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Interfaith Day of Prayer and Reflection

The Reverend Mark W. Christian

First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City

Thursday May 6, 2004

 

As a Unitarian Universalist, I am the spiritual heir to the old Standing Order churches established by the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England.  A Unitarian congregation was the last, until the advent of today’s Faith Based Initiatives, to receive financial support derived directly from taxation.

 

From these roots, Unitarian Universalist congregations understand the power that comes from freedom.  Today, our congregations are among the strongest proponents of the Separation of Church and State-indeed some of my co-religionists are so committed to personal autonomy in things of the Spirit that they support what I call the Separation of Church and Church.  Such is the power of Freedom in a non-creedal, covenantal, tradition.

 

On this day of Prayer, I offer you this reading from William Ellery Channing.  I believe it to be prayer enough for this or any day.

 

The Free Mind

William Ellery Channing

 

I call that mind free which master the senses, and which recognizes it own reality and greatness:  Which passes life not in asking what it shall eat or drink, but in hungering, thirsting and seeking after righteousness.

 

I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself to a passive or hereditary faith:  Which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come; which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.

 

I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, and is not the creature of accidental impulse:  Which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement.

 

I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, and which does not cower to human opinion:  Which refuses to be the slave or tool of the many or of the few, and guards its empire over itself as nobler than the empire of the world.

 

I call that mind free which resists the bondage of habit, which does not mechanically copy the past, nor live on in its old virtues:  But which listens for new and higher monitions of conscience, and rejoices to pour itself forth in fresh and higher exertions.

 

I call that mind free which sets no bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering:  Which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of God’s children, and offers itself up a willing sacrifice to the cause of humankind.

 

I call that mind free which has cast off all fear but that of wrongdoing, and which no menace or peril can enthrall:  Which is calm in the midst of tumults and possesses itself though all else be lost.

 

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