Translated Sermon #29: The Gift of God by Mezei Csaba

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheGiftofGod.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 2010.   The sermon interprets a verse from the Old Testament in the book of Ecclesiastes; the wisdom related to the gift of God.    Mezei Csaba is an ordained Transylvanian unitarian minister serving at the Iris telep church in Kolozsvár.  They are partnered with the First Church in Boston, Massachusetts.    Mezei Csaba was a Starr King School of Ministry Balazs scholar in 1997-1998. He was a lecturer at the 2016 Minns Lectures.

Translated Sermon #28: Concio CXCIII by Enyedi György

The full text of the translated sermon (in conjunction with Concio CXCII) is published in print by the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History, 2021, Volume XLIV, pages 94-113.  In accordance with the publishing contract the full text of the translated sermon is not on this website. Please contact the Journal for a copy ($15); you’ll get two sermon translations and a historical essay!!!

Summary of sermon: The author of the sermon deserves as much attention as the topic.  Enyedi György was the third bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, until his death in 1597. He is called in some Hungarian language literature as the “Unitarian Plato”, because most of his writings and sermons focuses on the explanations of Bible verses.  He is noted for using everyday, mundane metaphors to teach the congregation about the meaning behind the words of Christ.  Hungarian translations of the Bible began to spread in his time, and it was important to teach churchgoers on their mother tongue about it.

The topic of the sermon represents a  continuation of the teachings of David Ferenc, who wrote  and preached about the reasoning why Antitrinitarians (today’s Unitarians) find the concept of the Trinity unacceptable.  This sermon relies on the verses 7-8 of Psalm 2 to continue the Antitrinitarian argument that Jesus Christ is not a person of the Godhead.  Enyedi wrote and preached this sermon under the extreme stress of persecution of the Unitarian Church in the form of confiscations of property, and forced catholization of Unitarians.

In The Journal of Unitarian Universalist History you can also find a great essay about the historical circumstances of the sermon by Dr Lovas Borbala, a historian who specializes in the Unitarian sermonic literature of the XVIth century,

In this sermon you look through a window into late XVIth century Transylvania, and hear the words of a contemporary of Shakespeare.  So, sit back, relax, allow your time machine to take you back to around 1597, and enjoy this gem of a sermon, available the first time in English.

Translated Sermon #27: Concio CXCII by Enyedi György

The full text of the translated sermon (in conjunction with Concio CXCIII) is published in print by the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History, 2021, Volume XLIV, pages 94-113.  In accordance with the publishing contract the full text of the translated sermon is not on this website. Please contact the Journal for a copy ($15); you’ll get two sermon translations and a historical essay!!!

Summary of sermon: The author of the sermon deserves as much attention as the topic.  Enyedi György was the third bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, until his death in 1597. He is called in some Hungarian language literature as the “Unitarian Plato”, because most of his writings and sermons focuses on the explanations of Bible verses.  He is noted for using everyday, mundane metaphors to teach the congregation about the meaning behind the words of Christ.  Hungarian translations of the Bible began to spread in his time, and it was important to teach churchgoers on their mother tongue about it.

The topic of the sermon represents a  continuation of the teachings of David Ferenc, who wrote  and preached about the reasoning why Antitrinitarians (today’s Unitarians) find the concept of the Trinity unacceptable.  This sermon relies on the verses 1-6 of Psalm 2 to make the Antitrinitarian argument that Jesus Christ is not a person of the Godhead.  Enyedi wrote and preached this sermon under the extreme stress of persecution of the Unitarian Church in the form of confiscations of property, and forced catholization of Unitarians.

In The Journal of Unitarian Universalist History you can also find a great essay about the historical circumstances of the sermon by Dr Lovas Borbala, a historian who specializes in the Unitarian sermonic literature of the XVIth century,

In this sermon you look through a window into late XVIth century Transylvania, and hear the words of a contemporary of Shakespeare.  So, sit back, relax, allow your time machine to take you back to around 1597, and enjoy this gem of a sermon, available the first time in English.

Translated Sermon #26: With God, in the Service of Mankind by Szabó Dezső

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonWithGodintheServiceofMankind.

Summary of sermon: This sermon was written in 1971.   The sermon is urging us to follow the command of Jesus to the disciples in Mark 10: 42-44, and dedicate our lives to the service of everyone. The author passes down to us the flame of commitment to service.  The circumstances of the writer of this sermon is also something to think about.  Szabó Dezső was an ordained unitarian minister in the village of Nagyajta until 1959, when he was arrested on charges that he committed acts that challenged the ruling communist order. He was sentenced to 20 years of prison.  He received amnesty, and then he eventually became a minister in Kolozsvár.   It is a magnificent expression of dignity, and following the ideal of Jesus when Szabó Dezső responds with the words of this sermon to the monumental injustice perpetrated on him. His grandson, Korodi Alpár, is a teacher of history in the János Zsigmond Unitárius Kollegium (Unitarian High School) in Kolozsvár.  The Nagyajta Unitárius Egyházközség is partnering with the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin.

Translated Sermon #25: Turning Toward God by Tódor Csaba

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTurningTowardGod.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 2009.   The sermon interprets the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus as described in the Book of John, Chapter 3, verses 2-10; it encourages us to go the extra mile, to turn toward God, and to become someone who is born of the Spirit.    Tódor Csaba is an ordained Transylvanian unitarian minister serving at the Székelykeresztúr church.  They are partnered with the First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts.    Tódor Csaba was a Starr King School of Ministry Balazs scholar in 2004-2004. He is a contributor to the practical theology booklets titled Unitárius Szószék.

Translated Sermon #24: The Freedom of Faith and Conscience by Ferencz József

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheFreedomofFaithandConscience.

Summary of the sermon: The author, Ferencz József, was a Unitarian minister in the town of Kolozsvár until 1876, and Bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church from 1876 through 1928. Please consult his wikipedia page to learn about his many significant contributions to the Transylvanian Unitarian Church.

This 16 page sermon was delivered in August of 1868 in Torda, during the synod to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Unitarian religion in Transylvania. According to Gellérd Imre, the unequalled expert on Transylvanian Unitarian sermonic literature, this is an “epoch-making” sermon for Unitarian ideals, and the best illustration of the thought processes of the author.  Thus, this sermon is a unique opportunity to understand the 19th century view of 300 years of Unitarian history and the outlook into the future  from a speaker who was destined to lead the Unitarian Church for 52 years.

In the introduction Ferencz József explains the year for the establishment of the Unitarian Church to the year 1568, because that same year was the year when the Transylvanian law securing freedom of faith and conscience was enacted.

In the first part he describes the historic events related to the fulfillments and the degradations of the freedom of faith and conscience. This part ends with the death of Dávid Ferencz, and the subsequent intolerance and cleansing.

In the second part he describes the effect of the French Revolution in resurrecting freedom of faith and conscience, and the changes in religious that followed. This part ends with acknowledgement of Unitarianism taking hold in England and in America, and the presence of a more tolerant attitude towards Unitarians in Transylvania.

In the third part he explains how education is a key to create a kind of humanity where enlightened thinking will forever prevent discrimination and prosecution based on religious difference.

Technical note: The author’s name and the Hungarian names in the body of the sermon and in the above summary are shown in their Hungarian form (Family name then Given name), and using the letters with diacritical marks.

Translated Sermon #23: The Word of Life by Simén Domokos

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheWordofLife.

Summary of the sermon:This sermon challenges us to measure our speech, our communications against the “word of life” of Jesus. Simén Domokos passes down his flame of enthusiasm to us by imploring us to make an effort to live up to that high standard. The sermon was written in 1990, the year after the revolution toppled the Communist rule and its restrictions on the Transylvanian Unitarian Church. The sermon, in a way, is a reminder that the example of Jesus is eternal, and his words are relevant even to those who were distracted by the words of the Communist regime.  In 2020, the relevance of the sermon to social media is unmistakable.

Simén Domokos was a minister in the town of Csikszereda till 2001; he passed away in 2006. The Csikszereda church is partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock, Manhasset, NY.

 

Translated Sermon #22: I Believe in the Eternal Life by Dr. Szabó Árpád

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonIBelieveintheEternalLife.

Summary of sermon: The topic of this Easter sermon is the promise of eternal life, the promise of rebirth as  a person and as a community.  Dr. Szabó Árpád asks “Can we become the people of Easter?” The affirmative answer is spelled out for us.

Dr. Szabó Árpád was the 30th bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church. He studied at Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1977-78;  he was an active participant in the affairs of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU); he was awarded the Louis C. Cornish “Living the Mission” award by the UU Partner Church Council in 2007. He passed away in 2010.

Translated Sermon #21: Concio XCIV by Enyedi György

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonConcioXCIV.

Summary of sermon: The author of the sermon deserves as much attention as the topic.  Enyedi György was the third bishop of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church, until his death in 1597. He is called in some Hungarian language literature as the “Unitarian Plato”, because most of his writings and sermons focuses on the explanations of Bible verses.  He is noted for using everyday, mundane metaphors to teach the congregation about the meaning behind the words of Christ.  Hungarian translations of the Bible began to spread in his time, and it was important to teach churchgoers on their mother tongue about it.

The topic of the sermon was a constant task in Enyedi’s life: encouragement of the persecuted Transylvanian Unitarian believers that despite their small numbers, and despite the strife that historical events brought to their doorstep, there is a great reward is awaiting them.  This is kind of sermon that earned Enyedi the title “Unitarian Plato”, because he is teaching with all his ability, no holds barred; observe the range of Bible quotes he deploys to support his message!

In this sermon you look through a window into late XVIth century Transylvania, and hear the words of a contemporary of Shakespeare.  So, sit back, relax, allow your time machine to take you back to around 1594, and enjoy this gem of a sermon, available the first time in English.

Translated Sermon #20: The Treasure of the Church by Nyitrai Berta

For full text go to the menu on top of the UnitarianTorch home page, click on Translated Transylvanian Unitarian Sermons line, and then click on the title: SermonTheTreasureoftheChurch.

Summary of sermon: The sermon was written in 1973.   The sermon is using a personal story about the Transylvanian Unitarian Hymnal to reveal what is the most important, essential treasures of the church.  Both the building, and the church in the heart.  The circumstances of the writer of this sermon is also something to think about.  Nyitrai Berta was the wife of Nyitrai Mózes (the unitarian minister in the village of Homoródkarácsonyfalva).  Berta was a minister, and she also was, what we would call, a choir director at the church.   She was arrested in 1959 on charges that she committed acts that challenged the ruling communist order. She was sentenced to 25 years of prison.  She received amnesty in 1964, and then followed her husband who became the minister in the village of Vadad.    Her grandson, Dr. Kecskés Csaba, is currently the minister of the unitarian church at Marosvásárhely Kövesdomb.  That is the partner of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.

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