Liturgy and Ceremonial
Suitable for Unitarian Churches

Liturgy has originsMore definitions explained click on the link in a citizen carrying out a public duty, a general service in the public sphere and, in more religious terms, the public service (worship) of the temple, from which Christianity took the formal, public, worship service of the church.

Every church has liturgy, but liturgy implies written visibility, perhaps repetition, and certainly making a formula. It is not restricted to the Eucharist, as in the Byzantine case. It involves signs and the signified, although a sign may have its own signifier. What is of interest here is whether this basic idea can be developed in a non-Christian or at least broader than Christian manner when words are combined with non-verbal gestures and objects of ceremonial.

The Puritan shadow of Unitarian origins in Presbyterianism implies a minimum of ceremonial. Ceremonial was seen as popish and pagan, unnecessary beyond the plain meaning of words, at best a distraction but for a long time a matter of idolatry. What mattered were the pure words of scripture and all liturgy should focus around those. The best hymns, after psalms, were scriptural and directly praiseworthy.

But today we know more about body language and gestures, and the place of art in communication. Mystery implies imprecision, and both music and the artistic are imprecise. Imprecision helps people of different ideas come together. The postmodern is more image based, where text also loses its myth of precision, and where once packages of meaning can be reconstructed in new ways and with other packages. The transcendental relates to the natural world absorbed through literature and other art.

So this webpage is about some notions behind creating liturgy. Liturgy can be understood of 'going through' in the allotted time like a microcosm of the ethical life, and involves the creation of collective public worship including prayer in a sacred that gives both identity and patterns of reflection in that process showing (perhaps in this order):

  • Arrival into the sacred space

  • General reflection with some specifics (perhaps thematic prayer)

  • Sources of ethical messages (perhaps thematic)

  • Saying sorry for errors intended and unintended

  • Means of restoration

  • Turning again or reorientation

  • Pure open reflection (for example, through silence)

  • Giving thanks (possibly via rituals of gift and exchange)

  • Offering concern for others

  • A public message (perhaps thematic)

  • Offering gifts

  • Dismissal and leaving the sacred space

So that could be a model order for worship. But what would be its content in terms of using ceremonial objects, gestures and colours?

Objects and Motions

Air Breath of life; action of divinity (especially sustaining); choice by divinity (blows where it will) or chance; plant and human exchange.


Air, decoration, different colours, expansion, festivities, spheres, surfaces.


Private giving, concealing, secrets, passing confidential items; preserving; carrying.


Calling, attention, transitions, endings and beginnings, pauses.


Container/ holder, depository; money deposits in the open; begging, dependency, minimal existence.


Basic foodstuff; human cookery from natural sources; the body in general; miracle, rising to new life (transformation).


Fire that emphasises light; light from darkness (when being lit); pointing upwards to heaven; reflection on time (the candle burns down - three for past, present, future); transition and being transitory.


Reflecting back, cup of convenant, container/ holder; receive from the stars.


largest space, sacred space, arriving to where one started; dancing.

Clerical Collar

Office, authority, separation, priestly (Protestant/ Catholic - variations of full and detachable/ projecting preaching bands).


Acquired meanings of designs, patterns, cloths; beauty; absence of clothes being the body, nature, evolution, idealism, purity.


entering, leaving, passing through, and also time through being one way with no going back.

Fan blowing

Action of air, cooling (temperature, opposite of fire - but heat if hairdryer); spirit moves.

Figure of Eight

a crossing journey, revisiting (more incorporating/ incarnate than a circle); infinity, a definitive journey for a walk, the end can be the beginning; dancing.

Fire (false element)

that which destroys and allows renewal; warmth and comfort; protection; separation; pure energy and light.


Basic foodstuff, Christ (Ichtus), danger, decay, evangelism, miracle, river, sea, seaside, smelly, spawning.


Natural grown beauty; human intervention; human arrangement; mothers and grandmothers (thanks for nurturing); decoration, fake.


Creativity and physics, that a simple equation with a virtual number iterated produces highly complex equation; Mandelbrot as Buddha.

Hand gestures

Pointing to, away; involving self; emphasis; to heaven, to earth (vertically); the weep of space (horizontally); the body; incorporating God.

Horizontal and Vertical

Compass; ultimate self-sacrifice, being unsettled (as in burial at a crossroads); absorbed Christ with longer vertical.

Incense burner

Smoke and smell as visible 'air', better involvement of congregation (even if by coughing!).


Storing, pouring, anticipation, transfer.


Beginning, process through (unknown?) middle and to its end; scientific progress, the past and loss; near-Eastern and Western.


Basic foodstuff, bones, calcium, calf, cow, mother, other species.

Paper chains

Connections, curves, decoration, festivities, making messages.

Pentacle/ Pentagram

Five points refer to the Spirit (upwards) and four elements; respect of the earth; number five is both mystical and human, and man can be laid out on the shape; five stages of life, the Wiccan Kiss is feet, knees, womb, breasts, lips.


ground itself; creation, evolution; standing firm; cannot move, waterlogged, sand as dryness (oppose water), hot ground; microscopic life.


Time moves on but visits same experiences each rotation, Eastern.


Religious emphasis, displaying symbols, identities, colours, patterns, office held, authority.


Planet; Being, solidity, everlasting, slow change; bricks for human made from the earth; respect for the dead.

The Moon (outdoors, and what can represent it)

Reflective and regular, fully open to concealed by degrees to fully hidden.

The Sun (outdoors, and what can represent it)

A symbol of life's origins and maintenance, as a star among stars, but the star for this world and us.


Economy of space and movement, modes of divinity (creation, presence or incorporation, responsive action-making).


Both drowns and gives life, so dying and rising renewed, the old gone and the new to come; pouring is its power of motion, expression of gravity; spraying is as of rain and refreshing earth and water cycle; fingers and bowl as in washing, keeping.


Elaborated drink from natural sources; change (transformation - juices no substitute); blood and flowing life (when red).


Black Absence of light, aloof, argumentative, arm's length, authority, barrier, bottled up, burial, confidence, conservative, control, conventional, covers, death, depression, dignified, disappointment, discipline, elegance, end, endings and beginnings, fear, fear of the future, friendless, funeral, grave, hidden, independence, insecurities, intimidation, intrigue, keeping information, mood swings, mystery, negativity, pessimism, power, protection, sadness, secretive, seduction, self-control, serious, sexiness, sophistication, strong will, submission, success orientated women, teenagers' transition, temptress, unapproachable, unconfidence, unfriendly, unknown, unwilling, unreflective, warming, withholding.

Blue Authority, calm, caring, concern, confidence, conservative, contemplation, creates calmness, deceitful, deeply hurt by betrayal, determined to succeed, devotion, direction, does not draw attention, does the right thing in difficult times, easy beliefs, emotionally unstable, frigid, gives, hates confrontation, helping, higher intelligence, honesty, idealistic, idolatry, inflexible, inner security, lives in the past, loyalty, makes new more acceptable, manipulation, non-threatening, nostalgic, one-to-one communication, order, orderly, own way, peace and tranquility, peaceful, perseverance, persistent, prayer, predictable, public speaker, quiet, reduces stress, relationships, relaxation, relaxation, reliable, religious study, rescuing, reserved, responsibility, rigid, safe, self-expressive, self-righteous, sincere, spirit, spiritual, spiteful, superstitious, takes control, trust, unfaithfulness, unforgiving, untrustworthiness, weak.

Azure Blue Ambition, contentment, determination, striving.
Dark Blue Conservatism, emotions run deep, hypocrite, integrity, knowledge, pessimist, power, repressed feelings, responsibility.
Pale Blue Break free, Creativity, freedom.
Sky Blue Fidelity, helpful nature, non-threatening, overcome all obstacles, selfless love, universal healer.

Brown Agriculture, approachable, belonging, boring, calmness, cheapness, comfort, comfortable, common sense, dependable, down-to-earth, dull, duty, elegance, family unit, food and drink, frugal, genuine, hides dirt, honest, industrious, loyal companionship, material wealth, materialistic, maturity, moderation, natural, not carefree, obligations, orderliness, organic , organisation, possessions, protection, quality, reassurance, responsibility, safe haven, security, sensitive, sensual, serious, simplicity, sincere, sophistication, stabilising, stability, stay in the background, stinginess, strength, structure, structure, support, suppresses the emotions, unexciting, warm, wholesome.

Beige Conservative, constant, loyal, practical, reliable.
Dark brown Strong, sad, depressive, materialistic, prudent
Ivory Calming, encouraging, reserved, simple sophistication.
Light Brown Approachable, friendly, honest, genuine, sincere.
Tan Ageless, natural, straightforward, timeless, uncomplicated, warmth.

Cyan sensitivity, alleviates loneliness, aloof, aloofness, balance and harmony, balancing the pros and cons, boastful and narcissistic., boastfulness, calm and collected, calm and gentle invigoration, calmness, calms, caring, Clarity of thought, Communication, compassion, confidence, creativity, creativity, deception, decision-making, discriminating, emotional imbalance, emotional roller coaster, empathy, evolved soul, excessively cool, fence-sitting, healing and self-sufficiency., heals the emotions, idealism, idealistic, impractical, influences, inner healing, intuitive, love others, making the situation worse, multi-tasking, observation, off-handedness., organisational and management skills, overactive mind, perception, readiness, recharges spirits, remote, reticence, right and wrong, secrecy, self-centered, self-esteem, self-sufficient, spiritual, success, unapproachable, unreliability, way forward.

Aqua Creative, light-hearted, refreshing, strong, uplifting.
Aquamarine Creativity, inspiration, calms, balances.
Teal Commitment, spiritual advancement, Trustworthiness

Gold 50th anniversary, abundance, achievement, affluence, benefactor, brilliance, caring, charisma, compassion, deep understanding, demanding, dull, egotistical, elegance, enhances, enlightenment, extravagance, eye-catching, false, fear, fear of failure, generous, giving, glistening, happy, higher ideals, illuminates, influence, intense, knowledge, love, luxury, masculine energy, material wealth, mean-spirited, miserly, most valuable, muted, opportunistic, optimistic, passionate, patron, positive, power, prestige, prosperity, quality, richness, royalty, self-righteous, self-worth, selfish, shiny, sophistication, soul, spirituality, status, success, sun, traditional, triumph, understanding, ungenerous, unkind, untrustworthy, value, victory, warmth, wealth, winner, wisdom.

Green Abundance, adaptable, agreeable, anticipation, balance, belonging, business, charity worker, collect, compassionate, confidences, counsellor, dependability, dependable, do-gooder, down to earth, emotionally balanced, emotionally positive, endurance, envious, envy, equilibrium, family, finance, friendly, gardener, generous, go, good judgment, good listener, good parent, good, greedy, growing, harmony, helpful neighbour, home, homely, hypochondriac, inconsiderate, judgmental, kind, looks for recognition, loves to share, loyal, material wealth, miserly, moral, nature lover, nurture, nurturing, observer, over-cautious, owning, peacemaker, persistence, pets, possess, practical, property, prosperity, real estate, rebirth, rejuvenating, reliability, renewal, restoration, revitalises, right and wrong, safety, sanctuary, sees situations from all sides, self-reliance, selfish, spring, stability, sympathetic, tactful, vitality, well being.

Dark green Greed, resentment, selfish desire.
Emerald green Abundance, creative ideas, wealth, material wellbeing, emotional wellbeing.
Grass green Money, secure, self-confident, natural healthy, occurring in abundance in nature.
Jade green Confidentiality, diplomacy, generosity of spirit, giving without exchanging, search for enlightenment, tact, trust, understanding, worldly wisdom.
Lime green Anticipation, clear the mind of negativity, naivety, playfulness, youthfulness.
Olive green Blaming others, caring for feelings of others, deceit, olive branch, strength of character, treachery, overcome adversity, develop.
Pale green Fresh start, immaturity, inexperience,, new perspective youthfulness.
Yellow green Cowardice, conflict, fear.

Grey Aloof, boring, calm, classic, cold, composure, compromise, conservative, controlled, conventional, corporate worker, dependable, depressed, detachment, disinterested, drab, elegant, emotionless, fog, formal, impartial, indecision, indifferent, intelligent, isolation, lifeless, loneliness, lonely, maturity, motionless, neutral, neutrality, non-emotional, objective, old age, practical, professional, quiet, reliable, relief, reserved, responsibility, sadness, safe, solid, stable, steadying, stifle, sudued, toned down., uncaring, unemotional.

Light grey Calming, enlightens, rescues, saves, soothing.
Dark grey Constrained, conventional, inflexible, self-denial, self-discipline, serious, solemn, strict.

Magenta Acceptance, ambitions, anxious, appreciation, arrogance, awareness, balance, balanced outlook, bossiness, calm, change, cheerfulness, common sense, compassion, contentment, contentment, cooperation, creativity inspired by beauty, depression, desires into reality, despair, dream activity, emotional balance, free spirit, happiness, imaginative, impulsive, innovative, intolerant, intuition, irritated, kindness, non-conformity, organised, outrageous, overwhelmed, own path in life, patience, peace, psychic ability, resourceful, rise above the everyday, self respect, shocking, spiritual yet practical, spontaneous, support, tolerance, too relaxing for introverts, transformation, universal harmony, universal love, uplifting.

Orange Adventure, appetite, assimilation of new ideas, bounce back from disappointments, community, competition, conversations, dependent, divorce and move on, emotional strength in difficult times, exhibitionism, extroverted, freedom to be ourselves, frees the spirit, friendship, gut instincts, happiness, independence, inexpensive, insincere, mentally stimulating, optimistic, over-bearing, overly proud, positive outlook, recovery from grief, rejuvenating, respect of others, risk-taking, self-indulgent, self-respect, showing-off, social communication, socialising, spontaneity, superficial, uninhibited, uplifting, warmth.

Peach At ease, communication, conversation, manners.
Amber Confidence, self-esteem, some arrogance.
Dark Orange Chip on shoulder, opportunist, over-ambition, over-confidence, selfish, tries too hard.

Red Aggression, agitation, anger, appetite, attention-seeking, confidence, craving, create life, danger, desire, destruction, energising, exciting, good luck, irritation, leadership, life force, lust (love is pink), motivating, passions, physical, pioneering, sex, stimulating, strong-willed, war.

Maroon Controlled action, thoughtful.
Burgundy Controlled power, determined ambition, dignified action, luxury, power, serious., sophisticated, wealth.
Crimson Success seeking without upsetting, defiance, enthusiasm, fun, love of life., Scarlet, sensuality.

Silver 25th anniversary, alluring, balancing, calming, calming, change of direction, clairvoyance, cleansing, cold, colourless, compassionate, corporate world, courteous, deceptive, deceptive, determined, dignified, dignity, dull, elegant, emotional, equilibrium, feminine power, fluid, glamour, good critic, graceful ageing, hi-tech, illuminates, illumination, indecisive, indecisive, insight, insincere, insincere, intuition, justice, lifeless, lifeless, lights the way, lonely, melancholy, modern, modern, modernity, money, moon, mysterious, negative, neutral, neutral, new doors, non-committal, organisation, organised, patient, positions of responsibility, prestige, prosperity, purifying, rain, reflection, reflective, releasing, respectable, responsibility, responsible, rigid, scientific, self-control, self-controlled, sensitive , shiny, sleek, soothing, soothing, sparkling, spiritual energy, stability, telepathy, tides, two-faced, unbiased, versatile, wealth, wisdom.

White All colours, clarity, cooling, detached, energy release, flowing, extreme heat, fresh, friendless, friendly, frost, generality, giving information, headlights, good, honesty, ignoring, known, light, marriage, modern, neutral, no hiding, openness, optimism, purity, reflective, revelation, see-through, seeing, sexy, sheet, snow, stars, transcendence, translucent, unconventional, uncovers, virginity, void, window.

Yellow Academic, acquired knowledge, agitated, analysing, challenging, cheerfulness, clarity of thought, clown, comic, communicator, cowardly, creativity, critical, deceitful, decisive, ego, entertainer, enthusiasm for life, fast moving, fast moving, focus, fun, happiness, head not heart, hope, illuminating, impatient, impulsive, impulsive, inferiority complex, inquisitiveness., judgmental, lacking compassion, logic, mental agility, methodical, networker, new ways, non-emotional, not get emotionally involved, original thought, perception, pessimistic, practical thinker, recall information, self-reliant, spiteful, stress, study, talk, uplifting, wisdom.

Cream Lack of confidence, need for reassurance, new ideas.
Dark Yellow Complainer, cynic, depressive, lack of love, melancholy.
Golden Yellow Alone, detail, sensitive to criticism, very curious.
Lemon Yellow orderly life, self-reliance, sensitivity to criticism.
Light Yellow Alert, clear the mind, open.
Pale Yellow Irresponsibility, serial relationships, teasing, unstable emotions.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful