Visiting Godalming Unitarians

On this wet Sunday in May I attended the Godalming Unitarian Church’s alternative service, which is more reflective in nature to their ordinary services – drawing from another faith tradition – this time drawing from Christianity.

The service was an extended reflection on the verses of the Beatitudes – dispelling some of the misconceptions, and ways in which the words are from time to time are narrowly defined, with some Aramaic chants for the musical interludes.  

Though we receive the Beatitudes through the Christian tradition, it is helpful to reflect on these proverbs in isolation of their Christian heritage – as indeed for so many this heritage is not life-giving, but stifling and oppressive. The Beatitudes have a great deal to offer in and of themselves, they certainly do not require a Christian orthodox meta-narrative for them to make sense, in fact in many ways to me the Beatitudes seem to subvert the prevailing Christian narrative.

The various passages were mused upon by considering the native tongue Jesus would have originally spoken the words in – Aramaic. Through this process a richer reading becomes possible…

‘Blessed are those in emotional turmoil; they shall be united inside by love.

Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within; they shall be surrounded by what is needed to sustain their bodies.

Blessed are those who from their inner wombs, birth mercy; they shall feel its warm arms embrace them.

Blessed are those who plant peace each season; they shall be named children of God...’ (Neil Douglas-Klotz)