GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
It’s great to see you again this morning.
I wanted to revisit a topic we discussed several years ago. Don’t worry, I’ve updated it some.
It’s about Leadership.
What is a leader? Do you know?
Think on this…
When Benjamin Franklin wanted to introduce street lighting to the people of colonial Philadelphia, he did not lobby politicians, he did not publish editorials, he did not argue with those who disagreed with him.
Instead, …he simply hung a brilliant lantern on a long bracket in front of his own house.
Every evening, as dusk approached, …. he faithfully lit the wick.
People out in the dark night could see Franklin’s streetlight from blocks away and were grateful to walk in its friendly glow.
Soon Franklin’s neighbors started putting lanterns on brackets in front of their own homes, and it wasn’t long before the entire city was illuminated each night with streetlamps.
Of course, we all know Ben Franklin was and is considered a leader, agreed?
A minister was standing at the back of the Church greeting people as they were leaving one morning.
“Good morning” she said to a little boy who was waiting in line to see her.
“I’ve been waiting to tell you something that happened to me,” he said.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a bunny rabbit. I always wished I were furry and free to hop and run all over. I wished and I wished but I finally gave up
because I saw that I was never going to get my wish and become a rabbit.
Then, last week a miracle happened.”
“Really,” she chuckled imagining that he had received a special pet rabbit.
“Yes,” he said with his eyes wide in wonder. “After all this time of wishing, ….one night I had a dream, and in my dream, ……I was a bunny rabbit and I felt what it was like to be furry and free …… and run and hop and play.
I had a wonderful time, and I got my wish.”
“That’s wonderful,” she agreed.
“But that’s not all,” he said excitedly. “During my dream, …. God showed me how wonderful it is to be a bunny rabbit and when I woke up I realized that the feelings that I wanted to feel in being a bunny rabbit are already inside me.
SO, I’VE BEEN CARRYING WHAT I WANTED WITH ME ALL ALONG.”
His eyes were wide with recognition and hers were filled with tears of appreciation at his newly found inner splendor.
“Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with me,” she managed to get out.
“I just thought you’d like to know,” he said as he smiled and walked off with his mom into the crowd.
Is this little boy a leader?
A man and his son were taking a walk in the forest.
Suddenly his son triped and feeling a sharp pain he screams, “Ahhhh!”
Surprised, he hears a voice coming from the mountain, “Ahhhhh!”
Filled with curiosity, he screams, “Who are you?
But the only answer he receives is “Who are you?”
This makes him angry, so he screamed, “You are a coward!” and the voice answers, “You are a coward!”
He looks at his father, asking, “Dad, what is going on?”
“Son”, ……. the man replied, ……. “Pay attention!”
Then he screams, …… “I admire you!
The voice answers… “I admire you!”
The father shouts…. “You are wonderful!”
And the voice answers…. “You are wonderful!”
The boy is surprised, but still can’t understand what is going on.
Then the father explains,
“People call this an ‘echo’ but truly it is ‘life!’
It gives you back that which you CHOOSE to put in it.
It is simply a reflection of who we are.”
Is this father a leader?
Are you a leader?
Sure, you are…… You’ve probably taken on leadership roles in your life that you didn’t realize at the time. We all are at one time or another, a leader.
Everyone can be a leader. There is no single answer to “What is leadership?” because it isn’t something you’re either born with or without, but a powerful skill that can be developed over time.
Don’t you know that if you have seen leadership qualities in another, then those qualities are in you also.
Leadership is the ability to inspire a team to achieve a certain goal.
A general definition of leadership is to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, building their skills and achieving goals along the way.
It’s a skill and a tool you can continually cultivate and use to create lasting change. Leadership is also not something you’re born with or without – it’s a creative muscle you can strengthen and develop over time.
What have you done with that leadership ability?
That is the question.
The word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images as we just have shown.
Here are a few more:
A political leader…. pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
An explorer…cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
An executive …developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition.
Our own Leroy & Dan who started the Men’s group.
LaLa, Michael & Jeanne stepping into the role of Prayer Chaplains.
Dan, Sharon, Laurie, Carolyn & Kevin stepping into our Board and leading our way into the future.
These are just a few examples of leaders.
Leaders help themselves………. and others………. to do the right things.
They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to achieve your goals as a team or an organization.
When one person harnesses their powers to lead, it strengthens the leadership opportunities of others, rather than diminishing them. That’s because the ultimate definition of leadership is empowering others to become effective leaders as well. As one person begins to embrace their role as a leader, they inevitably connect with others who have already mastered the art of leadership.
We are using our leadership abilities to grow ourselves and aid each other on our Spiritual Journey.
Great leadership – quality leadership – is servant leadership. Servant leadership refers to someone who wants to influence others to serve the greater good. They don’t just want to get from Point A to Point B, and they’re not searching for an outcome that only benefits themselves; a great leader always has the big picture in mind. They’re searching for ways to not just help themselves, but to help other people and the community at large. They’re figuring out ways to influence their community and culture in such a way that everyone who’s part of it benefits. Serving the greater good is their driving force, also known as their purpose.
The purpose of spiritual leadership is to tap into the fundamental needs of both leaders and followers for spiritual well-being through conveying that life has meaning and makes a difference and through membership (belonging); to create vision and value across the congregation; ultimately, to foster higher levels of well-being, commitment, and social responsibility.
This is why we have reached out in many ways to support this community as we travel through the pandemic. We’ve tried several ways to stay connected with you, our immediate community.
This is why we have put in place our safeguards to keep everyone safe who enters the Center. We wanted our space to be welcoming to others, and to help our community spread the word about Unity.
While spiritual leadership involves many of the same principles as general leadership, spiritual leadership has certain distinctive qualities that must be understood and practiced if spiritual leaders are to be successful.
Leaders share their gift of leadership by sharing courageous ideas in compelling and inspiring ways.
They demonstrate integrity…. intelligence…… creativity……enthusiasm…… and humility, among other characteristics.
That is why I ask what are you doing when you walk out the door each Sunday? What are you thinking and saying and doing? Are you putting the Unity Principles into practice?
This is why I ask, are you sharing your gifts? Everyone has gifts but if they are not shared, they are wasted.
Sharing your gifts, being the light why you leave here each Sunday helps to promote your leadership ability.
So, you can see that your participation in the leadership of this Community, in whatever way………is important.
Everyone has the responsibility of leadership.
Our Members and Congregants are asked to further the work of Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware through active interest, love and support, including but not limited to regular attendance at services and programs, financial support and ongoing volunteer services.
Jesus is our example of spiritual leadership. He led the 12, teaching them through lessons and parables, and his example. And gave us a perfect guide for our lives. He showed us that we journey better when we journey with others.
It’s much more difficult to achieve connection to God if we try to do it alone. When we come together—as we in Unity do each Sunday, as well as other times in meditation, classes and fun times—we find it easier to see the Christ expressing as each other than it is to see it in ourselves. And seeing it in each other becomes an easier path to recognizing it in ourselves.
We help ourselves and each other by sharing our gifts and experiences, by service to Unity and the larger community.
It was Jane Goodell who reminded us,
“You cannot get through a single day …. without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
We develop our leadership by letting our inner light shine and letting it ripple out into the world.
This is our first step in leading a change……. a change in ourselves as leaders.
Use your God-given gifts ……. and lead where they take you.
I hope to see even more of you stepping into your leadership places inside this Center and out.
God has something wonderful to say through you, which God can only say as you. The cosmos can never be quite complete without you.” — Eric Butterworth
White Stone Ceremony
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
And Happy New Year. May it be blessed with all that you require for a wonderous year of love, peace, and compassion for all.
We begin the new year with the White Stone Ceremony. It logically follows the Burning Bowl Ceremony. These two Ceremonies are meant to open, to clear out all that is holding us back, to let go of anything that we are prepared to release, and then to be open to receive a name or word for our intention for the new year.
Last week we participated in a sacred fire ceremony of clearing…clearing out those thoughts, habits, situations and even people that no longer serve us.
We affirm “I release the past and bless this past year with love. I am grateful for all I have experienced and learned. Now begins a new adventure and I look forward to it eagerly!”
We look to set an intention for this new year that we have begun. Intentions are a favorite of mine. They help us set the tone for each day and year as well as for our lives. Try it each morning, set an intention and see how it guides your day.
“Our words have the power to shape and mold the invisible substance of the Universe.” From non-form to form, our thoughts create our world and our experience. The law is always at work whether we acknowledge it or not. Change your mind, change your words, change your world. It all starts with the words that follow “I Am….”
Jesus spoke often and taught the importance of hearing in a new way. And in the quote, it is clear that we are listening for Spirit. It is a voice of Spirit arising from within us, not coming to us from outside us.
Learning to discern between the chatter of monkey mind or ego mind and the truth of our divine self is part of our journey. We must practice getting the clutter out of the way so this divine self could inform our subconscious and conscious mind with new patterns of thought which we had EARS TO HEAR. This new hearing invites us into the silence to hear more clearly. And it requires us to trust what we hear.
And that brings us to this week’s White Stone Ceremony.
This time of year, where one ends and another begins, is a special time. It’s a time of endings and beginnings.
Why would this be something important for us? These last two years have been an interesting learning experience, wouldn’t you say, filled with growth opportunities for us all. It is important that we release those people, places, things, thoughts, the energy that no longer serves our higher being.
And after that, we look to the Universe to fill that void where those things and ideas, those feelings and that energy are held in our consciousness and subconsciousness.
If you haven’t done so, choose your White Stone from the basket being passed. Please go through the ceremony with me before writing anything down. Give the energy surrounding us, and each of you individually, time and respect for the process. We want to give that word or name time to come to you from the ethers.
Those of you at home, please honor this also. And if you do not have a white stone, just jot down what comes to you, and you can pick up a stone next time you are at the Center.
What is the history of the White Stone Ceremony? It comes from the writing in the book of Revelation, which was written around 95 CE.
In Revelation 2:17: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers (who overcomes) I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
This Biblical verse is stating many things…. first: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying…”
In other words, we must have our outer and inner ear willing and open to the
messages coming to us. If we are not willing, we will not hear the word or words, the new name that our Higher Self, our Christ Presence is giving us.
The great theologian Paul Tillich said that listening is the first law of love. So, if that is true, look what happens when we apply the word “listen” to the great commandments … the greatest thing we can do is to listen to God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength, and to listen to others as we listen to ourselves.
Interesting take on those words from scripture.
We develop this inner listening quality by getting out of our intellect and into our hearts, through meditation. In meditation, we stop our daily busy-ness and listen to the Divine Voice of Love. We open our minds and hearts to a deep intuitive “knowing.”
Then the verse from Revelations states, ‘To everyone who conquers’ (who overcomes)
What are we overcoming…? What do you think?
What are your thoughts and responses? If you are watching at home, write your thoughts in the comment sections.
The conquering is not an outer war, but an inner one. To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who practices release and affirms inner spiritual qualities…. We realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is Victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self just as Jesus taught and demonstrated.
We are overcoming – unnecessary fears, anxieties, the strains, and stresses of the physical plane.
And that is everyone, maybe not all day, every day, but we ALL overcome the trials of living a spiritual life in a physical body. And the more we listen, the more we are willing, the more we will overcome.
To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who makes the effort to deny outer appearance and affirm inner spirituality; you will realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self, just as Jesus taught and demonstrated.
In this passage there are also 3 Promises:
“To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
The first promise is “Hidden Manna.”
When we are in “the wilderness” of our spiritual searching, and if we surrender to the I AM, we receive “hidden manna,” not visible to the world. We are given an entirely new source of energy and nourishment. We are given peace that passes all understanding.
This hidden manna is derived from the higher level of being within us. It nourishes the soul first and then, the body. It benefits the whole being. Jesus alludes to this when he says to his disciples in John 4:32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore says manna is“The bread of life, the Word of God. [Manna] represents the realization that the divine substance is everywhere present, in every part of the consciousness.”
Think about how you felt when you realized a spiritual Truth. What was the energy behind an epiphany you had? If you were like me, you were so excited and couldn’t wait to share your news with someone close or special.
That energy comes from Source. It fills you up and just the memory of it can make your day.
I recall my first time at Unity Village for a week of classes. What a wonderful experience. When I got back and was at my home Unity church, many people expressed the peace that still shone on my face. I can still recall some of that feeling from so long ago.
THAT is the hidden manna.
The 2nd promise is a White Stone
The white stone is an ancient ritual. Back in ancient times, when someone served time in prison or in bondage of any kind, they were given a white stone when they were released. It served as a symbol that they had done their time and they had been given passage to live with all the rights of a free person. Each of us comes from the bondage of past nonsense – false limitations, old beliefs, error thinking that have been a prison to us. With surrender of the belief in separation and bondage comes a sense of worthiness: we are beloved, one with the Divine, free, and unlimited.
Hold your stone in your hand. Feel the energy there. Remember, everything is made of energy. If you quiet yourself, and close off any outside noise, maybe you will be able to feel it.
The 3rd promise is a New Name
In Biblical times, a name was a very sacred thing. Every name represented a quality that was in the person who carries the name. Parents didn’t choose a name for their child just because they liked the name. They chose it for whatever essence they saw in the child.
Abram, meant ‘high father, & as he grew in spiritual awareness, he became Abraham, ‘father of many’. Sarai, his wife went from ‘my princess’ to Sarah, ‘noble woman’. Simon, ‘to hear’ was named Peter (Faith).
The meaning of Sandy is “Defender of mankind,” or “she is brave”. The name comes from the Greek, Alexandra.
So, when we surrender to the inner Spirit, we take on a new identity, a new name so to speak. This refers to the new, higher realization of the I AM, a new awareness of our God Self, our higher self. And this is where the Ceremony called White Stone” comes in. In the passage, we are told that “I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no knows except the one who receives it.”
So, I invite you to meditate on what you’re being called to in the new year and claim that as your new name.
In our oneness with God, we surrender our human identity to recognize our full potential. We let go of unnecessary baggage. Picking up a white stone is a symbol of receiving our “hidden manna” to feed us and is our white stone of freedom.
Hold the white stone in your hands and open your mind to “hearing” your new name. At any time in the next few minutes as I am speaking, if the new name comes to your awareness, hold it your heart. Don’t be hasty. Let it resonate with you.
If nothing comes to you during this ceremony, continue to ask. Be open to an answer to your asking.
Allow yourself to ask a question: Who or what am I called to be in this coming year? As I let go of my old habits, those I released during the burning bowl ceremony, what is it that I am called to be known as?
Let your awareness drop from your head down into your heart: from your intellect and into your deep inner knowing; to an awareness of Divine Love and Wisdom. Listen for a moment to your still small voice.
Open your imagination, allow Wisdom to speak, give your ego a few minutes off and let that divine holy Voice in you come through. Perhaps there is a new career, a new title, or a new quality that Spirit is pressing out through you.
Charles Fillmore says this new name is your concept of yourself.
The White Stone is your sign of a clean slate. Whatever has gone on in the past, let it go. Give yourself permission to know that as you release that which no longer serves your highest good, you can claim a new quality, a new name.
This word can be an overall intention…a way of being in the world…something to grow into…something that allows a deeper Truth to express more fully through you.
As you hold the white stone in your hand, hear the Christ Self that is you saying, “Behold, I make all things new.”
This is a sign of your ability in this moment to live in this new beginning. This is a moment in which you know you are free, free from all that has bound you.
And so, as you are guided by Spirit, I invite you to trust in this now moment, ….as Spirit gives to you in this sacred place…in this moment of Truth…an insight into your divine purpose…an insight into your holy essence, and so in that secret place of the most-high, I invite you to allow yourself to hear the new name that is speaking within you.
And, as that name becomes clear, just allow yourself to write it on your stone…If a name has come to you, remain quiet and allow yourself to ask for a deeper understanding, to ask if there are any steps to take.
In this moment allow yourself to simply open to Spirit, to say, “God in me reveals my true essence. God in me reveals my next step. God as me, lives a joyous, peaceful, fulfilling life.”
Pause – silence-
Anytime you look at your white stone realize that you have the gift of choice; the gift to live differently, to live a more fulfilling life, to begin again, to connect with God and create with God.
Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you this kingdom. “Accept this consciousness of ever increasing good in your life. I invite you to carry this white stone or card as a reminder of that promise.
Your greatest power is the power to be:
To be more loving
To be more courageous
To be more joyous
To be more friendly
To be more sensitive
To be more aware
To be more forgiving
To be more forgiving
To be more tolerant
To be more humble
To be more patient
To be more helpful
To be a greater human being
A prayer for the New Year from Howard Thurman …
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends.
In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed.
There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment…
In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in the darkness.
I shall mistake my light for Your light and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make.
Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to vanity, to sin.
Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that You may take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.
Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence.
Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.
T.S. Eliot – “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language; and next year’s words await another voice.”