A prayer for the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights


as offered December 10, 2023 for the First Universalist Church of Houston

As bombs fall on Gaza
and peace in the ancient land
of Palestine seems further off than ever,
as children die
and homes are reduced to rubble,
we take, this morning,
to lift up
one of the great statements
of human aspiration,
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the seventy-fifth anniversary of which is today.

Be with us
Spirit of life,
moving between each
and amongst all,
known by many names,
but this morning found
in the text of a document
representing the hopes of so many:
all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,
endowed with reason and called to treat each other with compassion,
and entitled to all the same rights and freedoms
no matter how humble
or how great
no matter whether Israeli
or Palestinian–
the right to life, liberty, and security of person,
the right not to be held in bondage,
the right to be free of torture,
the right to be held equal before the law,
the right to avoid arbitrary arrest or detention,
the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution,
the right to have citizenship,
the right to marry and have a family,
the right to own property,
the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,
the right to free association and to choose their government’s representatives,
the right to work, form labor unions, and enjoy a measure of economic security,
the right to rest and leisure,
the right to education and access to the arts and culture,
and a duty to the communities that make sure rights possible).

Spirit of life,
be with us
help us to name our collective aspirations
in doing so,
help us to have
the high resolve to bring such aspirations
into being
so that someday
we might live in a world
where the rights of all–
Palestinian or Israeli,
US citizen or undocumented refugee,
Ukrainian or Russian,
any person living on this globe–
are recognized
and realized.

That it might be so,
I invite the congregation to say Amen.

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