Sunday 14 February 2010

Service in the Morning

Much of volunteering for a Unitarian church is like doing tasks for any other church, but when it comes to services there is a difference. The aim, arguably, of any church when someone different comes through its doors is to nurture the people towards the faith of the church: however, in Unitarianism, the aim is to expand the range and definition of Unitarianism. I'll accept there is still inculturation that happens, and there are liberal values to out across, but in terms of content and background the church as much alters.

When someone asked where my usual display of candles and paraphernalia had gone I said well this was a much more Islamic service - something of a humorous response but with a serious side. There was, after all, more about Ibn Sina the Persian thinker who built upon Aristotle, there was a Qur'an reading (also an Upanishad), and Islam was one of the several themes winding in and out of a piece mainly to do with reason and Aquinas. My sermon's conclusion was rather different from the basic assumptions of Islam, however.

I'm not apologetic about a strongly academic sermon because we have a responsibility to raise our game (but sermons like lectures are a rotten way alone to communicate: I try to make mine as 'linear' as possible to maximise communication whilst having high-level content), and I am pleased that my prayers are well appreciated for what was called their breadth and inclusivity - especially as I wrote them. If anyone examines my prayers they can see what books might be open at the time that give the lines along which they run, but beyond that they are originals.

The CD jumped at one track along the running order, but fortunately I made a second and that went in the player and the rest continued without that habit reoccurring: I can only think it is like a kick between snooker balls in a snooker game and part of the chaos in reality I was itself addressing.

This material gets a second outing at the In Depth Group on Tuesday with a differently constructed paper. But I'll take the service with me as well: my method is to take it complete; I don't even need to use a hymn book.

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