(c) Sarah C. Stewart
First preached on 22 Feb. 2015
First Unitarian Church of Worcester
Time was, and not even that long ago, that every Unitarian and Universalist church held regular communion services. Maybe not every week; but once a month, or a couple times a year, communion was a regular part of the worship service. In the 1939 Unitarian and Universalist hymnal Hymns of the Spirit, there are two communion services included. Our Common Prayer this morning came from that hymnal (Unitarian 42).
Now, communion services are rarer in our churches, but they are still a part of our tradition. I led an evening communion service here during Advent and I’ll lead another one on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. I get to participate in communion from time to time. For me, my spiritual life is more about practice than about belief. Belief is distant and hard to pin down; my beliefs tend to focus on practicalities, like how we should be kind toward one another, and let go of our worry and anxiety. Beliefs about God and the holy can seem further away.
In communion, I practice the spiritual virtues I hope to attain: shared community experience, confession of the things we have done wrong, being assured of grace, being humble and remembering the life and teachings of my spiritual masters. I don’t do it because I think communion, or the practices of Christianity, are the only path toward spiritual wholeness; they’re not even the only path for me. I do it because it transforms something inside of me to gather with others and participate in the rituals of my tradition. It is good for my soul to bow to the wisdom of this practice, over 2,000 years old, and wait to learn what it has to teach me. My practices teach me what I believe, rather than the other way around.