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Yearly Archives: 2018
Great Morning Beloved!
The Burning Bowl Ceremony & Letter to God
Today is a special day…not only do we get to spend this time together, but we get to release what no longer serves our souls journey and then we get to write a letter to God, expressing what we’d like to see in this new year coming up in a very short time.
The Burning Bowl Ceremony and the Letter to God are special rituals that Unity’s around the world have participated in for many years.
You will be releasing those situations, thoughts, habits, maybe even people that no longer serve your spiritual growth.
I ask that you stay with the ceremony and not try to work ahead, you may miss part of what you are to experience through these ceremonies.
Traditionally, the end of the year is a time of reflection and evaluation. The questions you might want to ask yourself are – what worked for you in 2018? And what would you have liked to handle differently?
We know we can’t change events in the past, even what happened yesterday, but we can reprogram in our mind’s eye how we showed up in any given situation. We can reprogram in our mind’s eye how we thoughtfully and positively responded to a particular a situation. By reprogramming, we can oftentimes, release any emotional energy charges we have regarding particular people or circumstances.
It’s extremely healthy to release and let go before we move forward into the good in store for 2019.
Unity’s 3rd Basic principle is the Law of Mind Action. Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. Or we create our world by whatever we think, feel, and believe. So, whatever we focus our thoughts upon will show up in our world: think positive, create positive and vice versa. It’s a universal law, like gravity!
Unity’s 4th principle is Prayer and Meditation focus our thoughts on the positive through the use of affirmations and denials.
Many are first drawn to Unity for its terrific teachings surrounding positive thinking and affirmations; however, we can affirm ‘til the cows come home, but if we have underlying beliefs that are in opposition to what we are affirming, we must eliminate the erroneous thoughts before we can truly create the world of our choosing. Releasing, eliminating, emptying, all are basically for releasing the power any negative thoughts can have in our lives.
Emptying ourselves is more than just eliminating negative thinking, it’s denying the power such thoughts have over us and forgiving. We must forgive ourselves and others in order to move forward to our awaiting good.
Energy is the name given to the invisible by basic material stuff of the universe. It collects in subatomic particles, holds particles together to form atoms, holds atoms together to form molecules, and so on up the chain of matter until the collected energy forms minerals, plants and the bodies of animals and humans.
Energy vibrates; it is constantly in motion even when collected in apparently solid, unmoving forms. Everything is made of energy, and everything emits some energy. Our bodies, which are made of energy, emit energy. Even our thoughts and feelings are patterns of energy.
According to the dictionary, an emotion is any departure from the usual calm state of the organism. Since an emotion prepares the human body to release energy through overt action, if the energy is not released, it is trapped with the memory of the event which aroused the emotion.
Our unconscious mind holds these unreleased emotions. It doesn’t matter if the buried events are real or fictitious, the emotional energy that is trapped can be disruptive and can interfere with our lives.
Fortunately, our subconscious minds will respond to our conscious minds, but we need to be firm in our purpose. If our current consciousness wavers, our subconscious mind will rely on old information!
I now invite you to get quiet in mind and body. Let us begin by denying together, “I release all that no longer benefits me.”
Now, let us affirm together, “I empty myself, so that I can accept the good that awaits me.” Let’s say that three times together to impress it upon our sub-consciousness.
Now affirm with me. “God is expressing as me and memories are powerless to disturb or harm me.”
Now declare aloud with me: “I now release all of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes from 2018, that could hold me back from my good.”
Now let’s move into the silence. Our Ushers will distribute your papers and pens for this Ceremony.
Silently ask what is ready to be lifted from you now. Allow people, places, things, feelings, addictions or patterns of behavior to arise in your conscious mind and as you recognize them, begin to write down a word or phrase to indicate you wish to release the thought associated with the memory.
As you agree to release them, trust that they are being treated perfectly by God as you release them from your human concern, anxiety, fear or resentment. Your Highest Good is intimately connected to the Highest Good of all who are in your life – as you release them from your worry they are released into God’s care at once. With each name, thought, feeling or internal pattern you release, peacefulness grows within you. Allow this process to continue for the next couple of minutes, writing down what you are given to release.
And when you are ready move your attention back to this time. Know that letting go begins the moment you put pen to paper. It is your conscious awareness that activates the release of problems, thoughts, and things from your life.
After completing your written list, walk to the back of the room and place your paper, your thoughts and experiences into the cleansing fire.
As you watch the paper burn, visualize your unwanted thoughts rising up in the smoke, being released from you.
Allow yourself to experience whatever you are feeling: fear, anxiety, sadness, loss, gratitude. Let the feelings lift as the fire consumes your paper.
Visualize the Smoke Taking Your Thoughts away to the God of your understanding.
The core of this ritual is about a shift in consciousness, being still, becoming aware, naming what you are releasing, and letting it go—then standing in faith for what is next. There is surrender, an acknowledgment that this problem is bigger than me. So, I let go and let God.
After returning to your seat, sit quietly for a few moments and let the process of releasing complete itself.
Let’s say this affirmation together:
Today I release what I don’t want. I let go and let God do the work in this sacred experience. In this, I am healed and renewed. I open my heart to love, and I am blessed with peace, joy, and harmony.
Then when you are ready, go into the Silence again and prepare to write your Letter, expressing what you would like to see happen in the new year. What issues need resolved? What steps forward are you contemplating?
Your letter to God would talk about these things that your Soul is urging you forward to accomplish. Ask God to assist you in these steps of your journey.
Visualize what you want to experience in life and how you want it to take shape.
Write your intentions on your paper.
When you have completed that, fold it and place it in your envelope, address it to yourself. We will mail it early summer as a reminder what your intentions were and maybe give you a little boost.
Please remain quiet while everyone completes their Letters.
We have experienced together these Ceremonies of releasing and of anticipation…releasing the old and looking forward to the new.
Happy New Year everyone…may it be Blessed with peace and Love.
The Third Sunday of Advent
The Holy Family
Today we light three of our candles on our four-week journey to Christmas. In our quest to renew the Christ within we began with hope like the wise men guided by their intuition, with our second candle we reignited peace in our hearts, and today’s candle is for love. The love of God that is in every being and expresses in our every action. Let love light your life.
Try to imagine what it was like for the Holy Family as they traveled to Bethlehem for the census. They were most likely walking, tho they may have had a donkey for Mary to ride. But even that, for 108 miles would not have been comfortable, especially at the end of a pregnancy.
This young family had already gone through much; imagine yourself trying to explain a Holy pregnancy….the talk back then was probably just as bad as it would today, worse actually, because Mary could have been stoned to death for adultery back in the old days.
Mary didn’t believe it at first, the Bible says; “Mary was greatly TROUBLED at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” And neither did Joseph believe it. He was going to quietly divorce Mary until an angel spoke to him.
Mary may have felt like this officer:
A police officer pulled a guy over for speeding and had the following exchange:
Officer: May I see your driver’s license?
Driver: I don’t have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI.
Officer: May I see the owner’s card for this vehicle?
Driver: It’s not my car. I stole it.
Officer: The car is stolen?
Driver: That’s right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner’s card in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.
Officer: There’s a gun in the glove box?
Driver: Yes sir. That’s where I put it after I shot and killed the woman who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk.
Officer: There’s a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!?
Driver: Yes, sir.
Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver to handle the tense situation:
Captain: Sir, can I see your license?
Driver: Sure. Here it is. It was valid.
Captain: Who’s car is this?
Driver: It’s mine, officer. Here’s the registration.
Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there’s a gun in it? Driver: Yes, sir, but there’s no gun in it. Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box.
Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told you said there’s a body in it. Driver: No problem. The trunk was opened; no body.
Captain: I don’t understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glovebox, and that there was a dead body in the trunk.
Driver: Yeah, I’ll bet he told you I was speeding, too.
A humorous way to look at the frustration that comes from not being believed.
Luke 2:6-7 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Mary was visited by an angel who told her she would be the mother of a great leader. She represents the divine mother and unconditional love. Joseph was visited by an angel too when he was going to divorce Mary. The angel told him that his bride to be would be carrying the Holy child and it was his calling to care for this child. Joseph represents wisdom and using our mind. When we use love (like Mary) and wisdom (like Joseph) we bring forth miracles, (Jesus).
Imagine what we could do if we allowed love & wisdom to guide our choices, our responses to everyday happenings, what would your life be like?
Then the family had to flee to Egypt as refugees because Jesus’ life was in danger due to Herod’s decree, in much the same way as refugees from war-torn countries are now entering many western countries. Some things do not change…
Mary and Joseph are tested when Jesus is 12 and stayed at the Temple instead of being with his parents as they left to travel back home. We probably all have tested our parents from time to time, but few of us would explain our exploits by saying we were doing our Father’s work!
I would love to know what his punishment was…being grounded, coming straight home after Hebrew school, …
There are several more stories floating around about Jesus’ early life, and they all point to the fact that he was loved by his family.
The Holy Family loved one another and their love helped Jesus become a great spiritual leader. Love for each other and God kept The Family together and sane throughout all of these trials.
The love you have for your family and friends can help them become great too. When we fill our hearts with love, and speak words of encouragement and kindness, we create our own holy family. Remember, love is a verb, it’s an action word. Let your love spread out and light your world.
How can we do that?
Let’s start right here…how can and do we spread our love for each other here at Unity?
I’d first like to say by showing up…the fact that we attend Service, even if we may not feel like it at first, shows that we have some commitment to, if not Unity, then maybe some of our fellow Congregants. And showing up for activities shows our love for our Unity family.
Another way is volunteering to help the Service run smoothly so the others can enjoy it without concern. It’s nice when this duty is shared so everyone gets to sit back and enjoy a Service without any duties.
What do you think? (Hugs & Handshakes, Fellowship)
Now think of ways you share your love with your family….
How about at work? Smiles to your co-workers, keeping your patience, no negative criticism…
Have you witnessed a time when you saw someone acting from love? Could be as simple as holding a door or taking a grocery cart back for someone…a smile as you pass someone on the street…
These are all examples of sharing your love…it never has to be extravagant or expensive, as the saying goes, ‘It’s the thought that counts.’
It’s so important to let people in your family circle know you care for them, whether a family of blood or choice… it’s part of our basic needs as a human being:
1. Certainty: The need for safety, security, comfort, order, consistency, control.
2. Variety: The need for uncertainty, diversity, challenge, change, surprise, adventure.
3. Significance: The need for meaning, validation, feeling needed, honored, wanted, special.
4. Love and Connection: The need for connection, communication, intimacy and shared love with others.
5. Growth: The need for physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.
6. Contribution: The need to give, care, protect beyond ourselves, to serve others and the good of all.
Now go back and ask yourself if & how you are aiding the basic needs of humanity in Unity? In your family? At your work?
Now is the time…Love is calling all of us to step up in whatever way we are able to do our part in changing the world. We have the hope….we know that peace begins with each of us….and we know that we are love.
Let’s make it so….
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
You are the Light
Advent! This is the final Sunday in our four Sunday journey to Christmas! This week we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago, but metaphorically, the awakening of the Christ consciousness in each of us.
Cultures and religions around the world celebrate the arrival of the light during this, the darkest part of the year. Today’s candle is for Joy, it is a celebration of the presence of the light within each of us that never goes out.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
One of my favorite Unity Ministers, Rev. Ed Townley has a column in Unity Magazine called Ask the Rev. People can write to him questions about the Bible and about Unity and he responds.
One question was about why Luke and Matthew have different accounts of the birth of Jesus. Mark and John do not address the birth story at all.
This is what Rev Ed said:
Matthew and Luke differ in significant ways in their versions of the birth of Jesus. Matthew traces Jesus’ roots back to Abraham to emphasize his role as the Jewish Messiah. Luke traces him all the way back to Adam, to emphasize the universal importance of his life and message. Matthew says the birth was in Bethlehem because that’s where Mary and Joseph lived. He has them fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt to escape Herod, then later returning and deciding to live in Nazareth because it was a safer distance from Jerusalem.
Luke says they lived in Nazareth, went to Bethlehem for a census (although there is no Roman record of a census taken at that time) and were forced to stay in a manger. Matthew doesn’t mention a manger. Luke has the shepherds; Matthew has the Wise Men.
The point is neither writer was intending anything like an accurate, historical description of an event. Neither was either deliberately fudging facts. They were both—in their own ways and for their own reader—telling the spiritual truth about an event of tremendous significance—an event whose importance could never be expressed or understood with a simple recitation of human facts.
Both Jewish and Greek traditions were filled with stories of ‘miraculous’ births. It was an accepted and effective way of alerting people that someone important had come on the scene.
We cheerfully ignore the inherent conflicts between the two versions and weave them together into one magical Christmas story—with shepherds and Wise Men and angels and animals and a stable and an angry king—and yes, a drummer boy if we feel like adding one. We intuitively know that the story is really being told at a deeper level.
So, what is the story about, metaphysically? Some say it’s about the birth of the Christ, but that’s not possible. The Christ is the Light and Love of God, present in each of us. It is our true spiritual identity, the creative Power of God seeking to express through us. It is, therefore, as eternal as God—it can’t be born.
What can be born, however, is our awareness of our true Christ nature. And what can be—and is—reborn every Christmas is our personal surrender, allowing more of the Christ to begin to express through us. We can believe—or not—that Mary was a mortal virgin; it really doesn’t matter.
It is metaphysically true that the birth of Christ awareness is always a Virgin Birth. Its source is never the tangible world around us; our willingness is embraced and implanted by divine awareness.
So metaphysically what we celebrate each Christmas is not the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, and not the birth of the Christ, but the birth of Christ awareness. What Jesus brought to us was a spark of new light, new possibility—a light that shines through the darkness of human confusion and illuminates the spiritual truth of who we are.
And it doesn’t just happen once. Every Christmas is a new birth—a new opportunity for each of us to give birth to more of the light—and to commit ourselves to nurturing that light, trusting it, believing in its Presence within us, sending it forth with every choice we make to bring more of itself into expression—to create more, and more again, of the new consciousness with which we each of us is miraculously pregnant—the consciousness Jesus describes as “the kingdom of heaven.”
Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore understood Christmas as a season of great joy and expectancy but also viewed it as a time for inner celebration when the Christ awareness is born in human hearts.
Charles Fillmore wrote of Christmas in 1919. “It does not belong to the past; it is a vital, living, present Truth. The bringing forth of the Christ child is not a work that is finished in Bethlehem. It is taking place in our midst every day. It is this we celebrate.”
“Make of yourself a light,” said the Buddha. Like Jesus, he knew that he was light, and people were drawn to him. And they both knew that that was beside the point.
They knew it was easier to idolize teachers than to actually listen to what they said and live accordingly. Imagine both of them saying different versions of “Don’t you get it? It’s not about me! You—you are the light of the world.”
To be of value, such a teaching has to apply to everyone, no matter who they are, no matter what they believe, no matter whether they are especially great moral achievers or struggling to figure out the right thing to do, like the rest of us.
Notice that Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the powerful, the wealthy, the popular. Blessed are the handsome; blessed are the cool.” He was speaking to the rest of us. You, whose marriage failed, or who remained single in a world where people are expected to be married—you are light. You with a jailed child, you are light. Your child is, too. You who work at a job you hate, you who lost your job—you are light. You are light when you don’t like yourself very much, when you have failed. That’s the miracle of the light—God in you—it’s still there and it can be there even against your will.
The earliest followers of Jesus were not members of the educated or upper classes in his society. They were fishermen, farmers, laborers and spiritual outcasts—people whose work, behavior or inability to tithe to the Temple kept them outside the circle of those considered religiously acceptable. They were variously resigned to being considered unimportant at best, unacceptable at worst.
Jesus’ basic message to these people is: “You are the light of the world.” Certainly no one had ever told them such a thing before—even John the Baptist had seen them first and foremost as sinners who needed to repent. The great gift of Jesus’ awareness is that he saw people as they truly are—whole and perfect expressions of divine Light. And he was able to translate that insight into practical, pragmatic terms everyone could understand.
If he had tried to explain the universal spiritual truth behind his statement, they would not have understood, and they would not have believed in their own light. But they could easily understand the absurdity of lighting a lamp and then covering it over so it couldn’t be seen. The light would be totally wasted—and none of the followers could afford to waste anything, especially something as precious as a source of light in their homes.
Oil for lamps was so precious in those days, a rare commodity. it wasn’t until about 1800 that ordinary people could afford candles in their homes. You would hoard oil for your lamp carefully. Poor people must have looked at the lighted homes of the rich with longing and envy.
Before modern lights, it was common for a house to have one candle or lamp. If someone were to cover the light, they would essentially be putting everyone in the house into the dark. Jesus reminds us that it is foolish to try to cover our light, and that a shining light will be seen and will make a difference. When we remember that the Christ Consciousness is within us each time we allow that connection, we can go out and let our light shine in the world.
How do we do that?
Show your love through kind words and actions. Have hope. Speak words of peace. The joy of Christmas comes from inside. Share your Christmas joy throughout the year!
Share: what can you do to let your light shine more brightly?
Even if you have no money, no power, no status, you are light. There is a power within you that is God, that is light. You don’t need to be afraid.
All these years later, the challenge with this passage is to grasp the truth that Jesus meant what he said. Each of us is the light of the world—we are each an expression of the divine Light we call God, the Source of all life and all love. Our limited human natures are like the bushel basket—coverings that allow us to hide the Light within so completely that we ourselves forget it’s there.
We’re not here in human form to ignore the Light, or to hide it so that no one else can see it. We’re here to be the Light—to let it shine everywhere, affirming the spiritual Presence and Power that is the energy of everything. It’s only by letting our own light shine that we can encourage others to uncover their own inner Light and join us in the spiritual work of creating a new consciousness.
The holidays are holy not for anything we do, but for the consciousness we bring to our acts. This year choose your activities consciously. Be where you want to be, not where you should be. Be with the people you want to be with. Wipe the slate clean of history, tradition, rules, and expectations, and make each day your own. Start a new tradition of soul honoring. Other people can legislate rituals, but only you can—and must—legislate your consciousness. Let joy be your compass.
“Holiday” means “holy day.” Make Every day a holy day.
Great Morning Beloved!
The Second Sunday of Advent
“Peace The Christmas Tree”
Today we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent with the theme of Peace. Remember advent is a time of preparation. We are preparing once again, for our reminder of the Christ within…maybe for some of us, a birth, others a re-birth.
Peace has been a prominent topic in our lives. I know I pray for inner peace as well as world peace. It’s a reminder to do our part in manifesting the world and life we wish to have.
And though we may not see either inner or world peace consistently, we can bask in the times in our lives when we do have peace, if only inner peace, which is our part,… our gift to world peace.
And so, we light the two candles on our Advent wreath, one for Hope and the 2nd for peace. We use our wisdom like the wise men to bring us closer to expressing peace in our lives.
John 14:27 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
We light two candles to symbolize our journey toward Christmas. Another thing we do to prepare for Christmas is decorate Christmas trees!
Evergreen trees have been decorated in the winter time for millennia. Because these trees stay green all year, they remind us that God is always alive within us.
The evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life during winter. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the New Year, and ancient inhabitants of northern Europe cut evergreen trees and planted them in boxes inside their houses in wintertime.
Many early Christians were hostile to such practices. The second-century theologian Tertullian condemned those Christians who celebrated the winter festivals or decorated their houses with laurel boughs in honor of the emperor. He disliked the tribute to the so-called Pagans…did you know that the word pagan “means” of or relating to the countryside’, ‘country dweller’, ‘villager’.” Not the distastefull meaning many use it for.
The word pagan was used in the fourth century by early Christians for those who practiced polytheism, either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population or because they were not “soldiers of Christ.”
By the early Middle Ages, a legend had grown that when Jesus was born in the dead of winter, every tree throughout the world miraculously shook off its ice and snow and produced new shoots of green.
Of course, we know, assuming that there was a Jesus, he would have been born in the springtime.
At the same time, Christian missionaries preaching to Germanic and Slavic peoples were taking a more lenient approach to cultural practices—such as evergreen trees. These missionaries believed that they could win the so-called pagans over to Christianity by allowing for these natural symbols that had previously been used for the worship of pagan gods.
Of course, this did not mean that the worship of pagan gods themselves was tolerated. According to one legend, the eighth-century missionary Boniface, after cutting down an oak tree sacred to the pagan god Thor (and used for human sacrifice), pointed to a nearby fir tree instead as a symbol of the Christ. He is credited with the Christmas Tree and relating it to the birth of Jesus.
“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”
Other legends tell us that the Christmas tree comes to us from Germany. Martin Luther is credited with being inspired by the starry heavens one night and expressing his feelings to his family by bringing a fir tree into his home and attaching lighted candles to its branches. Fir meant fire, and fire is an ancient symbol for spirit & life. Also noting that the tree pointed toward the heavens.
We decorate the tree with lights to remind us to shine our own lights. Stars remind us of the one that led the wise men, angels on the tree represent our highest thoughts.
Red at Christmas reminds us of the fire of the Spirit. The color green signified the life force through the year & nature. Eventually decorative balls represented the planets.
Santa Claus is the spirit of giving. Doves are a symbol of peace, and toys are for joy.
The variety in our tree and of the other trees reminds us of the many beautiful ways that God expresses in the world.
The first Christmas tree that was made in the USA was in 1830 in Pennsylvania by a German settler. They had just continued the traditions when they immigrated. The concept was readily accepted by the people of USA and it became more and more popular
But it wasn’t until the late 19th century that decorated evergreens became the ultimate Christmas symbol we all know and love today. In 1846, the second longest-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, was sketched with her children and husband, Prince Albert, alongside a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle. Because Queen Victoria was so popular, the decision instantly became an iconic one and went mainstream worldwide.
In the 1850s the first signs of Christmas tree sales and lots began to appear around American towns.
In the mid-1850s President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869) established the first Christmas tree at the White House.
And it was President Calvin Coolidge (1885-1933) who started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
What does the beauty of the Christmas Tree say to you?
The Metaphysical meaning of ‘Trees’ represent nerves, and nerves are expressions of thoughts of unity; they connect our thought centers
Evergreen trees represent strength, friendship, especially life-long friendship, hope, promise & renewal, longevity, resilience, and remembrance.
WOW! Who knew that evergreen trees meant so much?
Maybe that is why the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree was a symbol of such a transformation for Charlie & his gang.
That tree started out unable to hold one decoration. Yet, when the gang discerned that they had been too hard on Charlie, their love and friendship transformed the tree into a beautiful, strong and sturdy tree, able to carry the weight of the ornaments that were placed on with love & friendship.
Maybe we should be more like a tree, grounded….
well balanced and sensible.
Connected to our roots…. even if your family relationship isn’t a Hallmark moment, look into who your family really is…you might understand more than you ever thought possible.
And remember that you ARE connected, our roots intertwine with love & friendship.
Maybe not be so hesitant to turn over a new leaf…do you wish to change something? maybe break a habit…maybe talk to the people you call family. Maybe mend some misunderstandings.
Learn to bend, so you do not break…. Not reacting but responding to the ‘growth opportunities’ that are presented to us.
Enjoy your uniqueness and natural beauty…. yes, all of you. There is only one YOU….be YOU. Be who you are and if there are changes to be made, make them your changes.
And always keep growing…. physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“I am a child of God, filled and surrounded by the perfect peace of God.”
Great Morning Beloved!
The First Sunday of Advent
“Hope” & The Wise Men
Today we begin our journey toward Christmas. Advent means preparation. And so, we prepare again, as we do each year, for the Birth of the Christ Consciousness within each of us.
We all know that the Christ Consciousness is always within us. This Season of re-birth is a gentle reminder of that.
If we look at the Bible as our souls’ journey, then the Hebrew scriptures foretold of this birth, this rise in consciousness.
Isaiah 9:6 6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
And so we light the first candle in our Advent Wreath to symbolize Hope.
What is it that you are hoping for this Christmas Season?…….
Reviewing the birth story from the Gospel of Matthew: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
On coming to the place, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
According to legend, the Wise Men traveled far across the desert to follow a new star. They believed the star would lead them to meet a great leader whom they would then shower with gifts.
Although the Magi are commonly referred to as “kings,” there is nothing in the account from the Gospel of Matthew that implies that they were rulers of any kind. The identification of the Magi as kings is most likely linked to Old Testament prophecies that describe the Messiah being worshipped by kings in Isaiah and the Psalms, which tell us “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations serve him.”
The Wise Men probably came from an area which is now in either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or the Yemen. Although they are often called the ‘Three Kings’, the Bible does not say how many there were. It was assumed that there were three by writers of the time because of the three gifts.
The gifts reflected the aspects of Christ’s nature: gold to a king, myrrh to one who will die, and incense, as homage to a God
They were certainly men of great learning. The word Magi comes from the greek word ‘magos’ (where our word ‘magic’ comes from). Magos itself comes from the old persian word that was the title given to priests in a sect of the ancient persian religions.
Today we’d call them astrologers. Back then astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall studies (and ‘science’) and went hand in hand with each other. The magi would have followed the patterns of the stars religiously. They would have also probably been very rich and held high esteem in their own society and by people who weren’t from their country or religion.
Interesting that we often look down on astrology when it was so highly esteemed in Biblical times.
These men appear to have researched the Old Testament and believed its prophecies about the Messiah.
Seeing this unusual new star in the sky, they knew that it told of the birth of a special king. No one really knows what the new star in the sky was, and there are many theories including comets, supernovas, or even a conjunction of planets.
Through the legends told about them, they have been given names. This is how they are often described:
Gaspar (or Caspar), who has brown hair and a brown beard (or no beard!) and wears a green cloak and a gold crown with green jewels on it. He is the King of Sheba. Gaspar represents the Frankincense brought to Jesus.
Melchior, who has long white hair and a white beard and wears a gold cloak. He is the King of Arabia. Melchior represents the Gold brought to Jesus.
Balthazar, who has black skin and a black beard (or no beard!) and wears a purple cloak. He is the King of Tarse and Egypt. Balthazar represents the gift of Myrrh that was brought to Jesus.
Interesting how legends grow….
Matthew is the only one of the four gospels to mention the Magi and Luke the only other gospel that mentions the birth story. In Luke we get the shepherds.
These magi did not arrive until possibly almost 2 years after the birth of Jesus, certainly sometime after his presentation in the Temple.
That’s a long journey to follow a star in search of a child. And since there is no mention of camels or any mode of transportation in the biblical record, they were probably on foot!
So, that’s the back story for this journey we are taking. Somewhere along the way, our culture has combined the two gospel stories and tweaked them to have everyone at the stable together and added camels for special effects.
Let’s look at this metaphysically….
The Metaphysical meaning of Wise-men….The stored-up resources of the soul, which rise to the surface when its depths are stirred by a great spiritual revelation. They are the inner realms of consciousness that, like books of life, have kept the records of past lives and held them in reserve for the great day when the soul would receive the supreme ego, Jesus.
The “Wise-men” represent the wisdom that is carried within the soul from previous incarnations. The east represents the within, man’s inner consciousness.
Although Charles did believe in reincarnation, we do not find too many references to it in his writings. So here we have a metaphysical meaning for the Wise Men. I find it interesting.
The Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ Child. Gold represents the riches of Spirit; frankincense, the beauty of Spirit; myrrh, the eternity of Spirit.
The star that the “Wise-men” saw in the east represents intuition; the “Wise-men” were guided by intuition. Stars represent subjective and not fully understood guiding lights.
Unity’s James Dillet Freeman puts it this way….
At Christmas it is easier to see the wonder of things. Is it the wonder that wells up in all things Christmas, or is it in us?
Christmas turns us into children. Children have a wonderful sense of wonder.
So, sit still for a moment, shut your eyes, and think back to the Christmas of your childhood. Or better yet, feel for the wonder in your heart.
Can you remember what waiting for Christmas was like? It is hard to find words for that feeling.
Hope? Desire? Excitement? Dreams?
What was it like?…
But Christmas is not getting things, because Christmas is not things at all. Christmas is a wonder. And it is for wonder.
Christmas is believing.
Christmas is hoping.
Christmas is dreaming.
It is a holiday holy to humanity’s dreams and hopes.
That is why Christmas is, first of all, the Christmas story. Christmas is the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ is the birth of humanity’s best dream and highest hope. It is the birth of God in humanity.
Take time this Christmas to read the story again.
Because there was no room at the inn, God was born in a stable. There Mary the Mother bent over the manger, watching her Baby asleep in the hay. The beasts in the stalls—were they wiser than us?—knelt down, says the legend, and worshiped Jesus.
Shepherds came from the fields. They left their flocks and lambs. Wise Men came from lands far away. They followed the brightest star that has ever shone in earth’s night sky.
Angels sang in the skies by the stable. They sang of peace to an earth without peace. They sang of goodwill to all people.
The Christmas story holds hope for us all.
When the shepherds came looking for God, they brought only their wonder, for this was all they had.
When the Wise Men came looking for God, they brought their gifts.
If you are a shepherd, God asks of you only your wonder.
If you are a wise man, God asks of you only your gift.
God is revealed alike to shepherds and to Wise Men, to all who come looking for the Spirit, that Divine Energy that is in us all.
The Christmas wonder lies waiting for us all to find it.
So, if you have a wise man’s mind or if you have a shepherd’s heart, come take a new look at Christmas, and be filled with the wonder of God.
We metaphysically understand the stories of Jesus’ birth to be descriptive of the birth of Christ Consciousness within each of us. The Christ Awareness impacts every aspect of our mortal lives—from the most basic (the lowly shepherds) to the most exalted, represented by the wealthy, highly educated wise men who come seeking the Christ.
It also includes all of the natural world, represented by the lowly manger and attendant animals. There is no aspect of this human experience that will not be changed and uplifted as we surrender to the elevated consciousness of the Christ within.
Come and be open to the Christmas experience. Open your hearts to the Christ Consciousness within each and every one of us…we just have to be willing….
Great Morning Beloved!
Time for a Discussion…
What would Jesus do? Would He be welcomed in the churches and Synagogues, and Mosques of today? How about the Buddha? Hari Krishna? Would ANY of our so called Spiritual Leaders be welcomed in our church and Centers?
I ask because we, our society, is and has been for some time now, falling away from the very doctrine that is supposed to be our founding Principle….Look at our Bill of Rights:
Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press; The Right to Bear Arms; The Housing of Soldiers; Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures; Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property; Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases; Rights in Civil Cases; Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden; Other Rights Kept by the People; Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People.
Have we lived up to those principles?
Not even from a political standpoint, but from a Spiritual standpoint? This is what I wish to discuss today.
When we look at our Unity Principles, they should easily come before the 10 listed above. And, saying that, it would be easy to follow the 10 because our belief that we are ALL One, we are ALL of God, our Creator, we can honor the 10.
So, the issues facing our country and the world are not political issues, they are Spiritual issues, or lack of Spiritual issues.
Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus called us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, to turn the other cheek, not to consider ourselves better than others, to live at peace with all people, to model an engaging faith, to bind up the wounded, rescue the perishing and bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
And WHAT does that mean?
It means we can’t risk walking around with a negative, resentful, gossipy, critical mind, because then we won’t be our true selves. We won’t be usable instruments for our Creator to use for good. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love. It’s that urgent. It’s that crucial.
Fr. Richard Rohr tells us: “Jesus tells us not to harbor hateful anger or call people names in our hearts like ‘fool’ or ‘worthless person’ (Matthew 5:22). If we’re walking around all day thinking, ‘What idiots!’ we’re living out of death, not life. If that’s what we think and feel, that’s what we will be—death energy instead of life force. We cannot afford even inner disconnection from love. How we live in our hearts is our real and deepest truth.”
It reminds me of what Prof. Albus Dumbledore said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
What we say & think is creative…it’s magic because of the energy surrounding those words.
Fr. Rohr continues: True religion is radical. It moves us beyond our “private I” and into the full reality of we. Jesus seems to be saying in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that our inner attitudes and states are the real sources of our problems. We need to root out the problems at that deepest interior level.
Jesus says not only that we must not kill, but that we must not even harbor hateful anger. He clearly begins with our need for a “pure heart” (Matthew 5:8) and knows that the outer behavior will follow. Too often we force the outward response, while the inward intent remains like a cancer.
If we walk around with hatred all day, morally we’re just as much killers as the one who pulls the trigger. We can’t live that way and not be destroyed from within.
Yet, for some reason, many who call themselves Christians have thought it acceptable to think and feel hatred, negativity, and fear. The evil and genocide of both World War I and World War II were the result of decades of negative, resentful, and paranoid thinking and feeling among even good Christian people.
Unfortunately, more wars and conflicts have followed from the same causes.
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus insists that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Once we recognize that whatever we do in conscious, loving union with our inner Christ is prayer, we can better understand what Paul means when he says, “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If prayer is merely words or recitations, such constant prayer is impossible in any practical sense.
But prayer is not only words or recitations…it is our thoughts…it is our actions. It’s what we mean when we say, put feet to your prayers.
So, when we speak of the issues of the day, it is not political, it is SPIRITUAL. It is our responsibility as care-takers of this earth to care for the environment; to honor the lives of all life including the lives of those animals that feed us and labor for us and are companions to us.
It’s our Spiritual duty to care for all humanity and do ‘what is ours to do’ to aid any who is in need.
In Unity, we don’t speak forcefully when it comes to politics, though we are finally speaking on the issues, especially regarding the environment, and social issues.
Unfortunately, we are living in an increasingly polarized society. ‘Red or blue, ‘left’ or ‘right’, our stances on politics and issues are becoming more inflexible. Our social fabric is being ripped asunder while we breathlessly assign blame to “those idiots on the other side”.
We are asked to “be willing to listen to the other side”
– but it takes more than an open ear to communicate effectively, especially if the other person in the conversation holds an opposing view. An essential element in this conversation must be to understand the opposing view, not just hear it.
The point is not to change anyone’s mind but to illuminate how those opinions were formed and why they are maintained. It is not about determining who’s “right” or “wrong” but about gaining insight into the other’s perspective, so communication becomes more effective and constructive solutions more accessible.
I’m hoping today, we can start right here. That we can be open to listen to opposing views, and yes, there are some here in this room. That we can then, start the healing process and let our light and love shine to the larger Community and the world. So, we can do better…
Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You just need to be better than you used to be.”
Here are some suggestions for improving ourselves:
7 ways to be better than you were yesterday from The Road to Character, by David Brooks
1. Nourish your soul daily. At least once each day, we need to break away from our work or home routine and take a little time to feed our soul. This may involve a walk out in nature, reading a spiritual text, taking a yoga class or spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation. You choose what works for you….and DO it!
2. Be grateful. Find something to be thankful for each day, even if it’s just to give thanks for the food in your refrigerator or the roof over your head or the fact you lived to see another day. Say a prayer or affirmation of gratitude each morning, giving thanks for my family and friends, for life and all blessings.
3. Be humble. “Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.” This also means keeping your ego and pride in check. “Because of pride we try to prove we are better than those around us. It makes us more certain and close-minded than we should be.” Be willing to hear out others. Be open-minded.
4. Don’t be led astray. This means: Stay away from temptation. Be brave when the situation calls for it. Don’t look down on others. Try not to overindulge in food or drink.
. Trust in a force greater than yourself. The world can be a tough place and we need all the help we can get. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible, THE FORCE or a set of moral principles, we all need a guiding force.
6. Know how to quiet the inner self. “Only by quieting the self can you be open to the external sources of strengths you will need. Only by muting the sound of your own ego can you see the world clearly.” That means engaging in a regular practice of meditation, contemplation or centering prayer.
7. Determine what life is asking of you. We spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us. That means finding a need in the world, one you have the skills or passion to address, and serving it. This is a hard one, but a question you should ponder daily—the answer may take weeks or even years to arrive, but it eventually will.
Dalai Lama reminds us – love & compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
Let’s be FOR something…for love, for peace, for compassion…not against anything.
If we have an issue with that,
Johannes Tauler tells us, “In prayerful silence you must look into your own heart. No one can tell you better than yourself what comes between you and (your) God. Ask yourself. Then listen! —
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!!
The Answer is Gratitude.
Last week we discussed grief, and I hope it was an inspiring message for you…inspiring in that you felt better about the grief that we all hold for people, pets, loves, etc. that have gone on. The grief we feel is equal to the love we have.
This week we will look at Gratitude.
Patricia Campbell Carlson, director and senior editor of spiritualityandpractice.com, says Grief and gratitude are interlocked in such a unique way, “Grief and gratitude are kindred souls … each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.”
They are not just attitudes of mind; but require us to accept both of their gifts to know the joy of life. Grief guides us to gratitude, and gratitude guides us to an understanding of peace, and the healing power of love. Grief shows us what is important to us personally, and gratitude gives us the energy to contribute what we have learned with others, and to sit beside them in their grief.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 remind us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” That means being grateful for whatever happens. If we live by that standard, we will be transformed.
Sometimes it seems harsh to think we could find something to be grateful for in the things that will sometimes happen to us, no matter how ‘good’ we believe we are being.
In times like those, we can recall what Mr. Rogers said…
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”
From The World According to Mister Rogers
It may take a few minutes or even a day or more, but if we just find something to be grateful for, the experience, whatever it may be, can seem just a little ‘less’ harsh, maybe, a little less hurtful.
And not only so-called disasters, but every personal grief we encounter, we just need to believe there are helpers there for us if we only allow them to enter our world.
The Revealing Word sates – gratitude & thanksgiving are both necessary in demonstrating prosperity through divine law. Be grateful to God & thankful to the friends whom He uses to supply you.
Charles Fillmore continues…” All metaphysicians have found by experience that being thankful for what they have increases the inflow. Gratitude is a great mind magnet, & when it is expressed from the spiritual standpoint it is powerfully augmented. The saying of grace at the table has its origin in this idea of the power of increase through giving thanks.”
Melody Beattie continues that thought – “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude make sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
An attitude of gratitude can be developed over time if practiced sincerely and on a regular basis. When we pray, remembering to be grateful, we develop gratitude as a habit and thereby establish it as a way of life.
Let start now…
Say these words out loud: I am blessed.
Now say them again with a pause in between each word. I. Am. Blessed.
Now one more time with a longer pause and with your most powerful voice: I … Am … Blessed!
Doesn’t it make you smile?
Just saying these words can activate your imagination of the blessings already in our life, knowing many may not even be in our present awareness.
Let’s share for a few minutes…. what are you grateful for?
The root of the word bless means “to consecrate, to make something holy.” The word shares its origins with the word blood. To understand blessing is to know it as an invisible, cosmic bloodstream pulsating through the universe.
We have so very much to be grateful for, but like the black dot ion the white paper we talked about last week, we too often focus on the 1% of not so good instead of the 99% good.
Let’s say this affirmation:
“I am grateful for all God’s blessings in my life”
A blessing is life-giving; it is life itself.
The great Jewish sage Abraham Heschel said, “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”
Find the good in all things and bless it.
Rev. Kelly Isola instructs us to “Bless it because it exists—there is no other reason needed. Then we must follow that up by passing along our blessings. Blessings are life-giving, but only if we pass them on. This is how we are blessed beyond measure. “
There is a pattern inherent in being blessed and being a blessing.
• First, we express delight when we realize we are blessed by something, just allowing it to be.
• Second, we give thanks for that realization.
• Eventually we become the blessing—the life of God—by passing the blessing along.
• Finally, we repeat the pattern, over and over, good beyond measure.
But at times, life is hard. We struggle, and we might see what exists in front of us as fraught with pain, anger, death, fear, violence, loneliness, overwhelm, or powerlessness. We may ask ourselves: how can this possibly be a blessing?
There are times when we are challenged, when life stands still or seems too dark to find our way out. When we’ve camped in the Valley and sometimes aren’t sure we want to find our way out to the sunshine.
Experiences and difficulties with people can make us truly wonder how we are being blessed, when all we can feel is our sense of inadequacy or unworthiness. Our sense of belonging, of being loved and lovable, seems to disappear into thin air.
This is when we must bring our attention to the present moment.
Paul John Roach has said, “I believe we need only one thing to live in gratitude and appreciation. That one thing is our ability to allow the present moment to unfold just as it is. The simple willingness to look and listen is all we need to open up to whole new worlds of possibility. When that expanded vision arises in us, we cannot help but give joyful thanks.”
Remember who and what we are…powerful beyond measure, Divine inheritors of blessings beyond our imagination.
Our 1st & 2nd Principles remind us of that every time we remember to re-member it…
There is only one Presence and one Power, God the Good.
We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. God is present in all people as our divine essence, our Christ nature.
Whether we walk firmly with great determination, or unsteady and unsure like a toddler (and every stage in between), remember that God is everywhere present.
Feeling this, we know we walk in that Spiritual presence, one step at a time, one day at a time.
We grow in the midst of our discomfort, seeing how these challenges expand our wisdom and compassion.
Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore said, “Every individual has to live his own life and draw for himself upon the life, substance, health, and strength that are waiting to be brought forth. No one can eat another’s food for him or breathe for him; neither can one person express the indwelling life and health for another. Each one of us must draw upon the source of these things for himself. Blessed are we when we recognize that this is the way of receiving and do it.”
AN attitude of gratitude…. it’s our choice. An we have those choice opportunities all the time.
Here’s an example of how gratitude goes both ways…
San Francisco Chronicle front page story: December 14, 2005, illustrated in a very clear way the transformative power of gratitude.
A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body — her tail, her torso, even a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just outside the Golden Gate Bridge and radioed an environmental group for help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her — a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives to free her. And she never made one aggressive move toward any of them. She did nothing that would have put the rescue workers in danger. In fact, the diver who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eye followed him the whole time and in it he could see gratitude. Eventually she was freed. And when she was free, the divers said she did something completely unexpected.
She didn’t just immediately head out to sea. Instead, she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then swam back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around — as if to say, “Thank you.” The rescue workers reported it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives and that they would never be the same.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~ John F. Kennedy