The Fortieth Day
(Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019)
Working with God to Rear a Realm of Meaning
“People throughout history have come back to think that serious work is concerned almost entirely with procuring the necessities of existence. All else, such as education, art politics, friendship, home life and the like, are of interest to people who see it as a form of recreation or as a means of promoting the economic enterprise. We must unlearn this lesson which the ages have taught us. The serious business of living for human beings is to transform the planet by way of political, educational, artistic and other activities into a place where growth of meaning in the two forms of development of personality and growth of culture can fulfill itself most abundantly.
“In the past it has been the function of institutional religion to constrain them for purposes of social conservation. In the future it must be to release humans for purposes of social creativity. It must release then into the freedom of God. In deep creative community of meaning we must work with God to rear a realm of meaning, rooted in the economic order, but flowering in the highest spiritual outreach of imagination.
“It is the cardinal function of the church to turn our hearts to God so that such meaning may grow. It must keep us eager, expectant and alert for this growth. Growth of meaning must seek above all else. The beastly labor of struggling for bare existence is past, if we can learn how to distribute what we are able to produce. The distinctively human labor of developing a world of meaning, may not be ours. The prison walls of hard necessity are crumbling. We are free, almost, to give our all to God, as we never could before. Also we are free to ignore God as never was possible in the past. If we choose the latter course, the zest of life will gradually, inevitably fail until at last we seek death because living will not be worth the trouble.” (Wieman & Wieman)
Man’s high calling is to create upon this earth an integrated world of meaning in which the highest potentials of all participants are called forth and exercised. In our time, we stand at the threshold of such a possibility. It awaits only our willingness to share our knowledge and our creativity more wisely and more widely. (Donald Szantho Harrington)
God, as we confront the awesome opportunities, arouse in us an equivalent dedication to the common good, and determination to share all that we have and are with our human kindred under every star. Amen.
These things shall be—a loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls,
And light of knowledge in their eyes.
They shall be gentle, brave, and strong
To spill no drop of blood, but dare
All that may plant soul’s power firm
On earth, and fire, and sea, and air.
They shall be simple in their homes,
and splendid in their public ways,
Filling the mansions of the state
With music and with hymns of praise.
Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one community.
New arts shall bloom of loftier mould,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song
When all the earth is paradise.
—John Addington Symonds (Hymns of the Spirit, no. 360)
(Hymns for the Celebration of Life, no. 190)
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.