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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Mind Food

This morning I put together some statements that I need right now to fill my mind with hope and faith, as I still walk a long valley - soon to be a mountaintop experience. It occurred to me that you might find them helpful too.  As Jesus said, It is done unto you as you believe,                      

                        Affirmations – Mind Food

Adapted from Florence Shinn

Infinite Spirit, reveal to us the way, let us know if there is anything for us to do.

Infinite Spirit, open the way for our immediate supply. Let all that is ours by Divine Right now reach us in an avalanche of abundant good.

I cast this burden upon the Christ within and go free.

Jesus Christ brings the good news that there is a higher law than the law of karma and that transcends the law of karma. It is the law of Grace/Forgiveness. Karma is forgiven under the law of Grace.

Divine Order is established in our minds, body and affairs.

We are always under direct inspiration and make the right decisions, always aware of leadings/intuitions that come to us.

I will that the Will of God be done.

There is no loss in Divine Mind.

God says, I will restore to you the years the locasts have eaten.

Bring forth the Divine Design for our lives. Let the genius in us be released. Let us see clearly the Perfect Plan.

I form the habit of practicing the Presence.

Poise is power – it gives God Power a chance to work through us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Scripture for Sunday

In preparing to be liturgist this Sunday, I've been reading Matthew 3:1-12 and some commentaries. Here it is in The Message translation:

1-3 While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills [some 60 miles north], John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy:
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
4-6 John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life.7-10 When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference? It’s your life that must change, not your skin! And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as father. Being a descendant of Abraham is neither here nor there. Descendants of Abraham are a dime a dozen. What counts is your life. Is it green and flourishing? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.11-12 “I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.

I want to share some brief thoughts on this. It is estimated to have been written between 75-80 CE by a Jewish Christian. All of the Gospels were anonymous, only being given names sometime after the year 150 CE. So far the earliest copy found is in some tiny fragments from the 2nd century. In the 4th century, there was a new testament, the Codex Sinaiticus -- a copy is in the British Library in London. It is different in what it includes from the current New Testament.

The book called Matthew has several purposes: to tell the story of Jesus, be a catechism for new converts, and be a guide to the people of The Way who were facing persecution from all sides. 

In this passage above, John is preaching and baptizing. People were coming from a wide area. At that time baptism meant a person was giving their allegiance and obedience to the coming king. I had always thought of John in some rough costume, but here we are told it was camel hair, a soft and warm fabric woven of camel hair. 

John knew that some who came to him were not sincere, and admonished them. It seems that going to hear John and being baptized by him was a sort of "in" thing to do. He taught that true repentance meant change within and new behavior, a new heart. He told them that it was not enough just to be a descendant of Abraham, one had to be made new, inside out.... and someone was coming to help with that.

Can you hear John the Baptizer speaking to us today? He speaks the same timeless message still. Can we hear him? Will we listen and do as he says?

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Who Is Here?

 They sat in the same room, but not in the same universe.                                        ---Aldous Huxley, The Devil of Loudon

Just ponder the little quote above. Here he is writing about a maiden and a savvy and powerful man. Yet it seems to me, that could be accurate to say about most or all people.

In the moments we come together, we come from backgrounds that contain millions and millions of different experiences and personal interpretations of those experiences. No one can truly know what it has been like to be the person before us. We traveled circuitous routes to this moment in time, to this place, to this person/s. So much has happened that is unspeakable in words. Some can be deciphered by observing and intuiting, but that is not the full picture of a life. I can surmise we share some of life's common themes - love, loss, hope, fear, success, failure, etc., but I cannot fully know the impact or the details. I scarcely can understand my own.

All this to say, we would do well to practice kindness and compassion for all who come into our lives for quick moments or long times, and of course towards ourselves too. There is no way we can fully walk in one another's shoes and comprehend fully the whys and wherefores of those who stand before us. Let kindness and compassion be our guides.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Mentors

Though GOD is everywhere present, yet He is only present to thee in the deepest and most central part of thy soul. The natural senses cannot possess God or unite thee to Him; nay, thy inward faculties of understanding, will and memory can only reach after God, but cannot be the place of his habitation in thee. But there is a root or depth of thee from whence all these faculties come forth, as lines from a centre, or as branches from the body of the tree. This depth is called the centre, the fund or bottom of the soul. This depth is the unity, the eternity—I had almost said the infinity—of thy soul; for it is so infinite that nothing can satisfy it or give it rest but the infinity of God.                  ---  William Law

I have been taught in many ways by the writings of William Law. He definitely inspires and challenges me. It is only recently that I discovered that not only was he a contemporary of the Wesleys, the founders of Methodism, but he was also a mentor of theirs. I find it so fascinating that he can also be a mentor of ours via his writings, as can anyone who left a written trail of their thoughts.

First of all, I am in agreement with the above statements of his, and I find them important thoughts to contemplate for those of us on the sincere spiritual path. It seems self-evident to me that the Creator is present throughout all creation. Also, it is unlikely that I can connect in meaningful ways with God in some far-flung galaxy, at least at my current state of development. His reference to Jesus' vine and branches analogy works so well in his discussion. We are rooted in God, we are at all times connected as part of the vine in our deepest soul places. We are connected to and part of eternity and infinity. We are part of God's creation. And we yearn to remember who we are, to remember that rootedness. Nothing else can possibly satisfy. 

It seems to me that most people are so turned off by the controlling, hyper-organized, money-gathering establishment, industrialized complexes, that we do not know where to turn for genuine mentoring. Disillussioned people are leaving established religions in alarming rates in most places. So where do they go? 

I personally found my way back through studying the writings of those I thought were enlightened. I created my own pantheon of mentors via books. I read the New Testament over and over. I read the mystics - Meister Eckhart and Hildegaed of Bingen are constant favorites. I read Buddhist thoughts and Hindu words and Sufi poets and philosophers and psychologists and historians and theologians and new physics. I journaled and meditated and contemplated and prayed - and I traveled to many places on earth. Wherever I was, whoever I was reading, whoever I spoke with, I was also connected to The Divine One, rooted, inspired, guided, and in many ways protected. I can attest that the spiritual journey is exhilarating and at times a bit scary, but it leads always to the Light of all, the Light at the center of our own souls.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Planet for Wounded Souls

This morning the thought came to me that this is a planet for wounded souls, given the chance to heal or not. Through forgiveness we are led to compassion for ourselves and others.  This is a grace we give ourselves and others, God has already given us grace.

If we refuse, and we can because we are not puppets but recipients of freewill, we sink into blame and bitterness, offering no compassion. We are then part of the ongoing human problem. We offer not the hand of compassion, but the knife of condemnation and blame. 

We either participate in resurrection or crucifixion.

I come to this day of Thanksgiving filled with thanksgiving for this opportunity to come to the planet of wounded souls and move from wounded to compassionate. Perhaps I came as wounded from the beginning, I'm not sure. But I do know I have been wounded to the core of my being numerous times during this life. And yet I stand and testify to God's healing Love and Grace. I know it, personally and deeply as sure as I know anything.

The ones who stabbed me with their weapons of earth and words of steel, have been my teachers. For a time they distracted me, and I blamed them, then tried to understand how they could be as they were, then forgave them - finally I just released them to God and thanked them for leading me to understand what I so desperately needed to know. 

All leads to God when we are paying attention.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

God Bloodthirsty or Actually Pure Love?

So often I ponder the decline of Christianity, and other religions as well, which you know, if you've read many of my posts. The arc of history and myth give some clues. It seems to me we did ourselves in with screwy and nonsensical theology. Just consider this and do your own research. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm pretty close to understanding the history. But don't just believe me. Check it out.

The first eleven hundred years of Christianity blamed the crucifixion on Satan, which gave the people someone to blame, even though a mythical archetype. This changed with Anselm of Canterbury in the eleventh century. He said God needed to be appeased and based his theory on the medieval system of knighthood and honor, and on the patriarchal world where people were afraid of the leaders and tried to appease them. God became a violent, emotional, mean, scary being wanting revenge and killed his own son to get it. A few groups said that he did it out of love, pouring himself out through Jesus.

I find all of this appalling. To me the crucifixion was an act and a symbol of Roman/human brutality. In the end it did not win. Life eternal had the last word. God, so to speak, had the last laugh.

I have read and reread the New Testament maybe hundreds of times, wearing some out, underlining, etc. beginning in my childhood. I have read hundreds and hundreds of books from all points of view. I have higher degrees. I have been a senior pastor.  I'll share some of my conclusions in a minute. First a mini history.

There are no known writings concurrent with the life of Jesus, no people who actually knew him have written. We have Paul's letters beginning two decades after Jesus. Paul did not meet Jesus, but he did meet with James, the brother of Jesus who was the leader of The Way, and Peter the apostle. The Gospels were written from 70 to the end of the first century or possibly beyond by unknown authors. They were circulated as Memoirs of the Apostles. It was sometime after the year 150 they were given names in order to distinguish them. No contemporary of Jesus mentioned him, although the historian, Josephus, at the end of the first century made a brief reference, The other situation is there are no known original documents, so we have copies of copies of copies. They were written in Greek about Jewish people who mostly spoke Aramaic. You can see the cultural and language problems. There are numerous translations with varying slants, all translated from the same Greek documents (the first fragments are from the 5th century). There are countless other things to consider, but I think this is sufficient to make the point that we have sketchy information. We have a lot of speculation and dogmas and theologies based on these documents.

My conclusions at this point of my journey to the best of my understanding include (read the New Testament yourself and check these out):

  • Jesus never asked to be worshipped. He asked us to follow him.
  • Jesus cared for everyone, included everyone, punished no one.
  • Jesus told us to worship God, to pray to God, and to know God is Love.
  • Forgiveness was central to his teaching as was healing and feeding.
  • He asked people to be better people here and now, not in order to buy entrance to the golden streets of a far away kingdom, but to glorify God while on earth.
  • He taught about the inner kingdom, the pearl of great price, the shining light on a hill we are called to be.
  • He taught about humility and not about ego - not I'm better than you, but that we are all on this earth as brothers and sisters of one Divine Father.
  • He called God "our Father" - not his exclusive Father.
  • He lived a human life that was attuned to God and showed us how to so live.
  • And oh so much more.
  • He touched my deepest places and changed my life and called me to follow him. This following has taken me many places, to many people, to many ideas. In these 82 years, layers and layers of understanding have peeled away. Ever deeper and fuller relationship has grown. My connection to the vine has grown stronger. My tolerance for nonsense theology has grown thin. Those who have defamed my Lord and distorted his teaching and his life have created the turning away not from Jesus and his teaching, but from their nutty theologies.
So, I invite, no urge, you to consider what I have written, discover it for yourself, and come back to The Way free of the strange twists of theologies made up by men across the ages.

Let your light so shine...

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Grace and Change

 Ephesians 2:7-10          The Message Translation

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Grace holds change in its tender arms. Someone has said the only thing we can count on here on earth is change. But I suggest that change is necessary, and change need not be scary. 

Change has happened continually in our bodies and our lives as we move toward spiritual maturity. I'm sure we can all remember countless scrapes and bruises and cuts we've had over the course of our lives - and they healed by the Grace of God, from the inside out with a little help of antiseptic and band aids.

We've all had emotional wounds as well. They heal from the inside too, as we forgive, pray and embrace with love. Or, they drag us down when we refuse to let them heal. They keep festering only if we keep rehearsing them in our minds and hold that dark cloud in our hearts. Sometimes, it seems, we forget God has forgiven us and always loves us. We're like the fellow in the story Jesus told who was forgiven a debt from his boss but refused to forgive a debt of his fellow worker. 

God saves us from ourselves. But because we have freewill, we simply have to cooperate. We need to accept the Grace God offers and pass it on to others, offering them Grace too. There is surrender involved, surrender to God and not the ego. 

As it says in the scripture at the top of this writing, He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Jesus keeps inviting us in to play at his level, to welcome the Grace of God, to be a Light and not hide it, so that we can participate in the spiritual work God has ready for us to do. In my experience, it takes time and healing of wounds and sincerity and humility and a big dose of change to become ready to do the work God has ready for us to do.

Open to Grace today. Walk out your door letting Light shine so that God is glorified and people are drawn to God. Get ready for the work you are to do.