I wouldn’t make a habit of it.
A cautionary tale. I’ve worshipped with Micah here in D.C. so I sawa little of what he described but I’m certainly no Quaker, and (happily) have since gone back to my old church. But the critical mass issue is one that Unitarian and Universalist Christians are going to have to grapple with, in part because we’re probably too radioactive to attract ecumenical partners. Which is its own shame.
If Quakers don’t have the strength or inclination to seed new congregations, perhaps it’s time to partner with those who do.
I’m glad to be invited back to preach at Universalist National Memorial Church this Sunday.
Using images of the Good Shepherd, I will (try to) explore what it mean to be a Christian in a pluralistic age, with readings from the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles.
I’m making a historical review of worship at Universalist National Memorial Church, by request, to help worship leaders understand how worship has developed. I’m curious to see what will turn up.
So, what can we tell from the order of service? Some initial thoughts.
- It’s pretty easy to see the morning prayer format. The Venite, the typical morning psalm, is a pretty big tell, too. The current UNMC service has all of the elements of morning prayer, with some parts more emphasized than others, and new elements (joys and concerns, center aisle greeting) added.
- The call to worship, invocation and Lord’s prayer are grouped, with the organ prelude and hymn (music) and procession (action), as a unit: the opening sequence.
- In Hymns of the Church services, the opening sequence may begin with opening words, but the hymn fills that role, presumably. The call to worship is the statement of the purpose of worship. The second service has a prayer for purity, which almost presumes a private and unspoken confession. Or if not confession, then at least a good intent. You see this construction in other published services.
- With sentences, we hear echoes of this sequence at UNMC today, though the Lord’s Prayer is in another place.
- The responsive readings are really long. About twice as long as found in the 1964 Hymns for the Celebration of Life and absolutely endless by 1993 Singing the Living Tradition standards. About two psalms worth, but perhaps used in halves, as suggested by the order of service, and the penciled notes in the Archives.org version of the Hymns of the Church.
- The prayer after the scripture reading may be a general thanksgiving, a part of a larger sequence from Anglican morning prayer. The “pastoral prayer” or “long prayer” may be implied here.
- In morning prayer, two major elements can appropriately be put in different places: announcements and the sermon. The announcement placement problem is perennial. In one version of “morning prayer and sermon” the sermon comes close to the end, before an optional prayer, final hymn and benediction. This is what UNMC has now. The printed order of service has the sermon after the reading, which might be a more modern ordering. But that’s not necessarily an endorsement.
- This service includes communion, a service its own right of course, after the usual morning service. Several years ago, a member of UNMC told me that Seth Brooks, who began his long pastorate the following week, presided over communion from the pulpit. Make of that what you will: better amplification perhaps, and that the thin space behind the altar was never meant for a versus populum service. (I recall getting a shoe wedged in.) And there’s no way that stone will move.
I was Googling for a set of 1939 orders of service from the Universalist National Memorial Church — where I was once minister and now, after a long break, am now a member — and found Sixteenth Street Architecture, a fine architectural survey of Washington, D.C. “avenue of churches” from just north of the White House to just south of Columbia Road, thus missing All Souls Unitarian, but capturing the recently-demolished brutalist Third Church of Christ, Scientist. (I blogged about it a few years ago.)
The section on UNMC is detailed and valuable, and includes photos of the construction.
Daisy the Dog took me out on my evening walk, and we happened upon the aftermath of the dedication, at the Indonesian embassy, of the statue of Saraswati, the Hindu deity of learning.
I was glad to see the dedication plaque: the right-hand plinth had a rough top for ages, and I thought it might have been vandalized!
If you are devoted to Saraswati, you can find her statue on Massachusetts Avenue, between 20th and 21st Streets, near the north exit of the Dupont Circle subway station.
So, my husband and I rode to the eastern terminus of the Washington Metro Silver Line on opening day yesterday. This is the first new subway — really, an elevated line — since 1991, and it goes through and past Tysons Corner, a local byword for big shopping malls, wide highways and mammoth office blocks. And until now, access by car or difficult bus connections. The plans for the future include more residents, and replacing an old-style suburban built environment with one more urban. But that’ll take many years.
As, indeed the rest of the planned, but not yet built, Phase 2 of the Silver Line. At least that’s scheduled for 2018, and not decades away. But the reason I suspect most in-town Washingtonians want to ride the Silver Line is to reach Dulles Airport, but that station is in Phase 2.
But the options to Dulles have improved.
The old “medium cheap” brown Washington Flyer bus — that only came in as far as East Falls Church Metro station — has been replaced by a blue Silver Line Express, to the Wiehle-Reston East station, the current terminus. It’s a shorter run, and also cheaper at $5.
Here are some notes:
When you arrive at Wiehle-Rest East, well, you’re really in a parking and bus transfer center. The station is in the median of the major arterial Dulles Toll Road, and so there’s no direct access. Go up the adjacent escalator, turn right out the enclosed vestibule. You’re now in an open-air plaza; turn right again. About thirty feet or so ahead is a path; look left. You will see a covered foot bridge over the Dulles Toll Road to the station ticketing area. There you can buy your fare; I’d recommend getting a SmarTrip card from one of the sales machine. You’ll save the cost of the card almost immediately, and spare yourself the trouble of fiddling with a paper fare card (for which there’s a $1 surcharge) and money. And there are discounts for using one.
Proceed though the gates, and down to the platform. and take any train.
Stand behind the bumpy edge on the platform.
When using escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left, unless it’s just packed solid.
On the return trip, just get on the bus. You’ll pay at the airport.
Horrible for Daisy the Dog! Some of her favorite sniffing places at the little, angular park in our neighborhood are trapped behind chain link fencing and barbed wire. The park has no formal name, but its impossible to not call it Schevchenko, for the large monument to Taras Shevchenko, “bard of Ukraine” in the middle of it. It has also been the site of rallies and demonstrations since the Russian-prompted annexations of Ukraine. Someone tucked a Ukrainian flag under Schevchenko’s right arm.
Not that you can get to the monument now. The fence went up yesterday, and when I walked Daisy last night, the plaza had been plowed up to the concrete slab.
Putin’s doing? More likely the National Park Service. Many of the plaza’s concrete tiles had come loose or eroded to reveal sharp reinforcing wire. The fountain hasn’t worked in our time in the neighborhood. Time for restoration. If Daisy can cope.