Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"Engines that bend"

A new book discussing the origin of the articulated railway locomotive has recently been published: the most famous "bendy" engine being the  Garratt (or Beyer-Garratt) built by the Gorton firm of Beyer, Peacock & Co. and I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight the Unitarian progenitors of the idea. 

Monday, 30 July 2012

"Carved Stone Heads"

Two of the most famous Unitarian gothic-revival churches in the UK are Hyde Chapel, Cheshire and Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds both by the Manchester firm of Bowman & Crowther and opened within months of each other. In fact, the Leeds congregation took a lot of inspiration from  Hyde for their own building, including the pews, stained glass window and the final form of the piers in the arcades!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lindseys Communion Service

Theophilus Lindsey was an Anglican Clergyman, who like many other Latitudinarians in the 18th century church wanted a "broad church" with the abolition of the 39-articles. Sadly, he felt compelled to leave and established the first avowedly Unitarian Church in Essex Street, London somewhat reluctantly, hoping to always be able to re-join the Church of England. A good dsicussion of the "broad church" movement and its links and parrallels with Unitarianism is  Yesterday's Radicals  by D. G. Wigmore-Beddoes.

Presented here is his Unitarian version of the Communion Service from the Book of Common Prayer. Unlike the Communion service(s) by Martineau, it is simple and retains the poetry of the original source material; Martineau's service is rather high-brow and incredibly wordy! In fact, in terms of theology and Christology, Martineau's is far closer to the BCP than Lindsey's is, although in his introductory notes Martineau states that communion is a not an expatiatory sacrifice, but more a fraternal meal for all believers.

At first glance this looks and reads like the Book of Common Prayer....but on closer inspection it is very differant in theology, especially the Christology: Jesus was raised up to be the Christ and 'exalted' to God's right hand. He was not, therefore co-eternal and no co-creator. The Lord's Prayer is not said; the Ten Commandments are not read out; there are no prayers for the Monarch; the Creed is not said and nor is the Agnus Dei; the Kyrie is incorporated into other payers. There is not attempt at consecration of the elements and the communion itself takes the form of a memorial meal. It is interesting that the Minister is instructed (in fact underlined to emphasise the point) to face the people, rhhter than face the table, with his back to the congregation. Those elements copied directly from the BCP are highlighted in blue. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Well Dressing

“All Creatures of our God and King”

This magnificent picture, created by year 10 students to commemorate the 2012 Olympic Games. The display reflects the Olympic ideal of bringing together all the nations of the world to one place to celebrate each other's achievements.

The Olympics in Ancient Greece existed for over a thousand years; they were begun around 770BC and abolished by the Church around 400AD. They were a bit different from the modern Olympic Games: for a start they lasted three months and also the athletes did so in the nude. Given the problems we’ve had with funding the London Games and the weather we’ve had recently, it’s a good job they’re now two weeks long – and fully clothed!

Because the Ancient Olympic Games were a Religious Festival, all those travelling to the games, to compete or to spectate, were given free passage and also peaceful passage. At the start of the games a Truce was declared and three runners would leave Ellis, the site of the games, spreading the news of peace to all the competing nations. All wars were suspended, all legal actions were suspended and death sentences commuted.

So as we look at this beautiful picture of all nations coming together for the Olympic Games, may we think about the spirit of peace which pervaded the ancient Olympic Games, as “All creatures of our God and king” gather together this summer to celebrated their athletic achievement in the spirit of peace, concord and inspiration. May we all learn that “All Creatures” are truly welcome, and welcome in peace, and love.

Let us pray
May the waters gathered here at these wells remind us what each of us brings to this community, and of the waters that nourished us before we were even born, that continue to give us sustenance and energy for our life journeys and that of all creatures on this earth. May we gratefully continue to “swim to the other side.”

May the love that overcomes all differences,
that heals all wounds, that puts to flight all fears, that reconciles all who are separated,
be with us, in us and between us now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Some hymns

Let us build a house
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes, and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grae;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, 
all are welcome in this place.

Parable of the Good Lancastrian

This next parable started with a man asking Jesus a question.  The man who asks Jesus a question is very smart and was maybe trying to trick Jesus and see if he was a good teacher or not.  This is what he asked, "Teacher, what should I do so I can go to Heaven and live forever?"

Jesus replied, "What is written in the Bible?  What do you think?"  The man answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.”

But then someone else interrupted “Love my neighbour? That’s crazy. They’ve still got my lawnmower!”

Jesus replied, “Only let someone else use your lawnmower in your own garden.”

The crowd nodded sagely, ‘um’ing and ‘ah’ing in approval.

The first man interjected: “I think what he means is love other people as love yourself."
"That is right!"  Jesus said, breathing a sigh of relief.  "Do this and you will live forever in Heaven."  But the man wanted to know more so asked Jesus, "But how do we do this? Could you give us an example?"

Jesus decided to answer this question with a parable to help everyone who was listening understand.  Jesus said:  There once was a Yorkshireman, a travelling along a road.  It was the M62. He was coming from Leeds and was heading to Bradford, which was a full day or two of traffic jams.

Today, the road was clear and the sky was blue, green hills all around.  But he needed the loo so pulled into the little chef. The man was just humming to himself and enjoying the nice day when suddenly a group of men jumped out from behind a petrol pump.  They took all his belongings – his wallet, watch and iPhone – and even stole his best suit. It was Gucci.  They didn't want him to follow them so they beat him up very badly, and left him lying and bleeding on the side of the road.

A few minutes later a priest was walking to his car and noticed the man lying on the side of the road.  Do you know what he did?  You'd think he would run over and help the man.  Instead he crossed the road and walked on the other side and acted like he didn't see the man. May be he was too busy to help.

About an hour or so later another man, a GP was walking down the road.  He would probably help the man. It was against his oath not to.  But you know what he did?  He slowed down and walked a little closer to the man, but then kept walking without helping him at all. He was probably on strike.

You might be thinking that maybe the man lying by the side of the road looked like he was resting or something, that's why the priest and the GP didn't stop to help.  The trouble is, it was easy to tell he was badly hurt.  The man was bleeding, some of his clothes were missing and torn and he was bruised and hardly breathing.

Just a few minutes later another man came walking.  He was a Lancastrian.  One thing you should know about Lancastrian is that Yorkshire men didn't like them; they even had a war.  So they never got along.  The man who was dying on the road was a Yorkshire man.  So what do you think the Lancastrian did?  You'd think he would walk by and maybe even laugh at the man.

But as soon as he saw the man he went over to him and felt compassion for him.  He put bandages on his sores and poured oil and wine (which were quite expensive) on the sores to prevent them from getting worse.  Then he lifted the man into his own car and took him to BUPA hospital to take care of him.  Though why he didn’t phone 999 I don’t know; maybe he was insured. But that’s not important.

The next day the Lancastrian took out enough money so the man could stay at the hospital until he was well enough to leave.  He paid the man at the front desk and asked him to take care of the man.  If he wasn't better after about two months the Lancastrian fellah would come back and pay for any extra cost.

After Jesus finished the story he asked, "Which of the three men do you think was a neighbour to the man who was left beaten on the side of the road?"

The man who asked him the question at the beginning replied, "The one who had compassion and helped him."  Jesus told him, "Go and do the same."