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The Hope & Faith found in Spring 

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

The Hope & Faith found in Spring 

The first Sunday of Advent…can you believe it? Already Advent! Amazing how time flies by.

Advent refers to Latin ‘adventus’ meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. Traditionally, this means the ‘second coming of Christ’, the physical ‘nativity’, and the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer.

Of course, the New Thought understanding is what Unity professes, which is with the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus is our birth or rebirth, if you will, of our Christ understanding within our being. It is a reminder that we believe in the Christ of our Being and are reminded of that connection we all have within us and all around us. We are One with Spirit and One with ALL.

As we prepare for this birthday celebration, we might (avoiding oughts & shoulds here) want to consider additional time in prayer and meditation. This is a joyful season of preparation for the coming of the Christ essence. We would benefit from this extra time of anticipation with quiet time for ourselves. And it would help us keep Christ in Christmas.

Today, we will ‘light’ our first Advent candle, a purple one which represents repentance and royalty.

Rev. Richard Mekdeci wrote in the Unity Christmas Booklet, “A Christmas to remember”, “In Unity, we often celebrate both hope and faith in the first week of Advent. Is there a difference?”

Unity cofounder, Charles Fillmore wrote in “The Revealing Word”, ‘Hope is a quality…of sense mind because it is subject to time. Faith is the certain knowledge that our good is ours right now, it is of God; it goes beyond time and space.”

Jesus never told us to hope. He said in John 7:38, “Have faith in me.” He said to pray believing we will receive. Yet, Jesus was a great symbol of hope.

During this first week of Advent, we can think of hope as a gift that has been given to us through the birth of the Christ in us and the life of the man Jesus. When hope is inspired within us, we can nurture that hope through possibility, to expectation, and then to faith.

Each week we will light the corresponding candle for Peace, Love & Joy.

This year, I was looking for a different way to present the Advent Lessons.  During some ZOOM workshops I was involved with, I got the idea to link the seasons to each week. I believe you know that each Advent week is associated with a theme. This week, I believe the theme of Hope & Faith goes well with the season of Spring. My title is The Hope & Faith found in spring.

Imagine looking out your windows and seeing how much the snow has melted. The sun is out and it’s getting warmer each day. As you walk your neighborhood or maybe one of the trails around here, you notice crocus and snowbells blooming and maybe even daffodils breaking through the ground.

Some trees are starting to bud, and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful spring.

This is hope. This is life waking up from winters nap.

This is divine order.

We don’t have to make winter to end and push spring into being. It’s not our business. Its Gods business.


We can hope all we want to make spring come early, but our only resource is having faith that winter will ends its cold hold on us and spring will arrive when it’s time. No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says.

Everything comes alive in spring. It’s a time when we think of fresh starts, of rebirth. And rebirth fits during Advent. We are recalling our rebirth, our reminder that we are of the Christ Child. We are remembering the reason for the season.

So, our hope for the coming spring is like our hope for the coming Holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa; and the faith that when they arrive, we will be filled with anticipation, excited to experience the joy and love shared by family and friends.

Remember what else springs reminds us of…clearing out what no longer serves, spring cleaning. Yes, spring cleaning is everyone favorite spring activity, right???!!!

Maybe not, but very necessary. More important is the cleaning out of negative thoughts, words, and actions. And this is part of our preparation process as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child and our renewal of our Christ Consciousness.

You may say this is so much to do, how can I complete the tasks, how am I worthy to receive The Christ?

Faith, my friends. Faith makes us worthy. It is our faith that takes over and brings us to the manger, surrounded by shepherds, sheep, donkeys, and wise men. It is our faith that allows us to realize that we are worthy to stand with Mary and Joseph as the Child is worshiped and praised.

We, you and I, are worthy because we have faith to see, even when we can’t see the next step forward.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

We just close our eyes and silence our minds and go within to that secret place, our Higher Self, our Christ Self. We all have this special, silent place. This place to go to in times of pain, and discord, and peace, and praise.

This is the place my mom went to as she prayed daily to her Jesus; she’d look at the picture on her bureau and hold her Crucifix and pray.

We don’t need a picture or a Crucifix. We just need an open heart and a willing mind.

So, as you prepare for your holiday, take, no MAKE some time for hope, and faith and connect to your Authentic Self. And then listen to that still small voice, the answer to your hope and faith.

“Through spiritual practice, hope evolves into its fuller expression, faith.” Rev. Karen Shephard

“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Celebration by Rev. Karen Laughman

During our calendar year, we have many holidays that we recognize and celebrate. Celebrations have always been a part of the many cultures and religious traditions throughout the world. It seems to be in our DNA as human and spiritual beings that we find ways to celebrate. As I have been thinking of this topic, I believe we have three major reasons we create occasions to celebrate. First, it is our nature to have fun and to be happy, and celebrations are one way to have fun and celebrate joy. Celebrating joy is a primary spiritual practice in Unity. Our uplifting messages, Greg’s music and our time together enhances our sense of joy. When we feel joy, we feel connected to our Spirit, to the beauty of life and to one another.Secondly, celebrations connect us to others and help build community. We celebrate occasions with family and friends and within organizations we belong to. Celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are significant and give meaning to our lives.

And, celebrations are often a recognition of history as we honor individuals, groups of people and events that have made a positive impact in our lives and our world community.

As I highlight the celebrations of this season, I am going to talk about some of the history of the holiday celebrations, which I hope you will find interesting. I learned some new things from my research. And, I invite us to explore how we might find more spiritual meaning in the ways we celebrate and also celebrate with a consciousness of service to the people we care about and to the benefit of our wider community…our Fifth Unity Principle. 

I am going to start with Halloween. Why Halloween? Because Halloween is truly fun! Halloween was and is my son’s favorite holiday. Growing up, Halloween gave him the opportunity to use his creative mind. There wasn’t anything that he enjoyed more than creating his own costume. We lived in a neighborhood where people decorated the outside of their homes and served cider or witches brew on their front porches. So, Halloween was a way to feel connected in our community. My son still loves Halloween and is delighted to celebrate with his wife and two children as they create costumes and have fun playing with new identities. He still receives awards for his costumes, as he did when he was a boy.

Although Halloween is a secular holiday in the United States, it has spiritual roots. In many countries, All Saints Eve also called All Hollows’ Eve became Halloween. All Hollos’ Eve is celebrated on Oct 31, remembering those who have passed, including saints. The word hollow is a synonym for saint. Celebrants attend church and light candles on the graves of their loved ones or create altars to honor their memory, closely related to the Day of the Dead celebrated in Hispanic cultures. Historically, Samhain (sow-in), a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season also begins celebration on Oct 31. Samhain is and was widely observed throughout Ireland and Scotland, and it is believed that the Scottish and Irish brought Halloween customs to America in the 19th century, and the holiday evolved from there as a celebration for many, although there are some religions that do not celebrate Halloween here in our country. I would like to share that at one time in the communities I have lived in, Trick or Treaters carried UNICEF donation boxes so they could collect money for children supported by UNICEF, the UN organization that helps disadvantaged children all over the world. This was and could be a way for our young people to make a difference for other children while also having fun.

Our tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving of course begins with the story of the Plymouth colonists called Pilgrims from the Mayflower who reportedly shared a meal with Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621 as a way of celebrating the autumn harvest after surviving a previous harsh winter. This is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. It also needs to be acknowledged that this narrative is not told from the Native Americans perspective and many take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially stereotypically to schoolchildren. We need to be mindful of our history and be respectful in how we view the gifts of our Native American brothers and sisters. Historians have noted that many cultures from ancient times have commemorated the fall harvest with feasting and celebrations including Native Americans long before Europeans set foot on America’s shores. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot, which is still celebrated in some Jewish communities.

In many ways, as we become less of an agricultural nation, we have lost our connection with the earth, but there is certainly value in finding ways to connect with our earth and connect with thankfulness for the bounty of our blessings.

 As we gather with family and friends for this season, we eat foods that are indigenous to the Americas namely turkey, potatoes, green beans, corn, squash, cranberries and pumpkin pie and this tradition is always something to look forward to.

 Of course, we can practice gratitude everyday as a spiritual practice. When we are consciously grateful for our blessings, we attract good to ourselves and others, and that energy of Thanksgiving can transform our world. On Thanksgiving, when we are with loved ones, we can truly be present with them and share out loud how we feel blessed by their presence in our lives and for all our abundant blessings. Taking a deep, mindful breath in the midst of all the preparation, praying together and expressing true gratitude from our hearts. This intention of being present in our gratitude with ourselves and those we are with, I believe, is how we experience the spiritual meaning of Thanksgiving.

Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Grant all proclaimed a day to celebrate Thanksgiving. You know the history of these men, but have you ever heard of Sarah Hale? A little known fact is Sarah Hale was once called the Mother of Thanksgiving. She was a prolific American writer, activist, and influential editor in the 1800’s. Interestingly, she wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb in a collection of poems for children, but that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. She is most well known for her campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians, advocating for a National Day of Thanksgiving. When she died, she was living in Philadelphia and a blue historical marker with her name and story, I learned, exists on Spruce St in Philadelphia. It took until 1941 for Franklin D Roosevelt to sign legislation creating Thanksgiving as a national holiday on the fourth Thursday of every November in the United States.

In addition to blessing our family and friends and perhaps inviting others who may not have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving, there are numerous ways we can be of service to others in this Thanksgiving season. We can contribute to the Food Bank for food insecure families and donate non-perishable foods as we are doing here at our Unity Center. We can donate our time at places where people are served a Thanksgiving meal such as Salvation Army. We can make a donation on this Giving Tuesday, this next Tuesday, as charitable giving to an organization that helps individuals and families have quality of life. These are some of the ways we can be of service in the Thanksgiving season. As we express thankfulness for our blessings, we can be a blessing.

I want to give a highlight to the Jewish holiday, Hanukah, which begins at sundown on November 28, a week from today. The Jewish calendar for commemorations and holidays is a lunar calendar with each month beginning on the new moon so the date of the Hanukah holiday can shift from year to year. It often falls on a date in December. Hanukah is an eight-day “Festival of Lights,” celebrated with a nightly Menorah lighting combined with recited prayers of blessings and songs. The Menorah is a nine branched candle holder. Eight of the candles are lit as the week progresses to symbolize the eight nights of the holiday. The historical significance is a commemoration of the time in the second century BCE when a small band of Jews were able to defeat a Greek mighty army and reclaim their land and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicate it to God. When they sought to light the Temple’s Menorah which was then 7 branches, they found only a small amount of oil. They lit the Menorah with enough oil for a day, but miraculously the oil lasted eight days. And, this is the religious symbolism of the eight days of celebration. Traditional Hanukah foods are served, and traditional games are played. Gifts are often exchanged, and children are given Hanukah gelt which can be is a gift of money or chocolate gold coins. It is a tradition in the Hanukah season to give to charity with a donation, and children and adults are encouraged to a good deed in some way.

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25th. Numerous cultures have long celebrated the winter season with festivals. The winter solstice is celebrated in December throughout the world as the days become longer and the return of light is celebrated. In the times of Roman rule, a popular festival called the Saturnalia was celebrated in mid-December honoring the agricultural god, Saturn. In the time of the early Christians, the birth of Jesus was not celebrated until the fourth century when Pope Julius the First chose December 25th for the church to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. This celebration was first called the Feast of the Nativity. Choosing the date at the same time as the fun- filled winter festivities, church leaders anticipated Christmas would be popularly embraced by the pagan culture. Many of the traditions of ancient winter festivals are the source of many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas. What we know as Christmas spread to most of the world by the end of the sixth century. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas as we now know it. Christmas has been a national holiday in the United States since 1870 when Grant was the 18th President.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural celebration, observed with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. On Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth born 2,00 years ago. The profound healing and spiritual teachings of Jesus formed the core of Christianity. Jesus taught and exemplified love, forgiveness, inclusion and acceptance of one another. In Unity, we revere Jesus as our Way Shower. On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the rebirth of the Christ light within each of us. During the advent Sundays, we celebrate the divine gifts of faith and hope, peace, love, and joy. I love the Unity Christmas ritual that our spiritual leader, Sandy, leads every Christmas season here at our Unity Center as we light a successive Advent candle each Sunday to represent the spiritual gifts of hope, peace, love and joy. We can look forward to Sandy’s services in December when she will present a series on nature and the Advent season. I personally enjoy the Christmas spirit of beauty, generosity and excitement that I feel in the Christmas season.

We know the popular customs of Christmas include exchanging gifts, decorating with lights and evergreens which symbolize eternal life including Christmas trees, attending church services, singing Christmas carols, making Christmas cookies, sending holiday cards, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, otherwise known as Saint Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a most well- loved saint in Europe because of his magnanimous generosity. In 1882, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister wrote a poem to his daughters named a visit from St Nicholas which is now popularly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Moore’s poem became our modern image of Santa, although I am pretty sure that was not his intention. In the 19th century, images of jolly Santa were widely used for America’s businesses to advertise during the Christmas holidays….the beginning of the consumerism of Christmas.

I believe Christmas is a time to be generous with others who have less than we do. There are many organizations we can donate to help families in need. Dan and I buy gifts for our grandchildren, but are conscious that just as we celebrate birthdays with people we love, love and attention is the most treasured gift, and a gift that lasts forever. My favorite gift to give family and friends is a subscription of the Unity Daily Word, a gift that gives and gives all year long everyday. The gift we can give ourselves is to slow down in the bustle and busyness of the holiday season and go inward to be with our spiritual essence and Christ consciousness….to be intentional in setting times for meditation, contemplation and renewal of our divine light and spirit.

Finally, before I finish the topic of Celebration in this holiday season, I want to give some attention to Kwanzaa, an African American holiday that affirms African and African American, and is celebrated in addition to Christmas by many African Americans. It is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa was created and encouraged in 1966 by a professor of Africana studies at California State University. It began in the United States and has come to be celebrated in other countries where there are large descendants of Africans. Each day is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. On each day, families and communities light one of the seven candles of red, green and black and discuss the principle for that day, red representing the struggle, black the people and green for the future. The holiday concludes with a feast on the last day with African inspired foods, and festivities can include music, drumming, dancing and sharing of writings and poetry. My son is bi-racial African American. When he was growing up, we didn’t celebrate Kwanzaa specifically, but we found ways to honor the value and strengths of his ancestry which celebrates spirit.

Finally, in a few sentences I want to touch on New Year’s which is celebrated throughout the world to look back over the last year and look forward to the New Year with new possibilities. At Unity, we have a tradition which Sandy leads on the first Sunday of the New Year with the burning bowl ceremony, writing and burning what we want to let go of and the next Sunday meditating and writing what we want to strive for in the New Year on our spiritual journey. They both are meaningful ceremonies that we can look forward to.

So, I hope you enjoyed the journey that you took with me this morning of the holidays that are celebrated this time of the year. I wish you and yours many blessings. And, may we be a blessing!

Is your YES, yes, and your NO, no?

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

Is your yes, YES and your no, NO?

Great to see you this morning. And welcome to those of you who are watching & listening at home. We appreciate it and would love to see who you are, so, just take a moment and say Hi to us. We will say hi back.

Yesterday’s Daily Word started with this statement: “There is no situation the power of peace cannot transform. What a wonderful way to start a day! Of course, today’s affirmation, “Prosperity fills my life,” is a good affirmation too. If you’re not reading Daily Word, you are missing  uplifting start for you day.

Before we start, just a huge thank you to all our veterans for the work you have done, often with many sacrifices, to keep our Nation, all of us, safe. If you are a veteran, please stand and let us thank you…and bless you

          We love you

          We Bless you

          We behold the Christ in you.

So, this morning I wanted to chat a bit about choices. You all most likely know that our choice, our free will, is one of the biggest, most precious gifts we have been given as humans on this 5 senses journey in this physical plane.

There have been times, I’m sure, when we all have had a moment or more when we weren’t very happy with our lives. And why was that?

Most likely, it was because of a choice we made.

Remember our 3rd Principle; We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

So, for the most part, our choices brought us to the different situations in our lives.

Every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else

If we could look back with eyes & ears wide open, and look with an open heart, maybe we could truly ‘SEE’ what really happened in any situation. What was that choice we made that got us into the situation in the first place?


Be truthful. Sometimes it’s something we didn’t even realize would end in the situation it did. But it was a choice we made, somewhere along the path that turned the circumstances to the conclusion we were wrestling with.

There’s always a consequence. There’s always a reaction to our action. Newton’s Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Everything you think with energy behind it is put out into the Universe. That energy you are sending into the Universe will have a response to it.

As Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselback, metaphysics wizard says, watch your words…and I add no matter if they are thought or actual spoken, they are powerful.

Matthew 5:37 reminds us: “… let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

The evil one? What could our ancient writers mean with this statement? Well, in ancient times people did believe in an evil force. But we do not give power to some outside ‘devil’. Unity truth followers believe evil means:

That which is not of God; unreality; error thought; a product of the fallen human consciousness; negation.

There probably have been times in our past when we did believe in a ‘devil’, but that was before we followed this path of spiritual information, we were seekers until we unveiled this knowledge hidden within all of us; that we are all One, we are all Divine, made in the image and likeness.

“Your ‘yes’ to God requires your ‘no’ to all injustice, to all evil, to all lies to all oppression and violation of the weak and poor…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, one of the more important ‘yes’s’ is the yes to the God of our understanding. We have all been seekers some time in our lives. For most of us, that seeking has brought us to Unity. Many others have come to our door and many other Unity churches & Centers, only to step away because Unity wasn’t their fit, not yet. It takes many steps on the path to be ready for the philosophy & Principles that are the backbone of Unity.

This is not saying anything, or anyone is better than or lower than, but that Unity takes a different look at things, and some cannot comprehend the science of metaphysics.

But back to yes and no.

Remember,

Every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else

Have you ever thought of it that way?

A perfect example from last weeks’ Message, Are you for peace or against war? One is positive and the other negative. We said yes to peace and therefore, we are saying no to war.

And our everyday choices bring about responses that may be what we thought would happen, or maybe we didn’t think before we ate that donut, or had a second, or third, or fourth (!) drink.

Action + reaction = consequence.  My Father was drinking with his golfing buddy and choose to get a ride with him = action, they had an accident = reaction, and my father’s death.

There are always consequences to our actions.

And they can be good. Action, me taking Unity classes, reaction, a better, more conscious, awaken me, further response, moving to Delaware and, with several friends, starting Unity.

This morning, those of you in attendance said yes to Unity in person, and no to staying home and watching online.

But let’s step away from God and Unity for now. Let’s talk in general terms.

How often do you find yourself saying yes to something when you really want to say no? Or maybe vice versa?

How often have you said yes to a friend or family member to aid in, say, moving them to another house? Or taking the kids for the day? Or, driving them to the airport? Or a number of other ‘favors’ people ask of others?

If we say YES or NO when we really mean it, it would be so much more meaningful to both persons.

We are all responsible and accountable for the choices we make. This makes for a more meaningful life.

This hits at the heart of what each of us controls—ourselves. No one else.                  

Or as Byron Katie would say, who’s business is it, mine, yours or Gods?

I’ve mentioned this before, several times actually, this is one of the reasons I love Unity Principles and expression so much…personal responsibility.

The way we choose to think, feel and act directly comes from one of two places—our egos or our higher self. If ego or personality is at the root of our thinking, feeling and acting, our choices may be based on lack, survival, or fear. None of these would come from our higher self. Rather, our higher self shows up as possibility thinking, gratitude and inquisitiveness.

From “Say Yes to What Really Matters in Your Life” By Martha Lynn

“When we listen to our higher self, choices, decisions, thoughts, feelings and actions take on a whole new realm of possibility. Our perceptions are more objective, our thoughts are more compassionate, our feelings are more loving, and our actions are in integrity.”

As an example, steeped in choice, intention and right action: Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
 

Of course, and yet we often unconsciously say no to choice, because we rely on that automatic pilot—our domestication, our habits, our ego-self—that we have relied on for many years.

Unconsciousness to our own light and power could be due to many things: our lack of awareness of who we really are, our lack of discipline, our lack of a plan, our willingness to play small.

Have you done that? Lower the light in your heart to not antagonize another?  “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14) 

We just need to clearly remember and recognize who we are at the core of our being and act from that place of love and strength.

The Process according to “Say Yes to What Really Matters in Your Life” By Martha Lynn

  1. Identify your intention. Maria Nemeth, author of Mastering Life’s Energies and owner of the Academy of Coaching Excellence, trains coaches and shares her work through classes and writing. Maria teaches her students to start each day by asking: “Who am I willing to be in order to produce an extraordinary result out of this day?”

2. Become a self-observer.
We have to be able to observe our thoughts and the stories we are telling ourselves about our encounters. A great storyteller and meaning-making machine person can listen to a few words in a team meeting, phone call or dialogue with another and create an entire three-act play. Ego loves drama, fear and power, and many stories are great tragedies.

It’s important to quickly observe the stories and stresses we are experiencing … and to be able to redirect the reactions in ways that will be helpful to ourselves and others.

  • Take authentic action.
    “Authentic” in this context means to act from our higher source—our intention—not from the ego, but from that spark of divinity that is in all of us. When we act from that place, we know we are being true to ourselves. We are expressing energy that is coming from our soul. We are spirit in action.
  • Choice is Freedom
    Choice is the only freedom we really have. Remember to say yes to what really matters in our life; to say yes to choose; to take time to pause, reflect and choose our intentions carefully; to self-observe our thoughts and feelings; and to act authentically from that sacred place of love and strength.

We may want to ask ourselves what miraculous moments had I missed by being casually dismissive, letting my ego make my choice, thinking the practical path was best? 

Sometimes we let guilt be the determining factor in our choice points. We have all heard statement about Catholic guilt. It’s not just the Catholics! It’s part of our domestication.

And many of us may have heard our mother remind us how she stayed in an unhappy marriage ‘because of us kids’ so we can feel guilty about that. That was not our fault.

The interesting thing about guilt is that it only works when we let it.

Be aware exactly what you feel guilty for and more importantly who that guilt is linked to.

Often, we say no first up but then people keep badgering us until we say yes. This whole situation is no fun at all. It’s exhausting and draining to have to keep saying the same thing over and over again.

If someone is badgering you to do something you definitely don’t want to do, you need to realize that they are not respecting you.

Set some boundaries! Whether it’s one person or a group, hold people up on their behavior and stand up for yourself.

That group or person you are trying so hard to impress might not even be part of your life a year from now.

You get to choose who you want to be and who you want to spend your time with.

Choose wisely.

If people are trying to pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do (particularly if they are harmful, dangerous or just plain stupid) these people are not the ones to have in your corner and they are definitely not the ones to feel pressured by.

It’s easier said than done but remember you get to choose. It has to be your choice; what is right for you. AS we say, ‘doing what is ours to do’.

What is the right thing for you is not necessarily right for another. They get to choose too,

No oughts and shoulds, either

How Often Do You Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda?

When you are trying to help people, whether it be friends, family or co-workers you can end up doing things that you don’t want to do.

However, trying to help can become a problem when the person you are trying to help does nothing to help themselves. (tough love)

Helping people is a wonderful thing and we don’t want to give up on people who need our help, but people have to be willing to take some responsibility for their own lives as well.

Keep in mind, no is an option. We don’t need to over explain or justify our ‘no’

No is an answer all by itself. Stop explaining and justifying your choices. Say no politely and firmly. Don’t lie – this might come back to bite you later.

It’s time to stop saying yes when you want to say no. Continue to help people but take into consideration your own needs as well.

A yes is nothing without the no that gives it boundaries and form. Learn to say yes, a little more slowly — ask more questions before committing, no matter what side of the question you’re on.

Remember, every time you say YES to something, you are saying NO to something else.

It could be time for yourself or your family or friends. And those things are just as, if not more important to you.

Time for a Discussion

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

It’s great to be with you today. I see who has remembered to change their clocks.

So, today’s topic – did you wonder what I had in mind? Connie & I conspired and didn’t give you any hints. I would love to know what came to mind for you!

Time for a Discussion…

So much has happened in these last few years…politically, of course, economically, that follows, the environment…when will we get it right? And don’t forget a pandemic that some people are having a hard time figuring what the correct way is to eradicate it.

For me, I follow the science.

And let’s not get started on our religious or spiritual lives? Unity Spiritual Center is not any different than so many others, asking what to do to bless our folks, to be in touch with them, to serve them and our community.

Have you been responding to your Connection Person…you know, the one who keeps bugging you about “how are you doing?”. “Do you need anything?”. “Can we aid you in any way?”, “Do you need prayer?”

It’s all in an effort to keep in touch, to be of Service to you. Remember, it’s a circle, we give, and we receive. Please keep giving to us too. We all could use that virtual hug….

So, let’s ask a great question, and you know I love a Great Question—What would Jesus do? Would He be welcomed in the churches and Synagogues, and Mosques of today? Could he walk the halls of Congress? How about the streets of Philly or any other big city? Would he be in the small towns and farm country?

How about the Buddha? Hari Krishna? Would ANY of our so-called Spiritual Leaders be welcomed in our church and Centers today?

I ask this question for many of our Spiritual Leaders because they all essentially say the same thing, just in different ways:

What we call the Golden Rule:

Islam – No one of you is a believer until you desire for your neighbor that which you desire for yourself.

Buddhism – Treat all creatures as you would like to be treated.

Hinduism – This is the essence of morality: Do not do to others which if done to you would cause you pain.

Christianity – Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Sikhism – Do as you desire goodness for yourself as you cannot expect tasty fruits if you sow thorny trees.

Judaism – What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor – that is the basic law, all the rest is community.

Baha’i Faith – If your eyes be turned towards justice choose for your neighbor that which you would choose for yourself.

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.

THE PEOPLE.

And that’s as political as I will be for today.

Have we lived up to these principles 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.

  1. God is absolute good, everywhere present. There is only one Power, one Presence, God. God is good without opposite. There is no other power. God is omnipotence- all power.
  • Human beings have a spark of divinity within them, the Christ spirit within. Their very essence is of God, and therefore they are also inherently good.
  • Human beings create their experiences by the activity of their thinking. Everything in the manifest realm has its beginning in thought.
  • Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-Mind and therefore brings forth wisdom, healing, prosperity and everything good.
  • Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, are not enough. A person must also live the Truth that he or she knows. …

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, all good, 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 tells us: “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, but to live in 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.

A command to love.

Fr. Richard Rohr wrote: “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.”

What we say & think is creative…it’s magic because of the energy surrounding those words.  We forget the power we have in the thoughts and words we wield.

I’ve said this before, what Prof. Albus Dumbledore said in Harry Potter, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

Our thoughts can have that same magic if we are thinking the same negative things with strong emotions behind it.

Fr. Rohr continues: True religion is radical. It moves us beyond our “private I” and into the full reality of ‘us’. 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.

Do you recall what President Jimmy Carter said he had “looked on a lot of women with lust” and had “committed adultery in my heart many times”.

This is what I am talking about.

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 supposedly 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 caretakers 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 are in need. When we recite our Opening Affirmation and state: “When we do that which is ours to do…” The next step is to DO IT!

I’m not saying to take on every issue and cause. Ask your heart what is yours to do.

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”.

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, I’m sure we have some here in this room and listening in. 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 gratefulFind 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 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.
  5. Trust in a force greater than yourselfThe 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 youWe spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us, what is your gift. That means finding it and then sharing it, in some way. This can be a hard one, but a question you should ponder often, if you have not found your gift.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change jobs or move to Delaware like I did. Maybe what you do IS what is yours to do. Whether in your work or in your volunteer time. We love our volunteers and that is a great way to help our community and the world.

Dalai Lama reminds us –   love & compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

Maybe what we see in our world today is evidence of what the Dalai Lama means.

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! —