As an occasional reader of mysteries, I appreciated this quote from Unitarian Universalist minister Stephen Kendrick’s Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes: “Maybe Auden was right, and we read mystery stories to have evil put in its place, and to have justice and righteousness triumph over personal disorder and society’s chaos.” Unfortunately, it didn’t quite fit the tone of this small group ministry session on Justice, so I used some other resources I found at If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and spirituality, however, you may want to check it out. Publishers Weekly said “Kendrick’s lively readings of the Sherlock Holmes stories combine a deep sense of how attentiveness to the details of ordinary life can yield extraordinary insights into the life of the spirit.”

Breathing in: Justice Here . . . Breathing out: Justice Now.

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

Justice is not an ideal state or theory but a matter of personal sensibility, a set of emotions that engage us with the world and make us care.
—Robert Solomon in A Passion for Justice



A Teaching Story from Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian by Dorothee Soelle

Lutheran theologian Dorothee Soelle explores the link in her life between faith and politics. She shares a story about how tears can help us persevere in the struggle for justice.

Like every human being who hungers and thirsts for justice and peace, Dorothy Day had periods of complete exhaustion, sorrow, and pain. I was told that she would then withdraw and cry — for hours and days. She would sit there, talk to no one, eat nothing, and just cry. She did not withdraw from her struggle-filled, active life for the poorest of the poor. She never ceased to look upon war, and preparation for war, as a crime against the poor. But at certain times she wept, long and bitterly.

When I discovered this, I understood better what pacifism is, what God means in the midst of defeat, how the spirit comforts us and leads us into truth. I understood that comfort is not had by giving up truth, that one does not happen at the expense of the other. That Dorothy Day cried for days on end means for me that the Spirit’s consolation bears, at the same time, its own inconsolability. With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears.

Questions: Identify an injustice that troubles you. What emotion first made you aware of it? Then talk about one action you can take to combat it.

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences we cannot foresee.
—Marian Wright Edelman

To Practice This Thought: As you go through each day, look for those opportunities where small differences can help create in a more just world.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Justice from

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Justice.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.