Good Morning Beloved!
Jesus and St. Peter are at the Pearly Gates, and there’s a long line of souls waiting to get in. Jesus spots an old man far down the line, and thinks he looks familiar.
When the old man finally gets to the front, Jesus asks, “Excuse me, sir. Where do you come from?”
The old man says, “Oh, I come from a land far far away.”
“Hmmm…What did you do there?” Jesus asks.
“I was a carpenter,” replies the old man.
Jesus, growing excited, asks, “Did you have a son?”
The old man answers, “Well, some says I did, some says I didn’t.”
Jesus jumps up, spreads his arms, and says, “Father?”
The old man squints for a minute, then says, “Pinocchio?”
The Beatitudes Pt. 2
If you recall, we started the discussion on the Beatitudes a few week back. These ‘Blessings’ are part of the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most famous of Jesus’ lessons and some say, a summary of His teachings.
Some people treat the Beatitudes as a New Testament version of the Ten Commandments, and they may be missing the point. Jesus began his ministry with people who felt rejected by, or at best uncomfortable with, the religious faith and structure of their day. They had come to believe that just as there was no place for them in the kingdom of Israel, so there would be no place for them in the kingdom of God.
Jesus wanted to shake them out of their spiritual stupor, to teach them that the mortal challenges that seemed to be defeating them were, in fact, Good News. Feelings of restlessness and discontent are, in Truth, a sign that an awakening has begun.
And isn’t that why and how many of us came to Unity’s teachings? Being discontent with our lives, as they were? Maybe searching for something more? Possibly wanting to believe but not knowing what to believe?
WE could have been on that mount, waiting to hear a message that would take us on a new journey.
For those listening to Jesus, their discontent had nothing to do with theological concepts and everything to do with getting through a day. ‘This can’t be enough’ they were saying; and Jesus’ response was ‘You’re absolutely right. It isn’t nearly enough. And you can begin today to feel more and better expressing in your life.’
So the original Beatitudes are a bridge from the practical challenges of living in this dualistic world to the even more practical spiritual Truth of infinite possibility that is always available to us.,
We talked about what exactly the word ‘Blessed’ might mean. We are reminded that it is often translated, “happy.” But that does not capture all that is intended, primarily because of how we have devalued the term ‘happy’.
Blessed in this sense is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with your God. You are at peace.
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 Jesus’ 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.
And, again, keep in mind who these messages were intended. The Hebrews who are deep in their traditions, their domestication. He was giving them hope.
Now we look at the Beatitudes and ask ourselves, what do they mean to me?
The first three we already looked at were: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven; Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted; and Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. You can review these online.
DO you remember what they meant to you?
Today we will look at the next three.
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Mercy is the loving disposition towards those who suffer distress. Love, compassion, and forgiveness towards one’s neighbor will bring peace in your relationships. We say in the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus reminds us that whatever “you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25:31-46).”
To have mercy is to be loving and kind to others. This doesn’t mean just being loving and kind to your family and friends but also to those who you might not know and even those you don’t like.
We all like to consider ourselves to be merciful people. And yet the opposite of merciful is judgmental. And the human tendency to judge ourselves and others is the most stressful of all our self-created obstacles to realizing and connecting with God.
If someone else enjoys good fortune, we feel a spasm of judgment that they don’t deserve it – based on a fear that because they are enjoying their good we might be denied ours.
If something unfortunate happens to someone else, we succumb to a pang of relief that it did not happen to us instead. Here we are judging ourselves, being in fear that we will in fact receive the negative energy we think we deserve.
Judging is an insidious process, apt to wear a very righteous mask. But it becomes increasingly uncomfortable and we look for an alternative. The great Hindu writer Patanjali wrote these words: “Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, mercy and compassion toward the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and indifference toward the wicked.” Or, as a contemporary writer put it, “Love me or leave me alone. Don’t waste your energy in judging.”
So it comes down to, are you showing mercy in your thoughts as well as your actions. Kind actions coupled with unkind thoughts are hypocrisy dictated by fear. They bless neither the giver nor receiver.
True thought blesses spiritually, mentally and materially.
How do we show mercy? Feed the Hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Comfort the imprisoned, Visit the sick, teach the uninformed, Counsel the doubtful, Comfort the sorrowful, Be patient, Forgive, Pray.
Can you think of any others? (Just sit in silence with someone, hugs, …)
Giving from the heart.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Righteousness means right conduct as well as right thinking. We are reminded that outside things are merely the expression or out-picturing of our inner thoughts and beliefs. We are reminded that we have been given dominion over our thoughts.
We can only change what is happening out side by changing what’s happening inside. As within, so without.
Here we are being reminded not to be discouraged because we do not overcome everything at once, or if our progress seems slow. We are reminded that if we are stuck or not progressing as fast as we would like, we must be careful to hold only harmonious thoughts.
Take a mental stock of your life and see if you are still thinking wrongly about some part of your life. Is there something wrong in your line of conduct? Is there someone you haven’t forgiven yet? Are you indulging in some sort of political or racial or religious hatred or contempt? Are you jealous about something or someone? Are you holding remorse or regret?
These are thoughts that we must all work on to release. To forgive. To let go.
And we are again reminded how difficult this is. But with our Spiritual Guides, with prayer and contemplation, with meditation and fellow travelers, we can use all that is available to obtain the clarity of mind and so, find righteousness, for ourselves and for all. Being spiritual is impossible on our own. But we can all assist each other and better this world.
We can ALL better our world!
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
Purity means to recognize that God is the only real Cause, the only real Power; the only real Presence in existence.
Heart in the Bible usually means that part we know as the subconscious.
Being pure is like having a clean heart. Like the heart inside of us, it pumps blood and keeps us alive and if something is wrong with our heart it doesn’t work right and we won’t work right.
This simple statement sums up the whole philosophy of our Spiritual journey – to see God, in a spiritual perception…the true nature of being. To experience heaven, which is all around us.
Heaven is the religious name for the presence of God, Divine Mind.
Moses (Exodus 33:20), John 1:18, and Paul (I Timothy 6:16) all say that no one can see God here on earth! But Jesus says the pure of heart shall see God!
To be pure of heart means to be free of all selfish intentions and self-seeking desires. To do God’s Will, not our own. Jesus is talking about the place where we think and make choices, ask why we do things, and where our thoughts are born.
The “fall of (hu)mankind” is the limitations we obtained when we were given free will. It is that free will that may be in opposition to God’s Will; that limits our ability to experience Heaven on Earth.
It is our task to overcome those limitations so we can KNOW who and what we truly are – God, expressing through us, each, individually.
Thus, to SEE God.
What a wonderful, beautiful goal! How many times have any of us performed an act perfectly free of any personal gain? Such an act is pure love. An act of pure and selfless love, of giving, brings happiness to all.
Truth must be accepted in consciousness as well as the subconscious; assimilated into the whole mentality to make a difference in one’s character or life. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
So, we could rephrase as Emmet Fox has: “Blessed are they who recognize God as the only real Cause, and the only real Presence, and the only real Power; not merely in a theoretical or formal way, but practically, and specifically, and wholeheartedly, in all their thoughts, and words, and actions; and not merely in some parts of their lives, but in every nook and corner of their lives, and mentalities, keeping nothing back from the Divine, but bringing their own wills in every last particular into perfect harmony with Divine’s Will – for they shall overcome all limitation of time and space and matter and carnal mind; and realize and enjoy the Presence of God forever.
WHEW! Powerful stuff.
These three Beatitudes give us a lot to think about. They give us a lot of possibilities to do, to put into action, if we haven’t already.
There is much happening all around us, each and every day. We listen to the news, peruse social media, chat with friends and neighbors…all opportunities to put these Beatitudes into action by watching what we are thinking, saying and doing and what is behind each of these acts.
Yes, powerful stuff. Our responsibility to overcome our fears and move toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
Good morning. Thank you for being here. I appreciate your presence this morning as we look at one of my favorite stories from the Bible. It’s a story where Jesus is walking with his disciples and he asks them what I think is a very thought provoking question. He asks: “Who do people say I am?”
How interesting! Just think about that for a moment. Why would Jesus Christ want to know what other people were saying about him? Could he or would he really be effected by their answers? I mean, even today, if I were to ask you, “What do you believe about Jesus?” what might some of your answers be? Some would say he is one of many ascended masters. Some would say he is the master teacher. Some would say he was a great prophet or a great healer – or both. In Unity, Jesus is often called the way shower – meaning he is both God and man and he shows us the divine Christ potential that lies within each of us. Others may call him, as I do, their Lord and Savior, or even Messiah. But does it really matter to Jesus what you or I call him? I mean, does the label we choose for him change who he is? No, of course not, it simply helps us to consciously define our own relationship with him.
“Well,” the disciples say, “some say you are Moses, or Elijah, or another one of the other great prophets – or even John the Baptist – come back to life.”
Really? Interesting again! Does this seem to suggest that the people might actually believe in reincarnation? Or does it suggest – as Unity teaches us – that we are all unique expressions of the same Divine essence? If so, maybe –just maybe – when the people recognized that God spark – that light of truth in someone – as they certainly must have in Jesus as well as in the prophets of old – maybe they thought or sensed that it was really the same person, the same spirit, or the same God revealing itself to them over and over again. More importantly, if we believe this today, then that same God spark we see in them – in Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and yes even in Jesus – we must also see in ourselves and in one another for we are all one.
“And you?” Jesus asks. “Who do you say I am?”
Does he really need to ask this question? Do the apostles’ answers or our answers benefit him or us? Remember at this point the people – and surely the disciples and apostles – would already know the story of the burning bush when God revealed his name to Moses as the great I AM Who I AM, a story that most people know well today. Even the very name God gives to himself as he addresses Moses seems to suggest that God simply is. I AM is unchanged. He is unshaken. He is unmoved. He is the same always: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I Am is the source of all good. Myrtle Fillmore, the Mother of Unity, says, “When we learn to be still and know the I AM, we lack nothing.”
So why would Jesus ask, “Who do you say I AM?”
Perhaps Jesus is not asking us simply to decide an answer in reference to himself. Yes, surely our answer can and will define our relationship with him, for as we’ve discussed many times our thoughts and words do have creative power. They define and shape our reality. They also reveal our core beliefs and values hidden beneath them. Perhaps though, Jesus is also asking us how we define ourselves. Who do you say you are, Sandy Souder? Who do you say you are, Susan Davis? This answer is quite important too, isn’t it? The labels we place on ourselves matter too.
In asking the question, “Who do you say I AM?” Jesus is really giving the apostles – and by extension us – an opportunity to move from unconscious thoughts, words, and beliefs about God, ourselves, and others into consciously defining our relationships with the Divine and with others, as well as consciously deciding just who it is we want to be. Whether we call him the Christ, or God, or the Messiah, Master, Lord, or simply Teacher greatly shapes that relationship just as it does if we identify our Higher Power as Father or Mother, or as Creator, Universe, Buddha, or Goddess.
So too, what we call ourselves and think and say about ourselves also greatly shapes our relationships with God and others. If we believe that we are each unique expressions of the same great I AM, we should not think or say anything about ourselves or each other that we would not say of God. Yet, we do this all the time. I know I am guilty of it. The bible says we are made in God’s own image and likeness, so really we are not in alignment with our higher self, our higher power, or our divine nature when we declare ourselves – or anyone else – as anything less than whole, healthy, blessed, abundant, complete, and loved. Again, Mother Myrtle, says “God is love, and it is the nature of Divine love to give life, joy, peace, and health.” Sadly, we often say and think things about ourselves that are out of alignment with this, don’t we? Let’s take a moment to examine some of the things that we may unconsciously think and say about ourselves. Do these phrases or similar ones ever enter your mind or pass through your lips?
I am so tired. I’m so sick and tired of this.
I’m out of shape. I’m so overweight.
I’m ugly. I’m never going to find a mate.
I’m always going to be alone. I’m so broke.
I’ll never get out of debt. I’m never going to be able to retire.
I’m never going to get ahead with money. I’m getting old.
I’m a failure. I’m a loser.
I don’t deserve happiness. Nobody really likes me .
I’m bad. I’m a sinner. I’m not good enough.
Ever get a case of the not enough? Not smart enough. Not good enough. Not successful enough. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. No rich enough. Not whatever enough. Yuck! Just
thinking those kind of thoughts or speaking those kind of words feels awful! It changes the very energy around and within us, and it affects those around us too. Yet, we get stuck in these bad habits, don’t we? I know I do. The tapes unconsciously replay in our minds. They are like a broken record repeating over and over and over again. But if we stop to really listen to them what are they telling us? They tell us what we really think and believe about ourselves – about others – about our God. Are these the things we really want to tell ourselves? Are these the labels – or the limits – we want to place on ourselves and others? Do you ever think or say something like:
He’s so cheap. She is so stubborn. That kid has a bad attitude.
Really? Is that so, or is that simply our perception of another individual? When we say someone is cheap, we have to ask ourselves do I have a right to judge someone else’s financial decisions or to expect someone else’s generosity? If we say someone is stubborn, are we really the one who is being inflexible? If we don’t like someone’s attitude, is it really because we just don’t like that individual or certain aspects of their personality? Or is it our own attitude that needs to be adjusted?
So I want to challenge us this week to stop to think consciously about what we are declaring over our own health, our finances, our relationships, and our beloved friends and family simply by thinking and talking unconsciously.
Where are my Law of Attraction peeps? Listen up! You’ll like this part. The Law of Attraction states, “You are what you think. Whatever you focus your thoughts, words, and feelings on consistently will manifest in your life. There are no exceptions to this rule.” See, we aren’t talking about fleeting or random thoughts here. Those will happen. We are talking about thoughts and words
that stem from our core beliefs. Often, these false beliefs come out unconsciously. They are so subtle that sometimes we can only identify them by examining our emotions. Why look at our emotions? Regardless of what we are thinking and speaking – no matter how PC or educated or evolved we think
we are – it is our feelings that reveal to us what we truly believe. As humans, we feel things deeply. So deeply that we sometimes don’t consciously realize how those feelings are bleeding out into our thoughts and words – and our actions. Ever sabotage yourself? Look at your emotions. Look at your core beliefs. You will see why pretty quickly. Okay. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that once we know what these false beliefs are we can begin to consciously reshape them into beliefs that are more aligned with our higher self, our divine mind. How do we do this? We can begin simply today to think and speak words of gratitude and appreciation to the people in our lives. Do you have a challenging person in your world? Find something to appreciate about them. Tell them what you appreciate about them. You’ll see that relationship change. If you already love someone and think they are fabulous, tell them that too. We get more of what we focus on. We can also begin to consciously declare God’s blessings of health and abundance over ourselves and others. If we do this regularly and consistently, our core beliefs will change. It is a process, but change will come. Try it. You’ll like it. Do it consistently.
Then something incredible happens. We begin to see our life’s work, our passions, our health, our finances, and our relationships coming into Divine order. They have to because by changing our thoughts and words we are changing our feelings and our core beliefs about who we say we are, who we say each other is, and who we say our God is. By doing this we are aligning ourselves with the Truth. We simply begin to declare what it is that we already know.
This is why in Unity we turn to affirmative prayer. We begin to consciously and purposefully declare health, abundance, prosperity, and all good blessings over ourselves and others. We affirm who we say we are by declaring things like:
I am healthy. I am happy. I am whole.
I am alive. I am free. I am blessed.
I am joyful. I am beautiful. I am successful.
I am prosperous. I am abundant. I am peaceful.
I am calm and serene. I am hopeful. I am connected .
I am loved. I am love. I am a child of God.
I am made in God’s own image and likeness.
And if you feel comfortable in going even further you can also say things like:
I am a divine expression.
I am one with God.
I am that I am.
I am God.
Do you feel the difference in the energy of those statements? They resonate because they are true! So as we enter into our meditation today, I challenge us each to see Jesus standing before us in our mind’s eye asking each of us, “Who do you say I AM?” Take the time to answer for yourself in a conscious way – not only who you think Jesus is – but also how you wish to see others and just who it is that you want to be. Then as we go forth from this place, we can begin to consciously think, say, and live as who we say we are.
[SS1]Maybe you might consider using a feminine reference in a couple of these?
[SS2]Never enough time, maybe some more common ones, I’m hurt, I’m lonely, I’m mad, scared,
[SS3]This isn’t Law of Attraction…really, it’s New Thought….
[SS4]You might want to take a couple and have them repeat them with you are a power builder into meditation
Good Morning Beloved…
A cowboy, who just moved to Wyoming from Texas, walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud. He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.
The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, “You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time.”
The cowboy replies, “Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is an Airborne Ranger, the other is a Navy Seal, both serving overseas somewhere. When we all left our home in Texas, we promised that we’d drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I’m drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself.”
The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.
The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.
One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, “I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss.”
The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs. “Oh, no, everybody’s just fine,” he explains, “It’s just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking. Hasn’t affected my brothers though…”
“You will know we are Christian by…”
When I was in college and searching for many things about myself, on occasion, I attended Folk Mass. I was in and out of the Catholic tradition for some time at that time, not finding what worked for me but still wanting SOMETHING!
Folk Mass was always up beat and had some really nice music. One of the songs we would sing was titled “You will know we are Christians by our love.”
Do any of you know it?
Listen to the words: I’ve taken the repeats out to make it shorter….but you’ll get the gist.
We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity, May one day be restored.
We will walk with each other; we will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news, That God is in our land.
We will work with each other; we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity, and save each man’s pride
And the chorus is: And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love, by our love, Yes, they’ll know we are Christians By our love.
We could exchange Christian with Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, etc., it would still be relevant. It would still and most importantly, be SPIRITUAL.
This song has been playing through my mind for some time now and so, I figured I needed to turn it into a Lesson. So, here we go…
So I ask, what does it mean to be a Christian?
Well, lately, it may mean something completely different than what it started out as; and if you know anything of the early ‘church,’ you know that there were many ideas of what it was supposed to mean to be Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. In the beginning, there were many factions of “Christians,” until one ‘belief’ was chosen to be the legal Religion of the State and all others we considered illegal. Don’t get me started on THAT!
We could look at the dark times that has followed that title, Christian…but we won’t. Not here, not now. WHY? Because that is past. That is history. WE are not looking at what happened. WE need to look at today…and to the future. We need to ask ourselves, each one, what it means to be a follower of the TRUTH that Jesus taught.
Unity is a combination of teachings of the Christ, known as Jesus. Let’s look those words, Jesus, Jesus Christ, and the Christ. Jesus is the man, the historical person of the New Testament times. Jesus is a Way Shower or Elder Brother who provides a direction and an example for all humankind to follow.
Christ is a title added to Jesus’ name. The word comes from the Greek Christos, meaning “anointed.” Jesus was so called because He was considered anointed by God.
He recognized His own divinity, but more importantly, He recognized the divinity of all God’s creation. He knew that God anoints each person, “you anoint my head with oil,” and repeatedly directs us to recognize our own God nature. “You are the light of the world,” (Mt. 5: 14). Paul adds to this idea: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
The Christ is the presence of God with which each person is anointed at creation. It is the eternal essence of God that is our true spiritual nature. It can be called the spark of God that ignites the human flame. And I repeat…at CREATION…we are born with it!
Christ is the name to describe the universal spiritual energy that is common to all people. The same energy has other names in other traditions, but its Truth is universal.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were clear and succinct in their realization of the Christ within: Charles states, “Christ is the mind of God individualized.” And Myrtle says, “Christ is the life principle within each of us.”
So you can see that the Christ within is actually the very presence of God at the core of our beings, that It does its work by simply being recognized. Remember that we remain spiritual beings no matter what appearances may suggest to the contrary.
We all know that the Fillmore’s researched the Spiritual Cultures of the day when they came across the teaching of New Thought. They wanted to make sure that when they said, “This is what I believe,” it was what they believed.
And Charles always said he reserved his right to change his mind, which tells me he questioned his beliefs throughout his life, yet, he still retained those fundamental beliefs they started with because they still fit.
Through that research, many of the teachings of Unity are very similar, if not the same as, the teachings of the Eastern Masters. Meditation is part of our prayer process, we believe each and every one of us can and should go to the God of their belief, directly, no intermediary; no priest. We believe that each and every one of us is responsible for their thoughts and therefore their lives.
The Buddha said: “In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?”
Love is the main lesson in the teachings of Jesus, yet here the Buddha says the same thing.
That thought is reinforced by Bob Goff, “It will be our love, not our opinions, which will be our greatest contribution to the world.”
Christianity does not have a monopoly on the Christ within. We recognize it in all people, whatever nationality they may be or on whatever spiritual path they may walk.
The Christ is the universal presence of God at the center of every individual. It is God’s gift to you. WE in Unity recognize that there are many names and descriptions that are used to attempt to connect and understand that Divine Spirit. God, Spirit, Universe, Buddha, Goddess, Divine, Jesus, Muhammed….as we are individual sparks of that presence, that is how many ways we relate to that Spirit.
We are born as creations of God to express our Christ Selves. In fact, it is our only responsibility because if we do this, as we express that innate Presence, we will be loving, compassionate, forgiving, gracious, joy-filled, and all the other things that are part of our divine design.
St. Teresa of Avila says it well (interject whatever word you resonate with in to relate to the ALL that is): “Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours; Ours are the eyes that look out with Christ’s compassion on the world, ours the feet with which he goes about doing good; Ours are the hands with which he is to bless humanity now.”
And THAT is what it means to be CHRISTIAN.
Unity is not your everyday Christian church! Most Unity’s don’t even use the label ‘church.’ It is not your traditional Christianity. It is Practical Christianity….taking the teachings of Jesus, and making them useful to daily living.
So, in that respect, we ARE Christians. But we always, unfortunately, have to say something to differentiate us from traditional Christians. Because we do not worship Jesus…that was not his purpose or his desire. His purpose was and is to show us the way to re-member who and what we are.
So, the Fillmore’s chose Jesus’ teaching as the teaching they wished to practice and teach about, but they put an additional spin on it…they said, let’s look at it metaphysically. That too, differentiates us from traditional Christian churches
When we look at things metaphysically, we change the perspective. And, that makes all the difference in the world. For example: Charles said:
“Have faith in the innate goodness of all men and all conditions. Do not condemn, no matter how great the provocation. What you think, you create in your own consciousness. Enlarge your range of vision, and you may see good in what now seems evil. God is good and God is all, hence there can be no real condition but the good.”
When we look at things metaphysically, we look at them through our own eyes, through our own hearts. We look at how it feels, fits, belongs to us…each one, individually. That makes it more personal.
In this era of religious pluralism, the question often arises: Is it possible to be Christian and still honor all paths to God? Doesn’t it have to be one way or the other?
If you follow the teachings of Jesus, rather than the teachings about Jesus, the answer appears to be yes. If you study what Jesus taught and did, you see that he was, in the words of Bible scholar Marcus Borg, “radically inclusive.” He said to love one another, and he exemplified that by honoring and caring about people of all backgrounds.
Spiritual leaders through the ages have asserted that Jesus was not just the example and advocate for Christians, but for everyone. Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, once said: “Jesus gave humanity the magnificent purpose and the single objective toward which we all ought to aspire. I believe that he belongs not solely to Christianity, but to the entire world, to all lands and races.” (Incidentally, Gandhi also said, “If Jesus came to earth again, he would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity.”)
In his book Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg writes: “Jesus saw the divinity in all people, and he challenged all people to see the good, the God-self, in all with whom they associated.”
Indeed, Jesus purposefully rebelled against prejudice and discrimination. Writes Borg: “One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ teachings was his pointed attacks on the purity system. This was the dominant theme in the Jewish social world during his time, and it was focused on creating a world with sharp social boundaries: between pure and impure, righteous and sinner, whole and not whole, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. Jesus deliberately replaced the core value of purity with compassion.”
His compassion was notably evident in his habitual participation in an open and inclusive table. Sharing a meal with someone in those days signified mutual acceptance, and, might I say, trust…breaking bread in the Near East was a sacred happening. Jesus ate with the outcasts, the downtrodden—anyone who was considered “impure.” In so doing, he out-pictured a vision of an inclusive community. Through his actions, Jesus demonstrated that all people are welcome at the table of God’s kingdom—and all means all. Jesus was a champion of the oppressed—the living example of unconditional love—and he vehemently opposed exclusionary practices.
We can equally expect that Jesus honored and respected people of other faith traditions. In his best-selling book ‘Discover the Power Within You,’ the late Unity minister Eric Butterworth wrote:
“I have often speculated on what Jesus would have done if he had been seated around a table with a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Shintoist—discussing ultimate Truth. I just can’t believe that Jesus would have said, ‘You must all forsake your beliefs and come and follow me.’ I think he might have pointed out that the differences were chiefly a matter of semantics, and that there is an underlying principle similar to the Christ idea in every religion. I think he would have stressed the basic unity within the diversity of religions, pointing out that the greatest need of all persons is to find that indwelling unity with God, which is found in the principle that we call the Christ, but others call the Buddha Heart or the Goddess, or the Universe….”
As far as we know, Jesus did not say anything negative about other religions. He did, however, sharply criticize his own.
Marcus Borg offers a good example of how Jesus related to other religions in his analysis of the story of the Good Samaritan told in Luke 10:25-37.
On the surface, it appears to be a tale about a kind-hearted humanitarian. A traveler on the way to Jericho falls among thieves and is robbed and severely beaten. Two people pass by and decline to get involved. A third arrives and takes pity on the man. He bandages up his wounds, takes him to an inn, and pays for his care. The teaching seems to be about practicing kindness to strangers, (which is actually a law in the Near East).
But in actuality, Borg emphasizes, this is a radical and subversive story. Because when the traveler—who we assume was a Jew—is robbed and beaten, the two people who pass him by are Jewish (a priest and a Levite, who is a member of the Priestly tribe) and the rescuer is a non-Jew—a Samaritan. To Jews at that time, the Samaritans were the despised people. They were considered untouchables who could do no good. Thus in this simple story, Jesus is forcing the question: “Do you really know what’s good and what’s bad? Who are the righteous and who are the not righteous?”
Imagine the impact of the Good Samaritan story today if it were told about a traditional Christian whose brethren pass him by, but who is then generously brought back to health and safety by a Muslim stranger. The message is clear: Don’t judge by appearances and, even better, don’t judge at all.
Unity is part of a movement to return to the inclusive teachings and philosophies of Jesus. It is evident in the books, and blogs, and activity on social media. All of these voices, these “believers in exile,” as former Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong calls them, are “trying to find their way back to a feint voice from the past. It’s the voice of a young Jewish carpenter who invited us to discover the Truth for ourselves, and who pointed us in the direction of God.”
The path to God is through believing in, embracing and fully expressing our own unique and eternal spiritual energy. Our innate and eternal Oneness with all that God is constitutes a universal spiritual truth. There are many paths to discovering and embracing that Oneness; Jesus offers one clear path, Buddha another, Muhammad another, etc. What’s essential is the universal spiritual truth itself; the path we choose to follow to reach that essential awareness is up to us. (Even those who consider themselves to be agnostic or atheistic are on a spiritual path toward Christ awareness, whatever their opinions of specific religions may be!)
Unity believes—and understands Jesus to have taught—that “Christ” is not one unique person, but rather the divine essence of every person. So we are not to ‘await’ the Messiah, or to follow another person in the belief that he is uniquely the Christ. We are rather to follow the teachings and example of Jesus to recognize, release and express our own Christ identity—the Oneness with God that is the truth of who we are.
Paul Enso Hillman wrote, “Do you know who I am?
I say ‘namaste’ because I like what it means, not because I am Hindu.
A lot of people here think I am a Christian because they think I talk about Christian values, but the truth is I am really talking about human values.
I’ve been asked if I am a Buddhist, just because I have discovered inner peace.
A lot of my friends are Pagans, and they think I am one too because I say that being in Nature is my idea of going to church.
Do you really want to know what I am? It’s very simple. I don’t need a label to define me. I am a piece of the Universe, sentient and manifested. I AM AWAKE.”
So, are you Christian?
Good Morning Beloved
A man was sitting at the bar staring at his drink when a large, trouble-making biker steps up next to him, grabs his drink and gulps it down in one swig and menacingly says,
“Thanks SHORTIE, whatcha going to do about it?”
The man burst into tears.
“Come on, man,” the biker says, “I didn’t think you’d CRY. I can’t stand to see a man crying. What’s your problem?”
“This is the worst day of my life,” he says. “I’m a complete failure. I was late to a meeting and my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car had been stolen and I don’t have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife in bed with the postman and then my dog bit me.”
“So I came to this bar to work up the courage to put an end to it all. I buy a drink; drop a capsule in and sit here watching the poison dissolve; then you show up and drink the whole thing!”
“But enough about me, how’s your day going?”
Will & Strength of Spirit
Strength of Spirit is this month’s theme. And we wish to marry that theme with the Power of the WILL.
When you think of strength of Spirit…what comes to mind? Often when we think of strength we think of physical strength, but that is not what we want to focus on today.
Strength of spirit fits so well with the Power of the Will because we must relinquish our will, which is pretty much our ego, and let Spirit take over.
When we realize that our ego has taken control of more than what it is intended to control, we “miss the mark.”
What is ego necessary for? It is needed in order that we survive. Well, physical survival, right? If our ego didn’t want to survive, we wouldn’t concern ourselves about traffic, or fingers in fire, or shelter in a storm.
But we also, wouldn’t fight so hard to establish and maintain ourselves, our personalities. We need some of that to experience life as we are meant to experience it.
Eckhart Tolle says, “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious and other collective identifications. None of these are you.”
This is the point where the ego, let’s say, over extends itself. It wants to be in charge All the time. It wants to control others, wants to always be right, it wants to do whatever it must to be in charge. The ego sometimes thinks it knows what is best for us, and so exerts itself to control our thoughts and actions. It wants to edge God out.
And this, my friends, is where our WILL and Strength of Spirit comes into play.
The Will is the ability to choose, lead, determine. It represents the choice-making part of the brain.
It is our job in developing our God-given potentialities to reeducate the will, to teach it to become receptive to spiritual motivation, rather than to goals determined by our materialistic pursuits alone.
One way or another, we are using our will, all the time. We choose a course of action. We resist or resent. We submit or fight back. We aim high or we slide backward. Or we are willing to consecrate and dedicate our will to God and to let it be reeducated to go the way of Spirit.
Jesus is our great Way Shower in overcoming the human, selfish motivation of the will and allowing it to be replaced by a great unification with the divine will, thus producing good for all. That is the definition of God’s will…good for all.
The rewards of unifying our wills with the will of God are great. They include health, happiness, joy, peace, harmony, prosperity and other good that we cannot even visualize in our present state of consciousness.
When we begin to discover who and what we truly are, sometimes, – admit it, we find we have to battle a strong ego. This is where Strength of Spirit helps us.
Jack Kornfield said, “We each need to make our lions roar – to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manners of doubt and sorrows and fears – to declare our right to awaken.”
We use our strength of spirit to awaken, to become the Spiritual being in this human form. Think about all the people who have overcome what we would call hardships in this physical life…how do you think they did that?
With a strong will to tap into their spiritual strength. That’s how the survivors of the death camps during World War II survived; that’s how parents who must overcome the death of a child survive; that’s how we all survive when we are faced with the ‘growth opportunities’ that life presents to us survive.
These are instances where the ego works with the will for survival by stepping aside so we can tap into our spiritual strength.
If that doesn’t happen, anger, hurt, victimhood, etc. exists. And that holds us back from awakening, from enlightenment.
Many in-harmonies in human relationships result from the clash of human wills. Learning to activate the divine will in your life does not mean that you will simply submit to the human will of others. Instead, it will give you a new freedom that recognizes the human force applied by others but does not submit to it.
When you find yourself confronted by a strong will that insists you go its way, turn within to the Christ, the God Self, the spiritual core of your nature, and silently say to the other person, “The Christ in me beholds the Christ in you.” Let the love of God and the understanding of the spiritual nature of that other person pour forth from you so strongly that there is no conflict of human wills. Rather, there is a higher power at work, establishing harmony and order.
This is what ‘NAMASTE’ means – my soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united. We are the same. We are ONE.
This is part of the forgiveness process.
We can start first to awaken the will and train it by consciously watching its activities and directing it through our growing spiritual understanding.
Deepak Chopra suggests; “Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.”
A very good idea as we take control of our ego and will and tap into our inner strength, the strength of spirit that we all have. We do not have to follow what has always been done. We do not have to listen to our domestication. We do not have to be our mother or our father or someone that another is trying to make us into…we get to be ourselves.
You. Me. Each and everyone one of you get to be who you are meant to be….
What will that be? Who will that be?
Here are five basic ideas to help use our Spiritual Strength; ways to redirect your personal will in accordance with the divine will, adapted from Dr. Barbara King:
Seek personal truth. We must live beyond the ego and get in touch with the heart. Intellect is not enough. Cultivate daily relaxation, meditation, prayer and spiritual study. Place your journal nearby and note what comes up in these times. Ask the question, “Thy will or mine be done?” Journal what comes up?
Stay on course. Positive change begins with the individual. God never overrides our will, even if it is divided and conflicted. Whenever the question, “What good can I bring about?” is replaced by “How can I get my own way?” the will is being directed by the ego rather than God. Think about a situation in which you have experienced difficulty. What did you really want in it? Try asking yourself this question repeatedly until you get a sense of which basic question was orienting your will. If you find your response was ego motivated, what would it take to shift to God’s direction? Stay with it until you feel a shift. This process can also be helpful when written out in your journal.
Cultivate an awareness of your human resources. A sense of shared humanity with all people teaches us the value of each of us and the gifts we all bring. Consider what it would look like to have your will more closely directed by God. What would your next steps be? Take this into prayer, considering the possibility of being in closer community with others on this path or those who would stretch you on this path. Discuss any new ideas with a close spiritual friend or counselor. In what ways can you offer support for one another?
Develop and maintain a sense of destiny. Great leaders inspire others to the degree that they are able to reach into the future. Write an affirmation and use it throughout the day. Take it into prayer, slowly “chewing” on the words until the meaning begins to seep into your heart. What insights do you have about the power of the will?
Become involved in life. Knowing the Truth is not enough you must practice the Truth you know. Try serving others in such a way that getting your way takes a back seat to serving God in others. This may take place at Unity, your work, with friends, or at home.
Let’s take this prayer into meditation: We open our hearts and minds to the love that IS, that we all are. We connect with the Oneness of the multiverse that this planet is a part of. We choose to release the self-centered ego and open ourselves to the Christ center that is our true self. We now choose to cleanse ourselves and release any and all thought forms, beings, situations and energies that are no longer of service to our highest and greatest good…we choose this across all planes of our existence, across all universes, and across all lifetimes, We ask that all energies that are less than love be transmuted for the highest good of all. And so it is.
Good Morning Beloved!
A cowboy lay sprawled across three entire seats in the posh Amarillo Theater. When the usher came by and noticed this, he whispered to the cowboy, “Sorry, sir, but you’re only allowed one seat.”
The cowboy groaned but didn’t budge. The usher became more impatient:
“Sir, if you don’t get up from there I’m going to have to call the manager.”
Once again, the cowboy just groaned.
The usher marched briskly back up the aisle, and in a moment he returned with the manager. Together the two of them tried repeatedly to move the cowboy, but with no success.
Finally they summoned the police. The Texas Ranger surveyed the situation briefly then asked, “All right buddy what’s your name?”
“Fred,” the cowboy moaned.
“Where ya from, Fred?” asked the Ranger.
With terrible pain in his voice, and without moving a muscle, Fred replied, “the balcony.”
“Look Where We’ve Come”
A year ago, tomorrow, August 3rd, many of us met here, in the smaller room, to continue a journey. That journey started many years ago, for some of us, and for others, maybe it stared a few days before blessing us with your presence.
Either way, we gathered together to continue a journey that was Divinely Ordered. We were meant to be there on that Sunday, just as we are meant to be here, today.
Many people ask, when they first hear the word Unity – what is it? A church? A center? Is it Christian? A cult? Or what????
Unity IS based on the teachings of Jesus, often referred to as the CHRIST, so, in that sense it is Christian, but we like to say, Practical Christianity. Why? Because we like to think our teachings help us to live a life following the teachings of Jesus…not worshiping him. We look at Jesus as a teacher, someone who showed us how we could connect with our Higher Self, and live our lives through that connection.
That sets us apart from traditional Christianity teaching because we do not believe in much the negative teachings of hell, and damnation and original sin. So, often you will not see the term ‘church’ used, but instead Center, Temple, Society, if anything at all.
Unity emphasizes the belief that God is good, God is love. Therefore, God’s will for you is good—happiness, health, supply, whatever contributes to your growth and unfoldment.
Unity emphasizes God’s impersonal aspect, God as principle. There are no favorites…or we ALL are favorites!
Above all, Unity emphasizes the belief that God is within you. You have a divine potential.
Unity does not demand that you subscribe to a creed.
Unity does not ask whether you are a member of some particular religious organization.
Unity does not require you to perform certain rites and practices.
In all these matters, it leaves you free.
This is one of the great characteristics of Unity. It leaves people free to practice their spirituality at whatever level they have come up to, and to do whatever they feel is right and necessary to establish their own right relationship with their God.
Unity crosses all religious bodies, all denominations. It does this not as a separating, divisive force, but as a harmonizing, strengthening spirit. The work of Unity—its Spiritual activity as an organization—is done with no regard to sect or denomination.
It started as a continuation of the Sunday morning discussions, often held Sunday afternoon or later during the week.
The ministry of Unity is one of prayer. Its prayer work is centered in Silent Unity.
Unity is as much an attitude as an idea. We do not say, “Here is a creed, you must subscribe to it.” Instead it says, “Here are ideas that we feel are true about God, about yourself, about life. If you feel that any of these ideas are acceptable and useful, then use them.”
We do not offer teachings as final truths that you must accept or be lost. We offer teachings as a set of directions that will help you to find your way. And it is YOUR way.
Unity is the church spiritual, the church of the individual, growing, seeking, unfolding, becoming what he or she is meant to be.
It was not founded to separate people into another body, bounded by religious laws, doctrines, practices, and rituals. It was founded on the notion that God is within you, and therefore your purpose in life is to express your divine potential. Everything Unity has done as an organization, it has done to help you achieve this purpose. It accepts you where you are and for what you are, and it helps you become the child of God you were born to be.
To help you to do this, Unity will pray with you, and will teach you.
Unity may be a church, but a new and different kind of church. It has teachings, but not a creed.
It is more a week-day application of spiritual principles to daily problems than it is a Sunday service.
It is more a movement than a body of believers. Those who study its teachings jokingly call themselves Unitics
The name says it all – UNITY. This name leaves no one out.
Unity started for me, officially, you could say, in the early 90’s when I met Darla. She was and has been a Unitic for many years. And she started talking about Unity’s ideas to me and they were in sync with much of what I had been thinking and discovering as I journeyed searching for where I fit, spiritually.
The friendship with Darla and her partner O’Neal grew and we have been good friends since. One day, sitting on their deck, on the Indian River Bay, after I had become a student of Unity and was working on becoming licensed, we said, “The energy here is so ready for a Unity.” And someone said, well when you are licensed, you should start one.
And, that, folks, is how we got here…that and a whole lot of work from a great couple of hands full of people.
So, stand, please, those of you who helped to start URB (Darla, O’Neal, Terry, Rose, Barbara, Susan who help in the very beginning….and Chuck, Marian, Carol who stepped into leadership …and the volunteers, if you helped in any way….Sharon, Annette, Holly, Jim, Bonnie, Marcia, Greg, Kim, Luke, did you bring food for Fellowship? Stand, did you help set up or clean up, stand, did you contribute to the service – Andrea, stand)
See everyone standing, they are URB. We all are URB. And we all make it or break it.
This Community of Unitics is on the forefront of a great Spiritual movement, we are living examples of what Jesus meant when he said, these things and even greater will you do….
Give yourselves a round of applause!