Last week the Universalist Church of West Hartford was used as an example of living Universalism, still vibrant and going strong within the denominational structure of Unitarian-Universalism. The original song “Child of God,” debuted at the service highlighted in last week’s post, will be offered as today’s Universalist quote of the day–the first time a post-merger quote has been used; it is sometimes hard to discern precisely whether a contemporary UU is Universalist in the classical sense, but there’s no ambiguity with this particular text. Besides the normal weekly service, which shows clearly the continuing influence of overt Universalist theology, there are many other places that we can observe classic Universalism on display. One is the practice of Communion.
Now, this isn’t flower communion or water communion or any of the other variant communions that UUs have developed, though the West Hartford church performs these as well. Rather, we’re talking here about the traditional Communion based on the New Testament, a rite that brings people and God together and binds the community in memory and appreciation of the values espoused by Jesus. At the church in question, Communion is held annually on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday (which is two days before Easter, for readers unfamiliar with Christian traditions). Maundy Thursday was the day that Jesus actually took bread and wine while gathered with his disciples and invited them to consume them in memory of him, indicating that they were symbolically his own flesh and blood.
Many other historically Universalist churches, and some Unitarian churches as well, also celebrate Communion. What about your church? Does it perform Communion? How does it proceed, and how often is it performed? What do you think of it? And if your church doesn’t perform Communion, do you know why? Perhaps it used to be performed there but was dropped for some reason, or, especially if your congregation is relatively new, it may never have had a Communion tradition.