to avoid this spot. It was hopeless. The only thing that could fix this lot was a bulldozer.

One beautiful spring morning, a lady known as “The Gardener” walked by the old lot. The weeds were now waist high, and flies were buzzing around the trash. The poor house looked sadder than it ever had. The woman paused, then began to walk around the outside of the lot. A few of the townsfolk watched as she took down several pages of notes, then quickly walked away. The Gardner had seen enough.

Word spread quickly throughout the town that the woman was going to demand the city clean up the lot, bulldoze the house to the ground, and plou it under. Why, how could anyone be upset with her? After all, the lot gave the whole town a bad reputation. It didn’t matter if it would be very costly to clean it up, the city would just have to find the money. “It just wasn’t right having an eyesore like that in our town,” the people would say. “Someone had to do something!”

Several days later the Gardener walked into City Hall. The clerk behind the desk braced himself for a fight. The clerk knew the city didn’t have the money that it would take to clean up the lot.

The Gardener walked up to the desk, pulled out her notes and said something the clerk would never forget. She asked, “How much is the abandoned house and lot at 371 Beacon street? I’d like to buy it.”

The rumours going through the town couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Gardener didn’t want to destroy the lot, she wanted to buy it.

The clerk found the few records there were for the property and looked carefully at them. “There are a lot of back taxes due. It would be quite costly to buy it, let alone the expense to clean it up.”

“Never you mind that, is the property for sale or not?” the Gardener replied.

The Clerk scratched his head. “Yes Ma’am, the lot is for sale.” Hearing that, the Gardener bought the worthless eyesore right then and there.

All summer long, she and her husband worked extra hard. They cleared weeds, removed trash, and made major repairs to the house. Then, they trimmed the trees and bushes, and planted many kinds of beautiful flowers. They even added a cobblestone walkway leading up to the front door. Out back, behind the house, they added a small pond with a fountain. The lot that was once such an eyesore had now become a beautiful showplace. Love, time and a little work had transformed the lot. Now, people went out of their way just to walk by and take a look at the beautiful view of the property.

I picked this story because I really like what it represents. Every single one of us has the potential to be something truly special. Whether it’s other people who can’t see it or indeed, ourselves. All we need, sometimes, is love, time and a little work.

Let’s sing our next hymn.

Hymn 2 – P139 Sacred the Body


Think back to our video at the start of this morning’s service. Think about how vast and immeasurable the cosmos is. Think about the fact that, from Earth, we can see up to approximately 46 billion lightyears away. That means it takes light 46 billion years to reach the furthest part of the universe to get to us here, on Earth. That’s 540 sextillion miles (54 followed by 22 zeros – 540000000000000000000000). Or, another way, quite a long way away. And think about the fact that’s only what current technology allows us to see. Scientists don’t really know how big the universe is.

Think about the fact that in the universe we can see, there are 200 billion galaxies. And in those galaxies, there are around 100 billion stars. And orbiting those stars, it’s likely that there are any number of planets. Some gas or ice giants like our Jupiter or Neptune, some will be terrestrial planets like Venus, Mars and Earth. And think about how, amongst those inconceivably large numbers, there still exists something unique.


There is only one you. And you’re sitting here right now. There’s only one you who’s lived your life, experienced your joys, suffered your sorrows, loved the way you have loved and have been loved. There’s only one you who has those little quirks, who says those little things, who has your voice. There’s only one you who loves the music, films, TV shows, books, comic books, video games, board games that you do. There’s only one you who has can apply the skills you have, can think in the way you do, can give in the way you do, can smile in the way you do.

You see, if any of you are anything like me, in fact, to be honest, I think most of us are like this, we constantly doubt ourselves. Whether it’s thinking we’re not good enough for that job or for that person we secretly have a crush on, or whether we feel we don’t fit in with that crowd we want to be in with, we’re always finding ways to put ourselves down. And while it’s true that some people in the world are, let’s say, not very nice, the vast, vast majority of us, including everyone sitting here this morning, truly something special and unique. And it’s so incredibly important to own your uniqueness, be proud of it. Never feel like you have to hide it away for anyone. Never feel like you should suppress any part of you, as Andre Gide once said, “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.”

It’s not those personality traits either, as we saw in our video at the start of this morning’s service, our very DNA is unique to us (with the caveat of identical twins, I know, but even their DNA isn’t 100% the same). Uniqueness is coded into our very existence. Our uniqueness isn’t just something we talk about to make ourselves feel better, it’s there in black and white, in the science. We are all special in our own unique way.

You are special, in your own unique way.

When you next look up at the sky and marvel of our tiny and insignificant place in the cosmos, don’t forget to look down at yourself too. And remember that you are the only you to have ever existed among trillions upon trillions of potential planets across 13.8 billion years.

Whew. I think that’s remarkable. I think each and every one of you is remarkable. And each and every one of you has something special to offer and contribute, whether you know it or not. 

As Unitarians, we’re firm believers in liberty. We uphold the personal freedoms of every individual. We champion uniqueness. But we also celebrate and acknowledge the commonality that exists between us. We take comfort from it. We find strength in it. Not only do we share the same physical characteristics, the same language, and some of the same experiences. We share something far more fundamental than that.

Yes, we’re all human. But we’re all made of exactly the same stuff. Whether you believe that we were, as it says in Genesis, made in God’s image or not, there is something intrinsic to our existence that binds us together. All of the building blocks of life, the stuff that builds the LEGO set that is you and me, was forged in the heart of distant stars. We are, each and every one of us, literally made from stardust. 

We all share this. And while we are all unique as I’ve already talked about this morning, take comfort from the knowledge that the person sitting next to you or near you, is made of the same substance as you. They will have similar, experiences as you. They will have felt great joys and great sorrows. They will have felt that Sunday evening dread before they think about going to work on Monday morning. They will have felt lost in this world, unsure of what they have to offer or what they can offer. 

Each of us has something to give. Each of us has something unique to offer. And in those times where we struggle to see our greatness, where we can’t see the wonder of our individuality, marvel at the fact that we are literally one in an infinitely great number of potential beings that exist, take strength from knowing that you are not alone. For in humanity, we share so much. In this congregation here this morning, you have friends. We are your family. And we are here for you.

Let’s sing our next hymn.

Hymn 3 – Purple Book 60 Here I Am, All Alone

Each and every one of us has something uniquely valuable to offer. And by coming together and a collection of unique individuals, we can achieve great things. But we first have to learn to love and accept ourselves, before we can truly work with others to spread love and kindness throughout the world.

Reading – Loving Beauty and Seeking Truth, Adrienne Wilson

Beloved Spirit of Beauty and Truth,

We worship your manifestation

In the golden hues of sunrise and spring flowers.

May today give us what we need.

May we be as open and loving to others

As we are to ourselves,

Always mindful of the frailty of life.

For in loving beauty and seeking truth,

Our days will be filled with meaning

And splendour forever. Amen.

Before we spend some quiet time reflecting on whatever it is you yourself would like to reflect on this morning, as is customary for our church, I’d like to invite you to light a candle, or as is common for our congregation, candles, for any hopes, joys, thanks or concerns you may have. You may wish to vocalise your thoughts as you light your candles, but as always, you are more than welcome to light them in silence. There is also no obligation to light a candle at all. Instead, you may use this time to pray, meditate or reflect in your own space.

Candles of hopes, joys and concerns

Let us take some time to reflect and gather our thoughts. You may wish to listen to the music, or you may wish to let your mind wander.

Music for Reflection – This Tender Appeal – Allysium

A reading – Humanity’s Psalm, Cynthia Frado 

Creator of Life, Source of All Being

It was from the particles of the Universe that you formed me…

Iron and carbon and phosphorous

Mixed with energy, passion and dreams.

I was made in your image, says ancient Scripture.

Made from the colors of the rainbow,

Shaped with bones straight and curved,

Padded with flesh flabby and lean,

Near-sighted, far-sighted, short-sighted, and long in vision.

I was made in your image, says ancient Scripture.

Made strong and tall, short and stout,

Born with hands tender and fragile,

Aged with hands gnarled and mature.

Large nose, small nose, crooked nose

Who knows the mathematical infinitude of your genetic possibilities?

I was made in your image, says ancient Scripture.

Made to give love and receive love.

Your passion courses through my veins.

And when I touch another human being in love,

It matters not what gender ignites the flame,

It matters only that the fire of life brings its light to the

darkened deadness of a world that cannot exist

without love’s transformative power.

I was made in your image, says ancient Scripture.

But who are you?

I need to know.

I who have eyes that are brown and blue and green and hazel.

I who am intellectually gifted and mentally challenged.

I who speak the languages of the world and no language at all.

I who know scientific equations and musical sonatas,

and know only the magic of a daily loaf of bread,

and the taunting sounds of racism,

and the mockery of my sexual orientation,

and the lack of respect for my aging body.

I who am all of these things and more want to know:

Who are you that I am made in your image?

I am, says ancient Scripture.

I simply am.

I am the Light of All-Being,

I am the Divine Spark.

I am the Source of Love,

The most transformative power

In the Universe.

All life is in my image.

I am in You,

And you are in me.

I am in your siblings.

They, too, are in me.

I am in your pain and suffering,

And I am in your compassion and joy.

I am Light and Love,

And Hope and Possibility…

And so are you.

Creator of All Life, Source of All Being

It was from the particles of the Universe that you formed me…

Iron and carbon and phosphorous

Mixed with energy, passion and dreams.

Forgive me. Forgive me.

I forgot that you are everywhere.

I forgot that I am everywhere.

Thank you for reminding me of who I am.


Let us pray, reflect, or meditate together.


Spirit of Life and Love, here and everywhere. May you give us the strength to remember who we are, all that has made us, all that makes us unique, and may you help us to love ourselves. Not in vanity or selfishness, but in appreciation and acknowledgement of the things that we often dislike about ourselves, for they are the building blocks of us. They are what make us the unique individuals we are.

May you give us the strength and power to help others find this same love and appreciation for themselves. May we come together as one united community of individuals, to share this love and respect for our fellow human being. 

May you remind us of our place in the universe, what and where we come from; may we marvel at the fact very fact of our existence, and may we remember the treat our fragile place in the cosmos with the same love and respect we hope to find for ourselves.


Before we sing our final hymn of the morning, I just want to go through a couple of notices:

Notices – Whitby visit last weekend, upcoming bingo at the start of August, committee finance meeting next Saturday, Chris Carr/Andrew taking next week’s service.

Now, I’d like to invite you to join in with or listen and follow the words to, our final hymn of the morning. 

Hymn 4 – Purple Book 44 Give Thanks for Life

As always, after the service, please join us for some light refreshments, there’s always an abundance of beige goodies and sweat treats, as well as tea and coffee. Also, if you would like to pop something into our collection tray, any amount will be humbly appreciated. Although, please do not feel obliged to put anything in at all. The donation of your time here this morning is more than enough.

Closing words

As we come to the end of our time together this morning, let me now extinguish our chalice. And as I do, some words from David Dawson:

We have worshipped together

In hymn and prayer,

And in the silence of loving fellowship.

We have heard thoughtful words,

And shared our hopes and concerns.

Now our worship is ending;

May the insights we have received

Support and inspire us

Until we meet again.

We extinguish the chalice,

But take its light and meaning 

With us into the world.

Extinguishing of the chalice

And we will, as is the tradition of our congregation here, finish our service with the words of God Be In My Head. Although, if you’d prefer, you can love, or another word you feel more appropriate. 


God be in my head,

And in my understanding;

God be in mine eyes,

And in my looking;

God be in my mouth,

And in my speaking;

God be in my heart,

And in my thinking;

God be at mine end,

And at my departing.

Exit music – The Wonder of You – Elvis Presley