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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Prince of Peace

Happy New Year! While there is nothing magical about turning the page of a calendar from December 2015 to January 2016, the beginning of each New Year holds the promise and potential for a new beginning. It is up to us to take advantage of this opportunity by making new choices moment by moment. When we set a clear intention to make positive changes in our lives powerful and surprising demonstrations can, and often do occur.

In my Sunday lesson on October 18 (listen here) I shared that while we are not in control of everything that happens in our lives, we are in authority over it. Our authority lies in our freedom and ability to choose our thoughts, thus shift our perspective and determine how we will respond.

We claim our authority first by becoming consciously aware of our mental activity, which includes our thoughts and feelings. Only by becoming consciously aware of them can we choose something different. As long as we allow them to remain unconscious, we give them power to determine our experience by default.

It is vitally important that we understand the power of the mind (thoughts and feeling) to determine how we experience life, and to realize the power that we have to affect it. We are not in control of everything that happens, but we are in control of what we think. I encourage us to claim our authority and begin 2016 with a renewed commitment to own the power within us to determine our present and our future.

As I was reviewing files on my computer this week, I rediscovered a story I wrote several years ago as a final project for a class. It speaks directly to the authority each of us has to determine our life experience and to remember our truth.  I hope you enjoy it.

The Land of Peace©

I invite you to come with me to a place that is beyond what we know as space and time. It truly is no place at all and exists only as the Eternal Now. Come with me to this mystical realm where abundance abounds and there is no thought of lack. Here, everyone has enough to eat, and no one takes more than is needed to sustain them. Everyone has a home, and not one more elaborate than the other. Each one is clothed and warm. The land is revered. All living things are honored for the expression of life that they are. Creativity is celebrated, but there are no celebrities. There are no laws here, except the one Law of Love.

This is not a realm that is ruled by a king or a queen, yet each of its citizens is a prince or a princess. And, like any prince or princess, each one inherits all the abundant riches of realm as a birthright to use in any way they choose. Each is heir to all the wonders he or she can behold. From birth, everyone is encouraged to know that he or she is born into a royal heritage and possess all the knowledge to choose his or her own path in each and every moment of each and every day. All who abide here know that they have the power to command of this realm anything they desire, because, after all, they are all princes and princesses. They are not told what to do or not to do, what is right and wrong, good or bad. In this realm, everyone lives from his or her own guidance and inspiration. No one struggles to be or to do anything other than what they are called to do in the moment. There is nowhere to go or nowhere to be, other than here. 

You may be asking, “So, where is this place that is no place?  What is this magical realm beyond time?”

It is an oft forgotten, yet ever present realm known simply to all who live there as Peace. 

In this land, there once lived a young man, himself a Prince of Peace, who was a born explorer. Always curious, he questioned everything. He was always asking his mother or father, “Who? What? Why? When? To which they would always reply, “You have the answer. You only need listen to your own wisdom.”

To which he would always reply, “But, I want to know now!”

One day as he was sitting beneath the shade of an ancient live oak tree, his treasured spot to sit and ponder, he had a thought, “I wonder if there is something beyond this land of Peace, some other realm different, unique, and exciting – just waiting for me to discover it.” As was his practice, he immediately ran to ask his parents. Who, much to his dismay, said to him, “You have the answer. You only need listen to your own wisdom.”

 To which he replied, “But, I want to know now!”

So off he went asking others in the realm if they knew. No one claimed to have any personal knowledge of such a place. There were some who said they had heard rumors of a far away realm, but as far as anyone knew no one had ever left the serenity of Peace. Not one person could tell the young prince anything that would satisfy his curiosity. Everyone he asked said virtually the same thing, yet no one discounted the possibility that there might be another realm, for in Peace, all potentiality exists. They were all content to abide in Peace and enjoy the comfort and prosperity of the realm. Although they provided no useful information, no one tried to convince the young prince of Peace not to explore, for in Peace each one is supportive of the other’s unique expression. Even though no one in Peace shared his curiosity, because the prince had always been encouraged to trust himself and follow his own guidance, he could not discount his thought that such a place must exist. 

Knowing as he did that all possibility exists in the field of pure potential, he decided that he was going to venture out and indeed discover if there was another realm beyond his home land. As he pondered the possibility, he realized that he had no means of travel, after all no one in Peace had ever left, so of course no one had need of transportation. Being a Prince of Peace, he did not let this stand in his way. As he had heard many times from his parents, he knew that the solution would arise from his innate creativity and inspiration as he allowed it. 

So, one day as he once again sat in quiet reflection beneath the ancient live oak, an idea came. He leapt up in excitement and immediately began to sketch the vision that he had received. Once the plan was firmly envisioned and set down on paper, he began the process of constructing his transport vehicle, which he called the Modular Inter-Dimensional Navigational Device or M.I.N.D. for short. It was revealed to him in his vision that with this device he would be able to travel anywhere with just a thought. Of course the manifestation of the device progressed without delay or interference because in Peace there is nothing that impedes the fulfillment of an inspired vision.

When the device was finished, he ran through the realm announcing to his friends and family that he was leaving on a new venture. They all cheered and wished him well without any thought of concern, because in the land of Peace there is no judgment. Everyone knows that freedom abounds and all choice is allowed.

So, the young prince entered his M.I.N.D., closed his eyes, and voila – with one thought he was transported. As he opened his eyes and looked around, he was a bit perplexed. He saw the same landscape, the same houses, and the same people. His surroundings appeared to be unchanged. In that moment, he began to doubt himself. He thought, “Oh, I must have done something wrong. I must have misinterpreted the vision. Maybe I’m not smart after all. Maybe I just can’t do it right. Maybe I’m too young to try this anyway.” And, the thoughts continued in a similar spiral.

As he began to observe through his M.I.N.D., he saw that the houses were worn and old and ugly. As he encountered his neighbors and family, he saw that some were skinny, some were fat, some were old, some were white, and some were black. In his M.I.N.D., labels and judgments began to appear where before only acceptance and love had been. While they looked the same, something was different. In that moment, he realized that he was no longer in Peace. 

Never before had it occurred to him that he was different from all others, but in his M.I.N.D. he began to think thoughts of a separate self. People were talking to him, and he heard words that sounded like criticism and blame. For the first time in his life, he saw himself alone and felt lonely.

He felt something odd happening. His body began to ache and feel heavy. His heart raced. His head pounded. He thought “I just want to run away and hide.” These feelings and thoughts were unknown to him; he did not know what to do. He ran to get away from them, but no matter how hard or fast he ran, he kept meeting his own thoughts, the thoughts that separated him from all that he encountered. He thought, “What could be happening to me?” “Where am I?” “It all seems so familiar, yet so foreign.”

As he continued to wander around, his body began to get tired and weary from all the discomfort he was experiencing. Navigating in his M.I.N.D. was beginning to feel heavy and weigh him down. In the moment that he was about to collapse, he came upon the tall live oak tree, so he decided to walk over and sit in its shade for a bit. As he rested, he soon fell asleep and began to dream. 

In the dream, he saw a light in the distance. The light intrigued him, and he began to stare at it. As he focused, the light seemed to grow larger and move nearer. Being the curious explorer that he was, he arose and walked toward the light. He wanted to know what it was. As he grew closer he noticed that the light was not just a light, but that it seemed to have form. He experienced no hesitation, only a sense of wonder and awe. As the light became more clearly visible, it began to look familiar. When he was nearly face to face with the light, he stopped. He was amazed to realize that the light looked exactly like him. Surprised by the vision, he asked “Who are you, and why are you here?” 

The light replied, “I am you, my friend, and I am here to remind you of your truth and show you the way home.”

“What do you mean you are me? How can you remind me of my truth?” asked the young prince.

The light replied.

“I am the light that is your true nature. I am that part of you that speaks in the silence whenever you stop to listen. I am always with you to remind of who you really are. You see, you have been exploring a realm where false evidence appears to be real. It’s called FEAR. In this realm the limiting thoughts you have of another or of yourself seem to be real, but they are just illusions that appear when your M.I.N.D. takes you to FEAR. Because the light does not shine as brightly there, FEAR is often a dark, dreary place. It’s difficult to see clearly, so things appear to be what they are not. The heaviness you felt also happens in FEAR. It is how the body reacts to the atmosphere. When you are in this heavy, dark place, it can be difficult, if not impossible to remember that you are a prince of Peace. If you stay there long enough, it can become challenging to find your way back home. There are some who have been there so long that Peace seems to be only a distant dream.”

“You created this device you call your M.I.N.D. so that you can explore other realms. You created it so well that every thought takes you precisely where you choose to go. It is indeed an amazing creation and very powerful. It can be used for wondrous things if you do not allow it to become heavy and burdensome. Always remember that you created it, and it is yours to use. Remember, too, that it does not have to be used to take you from Peace; it can be used in Peace as well. I am here to remind you that you had the power to choose the thoughts you think in your M.I.N.D. and to control where it takes you. It is entirely up to you.”

With that, the light was gone and the young prince awoke. 

When he awoke the prince remembered the dream vividly. He immediately closed his eyes, and thought of his family and friends and all the love that surrounds him in Peace. Then he shook his head, and when he opened his eyes, he instantly began to feel lighter. As he looked around, he was aware of the same trees, the same houses, the same people, yet something was different yet again. Now, instead of old, ugly, fat, thin, white or black, he saw only the beauty and the perfection of everything, and he felt warm and safe and joyous. He thought of what the light had told him in his dream and realized that his light was now shining so brightly that he was able to see everything in its true nature. That’s when he realized that he was back in Peace.

He ran home as fast as he could and began telling his parents all about his adventure. They celebrated with him for a time, and when the excitement subsided, his mother asked him, “Would you be willing to share with me the wisdom that came to you through this wondrous time of exploration?”

The young prince stopped for a moment in wonder.  He was delighted that he was being asked to share his wisdom, and was pleased to be able to give his mother this gift.

After a few moments of contemplation he said, “Well Mother, I have learned that you and Father were right, I do indeed have the power to go anywhere and do anything I choose. I can even choose to explore the realm of FEAR for a time if that’s what I want to do, but I also learned that FEAR can be a pretty scary place. Most importantly, I learned that even if I visit FEAR, I know that I can return home to Peace with just one thought.”

As he was about to run out the door to join his playmates, he turned to his Mother and said, “If you really want to go there, I’m pretty sure your light will show up to remind you how to get home. In case you forget, just remember to listen. Remember who you are. We all have that choice.”

And with that, the prince of Peace was off on yet another exciting adventure.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christ is Born

As we celebrate Christmas we honor Jesus being born in human form while simultaneously coming into the world as the Christ, a full and complete expression of the Divine.  We revel in the realization that through Jesus, as through each of us, the full potential of the Creative Life Force (God) poured itself forward into creation in order that it might be revealed.  To put it simply, in all its complexity, (God) is revealed to itself, as itself, as the Christ in humankind.  Jesus exampled this by awakening from attachment to the human conditioned consciousness, realizing his Oneness with God, whom he referred to as the ‘Father’ and living from the awakened Christ consciousness. He courageously exclaimed, “I and Father are one.” (John 10:30)

The same potential to accept and realize our Oneness is inherent in each of us as we willingly surrender to it.  In fact, it is only due to our belief in separation that we can ever see a distinction between ourselves, Jesus and God, the Creative Life Force that is constantly and consistency living itself in us, through us, as us.  As St. Paul says, “In [God] we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28 NIV)  God is pouring itself into the world every moment of every day as you and me.  It is ours to choose to awaken to that Truth, realize our Oneness, and live from that Consciousness.

One of the foundational Scriptures of Christianity is John 3:16 & 17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (NIV)  This Scripture has traditionally been interpreted to mean that God sent Jesus to atone for the sins of the world by sacrificing him on the cross.  Further, that if one believes that Jesus was God’s only son, then he or she will be saved from what would otherwise be an eternity in hell.
In his book, Discover the Power within You, Unity minister and author Eric Butterworth said,

“This scripture has been cited by many Christian preachers as positive proof of the divinity of Jesus, and his special dispensation as the Son of God. However, this takes on new meaning when we see it through the perception of Meister Eckhart, one of the great mystics of the Middle Ages. He says that God never begot but one Son, but the Eternal is forever begetting the only begotten.”

Unlike traditional Christianity, we in Unity do not view Jesus as the only son of God sent into the world to redeem it, but rather as one whose life may serve as an example for the potential within each of us to recognize, realize and reveal our Oneness.  Jesus was a human being who experienced the conditioning of family, religion and society; similar to what each of us is subjected to, yet through a process of awakening he recognized, realized and revealed his Christ potential and his Oneness with God.  The same potential and possibility is inherent in each of us.
Interpreted from a metaphysical perspective, John 3:16 & 17 might read something like,

God, the Creative Life Force, loved itself into creation as the Christ and gave itself to all, as all, so that whoever exercises the power of Faith (consciousness centered in God) will know that God is eternally living and giving itself to the world and will realize their oneness with it.  God did not love itself into the world to condemn it, but so that the world could save itself through its own recognition, realization, and revelation of Christ expressing. 

From the realization of Oneness, we might even say,

I, being one with God, am giving my Self through Love to the world so that the world can be redeemed as I show the way and model a life lived from the conscious awareness of Christ as the only Truth of all creation.

Through our realization and revelation the world is redeemed, or to use the traditional Christian word “saved.”  The world is saved through each one of us awakening to the glory of the Divine that he or she is.  And, as we awaken, we assist others in awakening as well.  Christ redeems the world through the world’s conscious recognition and realization of itself as the Christ.  And, as Christ is recognized and realized, anywhere in any moment, it is revealed as all creation.
Redemption, or salvation, happens in the instant that we are willing to let go of the idea that we are separate from the Creative Life Force (God) and surrender to and realize our Oneness.  Then, from the consciousness of realization, Christ is revealed as we choose to know it for ourselves and for the world.

Christ was born not only through Jesus, but Christ is born every moment that we are willing to surrender and allow God to have its full, undiluted, unencumbered expression in us, through us, as us.  The Christ is born in you today.  Allow Christ to be born and revealed as you today.

Let us affirm together, “I know myself as the Christ. I give all of my Self, the Christ of my being, in every moment so that the world might awaken to the Divine expression of Christ that it is.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Presence

J and I just returned from a visit to Texas where we attended and celebrated his eldest son, Yale’s, college graduation. We enjoyed spending time with family and seeing friends. I also had the honor of speaking and singing at Unity of Dallas this past Sunday.

J’s mother, Virgie, who is an 88-year old lifelong Baptist made the drive down from her home in Oklahoma to join in the family celebration. Saturday, on the drive from the graduation ceremony back to J’s brother’s house, Virgie asked me what I was going to speak about the next day. Although I felt a twinge of apprehension, I told her that the title of my talk was “The Reason for the Season.” I was sure I knew what the follow up question would be. I was not wrong. She then asked, “What is the reason for the season?”

If you read my post from November 25, you might understand my hesitance in discussing with her the content of my talk. Even though she has heard me speak many times and has always complemented me on my lessons, I was reluctant to have an in-depth conversation with her about what I believe to be the reason for the season. I had the idea that she and I would not exactly see eye-to-eye, and I didn’t want to risk disrupting the joy of the weekend. So, I jokingly replied, “Presents, of course. Presents are the reason for the season.” She laughed and we shared a few exchanges about the joys of giving and receiving gifts, as well as our thoughts on the commercialism of Christmas.

Later, as I reflected on my comment, I realized that while I made it in jest and from care and concern for our relationship, that there is actually a depth of truth in it. I don’t mean to imply that I believe that presents are the reason for the season. However, I do believe “Presence is the reason for the season” is a statement of truth.

In my book, In This Moment – Prayers from the Well of Awareness, I use the word ‘Presence’ as a descriptor for that which we might otherwise call God, Universe, One Mind, to name a few. I chose to use ‘Presence’ in my attempt to alleviate some of the resistance many have about the word ‘God.’ In the book I say:

“I use the word Presence to give name to that which is before and beyond thought, thus beyond definition. I cannot attempt to provide even the most rudimentary conceptualized image of Presence, since it is the absolute absence of all form – and yet all form is its life. It is the All as all, yet is no thing that can be quantified. Presence simply is. Presence is the essential – the essence of Being.”

Unity principles teach that there is only One Power and One Presence and that we are that Power and Presence in expression.  This Presence in expression is also what we in Unity call the Christ or the I Am. Christmas is the honoring the Light – Christ – that enlightens everyone coming into manifestation through the one we know as Jesus Christ¹. It is also a celebration of the conscious awareness of the Light of Christ being born in and as each of us.

Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore said,

“The true light (the Christ or Word) that lights every man coming into the world is and ever has been in man...Up to a certain stage in his unfolding man does not recognize this truth; now however, this mystery, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” is being revealed to the race with more and more clarity and with greatly increased power.²”

While is it fun to give and receive them, presents are not the reason for the season. Presence is the reason for the season. The greatest present we can give ourselves is the gift of the conscious awareness of Presence expressing in us, through us and as us.

I share the following prayer from my book as an affirmation you may want to use as you embrace the season.

Presence is living Itself in, through and as me this moment.
I am here as a unique expression of Presence.
In this moment, I choose to release attachment to any thought, idea, concept, or feeling that would keep me from complete acceptance and realization of this truth.
As I release, I open myself to become all that Presence is – I Am – in this moment.
I accept my birthright and all it holds for me. And, so it is.

The next time someone asks you, “What is the reason for the season?” you can with complete assurance say, “Presence, of course” and allow them to draw their own conclusions. 

Please join us on Sunday at our 10:00 service as we come together to celebrate the Power of Presence and Rejoice in the Magic of the Season.

I also encourage you to join us on Christmas Eve for either the 5:00 or 7:00 service. Both services will be filled with story and song as we celebrate a Magical Mystical Christmas.

¹ John 1:9
² Mysteries of John

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Magic

It’s that time of year again, time to embrace the childlike wonder of the season. If you haven’t already, it’s time to write Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas. 

When I was a kid, every afternoon after school I watched a children’s television program called the Trooper Terry Show.  Trooper Terry always had special games and lessons for children.  He was the local version of Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers, and a hero for me and my peers.   During the Christmas season, Trooper Terry had a remote feed; of course I didn’t know it was called that at the time, from the North Pole.  I guess the reception was not very good in Augusta, Georgia all the way from Santa’s castle because the picture was often a bit “snowy.” 

At the appointed time during the program, Trooper Terry would put his finger beside his nose and instruct us all to do the same.  We would all nod our heads, and then, magically, Santa Claus appeared on the television screen.   He would talk to us, and then read a few of the letters he received from the children in our town.   For me and my friends it was one of the most highly anticipated television events of the season.  Of course, every year I wrote my letter and addressed it to Santa in care of Channel 6, the local television station.  And, he always received my letter.  I don’t recall that he ever read mine on the show, but I always knew that he got it.   How else would he have known what to bring me?

Every Christmas Eve, I would lovingly prepare a plate of fruitcake, not cookies (my mother made fruitcake every year) and pour a glass of milk to leave for Santa.  And, every Christmas morning I would awaken before sunrise to discover that he had eaten the fruitcake.  He had also drank the milk and left me all sorts of wonderful toys.  I never really understood how he managed to get to all the houses in the world on one night, or how he could possibly eat all the goodies that so many children left out for him, and it never mattered how: it only mattered that I believed.  It was a magical time of year.


As I grew older and heard stories about the real identity of Santa Claus, I felt disappointed and sad.  I wondered how my parents and so many other adults could lie to their children and convince them to believe in someone who is not real.  It seemed like a cruel hoax.  I accepted the fact that I had been duped and stopped writing my letters.  I no longer believed.  I lost the magic of Christmas.

Years later, as I began to truly question why the myth of Santa Claus has endured, I discovered a deeper truth about him.  He is the archetype of the spirit of Christmas.  The depiction of Santa Claus as the jolly old elf in a bright red, fur-trimmed suit sprang from the imagination of writers and artists, but this image represents some of the best qualities inherent in each of us - generosity, prosperity, giving and joy.  Santa is the personification of these qualities of our Divine Nature.  He has endured in our hearts and minds because he reminds us of who we truly are.  Santa Claus gives us the opportunity, even if only for a few weeks, days or hours each year, to behold aspects of our true selves.

Today, I believe.  I believe that Santa Claus is each and every one of us.  I believe that we can choose to allow his images to remind us of the magic we all possess.  I believe that we can embrace the spirit of Christmas and share joy, give love, and extend kindness to people everywhere, not just during this season, but 365 days a year. 

It has been years since I wrote a letter to Santa, but I am going to do it this year.  My letter will be a bit different from the ones I wrote as a child.  I will not ask for toys, or a bike, not even a new puppy.  In my letter this year, I will ask Santa to bring food, clothing, and shelter to all people everywhere.  I will ask him to bring love to every home.  I will ask him to bring peace to the hearts of all humankind, thereby bringing peace to the world. 

Now that I know who Santa Claus really is; now that I know that he lives in the hearts and minds of each of us, I trust that he will receive my letter, and I believe that he will deliver everything I ask for. 

I pray that you will join me.  Let’s embrace the true spirit of Christmas and do our part to bring the magic of the season to the lives of people everywhere.

Wishing you a magical Christmas season,

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Our theme for the Advent season this year at Unity Spiritual Center Denver is “A Season of Wonder.” In keeping with the theme, I sat last night wondering, “What in the world am I going to write about this week?” And, “What on earth am I going to talk about this Sunday?” Even though the title of my lesson for Sunday is “Embrace the Mystery,” I am usually quite uncomfortable sitting with and embracing those two mysteries.

As I was able to quiet my mind a bit and relax into meditation last night, I was comforted by the gentle reminder that I do not have to figure it out. All the worry and struggle over trying to think of something to write about and speak on is the ego’s way of keeping me caught up in the idea of an “I” that is separate. And, that always stimulates fear. When we are in fear, there is no clarity because there is no conscious connection with Spirit. 

Once I was able to get past my initial angst and relax into a quite space of meditation and contemplation the following Scripture came to me –
“Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who ask receives, everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks the door is opened.” – Matthew 7: 7-8
My wondering then became, “I wonder what in the world that has to do with Advent and Christmas? Maybe I tuned into the wrong channel.”

However, as I sat with it longer, I was reminded of my post from last week. In Unity we honor Jesus as a teacher, an elder brother and our way-shower. We celebrate the birth of this enlightened master at Christmas. In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount which many, including famed author and teacher Emmet Fox, believe to be the codification of Jesus’ teaching, he shared a deep and profound truth as he spoke from the Christ consciousness. Those reminders helped me to feel more at ease with using it as a source Scripture for Advent.

This passage can be, and often is, confusing if not confounding when we read it and attempt to understand it from our human perspective. Just imagine, if you will, the people who were sitting on a hillside listening to Jesus that day. They were primarily poor Jews who had been and continued to be under the rule of a foreign power, Rome, and who were often subjected to harsh treatment and abject living conditions. I wonder what they were thinking. I’m sure they had been asking God to deliver them from their oppression, to provide for them and to return them to freedom. Can you imagine how incredulous they must have been upon hearing this man say that it is given to everyone who asks, that those who seek find, and to those who knock the door is opened? Now image those today who are living in poverty, homeless, hungry and oppressed reading or hearing this Scripture. I wonder if they, too, are dubious, wondering how this could possibly be true.

It is often challenging, if not impossible, to understand Jesus’ teachings from our human perspective. We most often want to apply his teaching to the manifest realm. We tend to interpret his teaching in application to our human needs and desires. While Jesus understood and appreciated the importance of our basic human needs, they were not typically his primary focus.

To Jesus, the most important desire was the longing to know Oneness, to attain God consciousness, and to embody the Christ - the potential perfection for mankind. 

When Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive” he was not talking about worldly goods. He was referring to a sincere asking to know God. When one asks with a pure heart and intention, he receives. The asking and receiving are one.

When he said, “Seek and you shall find” he was talking about seeking the Christ within, not the outer searching that we often engage in. When one truly seeks to know himself as the Christ and that is the sole intention of seeking, he finds.

When he said, “Knock and the door will be opened unto you” Jesus was using the metaphor of the “door” to represent anything that we allow to separate us from the conscious awareness of ourselves as the Christ made manifest. When we earnestly “knock” with thoughts and intentions on any “door” that appears to separate us, it is opened. The opening occurs in our own consciousness. When it is opened the one who knocks is greeted by the image of Christ as himself. 

Allowing the Christ to be revealed as the self is the real message of Christmas. Advent is a time of reflection, possibly upon the things we allow to be in the way – the “doors” that separate us from that knowing.

My prayer is that during this season we will allow ourselves to reconnect with our deepest desire, our soul and sole desire – to know ourselves as the Christ revealed. When that is our intention and we ask in our hearts, seek within ourselves, and knock at the door of our perceived limitations, we shall receive. We find and open to the Christ within.

Join us during “A Season of Wonder” as we open to the conscious awareness of the indwelling Christ. Let us come together to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Christmas. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a day we designate to give thanks for all the good we enjoy.  We appreciate and spend time with our friends and families.  We share food, and give thanks for the bounty that we have.  We celebrate the freedom, safety and security we are so blessed to experience in this country.  Traditionally, it is a day of gratitude and appreciation for the myriad ways that God (Good) manifests in our lives. 

I encourage you to feel and express appreciation for all the Good that you enjoy. I suggest, too, that you allow yourself to appreciate all the Good that you are.  Let this Thanksgiving be a celebration, not just for what you have, but also for what you are – a unique and wondrous expression of the Divine.

Feel appreciation for God (Good) expressing as your life, not just in your life, and then from that feeling place give of all the Good that you are.

Unity principles teach that (1) God is Good; (2) You are that Good; (3) You manifest Good by focusing on that Good; (4) You become conscious of that Good through prayer (also appreciation);  and (5) You live that Good by sharing it with the world.

As singer-songwriter, Jana Stanfield, says, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.”  The world needs all the Good (God) that you are.  And, you can only share it when you claim it, appreciate it, and allow it to flow freely as you in all that you do.

Appreciate you.  Experience a feeling of “Thanks” in your heart.  Give to yourself and from your Self to bless the world.

Have a Joy-full Thanks-Giving! 

Blessings, David

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Reason for the Season

This morning as I was enjoying my coffee and paging through Facebook, I came upon a frequent Christmastime post - “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I was triggered. It stimulated within me feelings of frustration and even anger.

So, I sat with my anger and invited awareness, asking “What thoughts are associated with this anger?” And, “What am I valuing that I am telling myself is not being honored?”

When I hear or read “Jesus is the reason for the season” I assume that the one expressing the idea holds to traditional Christian theology, and believes that Jesus was born for one purpose only - to die in order to save humanity from eternal damnation, therefore his birth is worthy of celebration.

This helped me realize I felt anger because I had judgement about the one who posted it. My evaluation of him is that he has a distorted idea of what it means to be a Christian, as well as of Jesus’ teaching, and of the true “reason for the season.” He would probably say the same about me.

I fully accept that I do not know what this person believes. I was projecting all of this onto him. I am aware that in truth, it is all about me and my “stuff.” And, I celebrate that. I love that a Facebook post can stimulate an internal process that brings all of this up for me to explore. I am grateful for the synchronicity of it all. I love it when I get to explore my “hot buttons.” I want to share with you the totality of what came up for me.

In Unity, we do not believe the sole dogma that Jesus was the one and only son of God sent to redeem the world. So, how can we then say that we are Christian? And, why in the world do we celebrate Christmas anyway?

We celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. But our celebration is not because he was sent as God’s sacrificial lamb to be slain as atonement for the sins of humanity. In Unity, we teach that Jesus was a man who embodied the ultimate Christ potential, and he instructed his followers how to do the same. Additionally, we teach and believe that Jesus taught the Christ is not one unique person, but the spiritual essence of every person. Jesus awakened to this Ultimate Reality and lived it. He realized his Oneness with God, and lived and taught completely from that consciousness – the Christ consciousness.

We consider ourselves Christian, not because we subscribe to the doctrine that professing a belief in Jesus Christ as the one and only son of God sent to be the savior of the world defines one as a Christian. A Christian, by our definition, is one who is a practitioner of the Christ consciousness. The suffix “ian” in the English language is an agentive ending – a linguistic form indicating an agent or doer.  When “ian” is added to the end of a word it is meant to be a descriptive of one who does or practices the thing it describes, for example, a librarian is one who practices library science and a magician is one who does magic.  It would follow then that a Christian is one who practices Christ.  Even though the term “Christian” was not used until after Jesus’ death to refer to his followers – those who created a religion about him – Jesus was the Christian. His followers desired to epitomize his example.

We celebrate Jesus as a master, the ultimate wayshower. He was able to perform what others saw as miracles, demonstrating over the elements through mastery of the spiritual and universal laws. He was acting as Spirit upon spirit and substance in order to shape and control matter. That is how he was able to affect healing in the bodies of others. That is how he was able to multiply the loaves and fishes. That is how he was able to walk on water. That is how he was able to resurrect the body and appear to his followers after having been crucified and in the tomb for three days. They were not miracles in the sense that they occurred outside of spiritual and universal laws, they were the results of masterful application of spiritual and universal laws.

Jesus never sought to start a religion. He never asked to be worshipped. He did not claim to have any special powers or dispensation from God that was not also available to everyone. Time and again, He said things such as, “It is not I but the Father within that does the work” (John 14:10). He also gave us the assurance that those who follow his example and embody the Christ “will do even greater works” than he did. (John 14:12)

We honor Jesus as a teacher, a rabbi, who was doing his best to instruct those who followed him (especially the twelve) how to have a personal and profound relationship with the Creator, God, Father, whom he called “Abba.”

One of my favorite Bible stories of Jesus’ teaching is from Luke 10:38-42. Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha, sisters of his friend, Lazarus. While Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him talk and teach, and absorbing his countenance, Martha is busy in the kitchen preparing the meal. When Martha asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her, Jesus lovingly replies that Mary has chosen the better path. Metaphysically, Martha represents “doing” while Mary represents the heart that is open and receptive to the transmission of the energy that Jesus is attempting to share. The teaching does not mean that Mary was at a higher standing because she literally was worshipping Jesus or sitting at his feet. Metaphorically, it teaches us the value of stopping the busyness of our activities, and spending time in quiet contemplation, reflection and meditation upon the Christ¹ ideal. Mary, probably more than any of the twelve disciples, was open to receive and truly hear what Jesus was here to impart because it is in the heart, which she signifies, that true knowing occurs.

We revere Jesus as a teacher of Oneness. Jesus did not teach separation, but rather inclusion. He did not stand for judgment or hate, but acceptance, forgiveness and love. Yes, he criticized the practices of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Temple Priest of his Jewish faith. He did so because he was distressed as he witnessed a religion and a society that was no longer serving God by helping people to have a transcendent experience of the Divine through worship and ceremony, but instead were serving themselves and the hierocracy of the religious stratum. Based on how he lived and what he taught, I have to think that Jesus would be dismayed by the religion that was created in his name. I can imagine him in this desperation “turning over the tables in the temples” once again to call attention to the hypocrisy of many who consider themselves his followers and call themselves “Christian.”

We celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus – a teacher, a light of truth and grace who was here to impart wisdom, and who desired to initiate his followers in the way of what we have come to know as the ‘Christ.’ We aspire to learn his teachings and follow his example.

Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season. His birth is reason to celebrate because of the consciousness he embodied, the truth he taught, and the life he exampled.

Join us Sunday as we begin our series entitled, A Season of Wonder. We will open ourselves to the wonder of the Christmas season as we explore it from mystical and metaphysical perspectives.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrate Our Humanity

When I was a child, Thanksgiving, even more so than Christmas, was a time for gathering with family, both immediate and extended. It was a time to acknowledge and celebrate the bond we shared. From my adult perspective I know that it was not the romanticized Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving family, but from my perspective at the time that is exactly what it was.  And even today, I choose to remember it that way. I realize that not everyone has such childhood memories. I am grateful that I remember it as I do. It is a warm memory of love, nurture and safety. 

It has been many years since I have been with my family of birth on Thanksgiving. I have blamed time and distance, but in truth I know that I could have easily made the choice to travel to Georgia many times over the years, especially during the holidays: I simply made other choices. I made those choices because as I grew older the childhood Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving image I cherished faded and was replaced with a grainy Polaroid depicting dysfunction and loneliness. Until recently, I have chosen to distance myself from my family because I have judged them. I have blamed them. I have labeled them. I have instilled in my mind a picture of each of them, and I have related to them as who I believed them to be.

I say “until recently” because I have experienced an epiphany. It may, at best, seem odd that I am just now realizing this truth, but I have recently recognized that my family members are not static images any more than I am. I acknowledge and celebrate that I have changed and grown. Why would I think that they haven’t?

Not one of us is the same person he or she was – even five minutes ago. Likewise, neither are our spouses, partners, friends, co-workers, children, parents or others - no matter what labels we choose to put on them. When we label ourselves or others, we assign a fixed identity to one who in reality is a vibrant and ever-changing being through which the One Life is expressing. We are constantly evolving beings, expressing from new perspectives, and encountering new thoughts and emotions moment by moment. When we label, we limit.  We relate and interact around that label only. But we are not labels. We are not even the roles we play. We are fully alive as thinking, feeling and connecting beings, constantly changing. It is vital to our well-being that we acknowledge this – for others and for ourselves. It is important that we honor this aspect of our humanity because the Divine is expressing and experiencing itself as our humanity. When we label or deny our humanity, we deprive ourselves and the world of an integral aspect of Life itself.

I recently began reading, The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be, by Mark Nepo. The “endless practice,” referred to in the title is the practice of being fully engaged in experiencing our humanity. He says,

“To bring who we are out and to let the world in is a brave and endless practice that clarifies and solidifies the gifts we are born with. There is no arrival point or destination here, only the chance to be more alive as we move closer to the Mystery…The ever-changing practice of being human involves learning how to strengthen our heart by exercising it in the world through caring, building, holding and repairing.”

We honor our humanity by engaging in a relationship with ourselves, not as static beings, but as fully alive, fluid, ecstatic and sensuous human beings. We engage with ourselves in order that we may engage with life, including the life that is being expressed as every other person we encounter as well as every animal, plant and other life form. Before we can connect with another where they are, we must be willing to connect with ourselves where we are. And, we must be willing to stand with authenticity and integrity to speak our truth, whatever that truth happens to be in the moment, knowing that it is fluid. We must be willing to acknowledge and celebrate ourselves – what we need and what we feel – before we can enter into a meaningful relationship with another. Until we are available to and for ourselves, we will not be able to truly be present with another and what they think, feel and need. 

As we observe the tradition of Thanksgiving this year, whether it is with our birth family, our spiritual family, or family of choice, my prayer is that we take time to center ourselves in the awareness of the Life that is expressing as our humanity. May we see the perfection present in it, honor our feelings and needs, and celebrate them. My hope is that each of us enters into an intimate relationship with ourselves, and then becomes willing to enter into a consciously connected relationship with others, letting go of any preconceived ideas or static images of who they are and, instead, opening to their humanity. Listen to the hopes and dreams, desires and disappointments, fear and love being expressed behind the words. Listen with the heart and hear what is not being said. Listen for the humanity beneath the label. Honor humanity connecting with humanity, and know that it is, in truth, the Divine reflecting itself through the human form.

I hope you will join us on Sunday as we come together for a time of connecting with each other as a spiritual family. We will celebrate our humanity with a meal of thanks-giving after the 10:00 service. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Living a Life that Matters

Monday, I returned home to Denver from a week-long vacation in California. I had anticipated a week of rest, rejuvenation and renewal. I was hoping for a break from my usual routine which often seems to be filled with constant activity, both physical and mental. If I am to be totally honest, more than just a vacation, I was seeking a respite from myself. But, as the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.” That certainly proved to be true.

While I was able to rest, relax and rejuvenate physically in the beautiful surroundings of a friend’s home in San Diego for a few days, and in a private garden apartment in Oakland over the weekend, I was unable to escape from my mental activity and what, at times, seems to be a compulsion for self-reflection and contemplation.

It began at Denver International Airport the day of our departure. As we moved through the security checkpoint line I found myself becoming keenly aware of the other people standing in line waiting their turn. As we passed through security and made our way to the tram that would take us to our terminal, I continued to notice, in a way I had not done before, the crowd of people riding up and down the escalator on their way to an airplane that would take them somewhere or from an airplane that had recently delivered them to Denver.

I wondered, “How many people fly on commercial aircraft on an average day?” Fortunately, with the aid of modern technology, answers to questions such as that are in the palms of our hands. When I arrived at the gate I looked it up on my iPhone. I was amazed to learn that over 8 million people travel by airplane on an average day. That more than 3 billion people fly annual was an even more astounding statistic.

Becoming aware of my fellow human beings at the airport that day triggered a contemplation that continued throughout the week, and on which I am still ruminating.

I wondered about their lives. Where had they been? Where are they going? What is going on in their lives? What are they concerned about? What do they care about? What really matters to them? I realize that the answers to those questions are as diverse as the people themselves.

My awareness continued as we arrived in San Diego, picked up our rental car and ventured out into rush hour traffic. Again, I was acutely aware of the people, this time in cars going to and from places I have never been and have no knowledge of.

I was curious. What must their lives be like? How different are their lives from mine? What really matters to them?

I wondered, if they, like me, often don’t notice others around them because they get so caught up in their own daily mental and physical activities. Are we so focused on just making it through another day that we don’t take time to consider each other?

This brought me to a deeper question, “Does most of what we do on a daily basis really matter?” More specifically, I wondered, “Does what I do on a daily basis really matter?

I realized more intensely than ever before the infinitesimal part each of us plays in the whole of humanity. I wondered whether there is any real significance to my minuscule part in it all. And, if so, what?

Ultimately, I questioned, “Does one life, specifically my life, really matter?”

This led me to question whether it is important to me for my life to matter. I wondered if I am on some Ego trip. Do I want people to notice me? Do I want to be special? Do I want to leave a legacy? Do I want my life to matter so that people will admire and honor me? I have pondered those questions and come to the conclusion that, no, that’s not really it.

I wondered if my question was more about whether I am making a meaningful contribution to others or to humanity in general, and whether that is really what matters to me. Do I want what I do and who I am to matter to others because I contribute to their lives? Well, yes, I want to contribute to others in ways that are meaningful to them. Yet, that still did not capture the essence of my questioning.

After considerable contemplation and consternation, I think I have arrived at the crux of the matter. Rather than, “Does my life matter?” the question became, “What matters to me, and am I serving it to the best of my ability?” When I landed there it felt like a truer and more honest question. I felt some relief and an inner knowing that if I can connect with what truly matters to me and do my best to serve it, I will live a life that matters.

I do believe that what matters to each of us is ultimately what matters. Further, if we are living our lives in service to what truly matters to us in ways that are compassionate and loving to others and ourselves, we are contributing to the overall well-being of the whole.

Additionally, I recognized that what matters to us is informed by many things, including our unique expression of God/Creative Life Force/Source, which some refer to as our ‘soul,’ also by our life experiences, as well as by situations and circumstances in the world that touch us and open our hearts. Also, what matters to us is not static. It is fluid and changes as we grow and change.

Over the course of the past days, I have recognized more powerfully than ever before that in the great journey of humanity I am but one traveler among billions, and that we are companions on the path, co-creating this experience we call life. It may appear that we are doing it independently; yet, we are inextricably connected to the whole. Further, everything we do matters in some way.

I encourage us to recognize that every life matters. Every thought matters. Every word matters. Every action matters.  My hope and prayer is that we all connect deeply with what matters to us, and do our best to allow every step we take to be in service to it while honoring and valuing each other along the way.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 as we explore “Living a Life that Matters.”