UNITY OF VANCOUVER
“The Advent of Life”
ADVENT CANDLE FOR LOVE
This morning we lift our consciousness by lifting our thoughts & actions of love. As we pray, we are choosing to magnify the thought of love. As we light the candles of hope, peace & love, look into the light & listen to these words from writings of Joel Goldsmith.
Love: rhythmic, harmonious, the pulse of the universe. Love: the activity & energy of God.
Love: God’s theme. God’s plot running through all creation; healing, renewing, forgiving, resurrecting & transforming. Love holds all things together & yet frees all to find their highest good.
Love: warmth, understanding & caring is love educating the heart.
Love: strength & courage, touching the hem of our garment, it inspires us to new heights of being & doing.
Each of us is on an Advent journey to get to Christmas not just the Holiday but also to realize the meaning of Christmas in our own consciousness & to get there like Mary & Joseph, we often have a Wilderness to cross.
I invite you to close your eyes, take a deep relaxing breath & just let go. The Christmas Star blazes brightly within you. See the Starlight. Visualize it, there in the center of your forehead. As you hold to that vision of light within you send forth these thoughts & feelings into the light. My only desire is to live consciously in God’s presence. All other desires I surrender into the light for Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God & all else will be added to you.” Nothing is greater than my love for God, & my realization of what the government of God’s love & wisdom means.
Dear God, here I am inside myself, alone with You, living in the kingdom within & looking only to this deep within, this deep pool of contentment within myself, within the light in me. Here in this secret place, You have placed, your beloved son, the reality of my being, my own indwelling Christ.
Deep down within me I journey to Your presence & in Your presence, I find the fullness of life. Where You are, only love can be experienced & only love can be expressed. Where You are only peace can be known. You God are in me & I am in You. I am a light within the light. Together, communing with one another, You have made my consciousness your dwelling place. Your presence is the activity of divine grace & Your grace is my sufficiency in all things. I can do all things through Your presence within me. I can do all things for I dwell within the presence of Your all-embracing love.
Your love is the law of my life & every demand placed upon me is fulfilled by Your omnipresent love flowing through me. If I am healthy, this is evidence of Your presence within me. If I have abundance, this is evidence of You within me. If I have hope, peace, love & joy, these too bear witness to Your presence of love within me. If I serve, if I help, if I benefit anyone, this is the testimony of Your love consciously realized. You are love & I feel it.
I feel God’s love inside of my mind & inside of my body. I am filled with the love of God & my cup runeth over. You are love & I feel it within me & moving through me & radiating back to me from the people all around me. Your love is here within me & it goes before me as a bright star of light. Your love, walks beside me, behind me & it always looks over my shoulder, showing me, which way I should go. Held in Your love, I walk confidently because in this time of prayer, my soul does magnify the Lord. Amen.
THE ADVENT OF LIFE
Life happens from the moment we are born, we are on a journey called life & sometimes that journey moves us through a wilderness. In the Bible the wilderness is a desert. They had the Arabian Desert to the East & the Sinai Desert to the South. If you wanted to go anywhere, you had a wilderness to cross.
When the Wise Men had to travel through the desert a Bright Star guided them through the darkness. It is interesting that only the Wise Men saw the star. King Herod had heard about the birth of the child, but hearing was not enough, with all that he possessed, he did not possess the ‘spiritual sight’ to see the Star. He too was seeking the child but not to give him a gift. Herod wanted to kill him.
1. In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Unity’s co-founder Charles Fillmore says that Herod represents the ‘ruling part of our sense consciousness’, in other words ‘your own personal will.’ That’s the part of us that wants to follow the star & find the Christ within us, but feels threatened & only wants to kill it. That’s a scary thought isn’t it --to think that we have this Ego or Personal Will inside us that would like to kill that great potential. This inner struggle & battle is 1 source of a wilderness experience. We have to move through – materialism without getting attached to it & over identifying ourselves with it. Have you ever felt the urge to go out & spend money you don’t have trying to get the perfect gift for someone you love?
A man wanted a special Christmas gift for his wife so he decided to buy her a beautiful bird. A bird would keep her company & sing & talk to her. She could teach it to say things like, “Good morning. “My you’re pretty & I love you.” He got really excited. It was the perfect gift. So he went to a pet shop & asked the Store Manager for a bird that could sing & talk.
He bought the bird but the next day he returned the bird to the shop saying, “I’ve looked at this bird for 24 hours. It just sits there & looks at me. It doesn’t sing & it doesn’t talk. “That’s really strange,” the Store Manager, said, “Does he peck on his little bell?”
“What bell?” shouted the man, “He doesn’t have a bell.” “Oh no, did I forget to sell you the bell? You have to have a bell for your bird. You get up to the sound of a bell each morning don’t you? Well, so will the bird. He’ll peck on his little bell & when he hears the sound he’ll start his day too.” “How much is a bell?” asked the man. “8.95,” replied the Store Manager. The man bought the bell & left.
The next day he was back even more irritated. “The bird still doesn’t sing or talk,” he complained. “Hmmm, does he climb his little ladder?” asked the Store Manager. “What ladder, he doesn’t have a ladder” the man said. “Didn’t I sell you a ladder? He must have a ladder. Don’t you exercise every morning to get your body going? Well, birds need exercise too. In fact, that’s what really gets them started. He’ll begin his day by pecking on his little bell, then he’ll climb up & down his little ladder. His blood will start circulating & he’ll feel like singing & talking.” “How much is the ladder?” asked the man. “16.95,” replied the manager. “I’ll take the ladder.”
The next day he returned to the pet store with the same complaint. “Does he look into his mirror each day?” asked the Store Manager. “What do you mean by that?” shouted the man. “Well, you look in the mirror each morning don’t you? Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself? Well, the bird needs a mirror. He needs to be able to look in the mirror, see himself & feel good. In fact, he’ll feel so good about himself that he’ll want to sing & talk.” “Ok, ok, how much is a mirror?” “21.95,” replied the Store Manager. “Give me the mirror.” On the 4th day, the man returned only to be sold a swing. On the 5th day he walked into the pet shop with a dead bird in his hand. “What happened?” asked the Store Manager.
“What happened? Can’t you see! The bird is dead,” shouted the man. The Store Manager said, “I hate to ask this, but did he ever sing or talk?” “Well, he never did sing but he did finally talk,” said the man. “When I put the swing in his cage, he looked at me rather strangely & then he pecked on his bell, hobbled up & down his ladder, looked into his mirror, hopped onto his swing & began swinging ever so gently. Just before he dropped dead he looked at me & said, “Didn’t they have any birdseed?”
1. We need food for the body, yes, but we also need food for the spirit, which is love. Wise men are on a journey across the wilderness to the Christ bearing gifts.” That's the 1st meaning of wilderness.
According to Charles Fillmore (Unity’s co-founder), “A Wilderness is undisciplined, unexamined thought. We have many undisciplined, unexamined thoughts about giving & loving & living. When we get into our personal egos & willfulness, which can happen when we have too much to do & have unrealistic expectations, we can’t see the Christ light, we aren’t being wise. We are in effect, killing the Christ light of our moment-to-moment experience. Wise men & women, always seek the Christ knowing that the Christ is right here & not off in some far off place.
As it says in Galatians, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. We must give up a certain sense of being solely in our ruling ego & let ourselves experience the light & wisdom inside of us. We do this by taking time apart from what we perceive as ‘our obligations, our family, our expectations, our pressures’ to go within, to mediate, pray, to follow the star, to bask in the Christ light & to contemplate the meaning of Christmas.
2. The 2nd kind of wilderness experience that I want to explore is a wilderness we create when we want ‘a perfect’ Christmas. Have you ever had the experience of wanting a lot from the Christmas season--the magic, the wonder & at the same time with your job & other obligations you wonder how or if you’re going to be able to make it happen? Parents & grandparents, how many times can you be expected to pull magic out of your hat? How many times can you create perfection in your life? How many times can you create another beautiful tree & make sure the poinsettias, Christmas cookies & foods are just perfect & have everybody come & see it & say, “Wow, this is absolutely beautiful? This is perfect!”
Christmas is a paradox. Part of us loves it like a child. Part of us (maybe the adult in us) dreads it like, “Oh no, here we go again.” You walk into a store & there is a bell ringer smiling & wishing you Merry Christmas. Everywhere you go you get the message, “Be happy!” How can you “be happy” like a child when the adult is carrying ‘the weight of the world.’
In a traditional Christmas scene, you see Joseph leading a donkey with Mary riding on its back. Actually, that’s not in the Bible. People just assumed that because she was 9 months pregnant & it was 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, that she wouldn’t have crossed the desert on foot. But Mary probably did walk those hot, uncomfortable 75 miles. At that time of year they could probably only travel 3 hours a day, which, means the journey, took a week. No wonder Mary was ready to deliver the baby by the time she got to Bethlehem! You’ve got a wilderness to walk across before you can deliver a healthy Christ child. Many of you call this “walking the talk”.
3. For some family is a wilderness at this time of year. Grandma is in a nursing home rather than over the river & through the woods. For Military families with a parent on active duty, it’s more likely that Santa Claus will literally come down the chimney than for both parents to be home for the holidays. There are many broken & dysfunctional families. Yet you’re all supposed to get together during the holidays & be loving to each other & happy. That makes for a great deal of stress.
4. For some, alcohol, drugs or even food can be a wilderness experience. Some see Alcohol as a necessity in order to around family or to get through the holidays alone. There’s a sense that maybe we can eat & drink our way through to happiness.
Advent is not just a ceremony of lighting candles. It is a period of preparation meant to rekindle the light inside of us & to allow it to be expressed in a new, beautiful & profound way. In Isaiah 54:10 it says, “For the mountains may depart & the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you & my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” I’m seeking to have more love in my life & so are you--a steadfast & enduring love. In Jeremiah 31 it says, “...I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
So many times, with our human love alone, we don’t experience what we know to be true, what we know we can have & that is steadfast & enduring love. We all desire it, but we don’t all experience it. Many people feel that something is lacking in their love relationships. The reason we feel a lack is because at the core of our being we know Divine Love. We know there is something higher than we’re experiencing cause we’ve felt it. Maybe just for a split second but we’ve all felt it. We know how great it feels to be totally accepted & loved unconditionally.
You aren’t here this morning just to listen to me. You are here to feel God’s love for you directly. You are here to come alive in God. The words or music you hear here & the hugs you give & receive serve as a catalyst for that experience. We’ve created an environment here that makes experiencing the presence of God easier. We need this kind of a place to come to because sometimes we lose sight of the specialness of life. We feel empty inside but the spark has not gone out. It never goes out & Christmas can help us feel alive & special again. But you have to remember 2 things & the 1st leads to the 2nd.
1. You have know that God loves you & is with you all the time. God can be felt by you this minute.
2. You have to realize that God comes through you as a wonderful 'feeling' of assurance that you are not alone. During all the activities of your day, remember, you are bathed in Divine love. You have to take these 2 steps & do these things to cross the wilderness of separation between your human mind & God mind.
When somebody shouts at you. When you get into a stressful situation with your family. Instead of becoming stressful yourself, sit back a minute & rise above human thinking. Let God’s steadfast & enduring love come through you--remember God is faithful. It's not so much what you say or do out here; it's what you do inside because the change takes place inside of you. You don't have to say to your family, "Excuse me for a minute because I am feeling that you are all losers & I have to change into Jesus Christ so I can sit with you at dinner.” Remember the love inside of you & look them in the eyes with love, not resentment & if you talk, use a soft voice. They will feel something coming through you & that something is God.
Every time you decide to become love even in a small way, you nurture your world & change the world. Every time you give love, you have given the gift of Christmas; you are following the example of Jesus Christ & you are becoming that which you seek to become. That's Unity. Our religion is a life style.
When you carve the turkey or serve the pie, remember that you are also serving a portion of yourself. You are serving up 'your consciousness.' Broadcasting something between each word. In Galatians 5:22 it says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness..."
John 13:35 says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If you DO this 1 thing, you are a follower of Jesus Christ & a follower of everything good about Christmas. You have made the journey through the wilderness & like the Wise Men found the Christ.
Let's close with a prayer this morning & once again fill our cups.
Dear God, this morning I ask for Your divine love to infill my mind. I surrender every thought in my mind to the activity of Divine Love. I surrender my eyes, so I can see only good. I surrender my voice so my words are gentle & loving. I surrender my ears so that I can hear the best in every sound. I surrender my body so I can broadcast to all others a receptivity & acceptance. I accept myself fully, the humanness & who I am. I also accept what I am becoming & pray that I become a living manifestation of Your love God. It's a desire that Christmas brings to me every year & it makes every Christmas special. Amen.
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