“I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith: which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come; which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.”
-Rev. Dr. William Ellery Channing
Our spiritual theme for community exploration this month is liberation. Theme-based ministry invites the entire congregation to reflect upon universal themes of religious life in creative ways each month. Liberation can be broadly defined as freedom from oppression. Spiritual liberation might be defined as freedom from those things which are oppressive to our spiritual well-being.
Liberation has taken on a variety of meanings in various religious traditions and we will explore some of those this month in worship. I hope you might include some reflection on this spiritual theme in your online meetings this month. Many meetings are now including a theme-based check-in question to support spiritual deepening in our small group gatherings. An example of a simple theme-based question to consider this month might be: “When on your life’s journey did you move from oppression to freedom?”
Our spiritual ancestors fought religious oppression for centuries. Our Unitarian forbearers rebelled against oppressive religious teachings such as original sin, trinitarian dogma, salvation by faith alone, religious imperialism, and interpreting scripture without reason. Our Universalist forbearers rejected the harmful religious teachings which imagined a god who destined some for heaven and others for hell. Many of our ancestors suffered greatly as they challenged the orthodoxies of their day to open hearts to more optimistic interpretations of the religious life.
Our humanist legacy further cemented the mission of our faith as a humanitarian endeavor. We became concerned not only with a loving and open-minded approach to religion but also putting the demands of liberal faith into action. This helped catalyze social reforms which included environmentalism, feminism, civil rights, and the LGBTIQ equality movement. Spiritual liberation in our liberal church has meant revolutions in thought, doctrine, and the social order.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we are once again invited to imagine in what ways our lives and the world might be liberated from outdated and oppressive paradigms. Circumstances are demanding we reevaluate our economic structures, worker’s rights, healthcare, and international relations, among many other important considerations. Can we seize this moment of so much suffering, grief, and loss to bring a better world into being?
I hope you will take some time over the course of this month to consider what a “world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” might be like when we reach the other side of this pandemic. As we navigate through the fears and anxieties of this time, lets allow our creativity to become a wellspring of new hope.
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae