What is a leader? Do you know?
When Benjamin Franklin wanted to introduce street lighting to the people of colonial Philadelphia, he did not lobby politicians,
he did not publish editorials,
he did not argue with those who disagreed with him.
Instead, …he simply hung a brilliant lantern on a long bracket in front of his own house.
Every evening, as dusk approached, …. he faithfully lit the wick.
People out in the dark night could see Franklin’s streetlight from blocks away and were grateful to walk in its friendly glow.
Soon Franklin’s neighbors started putting lanterns on brackets in front of their own homes,
and it wasn’t long before the entire city was illuminated each night with street lamps.
Of course, we all know Ben Franklin was and is considered a leader.
A minister was standing at the back of the Church greeting people as they were leaving one morning.
“Good morning” she said to a little boy who was waiting in line to see her.
“I’ve been waiting to tell you something that happened to me,” he said.
“Wonderful,” she said.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a bunny rabbit.
I always wished I were furry and free to hop and run all over.
I wished and I wished
but I finally gave up
because I saw that I was never going to get my wish and become a rabbit.
Then, ….. last week a miracle happened.”
“Really,” she chuckled imagining that he had received a special pet rabbit.
“Yes,” he said with his eyes wide in wonder.
“After all this time of wishing, …..one night I had a dream,
and in my dream, ……I was a bunny rabbit and I felt what it was like to be furry and free …… and run and hop and play.
I had a wonderful time and I got my wish.”
“That’s wonderful,” she agreed.
“But that’s not all,” he said excitedly.
“During my dream, …..God showed me how wonderful it is to be a bunny rabbit
and when I woke up
I realized that the feelings that I wanted to feel in being a bunny rabbit are already inside me.
SO, I’VE BEEN CARRYING WHAT I WANTED WITH ME ALL ALONG.”
His eyes were wide with recognition and hers were filled with tears of appreciation at his newly found inner splendor.
“Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with me,” she managed to get out.
“I just thought you’d like to know,” he said as he smiled and walked off with his mom into the crowd.
Is this little boy a leader?
A man and his son were taking a walk in the forest.
Suddenly his son trips and feeling a sharp pain he screams, “Ahhhh!”
Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, “Ahhhhh!”
Filled with curiosity, he screams, “Who are you?
But the only answer he receives is “Who are you?”
This makes him angry, so he screams, “You are a coward!”
and the voice answers, “You are a coward!”
He looks at his father, asking, “Dad, what is going on?”
“Son”, …….the man replies, …….“Pay attention!”
Then he screams, ……“I admire you!
The voice answers,….. “I admire you!”
The father shouts,….. “You are wonderful!”
And the voice answers,….. “You are wonderful!”
The boy is surprised, but still can’t understand what is going on.
Then the father explains,
“People call this an ‘echo’ but truly it is ‘life!’
It gives you back that which you CHOOSE to put in it.
It is simply a reflection of who we are.”
Is this father a leader?
Are you a leader?
Sure you are……
we all are at one time or another.
Don’t you know
that if you have seen leadership qualities in another,
then those qualities are in you also.
What have you done with that leadership ability?
That is the question.
The word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images as we just have shown. Here are a few more:
• A political leader,…. pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
• An explorer,…cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
• An executive, …..developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition.
Leaders help themselves………. and others………. to do the right things.
They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization.
This is why we held a visioning last year
and why we moved here
and why we asked Carol to use her ability and knowledge of Feng Shui
so our space would be welcoming to others,
to help our community spread the word about Unity.
We are using our leadership abilities to grow ourselves and aid each other on our Spiritual Journey.
Spiritual leadership involves motivating and inspiring community through faith in a vision of service to key stakeholders…….you.
The purpose of spiritual leadership
is to tap into the fundamental needs of both leaders and followers
for spiritual well-being through conveying that life has meaning and makes a difference
and through membership (belonging);
to create vision and value across the congregation;
ultimately, to foster higher levels of well-being, commitment, and social responsibility.
While spiritual leadership involves many of the same principles as general leadership, spiritual leadership has certain distinctive qualities that must be understood and practiced if spiritual leaders are to be successful.
Leaders share their gift of leadership by sharing courageous ideas in compelling and inspiring ways.
They demonstrate integrity,……. intelligence,…… creativity,……
enthusiasm…… and humility.
That is why I ask what are you doing when you walk out the door? What are you thinking and saying and doing? Are you putting the Unity Principles into practice?
Doing so promotes your leadership ability.
So you can see that your participation in the leadership of this Community,
in whatever way………is important.
Everyone has the responsibility of leadership.
Our Members are asked to further the work of Unity of Rehoboth Beach through active interest, love and support, including but not limited to regular attendance at services and programs, financial support and ongoing volunteer services.
Jesus is our example of spiritual leadership. He led the 12, teaching them through lessons and parables, and his example. And gave us a perfect guide for our lives. He showed us that we journey better when we journey with others.
It’s much more difficult to achieve connection to God if we try to do it alone. When we come together—as we in Unity do each Sunday—we find it easier to see the Christ expressing as each other than it is to see it in ourselves. And seeing it in each other becomes an easier path to recognizing it in ourselves.
We help ourselves and each other by sharing our gifts and experiences, by service to Unity and the larger community.
It was Jane Goodell who reminded us,
“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 develop our leadership by letting our inner light shine
and letting it ripple out into the world.
This is our first step in leading a change, …….a change in ourselves as leaders.
Use your God-given gifts ……. and lead where they take you.
World Day of Prayer
With all that has been happening as the years go by, I’m guessing that many of you have been praying a lot; no matter how you do that. From the simple prayer we said as children preparing for bed, to the Lord’s Prayer, taught to the disciples by Jesus; prayers are varied and mean lots of different things to different people.
As we prepare for World Day of Prayer this Thursday, I ask you to consider what you pray for and how you go about it.
Many people of different faiths engage in the practice of prayer. Whatever the individual belief, prayer helps settle the body and open the heart and mind to a deeper awareness of God. All people who pray are part of a powerful circle of prayer
In my former days, and when my knees were in better shape!; kneeling with hands clasped was accepted. My Mother was Catholic, and in my search for where I belonged, I tried it. The rituals were interesting, making one feel a part of something sacred. The message didn’t fit for me and so, even though I went back several times, I couldn’t stay.
I grew up in the United Methodists church, before I started yearning for something more. Even though we were told as children that God and Jesus loved us, we were also told we were sinners and going to hell.
Now you can understand why I was searching for a place to belong.
There were many years when I had no special spiritual place. Though I did have spiritual experiences, mostly in the conversations I was having with people I came across in my teaching and especially, coaching. And my time with nature, beach and forest, of course. As wonderful as that was, it still was not what I needed.
Thankfully, I was doing the work that we must do to get to know who we truly are. That’s what the search is all about. I stripped off layers of scars, lessons, errors, everything I needed to do to connect with my Inner Christ, to connect with God. Still working on it!
And finally I was introduced to Unity. I often say Unity saved me. At least I believe that. It turned me in the direction I was seeking but couldn’t quite find.
What does all this have to do with World Day of Prayer? Everything. We all must take those steps to find who we are. We must dig through and connect with our God…the God of our understanding, by whatever name we use.
The name does not matter because no name is enough. The God of my understanding cannot be held within a word. My God is much bigger that I can imagine. I suspect yours is like that too. We do tend to think of God as small, limited by our minds. Spirit is not small at all.
This is why, when Unity teaches prayer, we ask you to relax and clear your mind first. We cannot get in touch with our Higher Being if we are concerned about what to make for dinner or where that last bit of money we need will come from. So, we relax, breathe deeply and let go of any and all outer concerns.
We ask ourselves to concentrate on God, Spirit within. And then open our mind and heart to the presence of Spirit. Be receptive to that Spirit in mind & heart. Remember, the heart is truly smarter than the brain! “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
As we embrace the silence, we connect with our Higher Self. We allow that peace and blessing to fill our body and soul.
And when we are ready to conclude our time with God, we always give thanks. We are grateful for our gifts received from our Creator.
But we also know that prayer does not just have to be a time set aside for talking with our Higher Self. A simple Thank You is a powerful prayer. I say it a lot through my day. It’s thanking that Higher Power for the insight given, maybe direction we were seeking or just reminding us to slow down and flitter away with a beautiful butterfly.
Another way to be more conscious through your day is to do everything mindfully. Yes, learn to do everything wholeheartedly no matter how ordinary or mundane a job it may be. When you learn to do this, everything you do will be done with real joy and all the grind will be taken out of it, and you will see life as it really is, filled with God, for you recognize our Creator in everything.
So, be more conscious when you are doing the laundry, mowing the lawn and making dinner. And ESPECIALLY, be mindful when eating your meals. Grateful for what you have before you and all the hands and lives that helped to get it to your table.
And maybe even more important, wholeheartedness when we interact with each other, no matter who the other person is; this will help to spread peace and love through our world.
This, I believe, is one of the important actions that is missing between many peoples; between friends and families. Communities and nations.
Ask yourself what energy you are placing in the world. Peace? Love? Compassion? Or hate, anger and pain?
We’ve asked these questions many times before, and we must continue to ask them to do our part in this world.
And it always starts with you….
Myrtle Fillmore said, –“So get busy using the Truth you know … Bring forth your own joyous world of love, friendship, beauty, and plenty. God is giving everything required to build such a world. There is within you the God-given intelligence to build such a world. Get at it!”
So, let’s put the Unity prayer method into practice and go into the quiet:
Close your eyes. Relax, breathe deeply, and let go of outer concerns.
Quiet your mind. Begin to focus your thoughts on the spirit of God within you.
With an open mind and a receptive heart, feel the peace of God’s presence. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 RSV).
4. Embrace the Silence
In the silence of your soul, know that you are one with God. Allow this realization to permeate your being.
5. Give Thanks
“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” –Isaiah 56:7
Harry Potter and the 12 Powers – The Rest of the Story – Unity of Rehoboth Beach – September 3, 2017
Harry Potter and the 12 Powers – The Rest of the Characters
Well, the 12 Spiritual Powers and Harry Potter is completed…or is it? There are many other characters in the Harry Potter books that may deserve at the very least, an honorable mention and the Powers they exemplify.
There are books and books and more books written about Harry Potter and all the theories about him and the various other characters in JK Rowling’s books. There’s a whole series on how Harry and all the themes and characters refer to Christianity. And then other books telling you to not read the books because they refer to Satan.
John Granger, in “Looking for God in Harry Potter” says that each book is based upon a central conflict of ‘good vs evil’. And of course, it is the quintessential example of the hero’s journey.
He also thinks the story is meant to instruct and change us. Each book reveals a prejudice – fear of foreigners, of muggles, of giants, of muggle-born, were-wolfs….and individual people – even Harry was prejudice of Prof. Snape & Draco, for example.
So, our instruction here is to look at ourselves and our prejudices. We ALL have them. We must ‘be in the world but not of it’ John 17:13-16…hard to do in this HUMAN form.
Another theme, in every book is love triumphing death. “The absence of love is worse than death.” Which is one of the errors that Tom Riddle made. He loved no one and nothing but himself…and maybe power. Love trumps death just as light conquers dark.
And Harry was faced with two types of choices in every book, what sort of person he wants to be and what to do in each crisis – choosing what is right over what is easy. Reminders of what we need to answer often throughout our days. Those choices aren’t often easy to make.
Remember Dumbledore’s message to Harry? “It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are far more than our abilities.”
Maybe I just don’t want to leave Harry or maybe I think some of the characters really deserve to be included in our discussion…but for whatever reason, here are a few I think need to be mentioned…
Not in any special order – Remus Lupin. Lupin was introduced in the 3rd book as the Defense Against Dark Magic Professor. He is probably one of the most loyal characters in the story. Remus was a very compassionate and intelligent man. In spite of his condition, a werewolf, he was very tolerant. And despite having suffered a great deal of prejudice in his life he managed to retain an ability to see the good in almost everybody and was extremely forgiving. Remus also had an excellent sense of humor.
What of the 12 powers do we see in Lupin? Definitely strength & understanding. I would say faith & love too.
Molly Weasley is the next character deserving to be mentioned in our study. – matriarch of the Weasley family, she is the mother of seven children; Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny Weasley, which makes her deserving in itself! Molly played a large part in the life of Harry Potter, acting as a motherly figure towards him.
You witness her strength and compassion throughout the series. One would need an imagination with 7 children and a strong will. Of course, love would make up a large part of Molly’s character with a touch of power.
Arthur Weasley – the patriarch of the Weasley family and the quintessential father figure. He was a staunch believer in the equality of all magical and Muggle folk, making him full of zeal & love and with 7 children, strength. His imagination shows in his love for anything to do with Muggles.
Ginny Weasley – Ginny was another character showing great growth through the series. She grew into a confident young woman, becoming an important member of Dumbledore’s Army.
Even though Ginny ended up marrying Harry, she was her own person, with her own career and professional standing, both as a quidditch player and later a writer. And Mother to 3 children. I see order in her life as well as power, wisdom and strength.
Some of the characters we loved to hate as we read the series. One was Professor Severus Snape – potions master for most of the story. Snape had a history with Harry before Harry even arrived at Hogwarts. Harry’s father, James and Snape didn’t like each other much, for various reasons. So, Snape didn’t like Harry when he came along as a student at Hogwarts.
As we came to the end of the story, we could see that Snape had much courage, love and strength. His will made him one of the most important characters of the story.
Of course, every story has to have some bad guys. So, let’s look at a couple. We already talked about the number 1 bad guy to our story, Voldemort. He had a few others that had our hairs on end through the books.
One was Delores Umbridge. Even the meaning of her name suggests nastiness….’grievous shadow’. Sorted into Slytherin House as a student, Dolores Umbridge was an evil woman, nothing short of a sociopath who characterized the worst aspects of political power. She was ruthless, cruel, brutal, corrupt, misanthropic, and devoid of a moral or ethical center. She was a half-blood witch and Ministry of Magic bureaucrat.
Her time at Hogwarts was characterized by cruelty and abusive punishments against students, and because of her interfering and condescending ways, she was generally hated by most students and teachers alike.
According to Garrick Ollivander, wand maker, abnormally short wands usually selected those whose moral character was stunted
So what Spiritual powers were mis-used in Delores Umbridge? Obviously power. And Zeal along with order being way out of wack.
Ron told Harry – “There isn’t any dark wizard that didn’t come from Slytherin House.”
After graduating from Hogwarts she became a Death Eater, fanatically loyal to Lord Voldemort and was among the most dangerous and sadistic of Voldemort’s followers.
Her marriage appeared to be nothing more than an obligatory fulfilment of her family’s pure-blood marriage traditions, Voldemort was her true love, the one to whom she spoke in a romantic manner and showed concern for, even had a child secretly with.
However, he never returned her feelings as he was incapable of understanding love and disliked the idea of being emotionally attached to anyone.
Bellatrix was an intensely sadistic witch with brutal, violent tendencies vehemently against all: blood traitors, half-bloods, Muggle-borns, Muggles, and half-breeds.
Again, a mis-use of her spiritual powers of power, strength, zeal and will, just to name a few!
Although they were not part of the Death Eaters or fans of Voldemort, the Dursley family were not very nice to Harry
The Dursley family is a Muggle family, and the only known living relatives of Harry Potter. Petunia Dursley was the older sister of Harry’s mother, was married to the extremely unmagical, opinionated, and materialistic Vernon Dursley. They had a son named Dudley.
Due to his wizarding background, Harry was treated with fear and negligence by the Dursleys. An interesting contrast to Hogwarts, where he is famous.
Definitely a mis-use of power and will, order and especially love. Even the supposed love of their son, Dudley was mis-used.
So what do we learn from these characters? Well, the first few were supporters of Harry and helped him along his journey to be the hero that he was. They each strengthened him in ways he did not receive from his home.
The other characters certainly helped to keep him humble. AS he experienced more of life, Harry was able to discern the way he wanted to be, how he wished to live his life, often based on the examples from his God-father, his friends Lupin, the Weasleys, and Prof. Dumbledore.
And what he wanted NOT to be based upon his life with the Dursleys as well as what he saw from others.
The examples of what a family is like via the Weasley’s showed him that what he experienced with the Dursleys was not the rule. He learned what it was like to be loved and cared for in a ‘proper’ family.
When one sees the way any power can be mis-used, we get a better understanding of what is Spiritually correct and what is an error, a missing the mark, a ‘sin’ against humankind.
Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see where Spiritual Powers are used improperly. We see it in our families, at our place of work, and in our communities and nations.
If we have learned anything through our discussion of the 12 Powers it might be that we can all do our part to create peace and love through-out our world or we have done our part to create anger, hate and distrust…remember – peace begins with each of us.
Ask yourself if you are doing your part? And do you know WHAT your part is?