Our Greetings to You
Welcome to the web site of the Universalist National Memorial Church, "a liberal Christian church in the heart of the city." We hope to answer your questions, spark your curiosity, and encourage you to visit with us in person.
Our church building is at 16th and "S" Streets, NW, where the Washington, DC neigborhoods of Dupont Circle and Logan Circle meet. Sunday worship starts at 11 a.m.
A Change of Face
Sermon preached by Deacon Perry King on March 2, 2014
Today is Transfiguration Sunday according to the Revised Common Lectionary, the last Sunday in Epiphany and the last Sunday before Lent. So today, I want to reflect on the experience described in Luke's gospel (Luke 9:28-36) and see how we could interpret it for our lives today.
What can we make of these readings for today? In Exodus (Exodus 24:12-18), Moses goes up to the mountain with his assistant Joshua, and in Luke, Jesus goes up to the mountain with Peter, John, and James. Both of these experiences involve a cloud passing over the mountain, and in both experiences, God spoke out of the cloud. In Exodus, we have the appearance of the Glory of the Lord as "a devouring fire", and in Luke, we have the appearance of Jesus' appearance changing and his clothes becoming dazzling white. In Exodus, God spoke to Moses, and the Ten Commandments were revealed. In Luke, we have God telling the disciples to listen to Jesus.
Both of these stories tell of remarkable experiences that happened to some very intentional seekers of the spiritual life. We can assume that the idea of God in the clouds came from the common view of the universe at the time as consistent with the "three-story" vision: There is Heaven above, Earth in the middle, and either Water or Hell below, depending on what belief people had. Some ancient Hebrews saw the heavens as held up by mountains, which were the pillars holding up the sky. God resided in heaven, thus was up in the sky. So it made perfect sense for Jesus to say, "Our father, who art in heaven." It also made perfect sense to think that one could come closer to God if one went on top of a mountain, and if a cloud came over the mountain, one could have a direct experience of God since God resided in the clouds, or heaven. So I hope this helps us to appreciate the pre-modern worldview and the way this influenced the subjective experience of the people described in Exodus and Luke. Viewing these as subjective experiences can help us to appreciate the beauty of the visions and to take something away that is meaningful for our world view today.
Celebration of Esther Fogwell
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Esther Fogwell passed away quietly on Sunday, March 2, at her home at The Hermitage in Alexandria after final visits from her daughter, Hope, and her niece, Bethany Bower. Esther had been in declining health for the past few months and was briefly hospitalized with pneumonia before she returned home. Pastor Jim and other church friends visited her during her final illness.
Esther was a member of Universalist National Memorial Church for 52 years and remained deeply interested in the church's vitality as long as her strength allowed. She was the last survivor of a cadre of churchwomen whose dedication was so great that they were able to sustain three very active women's groups.
We will honor and remember Esther with a memorial service on Friday, March 14, at 11 a.m. at the church, with a reception to follow in the church parlor.
Ash Wednesday 2014 – Recognizing Injustice & the Rejected
"Invitation to Lenten Discipline"
by Deacon Sue Mosher on Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Throughout the ages, in many cultures and many religions, people have found that fasting can lead to a higher state of alertness - can sound the trumpets, as the prophet (Joel 2:1-2, 12-17) would have it. During Lent this year, we as a congregation will try to fast not from chocolate, alcohol, or Facebook - although you're certainly welcome to take on any of those fasts - but from the slumber that leaves us unaware of the injustice in our midst and indifferent to its dehumanizing effects. Our preachers during these 40 days will focus on injustice and the rejected.
The first step in this undertaking is merely to recognize the issues. In her article "Five Faces of Oppression", Iris Marion Young breaks down this sometimes overwhelming concept into five interrelated conditions: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. When oppression is teased apart like this, I personally have found unavoidable the reality that oppression is not something that other people do, but I myself.
New Worlds of Presence
Sermon preached by David Gatton on February 9, 2014
I don't know about you, but I have been prone this year to the February blues-that period where the sky is gray, the nights are long, and the weight of a cold December, January, and February begins to feel heavy on the shoulders.
So when I went to the lectionary for today's passages, I found it intriguing and somewhat welcome that light played such a prominent role.
In Isaiah, "Then shall your light break forth like the dawn; and your healing shall spring up speedily."
And in the Gospel, "You are the light of the world."
UNMC bookstore benefits PDF
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