In keeping with the spirit of the day I’d like to share a prayer that expresses ways in which collectively we have fallen short and need to do better. My hopes for the new year are entwined in that doing better. I think it makes little difference in whose house of worship I found the language because I think we all share it though the words may vary:
We dishonor You when we dishonor our society:
For our failures of justice, … [Lord], we seek forgiveness.
For being indifferent to deprivation and hunger,
while accepting a culture of self-indulgence and greed.
For abuse of power in board rooms, court rooms and classrooms,
and for accepting the neglect of children and elders, the ill and the weak.
For permitting social inequalities to prevail,
and for lacking the vision to transcend our selfishness.
For glorifying violence and turning hastily to war,
and for allowing history to repeat itself.
For behaviors that risk the future of our planet,
and for wreaking havoc on our only true inheritance – God’s creation.
What I always liked about attending religious services is that they create a time to hear and express the finer goals of life. And so too in those words.
In thinking about each other we recognize that everybody counts, that achieving our common goals depends on recognizing the importance and humanity of all, so that we can pull together to achieve what is crucial to us all.
In thinking about the ways these values resonate in each of our faiths, we recognize how much more we are linked than divided, whether because some of our faiths were bred on the same Middle Eastern mountains and deserts, or because of the miracle by which these ideas have been repeatedly reborn across the globe.
In thinking about the transcendence of these common values of generosity, caring, fairness, justice, peace and concern for the world we share, we think about the unity among our faiths and among us as people.
The narratives of how each of our faiths came to share those values differ but we share the values – the Golden Rule, Loving our neighbors – we share a tradition of mutual care and concern of which we can be justly proud and which deserves our commitment. Indeed, it is the only path to the survival of our earthly home and the possibility that our children and grandchildren will live lives unembittered by the world collapsing around them, from fire, flood, hunger, poison, thirst or scourge. I’m thinking about Maggie and Rebecca. Perhaps you’re thinking about Jodie and Joseph. We and all our children and grandchildren share this world. And how we and they come out of it depends on how well we share it and take care of each other.
Happy New Year