Monday, 14 January 2019

Unitarians and friends in Ringwood consider personal faith and collective worship - the genie was out of the bottle from the Edict of Torda, 1568 #WeAreUnitarians

Page from the Munich Codex of the first Hungarian translation of the Bible
We gathered again for reverence under the Unitarian umbrella at the gathering on 13 January 2019.  At the start of our gathering we noted that Unitarians widely commemorate in January the Edict of Torda, Jan 1568. This was the first piece of legislation in a European kingdom (Transylvania and Eastern Hungary) to allow people the freedom to choose the pastor of their church, and allowing pastors the freedom to interpret the Christian Gospels according to their conscience.

As usual we started with a period of quiet in which to remember our own private creed followed by a simple ritual in silence, to which each participant attaches their own meaning and from which each derives their own insights.

We then heard readings from John Dominic Crossan and Tony McNeile, which respectively showed that Jesus’ own faith changed in the light of his experience; and that whilst we can worship collectively, we each have our own experience and hence our own understanding of faith.  These readings were largely centred on Jesus and the historical Christianity from which the Unitarian movement has evolved.  So to balance them we heard a poem by Walt Whitman with his humanist, transcendentalist stance, and from Islam we heard the philosophy of Ibn al-Arabi (via an interpretation by Karen Armstrong).  As Karen Armstrong understands this 16th century scholar to mean:  “…. human beings, who became logoi, [God’s exhaled] words that express God to Godself……each human being is a unique epiphany of the Hidden God, manifesting God in a particular and unrepeatable manner…….the revelation that God has made in each one of us is unique, different from the one from the God known by the innumerable men and women who are also his logoi.  We will only know our own ‘God’ since we cannot experience God objectively; it is impossible to know God in the same way as other people.”

We prayed a prayer from the 1932 Unitarian prayer book published by The Lindsey Press; and also the “Naming God” prayer we have published on our website; and we sang three songs from the “Hymns for Living” hymnbook.  We continued our practice of sitting in complete quiet for seven minutes, which we each use for our own purposes. 

After our candles for joys and concerns, we looked forward to our fifth birthday which comes around at our next gathering.  At that gathering we will open our "muster" conversation, for people to decide the relationship they want with the Didymus group during the coming year.