October 4, 1992

O THOU WHO ART THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT OF LIFE AND OF HISTORY, WE GATHER THIS DAY IN THIS ANCIENT MEETING HOUSE TO COMMEMORATE THE 35OTH ANNIVERSARY OF A CHURCH AND A CONGREGATION. AS WE REMEMBER THOSE WHO MADE COVENANT IN 1642 "TO WALK IN ALL THE WAYS OF GOD THAT ARE OR SHALL BE REVEALED..." MAY WE BE INSPIRED NOT TO SLAVISHLY REPEAT THE WORDS AND DEEDS OF THE PAST, BUT BE MOVED, AS WERE OUR SPIRITUAL ANCESTORS, TO SEEK OUT NEW WAYS OF SERVING THE SPIRIT OF LOVE AND TRUTH IN OUR TIMES.

AS OUR FORBEARS PLEDGED THAT THEY WOULD NOT REFUSE INTO THEIR SOCIETY "SUCH PEOPLE WHOSE HEARTS GOD SHALL INCLINE TO JOYNE THEMSELVES UNTO US", SO LET US ALSO ENDEAVOR TO BE A COMPASSIONATE AND ACCEPTING RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY OF FAITH SEEKING TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE LIVING TODAY. MAY WE LOOK TO THE WORK OF PAST GENERATIONS WITH GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFTS OF THEIR LOVE AND LOYALTY TO CHURCH AND COMMUNITY FROM AGE TO AGE. MAY WE LOOK TO THE FUTURE AS THE CHALLENGE OF WHAT WE ARE TO BE AND TO BECOME AS YOUR SPIRIT CALLS US EVER ANEW TO BE LOVERS OF TRUTH AND SERVANTS OF LOVE AND JUSTICE.

IF WE COMMIT OURSELVES IN THIS FREE CHURCH TO NO FINISHED CREED OR UNCHANGING TRUTH MAY WE NEVER CEASE IN OUR QUEST FOR MORAL AND SPIRITUAL TRUTHS TO LIVE BY. MAY WE NEVER FORGET THAT OURS IS A LIFELONG QUEST AND THAT WE ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO GROW IN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND CONSCIENCE. IN OUR JOURNEY WE HAVE THE HERITAGE OF THE AGES TO GUIDE US AND THE TESTIMONY AND WITNESS YOUR ETERNAL SPIRIT SPEAKING IN OUR SPIRITS THROUGH THE EXERCISE OF OUR REASON, CONSCIENCE AND EXPERIENCE.

IF IN OUR HUMAN LIMITATIONS AND TEMPERAMENT WE DO NOT ALWAYS AGREE, MAY WE EXPRESS ALL OUR AGREEMENTS AND DISAGREEMENTS, IN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND LOVE, WHICH IS THE SPIRIT OF GOD WITHIN US. MAY WE NEVER FORGET THAT WHAT WE ARE ABOUT AS A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ALL COMES DOWN TO LOVE AND TO SERVICE. WE MAY NOT BE ALWAYS WISE OR GOOD IN ALL THINGS, BUT WE ARE NEVER INCAPABLE OF EXPRESSING LOVE AND JUSTICE, COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS IN OUR HUMAN RELATIONS. WHETHER WE CONSIDER OURSELVES CHRISTIANS OR THEISTS, AGNOSTICS OR ATHEISTS, WE ARE ALL OF US ABLE TO BE SERVANTS OF THY LOVE BROUGHT NEAR, THOUGH WE MAY CALL WHAT WE DO BY ANOTHER NAME.

MAY WE CONTINUE TO MEET AND TO GATHER, AS DID THE FOUNDERS OF THIS CHURCH 350 YEARS AGO, "FOR THE GOOD OF THE SOULS OF US AND OURS", AND MAY WE ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT THE GOOD WE SEEK BINDS US NOT ONLY TO ONE ANOTHER, BUT ALSO TO THE STRANGER AND THE ENEMY, AND TO PEOPLE OF ALL HOUSEHOLDS OF FAITH AND OF NONE--ONE LIGHT, ONE SUN, ONE WORLD, ONE HOME FOR EVERYONE. AMEN.