Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Nineteen

The Nineteenth Day                 
(Sunday, March 24, 2019)

Sin Unconfessed and Unforgiven

“Confession of sin is vital to religious health. Only through confession and repudiation of disloyalty can one reinstate and preserve one’s loyalty in the midst of that constant and inevitable unfaithfulness which life imposes. . . . The act of confession is itself an act of loyalty which neutralizes disloyalty.

“Confession . . . keeps the conscience sensitive and keeps living and growing the fine powers of discrimination of better and worse. Without confession of sin, sensitivity and appreciation for the noblest values of living and of God are gradually atrophied. This s inevitable. As surely as disease destroys the organism, so surely does unconfessed sin destroy the capacity to appreciate and serve the highest values. Aspiration fails, love of God declines, the far reaches of glory fade from our vision. The sublimity and the tragedy that hover over life give place to drab routine and nothing more. A creeping death spreads over the fine powers of love, loyalty and appreciation. Sin unconfessed and unforgiven is death to the powers of appreciation. Such death incurred by sin is the teaching of all the great religions.

“Finally confession of sin enables on to yield oneself to the purging, remaking process of growth which is God.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

To be aware of one’s guilt is not enough. Our tendency is to acknowledge it absent-mindedly, and then to say to ourselves, “I’ll do something about this someday,” or we rationalize, “Yes, I may profit from the exploitation of fellow humans in the underdeveloped world, but what can Ido about it? This is the sin of politicians and presidents, of captains of industry and banking interests over which I have no control.” And so we “play the game” of exploitation of our fellow humans, which is disloyal to the growth of creative mutuality that is God at work in the universe. We need to confess our sin—before God—and honestly and diligently search for ways to change the evils we acknowledge. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Just God, we confess before You our own participation in and profit from the ways we are contrary to Your Will for us and for our world. We are sorry, God. We are ashamed of ourselves. We will do better. Amen.

Hymn

When wilt thus save the people?
O God of mercy tall?
Not kings and queens, but nations!
Not thrones and crowns, but all!
Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they;
Let them not pass like weeds away,
Their heritage a sunless day:
God save the people!

Shall crimes bring crime forever,
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Great One,
That some should toil for wrong?
“No” say thy mountains,; “No” thy skies;
Earth’s clouded sun shall brightly rise,
And songs be heard instead of sighs:
God save the people! 

When wilt thus save the people?
O God of mercy tall?
The people, God, the people,
Not thrones and crowns, but all!
God save the people; thine they are,
Thy children, as the angels fair;
Save them from bondage and despair!
God save the people!

—Ebenezer Elliott (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 324)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Eighteen

The Eighteenth Day                  
(Saturday, March 23, 2019)

The Sense of Guilt

“The more vividly one senses the reality of that wholeness of God which infinitely exceeds the scope of conscious envisagement of values, the more deeply will one have the sense of guilt. This is a tremendous truth: the sense of guilt is altogether wholesome and noble when it arises from the depth and breadth of our appreciation of values.  It comes not from the poverty of life and its possibilities, but exactly from the opposite. It springs from the realization of the glory that might be and ought to be. It is the mark of our dignity and our greatness of human life and history, and not of the meanness of it. Only when it comes from one’s awareness of high values that ought to be, is sense of guilt an awareness of reality and a form of clear discernment that is necessary for noble and intelligent living.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

As we become aware of the reality and insistent urgency of God’s will for the creative oneness of the world, we become equally conscious of how we ourselves may be obstructing its realization. We are not ready to sacrifice some of our affluence to help the poor at home or abroad to help themselves; we are slow to turn our hearts toward the things which make for peace, if this may cost us even a little of our comfort. We have put our loyalty to multi-national corporations, to all kinds of things, to our own country above our loyalty to God, the growth of mutuality and meaning. We are in sin, each and every one. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

God, keep us strong and brave enough to be able to feel and face our guilt, to acknowledge where we have not loved as purely or shared as fully as we easily could. Stab our spirits broad awake to where we are and where we ought to be, and goad us towards a higher, holier way. Amen.

Hymn

Hard is now the constant woe,
Bitter is the long despair,
Casting doubt on all we know,
Blotting out our visions fair.

Weakly strain we after truth,
Slowly mount we toward the good,
Searching long in gloom and truth
For the soul’s sustaining food.

Our immortal task is great.
Greatly must it be achieved;
And our doom is still to wait,
Hoping still, though still deceived—

Hoping for the greater day,
Hoping for the larger light—
Day that shall endure for aye,
Light that yieldeth not to light.

—G. W. Fox (Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 129)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Seventeen

The Seventeenth Day               
(Friday, March 22, 2019)

Disloyalty to God

“Sin is disloyalty to God. Another way of saying it is that sin is the insubordination of any interest or impulse to the complete sovereignty of God. Still again, sin is any state of being which is not completely dominated and controlled by one mastering devotion to the whole reality of God. Sin is the insubordination of any interest to the one supreme interest in God. . . .

“Religion is loyalty to God. God working in human life and the world is the growth of meaning and value, with all the unknown and unlimited possibilities of this growth. Sin is disloyalty to this growth. 

“The disloyalty that is sin has four different forms. There is the sin of incomplete loyalty; there is the sin of divided loyalty; the sin of no loyalty or indifference; and finally, the sin of idolatry. This last is most damaging of all, most subtle, yet most deadly. It is the sin that is incurred in the steadfast loyalty to some one specific object in lieu of God.” (Wieman & Wieman)

The moment we become deeply aware of the potential for growth in mutuality between ourselves and others, both near at hand and far away, and realize God’s will as commanding such growth, we cannot help but have a sense o\also of sin. We become acutely, painfully aware of how far we ourselves fall short and how great is our need to grow. This is inevitable and entirely sound. It prepares and motivates us for further growing, for richer broader loving. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Dear God, who is the growth of love everywhere, make us aware of our too frequent smallness and selfishness. Help us to learn how to give, and not be afraid. For when we give with love, we discover there is always more to give, and we bind ourselves to ourselves, and to one another, and to You, the Most High. Amen.

Hymn

Make channels for the streams of love,
Where they may broadly run;
And love has overflowing streams,
To fill them, ev’ry one.

But if at any time we cease
Such channels to provide,
The very founts of love for us
Will soon be parched and dried.

For we must share, if we would keep,
That blessing from above:
Ceasing to give, we cease to have,
Such is the law of love.

—Richard Chenevix Trench (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 276)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 157)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Sixteen

The Sixteenth Day                    
(Thursday, March 21, 2019)

The Great Surging Sea

“The last characteristic of genuine religion is, like the preceding, one of the most outstanding. It is the sense of glory which behavior may reveal now as awe and wonder, now as glow and radiance, again as heightened, intensified responsiveness in spontaneously interpretive movement. This is one form of the real root of religion. Religion originated in our sensing the great forces and beauties and values not attained nor even yet served. . . .

“This experience of glory does not imply that the devotees know and discriminate all the great forces and beauties and values, but they sensethem. They  feelthe great surging sea  of infinite value, existent and potential, in which humanity lives. They know it by faith, and this gives the sense of glory. This faith that there is this great, dimly discerned wealth of potential values and possibilities shapes their feeling and action. . . . 

“The thinking, feeling and action of the genuine religious person are imbued with the sense of the presence of the more-than-I-can-behold-or-hear.  Our responding is not keyed to the things and occasions about us. We respond to these through a behavior keyed to the great and mysterious On Beyond, whose glory we sense.” (Wieman & Wieman)

Human life can be terribly small, mean and selfish. Sometimes it seems totally to circle around ME. Worse, it can be humdrum, dull, meaningless, just plain boring. But human life under the command of growing mutuality must reach out to others and to the world, must touch, take hold, share, respond, unite and rejoice. Then comes the glory, glory realized, more glory glimpsed. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

God of power, help us to know and realize in our own experience the truth of Jesus’ great affirmation, “Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever and Ever.” As we are yours, it shall be ours as well. Amen.

Hymn

“Thy kingdom come!” O God, we daily cry,
Weary and sad with earth’s long strife and pain;
“How long, O God!” thy suff’ring children sigh,
“Speed thou the dawn, and o’er the nations reign!”

Thy kingdom come! Then all the din of war
Like some dark dream shall vanish with the night:
Peace, holy peace, its myriad gifts shall pour,
Resting secure from danger and affright.

Thy kingdom come! No more shall deeds of shame,
Brutish and base, destroy the soul divine:
Bright with thy love’s all-purifying flame
Thy human temples evermore shall shine.

—Henry Warburton Hawkes (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 333)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 210)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Fifteen

The Fifteenth Day                    
(Wednesday, March 20, 2019)

Dynamic Peace

“One of the most important characteristics of religious responding is dynamic peace. That is, the devotee, regardless of the turmoil and disappointment and tragedy going on near or within her or his own living, sustains a poise that keeps her or him from destruction of faith and spirit. It does not come from negative adaptation, nor indifference, nor insulation of the self. It comes rather through the conviction that no matter what may occur, there still stands The Highest, and that he paramount thing is to keep in functional relationship to it, to orient the self all the more completely toward it.

“Three forms which this dynamic peace may take are important. First, there is the ability to relax, to sleep, and to sleep deeply. First we can relax in truly deep peace, require less of ordinary sleep. Second, there is freedom from unresolved conflict, harmony, release. There is sweetness of a peculiar sort. There is an inner sense of unity following the experience of a relatively integrated reaction. There is a feeling of harmony of communion unbroken by inner conflicts or outer interferences.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

One of the chiefest values of the religious way of life is its capacity to give us peace of mind and soul in the face of all of life’s unpredictable confrontations and heartaches. There is always a Power greater than oneself to fall back upon. So real is this that it can lead us even to say, triumphantly with Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

God of peace, grant us Your healing touch. Your greatest gift, the knowledge that in You is our peace, that as we spend our lives for Yours, you take possession of us, and no harm can come. Amen.

Hymn

O Thou whose power o’er moving worlds presides,
Whose voice created, and whose wisdom guides,
On darkling earth in pure effulgence shine
And cheer the clouded mind with light divine.

‘Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast
With silent confidence and holy rest:
From thee, great God, we spring, to thee we tend—
Path, motive, guide, original and end. 

—Boethius, translated by Samuel Johnson (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 67)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 128)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Fourteen

The Fourteenth Day                 
(Tuesday, March 19, 2019)

Spontaneity—Emotional Verve—Effectiveness—Artistry

“Religious life is meaningful. The interconnectedness and mutual support between all the acts and situations of living which genuine religion fosters (make all life more meaningful). Routine and instrumental acts escape being drudgery because of their symbolic meanings. Behavior is thus more marked by spontaneity, emotional verve, effectiveness and artistry.

“Religion develops enthusiasm, zeal, courage, morale. It tends to sustain a relatively steady emotional tone which minimizes moodiness. . . And absorbing challenge to action comes from the observing of the needs for devoted service. There are occasions when the magnificence and wonder and preciousness of The Highest seem to flood upon the worshippers and stir them to mightier endeavor.

“The crusading spirit enters into religious behavior at the point where the sense of mission grows strong within the individual.” (Wieman & Wieman)

As a person grows secure in an understanding of, and feeling for, his or her relationship with the vast, quiet upthrust of growing mutuality in the universe, he or she becomes transfused with it and transformed by it. It becomes “second nature,” and one feels him or herself born again. Then come the sense of glory. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Mighty God, grasp us with your Glory, transform us by Your goodness, touch every moment and every aspect of our lives with Your light and love. Amen.

Hymn

Praise to God and thanks we bring,
Hearts, bow down, and voices, sing!
Praises to the Glorious One,
All the year of wonder done!
Praise God for the budding green,
April’s resurrection scene;
Praise God for the shining hours,
Starring all the land with flow’rs!

Praise God for the summer rain,
Feeding day and night the grain;
Praise God for the tiny seed,
Holding all this world shall need;
Praise God for the garden root,
Meadow grass and orchard fruit;
Praise for hills and valleys broad,
Each the table of our God!

Praise God now for snowy rest,
Falling soft on nature’s breast; 
Praise for happy dreams of birth,
Brooding in the quiet earth!
For this year of wonder done,
Praise to the All-Glorious One!
Hearts, bow down, and voices sing,
Praise, and love, and thanks we bring.

—William Channing Gannett (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 140)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 308)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit--Day Thirteen

The Thirteenth Day                  
(Monday, March 18, 2019)

Sudden New Light

“Detachment qualifies religious behavior. The absorption in religious matters felt to be vital tends to divert attention and participation from many of the ordinary, so-called secular, interests of living. The ‘world’ does not have power over devotees, for they are in, but not entirely of, the world. They have selected that which they believe to be the Supremely Worthful.  . . . Detachment involves perspective, it enables us to see things somewhat in the whole. Having a supreme objective, we see different situations relative to this. We are not so panicky in the presence of certain aspects because we see them as connected with some greatly larger aspect. . . . Perspective promotes poise and balance. Also, persons who are marked by a worthy sense of detachment tend to arrive at a more original evaluation of things and processes. They do not so readily accept the current or formulated interpretations. . . . Again, perspective tends to imply a sense of humor, an ability to look objectively upon experiences, including our own. Behavior in which we take ourselves over-seriously as against the totality of our cause, is irreligious. It disintegrates the personality. Humor, laughter, many times are announcements of sudden new light upon value or of true interpretation of life.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

To be non-self-referent, to be able to stand off from oneself, and see oneself from an objective viewpoint, is a good worth cultivating. It invites insight, humor, self-correction, increasing self-confidence. It helps one to rise above daily frustrations and to overcome human inadequacies. It leads one to give oneself to God’s larger purposes. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Lord of All Life, grant that we may see ourselves as others do, yes, even as in Your sight, that we may laugh at our foolishness and not be afraid of being lost in it, knowing that we can overcome. Amen.

Hymn

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed stake my spirit clings—
I know that God is good.

The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above;
I know not of God’s hate—I know
The goodness and the love.

And thou, O Lord, by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me, if too close I lean
My human heart on thee!

—John Greenleaf Whittier (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 256)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Twelve

The Twelfth Day
(Sunday, March 17, 2019)

Self-Criticism—Dynamic Patience—Aspiration

“An open and constructive attitude toward limitations of the self characterizes genuine religious living . . . Normally, self-criticism grows out of an awareness of the greater possibilities for growth ever glimpsed in the search for value and Supreme Value. It takes place without despair of morbidity or marked discouragement. It provides incentive, illumination, challenge and aspiration for creative growth.

“Patience has been a predominant characteristic of religious living until recently . . . Great values issue from dynamic patience, whereas dumb or weak passivity is devilish.

“Aspiration is a thoroughly essential characteristic . . . It is the inevitable consequence of loyalty to that which one holds to be The Highest. The realization of one’s own limitations [in relation to The Highest], perhaps to the point of feelings of inferiority, sets up a process of projection of the self toward the great rich possibilities on beyond present realizations . . . The act of prayer is a revelation of aspiration, a longing to put the self into communication or touch with that worshipped.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Growing requires a certain balance of dis-ease, of dis-satisfaction with one’s self and present accomplishment and a sense of the great potential within which remains awaiting realization. It takes unremitting faith and patience to keep the balance on the positive side. Religion can do this for us. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Aspiring God, You know, as well as we, how far short we fall from realizing our high calling as children of Your Larger Life. Help us to keep trying, to be patient with ourselves as long as we continue to move towards the great goal. Amen.

Hymn

It is so long a way that I must go,
A pilgrim in a country that is strange!
Only my distant city do I know,
And all the rest is changelessness and change.

The changeless way that all my forebears trod,
The way of life, that is so old, so old!
And yet so changeful that each travelled rod
Discloses alterations manifold!

It is so strange a way that I must go,
I scarcely know how I might best prepare.
Only my distant city do I know,
And all my heart is willed to conquer there.

O brave to tread the way as yet untrod,
Undaunted by the dangers that I see;
This is the spirit I would show to God
Who showed my distant city unto me!

—Charles M. Luce (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 551)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religious based on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Eleven

The Eleventh Day
(Saturday, March 16, 2019)

A Joyous Quality

“Religious living is oriented and integrated toward one supreme area of worth. Consequently all living is measured and ordered with reference to that which the devotee holds to be The Most High. . . .Certain correlary qualities of responding belong with the characteristic or organized reaching under a dominant loyalty. There is a feeling that life is worth living. There is a sense of direction. There is a joyous quality through the sense of moving on toward that value set as supreme, a consciousness of making progress, there is an accentuated emotional element because everything that occurs makes much more difference to the religiously integrated person than it does to the unreligious person. . . .”  (Wieman & Wieman)

To have a clear sense of direction, a definite hierarchy of loyalties so as to be able to put first things first, is fundamental to real enjoyment of life. We want to know that we are accomplishing something, getting somewhere worth while, if we are to be happy. In the light of such an o’er arching commitment, every smallest detail of life gains an eternal significance. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Dear God, awaken us to the glory of Your heavenly command and the joy of our high calling. Let them transform our humblest tasks and most mundane moments into blessedness. Amen.

Hymn

Seek not afar for beauty; lo! It glows
In dew-wet grasses all about thy feet;
In birds, in sunshine, childish faces sweet,
In stars and mountain summits topped with snows.

Go not abroad for happiness: for see
It is a flower blossoming at thy door.
Bring love and justice home, and then no more
Thou’lt wonder in what dwelling joy may be.

Dream not of noble service elsewhere wrought;
The simple duty that awaits thy hand
Is God’s voice speaking a divine command:
Life’s common deeds build all that saints have thought.

In wonder-workings, or some bush aflame,
we look for God and fancy God concealed;
But in earth’s common things God stands revealed,
While grass and flowers and stars spell out the Name.

—Minot Judge Savage (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 40)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no 174)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Ten

The Tenth Day                          
(Friday, March 15, 2019)

Reinforcement through Fellowship

“What are the marks of religious responding in genuine religion? . . . 1. . . . Consciousness of superhuman power in the universe. . . . This consciousness . . . shows itself in some degree in a manner of humbleness, a subjecting of the self to what is felt to be the commands, the laws, ‘the word’ of the powers. The degree to which the power is supremely worthful gives beauty and significance to this humbleness.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

When belief becomes faith, religion becomes real. God is felt deeply within us and can be noticed and identified at work all around us in the environing world. The more intense our faith, the greater our wonder, and the more ecstatic our wonder, the deeper our sense of humility. Humility before God’s continuing thrust for mutuality and meaning opens us to such growth within ourselves. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Universal Being, ever Becoming, before Your greatness and goodness we become humble indeed, and in our humility—open and teachable. Thus we let You in to change our lives for good. God be in us always. Amen.

Hymn

I look to thee in ev’ry need,
and never look in vain;
I feel thy strong and tender love,
And all is well again:
The tho’t of thee is mightier far
Than sin and pain and sorrow are.

Discouraged in the works of life,
Disheartened by its load,
Shamed by its failures or its fears,
I sink beside the road;
But let me only think of thee,
And then new heart springs up in me.

The calmness bends serene above,
My restlessness to still
Around me flows the quickening life,
To nerve my faltering will:
Thy presence fills my solitude;
Thy providence turns all to good.

Embosomed deep in thy dear love,
Held in thy law, I stand;
Thy hand in all things I behold,
And all things in thy hand;
Thou leadest me by unsought ways,
And turn’st my mourning into praise.

—Samuel Longfellow (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 258)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Nine

The Ninth Day
(Thursday, March 14, 2019)

A Manner of Humbleness

“What are the marks of religious responding in genuine religion? . . . 1. . . . Consciousness of superhuman power in the universe. . . . This consciousness . . . shows itself in some degree in a manner of humbleness, a subjecting of the self to what is felt to be the commands, the laws, ‘the word’ of the powers. The degree to which the power is supremely worthful gives beauty and significance to this humbleness.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

When belief becomes faith, religion becomes real. God is felt deeply within us and can be noticed and identified at work all around us in the environing world. The more intense our faith, the greater our wonder, and the more ecstatic our wonder, the deeper our sense of humility. Humility before God’s continuing thrust for mutuality and meaning opens us to such growth within ourselves. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Universal Being, ever Becoming, before Your greatness and goodness we become humble indeed, and in our humility—open and teachable. Thus we let You in to change our lives for good. God be in us always. Amen.

Hymn

I look to thee in ev’ry need,
and never look in vain;
I feel thy strong and tender love,
And all is well again:
The tho’t of thee is mightier far
Than sin and pain and sorrow are.

Discouraged in the works of life,
Disheartened by its load,
Shamed by its failures or its fears,
I sink beside the road;
But let me only think of thee,
And then new heart springs up in me.

The calmness bends serene above,
My restlessness to still
Around me flows the quickening life,
To nerve my faltering will:
Thy presence fills my solitude;
Thy providence turns all to good.

Embosomed deep in thy dear love,
Held in thy law, I stand;
Thy hand in all things I behold,
And all things in thy hand;
Thou leadest me by unsought ways,
And turn’st my mourning into praise.

—Samuel Longfellow (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 258)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Eight

The Eighth Day
(Wednesday, March 13, 2019)

Grounded Faith

“Faith is essential to religion. A faith is a transforming and activating belief. Faith is belief controlling the viscera. It is belief become dynamic, functioning in life. It is belief which gives us access to what we love and honor most. Religious faith is a belief which organizes and integrates our activities and hidden impulses, and connects them with an ongoing movement of life which reaches higher than I have yet explored. It is a belief which opens an orient gate to the dawning of more spacious days than we have known in our past. 

“A faith may be without evidence. But if there is any one belief above all others that should be subjected to rigorous tests it is that which changes my way of living and directs or misdirects me toward what is most important for all human fulfillment,. Hence a faith, more than any other belief, should be based on tests and evidence. A faith so grounded is one of the most precious possessions we can have.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

What we call our faith is the total integrated structure of all of our beliefs, made coherent and rational, and constantly tested our and either reaffirmed or corrected by continuing life experience. It becomes the foundation for our personal morale and morals as we confront the challenges of daily life. Faith is our character. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Spacious God, help us, each one personally, to mould our many beliefs into a vital, rational, vibrant religious faith capable of empowering and directing our lives towards the highest. Amen.

Hymn

Faith of our forebears, living still,
In spite of dungeon fire and sword,
O how our hearts beat high with joy,
Whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our forebears, holy faith.
we will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our forebears, faith and prayer
Have kept our country brave and free,
And through the truth that comes from God,
Its children have true liberty.
Faith of our forebears, holy faith.
we will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our foreberas, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how,
By kindly words and virtuous life;
Faith of our forebears, holy faith.
we will be true to thee till death.

—Frederick William Faber (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 546)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Seven

The Seventh Day
(Tuesday, March 12, 2019)

A Path Through the Maze

“A belief becomes a faith when it shapes the way of one’s living, when it determines what one shall live for. It is not a faith merely when it is accepted as true. . . .

“A worthy and workable faith will be a hierarchy, with the most general belief in supreme control over the living of the individual, and less general ones in subordinate places of control. The controlling belief . . . will be that there is a reality that is most inclusive of all values and hence supremely worthful. This last is a general belief about God. It should be supplemented with many more particular beliefs. But a faith becomes productive if much evil when it allows any of these particular beliefs to take dominance over the general one. . . .

“When we learn to distinguish between the valid and invalid grounds of belief, we can survey undismayed the vast medley of religious beliefs and find a path through the maze. . . . Take for example the very important proposition: Love is better than hate.” There are three concepts here to be clarified: Love, Hate and Better. The concept of Better puts us at the very heart of the problem of value. . . . The Better is that activity which has more connections of mutual support, mutual enhancement and mutual meaning with other activities.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

What we believe is important, but our beliefs do not become religious until they transform our ways of living. They transform our ways of living only when we find them convincing, and can organize them into hierarchies of supreme and lesser goods. When lesser goods are made paramount, such as, for example, serving one’s own family—as each of us must and should—the lesser good becomes an evil, for it stands in the way of the large love of humanity and God. It prevents the growth of mutual support and enhancement, and thus of meaning, in the wider reaches of life. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Correcting God, help us to believe, but guide and guard us against our lesser loves, that we may not put love of family or country above the growth of Your wider mutuality. Help us to experience the love that is all inclusive, that knows no bounds, yet brightly burns at every level of life. Amen.

Hymn

One to every [soul] and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause,
God’s new Messiah,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes on forever
‘Twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble
When we chare truth’s wretched crust,
ere the cause bring fame and profit,
And ‘tis prosperous to be just;
Then is is the brave [one] chooses,
while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude makes virtue
Of the faith they have denied.

Thought the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ‘tis truth alone is strong;
though its portion be a scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
and, behind the dim unknow,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch o’e [God’s] own.

—James Russell Lowell (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 319)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 220)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Six

The Sixth Day
(Monday, March 11, 2019)

Getting Free of the Debris

“Here is most urgent work for us to do. We today have reached one of those crises in history when old institutions, ideals and habits are being cracked and shattered by the upthrusting force of superhuman growth of meaning and value. But these meanings and values cannot be consummated in the experience of human living until this old obstructive debris is taken out of the way. Such is the present state of society. In face of such a situation anyone who thinks that God will do it all and we have nothing to do is wrapped in a blanket of delusion. It may be that we will refuse to do this work. If so, it will never be done and the great opportunity of this age to experience the superhuman flowering of meaning and value will pass. In that case future historians will say: a springtime of history hovered near and then departed. After that winter came.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

We sometimes forget that creative growth can be uncomfortable. Have you ever watched a snake struggle to cast off its old skin, or a lobster its shell. Probably not, because during and after that arduous process, it is extremely vulnerable. Yet it is imperative for further growth and development, and even for continued life. We, too, outgrow our original families, and create new ones of our own. Nationalism had its proper day, and now our increasing interdependence requires international institutions, Individualistic entrepreneurism has given way to the multinational conglomerate, which in turn will require a large degree of international democratic, socialistic planning if its operations are to be serviceable for the whole and not exploitative of the many for the few. What is the “obstructive debris” in the institutions of our time which must still be cleared away by us, if God is to be free to do creative work among us?  (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Initiating God, You are the creative force at work in everything, everywhere. You see, You requiremore and more mutual support, enhancement and meaning to emerge in all our human ways. Help us to see where our old ideas and habits, our old fears and failures, or even our successes, may be holding You back. Let us be ever watchful for the emergence of the new and unafraid of the necessary casting off of the old body of life. Amen.

Hymn

Spirit of God in thunder speak
To rouse us from our sluggish joy;
Our soft content accursed make,
Our peace which sharpest pain alloy.

Bid us go forth where doubt hath wrung
Our hope from out the aching breast;
Where all is dark, and for our feet,
Far wandering, there is no rest.

There be our place! O there be heard.
Thy voice a clarion wringing clear—
To rouse the sleepers, raise the dead,
And stay the faint with hope and cheer!

—John White Chadwick (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 322)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Five

The Fifth Day
(Sunday, March 10, 2019)

New Threads for the Weaving

“The chief thing one can do for this sort of growth which is superhuman is to be intelligently and devotedly religious. That means, first of all, to recognize the fact that this creative interaction is going on. It means, in the second place, that one search out this creative interaction in all the specific forms in which it may be found: in the friendship between persons, in the home, in dealing with physical nature, in relations between employer and employee, in relations between producer and consumer, in the classroom, in international relations, and in all the relationships of life. It means in the third place, that one yield oneself to this creative interaction in those specific forms in which it is most accessible, and let oneself be used by it and transformed by it, to the end that it may enrich the world in ways which no one could foresee nor plan nor intelligently direct. Finally we must clear the way for this growth.

“We have seen that this growth is an extension and multiplying of connections between activities by which they control one another. This involves increasing interdependence. But when diverse activities become interwoven and interdependent, the persons and groups involved may fail to reorganize their lives to meet the requirements of these new connections. Then great evils ensue. We see this very markedly in the modern world where interdependence has increased very rapidly but without a correlative reconstruction of habits, sentiments, loyalties, customs, laws, institutions. All these were developed to fit connections which had meaning and value when there was far less interdependence. But today they are anachronisms. They are like old broken threads which were once of service but now obstruct the weaving. They keep interdependent activities from interweaving into connections of mutual support, enhancement and meaning.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Let us think specifically of some of the institutions which were valuable before the world’s current interdependence. Would nationalism be among them—my country first, above all? Would so-called “free enterprise,” every one for oneself, and the devil take the hindmost? If God commands interdependence, what changes must I make in my life, and our nation make in its common lofe? What will happen if such changes are not made?  (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

God, help us to feel, literally feel, the invisible bonds which bind all humans together, and which my tie affluence to another’s poverty far across the earth. Help us to hurt when anyone anywhere hurts, and find a way to help. Amen.

Hymn

Creation’s God, we give Thee thanks
That this Thy world is incomplete;
That battle calls our marshalled ranks,
That work awaits our hands and feet;

Beyond the present sin and shame,
Wrong’s bitter, cruel scorching blight,
We see the beckoning vision flame,
The blessed City of the Right.

Since what we choose it what we are,
And what we love we yet shall be,
The goal may ever shine afar,
The will to win it makes us free.

—William DeWitt Hyde (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 311)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 221)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirt, Day Four

The Fourth Day
(Saturday, March 9, 2019)

More than a Scarlet Poppy

“Watch meaning grow in the personality of a child. . . . Watch the development from random activities that fling hither and thither without meaning save the pleasure and pain of physical contact, to a total system of meanings, a point of maturity which gathers up the rich heritage of uncounted centuries, which reaches down to comprehend the infinitesimal movements of atoms and electrons, which grasps off to the galaxies of a planetary culture and plumbs the mysteries of the human heart.

“The human individual undergoesthis growth; one does not doit. The intelligence cannot do it because it is the very intelligence itself that grows. The individual undergoes this growth as sunshine, air and earth undergo transformation into a scarlet poppy. A human can do more than the poppy. A human can seek out the conditions that are required for this growth and for its greater abundance. Above all, we can yield ourselves in blessed abandon to the transforming power of it. But we undergo it; we do not do it. . . .

“A person can certainly do a great deal to improve himself or herself by discipline, by living according to sound principles, by self-consciously cultivating virtues and abilities. All this may be indispensable to the higher reaches of goodness. But these higher reaches must come as the flowers do, when one has done all one can to provide for them.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Persons must choose. They must seek to create the conditions, personal and social, in which growth of mutuality of life can take place. They must find the courage to overcome selfish aims and personal profit, and yield themselves to Love’s transforming power. Then they will find their lives becoming more and more rich and varied, exciting and fulfilling as they become helpfully intertwined with those of others.  (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Blessed God, why is it so hard for me to find myself in my brother’s or sister’s face? Why cannot I see my own impoverishment in the listless eyes of unemployed youth or the crazed stare of the criminal caught? Can I not do more to help create conditions in which all might grow in the ability to love? Amen.

Hymn

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, God, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my love: my God, I pour
At thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

—Frances Ridley Havergal (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 277)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Three

The Third Day
(Friday, March 8, 2019)

The Growth of Meaning in the World

“What, then, is supreme value? It is growth of meaning in the world. . . . This growth of meaning and value in the world is God. There are five grounds on which this claim rests.

1.    Growth of meaning commands our supreme devotion and highest loyalty by right of its truthfulness.

2.    It creates and sustains human personality.

3.    It carries human personality to whatsoever highest fulfillments are possible to it.

4.    It has more worth than personality, hence human personality finds its highest destiny in giving itself to this growth, to be mastered, used and transformed by it into the fabric of emerging values.

5.    The greatest values can be poured into human life only as we yield ourselves to the domination and control of this growth. When we try to dominate and use it, we lose these values.

“This growth of meaning in the world is super-human. Super-human does not mean supernatural. Neither does it mean something outside of human life, for humans obviously can never experience or know anything that is wholly outside their living. Growth of meaning can occur only in and with human experience. Growth of meaning must always appropriate the materials of human life. In like manner a flower can grow only by using the materials of air, light and soil. It grows by re-ordering these elements. So growth of meaning occurs by re-ordering human life. It is not the work of human life. It is super-human because it operates in ways over and above the plans and purposes of people, bringing forth values people cannot foresee, and often developing connections of mutual support and mutual meaning in spite of, or contrary to, the efforts of people. . . . Growth is always super-human, although it is not supernatural.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Supreme value is the growth of meaning and value in the world, the increase of loving relationships among us, and mutuality within our common life. This growth of meaning is God, God at work in human and all other being.

Love, then, commands our highest loyalty. The urge to share, to help, to spare, to nite is God, and demands our uttermost responsiveness to its call. As the apostle John summarized and science now confirms, “God is love, and they who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”  (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Loving God, help us to realize that Your command to love our neighbor as ourselves means allour neighbors, not just those we happen to like. And it is a command, not just nice, but absolutely necessary if we are to live and be happy on Your earth. Amen.

Hymn

When they heart, with joy o’erflowing,
Sings a thankful prayer,
In thy joy, O let another
With thee share.

When the harvest sheaves ingathered
Fill thy barns with store,
To thy God and to another
Give the more.

If thy soul, with power uplifted,
Yearn for glorious deed,
Give thy strength to serve another
In one’s need.

Hast thou borne a secret sorrow
In thy lonely breast?
Take to thee thy sorrowing kindred
For a guest.

Share will all thy bread of blessing,
Sorrow’s burden share;
When they heart enfolds another
God is there.

—Theodore Chickering Williams (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 280)
(Hymns for the Celebrationof Life, no. 226)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Two

The Second Day
(Thursday, March 7, 2019)

All the Glory

“The greatest conceivable value would be the organization of this cosmos into that sort of system where every activity in it would be sustained by every other, and each activity would have all the meaning, hence all the value, all the glory, of the total system. Such an organization would not be stagnant, . . . for existence is always changing and the maintenance of such a cosmos would require constant interplay of ever-changing activities. . . . All would be changing constantly, yet the complete and perfect mutuality of all with each, and each with all, would never change. Throughout the extreme and never ceasing changes, there would be the changeless perfection of mutual support, mutual enhancement and mutual meaning.

“Supreme value is not a mere concept. Neither is it a mere figment of the imagination. Supreme value is the greatest actual and possible connection between activities which makes them mutually sustaining, mutually enhancing and mutually meaningful. Value . . . is always a combination of what is and what may be. It is always a combination of actuality and possibility. When these two are combined we have what is called growth. Growth is not merely what is, not merely what might be, but it is that kind of change which increases what is, so as to approximate what might be . . .

“The complete and perfect mutuality of all with each, and each with all. The changeless perfection of mutual support, mutual enhancement and mutual meaning. Growth in thisis what makes life good and worth living.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Here is an ideal worth living and dying for. It is also a command of nature and nature’s God, the bent of the universe. It is a judgment upon all our partial loyalties and selfish indulgences. It is a beckoning joyousness, an appealing hope. It is worthy of our tireless endeavor and supreme devotion. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

Divine Life, help us to be more sensitive to the call of Your universe to mutuality, to the sharing of all we have all we are with others. Grant that our response may be a self-chosen reverence for all life. Let “live and help live” be our rule. Amen.

Hymn

Sov’reign and transforming Grace!
We invoke thy quick’ning pow’r;
Reign the spirit of this place.
Bless the purpose of this hour.

Holy and creative Light!
We invoke thy kindling ray;
Dawn upon our spirits’ night.
Turn our darkness into day..

Work in all; in all renew,
Day by day, the life divine;
All our wills to thee subdue,
All our hearts to thee incline.

—Frederic Henry Hedge (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 25)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 127)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirt, Day One

The First Day
(Wednesday, March 6, 2019)

A Way of Growing

“The two great basic concepts dominating religion are devotion and supreme value.Religion, . . . is devotion through adoration to service, to that which is supremely worthful. It is a way of growing . . . . Religion develops in the child (or adult) as all else develops, though processes of growth. It can be facilitated or retarded, normalized or perverted, by the conditions under which growth takes place, but the process of growth itself is one with life . . .

“Life is sensitivity and responsiveness to the materials, orders and forces which sustain and prod it, and which give it meaning. . . . Growth is the increase in the complexity and organization of sensitivity and responsiveness to such materials, orders and forces as foster and promote life and give it value. . . . Sensitivity and responsiveness are the media through which all growth takes place. They provide the only avenue by which the outer life of nature and society can enter the inner life of the individual, living organism. . . .

“What we may call conscience does not appear until values begin to function as habits and ideals in the child. It takes much training to help the child develop the ideals and value0-habits with their corollary standards of good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, true and false. When once established, these function as conscience.”  (Wieman & Wieman)

Religion is a way of growing. Growth is the increase in the complexity and organization of sensitivity and responsiveness to such forces as foster life and give it value. Sensitivity and responsiveness provide the avenue by which the outer life of nature and society can enter the inner life of the individual. Conscience appears when values begin to function as habits and ideals.

We begin, then, by consciously cultivating a spirit of devotion, an ever increasing sensitivity and responsiveness to the universal forces which surround us and operate within us, in order that we may accommodate our lives to their requirements. A feeling for these requirements becomes our conscience.

There is no escape from religion. All human beings are inevitably religious. Their religion is what they are living. The only question is whether it is thoughtful or inane, deep or superficial, good or evil. (Donald Szantho Harrington)

Prayer

God, open us wide in awareness of the creative urgency which You have set within us. Help us to understand that only when we stop growing in harmony with Your Larger Life do we begin to die. Open us to what this implies in all our relations with living beings near and far. Let that new awareness change our lives. Amen.

Hymn

Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on!
A heav’nly race demands thy seal,
And an immortal crown.

A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey:
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.

‘Tis God’s all-animating voice
That calls thee from on hiugh;
‘Tis God’s own hean presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye.

—Philip Doddridge (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 298)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 223)

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980. 

Outstretched Wings of the Spirit, Day Zero

Preparation (Day Zero)
(Sunday-Tuesday, March 3-5, 2019)

Faith must not be blind but responsible. Weoughtnot to be mentally coerced, but rationally convinced, so that we can make a justifiable decision of faith. Faith must not be void of reality, but related to reality. We are not to have to believe simply, without verification. Our statements should be proved and tested by contact with reality, with in the present-day horizon of experience of individuals and society, and the speaker covered by the concrete experience of reality.

Hans Kung
in “On Being a Christian”
reprinted by courtesy
of Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Introduction

The primary purpose of churches and fellowships is to help people become intelligently and devotedly religious, to be so convinced of the truth and rightness of a particular way of life is to be compelled to place oneself under its command, to live with it and for it, to dedicate to it all that one has, all that one is—and all that one may become.

Such a total dedication of oneself is obviously dangerous. One may give oneself to a way that is evil, indifferent, small, inadequate, idolatrous, irrational. Hitler gave himself totally to a college which was initially partial and which became increasingly demonic, especially because of his total dedication, which she believed had the blessing of divine providence. The power of religious dedication is great, the danger equally so.

This is why reason and intelligence are important for religious devotion. Faith is too dangerous and too important to be excepted on anyone’s say-so, whatever the source of authority. All of us must be convinced that our faith is sound, true, reasonable, just, and that it’s brightness is ascertainable buy some external, objective criteria, evidence drawn from our own and shared human experience. Faith may venture beyond the limits of reason and hard, scientifically-validated evidence; it should never be a rational or anti-science.

Henry Nelson Weiman, forty years ago, introduced me to the concepts of process theology—God in and as the universal process. At a moment when my intelligence and scientific world-view had led me to reject both the idea of God and most traditional theological concepts, Wieman’s naturalistic philosophy and theological explications restored them to me as the foundation for a vital, living faith, capable of undergirding a lifetime of urban ministry. In the hope that his insights may help others as they did me, I have prepared this Lenten Manual based on his approach.

“God,” says Wieman, “is the integrating process at work in the universe.”

It is the upbuilding process, pulling and pushing parts into more and more perfectly harmonized wholes, serving more and more effectively the Whole. It is seen in the process of evolution which has produced more and more complex, more and more highly integrated organizations of atoms and molecules, more and more perfectly harmonized for survival within the Totality of the Universe. It is the dominant characteristic of the Universe. It is its character, or nature.

“It is that which makes for increasing interdependence and cooperation in the world. . . . The principle of integration at the human level is love.“

Love is that quality of relationship in which the best interest of all partners to the relationship is served, consonant with the well-being of all, of the total process. 

“Integration fulfills itself in human life as we become members one of another. . . . With conscious mutual understanding. . . . At the level of human society we mean the process by which (1) we are made increasingly interdependent and (2) our behavior is so changed as to make us more cooperative and mutually helpful one to another. This process goes on whether we will or no, but we must ‘get right with it’ if we would escape catastrophe. . . . God is that which progressively and in greater measure increases the value of existence. The progressive integrating process of the universe is what does this. Hence it is God.“

This was a God my reason and scientific world view could understand and embrace, a God in harmony with the principles of evolution, a God which corresponded with my experience of our every-day-evolving universal, common life. It made clearer theologian Paul Tillich’sassertion: “God is not abeing but Being Itself,”psychologist Gordon Allport’s definition of God as “the Universal Being-Becoming” and Charles Hartshorne’s “The Unsurpassable-except-by-Itself.”

This God’s laws were part and parcel of His/Her very character: dependable, categorical, not governed by personal whim, in the very nature of the universal process. Their imperative was in the direction of more and more inclusive harmonies if relationship, the more and more perfect functioning of each oart in the whole. They, and She/He were worthy of our supreme devotion, and would reward it with the harmony which is true at-one-ment with the divine Being.

In the hope that Wieman may be able to help others as he did me first years ago in striving to become intelligently and devotedly religious, I offer these selected readings to be used one each day during the forty-eight days of Lent , from Ash Wednesday to Easter Monday.

The readings are followed by brief comments, a prayer and a hymn which some may wish to sing. References are to “Hymns of the Spirit,” abbreviation HOS, and “Hymns for the Celebration of Life,” abbreviation HCL.

The Weiman readings are taken from:

Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman, Normative Psychology of Religion,Thomas Y. Crowell, New York, 1935.

Henry Nelson Weiman, Methods of Religious Living,Macmillan, 1929.

Henry Nelson Wieman, The Growth of Religion,Willett, Clark and Company, 1938.

Donald Szantho Harrington wrote the Lenten meditation manual Outstretched Wings of the Spirit: On Being Intelligently and Devotedly Religiousbased on the theology of Henry Nelson Wieman and Regina Westcott Wieman. It was published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1980.