Showing posts with label Advent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advent. Show all posts

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday Sermon, Third Sunday of Advent, Waiting For The Awakening. Love Is In The Air.

12/15/19 Third Sunday of Advent
Waiting for the awakening. Love is in the air.

Matthew 11:2-11 New International Version (NIV)

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’[b]
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

What was John doing in prison? The gospel doesn’t say and you get the sense from the story that John didn't really care nor did anyone else. All John wanted to know was whether Jesus was the promised one. Is Jesus the real deal that everyone has been waiting for?
            When Jesus is told about John’s question about whether he is the promised one, the Messiah, Jesus, true to his teachings, doesn’t say one way or the other, he says to the messengers simply tell John what you’ve seen. As Jesus has said at other times,“By their fruit you will know them.”
Have Jesus’ teachingshealed? Yes, and there are plenty of examples. It’s the healings that have occurred, not who I am. Jesus communicates that John is asking the wrong question, it is not about identity, but about the healing shift in perception from the things of the world of the ego to the things of the world of Spirit.
After the messengers leave to go back to John to report on what they’ve seen in their interactions with Jesus, Jesus tells the people around Him that John is a great guy. John is wise in many ways and some might say one of the wisest but even at his wisest John isn’t any more important than they are.
The third Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday” which means “Rejoice Sunday.” We are taking time to rejoice that the symbol of our holiness is about to be born among us. We can sense it in the air. We don’t normally think of Phil Collins’ song In The Air Tonight as a Christmas song, but it should be added to the discography of the Christmas season.
John could sense the awareness of Love was increasing in the air and this is cause for great rejoicing.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas has arrived. Advent is over.

Today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, a child of God, into the world bringing a super dose of divine light with Him.

According to the mythic story of His birth, some people recognized him and some didn't. The inn keeper turned Mary and Joseph away and Jesus was born in a barn with the animals.

In our current times we turn millions of children of God away and make it our national policy to do so to protect ourselves from all kinds of fears which are trivial and childish. Americans have a much greater chance of being killed by a drunk driver or a gun in their own home or by lightning than they do by a terrorist and yet rather than face facts we demonize, exclude, and attack God's children.

Mary and Joseph and Jesus would have a very difficult time getting into the United States with their swarthy complexions and lack of documentation.

Most of us would not recognize Jesus were He to come among us today. Our world of the ego makes little room for the remembrance of the divine within us and among us. The Jesus I love would have no problem with that. He recognizes our free will and He loves us unconditionally no matter what. He just waits for us patiently to figure things out.

As it is written in A Course In Miracles, learning that Life is a miracle "is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary.”

I have been studying for 72 years and some progress has been made and yet there is much more to learn. Jesus' birth this year has reminded me of the divine within us and among us and what a blessing this divine light is to the celebration of creation with the Spirit of Life. The weary world rejoices, indeed. May it be so!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fourth week of Advent - Sunday

On this day, December 24th, in 1818, the hymn, "Silent Night," which was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, was first sung in St Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria.

The second of the six sources of Unitarian Universalism is the "Words and deeds of prophetic women and men..." The gift which Franz Gruber gave to the world is just amazing in terms of its peace, comfort, enjoyment, and grace.

As the publisher of UU A Way Of Life, I wish you the most blessed and peaceful Christmas. Thank you for joining with us here on UUAWOL.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Third week of advent - Saturday

There are three phases in human development: you believe in Santa; you don't believe in Santa; you are Santa.

The three phases of awareness are of the divine are; you exist as part of the divine; you separate into an ego apart from the divine; you recognize the interdependent web of which you are a part.

Christmas is about the awareness of the divine again as the ground of our being.

May the awareness of Peace and joy be yours this season and from now on in your life.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Third week of advent - Friday

Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich, pastor of All Soul's Unitarian Church in New York City has written that gratitude should be at the center of Unitarian Universalist theology. There seems to be some social science to validate his position.

This emphasis on gratitude seems to be especially significant at this time of year, advent, when we remember the divine light that empowers our world. When we share that light in the expression of gratitude,  we experience a boost in joy.

Try it.

See what happens.

Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Third week of advent - Thursday

How do we best remember the divine light of which we are a part? We have to go into the silence of the night. It is in calmness and stillness.

It is fine to give gifts and to party but this kind of stimulation is often antithetical to the real meaning of the season. So much of American Christmas has been turned into the idolatrous worship of Mammon. We are worshiping the golden calf rather than enjoying the reverence and peace which our oneness with existence would have us become more aware.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Third week of advent - Wednesday

A person was told when she went to Alcoholics Anonymous that she should be careful because if she stuck with the program it would mess up her drinking big time.

The same can be true of advent. If you get into the spirit of advent and begin remembering the birth of the divine among humanity, it will mess up your life big time.

You will surrender your ego joyfully because it no longer makes sense to you. You will become one with peace and bliss, and should you relapse back to the insanity of the illusions and drama of the ego world, you will readily recognize your error and return to the path of Love.

Christmas is a time of miracles. In the hushed silence of the season we can faintly hear the angels sing and we become seduced into humming along. As we hum along we will find ourselves bursting into song and with our sisters and brothers sing together a mighty song.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Third week of advent - Tuesday

As we near the solstice, we are enveloped in more quiet darkness of the winter. There is a reason that Christmas, the birth of Jesus, which supposedly actually happened in the spring, is celebrated at the dead of winter during the week of the winter solstice. It is because the quiet and silence is necessary to tune into our remembrance of the divine.

Osho has said,

"Existence speaks in everyone’s heart, but we are so occupied in our heads that we never listen to that still, small voice within. There is so much clamoring, so much unnecessary noise – we have made the head a marketplace. The heart goes on calling and we remain deaf to it. Existence is not far away, it is very close. All that is needed is the art of making the mind a little silent, a little less noisy, a little more peaceful, relaxed.

As the mind settles into relaxation, suddenly you start hearing a divine music within you. Existence has started playing on the instrument of your heart, on the harp of your heart, and that music is transforming. Once heard, it is never forgotten. Once heard, life is never the same again. Once heard, you have become part of immortal existence; you are no longer a mortal."

Osho. First in the Morning: 365 Uplifting Moments to Start the Day Consciously, pp.11-12 Osho Media International. Kindle Edition.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Third week of advent - Monday

The Christmas story is rich. There is more of the story not said than is told. An intriguing part of the story is when Joseph finds out that his fiancee is pregnant with someone else's child. At the time, under Jewish law, this was a capital offense. Joseph could have had Mary executed.

It seems that Joseph is a good guy. He didn't want Mary killed. Did he love her in spite of her infidelity? His plan, it tells us in Matthew's gospel, was just to quietly divorce her. This would make Mary an unwed mother in those days even more suspect and reviled than in our contemporary age.

Joseph, decides, the story tells us based on a dream, that he will stick with Mary and this bastard child. What factored into the decision other than the intervention of the Holy Spirit we are not told. For Joseph, it as a package deal. He was taking on a pregnant teenage wife and her child. What a guy!

Joseph has no idea what he is getting in to. He will have to make an arduous journey to another town to pay his taxes, and then this baby will be born in a barn and he will have to scramble to attend to the needs of his wife and this child, and then he will have to flee to a foreign land and stay there as a refugee for 2 years. It is quite a mess.

Isn't that just how life goes? One damn thing after another? Sometimes it seems like it never stops.

Joseph, though, is a real man. He rises to the occasion. He does what he feels called to do in spite of the difficulties.

The Christmas story focuses on the birth of Jesus and the supporting roles of Mary and Joseph are marginalized and downplayed. But where would Jesus be without the two of them? Jesus would be nowhere without Mary, and Mary would be dead were it not for Joseph. Perhaps Joseph is the true hero of the story even though he seems a bit player behind the scenes.

There always is a back story to the main stories we tell about our lives. In this Christmas story, the back story is about true love of a man and a woman who entered into what A Course In Miracles calls a "Holy Relationship" distinguished from a "special relationship."

At this time of advent, we can reflect not only on the birth of a divine light into the world, but also on a love story between that child's parents. It is a story of true love of shared purpose to discern and do God's will. Were Joseph and Mary happy? I am guessing they were and it makes me happy to think about what they must of had together and what they achieved. Considering their love story is a magnificent joy during this season. It fills us with tenderness, peace, and comfort.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Third week of advent - Sunday

The Christmas story has become one of enchantment. It is the best of the genre of fairy tales. It is about a baby being born in a barn who was sent by God to save the world from its original sin. Alleluia. The angels rejoice and Kings bring gifts and shepherds adore.

What about the mother? She was a teen age mom. This was her first pregnancy and delivery. She was in midst of a journey when she goes into labor.

According to the story she agreed to all this when the angel Gabriel told her, an unmarried teenager, that she would become pregnant and give birth to a son. Did she freak out? Was she frightened? Was she worried about her family and what people would say? Could she try to abort the pregnancy and avoid a life long burden of motherhood? Who knows? We can only guess. Mary, though, says, "Thy will be done."


She said, "Thy will be done."

"Really? What's up with that?"

Had she any idea what she was getting herself into?

The future trauma of seeing her only son killed by the Romans in a horrible execution would be something no parent could imagine let alone accept. Better, she may have thought, had Jesus not been born.

But then, Jesus could not have lived to bring the light of the divine to the world.

Mary, may have been happy, with how things turned out. Jesus, basically, told Pilate to go screw himself, and they killed His body but not His Spirit. Turns out they couldn't kill Him. The spirits of Jesus and Mary live on in the stories we tell about them. You got to admit they were really something and continue to be as they enrich our lives year after year.

The focus of the story is on the birth of the baby, Jesus. But none of this would have been possible without Mary. Mary is the conduit of the divine coming into the world once again. Without Mary, Jesus, would not have been born. Is Mary the best supporting actress in this drama or is she the star of the show? Depends on your focus and how you tell the story. While I like Jesus, there are times I like Mary better. Mother Mary, the Mother of our remembrance of the divine in the world. She knew what God was up to and she said, "Yes!" Wow!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Second week of advent - Saturday

At this time of year as we become more conscious of the divine within and among us, we are looking for unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without ego and judgement.

Do you know anyone who loves unconditionally? Have you ever loved unconditionally? When you encounter unconditional love there is an unmistakable fragrance and vibration experienced. It is what we call peace, joy, comfort, bliss, flow. We remember that this is our natural inheritance.

Jesus said that God is love. Unconditional love is what Jesus was talking about. He didn't bring it to us. It already was with us. We just didn't recognize and acknowledge it before. The God of the old testament was judgmental and full of wrath and condemnation. Jesus raised our consciousnesses. Jesus called His God, "Abba," which, I am told, is best translated as "Daddy."

Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is the time of year when He recall that Jesus came to remind us that there is Unconditional Love in the world. We just need to tune in.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Second week of Advent - Friday

Those of us in the Christian world have been taught that we all have been born with the mark of original sin. Because of this we are condemned by God. Because of this we have been taught that God is our enemy who intends to punish us in hell for all eternity. Because we believe that God hates us and condemns us, we do as God does and hate and condemn each other.

The loop hole in this insane thinking is the belief that God sent Jesus into the world to be killed to atone for our sins and it is through the killing of Jesus that we have been redeemed. This thinking is the basis for a false Christmas joy that our savior has been born to be killed to save us from the wrath of God who would otherwise condemn us.

What kind of God is this that we have constructed in our religious myths? Could this possibly be the true picture of the divine at work in the universe? Could this ever be the genuine and authentic awareness of the divine in our existence?

Matthew Fox, the theologian who has pioneered creation spirituality, describes a new myth of the "original blessing" not the original sin. Fox points out that the Christian church adopted the story of original sin from Augustine in the 4th century not from Genesis which tells as that God created the world and proclaimed it good.

Genesis 1: 26-31

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

It is from the belief in sin that illusions follow. With the coming of our remembrance of our blessings in the form of a blessed babe, we are restored again to our natural state of love, peace, and bliss. The birth of another child of God on Christmas day is the sign that God not only has hope for His creatures, but loves them and takes delight in what God has created. It is with the same delight that we should enjoy being with one another.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Second week of advent - Thursday

Some of us pay lip service to the idea of surrendering to our Higher Power. In Alcoholics Anonymous they say "Let go and let God." Those of us with a Christian upbringing say the "Lord's prayer" which, in part, says, "Thy will be one on earth as it is in heaven." Most of us though still like to think that we are in control of some of the things of our lives and yet suddenly we can fall ill or an accident occurs and we die. The universe has different plans. One of my favorite jokes is, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell God your plans."

"Now, that is funny," Jenny said. "One night, my two children were killed in a crash with a drunk driver and my life has never been the same. My life has not become what I wanted it to be or thought it would be. For a long time, I felt cheated and short changed. People told me I was cheated and short changed. I was angry and other people were angry that God could do this to me. Then I realized it wasn't God who did this to me. It was a drunk driver. I am angry at the wrong thing. God, since that realization, has been there with me every step of the way or, to say it better, I have been there with God. Believe it or not, I am at peace even though I am still very sad and miss my children terribly."

Advent means "to come" in Latin. The verb is advenire and the noun is adventus meaning arrival. The divine is coming and will have arrived on Christmas. Not really. God is always with us because we are part of God, but we don't pay attention. What really is coming and, hopefully, will have arrived is not God but our awareness of God's presence.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Second week of advent - Wednesday

We live in a society which is based on the dynamic of "give to get." We are looking for a bargain, a good deal, and when we get one we feel superior and triumphant for about 5 minutes until we start looking for the next great deal. Searching for deals is addictive.

Isn't it odd that "Black Friday" has become the societal ritual that opens the Christmas season? Black Friday isn't about beauty, peace, joy, and fellowship; it is about getting deals and the passion flares so high that people have been killed in stampedes so that stores have learned to provide special security measures to keep people from killing each other in their frenzy of materialism which marks the beginning of the Christmas season.

Advent asks us to pause, and reflect in the search for beauty, truth, and goodness especially during this season of the year because there is something far more valuable than material things that is among us if only we look inward and notice.

The true spirit of Christmas, advent reminds us, is about beauty. Beauty is to be found in enjoying the divine spark which is within each one of us. Unitarian Universalists call it the "inherent worth and dignity in every person." We miss it when we engage in the pursuits of deals which materialism demands. Forget about the search for deals and focus on the riches within. These riches are more easily seen in the innocence of a new born babe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Second week of advent - Tuesday

Busy, busy, busy. We all are so busy.

Talk, talk talk, we all like to argue, voice our opinions and beliefs as if they ultimately matter in the slightest.

And at Christmas we remember there is joy and peace in the world beyond all the business and talk and imaginary truths with which we sometimes passionately identify as if, after we die, they would make any difference to us then.

Be at peace and eschew the business and the talk. They only are distracting and cloud our awareness of Love in the Universe. We sing Joy To The World as we remember the divine, our natural inheritance.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Second week of advent - Monday

We live in a culture that tells us that external things will make us happy. We are to acquire more, travel more, look for people to love us and yet after the initial novelty wears off we are tired, exhausted, enervated and think there must be something else we have missed that will make us happy because after the anticipation we are not as happy as it was promised we would be.

Those who have studied the effects of smartphones and social media tell us about a new disorder which is making us more depressed and anxious. This disorder's acronym is FOMO which stands for "fear of missing out." There is a fear that there could be something more, something else which will do the trick giving us the peace and joy we deeply desire.

The true spirit of Christmas, remembering the divine presence incarnated in the world, points us in directly the opposite direction as society. The Christmas spirit is to be found within not without. Christmas is a time of peace, reflection, and tuning into a transcendent frequency which hums within us all year around but which we are usually too distracted and stressed to notice. Christmas which comes at the height of the darkness of winter is a time of rest and reflection.

A blessed Christmas season requires time and leisure for rest and recharging our batteries. We can't give what we don't have, we can't share what we are lacking ourselves.

Advent is a time to rest, to reflect, to look within to the divine presence which indwells all year long and which we hardly take the time to notice. Advent is about noticing.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Second week of advent - Sunday

God comes to find us but we are rarely home. We are either in the past or in the future. We rarely enjoy the present, what A Course In Miracles calls the "Holy Instant."

God comes looking for us, but we aren't home, and we go looking for God and God is not in the past of the future only in the present. God has no time. God is outside of time. Time has no meaning for God. Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.

At this time of advent we refocus and remember the divine within us and among us. It fills us with peace and joy. This remembering and the consequent peace and joy is the gift of the season. Share it.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

First week of advent - Saturday

Neale Donald Walsch suggests in his Conversations With God books that if we don't like the word "God" we substitute the word "Life." Instead of saying, "God loves us," we say, "Life loves us."

During this Christmas season we reflect on the Life we have been given, what it means, what we should do with it, how we should respond to this gift.

During this contemporary time of materialism we are constantly encouraged to grasp for more. Nothing is ever good enough. We are satisfied momentarily and then want something more. The technical term the psychologists use for this phenomenon is "hedonic adaptation."

The stoics tell us that what we should strive for is contentment. We should eschew desiring what we don't have and focus on satisfaction with the things that we do. During this advent season we re-focus on what Life has given us and as we feel the increase in gratitude and appreciation we are then able to allow our gratitude and appreciation spill over to others. We are reminded, forcefully, during advent what it is we have received from Life that we can share with others.

Sheyrl Crow sings

My friend the communist
Holds meetings in his RV
I can't afford his gas
So I'm stuck here watching tv
I don't have digital
I don't have diddly squat
It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got
I'm gonna soak up the sun
I'm gonna tell everyone
To lighten up (I'm gonna tell 'em that)
I've got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I'm looking up
I'm gonna soak up the sun
I'm gonna soak up the sun


Friday, December 8, 2017

First week of advent - Friday

The idea that humanity's biggest fear is the fear of God is a staggering idea. As human beings we are very willful. Like three year olds we say to God, "You're not the boss of me. I can do it myself." And in our separating from our Divine source, we have to ask ourselves in all humility, "How is that working for us?" If we are honest, we probably either laugh or cry.

It is hoped that during the Christmas season, the air will be filled with more laughter than with tears. This will take our acceptance of the Divine source of which we are an extension. We welcome this recognition and some, if they are in the spirit and not engaged in "hum bug," will rejoice in peace and love for all human kind. It is a blessed time of year in the remembering of the divine incarnation in ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

First week of advent - Thursday

As we prepare for the remembrance of the divine in the world in the myth of a fragile baby born to a teenage mother in a barn, we should also remember that we were all fragile babes at one time. Were it not for the protection, care, and nurturance of others we would not be reading this article right now. In considering this we become aware of our radical dependence on others without whom our lives would not have endured and blossomed.

Advent is a time, as we reflect on our radical dependence, of enormous gratitude to others. The best expression and manifestation of this gratitude is in sharing what we have with others. We give our gifts whether they are physical objects, psychological attention and comfort, spiritual hope and blessings.

This blog is a gift to you, freely given because of what we have received, hopefully full of spiritual hope and blessings. Pass it on if you like or not. You undoubtedly have gifts of your own to share.
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