Communion Services

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A variety of communion services are held at the Memorial Church and, with one exception, they are all forms of Christian communion - albeit Christian of a very liberal character. The one exception is the Flower Communion service which we inherit from the Czech Unitarians. I'll (the minister) post the flower communion service later (along with an address) but here, for the moment is our basic communion service.

General Communion Service

Here is another service of communion. This one is very brief and I (Andrew) often use it when we celebrate communion after the main service. It is a major revision of a service developed in the late 1940s a number of young Universalist ministers who briefly formed a group called The Humiliati. This revision attempts to do two things. The first is to keep in view the primary aim of the original authors, namely, to provide a "form of the communion service with a strong emphasis upon the commitment of the individual to religious living.” In recognition of the fact that Jesus committed his whole life to the fulfilling of his religious ideals, the service sought “to lead the worshipper to face the demands and challenges of their own lives with a similar commitment to live religiously.”

The second is consciously to put into practical, liturgical form a key insight of the Japanese philosopher Tanabe Hajime (1885- 1962) – a leading philosopher of the Kyoto School. He felt that all philosophy needed to begin in repentance because only in the moment of letting go, as one admits one’s powerlessness and radical limitations, is the necessary space created for some Other-power (tariki), something new and saving, to come over the horizons of our limited thoughts and enter into our frame of reference. This experience sets our mind in motion in ways that help us radically to change our ways of thinking and acting in the world. As the philosopher Michael McGhee puts it, what is aimed at is simply a continuous movement from ‘egocentric self-enclosure to joy in the welfare of another human being – nothing less than the conversion of Scrooge’. This continuous natural process or movement in which self-power (jiriki) is wholly given up and, in the giving up, returned to us wholly transformed by Other-power (tariki) Tanabe Hajime called a “way of repentance” (Zangedõ).