Lent began on Wednesday. And we have a prosperity program going through the Lenten season, instead of giving something up as was the usual practice, back in the good ole days, in place of a cup of Starbucks or a candy bar or ice cream cone or maybe just for the heck of it, place that money aside and have an extra donation for the time between now and Easter. You choose the amount and help Unity build its prosperity. Make sure to mark the check for the prosperity program.
Also, today we are starting our Lenten Series based upon the book by Rev. Mark Anthony Lord, “Thou Shall Not Suffer – 7 Steps to a Life of Joy.”
Each week we will discuss a chapter with a suggestion on how we can increase our joy, and who wouldn’t want that?!?!?
Did you have a little pushback when you read the title of Mark’s book? Suffering…not a Unity thing, is it?
True, but let’s not forget, even though we are divine, we are human also, so, even if we have our suffering under control now, I’m betting there were times, unfortunately, when we actually had ourselves believing we were suffering, or even that we needed to suffer!
Mark Anthony Lord reminds us that we are “here, on this earth, to be happy, prosperous and free.” We aren’t here to waste our time worrying.
Many times we have been told that “suffering is inevitable,” and “a part of being human.”
We are not here to suffer!!
He tells us…“What if it were possible to experience all the trials life may bring from a place of acceptance, curiosity, strength, and a spiritual perspective that allows you to remain connected to your joy and appreciation throughout it all?
This is the Kingdom of Heaven, a state of mind, an inner reality and point of focus that remains calm and connected to the Spirit of love and Oneness. Like the Eye of a Storm.
This Kingdom is always right here, right now; perfectly located within you.
Once again, we see this verse from Romans: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.”
How are we taught, asked to conform?
Freedom from suffering does not mean there will never be any pain or sorrow…feelings are a natural part of us.
Being authentic is more important than being happy all the time. Our feelings like sadness, grief, fear, anger, etc are messengers telling us we are off course, not connected to our higher good.
It would behoove us to pay attention to them. Being authentic is where we choose to be.
Our first chapter in the book is titled, “Get a new God.” Let your mind wander a bit, and where does it go?
I can recall vividly, as I attended the United Methodist Church back home. My brothers and I attended with my Uncle & Aunt on my Father’s side. And even though we heard about Jesus loving the little children in Sunday School and how he died to save us in church, I always wondered “Where was God?”
What was the God of your childhood like? How did that picture change as you grew?
And where is that image of the God of your understanding now?
That question got me, eventually, to Unity. Maybe that was a key for you too.
Look at our first Principle – “There is only one Presence and one Power, God the Good.”
There is only God. God in us and we in God. We are One with the divine because we ARE divine.
Here’s the Reading I selected for this Message
I DWELL IN GOD; GOD DWELLS IN ME.
IF I HAVE thought of God as remote, unconcerned with my welfare, I supplant this concept of God with the knowledge that God is not separated from me by time and space. I actually dwell in God; God dwells in me. For God is Spirit, God is Mind, God is Principle.
God as Spirit is forever accessible. God as Mind is everywhere present. God as Principle is unchangeable. God is Father, Creator, cause and source of all that is.
Knowing this, the true character of God, I realize that God is not guilty of the vagaries of human conduct. God is love. God is light. God is substance. God is the only real presence and power in the universe. This knowledge brings me a serene peace and confidence in the final supremacy of goodness and righteousness in me and in my world.
I affirm for myself: “I dwell in God; God dwells in me.” I affirm for my loved ones: “You dwell in God; God dwells in you.” I affirm for all men everywhere: “We dwell in God; God dwells in us.”
Abide in me, and I in you. JOHN 15:4.
So the first chapter in Rev. Lord’s book tells us to get a new GOD.
And have you? Is your God of today an unconditional loving God or one from the past, a punishing, strict God?
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the unconditional love, thank you very much!
According to the Gods of Genesis, humans were made in the image and likeness of.
But we humans, thinking we are so smart, make God in our own image. That’s where the vengeful, prejudice God of the Hebrew Bible came from and what most of us started out believing in…the old man in the sky with a long white beard with a huge book of life next to HIM to keep track of all the wrongs we have committed in our life. The God with all the human personality aspects, whether good or not.
This is why we need a new God.
In his book, Mark Anthony Lord includes some exercises to help us through the process. Here’s one; write a letter to your old God and fire them!
Tell this old God why things didn’t work out. Go deep into your psyche so you can detox, be specific. This is like spring cleaning…getting the old out to make way for the new.
What do you think?
After you have cleaned out all the cobwebs, it’s time to hire your new God.
Your relationship with God will develop according to the time and commitment you put into it.
So now you want to write an ad for a God for hire. You get to create the perfect God for yourself, it will be different than mine or your spouses or your best friends.
I hope you give these exercises a chance and see what you come up with…it could be quite interesting.
The Indian guru Ramana Maharshi: “Each one thinks of God according to his own degree of advancement. Worship God with or without form until you know who you are.”
What does that mean? To me it means that, just like the Bible, our soul journeys through life, learning as we grow. When we start out, our God may be the God of our childhood. But as we journey and question and learn, our God becomes much more personal.
Before I would ask God why…now I ask myself what is mine to do.
The God of your being is the voice that celebrates you, adores you, and gives you clear guidance and direction. This is what I want my God to be for me.
“When you feel good, you are feeling God.”