Sunday-only calendar for 2018

Back in 2008, I put together a Sunday-only calendar as a planning tool for church worship leaders. It has been evergreen at by old blog, Boy in the Bands, and is probably the most popular item I’ve ever posted.

And so I’m crossposting it here. Enjoy.

You can also edit the OSD file in LibreOffice and (so it seems) newer versions of Microsoft Office. I included the rest of December 2017 and January 2019.

Salvator Mundi is for everyone

This week, a previously-thought lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million, and making news because of it. It shows a serene Christ, holding a crystal sphere — the cosmos — and an upheld right hand in a posture of blessing.

The work is stunning, and the price is eye-watering. But the subject of the painting, Christ, Savior of the World is greatest treasure. We are not lost in this world, or to it. We have a sure and powerful savior, and we do not need the riches of the world to meet him. We carry the image within.

See the painting here; the image is probably in the public domain but was released by Getty, and they’re awfully jealous of their licences, whether or not they have the right to be.

Christ with clear orb and hasd-gesture of blessing
Andrea Previtali’s Salvator Mundi, with the same theme

“All souls, O Lord, are thine”

My apologies for my long silent spell — longer, I think, than any since I began writing in 2003. But I couldn’t let All Souls Day go by unnoted.

The Universalist General Convention commended the Sunday closest to All Souls Day, November 2, “for a special celebration of our distinguishing doctrine, the Scriptural truth that all souls are God’s children, and that finally, by His grace attending them, they will all be saved from the power of sin, and will live and reign with Him forever in holiness and happiness.”

What we have here friends is an ethos, a vision and a plan worth celebrating. But what form shall this take?

For all of you who do not observe the Day of the Dead because you believe (in your case) it is cultural appropriation, know that that All Souls Day is for you. But there’s not a lot of cultural artifacts attached to it, so I can’t help you with those sugar skulls you’ve wanted an excuse to buy.

We do have a hymn, the most popular (not saying much) of writer and journalist Epes Sargent. Judging by his birthplace (Gloucester) and others having that name (Judith Sargent’s grandfather) I’m guessing his ties to Universalism are deep.

Epes Sargent portrait.

It only showed up in a handful of denominational hymnals, the last being the 1937 Hymns of the Spirit, but I consulted the 1917 Hymns of the Church, which I’m now cataloging, for the text.

All souls, O Lord, are thine — assurance blest!
Thine, not our own to rob of help divine;
Not man’s, to doom by any human test,
But thine, O gracious Lord, and only thine.

Thine, by thy various discipline, to lead
To heights where heavenly truths immortal shine, —
Truths none eternally shall fail to heed;
For all, O Lord, are thine, forever thine.

Forgive the thought, that everlasting ill
To any can be part of thy design;
Finite, imperfect, erring, guilty, — still
All souls, great God, are thine — and mercy thine.

Non-subscriber history site up

The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland is an interesting church of 4,000 or more souls in Ireland (the island), mostly in Northern Ireland (that part of the United Kingdom) but one that’s hard to get a lot of current information about. I’m sure its status contributes to this: “kindred” to Unitarians (as the formula went a century ago) but distinct from the Unitarians found across the Irish Sea. But some good news today.

Davis Steers, a NSPCI minister and writer, has put together a site about the church’s history and I look forward to reading it.

  • The History of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
  • UniversalistChristian.net down for rebuilding

    My UniversalistChristian.net site — one of the places I stash Universalist Christian documents — got infected and so rather trying to clean it, I have completely take it down.

    I’m really long past giving my documents sites a collective scrub, so I plan on doing that, with other security updates besides. I’ll appreciate your patience.

    Lay centers service book: first thoughts

    Returning to the Service and Hymn Book for the Unitarian League of Lay Centers, I wanted to share my process of understanding it. I think that starts with getting the texts of this hard-to-find book public. A searchable text also makes it easier to annotate, which then gets us closer to understanding how these early twentieth-century Unitarians viewed the liturgy, and from that their religion.

    The “services” are really opening sequences, with a pastoral prayer: in a sense an abbreviated morning prayer before the hymn-framed sermon. It’s a familiar format. There are two forms here: the first two services are more elaborate, and for general use. The last three — Righteousness and Peace, A Service of Thanksgiving and a Commemorative Service — outside the sequence of numbered services are more elaborate, perhaps for use on civil holidays … or civil crisis.

    The ten numbered services in the middle are an exended responsive reading matched to what might be called a “pastoral prayer.” That is, that kind of page-long, non-topical general prayer so often found in print in that era, and which continues as the most common genre of prayer in Unitarian Universalism (and elsewhere I bet.) A good period Universalist source of this genre, is Charles Hall Leonard’s 1915 Light and Peace and I bet many of my readers will also think of Rauschenbusch’s Prayers of the Social Awakening. My point is this: even without composing new prayers, it would have been easy for a local lay leader to match up extra prayers and extra responsive reading (they were commonly published in their own volumes, too) and club together new opening sequences, even if that meant obliging the members to buy a second book, or using a job printer. An appealing thought that.

    Back to our text:

    I thought it would be easier to dictate the text — around 9,500 words — into Google Drive and edit it from there, than to try and straighten all the photos of the pages and OCR them. I’ve included links to the page photos, and the “before” and “after” of the text editing below. (When I publish this page, I will not have started on the editing.)

    Photos of the first (liturgical) part of the Lay Centers book

    Lay Centers book as dictated

    Lay Centers book as it be being edited

    A Unitarian Te Deum

    I’m looking to find liturgical elements in Service and Hymn Book for the Unitarian League of Lay Centers drawn from contemporary Unitarian works — and there were several. I thought it would be helpful to see what family of resources and what influences were in play.

    The American Unitarian Association Book of Common Worship (1913) — only responsive readings — begins with, of all things, the late antique hymn of praise, the Te Deum, under the appropriate title “Praise to God.” It’s unusual because it’s hardly the most unitarian of texts, and so I include it here.

    We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
    All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.

    To thee all creatures cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein;
    The vast array of thy creation continually doth worship thee, holy, holy, holy. Lord, God of the universe;

    Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.
    The glorious company of the apostles praise thee;

    The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee;
    The noble army of martyrs praise thee;

    The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee, the Father of an infinite majesty:
    The everlasting Light of all that live, Spirit of grace and truth, the Comforter.

    Thou art the King of glory, O Lord; thou art the ever blessed God our Father.
    When thou lookest upon us in our low estate, thou dost not despise our humble prayer.

    Thou settest us free from the bondage of sin, and dost open the kingdom of heaven unto all the faithful.
    Thou callest upon us to enter in and to dwell with thee for ever.

    We believe that thou art Judge of all the earth.
    We therefore pray thee, help thy children, to whom thou hiast revealed the knowledge of thy love;

    May we be found faithful in the keeping of thy law.
    O Lord, save thy people, and bless thy heritage.

    Govern them, and lift them up for ever.
    Day by day we magnify thee, and we worship thy name ever, world without end.

    Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
    O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

    O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.
    O Lord, in thee have we trusted; let us never be confounded.

    Revisiting the Lay Centers book

    More than three years ago, I wrote about a Unitarian effort about 110 years past for the creation of “lay centers” that in many ways anticipated the post-WWII Fellowship Movement. (This was itself called for ten years prior.)

    There’s little said about this episode, and little evidence of it apart from a few articles and a small worship guide. I intended to say more about the book — famous last words — but it is fragile and rare enough that I did not want to subject it to a flatbed scanner.

    2014-04-02 21.13.36

    So I’ll pick up where I left off, and using my phone camera hope to find some efficiencies in bringing the contents of this book to light.

    In the meantime, review those past articles:

    Twenty years in fellowship, and now what?

    I was going through notes and files on my computer, and see that I received fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, through its Ministerial Fellowship Committee, twenty years ago two days ago; that is on July 7, 1997.

    It’s a nostalgic week for several reasons — some personal — but seeing old classmates report on Facebook their experience of the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and this anniversary are particularly poignant. (I went to Brite Divinity School, a Disciples seminary, and also graduated in 1997.)

    Would I do it all over again? Probably, because my happy life would be so much different without it. I met my husband while serving in my last pastorate, so we would have never met without this journey in ministry. My character has been improved in ways I can’t fully express by it, and have many good friends in the ministry without whom my life would be poorer. But those are not the usual reasons for entering and continuing in the ministry, and hardly good ones seen from the outside and all the costs counted. So much of my writing and secular non-profit work is to put flesh on dry bones,

    But this is not a complaint or lament, but rather a word of thanks for those I have served with and near, and who have helped me put some context into what ministry means in these fast-moving two decades.

    The bit of Jewish liturgy hidden in plain sight in the red hymnal

    For reasons too long to go into now, I was tracking down threads in the Classic Reform tradition of Reform Jewish liturgics a couple of weeks ago. Suffice it to say that it was in parallel with some of the liturgical developments in Unitarian churches in the late nineteenth century. There were some friendships crossing the divide, or at least cooperative parterships. It’s hard to tell how far or wide without a deep dive.

    So, I was reading the Adoration ending sequence from the Sabbath evening service in the Union Prayer Book, in wide use in Reform temples through the early 1970s. This is the Aleinu, for those familiar with the traditional Hebrew name. I thought, “this looks familiar.”

    As well it should. Capitalization aside, the first part of the Aleinu was dropped in almost verbatim as the Exhortation — that is, a beginning sequence — of the First Service of the Services of Religion, the services prepended to the 1937 joint Unitarian-Universalist Hymns of the Spirit.

    So, it reads:

    Let us adore the ever-living God, and render praise unto him who spread out the heavens and established the earth; whose glory is revealed in the heavens above and whose majesty is manifested throughout the earth. He is our God and there is none else; wherefore in awe and wonder we bow the head and magnify the Eternal, the Holy One, the Ever Blest.

    That’s the same hymnal that has the Jewish text translated by a Unitarian minister, “Praise to the Living God” as its first hymn.

    And if you’ve read this far and are at the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans, you may be interested in Shabbat Worship, presented by Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness on Friday, June 23, 5:00 pm in the Hilton Riverside Windsor Room.

    Cross-posted to HymnsoftheSpririt.org