"Universalist Sundays"

Richard Hurst one of UNMC’s deacons and liturgists has this blog recording the items he prepares as liturgist. He’s quite talented, and I’m glad he’s done this.

(You can also get an idea of what some of our services look like, in part.)

See all at Universalist Sundays.

[2009. Long gone.]

The sources of this faith . . .

On the old “boy in the bands” I used to have in the margin something called, “The sources of this faith” which gave some context for the “1903 Universalist Creed” I profess. That’s what’s in the right hand margin of the current blog.

The two sources are:

1. The Winchester Profession, adopted in 1803

Article the First
We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

Article the Second
We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

Article the Third
We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

WinchesterProfession.org, [defunct] another of my sites


2. The Apostles’ Creed, here the ELLC version

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell (or, the dead)
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

English Language Liturgical Consulation

Entirely proper

Here’s what I promised, based on what we’ll have in worship this Sunday, as suitable for a commemoration
of George deBenneville.

  • first reading: Malachi 2:5-7 (see)
  • second reading: Ecclesiasticus/Sirach/Ben Sira 39:1-10 (see)
  • responsive reading: Wisdom of Solomon: 10:16-21 (here, NRSV, gently adapted.)
  • Wisdom entered the soul of a servant of the Lord,
    and withstood dread kings with wonders and signs.
  • She gave to holy people the reward of their labors;
    she guided them along a marvellous way;
    She became a shelter to them by day,
    and a starry flame through the night.
  • She brought them over the Red Sea,
    and led them through deep waters;
    but she drowned their enemies,
    and cast them up from the depths of the sea.
  • Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly;
    they sang hymns, O Lord, to your holy name,
    and praised with one accord your defending hand;
  • All: For wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute,
    and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.

The hymns were chosen for their propriety, familiarity, and ease of singing for
a somewhat smaller summer congregation.

  • A Mighty Fortress
  • Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty
  • For All the Saints

Married, Universalist style

When I commented at my “Wedding
in the Universalist Tradition” site [link down: 21 April 2005] that the 1839 Menzies Rayner service has “little to commend itself for use today” I was clearly mistaken. Ths evening, I will officiate the marriage of two church members with an abridgement of this rite, which you can read here.
The couple really liked the service, in part, I’m sure because it leaves open a ring ceremony at the solemnization service I’ll lead overseas. Feel free to use it if you like it. Perhaps I can even get a photo online later. (Send yours, too, if you use the service!)

Definite Christian worship?

Is there a definite form of Universalist or Unitarian Christian worship?

Note I wrote, definite because I won’t venture into the troubled waters of
figuring out if there is a definitive form.

But the more I compare orders of Christian worship from the Universalist and Unitarian
traditions, the more unity I see, especially in those works composed after the
first glimmerings of American ecumenism. These, in turn, look conspicuously like other
denominational liturgies from that period to the present. That’s a good thing, since
today’s Unitarian Universalists seem to revel in being peculiar independent-minded.

My earlier mistake in trying (and failing) to find a common thread was in comparing Communion orders from too broad a time frame. There is something about the Communion liturgy that brings out the eccentric in just about everyone, but even there there is more in common than one might think.

First, there seems to be more familiarity with what most people call “liturgical worship” than is seen today. The past is littered with liturgies: some Unitarian, some Universalist; some for Sunday school, some for congregational worship; some for churches with ministers, some for preaching stations that waited for ministers and needed to worship with lay leadership.

The Book of worship: for the congregation and the home from the Church of the Disciples, Boston, is a Unitarian liturgy to pique your interest:

search MOA here for “worship.”

The right hand of fellowship

This afternoon, after worship is over, I’ll head to the airport and fly to Providence. From there, a car to suburban Boston, to the
First Parish Church in Weston where my friend
Peter Boullata will be ordained to the Christian ministry. I’ll offer him the right hand of fellowship.

I’ve seen people try to get clever with the right hand of fellowship, and it never
seems to work. The reference is to Galatians 2:9. Here it is, with the verse following:

And when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.


Certain themes are clear: commission, affirmation, unity. These are appropriate for someone
entering ordained life, of course. The act reminds us of the different labors that
ordained ministers might find in their vocations. It also reminds us that none of us is commissioned
to save the world, but that we can and must share the task.

But recall, too, that it is — or at least, is ours by right — our practice to welcome
new members, the overwhelming number of whom are not ordained, by the right hand of fellowship. And with
it, more than a handshake, they too receive a commission, affirmation, and a sign of unity.
And a share of the mission.

Ascension Day

This has been historically an important day for Universalists because of Christ’s promise that “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32, NRSV)

THROUGH thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who, after his most glorious resurrection, manifestly appeared to all his apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory. Therefore with angels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name;
evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord, most high.

Proper Preface for Ascension with Sanctus from the 1894 Universalist prayerbook

No Ascension Day service this year at UNMC, so I’ll trundle over to the Church of Ascension and St. Agnes, a Rome-leaning Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Church that has a reputation for “doing” Ascension well. (They should.)