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Thursday, April 27, 2017

What's Next?

This morning in our weekly staff meeting during our regular check-in time Jackie Bullen, our Youth & Family Ministry co-director, shared that she is living in the space of “what’s next?” I can easily relate to that in many ways, not the least of which is what’s next after Easter. Following the energy and excitement of Easter, I find myself living in the question “What’s Next?”

As I contemplated that, I was reminded of the following quote about Christmas by theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

In light of that, I pondered, “What is the work of Easter?”

When the cross is bare,
when the stone has been rolled away,
when new life is awakened in resurrection,
when the True Light is revealed as the Self,
The work of Easter begins:
to know yourself as the risen Christ,
to embody the Light as your own,
to bring the Light to the darkness,
to share Light with every thought, word and action,
to boldly be the Light of the world.

While it may appear so, Easter is not the end. Easter is a new beginning. Easter is the celebration of freedom from the tomb. Using the caterpillar/butterfly analogy, it is breaking free from the chrysalis in which a metamorphosis has occurred. Easter is the celebration of releasing the former way of being, and awakening to and resurrecting as a new creature. As Paul said, when you awaken to your True Nature, your Christ Nature, you become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). That is what Easter is about.
If Easter is to have any meaning in our lives today, we must be willing to allow the awareness of the Christ to rise to the forefront of our consciousness and raise us up into a new understanding of who we truly are. We must embrace the work of Easter, and ask ourselves, "What's Next?"

We must begin the work of aligning our hearts, minds and bodies in the higher vibrational energy of the Christ. We must truly be the embodiment of the Christ in the world. We can do that through the spiritual practices of prayer and meditation.

Meditate on the Christ. Invite the Christ to come into your mind and fill your mind with Light. Invite the Christ energy to come alive in every cell of your body. Imagine that your heart is pumping Christ Light throughout your body with every pulse.

We must be willing to surrender every thought of lack, limitation, and judgment of self and others to the Light of the Christ so that it may be transmuted. We must set a clear intention to be the Christ in the world. We begin by bringing the Light to the darkness of our own thoughts and feelings, allowing the Light to reveal the truth. We must maintain present awareness of our thoughts so that we can transform our thinking when it is not of Truth. We must become the masters of our own thinking.

We must be the bearers of Light in the world that dwells in the darkness of perceived separation and fear. We must be willing to behold the Light even in the midst of what we perceive as the manifestations of darkness in the world. It is incumbent upon us to perceive the Light so that we can lift the vibration of situations that seem to embody darkness. In doing that, we help to fulfill the work of Easter as the indwelling Christ, seeing all from that risen perspective.

We must, through every thought, word and action be the Light of the World. We can no longer contribute to the darkness of the world by thinking, speaking and acting in ways that are not in alignment with the Christ of our being. We must surrender our former ways to embrace the new.

We must proclaim boldly and emphatically, as did our teacher Jesus Christ, “I have come to bear witness to the Truth.” The risen Christ within us, as us, is the Truth to which we are to bear witness. We do that through speaking Truth, thinking Truth, and embodying Truth through actions of love, compassion, kindness and care toward others and ourselves.

Now that Easter, the event in time and space, is done the work of Easter begins. Every moment is an opportunity for us to be resurrected in a new awareness of the indwelling Christ and to begin anew. Every moment is an opportunity for us to choose to be the Light of world. Every moment is an opportunity for us to embrace the work of Easter, and truly say to the indwelling Christ, “What’s Next?” 

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we explore further what's next for us as we engage in the work of Easter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Honor Your Heart's Desires

It seems that is some circles, including some I “travel” in, there is some confusion around the topic of “desire.” In the Buddhist tradition, the second noble truth is that desire and ignorance are the cause of all suffering. The Christian tradition also seems to teach that one should not desire things, often citing Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not store up treasures on earth…but store up treasures in heaven…”  Books and movies like, The Secret, encourage us to use the law of attraction to manifest our desires. Some denounce that concept as too materialistic. Desire is a natural aspect of our nature, but often we feel guilty for engaging our desires. To better understand the innate drive called “desire”, to learn to honor and respect it, rather than attempt to avoid it, lets explore it.

Abraham, through Esther Hicks, teaches that desire is the beginning of all creation.

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity, says, in the book Prosperity, “Desire is the onward impulse of the ever evolving soul. It builds from within outward and carries its fulfillment with it as a necessary corollary.”

Marie Watts, in The Ultimate, says, “Mind is never impoverished. Within Its infinite Self-containment all that It can ever desire eternally exists. Every right desire and the conscious power of fulfillment of that desire are contained with this all-knowing Mind.”

Deepak Chopra says, “We are each multidimensional beings, and the different levels of our being give rise to different desires. At the physical level, our body has certain needs and desires for food, water, comfort, nourishing touch and other essential elements for health and vitality. The subtle or psychological level of our existence, which includes our mind, ego, and intellect, desires emotional security and connection. And the causal or spiritual level wants to express itself and experience oneness, expansion, and unity.”
I offer that true desire is born of Love. It is Love loving Itself, and Love perceiving Itself as the impulse toward manifestation. The fulfillment of desire rests in its complete acceptance and allowing of the one who receives the conscious awareness of it.

At the foundation of all true desire is the expression of Love. God, as Love, loved Itself into being as the only begotten idea for humankind, the Christ. The Christ is the essence of each of us, and as Love in expression, must therefore also be Love. Love cannot create anything unlike Itself for it knows none other.

Encoded in the very essence of us is the desire to realize ourselves as the Christ and to be the Christ in expression as Love. The ways in which we do that are unique to each of us. I have often wondered why there are more than seven billion humans on the planet. The answer must be that it takes each and every one of us to complete Loves calling to bring Love into manifestation. Each of us has a role to play in the unfolding of the desire for Love realized and demonstrated on the earth.

Embedded in the heart of each of us is our unique expression of Love in the world. We can choose in every moment to open to the conscious awareness of it as it calls to us from the depth of being. Within that, love reveals itself to us as our heart’s desire.

As we awaken to Loves call as desire, we are drawn to listen for the still small voice of Love at the heart of our being which speaks to us through many avenues, including inspiration and intuition. Inspiration and intuition are our personal guides to the fulfillment of our hearts desire.

Inspiration is present in every moment and may make itself known to us if we are open to the acceptance and conscious awareness of it. It may manifest through the voice of a friend or trusted guide, in the pages of a book, in the silence of meditation, in times of connection with nature, or even on a billboard as we drive down the street.

Intuition is our connection with the “inner knower” that guides us toward Loves fulfillment. We must allow ourselves to be aware and awake to the life that is present in every moment as we follow our intuition, usually one step at a time.

As we respond to inspiration and follow our intuition, we are guided to what we need.  We often mistakenly think of a “needas something that is lacking, and we frequently feel tension when considering a need. Eric Butterworth, Unity Minister and author, helps us to reframe the concept of a “need” when he states in his book, The Universe is Calling, that “a need is a vessel to be filled.”

When we choose to think of a “need” as a vessel to be filled, we awaken to a different perspective. Rather than viewing “needfrom a consciousness of lack, we can instead think of it as a container that when filled helps to facilitate the fulfillment of desire, thus the expression of Love.

Before the so-called need is met in the physical form, the vessel must first be filled with the divine substance of our consciousness. Substance is not matter. It is not present in physical form. Emilie H. Cady in Lessons in Truth says,

God, then, is the substance (from sub: under and stare: to stand) or the real thing standing under every visible form of life, love, intelligence, power.” 

The vessel called “need” must be filled by the conscious awareness of God (Love). Once the need is filled with divine substance in our consciousness, then the physical manifestation must occur. It is law.

Granted, because the manifestation of our desire usually happens over time, it is often essential for us to practice our power of faith. As Paul said in his letter to the Hebrews, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Even when the evidence has not yet appeared in the physical, through the practice of faith, we know beyond all appearances that as we remain open and willing to follow where Love leads, that every “need” is met because true desire contains the power of its fulfillment. We trust that as we remain true to Loves call, that the need is met in perfect time and in divine order.

Desire is born from the Love expressing in us, through us, as us. It is not, as we sometimes believe, born from the awareness of something lacking. True desire contains its own fulfillment, thus we need not seek it in the external. We must seek it only from within. As Charles Fillmore, the cofounder of Unity, stated, “Desire…builds from within outward and carries its fulfillment with it as a necessary corollary.” 

Desire is the impulse of Love moving as us. Inspiration and intuition guide us to what is needed in every moment. Through the power of faith, every “need” is met. Step by step we are led toward the fulfillment of our heart’s desire.

Honoring the desires of our hearts by listening deeply for the still small voice at the center or our being, acting on our inspirations, following our intuition and exercising our power of faith to bring into manifestation all that is needed to fulfill our desire, we honor the God within us, and we demonstrate Love in the world. As we honor the desire that moves us toward a greater expression and experience of Love, that which we truly are, we bring the consciousness of Heaven to earth.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Be Ye Transformed

When viewed through metaphorical and metaphysical lens, the life of Jesus can serve as a guide, showing us what we may experience as we choose to awaken to the Christ of our being and release ourselves from the suffering of our human conditioning. I am not implying that to awaken we must have the same or even similar dramatic physical experiences, but many of the events portrayed in the Jesus narrative symbolize what we may experience in consciousness as we awaken to and embrace our true nature.

Certainly, we are not required to face a physical crucifixion or experience an actual bodily resurrection to awaken. However, Jesus’ experience does depict a process of death and rebirth that occurs in consciousness when we are willing and ready to truly release and let go of any remaining beliefs about ourselves that are not in alignment with our true nature. We must be willing to “die” to the false self that we have created or have allowed others to create for us, and be reborn as new creatures in our ‘Christed’ awareness.

Unity teaches that the crucifixion and resurrection are symbolic of the process that each of us must walk through to fully embody our Christ nature. Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore said, “The word crucifixion means the crossing out in consciousness of certain errors that have become fixed states of mind.”  Jesus’ physical crucifixion symbolizes the “crossing out” of worldly consciousness. Attachment to the things of the world must be allowed to die away for the Christ consciousness to be fully realized or resurrected. For transformation to occur, that which no longer serves must be allowed to fall away so that the new may be born. Something must die before something new can be resurrected, whether it is a belief, a habit or even a body, when the old is surrendered willingly, new life springs forth.

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here! “(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)  Paul is saying that when we stay focused on our divine nature, Christ, then we no longer give life to the false self; therefore, it dies, and we realize that there is only the Christ expressing as us.

This process is illustrated beautifully in nature as the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The caterpillar spins a chrysalis and literally dissolves in it. It is no longer recognizable; the caterpillar dies to its former self. Then, through a process of regeneration, that which was once a furry worm crawling on the earth is transformed into a glorious butterfly flying above Earth. “The old has gone, the new is here!”

The caterpillar experiences the relinquishment of its former self inside the chrysalis, and once the transformation is complete, the butterfly emerges and shares its glorious beauty with the world. Similarly, Jesus through his crucifixion released all remaining attachment to his human condition, and after a time in the tomb, emerged to further model the process of transcendence and transformation. Our transcendence is similar.

When we are willing and ready to surrender every concept of self that we have believed to be true and focus our awareness on Christ, our divine nature, our consciousness is transformed. We are then able to recognize the divine being that we are and allow Christ to be revealed through us. We, like the butterfly, soar above our previously self-imposed limitations as our consciousness is changed and this transformed beauty is shared with the world.

Put another way, the caterpillar follows the Creative Impulse within that urges it to transform. Likewise, the Creative Impulse moves us toward the unfolding of our divine design. It gives itself to us, through us, as us, so that through our transformation it has expression and the world is redeemed. That transformation requires us to surrender all that we have believed we are, and embrace our true nature. In this way, we become new “creatures” in the awareness of Christ as our truth. We can gloriously exclaim, “The old has gone; the new is here!”  We can joyously affirm, “I am a new creature in Christ!

Join us on Sunday for our 10:00 service as we celebrate Easter with a participatory process that will support you in your own willingness to release the old and be resurrected in a new awareness of yourself. Be ye transformed!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meeting Jesus

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?  Some scholars and historians purport that he, like many others of his day, was an apocalyptic prophet who believed that the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth was imminent, and that it was his mission to proclaim the news and encourage his fellow Jews to mend their ways and adhere to the law so that they would receive God’s blessings. Further they assert that in his attempt to proclaim his eschatology he spoke of the impending downfall of the Roman Empire and the Jews’ assured return to power. In doing so, he enraged those who were in power and they crucified him for being an insurrectionist.

Millions the world over believe that he was the one and only son of God sent to save the world from the darkness of sin; that his mission was to be the sacrificial Lamb of God given for the atonement of the sins of the world. Further, they hold that he died on the cross, resurrected from the dead, and ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God, the Father, judging the living and the dead, just as the Apostle’s Creed proclaims. They believe that although he may have exhibited his humanness on occasion, that Jesus, the Messiah, knew his mission and fulfilled it. They profess that he is the savior of the world.

Still others, like those of us in Unity, often see Jesus, as he is presented in the Bible, as a metaphor for the potential within each of us to awaken to our own Christ nature. We believe that the Jesus of the Christian Scriptures 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. The same potential and possibility is inherent in each of us. We view the Jesus story as a template for our own individual and collective awakening from bondage in the human condition to freedom in our Christ awareness.

From this perspective Jesus’ life is an example of one who was born into the world, and although conditioned by it, realized his true nature and lived from it. In living from it, he was willing and able to relinquish his attachment to the world of form, including his physical form, be reborn into a new creature in his Christ nature, and ascend in consciousness beyond the limitations of this world. His life also serves as an example for us to follow as we live our Christ nature through our thoughts, words and actions.

Jesus, whether viewed as an apocalyptic prophet, or the son of God born to be the savior of the world, or a human being whose life experience can serve as a metaphor for our own evolution of consciousness, was one who knew what he was here to do and gave everything he was in order to fulfill his mission. May we learn from him, and choose to follow his example.

Join us Sunday at 10:00 as we observe Palm Sunday. We will explore the life of Jesus and look at the ways he serves as our way-shower.