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September 13, 2020 Race and White Fragility

Race and White Fragility

This morning I’d like to start a discussion on race.  Not just Black or African American or Latino, or any other race or culture of color, but also how the white culture factors into the discrimination against these races and cultures. There are two sides to this dilemma, and we will look at both these next few weeks.

We’re starting a series on this topic using two books: “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “White Fragility – Why is it so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin Diangelo.

The timing is appropriate. There has been and continues to be so much going on across our country and even in some other countries, about the actions and reactions of people, of both white and black races, as they respond to police shooting and sometimes, strangling, Black men and women, often unarmed.

We see all to often, another shooting of unarmed Blacks, especially, that it is just too commonplace. 

But this discussion goes beyond the shooting of people of color. There is more to it.

So, let’s take a look at some history, some facts and set the stage for some discussion…yes, it is my hope that these Messages, just like those we presented in July with Leroy, Carolyn, Diane and Angela, will foster discussion around the dinner table and the conversation circles in homes across our area.

The most recently available Census statistics show that income inequality in America, as of 2018, is at its most extreme point in half a century. Access to a quality education remains heavily shaped by ZIP code, while access to a safe place to live remains heavily determined by wealth. Change is still undermined by the difficulty of voting. Even the water that comes out of America’s taps is unequal.

The pandemic has simply brought the disparities between whites and people of color to the surface even more.

“For every tortuous inch gained,” TIME declared when Martin Luther King Jr. was named Person of the Year for 1963, “there are miles of progress left to be covered.”

That statement is no less true today, unfortunately.

So, let’s start by defining what racism is: in “White Fragility,” it is defined as intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals, or a racist is someone who holds conscious dislike of people because of race.

Think on that before we go on.

This is not prejudice. According to Diangelo, “Prejudice is pre-judgement about another based upon the social groups that person belongs. It consists of thoughts and feelings, including stereotypes, attitudes, and generalizations that are based on little or no experience and then are projected onto everyone from that group.”

As a gay woman, I can relate somewhat to this. I, and many of my friends and acquaintances have been the subject of prejudice. And we learned from the Black community how to fight for equality through peaceful protests…and still are fighting.

We all have prejudice; it can’t be avoided. And its not a bad thing. It’s when we put action to those thoughts and feelings that discrimination happens.

If we deny that we have prejudice, Diangelo suggests we are ‘demonstrating a profound lack of self-awareness.’

Of course, we would have to admit to that, be aware of it, to be able to move on is self-awareness. We all know that self-awareness is needed to connect to our inner Christ.

The opposite of racist is ‘antiracist,’ one who endorses racial equality.’ They see the root of problems in power and policies. 

Kendi states a racist is, “one who endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy; they believe problems are rooted in groups of people.”

Kendi continues, a racist is one who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inactions or expressing a racist idea.

And antiracist is one who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.

And what is a racist policy?  It is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.

An antiracist policy, then, would be any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups.

Policy is defined as written or unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations or guidelines that govern people.

That’s a lot of information, but it gives us some groundwork to base our discussion upon. And we will use that foundation for our continued discussion through the following Sundays.

The Declaration of Independence tells us: all men are created equal.

And if we believe in that document, then where did we go awry?

THAT… goes way back.  

I recall a Bible history I was studying when I was still in Unity Licensing classes. The history of the Near East, according to this is very interesting.

This is before the time of Abraham and Isaac, when the communities you would come across were matriarchal, the women were the leaders, taking care of the homes and crops and the spiritual welfare of the village, while the males hunted.

These were people who worshiped their Gods through nature Their main God was a Goddess.. The Head Woman was the representative of the Goddess

All was good.

Then they were invaded by an aggressive culture from the north, that believed in force and violence to conquer other cultures.

They tried to force their God onto the Goddess believers and but they met much resistance. The only way was to marry the Goddess representative and melt the cultures as best they could.

Of course, that meant that the males dominated the females. And as they came in contact with other races, the ‘whiter’ races determined in their minds that they were better, smarter, stronger…and therefore the leaders.

And so, begins, briefly, the history of how white became the skin color of choice. Arians coming from the north made a determination that their race was best. Sound familiar?

Hitler had the same idea.

That story or something similar, depending on who is telling it, was brought forward century after century. Time and again, the oppressed fought against their oppressors and time and again, the oppressed were held down.

It’s hard to get back up if you are continually pushed back.

The Declaration of Independence sounded simple enough: all men are created equal. For nearly 250 years, the U.S. has leaned on that founding principle. In theory, its meaning is clear. In practice, battles have raged—often times literally—over what it means, not just for American government but for American life in general.

So how would you define equal?

The dictionary defines it as: being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value; a person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality.

If this is what we base our constitution upon, what’s the problem? How could we get so off course, if ALL persons are created equal?

Of course, in the eyes of God, and supposedly, all God loving people, we ARE all equal.

But that is and has not been put into practice by all, for all.

The utopians might respond that prioritizing this supposed equality results in the very inequalities that they question: racial privilege, elite colleges, losers, sexism. They would argue that true equality requires taking from some and giving to others, to even out the differences. And so, equality seems absurd. Either it doesn’t exist or, if we claim it exists, it seems to defy reality. But Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were not fools. They were neither cynics nor utopians.

For clarification, we should return to Abraham Lincoln’s subtle and profound teaching about equality, at a moment when that foundation was threatened by a form of inequality everyone today condemns, slavery. He once gave an instructive exercise in trying to prevent civil war.

In opposing the recently announced Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court deprived African Americans of not only citizenship but of human dignity, Illinois Senate candidate Lincoln parried the vicious racial demagoguery on the part of incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas.

When Douglas accused him of being in favor of inter-racial marriage, Lincoln acknowledged that most of his white listeners opposed “amalgamation” with black people. Keep in mind, Illinois prohibited slavery but also discriminated against black people in innumerable ways.

Lincoln’s explanation defends liberty for all and justifies equality as an ideal. Just because he did not want to enslave a woman, he said, did not mean he personally wanted to marry her. “In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of anyone else,” he went on, “she is my equal, and the equal of all others.”

It is important, as white people of America, that we fight racism by learning what it really means to be white and how that identity operates in the world.

We will look at both what it means to be a person of color and a white person. I hope you will follow our series and use it to delve into your own beliefs on race and maybe, if you find some racist beliefs within your heart, to let them go.

“How Do We Stay Hopeful?” with Rev. Karen Laughmen

How Do We Stay Hopeful?

We are living in challenging times with much uncertainty. To triumph in any challenge and to move forward, we need to stay hopeful.

Although our minds can go to a place of fear and doubt, the expression, “hope springs eternal” is also true. It is our nature to look for hopefulness. Hope is defined as an optimistic state of mind that is based in an expectation for positive outcomes in one’s life and events in the world at large. Our Unity faith is based upon hope and possibility.

In the Bible, Hebrew 11:1, faith is described as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus taught us, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you.”

The Mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds, but grows to be the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree. As this metaphor implies when we plant seeds of hope in our spirit, we can accomplish much and overcome much.

Our Unity co-founders, Myrtle and Charles Fillmore overcame illness and poverty with a great faith that gave them sustaining hope. When they led the beginnings of their spiritual community, they had setbacks, but never gave up because of their faith.

In the book, “Let God Help You,” which is a compilation of Myrtle’s writings, Myrtle states “God is All Good, All Power, All Wisdom, All Presence.” She often speaks of Truth with a capital T and the Truth that God is Spirit within us ever present, all powerful, all wise.

Myrtle speaks of God as Life, Love, and Divine Mind. Her advice is to listen to the voice of God within us to be led to the Truth that we are good, wise and powerful. She suggests that we can be led to new ways of thinking and living… a transformation of consciousness because we are endowed with Divine ideas, the most important and powerful things in the universe.

Our Divine ideas have their origin from Divine Mind, which is God, our Source. And this is how we transmute the negative to positive energy. We overcome with Divine ideas and hope. With prayer and meditation, Myrtle claimed her oneness with God, and encourages us to do the same. With the knowledge of Truth, we can have peace of mind, health of body and always create new possibilities!

Brother Sheindi-Rest, who is a Benedictine monk, an interfaith spiritual leader and founder of a global organization, Network for Grateful Living, teaches that faith is a courageous trust in life. He states that a deep trust in life is not a feeling, but a stance that you deliberately take. It is an attitude of courage in the face of challenges. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we have some control in how circumstances impact us with our attitude.

Myrtle Fillmore taught we can be free of worry if we follow Truth Principles, trust the power and presence of God within and turn any self- defeating thoughts into an affirmation of life, strength and faith. This is the foundation of Unity. We are not promised that that our life will always be easy, but we are promised that the presence of God and Spirit is always with us.

We can shift our thoughts from the ever- changing rhythms of life and align with Spirit at any time. We can choose to see situations in the outer world as temporary conditions, and affirm that our future is unlimited, contrary to any circumstance that may appear otherwise. This is what hope is. This what trusting in life is… trusting that our future is unlimited.

You may be familiar with the book, Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl who was a psychiatrist and Holocaust Survivor. It is a profound book on maintaining hope in a most difficult time of suffering…living in a Nazi concentration camp.

This is a quote from his book: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. As a prisoner in unthinkable circumstances, he strived to keep an attitude of hope and helped other people around him be as hopeful as possible. He writes that when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. He suggested that we adopt a courageous attitude in a situation of unavoidable suffering. He called this an Attitudinal Value.

In Unity, we practice an attitude of hopefulness with what we call affirmative prayer… first connecting with the spirit of God and secondly asserting positive beliefs about the desired outcomes…the good that is already here and now.

This is an example of Affirmative Prayer: “Divine Spirit, I am grateful for the spirit of wisdom and love within me, and know I am guided to blessings of peace, health and prosperity. Beginning with gratitude and affirming guidance, peace, health and prosperity. And then, I pray and trust that my highest and best good is manifesting in my life with Divine Order here and now.

This is the method of affirmative prayer that Jesus taught in Mark 11:24 when he said, “I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

As we believe we have power over our thoughts and attitudes, we believe in Unity that we create our experiences by our thoughts and feelings. A spiritual tool for keeping our thoughts positive and therefore creating a positive life path is the use of Affirmations and Denials.

Denials help us turn away from negative thinking and encourage us to not give power to any self-sabotage. When we have a negative thought about ourselves or a circumstance, we can catch ourselves and not give it attention. We can replace a negative thought with a positive affirmation.

So, if we are feeling overwhelmed by a situation, we can say to ourselves, I can handle this with confidence. We can say this is temporary and I am hopeful that a solution is around the corner.

For health issues, we can say the cells in my tissues and organs are working together for my healing.

For prosperity, we can say I greet each day with gratitude for the many possibilities that await me.

For affirmations to be effective, they need to be stated in the present, with an affirming message and a message that feels true to you. Affirmations can be stated simply and when repeated can make a difference in shifting our consciousness to places of hopefulness to help us create what we want and need in our lives. Affirmations help keep our thoughts positive and our hearts open.

Another tool for creating positive energy is meditation. I like to think of meditation as resting with the breath. There are many methods, but basically it is becoming conscious of the in breath and the out breath and gently turning attention to the inner self, allowing thoughts and feelings to pass without attaching or judging …accepting those thoughts and feelings.

Meditation can lead us to the Silence which is a deeper state where oneness with Divine Presence is experienced. Practicing meditation can help us feel more peaceful and hopeful as does the practice of mindfulness, which is staying in the moment as much as possible. When we are in the awareness of the present moment, we are not thinking of the past or the future. We can feel the joy and the peace of our innate spirit, and this helps us stay hopeful.
And, yet there are times when we feel anger, fear, sadness, grief which we need to honor and have a healthy outlet for expressing and releasing these feelings. As part of a healing process, we may need to cry, reach out to someone who can compassionately listen. What we don’t want to do is stay stuck in the energy of anger, fear, blame and hopelessness.

Instead of reacting, we can take a deep breath and choose peace and hope. Holding difficult emotions in mindful awareness without attachment is a Buddhist practice.

Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron who wrote the book “When Things Fall Apart” advises us to learn to relax with the groundlessness in our lives. She writes, “Whatever arises, breathe it in without pushing the feelings away or running away. Breathe it in with loving compassion for yourself and for others experiencing the same pain. Breathe out slowly, letting go of the struggle.” A relaxed state of mind in the midst of uncertainty can certainly help us feel more hopeful as we release anxiety and invite loving kindness to ourselves and others. Chodron also writes, “We can use everything that happens to us to help us wake up spiritually.”

Our Spiritual Director at my One Spirit Seminary would often tell us that the experiences that were challenges for us were ones which evolve our soul. Every encounter and every experience can help us grow on our spiritual journey.
When and how have you been drawn to hope for the challenges in your life? As a young adult and single parent, I often needed to draw from a wellspring of optimism to remind myself that I could provide for my son and look to the future with hope for him and myself.

In my middle years, hope and optimism helped me recover from cancer…I had affirmations of hope and strength all over my hospital room and in my home.

In my aging years, I use hope to remind myself and affirm that I am healthy and living a fulfilling life with purpose… with love and peace. I begin every day with prayer and the Unity Daily Word, and I use other spiritual readings to keep my spirit uplifted.

Today, I am grateful for all the people who have helped others in this pandemic. This makes me feel hopeful about the innate goodness of human beings and our feeling of kindship and unity with one another.

I am hopeful for our spiritual community as Sandy and our Board work to keep us sustainable and moving forward.
I am inspired and made hopeful by the young people and grassroots movements that are demanding change for racial and social justice, equality, freedom from violence and attention to saving our planet earth from climate change.
Today, I am hopeful that in spite of challenges, we will reclaim our democracy. A very capable woman and person of color has been chosen as a candidate for Vice President of our country. This makes me feel hopeful.

I feel hopeful that less than three weeks after the death of George Floyd, officials across the nation introduced or passed sweeping unprecedented reforms against police violence and racial injustice. In August, Governor Carney signed into law legislation that bans the use of chokeholds by law enforcement in the state of DE. This ban is part of a set of reforms that have been proposed to address systemic racism in Delaware’s criminal justice system. This makes me feel hopeful.

Imbued with the capacity to demonstrate love and faith, we can all be agents of positive change. We can use our life to express our divine qualities for the betterment of ourselves and other people.

“Our potential is always bigger than our problems” is a quote that I like from Michael Beckwith of the Agape Spiritual Center.

We can decide to never give up as John Lewes exemplified and implored us to do.

Martin Luther King told us to never lose hope for our dreams and aspirations. He also said we need action…not only faith, and Mother Teresa said faith in action is love and service.

Barack Obama exclaims that the audacity of hope is hope in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. He states, “Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, work for it and fight for it. President Obama says that the best way not to feel hopeless is to get up and do something!

And Michelle Obama advices us to make decisions based upon hope and possibility, not fear. That sounds like Unity doesn’t it?

In the book, Unity Metaphysics, our twelve spiritual powers are explored. These powers are “the fundamental and innate aspects of our divine nature.”

Faith is the first power and is described as the “spiritual assurance and power to do the seemingly impossible. A deep knowing that which is sought is already ours …the assurance of things hoped for.”

Strength is the second spiritual power which is “the faculty of steadfastness, endurance, spiritual courage and confidence. It is the calm, God-centered attitude of mind.”

So, I hope you are finding ways to be in that God-centered attitude of mind. I hope you are feeling strength of spirit and finding ways to keep your spirit uplifted and hopeful…. getting out in nature, reaching out to people you love and care about, giving a helping hand where you can, planning to use your personal power to vote.
On that important topic, you can go to Vote.org for information on registering to vote, getting an absentee ballot and other questions about voting.

I want to close with this thought. Hope is a vibration of energy that comes from our Divine Spirit and keeping a hopeful perspective with others helps encourage their sense of hopefulness. Hopefulness has a ripple effect. When we trust in life and trust in Source with gratitude, goodness and the grace of hope flows in our lives.

May you dwell in Possibility. Amen

The Beatles – George Harrison June 28

I found some very interesting and insightful quotes this past week. Tell me what you think:

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.

Heaven and hell is right now. … You make it heaven or you make it hell by your actions.

We are not these bodies, just souls having a bodily experience.

Once you realize something, then you can’t pretend you don’t know it anymore.

The more I go inside, the more there is to see.

What do you think? Some famous Unity writer or Minister? Some Eastern Guru?

No – it’s our 4th and final Beatle, George Harrison. Pretty amazing. He embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles’ work.

When his mother was pregnant with George, she often listened to the weekly broadcast Radio India. Harrison’s biographer Joshua Greene wrote, “Every Sunday she tuned in to mystical sounds evoked by sitars, hoping that the exotic music would bring peace and calm to the baby in the womb.”

Do you think it influenced George’s interest in Indian music? Could be….

And surely the influence of Eastern philosophy affected his interest in Hinduism.

If we recall Unity’s history, Charles Fillmore studied the major cultures and religions of the time while working through his Unity Philosophy. We can see that influence in our philosophy and principles.

George was the youngest Beatle, born in 1943. He was known as “the quiet Beatle”. That nick name arose when the Beatles arrived in the United States in early 1964, and Harrison was ill with a case of Strep throat and a fever. He was medically advised to limit speaking as much as possible until the performance on The Ed Sullivan Show as scheduled. As such, the press noticed Harrison’s quiet nature in public appearances and the subsequent nickname stuck.

Of course, we know George was an English musician, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

Although the majority of the band’s songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group include “Taxman”, “Within You Without You”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something”.

Eventually, in 1965, he had begun to lead the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in Bob Dylan and the Byrds, and towards Indian classical music through his use of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood”. Having initiated the band’s embracing of Transcendental Meditation in 1967, he subsequently developed an association with the Hare Krishna movement.

His triple album All Things Must Pass, was a critically acclaimed work that produced his most successful hit single, “My Sweet Lord”.

Harrison organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, a precursor to later benefit concerts such as Live Aid.

In 1988, he co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. A prolific recording artist, he was featured as a guest guitarist on tracks by Badfinger, Ronnie Wood and Billy Preston, and collaborated on songs and music with Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Tom Petty, among others. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Like the other Beatles, he is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee – as a member of the Beatles in 1988, and posthumously for his solo career in 2004.

Harrison died from lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58, two years after surviving a knife attack by an intruder. His remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered according to Hindu tradition in a private ceremony in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.

Harrison has so many really great quotes. Once again, the theme of peace and love is evident in what the Beatles as a group and as individual members stood for.

“Since our problems have been our own creation. They also can be overcome.
When we use the power provided free to everyone, This is love!”

A little understanding of “As you sow, so shall you reap” is important, because then you can’t blame the condition you’re in on anyone else.

The Past is gone, and the future might not even be, the only thing we ever experience is the now, I try to enjoy the minute.

It is an outrage that people can take other people’s lives when they obviously haven’t got their own lives in order.

Death is just where your suit falls off and now, you’re in your other suit. You can’t see it on this level, but it’s all right. Don’t worry.

Love one another (His last words)

The Beatles – John Lennon June 21

This week, John Lennon is in our Beatles spotlight. John was born in October of 1940. October makes him a Libra and so I feel closer to him already!

Of course, most of us know John was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the founder, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in musical history.

Born in Liverpool, Lennon was characterized for the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. In the mid-1960s, he had two books published: In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, both collections of nonsensical writings and line drawings.

“I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. So, I’ve been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I’m one of those people.”

Starting with 1967’s “All You Need Is Love”, his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture.

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”

In 1969, he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon continued as a solo artist and as Ono’s collaborator.

From 1968 to 1972, Lennon produced more than a dozen records with Ono, including a trilogy of avant-garde albums, his first solo LP John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and the international top 10 singles “Give Peace a Chance”, “Instant Karma!”, “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.

He could still be speaking out about peace and justice today:

“It doesn’t matter how long my hair is or what color my skin is or whether I’m a woman or a man.”

Controversial through his political and peace activism, after moving to New York City in 1971, his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a three-year attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him.

Obviously, it didn’t work.

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

In 1975, Lennon disengaged from the music business to raise his infant son Sean.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”

In 1980, he returned with the album, Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building by a Beatles fan, Mark David Chapman, three weeks after the album’s release.

“I don’t believe in killing whatever the reason.”

In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. In 1987, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1994.

“I’m not claiming divinity. I’ve never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can…But I still believe in peace, love and understanding.”

And if you don’t think this radical writer and singer isn’t a closet Unitic, here’s some evidence in the positive:

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just the translations have gone wrong.”

Sounds like Unity, right?

“You’re just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You’ve got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It’s all down to you, mate.”

It’s all down to each of us, as we follow our Soul’s Journey.

And lastly, I hope you all have taken some time and wasted it:

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

The Beatles – Paul June 14

The Beatles – Paul

Did you know that way back in 1964, the Beatles refused to play in front of a segregated audience?

“In 1964 The Beatles were due to play Jacksonville…and we found out that it was going to be to a segregated audience. It felt wrong,” McCartney remembered. “We said, ‘We’re not doing that!’ and the concert we did do was to their (Jacksonville’s) first non-segregated audience. We then made sure this was in our contract. To us it seemed like common sense.”

This was McCartney’s recollection after witnessing the reactions to the George Floyd murder.

This was his hope:

“As we continue to see the protests and demonstrations across the world, I know many of us want to know just what we can be doing to help. None of us have all the answers and there is no quick fix, but we need change,” he wrote on Twitter.

McCartney continued: “We all need to work together to overcome racism in any form. We need to learn more, listen more, talk more, educate ourselves and, above all, take action.”

This seems to be the theme that runs across the Beatles as a band, as well as the individual members. They are all about peace and love, as Ringo was noted to say last week. And that theme surely did show in their music.

Paul’s greatest love song is the one he wrote to & for his then wife, Linda Eastman, photographer & animal right activist. Do you know that? Yes, “Maybe I’m Amazed” is that song. After writing that song Paul is quoted as saying all love songs from this time forth would be dedicated to Linda. They were married in 1969 and she died of breast cancer in 1998. Paul’s mother had also passed from complications from breast cancer.

Through the passing of the two most important women in his life and the break-up of the Beatles, Paul stated:
“I still believe that love is all you need. I don’t know a better message than that.”

And love flows through the theme in many of the songs written by Paul & John Lennon, as well as Paul himself with other collaborators. Here are some:
“All you need is love.”
“Love is old,
Love is new,
Love is all,
Love is you.” From “Because”

“I found out that love was more than just holding hands.” From “If I fell for You”
“Remember to let her into your heart.” “Hey Jude”

“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”
“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you.
Tomorrow I’ll miss you.
Remember I’ll always be true.
And then while I’m away,
I’ll write home everyday.
And I’ll send all my loving to you.”

And one of the most loving and romantic love songs, “Maybe I’m Amazed”
“Maybe I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time.
Maybe I’m afraid of the way I love you.
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time
And hung me on a line.
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.”

Now that I’ve got you all mushy, let’s look at some of the other things Sir Paul has been into. Yes, he was Knighted in 1997 and has two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1999) He has 18 Grammy Awards, and was appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965.

Paul was a self-taught musician, preferring to play by ear. He is proficient on bass guitar, keyboards, and drums. When he was 14, his father gave him a trumpet, hoping he would follow in his footsteps, but Paul traded it for an acoustic guitar, so he could sing as well as play.

We know he pursued a solo career and formed Wings after the Beatles split, but he also explored filmmaking, writing, painting, meditation and activism. A longtime vegetarian, he teamed up with daughters Mary and Stella in 2009 to launch Meat Free Monday, a not-for-profit campaign that aims to raise awareness about the detrimental impact of meat consumption on individual health as well as the environment.

He is known for promoting international charities related to such subjects as animal rights, seal hunting, land mines, vegetarianism, poverty, and music education.

Still writing, singing, recording and performing, he is still my favorite Beatle.

And even though he states he is agnostic, I find, once again, that this Beatle too, sounds very Unity…
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”

The Beatles – Ringo! June 7

The Beatles – Ringo!

Before we speak about the Beatles and, specifically, Ringo Starr, let’s talk briefly about what has been happening in our country since the death of George Floyd. Again, and again situations like this come up, and again and again we are asked the question, “What is mine to do?”

And the response to that question is something that you take into prayer and contemplation. Only you can choose what is yours to do in this and all questions we face.

As people proclaiming to be followers of the teaching of Jesus, one thing we might consider doing is reach out with an open hand and not a closed fist. We cannot be of help with a fist of anger and fear.

If your hand is in a fist, then start with yourself and find your peace to aid in the peace of this world.

This is a topic we will investigate deeper at a later time. Please do some self- discovery to find where you truly stand and where you need to move forward.

If you need to talk about this situation or anything, please remember I am available for counseling and just chatting.

And now, let’s get back to the Beatles. We all know that inspiration can come from many diverse sources. And music in all forms is one of those sources. And that music comes in a wide variety.
For today’s discussion, that comes in the form of rock and roll.
I do not believe anyone would not know at least the name, the Beatles and vaguely know that they were a rock band. They were a very successful rock band, even today, though the band discontinued making music together in 1970. Most consider the Beatles the most influential band of all time.

The Beatles formed in England in 1960 comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best…. yes, no Ringo Starr, not until 1962.

We will be talking about each member these following weeks, starting with Ringo this week. And then the remaining three over the next weeks. I hope you find the information about each one interesting, as I do.
Ringo didn’t have a great childhood. Born Richard Starkey in 1940, Beatles biographer Bob Spitz described his upbringing as “a Dickensian chronicle of misfortune”

Very poor housing & violent crime was an almost constant concern for people living in one of the oldest and poorest inner-city districts in Liverpool, the Dingle.

Ritchie as he was called, didn’t have a father influence in his younger years. His parents divorced when he was 4.
At the age of six, he developed appendicitis. Following a routine appendectomy he contracted peritonitis, causing him to fall into a coma that lasted days. His recovery spanned twelve months, which he spent away from his family at Liverpool’s Myrtle Street children’s hospital.

Upon his discharge, his mother allowed him to stay home instead of attending school. His lack of education contributed to a feeling of alienation when he finally returned to school, which resulted in his regularly playing truant.

However, after several years of twice-weekly tutoring from his surrogate sister and neighbor, Marie Maguire Crawford, Starkey had nearly caught up to his peers academically, but in 1953, then 13, he contracted tuberculosis and was admitted to a sanatorium, where he remained for two years. There he was encouraged to join in the make-shift band and thus, started his love of percussion. He would bang on anything with anything, to add to the ‘music.’

His Mother’s 2nd husband introduced him to more music, mostly big band and their vocalists. So, when he returned home from the sanatorium, he didn’t return to school, but preferred staying home and listening to music.

Eventually, he was old enough to find a job. After trying for several with little to no success, he befriended Roy Trafford, who worked with Starkey in a manufacturing apprentice job.

Roy introduced Ritchie to skiffle, a musical genre with influences from jazz, blues, and American folk music, generally performed with a mixture of manufactured and homemade or improvised instruments. Originating as a form in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, it became extremely popular in the United Kingdom in the 1950s,
Trafford recalled: “I played a guitar, and Ritchie just made a noise on a box … Sometimes, he just slapped a biscuit tin with some keys, or banged on the backs of chairs.”

Not soon after, with a second-hand drum kit consisting of a snare drum, bass drum and a makeshift cymbal fashioned from a rubbish bin lid, the lads made their way into clubs playing American rock & roll.

They had some great success, but when the Beatles asked Starkey to join them, the rest is history. Richard Starkey became Ringo Starr, one of the greatest drummers ever. He was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2002.

In a Rolling Stone article in 2011, readers named him the fifth-greatest drummer of all time. He was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a Beatle in 1988 and as a solo artist in 2015, and appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honors for services to music, thus becoming Sir Richard Starkey.

Ringo had a great following, and his fans asked that he get to sing more. He usually did have one track on each album, for example: he sang the lead in “Yellow Submarine”, “With a Little Help from My Friends” and their cover of “Act Naturally”

And he wrote and sang the Beatles’ songs “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden” Fun fact – For a little more oceanic panache which Ringo wanted, George blew bubbles with a straw into a glass of milk.

When the Beatles broke up, Ringo did have some success for a time with singles including the US top-ten hit “It Don’t Come Easy”, and number ones “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen”.

Following his rough childhood and his tempestuous early adulthood, Starr has made great leaps in finding inner peace. Not only does he practice meditation daily, he also adopted an active and vegetarian lifestyle.

His beliefs are very Unitic like. One need only follow some of his quotes:

“I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself.”

I truly believe this is so true, one must know thyself to move through to knowing the Christ within. Getting to know yourself, you work through all the domestication that you picked up all through your life.

That one leads to this one:

“For me, God is in my life. I don’t hide from that…”

Many people do try to hide that God is in their life, but we can tell, because we connect, we can feel that Divine Spirit in each and every one of us. We have soul shine!

“At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I’ve made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.”

How many of us do this…mountains out of mole hills? We connect to the Universe and they melt away back to small hills, or maybe disappear altogether. Trust in the Divine Spirit…
And:
“I am truly grateful. I’m a grateful human being.”

We all know that gratitude is the answer to so many things. Be grateful for what you have. And this Global Pause has certainly emphasized that for us.

“Pause and Remember” May 24

“Pause and Remember”

We have had a lot of time to pause and remember lately. Well, maybe we have. Depends on your job. I have still been busy, and I am sure several others of you have been too, if not for your work, maybe teaching your kids or finding other ways to be productive during this time of physical distancing from each other.

During these days staying inside and apart from each other, have you thought about sacrifice? That is what Memorial Day is about, honoring those who have sacrificed to protect our country and its values.

My Dad was in the navy at the end of world war II. My oldest brother was in the navy too. My next brother was in the air force for a time. My uncles all served in World War II or Korea.

I have friends who served also. Most are very proud of that service. Fortunately, none of my family or friends, but one, were killed while serving. One friend from HS was killed in Vietnam.

But just because I have not experienced losing someone from war, I have lost someone I loved. I can honestly say I feel at least a bit of what those families felt and feel upon hearing about losing a father, brother, uncle, mother, sister, aunt, or partner because they choose to defend our country.

Let us take a minute to silently thank those from our families and friends who lost their lives for our safety.

And now, let us thank those who are serving now. And we will thank them again when Veterans Day comes around and every time we have the opportunity to thank our Service folks.
pause
These are different times we are going through now. Not many can say they have experienced a pandemic. I mean, who would have thought, we, the big United States losing tens of thousands of people in the year 2020 from a pandemic? And here we thought we were the greatest country in the world.
We better get our thinking hat on and pull on our work boots and get things to where they should be.
It’s time …“For everything there is a season, and
a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up
what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to
build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a
time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to
refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to
throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to
speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Yes, it is time.

This year, even though they are not military, I believe it is a right and perfect time that we honor those first responders and hospital workers, those people working in the long term care facilities who are trying their best to take care of their patients. The police and ambulances personnel who respond to the calls for help, not knowing what they will find or if they will contract the disease.

We owe these people and so many more. As many of us were hunkered down in our homes, many were and are out there doing what needs to be done…working on the farms and in processing plants. Gathering our trash and delivering food. Peopling the check-out lines and stocking shelves.

We owe so much to so many because everything we have and know, comes from those before us. Even our ideas are built on the thoughts and creations of others.

As the song goes, we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

God gives us the opportunity to receive and develop an idea, but someone in this dimension must bring it forth. The evolution of an idea can be followed through looking back, let us say, at a car. Look at how a car has evolved…ideas on top of ideas from the horseless carriage to today’s tesla.

The same goes with Memorial Day. It started out as Remembrance Day, back during the Civil War when the women started decorating graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers.

That was built upon with World War I and all those who fought and died were included. Eventually, all who died while serving were included in the remembrance and it became a National Holiday.

That is what is happening with the development of a vaccine. For once, people in many countries are working together, building upon what we know … who would have thought!

So, this year, I ask that when we honor those who have died serving our country in the military, let us also include those who have lost their lives trying to protect and serve our country, here at home, during the pandemic.
It seems the right thing to do.

These are the days of endless possibilities May 17

These are the days of endless possibilities

What’s it been? Almost 2 months without seeing most of my Unity Family. It’s hard to imagine this situation sometimes. And then again, we could probably say we saw it coming.

We as a nation and a world weren’t REALLY listening to the environmentalists when they told us of the damage we were doing to our world. And we didn’t listen when they warned of the destruction to the rain forests and our other natural resources and what we may be losing as well as releasing as the destruction continued.

So now, a pandemic. And not the greatest of responses to it either. Too many are dying. Too many have lost their jobs and are having problems feeding their families.

We hear the protesters complaining and wanting to get things back to normal…to open the shops and factories and businesses.

But, if we believe Brene Brown and others like her, as I do, “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence never was normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given an opportunity to stitch together a new garment. One that fits all humanity and nature.”

If we truly believe that “with God all things are possible,” then not only is this new normal a real possibility but it is something we should want and pray for.

Change was forced upon us…now what are we going to do with it? Will we look upon it as a curse and go kicking & screaming into the future or will we look upon it as a blessing?

We are here, on this Earth to learn and love, to grow. Hanging onto the past will not allow for that.

Oh yes, we have had many good things come from our past, both individually and as a nation and a world. But it’s time to move on. That is what evolution is.

The situation post pandemic is what it is, both personally for each of us but also for the nation and the world. Whining will not change that.

We have so very much potential, my friends. Endless potential! Can we put it to good use?

What will you take into the ‘new world’? What will you leave behind?

That’s what we can do with this chance. We can leave the not-so-good behavior behind and pick up what is right, what is best for our children, for nature … for ourselves and for our country and the world.

We see so many wishing things would go back to what was. But do we REALLY want that? Of course, there were and are many good and fine things from the days of pre-pandemic.
But what about all the not-so-great things?
What about all we were doing to the environment?
What about the way we were treating others?
What about all the times we looked the other way when we walked past a homeless person? Or turned away from injustice? Or greed? Or the politics of the day?

These are times for endless opportunities.

In an article by Dr. Sherri Carter, “our lives are filled with endless possibilities. We just have to open our minds to see them. This means making smart choices.
For example, we can choose to look on the bright side or the dark side. We can choose to act or to react or to do nothing, to sit by and watch life pass us by. And in everything we do every day, we have a choice to make. Are we going to be great? Or are we going to be mediocre? This applies to anything we do–from window washer to salesperson to parent to manager to housemaker to CEO. And it’s never too early to learn how powerful our ability to make choices is.”

Choice is God’s gift to us…we are not determined by fate…other than we are all on a path and eventually we will all end in God’s arms.

So,
What changes would you like to see come from this pandemic. Where would you start?

I asked this question to the Discussion Group on Tuesday. They had worthwhile thoughts, ranging from more & better gun control to equality in its many forms for all, to civility.
What would you add? Use your imagination.

Do not consider anything unattainable. The Bible states, “do not judge by appearance, for only God knows what any person or creature is capable of achieving.”

If we could consider what is best for all or at least most, instead of what’s best for me, just imagine what a world we would have. We have endless possibilities…

Endless possibilities means a belief that all things are possible.

Seth Godin, in “The Chance of a Lifetime” notes, “The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity–we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.”
How can we do that?

Ask yourself these 6 questions frequently:
1. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Are you a creature of habit? We all are to some degree, but ALL THE TIME???? Tune into your inner Christ, that Buddha Heart and become more conscious of your thoughts and actions.

2. How can I do what I do every day even better? Once you look at the why, you will be open to how. Tap into the abundant possibilities of the Universe.

3. If I was starting out with a perfectly clean computer screen, how would I design what I’m doing? Use that Power of imagination…be open to any and all possibilities.

4. What are the “endless possibilities” I can envision today about my life, my career, my company? And I would add, my world. Let your thoughts flow, have some fun with it.

5. What can I do to make my clients’ or my families or my friends’ lives better? Daydream here, what would you like life to be for your family? Friends? Your Clients?

6. Why am I not doing it? Great question! What’s holding you back? REALLY?

I’ll end with one additional quote to take you into meditation…
George Bernard Shaw stated, “Some men see things as they are and say why–I dream things that never were and say why not.”

Mother’s Day May 10

Mother’s Day
As many of you may know, the start of Mother’s Day dates to the 1870’s with an appeal to women to join in support of disarmament. Of course, other attempts to make honoring Mothers a part of our society along with Father’s Day continued until the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century to honor her Mother, Anne.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson finally declared Mother’s Day a National Holiday.
Anna grew tired, though, of how commercialized the holiday had become and tried to have it removed as an approved holiday.
Of course, we all know that she was not successful.

Oftentimes, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, our society assumes everyone celebrates their mothers. However, not everyone has a mother to celebrate. Not everyone has a healthy maternal presence in their lives. Some may remain noticeably silent. Some may be resistant. Some won’t tell you how they feel at all. After all, it’s socially taboo to speak poorly of your mother around the only day of the year that’s supposed to be dedicated to her.

I believe however, that the day still has a purpose in our lives.
To me, personally, it’s a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Most of you know of my relationship with my Mother. Believe it or not, it was contentious at the start.

For years, I found it very difficult to even shop for a Mother’s Day card. The cards available were never what I wanted to say, never what I felt. The same problem happened on Father’s Day.

No, it’s not that they didn’t convey love for Mothers…my difficult relationship with my Mother was never expressed on the cards. The cards that expressed love for Mother, for all the wonderful things that Mothers do for their children, I just couldn’t relate.

For many of you, this isn’t a surprise. For some, it is a surprise. Many of you know that I would call my Mother nearly every day just to touch base and make sure she was ok. And I had been doing this for years, not just since I moved here. And now that she has passed, I still think, ‘it’s time to call Mom…’

I had been my Mother’s caretaker more than she had been mine for many, many years.
So, what changed? My grandmother, my Mother’s Mother, died. And at that funeral, I heard my Mother say how she hated her Mother. And from that day on, I worked on changing the relationship I had with my Mother.
I didn’t want to hate her.

You may wonder why she would hate her Mother…that’s easy. The history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse travels through a family until someone stops it.

So, it took much effort to overcome the feelings of abuse, neglect and not receiving much nurturing to get to the place where I still am with my Mother today. Lots of counseling and soul searching.
And I am so glad I did that. It took a huge step in the direction of achieving a relationship with her. It wasn’t just a normal Mother-child relationship, it was a best friend relationship…a confidant relationship. We could tell each other anything. We could chat for an hour about anything and everything without a second thought.

I miss my Mother; sometimes so much it hurts. And that surprises me.

I thought I had my relationship with her under control. I thought I knew exactly where I stood with her, finally. We had a great relationship for the most part. Sometimes she would travel back to her old self and say something hurtful, but I eventually learned to understand her, to understand her old Italian ways and thinking.
And she told me how much she loved me, and I now believed it.

So. I am still surprised at how much I miss her, just over a year that she has transitioned. I miss our chats; I miss her heart I could say anything to, and she would have words of encouragement.
She thought I was the best daughter, so wonderful as a Spiritual Leader. She always told me that she loved me so much. I kept some phone messages of hers just so I could still hear those words.
Yes, she surprised me. I thought I was ready for her passing. I was so very wrong.
So, I understand how some of you may feel about Mother’s Day…it can be very difficult. But it says in Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother.
You might say, “Yeah, but my mother wasn’t honorable!” Well, the Bible says nothing about that qualification…it only asks, is she your mother!

And in 1 Peter 4:8 – ‘Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins – we would say errors.’
So, to get past the idea of what a Mother SHOULD be, in my mind, I love her, unconditionally. And I understand that she did the best she could do at the time with what she knew.

It took a while. But it can be done.

Most of us probably do not need a reminder to love and honor our caretakers, whether they were Mothers or Fathers or Aunts or Uncles or even Grandparents. And we must not forget those Foster Parents and those who are not blood relatives but ‘relatives’ just the same.

My point, we are all male & female; made in the image of Mother/Father God. So, whoever raised you to who you are today, let’s honor them. Let’s honor the mother energy in all of us.
So…
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who have worn the face of Mother and Teacher these weeks, we are standing behind you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths.

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you this Mother’s Day, we walk with you.

Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

So, we honor all, not just the caretaker of a child, but wherever the feminine principle resides there is a requirement for the caring, loving roles of mothers.

There is the mother energy in every human. It’s in you and it’s in me. And it’s in every human and I would say, every animal too.

So, let’s ask ourselves, who are our mothers? Was it your birth mother, a stepmother, your mother in law, maybe some other relative or friends? Where their teachers in your life that helped to fill a void that may have been there? There were for me, fortunately.

How about yourself?

Have you’ Mothered’ yourself through the years? How about recently? We all need that energy from time to time, especially now.

Remember, wherever the feminine principle resides, the “Mother” in us resides.

I ask you to really look at this question today and this week. Where do you see, and better, “feel” the feminine energy? It is a healing energy that is strongly needed today and all days.

Be the Church May 3

Be the Church

Be the church. That is what I am asking you to do. Do you have any idea what that means?

I think you do, if you thought about it for a moment or two.

Don’t take this too literally. I still wish to see you Sunday mornings when we get to do that. But there is more to being a Unitic than attending Service at the Center.

Did you know that the word “church” is translated from the Greek term meaning “assembly,” “congregation,” or “meeting?”

In the New Testament, the word is confined strictly to refer to the congregation of believers in Jesus the Christ.
It is worth mentioning that in the New Testament, no synagogue, temple, chapel, tabernacle, building or any other meeting place was ever called a “church.”

The term always referred to the Christian assembly and it was used for both the local community of believers and the overall collection of followers of Jesus the Christ.

Therefore, the ministerial responsibility of the local church falls upon the members as a whole, you & me. As we all identify our gifts and take on the responsibility of sharing them, the church increases its capacity to bless and to fulfill its mission.

And what is our Mission? Here it is again… We explore spiritual consciousness in a loving, accepting community through teaching and living universal spiritual principles.

Think on that…

Our Vision, Mission & Values are not just words. They are statements of what Unity Spiritual Center stands for, what we present to our community & to ourselves.

We are told again and again in Matthew, of our status on earth:
“You are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13)
“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
“You are…a city set on a hill.” (Matthew 5:14)

You are the church! It’s up to us (you and me, all of us!) to be the mouth, the hands, and the feet of Jesus -of God—to be the church!

What does that mean?

It means community involvement like our outreach projects, our tithing to various local community organizations, our Adopt-a-highway project — just a few ways we are the church. Being of Service to others is one of the reasons we are here.

That’s what God’s family is all about—laughing together, crying together, and dreaming together. In fact, the Bible says that Christians are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, held together, and will be caught up together. There’s a lot of togetherness in God’s family! Being the church means experiencing life together.

And though we are not physically together at this time, we can still be together as we reach out to one another, we connect through FB, phone calls, emails and text messages…and even letters!

Your Board & Prayer Chaplains are contacting you in a variety of ways in an effort to be together….talk to them, laugh with them, maybe even cry with them. We are ALL here as a Community of faith, together.

Here’s another ‘together’:

I had a 6 feet apart dinner of Jersey subs with a couple members one evening at the Center. We caught up and enjoyed a meal, just like the followers of Jesus did…they broke bread together and shared their stories.

If you call yourself a Christian or a Unitic, like me, then you are supposed to be a citizen of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus teaches Kingdom, not building

And where is God’s Kingdom?

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is wherever people proclaim to follow God’s laws. It is in our hearts, and it is in our communities, our homes, everywhere we are.

We Must Live as Family Members

Consequently, there are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19), God’s family.

We all must live as Family Members.

And how do we do that?

By following another Bible phrase that tells us even more about being the church -the phrase – one another:
“Love one another” (John 13:34).
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10).
“Honor one another” (Romans 12:10).
“Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).
“Let us not judge one another” (Romans 14:13).
“Accept one another” (Romans 15:7).
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16).
“Teach one another” (Romans 15:14).
“Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).
“Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).
“Encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
“Offer hospitality to one another” (2 Peter 4:9).
“Love one another” (1 John 3:23, 4:7, 4:11 and so many more).

In other words, Be God as you.

This is what you would be doing when I ask you at Sunday Service, what are you doing when you walk out that door?

Or in today’s case, what are you doing after you watch & listen to the Sunday Message on FB or the webpage?

I pray you are being safe, because that is being a family member of the Kingdom. You are doing whatever you are able to serve others, because that is being a family member of the Kingdom.

To be the church, all we do is keep our eyes and ears open to the people around us and try to show them love in whatever way we can.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, that God’s presence is not just above and around them but within them. They are the very “Body of Christ” on earth,

The idea of them needing to visit a specific place to have proximity to God was now ludicrous. They were the place. They needed only to go inward.

And that means many things…

You might be talking faith and life with a group of friends in your home.
You might be taking a nap alone on a grassy field by a steam.
You might be with a couple of people, breaking bread and remembering that God’s presence is promised there, and living life with reverence and gratitude.
You might be enjoying a Message and Fellowship at our Center.
All equally sacred. All equally holy. All you being the Church.

Here’s a story, you tell me what your thoughts are after I’ve finished telling you about it:

This is a firsthand account from a young man who grew up in Nazi Germany. He considered himself a Christian and was a part of a small church that gathered every Sunday to worship together.

The church had heard rumors about what was happening to the Jewish people. But they mostly tried to ignore the stories; they felt so powerless to stop the Nazi machine.

This church had been built a little too close to the train tracks. And lately, the trains had been running a lot. But the problem wasn’t the train; it was the cargo.

In this little church building, the German Christians could hear the sound of Jewish people on those trains. They could hear the train whistle as it would begin to approach, immediately followed by men and women screaming for help as they went barreling toward a Nazi death camp.

These church people had hearts, so the screams tormented them. They knew they had to do something, but they believed nothing they could do would make a difference.

So over time, they learned the schedule of the train, and they planned to start singing hymns to keep from hearing the loud cries from the doomed people rushing right past their walls.

Well, your thoughts…

Why am I telling you this story? Anyone have a thought?

I wish we were together to hear them, but you can always let me know.

Unfortunately, there are people calling themselves Christians and even, Unitics, who are like those German Christians. They attend Service but ignore the suffering of the world and try to escape from God’s call for us to participate in it.

This is not a new problem. The people of God throughout the centuries have been trying to pull this one off. It’s easy for us to start thinking that if we just perform the right ceremonies or do the correct rituals, God won’t expect more of us.

But from Moses to the Prophets to Jesus, God has been adamant that part of what it means to be Her people has a lot to do with engaging the world outside of whatever walls we find ourselves in.

Today, we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic…the world is experiencing the very same thing we are…maybe not in the same way, and the whole world has a chance to make a difference.

Instead of escaping by leaving the church pews, or making excuses to not attend, not engage -to hid behind Netflix, or the drink of choice, our jobs, the internet—anything to avoid hearing the cries of the people in need, we can step into being the church.

We can reach out to our Unity Community for a start. We all need that virtual hug that we are missing every week. Make it a point to reach out to someone every week…more then one would be even better!

Is there someone where you live that you could make sure they are ok, doing it safely, of course.
Are you able to volunteer? Can you aid the food bank? They are sorely in need of help as they help others.
What else is there? There’s you?

What are you doing for you? Are you being safe? Are you taking care of yourself physically? DO you make time for your spiritual self as well as physical? Do you take care of your emotional side? How, by reaching out when you need to…we are not meant to be an island. Remember all those together statements from the New Testament? You are not alone…Spiritually or emotionally. And soon, physically.

Now, we can interchange the word for church with Center.

The Center isn’t the only place to meet God, but at her best, the Center is where we learn how to meet God everywhere else. The Center is where we learn how to offer our lives for the common good and for God.