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IX.  Liturgical services

 

115. Which of our liturgical services are based on Jesus' teaching? 

    Two of our liturgical  services are based on Jesus' teaching: Baptism and Lord's Supper.

116.  Besides Baptism and the Lord's Supper, what other liturgies are celebrated?

    Besides Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the following liturgies are celebrated: Confirmation, the Marriage ceremony and the Funeral.

117.  What effect do we attribute to these liturgical celebrations?

    We attribute a strengthening effect for our moral and religious life to these liturgical celebrations. The services are resources reminding us of our duties and moving us to follow the example of Jesus and to perform good deeds.

118.  What is baptism?

    Baptism is the service through which we become members of the Christian Church.

    In the strict sense of the word, baptism does not make anyone a Christian. Baptism is merely a solemn expression on the parts of parents and god-parents that they appreciate their Christian faith and want their children to grow up and live in that faith too.

119.  When should we baptize?

    Jesus did not prescribe a specifically preferred time when we should baptize. A long time ago Christians were baptized when they were able to confess their faith. The custom today is for Christians to baptize their children in infancy.

120.  If someone dies without baptism, is she or he condemned?

    If someone dies without baptism he or she is not condemned because baptism itself is not redemptive.

121.  Is it appropriate to neglect the baptism?

    It is not appropriate to neglect the baptism and it is not customary for people who respect Jesus' teaching and the services of church to do so.

122.  When do we express our knowledge of what it is baptism requires of us?

    We express our knowledge of what baptism requires of us on the occasion of confirmation.

123.  What is confirmation?

    Confirmation is the expression of our strengthening in the Unitarian faith. Through confirmation we become independent members of the church and we assume responsibility before God for all of our deeds and our faithfulness.

124.  How is the confirmation completed?

    Confirmation is completed through the Lord's Supper when we partake for the first time.

125.  What is the Lord's Supper?

    The Lord's Supper is the liturgy through which we remember Jesus' life and death, and we receive encouragement to following his example.

126.  From what sources do we know the story of the Lord's Supper?

    We know the story of the Lord's Supper from the Gospels and II Corinthians. According to those sources, Jesus, before the night of his death, gathered his disciples and ate with them the traditional Paschal lamb. After supper, Jesus took bread in his hand, broke and blessed it and gave it to each of his disciples in order, saying: "Take and eat. This is my body which is broken for you." After that, Jesus took the cup in the same way, he blessed it and gave it to each of his disciples in order, saying: "Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood which is shed for you." Giving both the bread and wine he added: "Whenever you do this, do it in remembrance of me."

1 Corinthians 11,23-26: For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said: "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me". In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me". For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

127.  Why do we call this service the Lord's Supper?

    We call this service the Lord's Supper because Jesus first observed it on the occasion of a supper.

128.  Of what does the Lord's Supper consist?

    The Lord's Supper consists of bread and wine.

129.   What do we mean by the expression: "This is my body, this is my blood?"

    By the expression: "This is my body, this is my blood?" we mean that the bread symbolizes the broken body of Jesus, and the wine symbolizes the blood of Jesus.

    The Roman Catholics teach that the bread and wine changes to the literal body and blood of Jesus after the blessing of the Priest. According to this teaching, "This is my body, this is my blood" means that the body and blood of Christ are literally present. Therefore, the Eucharist is given only in one kind: The wafer.

    The Orthodox believers also teach that the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper is really Jesus' body and blood, which are distributed in two kinds.

    According of the Lutherans of the Augsburg Confession, in the wafer and wine of the Lord's Supper, the body and blood of Christ is present.

    The Reformed teach that believers receive the body and blood of Christ spiritually in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper.

130.  Who is required to receive the Lord's Supper?

    All of those who are confirmed Unitarians and who keep Jesus' memories in respect, are required to receive the Lord's Supper.

131.  Who cannot receive the Lord's Supper?

    The mentally ill, drunkards and children cannot receive the Lord's Supper, because they cannot distinguish this rite from the common meal.

132.   Where do we receive the Lord's Supper?

    We usually receive the Lord's Supper in the church, where members of the congregation, through participation in the sharing of one loaf and wine in common, receive the encouragement of filial love and harmony with neighbors.

    For those who are indisposed or ill and for  those who cannot go to the church, the minister can bring the Lord's Supper to them in their homes.

133.   Can those with guilt receive the Lord's Supper?

    Those with guilt may receive the Lord's Supper, and are not excluded from the Lord's Table, because the remembrance of Jesus can promote their improvement.

134.   How often do Unitarians receive the Lord's Supper?

    Unitarians receive the Lord's Supper four times yearly: During the Holy days of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Autumn Thanksgiving day.

    Besides enumerated holidays, Unitarians can receive the Lord's Supper on occasions such as church dedications and Synods in the place there these are organized.

135.  How must we prepare to become worthy guests for the Lord's Table?

    To become worthy guests of the Lord's Table, we must prepare ourselves in an inner and spiritual way.

    We must return thanks to God that God has created us, not only with physical, but spiritual life as well.

    We must remember Jesus with feelings of respect and love.

    We must have an attitude of good will and love for our neighbor, with whom we are all children of one God.

    Repenting our mistakes and our sins, we must promise that in the future we will endeavor to better preserve the purity of our hearts and to live a life worthy of God and of ourselves.

    These together create our self-examination, without which we make useless our gathering around the Lord's Table. The Apostle Paul reminded us: "Let a man examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup, for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body and drinks judgment upon himself."    (1 Corinthians 11,28-29)

    As to outside appearance, we note that God does not look upon your exterior. Nevertheless, in accordance with good manners, we must gather around the Lord's Table clean and well dressed.

    In order to maintain the order of the liturgy, we must observe the following:  After the minister finishes his sermon and prayer from behind the Lord's Table, the male members of the congregation gather on the square of the church, where they stand side by side. Then the minister gives a piece of bread to everyone in the order in which they are standing, which the members usually take with their right hand to eat. After that the minister takes the cup with wine and gives it to everyone. Usually the cup is received with the right hand and drunk. When the minister has distributed the bread and the wine to all of those who are standing around the table, he offers a short prayer. After that, those who received the Lord's Supper return to their seats without noise and without pushing.

    If the congregation is so large that the men cannot all stand together at the same time, usually the older members gather first. After the elders, those who are younger gather second and are received in the same order for the Lord's Supper.

    After the men, the women gather for the Lord's Supper in one or two groups, depending on their number.

    It is desirous and of good manner that those who have received the Lord's Supper first remain in the church until all of the congregation has received the elements, because of celebrants depart during this time they disturb the devotional nature of the liturgy.

136.   Are you ready for the Lord's Supper?

    We are ready to take the Lord's Supper and to give witness to our beliefs thereby. At the same time, we thank God, our providential Father, for enlightening our reason, and allowing us that time when we became able to know the truth of the Unitarian religion and our moral and religious duties, that through these we work for our earthly happiness and salvation.

    We are trusting firmly in the one eternal God, our providential Father. Be Glory to his name forever and ever.

                                                                            Amen.

 


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