Sunday morning worship

Fort Worth

At Sunday morning worship this morning, we got a good old-fashioned Universalist sermon. But the rest of the worship service was anything but old-fashioned. The music was not 19th C. Western European classical music, it was jazz, gospel, and world music. The children’s story incorporated dance and drama to tell an ancient Sufi tale. And worshipping in the Fort Worth arena with about three thousand other Unitarian Universalists did not feel like traditional church — it did not even feel like the old-time Universalist camp meetings. No, the worship was contemporary.

But the sermon, given by Rob Hardies, minister at All Souls UU Church in Washington, DC, gave a message that the 19th C. Universalists would have recognized. The line from Hardies’s sermon that stuck with me went something like this: “The spiritual life isn’t about dabbling here and there, it’s about giving your whole life over to love.” Hardies gave new life to that old Universalist theme that love is the most powerful force in the universe, by pointing out that love will transform us as we use love to transform the world into a more humane and just place.

Hardies also had a good line about the name of his church. His church is called All Souls, which he contends is the best name for Unitarian Universalist churches because we aim to invite all persons in. But, said Hardies, “Can you imagine a church named ‘Some Souls’?” Everyone laughed, and then he added, “But isn’t that the defacto name of dominant religion in America today?” Murmurs of recognition greeted this statement.

Hardies went on to add, “The good news that Unitarian Universalism must deliver to the world… the good news that has literally saved my life, is that a god who picks and chooses is not god at all, it is an idol.” Then he said we must “preach the old Universalist gospel that all souls are invited to the welcome table.”

Well, this Universalist agrees with Hardies wholeheartedly. The professional musicans and well-rehearsed worship service for 3,000 people is fine and good, but what really matters is getting that message out to the world.


2 thoughts on “Sunday morning worship

  1. Administrator

    Comment transferred from old blog

    I am very concerned about all of the Christian language that seems to be inundating our faith: “Good News”, salvation, gospel, etc.

    As a UU Jew, these words make me feel increasingly unwelcome in the UUA and at my “church” (word exclusive to Chrisitanity). As the UUA becomes more Christian-lite, it is scaring away the Humanists, Atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. It is becoming a UCC wannabe.

    That is too bad. It had such potential as the “interfaith faith”.

    Comment from njcronk – 7/18/05 11:57 AM

  2. Administrator


    Sorry I didn’t see this comment until all these months later.

    I disagree that Unitarian Universalism ever had potential as an “interfaith religion” — we have always been very clearly in the Western religious tradition. To claim to be interfaith I think put us in the position of engagin in cultural misappropriation of other world religions, religions of which we had too little understanding.

    I am more comfortable with the word “post-Christian.” We are clearly no longer Christian (just ask any Christian group! just look at the fact that avowedly Christian UU ministers have a tough time getting a job!), but equally clearly we have grown out of Christianity.

    At the same time, I realize that individual Unitarian Universalists may in fact be interfaith. You, as a UU Jew, can legitimately celebrate Pesach, Rosh Hoshanah, etc. — for me to do that, as a non-Jewish UU minister, would be misapporpriation of the worst kind (I can’t even pronounce Hebrew!).

    Does that make sense?

Comments are closed.