ASCENDING THROUGH GRACE
Our theme this morning is, "Ascending Through Grace". We defy gravity -- we defy the restrictions and limitations of this life experience -- when we ascend out of race consciousness into Grace Consciousness.
And before we go any further this morning, I probably need to define "race consciousness" for those unfamiliar with the term. It has nothing to do with an individual's race, color or ethnic origin, but rather, it refers to the accumulated, collective thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, attitudes, words and actions of the human race to which we are all subject -- unless and until we can ascend into Grace Consciousness.
This entire month, not just today, but most certainly today, we are going to look at doing just that. We are looking at moving out of a place in our thinking, our feelings, our beliefs, our values, our attitudes, our words and our actions that is controlled -- unconsciously controlled, but nonetheless controlled -- by the accumulated, the collective thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, attitudes, words and actions of the human race.
And race consciousness is so very often based on things like . . .
* Fear and
* Lack and
* Limitation and
If you aren't sure this is true, then I suggest you simply turn on the 6:00 news and watch for 15 minutes. You will see some form of . . .
* Fear or
* Lack or
* Limitation or
. . . in just about every story.
And what we know is that we are unconsciously affected by these race consciousness ideas UNTIL we make a deliberate and conscious choice to bring God into the picture.
When we do that, when we add a "G" (for God) to the word race, we get Grace, and Grace Consciousness moves us to a place of . . .
* Love instead of Fear
* Abundance instead of Lack
* Freedom instead of Limitation
* Oneness instead of Separation
And those ideas, those qualities of . . .
* Oneness . . .
. . . they pretty much sum up the Essence of Grace, don't they?!
So, on this beautiful Easter morning, let us look at the essence of Grace, the ideas of . . .
* Oneness . . .
. . . as relayed through the words of the Angel at the tomb in the Easter story. On this beautiful Easter morning, let us Ascend Through Grace.
According to THE GOSPEL of MATTHEW, Chapter 28, 1 - 6: ". . . as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.'a"
There are three ideas in the last two sentences of this passage that I want us to explore this morning, three ideas that speak to the idea of moving from the race consciousness beliefs in Fear, Lack, Limitation and Separation to the Grace Consciousness ways of being of Love, Abundance, Freedom and Oneness - Jesus' message of Grace to and for us.
Once again, it reads: ". . . But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.'"
1. FEAR TO LOVE
The first I am calling "Fear to Love." Even though the guards who were watching trembled when they saw the angel and became as if they were dead [Anyone ever been frozen in fear?! Deer in the headlights reaction to life?], the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid."
Why are we ever afraid? The answer is always the same, no matter what we are afraid of. The answer is always because we are believing in TWO POWERS - God and something else - rather than just God.
You have probably all heard the acronym for fear: FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. Well, I have a new one for you this morning!
F - E - A - R -- Forgetting Everything About Reality
Definition of Reality, in the Science of Mind glossary: "Reality actually means that which is indestructible, incapable of decay. Reality is unchanging and everlasting. The self we see is what we have thought about ourselves, the form we have molded by our thought. The Real Self is Perfection, for God could not know anything unlike Itself. Our Sonship is Reality -- Christ abiding in us. The Kingdom of God within is Reality. Reality, as concerning us, is that God is in us, as us, is us!b"
That's the Reality we forget about when we are in fear. The Angel told the women in the tomb, you have NO NEED to fear.
In essence the Angel said, "Remember that there is ONLY ONE POWER - GOD THE GOOD!!!!! Don't pay any attention to that which has no power."
So how do we heed the Angel's wisdom and turn from fear to Reality (capital "R"?) We turn to fear's opposite, which according to the Course in Miracles, is what? Ah, yes! It is Love!
Here is a sure-fire way to get out of race consciousness-based fear; simply think about something or someone you love!
2. LACK AND LIMITATION TO ABUNDANCE AND FREEDOM
Second, the message of fulfilled promises: "He has risen [we will get to that idea next], just as he had said."
We can count on the promises Jesus made. He made a number of promises and articulated them in different ways and words throughout his ministry. He promised . . .
* that he had come so that we might have life and have it more abundantly;c
* that God would provide for us even more than He provided for the lilies of the field or the birds in the trees;d
* that our faith would make us whole - or, said another way, that it would be done unto us as we believed;e
* that God was within us;f
* that those miracles which he did we could do as well;g
* that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. . .h
. . . to name just a few.
And because he filled the mother of all promises (I will rise), I think we can count on the others as well!
These are all promises based on the Essence of Grace - Abundance and Freedom!
And Abundance and Freedom become ours when we rely on the transcendent promise of all these promises: GOD IS WITHIN US. There is no separation; there is Only One! All the others hinge upon this one. Each of us is a living expression of God. Which takes us to the third thing the Angel said . . .
3. SEPARATION TO ONENESS
The angel said: "He has risen."
Former Congressman Morris Udall loved to tell the story about what happened in the Kremlin when Khrushchev died:
"Brezhnev and other Communist leader wanted to get Khrushchev's body out of the country. So they called President Nixon to see if they could bury it in the United States. Nixon said he couldn't give them permission because he would receive too much criticism from the American people.
"Brezhnev then called Prime Minister Heath of England and got a similar turndown. Finally, he called Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel. Meir said she would help. If the Russians came in the middle of the night, they could bury the body in a remote spot.
"'However,' Meir added, 'I must warn you that this country has the world's highest resurrection rate.'i" (Congressional Record)
What is the relevance of resurrection to us? Aside from the profound teaching of immortality, there is another layer. And, of course, as learned metaphysicians, you know what that is.
It's the idea of a resurrection in consciousness. It is the idea that we can, right here and now, rise above race consciousness into Grace Consciousness, and you do that by believing that you are a living expression of God, One as God, not separate from God! Do you believe that? Let's test it with a quick exercise:
Turn to the person sitting next to you and say: "You are a perfect, living expression of God."
How did that feel to say? Good? Pretty easy? Right!
Now, say to that same person: "I am a perfect, living expression of God."
How about that one? Did the first one feel more comfortable? If so, do you need to go back to point 1 and remember that the Angel said "be not afraid"? What F-E-A-R may still need to be crucified in your consciousness? What have you forgotten about Reality?
I love this promise that Ernest Holmes makes in the textbook: ". . . .as the human gives way to the Divine in all people, they become the Christ.j"
And that is the meaning of Easter for us this morning. .. .As the human gives way to the Divine, each one of us becomes the Christ.
I do not believe that the second coming of Christ is when Jesus descends from Heaven to draw to him the chosen few. Rather, it is when each one of us ascends through Grace . . .
* from Fear to Love
* from Lack to Abundance
* from Limitation to Freedom and
* from Separation to Oneness. . .
. . . and in that a realization that there is only ONE POWER, ONE PRESENCE in all life and that POWER, that PRESENCE is GOD, the all GOOD!
I want to conclude today with a story from Tyler Perry, Writer and Actor and I want you to see in this experience the ascension from race to Grace Consciousness as you observe Love, Abundance, Freedom and Oneness throughout!
"As I was walking from my car to my studio one day a woman who appeared to be homeless started walking towards me. I'm ashamed to say this but I thought, 'I don't feel like being hustled today.' Then I quickly felt guilty so I started digging in my pocket for some money. As she got closer I noticed that she had the kindest eyes I had ever seen.
"As I was reaching into my pocket she started to speak. I thought, 'Here goes the sales pitch,' but instead she said 'Excuse me sir, I need some shoes. Can you help me?' At those words, my eyes filled with tears because I remember being out on the streets and having only one pair of run over shoes. I was taken aback for a second.
"I composed myself and took her inside the studio and had my wardrobe people find shoes in her size. As she put the shoes on she started crying, praising God and thanking Jesus, and saying,
'My feet are off the ground! My feet are off the ground!'
Several of the wardrobe people started crying. I was crying as I thought, 'Wow! All she wanted was some shoes.' She quickly disappeared and never asked me for a dime. I realized that I still had the money in my hand so I went out looking for her. She was gone just that quick so I looked all around the neighborhood for her. I found her standing on a corner looking down at her shoes, still crying and saying,
'My feet are off the ground! My feet are off the ground!'
I was so touched. I asked her how she had gotten homeless. She told me that she had AIDS and that she was waiting to get into a shelter. She said that her family had turned their backs on her and that she had no place to go, but she knew that God would make a way for her.
"I said to myself, 'He just did.' Her faith and her praise moved me. I took her to a nearby hotel and put her up. I had a staff member check on her from time to time to make sure she had food and clothes. After about a month or so we lost touch, but I never forgot her.
"This past summer I was shooting 'Daddy's Little Girls' and this woman walks up to me smiling. I didn't recognize her face, but her eyes were familiar. She had on a really nice dress and her hair was done. It was her! She told me that the little help I had given her had changed her life.
"I tell this story for one reason. After I met this woman, every time I think about complaining and mumbling I remember her words, 'My feet are off the ground!'k"
And that, my friends, sounds like Defying Gravity and ascension into the most Amazing Grace to me!
bErnest Holmes Science of Mind glossary, p. 624
jErnest Holmes Science of Mind textbook p. 422
kTyler Perry, Writer and Actor