Inspirations from Julian of Norwich Service


Inspirations from Julian of Norwich 

by Wade Miller-Knight, Lay Preacher 

Frenchay 25th Oct 2020 

Opening Music (play the first 2 mins 40 secs)

“Surrender to the Divine” by Enza Currenti

Opening Words

Come into the spirit of curiosity, exploration and questioning offered by this community.

Come into our calming, creative, warm-hearted, accepting energy.
Come into the quiet space of sanctuary, wherever you are.

Let’s feel the sense of peace and welcome the presence of Spirit among us and within us.

Chalice Lighting

The chalice candle is a symbol that links Unitarians worldwide. May we be drawn together by its light.

Opening prayer

Let us connect our hearts, our minds, and our souls, with Spirit – with the Greater Wholeness....

Let us be gentle and sensitive,

into the peacefulness of this time;

gentle into the gladness of our united togetherness, both those of us in the chapel and those here with eyes and ears and hearts and souls;

gentle and sensitive into the field of spirituality for our shared purpose.

Let us feel the kind, and calm, energy of the sacred, here among us,

of that Presence in the deepmost place of our hearts,

that strength, and love, and wisdom: within us, and beyond us - beyond all matter and mind.

May we be receptive to the abundance of Good, limitlessly flowing from the Cosmic Fountain of all goodness;

May be receptive to the abundance of soft and gentle Inner Light, ever radiating from the Cosmic Source of all Light....

And may we be receptive to the abundance of beauty and of loveliness within us, around us, and in the vast Cosmos in which each of us is a blessed expression, and a unique, distinct, and precious person.

May we all know ourselves as blessed.

So may it be.

Candles for Joys and Concerns

Hymn #35 in the purple book “Find a stillness” lyrics by Carl Seaburg

Beautifully clear singing (especially by the lady) on youtube here:

2nd prayer

Spirit of love and harmony ~

We bring our concerns and longings

for those whom we love;

for those whom we know;

for everyone; and

for all that lives on Earth, and in the great Beyond:

We ask for healing wherever it is needed,

We ask for relief and release from suffering for all who need it,

for gentleness, grace and large-hearted goodness.

and for wholeness,

We ask for Light and Love, and especially for those who suffer from too much stress, or loneliness,

and all who face difficulties that are hard to bear or to resolve.

We pray for peace, and love, and grace.

We ask for all that is in our best interest to receive,

in the spirit of the love and harmony that is everywhere in the Universe.

May we all be blessed.


Let’s pause for a couple of minutes in silence.

Readings: Seven Short Selections from Julian’s Words

God, Our True Rest

This is the cause why we are not at rest in heart and soul: that here we seek rest in things that are so little that there is no rest in them, and we do not know our God who is all mighty, all wise, and all good.

God is true rest. No soul can have rest until it finds that created things are empty. When the soul gives up all for love, so that it can have the One that is all, then it finds true rest. Until I am one with God, I can never have true rest nor peace – I can never know it until I am held so close to God that there is nothing in-between.

God Holds Us When We Fall

A mother may sometimes let her child fall and suffer in various ways, so that it may learn by its mistakes. But she will never allow any real harm to come to the child, because of her love. A mother’s caring is the closest, nearest and surest, for it is the truest.

And our God, like a heavenly Mother, when we fall, holds us lovingly, and graciously and swiftly raises us: in all this work, taking the part of a kind nurse who has no other care but the welfare of her child. Utterly at home, God lives in us for ever.

Turn to God

Some of us believe that God is all wise and all powerful and can do everything, but, as for feeling that God is all love, we hold back. God wills that we should give up our senseless worrying and faithless fear. Our desire is to love God humbly and to trust God totally.

God says: ‘Do not blame yourself too much, thinking that your trouble and distress is all your fault. For it is not my will that you should be unduly sad and despondent, depressed by false fears which make us so weary and dejected that we let our Everlasting Friend slip from our minds’. It is not God’s will that we should busy ourselves with self-accusation, nor that we should despise ourselves. But it is God’s will that we should quickly turn to God, for we are God’s joy and delight.

If we fall, we are to get up quickly, for the worst pain a soul can have is to let anything take us away from God.


This is God’s will: that our prayer and our trust should be equally generous. For if our trust is not as generous as our prayer, we hinder and harm ourselves.

Sometimes it seems that we have been praying a long time and still do not have what we ask. But we should not be sad. I am sure that what God means is that either we should wait for a better time or a better gift.

If we do what we can, then we shall find in God all that we lack. Prayer is an understanding which comes from deep desire and sure trust.

I saw and understood that God’s great overflowing goodness brings all our gifts to fulfilment.

Prayer makes the soul one with God.

God in all

God is the still point at the centre.

There is no doer but God.

All this, God showed me with great joy, saying ‘See, I am God. See, I am in all things. See, I never take my hands off my work. See, I lead all things to the end I have prepared for them. I do this by the same wisdom and love and power through which I made them. How can anything be done that is not well done?’

God wants us to know that he keeps us safe through good and ill.

We Shall Not Be Overcome

Though we are in such pain, trouble and distress that it seems to us that we are unable to think of anything except how and what we feel, yet God wills that we should understand that if we know and love God reverently, we shall have rest and be at peace, and we shall rejoice in all that God does.

Pain alone blames and punishes. Our God comforts and succours.

God did not say ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted’. But God did say ‘You shall not be overcome’ – so that we shall always be strong in trust, both in sorrow and in joy.

We Shall Never Be Lost

Humanity in God’s thought has always been known and loved. From God we come, in God we are enfolded, to God we return.

Because of the storms and sorrows that beset us here, we often seem to be dead in spirit – by human judgement. But I saw that God is our true peace. God watches over us when we can find no rest, and works continually to bring us to peace that shall never end.

In God’s everlasting love, everyone’s soul is kept safe. In this endless love, we are led and looked after by God and never shall be lost.

We shall find in God our everlasting joy – and this by God’s foreseeing purpose since before time was.

Song by Meg Barnhouse (words on the video)

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In the seven short readings from Julian’s words that we heard, as translated into modern English by Sheila Upjohn, I hear several themes – all, naturally, closely connected to the Divine.

One of her threads is expressed in words like “stillness”, “peace”, and “rest” – fruits of spiritual living that nowadays we are most likely to have heard as benefits of meditation. For Julian, these are aspects of God.

Another Julian theme is the motherly qualities she experiences in the Divine, like kindness, and care for our welfare.

Then there’s God’s limitless and unconditional love for us and Julian’s call to us for prayer and trust in God.

And there’s her conviction that everything is in God’s care and works out for Good. We are all safe in God’s hands. God is the doer of everything, and all is done well.

So.... what are we to make of this?

Perhaps you can only begin to answer that question for yourself by reflecting on a basic question, which could be put this way: “to what extent do I take her word for it?”

Is the Divine truly as she experienced it? Do we trust Julian’s intuition on what she says where we do not have enough intuition of our own to know with confidence from within?

And what is the value, the meaning, of Julian’s words for ourselves? How might she help our own spiritual life?

How, for you, is the comfort, the assurance, in her voice, in her experience, in the feeling you detect in her through her words, and between the words?

That assurance that we may be tested – “tempest-tossed” she called it – we can imagine, feeling like managing a sailing boat in a wild north-east wind far out on the cold North Sea. Tempest-ed by what Western society calls ‘hard luck’, maybe; discomforted, almost certainly; but never overcome. Never defeated. I’ve read that Japanese Samurai used to say “Seven times down, eight times up”. Resilience – setbacks happen, but never a permanent defeat.

That sense Julian has of God as like a good mother, sometimes letting us stumble so that we can learn, but never letting us come to real harm.

And what of the trust in the Divine that she advises? Trust that the Divine Mother “holds us lovingly” and cares for us absolutely.

This is no theology led by book-learning and driven by men’s desires for power over others: this is the heart of a God-loving soul, speaking from pure experience.

What of giving up worrying and faithless fear? How much space do we have in our map of how Spirit is, for that strength of trust?

“God is the still point at the centre”, Julian tells us. How does that feel when you hear it? At the centre of all the change, all the motion and commotion, all the politics and arguing, at the centre of me, of you, of everything, is a still point, and that still point is where everything is in complete harmony.

Those of us who meditate, have we sensed a glimmer or a hint of that stillness?

Many times, Julian speaks of “rest” or “peace”. There is no rest in earthly things; they are ever-changing. God is true rest. When we are one with God, “when we know and love God, we shall have rest and be at peace”, “peace that shall never end”. This is the nirvana of the Buddhists. And more than that, “we shall find in God our everlasting joy”. All our unfulfilled longings are satisfied when “we know God in the fullness of joy”. This is the bliss, the ananda, of the Hindus. How do we receive this? What would it take for us to feel we can trust Julian’s experience that God is peace, that in God is our joy?

Then there is love. Julian speaks of us loving God, of us “striving to know and love God” - though, at least in the little book I have sourced these quotations from, she speaks much more of God’s love for us than of our love for God. “God is all love.” “In God’s everlasting love, everyone’s soul is kept safe. In this endless love, we are led and looked after by God.”

My impression is that Julian doesn’t expect us to love a God whom we don’t actually intimately know. Rather, she knows God is all love, and she invites us to take her word for it, and trust God before we properly know God, give thanks to God, and pray – until that time comes “when the soul gives up all for love”.

As far as I know, none of us are living a truly intense, intimately God-centred life, like Julian’s life, or closely similar. But hopefully we can nevertheless draw sustenance and nurture and comfort from what Julian has written.

We have sampled a little of it today. That God is for you and me the God Julian knows so well cannot be “proved” or “disproved” by rational argument. Spiritual perceptions are outside the domain of science. The only verification in such matters of the heart and the spirit is personal experience, because everyone’s experience of Spirit is different. The Divine in my experience is not exactly the same as Julian experienced, because my spiritual journey has not been the same as hers, because my language for my spiritual experiences is not the same as hers, and because my everyday personality is different from hers.

To illustrate this with an example. Our cultures affect how we experience spiritual things. Julian uses some words that only a Christian would be likely to use, such as “the Holy Spirit” and “sin”; an Indian saint of similarly intense devotion, Kabir for example, uses words such as “Guru” and “Brahma” that Julian could not have used.

Shall we gain in understanding and appreciation of the inner life from Julian, not by picking out words, rather by opening ourselves to the depth and the sustainment and the spiritual substance of Julian’s personal experience, her feelings as they show through her words?

Shall we receive uplift and understanding for our own relationship with Spirit – not as a blueprint for some Correct Way to Be, rather as inspiration, and resonating within us as support, strengthening our commitment to move forward along our own path, whatever path that may be, and however fast or slowly we may be advancing along it?

That is what I hear Julian inviting us to reflect on.

Myself, reflecting, I hear two simple messages most clearly: One: that Spirit is reliable – so Trust God. And the other: love. Feel God loving you, and strive to love God yourself. Love from God is at the centre of all the love we give, and all the love we receive.

That is what I hear in Julian’s spirituality, coming from the heart and soul of a marvellously good woman, untainted by any theologies.