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Unity of Rehoboth Beach – July 26, 2015 – The Beatitudes Pt. 1

Good Morning Beloved!

One day a housework-challenged husband decided to wash his Sweat-shirt.

Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to his wife, “What setting do I use on the washing machine?”

“It depends,” Replied the wife. “What does it say on your shirt?”

He yelled back, “University of Oklahoma.”

The Beatitudes, Part 1

Today we are starting a series on the study of the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are eight blessings shared during the Sermon on the Mount, as related in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, precise, and full of meaning. Each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme.

Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke. Luke states them directly to the listener, though, saying Blessed are YOU… Matthew changed the wording, we can only guess to make them, more appropriate to ALL listeners, and added to Luke’s list with four additional Blessings.

We see similar verses in the traditional writings of Buddhism, in the Qur’an, the teachings of the Baha’i, and in the Book of Mormon where Jesus gives a sermon to a group of indigenous Americans including statements very similar to Matthew and evidently derived therefrom. Proving once again that we are all one in Spirit; that ALL teachings are of love.

The term beatitude comes from a Latin noun beātitūdō which means “happiness”.

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost every case the condition is from familiar Old Testament context, but Jesus teaches a new interpretation. As He said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He is making a statement of how the spirit of the law should be followed.

Matthew constantly shows how Jesus came in the light of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

So, again we have an example of taking Old Testament or Hebrew Bible teachings and re-purposing them into new directions for us. We have learned the basic laws of God through our journey in the OLD and are now learning how to put them into practice in the NEW.

The Beatitudes present a new set of Christ-like ideals that focus on a spirit of love and humility different in orientation than the usual force and demand. They echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion. These were and ARE the basic teachings of Jesus.

It’s important, I think, that Matthew has the setting of Jesus “Up into the mountains” leaving me to believe that he lifted his thoughts to higher more spiritual realms. Metaphysically, we go to higher perspectives or thoughts when we see mountain mentioned, just as we do when we see mention of Jesus looking up toward heaven.

This scene also takes us to the Hebrew Bible where Moses goes up in the mountain for laws of Obedience, the Ten Commandments.

We have learned these laws, supposedly, as we take our soul’s journey and are ready to put the Spirit of the Laws into practice, via Jesus’ teachings.

The message of Jesus is one of humility, charity, and brotherly love. He teaches transformation of the inner person. Jesus presents the Beatitudes in a positive sense, virtues in life which will ultimately lead to reward. Love becomes the motivation for His followers.

All of the Beatitudes have an eschatological meaning, that is, they promise us salvation – not in this world, but in the next. The Beatitudes initiate one of the main themes of Matthew’s Gospel; that the Kingdom so long awaited in the Old Testament is not of this world, but of the next, the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus proclaimed that God’s kingdom was at hand.

And we now know that that Kingdom can be found here on earth, within and without each and every one of us. It is ‘at hand’, because it is us.

The Greek word translated “blessed” means “spiritual well-being and prosperity.” When we bless someone or something, we are asking that they or it be increased, be prospered, be one with all.

There is a desire today to translate the word with “happy.” But that does not seem to capture all that is intended here in the text, primarily because modern usage of the word “happy” has devalued it. This term is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with your God. Happiness may indeed be a part of it; but it is a happiness that transcends what happens in the world around us, a happiness that comes to the soul from being favored by God. That is why it can call for rejoicing under intense persecution. In some ways the Lord’s declaration of “blessed” is a pledge of divine reward for the inner spiritual character of the righteous; in other ways it is His description of the spiritual attitude and state of people who are right with God.

Those who experience the first aspect of a beatitude (poor, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted) will also experience the second aspect of the beatitude (kingdom of Heaven, comfort, inherit the earth, filled, mercy, see God, called sons of God, inherit the kingdom of Heaven)

The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple and their rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still “outside the kingdom.” They have journeyed and are re-membering who and what they are.

Let’s look at each Beatitude….and keep in mind who Jesus is teaching….The Hebrews who are deep in their traditions or we could say, their domestication. We’ll look at the first 3 this week.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

In Aramaic, it is “Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Or “Delighted are those who surrender to God because heaven’s reign belongs to them!”

The history of the Israelites had them under Roman rule for over 500 years. They were a very prideful nation, believing that their country, their God and their people were better than any other country, god or people. And their pride even went so far as to think it below themselves to do work below their caste. They would rather starve than do a job outside their customary work.

It is this pride that Jesus is referring to in his lesson. This and the pride of the Pharisees and Sadducees and their self-righteousness.

In this verse, spirit is referring to those who are humble, unassuming and free from racial prejudice. It means we have emptied ourselves of all desire to exercise personal self-will and pre-conceived ideas in the search for Truth. It means we are willing to set aside our present habits of thought, our present views and prejudices, our present way of life… anything that gets in the way of connecting with Spirit.

To have poverty of spirit means to be completely empty and open to the Word of God. When we are an empty cup and devoid of pride, we are humble. Humility brings an openness and an inner peace, allowing one to experience the connection with Spirit.

In this Beatitude, Jesus is praising the people for their character and pledging divine rewards for it. He acknowledges that they bring nothing of their own power, possessions or merit to gain entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven. God does not judge if one is rich or poor on the material plane.

Jesus did not make them rich in earthly possessions and power; but he fulfilled their greatest need, their Spiritual need.

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Basically, we could simply say this has to do with the fact that there were many uprisings in the Near East at this time. The Israelites were often fighting against their Roman oppressors. When the people came to Jesus and complained about this, he told them of the new kingdom.

Mourning indicates the pain and the grief and the anxieties of the soul over some loss, often the death of a loved one. But it could be over the loss of a valued life, such as those Israelites who went into exile. Or it could be over the loss of possessions, or status, or health. People mourn over any disaster or tribulation. And in times of mourning they look for hope. And often in this world people see little hope.

Mourning in the Psalms (cf. Psalms 119:136; 42:9; 43:2; 38:6) was often associated with grieving over personal or national sin, over the oppression of an enemy, over injustice, or over lack of respect for God’s Law. In this context the corresponding parallel in the Beatitudes explains it perfectly, the mourners are ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’, the coming of the ‘reign of God’ (the kingdom) will comfort and satisfy (‘fill’) them.

I believe it also tells us of our comfort as we come to the realization that our ‘sins,’ our ‘missing the mark,’ is just that, a mistake. It is not a condemnation to everlasting damnation as the Hebrew Bible tells us.

AS we mourn our error and reach into our Christ self, we may mourn that we missed the mark, but we rejoice in the fact that we have ‘seen the light’ and can move forward. Our problem, many times, is we do not forgive ourselves, and may continue mourning our errors.

Emmet Fox, a prominent New Thought writer, looks at this Beatitude quite differently…see what you think. His take is that we have to face troubles, woes, illness, etc. so we will ‘hit bottom’ and then finally turn to God and recognize our true source. What do you think?

The interesting thing about metaphysics is, you get to figure out what it means to you!

Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. In the Bible, the meek are those who have a spirit of gentleness and self-control; they are free from malice and a condescending spirit. Being meek is being patient, not easily angered and not thinking of yourself to highly.

A bad example of meekness were the Pharisees. They would make sure people knew that they were fasting and praying and seemed proud about what they were doing for God.

Except God is looking for us to do these things without putting on a show for others but doing it just for God, not for approval from others. Doing a nice, kind thing for someone is what we are here to do.

Meekness is not weakness, the meek are gentle; they practice nonresistance such as Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela.   The meek do not exploit and oppress others; they are not given to vengeance and vendettas, they are not violent, and they do not try to seize power for their own ends.

In short, they have emulated the nature of Jesus in their lives and learned from him. This does not mean that they are weak or ineffective in life. They may be gentle and humble, but they can and do champion the needs of the weak and the oppressed.

Emmet Fox believes this is one of the most important statements in Jesus’ teachings- the key of life – the secret of overcoming every kind of difficulty.

The term Earth in this sense, means manifestation or expression, the result of cause. Inherit the earth means to have dominion over that outer experience, to have power to bring your conditions into harmony and success. So meekness is a combination of open-mindedness, faith in God, realization that the will of God is always good.

The Hebrew Bible’s religion is based on strict adherence to the mechanics of cause and effect (“eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth, etc.”) This is the accepted standard for Jehovah worship. Jesus reveals God as Pure Spirit, Father, and Absolute Good. A different standard applies in the worship of God as Spirit. The Sermon on the Mount reveals this new standard of religious thinking.

Mosaic (from Moses) Law helps show us right from wrong (Ten Commandments). It helps us to behave properly. It is necessary for basic survival.

The higher and greater dimensions of the law (grace and Truth from Jesus Christ) present good as the only enduring reality. They (grace and Truth) do not just tell us to behave properly in order to survive, but they point the way for our consciousness to begin evolving toward regeneration and perfection.

The Beatitudes which open the Sermon on the Mount are remarkable for the fact that they describe mostly negative states, but call them “blessed.” Upon careful reading we find that the “blessedness” really does not lie in the state itself, but in the fact that help for all those states is available because of God’s spiritual laws. When we open ourselves to God’s help, the negativity of any state is transformed into the blessing of overcoming it and receiving recompense for such overcoming.

We will continue this discovery of the Beatitudes later in the year. Keep in mind, when looking at anything metaphysically, you want to see what the meaning is for you. So, what do these first three Beatitudes mean for you?

Unity of rehoboth Beach – July 19, 2015 “No Complaints”

Good Morning Beloved!

On their way to get married, a young Catholic couple is involved in a fatal car accident. The couple found themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven.

While waiting, they began to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When St. Peter showed up, they asked him. St. Peter said, “I don’t know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out,'” and he left. The couple sat and waited, and waited.

Two months passed and the couple were still waiting.

While waiting, they began to wonder what would happen if it didn’t work out; could you get a divorce in heaven?

After yet another month, St. Peter finally returned, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informed the couple, “You can get married in Heaven.”

“Great!” said the couple, “But we were just wondering, what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?”

St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slammed his clipboard onto the ground. “What’s wrong?” asked the frightened couple.

“OH, COME ON!” St. Peter shouted, “It took me three months to find a minister up here! Do you have any idea how long it’ll take me to find a lawyer?”

No Complaints!

What did you think of that song – ‘No Complaints’? I can’t say that I am at a place where I don’t have a complaint or two, even if it may be in my head, to myself. Can you say you are at the place where you have no complaints?

Most of us, I would think still have a complaint or two. Unfortunately, it seems to be part of the human condition. Our society certainly believes we ‘deserve’ it all…more money, more clothes, more importance, status; more shoes….I could never figure out the shoe thing!

Where does all this come from?

Eckhart Tolle said, “The basis for true change is freedom from negativity.”

How do we get that?

Everything comes to us in Divine Order, and for our highest good, the best for all concerned. This means that what we might feel is a “burden,” a problem, a challenge or an issue, is part of the divine plan of our lives. We are being called to a higher consciousness to experience [each] situation from a different point of view and to bring into spiritual activity our divine capabilities and powers.

The challenge, I’d rather call them ‘growth opportunities,’ is most often based upon a choice we made some where along our way and now we have the result of that choice. Cause and effect.

Or maybe we agreed to honor another soul on their journey by presenting this opportunity for their growth. I believe we make Sacred Contracts before incarnating, to give the other a growth opportunity, but that’s another lesson…

Wayne Dyer said, “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”

And I remind you, it’s ALWAYS a choice.

It doesn’t matter what the situation is. If there is something not working and we can fix it, it is right to give it attention while we fix it, but to indulge the bad habit of looking for flaws and dwelling upon them when we cannot remedy them actually hurts us more than anyone else. Thinking about mistakes, troubles, disappointments, slights, and grudges opens the gates of our consciousness to negative results.

 

An entire sea of water can’t sink ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t bring us down unless we allow it to get inside.

We need to understand that life isn’t what we are given; it’s what we create, what we overcome, and what we achieve that makes it beautiful.

Or as Professor Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

It is unfortunate how many people allow their negative, fear-ridden thoughts to control their lives and their reality. The truth is we all have the power to take back our minds and direct our energy in a positive way, serving both ourselves and those around us. Gratitude gets us there fastest. It’s a major step in unwinding our negative mental habits.

And it is really a habit. SO, how do we break a habit? Well, one minister from the Kansas City area asked himself that same question. And he came up with an idea to help to break the negative thought habit.

His idea turned into A Complaint Free World. Rev. Will Bowen researched the idea of habit breaking and complaining and found, as many of us know, that 21 days are required to break a habit.

So, for 21 days, he used a bracelet like this, (show purple bracelet), and every time he complained, gossiped or criticized, he moved it from one arm to the other arm. He did this for 21 days. In this way he ended his negative ‘talk’ about himself, about his family, his community, his world. He put Gandhi’s words to action – “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have a few of these purple bracelets for anyone who wishes to take these steps to better their world. They will be on the information table.

And what thoughts can we put in place of these negative words? How about gratitude? How about affirmations?

Anyone who lives their entire life without realizing how precious, miraculous, and unique this life experience is (or without understanding the value of getting present with a grateful heart) can never truly realize what this life truly means. When we live in fear for our future or sorrow for our past, we miss it. We walk past the miracle of the moment with a blind eye.

Through gratitude, however, we can access presence. We are able to receive the blessings of being alive. As we open our hearts, aligning our minds and our thoughts with feeling grateful, we are able to witness the true magic of life. This is an indescribable magic unique to each one of us.

On the other hand, when we are not aligned with gratitude—when we’re feeling like a victim, complaining about whatever is happening, or blaming others—we cloud our perspective and miss the whole miraculous Universe.

By learning to say, “Thank You” to every experience we have, we move from a place of resistance, where we feel like a victim, to a place of acceptance, where we can be okay with change and eventually even embrace it. This simple act allows us to move forward with our lives in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, most of the time we’re so caught up in either avoiding pain or just getting through the day that we forget to say to ourselves, Wow! Nature is crazy beautiful. This food tastes delicious. I can be the person I want to be right now. What do I want to experience next?

Instead, we are too busy thinking; How will I ever pay my rent? I hope I don’t look stupid! I wonder if anybody will notice me today. Why do bad things always happen to me? I’m not good enough to have what I want. I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just do nothing. Life is boring.

What’s up with that? Isn’t it obvious that this moment, this experience we are having on this unique planet in the infinitely expanding Universe, is precious and will never happen again? And that there is no other you? By digging deep into ourselves and getting over what society wants us to believe is important and instead focusing our energy upon the blessings of simply being here now, we can live much happier, simpler, and more fulfilling lives. By doing this we bless the people we meet with our epically positive vibes.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s just being grateful! Remember, wealth is just a matter of perspective, and if you feel poor, chances are you are not taking enough time to bear witness to the miracle of right here, right now. Stop the crazy mental chatter for a moment and concentrate your thoughts on finding one or two things you can be grateful for—then look for more. This will lift the veil of fear clouding an ungrateful heart so you can see life for what it truly is: one amazing miracle.

A Course in Miracles tells us that perception is not a fact, but an interpretation. The world we see is determined by the kind of vision we use to observe it. When we view the world as unsafe and threatening, populated by ignorant, evil people, we will find plenty of evidence to prove our assumption. All belief systems are self-validating. If, on the other hand, we view the world as a place of kindness, filled with people willing and able to make life easier for each other that is the world we will experience. An infinite variety of realities exist simultaneously. The one we live in is the one we focus on.

You recall the story of a stranger coming up to a new town and asking a farmer working in the field near the road what kind of town it is? The farmer asks the traveler what kind of town he came from?

The traveler responded, “My old town was mean, the people were not friendly at all.”

And the farmer replied, “Well, then you won’t be happy here, the people are about the same.”

A short time later another traveler came by and asked the farmer the same question.

And the farmer asked him the same question, what was it like at your old town?

This traveler responded, “The people were great, very friendly. I hated to leave.”

The farmer smiled and said, “Welcome home, this town’s people are exactly the same.”

Perspective!

This is faith in what you believe- as in Philippians 4:11-13, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

That is how we move forward on your journey. We receive energy back according to how we put energy out – whether that energy is expressed as money or as love, appreciation or respect.

Dave Willis said, “Pray when you feel like worrying. Give thanks when you feel like complaining. Keep going when you feel like quitting.”

I have often said to my Mother, after she says how she worries about me…you cannot worry about me and love me at the same time…two completely different emotions. Think about it…

Here’s a thought to close with…

“A small trouble is like a pebble. Hold it too close to your eye and it fills the whole world and puts everything out of focus. Hold it at a proper distance and it can be examined and properly classified. Throw it at your feet and it can be seen in its true setting, just one more tiny bump on the pathway to life.”

— Celia Luce

Compassion and Understanding – Unity of Rehoboth Beach – July 12, 2015

Good Morning Beloved!

During a trial, in a small Southern town, the prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why yes, I do know you. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”

Again, she replied, “Why yes I do. I’ve known him since he was a youngster too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”

The defense attorney nearly died!

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots ask her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair!”

This month’s theme is Discover Compassion. And today we will relate it to the Power of Understanding for our prosperity discussion.

Let’s say the prosperity affirmation together: Affirmation: I find joy in living by giving from the spirit of God within.

I feel it’s easy to discuss compassion and understanding together. They seem to fit nicely.

In his brilliant book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, author Marcus J. Borg writes: “To put it boldly, for Jesus, compassion was political. He directly and repeatedly challenged the dominant sociopolitical paradigm of his social world and advocated instead what might be called a politics of compassion.” The concept of compassion was central to Jesus: “Be compassionate as God is compassionate,” he said. He was compassionate to everyone, including and especially those who were considered outcasts or untouchables: the poor, the maimed, the chronically ill, lepers, untouchables, Samaritans, Gentiles, tax collectors, sinners and women, who fell to the bottom of the social strata at that time. Jesus pointedly rejected the purity system that dictated who had rights and who didn’t; who was to be acknowledged and who wasn’t; and who one could speak to, eat with, touch, help, defend or befriend.

Jesus demonstrated again and again that the letter of human-made law is less important than the spirit of God’s law, which is love and compassion.

We can understand why the Fillmore’s, our founders, choose Jesus as our way-shower.

Now let’s look at understanding.

Charles Fillmore defines “understanding” on two levels. First, it is that in us that comprehends and knows in wisdom. He then goes a step higher to define “spiritual understanding” as that quickening (or awakening) of the Spirit within. It is the ability of the mind to apprehend and realize the laws of thought and the relation of ideas to one another.

Notice, it says he goes HIGHER. Higher to Spiritual Understanding.

Spiritual understanding is developed in many ways-no two people have exactly the same experience. Some come to it like Saul as he became Paul, in a blinding flash while others receive it gently and harmoniously. And some, experience the Spiritual 2×4! I’ve ha that a few times!

Either way, spiritual understanding leads us to live with the awareness of God, of the Divine Spirit, and to depend upon and expect from that Divine Spirit the good that shows up as prosperity in many ways. We are children of God, who desires to give us the kingdom of heaven. With this spiritual understanding, faith in that Universal goodness never waivers.

Understanding comes natural to us. It expresses as intuitive knowing, which comes from the “still, small voice” within. Your intuition, or inner teacher, is your highest form of understanding. Listen to that still small voice. Be aware when you know something and you cannot pinpoint where you learned it. This is your intuition kicking in. This is spiritual understanding.

And it is that “Still small voice” that guides our compassion. Think about it. Do you need to think or plan your feelings of compassion? I think not.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourself in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:12-14 NRSV).

We must have compassion for ourselves or else we add to our suffering. After becoming aware of and accepting our initial responses, we may then ask ourselves, “Is there another way to see this?”

Positive emotions like gratitude, appreciation, love, and compassion don’t just feel good. They balance the electromagnetic signals that our hearts and brains use to communicate.

If we are in balance, we prosper. Simple.

Here are some signs of a compassionate person:

Lets’ go of judgment;

Is more accepting of others;

Appreciates how other people feel;

Tries to help in difficult situations;

Acts as a sympathetic listener;

Renounces anger and aggression;

and works to maintain a harmonious, peaceful atmosphere at home and at work.

The awakening of our own faculty of understanding starts with questioning—questioning the old ways of thinking that may have been taken for granted. … The desire for understanding leads to thinking about what is learned and seeking to put it all together in a body of information that will provide a basis for living. Our integrity.

Understanding is different from wisdom. Charles Fillmore defines wisdom as “intuitive knowing; spiritual intuition, the relation of ideas to one another.”

To put it more simply, wisdom knows. Understanding knows why. When your understanding is developed in both head and feet, not only will you have the light in mind, but you will also have the ability to apply it in your world. Which is Unity’s 5th Principle.

Webster’s dictionary defines “understanding” as the mental quality of comprehension, discernment, or the ability to think and learn. Intellectual understanding usually means knowledge independent of feeling. It is literal knowledge without the consideration of Spirit.

“Intelligence without wisdom is fruitless and wisdom without compassion is simply not wise.” Unknown

Here is a story of wisdom, compassion and understanding…

His name is John. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day John decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started, so John starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed, and he can’t find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. John gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just sits down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward John. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A very elegant, very dignified man. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?”

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, “The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.” And then they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to John and worships with him so he won’t be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister regained control, he said, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”

A simple gesture of compassion, welcoming and love. I hope everyone feels that kind of welcome and love when they come to Unity of Rehoboth Beach.

You see, every time you put something positive into the universe, the world changes. Your kindness, compassion, love and understanding invite miracles to show up. In the whole world.

Myrtle Fillmore, said in ‘How to Let God Help You,’ “If you would grow in understanding of spiritual things, become as a little child and let the universal Spirit of good teach you.”

Here’s an example of ‘becoming as a child,’ showing us compassion and understanding.

This is story about a young boy named Shaya who was learning-disabled.

One Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to where his classmates were playing baseball. The game was in progress, and as Shaya and his father made their way toward the ball field, Shaya asked his father, “Do you think you could get me into the game?”

Shaya’s father knew his son was not at all athletic, he knew his son didn’t have the hand/eye coordination to hit the ball with the bat, he knew that he son couldn’t run very fast, and most of all, he thought that none of the boys would not want him on their team.

But he knew something else as well. He knew that if his son were chosen in, it would give him a sense of belonging. So, it was worth the risk.

So he approached one of the boys in the field and asked, “Do you think my son could get into the game?”

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said,

“We are losing by six runs and the game is already in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Both father and son were ecstatic. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored three runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, his team scored again, they are now only two runs behind.

Now there are two outs and the bases are loaded. And guess who was scheduled to bat? Shaya! His father held his breath. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and try to get a hit. Everyone figured that it was all but impossible, for he didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.

Now the game’s dynamics changed. As Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so he should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya. As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman and his team would have won. His team would have won. But he didn’t.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball in a high arc to right field, far and wide beyond the first baseman’s reach. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Shaya, run to first!” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide eyed with excitement.

By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who could easily tag out Shaya, who had rounded first and was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head, as everyone yelled, “Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to second.”

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards the direction of third base and shouted, “Shaya, run to third!”

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home! Shaya, run home!”

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero.

I get chills each time I read this story. And as happens so often, our children show us true compassion and understanding.

Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

We see scenes like the stories mentioned playing across the world all the time. People stepping up to feed or clothe those in need, others saving people from harm, or saving all sorts of animals and wild life.

We hear about individuals making changes in their lives in sometimes drastic ways, like Caitlin Jenner and those who have stood for equality for all, paving the way for others to better their lives.

Each example reminds us of ways we too can express our compassion and understanding in our lives, with ourselves and for each other. True prosperity.

What are you focusing on when you leave your Spiritual Community each Sunday? Are you being the best you are capable of being with all the wisdom and understanding you have at the time?

A question I found on one of the minister’s Facebook pages has been in the back of my mind for some time, and maybe now is a good time to ask it…how do we treat others ‘after the Celebration Service is over and we lead our lives through the week?

That is the question of a successful Spiritual Community.

Let’s take that Question into meditation…

Unity of Rehoboth Beach – July 5, 2015 – Independence Day!

Good Morning Beloved!

Once, in the 1820’s, a little boy called Sam was playing in the yard behind his house. During his pretend fighting game, he knocked over the outhouse. Now Sam was upset and worried that he would get into trouble so he ran into the woods and didn’t come out until after it got dark. When he arrived back home, his pappy was waiting for him. He asked suspiciously, “Son, did you knock over the outhouse this afternoon?”

“No, pappy,” Sam lied.

“Well, let me tell you a story,” said the father. “Once, not that long ago, Mr Lincoln received a shiny new axe from his father. Excited, he tried it out on a tree, swiftly cutting it down. But as he looked at the tree, with dismay he realized it was his mother’s favorite cherry tree,” his pappy paused.” just like you, he ran into the woods. When he returned, his pappy asked, ‘Abraham, did you cut down the cherry tree?’ Abraham answered with, ‘Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did indeed chop down the tree.’ Then his father said, ‘Well, since you were honest with me, you are spared from punishment. I hope you have learned your lesson, though.’ So,” then Sam’s father asked again,” did you knock down the outhouse?”

“Pappy, I cannot tell a lie any more.” said the little boy. “I did indeed knock down the outhouse.”

Then his father spanked Sam red, white, and blue. The boy whimpered, “Pappy, I told you the truth! Why did you spank me?”

Pappy answered, “That’s because Abraham Lincoln’s father wasn’t in the tree when he chopped it down!”

July 4th – Independence Day

Independence…what does that mean to you? Freedom? What is freedom?

It can be many, many things. What do they mean to you?

Many different responses even here in our community.

When I was growing up, to me it meant, getting away from my family…first through college, then my teaching and coaching positions, which were about an hour away from my family’s home. But that job lead to other forms of ‘captivity.’ The responsibilites of those positions and all they involved.

So I traded one set of ‘oughts and shoulds’ for another. And we all do that, don’t we?

Underlying it all the time, tho, was the urge for something more.

James Dillet Freeman, Unity’s Poet laureate wrote in ‘Of Freedom and Fences’ about freedom. He writes:

“Freedom! The word rings like a bell, doesn’t it? It lifts the heart and stirs the passions. But just what is freedom? How free is free?

I have a large, beautiful, extremely active dog. My dog has free access to the yard at all times and in house and yard she lives a very free life, for the most part doing only what she wants to do.

My yard is fenced, but the fence is more of a mental limit than a physical obstacle. Any time she wishes, she could be over it like the wind. Not the fence, but only her own acceptance of the fence keeps her in the yard.

My dog and her fence have made me think about freedom in very different terms than I had ever thought about it before. I have come to realize that the fence does not keep her in bondage; it keeps her free!

Suppose she did jump the fence and go wandering off? Would she be free? How free would she be skittering frightened and bewildered through the unfamiliar maze of the city’s streets?

The fence does not limit her freedom as much as it guarantees it. Freedom is and always must be a relative matter. I may be free to step out of a window, but the moment I do, I lose my freedom. I am made captive and plummeted to earth by forces over which I have no control. I have asserted my freedom beyond my power to maintain it. I have gone beyond my fence.

I built my dog’s fence. In the case of human beings, they themselves may have to build their fences. Not all, of course. Many of our fences have been built by wise and loving people who lived before us, examined the world—as I have for my dog—and realized where fences were needed if they were to preserve, and not lose, their liberty. If we are wise, we accept the fences raised for us by laws … tradition … religious belief … the moral code … good manners and consideration.

For if we go too far beyond the fences of reasonable restraint, we may find we have not extended our freedom, we have lost what freedom we had. To go too far is to come up short.

I wonder if we as a nation are still here after [so many] years because the founding fathers were as aware of fences as they were of freedom when they wrote the Declaration of Independence.

God made us to be free, for we are made in the image and likeness. That is why in the heart of every person stirs the desire freely to express their God-potential. That is why we feel a discontent with anything less than freedom. But we misinterpret it when we feel that it tells us to throw off every restraint, every limitation.

There are two kinds of freedom in the world. We have to be free from and free to. For to be free means to be free from everything that keeps us from achieving our maximum potential, everything that weakens us. And it means to be free to grow, to achieve dominion over our self and all the forces at work in us, to develop and express our creative powers.

We are, all of us, freest when we have the maximum control over ourselves and our lives, when we can say to ourselves, “Go!” and we may go, and when we can say, “Stay!” and we stay.”

We can understand why Mr. Freeman was designated Unity’s Poet Laurate!

We had a vision of freedom last month when the court of the country deemed that ALL people have the right to the freedom of loving who they love. And they can express that love through the benefit of marriage if they so choose.

This is freedom FROM the oppression of others who choose to give up their freedom FROM their fears. The oppressors choose to not accept freedom TO be who they can truly be….fully be.

When I look at freedom, I think it comes with our integrity. It’s part of our integrity. Once we realize what we believe is TRUE for us, we live that truth. And when our integrity is tested or questioned, we are free to say ‘yes’ or ‘no;’ to ‘stay or ‘go’ according to our integrity.

Any action is only free, only in integrity when it does no harm, to myself or to others. This may be where the extremist step out of integrity…step away from freedom for all.

So I’m free to respond within my integrity. My freedom is in the ease of response to what is correct or not, for me. It’s so easy to choose. Because through the journey, what I believe is established. So, each choice is easy to make, based upon the lessons learned and the guidance drawn from those lessons.

It’s easy to choose whether to do good or not; to help another or not; to obey the laws meant to protect us or not.

And if I go against that integrity, I feel in through my body and soul. Hopefully, I feel that ‘ouch’ internally long before I step out of balance. Listening to intuition is very helpful and wise! The choice is easy!

One of the things we learn as we grow is this from Bryant McGill, “You are not responsible for other people’s happiness and they are not responsible for yours.”

It takes a while to learn this. Took me a while to learn I was not responsible for my Mother. I felt as if I took care of her since the day I was born! She was my first experience with counseling!

That counseling was freeing.

Letting go of who I THOUGHT I was supposed to be.

That is freeing.

We’ve mentioned this several times – discovering who we really are, accepting who and what others are, accepting love. This is freedom.

And here is another way to say it; from Meryl Streep:

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonestly and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities.

In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

The woman has her integrity right there in a few short paragraphs. These words give her freedom. She knows what she believes and apologizes to no one for it. This gives her freedom and gives freedom to others also.

Notice she doesn’t say what others need to do or be. She speaks about herself. SO, others are free to be themselves as she is. And, she’s not injuring any one or herself with her belief.

It’s like my older brother said once when we were trying to understand each other and family dynamics after our Father died and we all were growing apart, he said, “this is who I am and I’m not changing.” And so, to protect myself from further emotional and spiritual abuse, I no longer visit that brother. I had to follow my integrity and he is following his, as it is right now.

So, maybe we all should write our own manifestos, as Ms. Streep did. Then we can know what we believe; we can know who we are. And others will know what to expect and can choose to ‘stay’ or ‘go’ according to their manifesto.

An interesting idea. Do you think you know yourself well enough to write one? How freeing would THAT be! – Maybe.