Sacraments, Unitarians, and Universalists

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From the substance of Matthew Gatheringwater's comment:

You are trying to emphasize the sacramental nature of Unitarian Universalism? Since when did we start having sacraments again?

I'm not sure where the sacrament comment came from since I've already commented that the stole is the garment associated with the sacraments, not the bands, which is more of a meaning-enriched piece of haberdashery than a proper vestment. (In other words, there would be some, but not much, meaning lost if it were missing. Much like a male business professional who did or did not wear a tie.)

The meaning associated with the bands (and hood and gown) are that of a "learned clerk" (=clergy) and that role in worship is teaching, usually preaching. Since I preach and lead the sacraments in the same service, I'll wear garb that refers to both, but out of convention will drop the hood if I wear the stole.

But let's not miss the point here. There has never been a time in Unitarianism or Universalism when the sacraments have been absent. They may have not been observed in most churches in living memory (or only the annual Communion service, unobtrusively, say) but they never had to be revived, only extended. And from the continual full-house UUCF communion services at General Assembly, there is certainly interest.

But the sacraments are a Christian matter, not a Unitarian Universalist matter. Even the Christians in the UUA have to remember that we don't own a version of the sacraments, only a usage in terms of the rite, ceremonies, and timing. We're responsible to the rest of the Church Universal for our actions, especially in the sacraments.

2 Replies to “Sacraments, Unitarians, and Universalists”

  1. Scott wrote:
    “I’m not sure where the sacrament comment came from since I’ve already commented that the stole is the garment associated with the sacraments, not the bands, which is more of a meaning-enriched piece of haberdashery than a proper vestment. (In other words, there would be some, but not much, meaning lost if it were missing. Much like a male business professional who did or did not wear a tie.)”

    Actually, there is a theological meaning to the necktie that is lost to most Western European and North Americans if what I read in Saudi Arabia back in 1991 was correct.

    Each week in the local paper there was a full-page Q&A column from the local Sunni population about questions of Islamic practice and faith.

    One person writing in wanted to know if it was wrong for a devout Muslim to wear a necktie at work since its origins were in the Christian cross and it symbolically represents the cross. The Islamic scholar answering the question said that the origins of the necktie were Christian and it originally was a symbolic cross, the wear of a necktie today is sufficiently removed from its Christian origins to be OK for devout Muslims to wear it at work.

  2. I rather doubt it is correct — I once read the history of ordinary shirt collars, clerical collars, Geneva bands, ascots and neckties; it seems they all have a common scarfy ancestor — but like many things neckties may have had a religious meaning imposed upon it. Perhaps an expat worker in SA? Perhaps an over-reaching local? Whatsoever. (I’ve heard Geneva bands identifed with the tablets of the Ten Commandments, From the sitting Unitarian Bishop of Transylvania no less.)

    Either way, that’s a good argument for careful, sensitive missology. But that’s another post.

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