It may look like a hymnal, this book of ours sitting in the racks in front of you when you come to Sunday service; a book full of “songs of praise, especially to God in Christian worship,” according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. But open it up, and what we’ll see is a commitment to religious pluralism in one song and reading after another. Christian hymns and carols are followed by Islamic poetry; there are songs of harvest and the seasons, and the wisdom of Jewish mystics and Psalms. Buddhist sages are here; so, too, the insights of science and reason; hymns in praise of labouring folk, the interdependent web, and prophetic activists struggling for environmental and social justice. A whole, great, teeming congregation of wisdom from the world’s religions, poets and secular sources is gathered here. We turn to these hymns, this poetry and prose to celebrate our history and belief and to accompany us in times of grief and joy.
All too often our world divides up into grim, distressed religious and secular camps. And because of that, I believe that ours is a crucial experiment. Unitarians seek to practice a frank, respectful cohabitation of plural sensibilities, rituals and ways of being in community. We hope that what follows will be a mutually enriching dialogue, where we learn from and strive to support one another in our search for meaning and spiritual growth. And not for a moment should we forget how important an experiment a pluralistic faith like ours could be for a troubled and divided world.