IN THE PRESENCE OF GRACE
Today we bring our conversation around race to Grace Consciousness to a close.
And just in case there is someone new this morning who is not familiar with the term "race consciousness," let me briefly explain. 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. We've explored different examples of race consciousness that permeate our world and without going into the specifics of the examples, we realize that the majority of it focuses on:
* Fear and
* Lack and
* Limitation and
In a previous Sunday, I suggested that if you weren't sure this is true, 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 a higher way of thinking, "God" thinking, if you will, to it. And when we bring God (represented by the G) to race consciousness, we get Grace Consciousness.
This entire month, we have focused on bringing God to race consciousness so that we might live in and from Grace Consciousness, and we have had a wonderful exploration this month.
Today, we end this topic by somewhat going back to the beginning. What I mean by that is we are going to look at - and have an experience of - the concept of Grace. In fact, it is our intention this morning to be in the Presence of Grace.
And, here's a bit of a paradox. Even though all month, we have been talking about Grace Consciousness, Grace isn't really something we can talk about. Now, when I say "it isn't something we can talk about," I don't mean we "shouldn't" talk about it. I mean we really can't - we are not really able to.
Because it is part of the awe and mystery of God and as soon as we put words to it, we confine it, we restrict it, we limit it. As soon as we try to describe that which is Infinite and Inexpressible, we make it finite and limited.
Grace - God's Grace -- is something that cannot be confined; it is something that cannot be restricted; it is something that is not limited nor is it finite.
Nonetheless, realizing that words are inadequate, I hope to bring us all to a greater heart understanding of the amazing concept behind this word GRACE and the power of GRACE to take us to a place that transcends the general consciousness of the human race and thereby having a hand in transforming the consciousness of the human race!
So let us begin by doing our best to define that which is indefinable. I always enjoy looking at the etymology of a word - its origin. The word "grace" comes to us from an ancient root word meaning "favor or benefit."
Our dear friend Noah Webster put a definition to grace in his most famous book - the dictionary. According to it, God's grace is: "Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people."a
Psalms 45:2: ". . . grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever."b
The Apostle Paul wrote: "By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not our own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of any works, lest any man should boast."c
Ernest Holmes writes in the Science Of Mind text: "Grace is the givingness of Spirit to Its creation."d
If we were to summarize just that handful of thoughts about grace, we could say that grace is . . .
* God's Divine love -- freely given to all,
* God's eternal protection -- freely given to all,
* God's ever-present blessings -- freely given to all,
* God's complete givingness -- freely bestowed upon all,
* God's gift of absolute favor and benefit -- freely given to all.
These are all ways to define God's grace, inadequate though they may be. And you caught, I know, the ending phrase on everyone of those descriptors, right? FREELY GIVEN TO ALL.
Grace as divine favor, grace as the eternal loving-kindness of God, is working for and through us constantly. You do not have to earn grace; it is not something that is paid out only to the good or the deserving.
Grace is not something to work for, to develop, to build up, to cultivate -- it simply is. God's favor, givingness, love, blessings and protection come to us simply because we are.
Ernest Holmes in the Science of Mind, wrote: "God loves all alike and causes the rain to fall and the Sun to shine alike upon all. In arms which are all inclusive, Divine Love encompasses everything."e
Isn't that an amazingly beautiful statement? In the arms which are all inclusive, Divine Love encompasses everything.
We have probably all said or heard the statement at one point or another: There but for the grace of God go I.
What's going on for us when we say that? Usually, we are feeling quite relieved that we are not in a situation similar to the person to whom we are referring. Right?
There's a gigantic "whew" and a wiping of the brow! And there is also a gigantic error in that statement. And after our conversation so far this morning, you see the gigantic error don't you?
That statement implies that somehow God's grace has been bestowed upon you, but it missed that person. When God was handing out grace, that person was at the refreshment stand!
That is incorrect thinking if we believe - which I do - that God's love and protection are bestowed freely on all people.
Yet, we must receive it. We must accept it. We must open our hearts, our minds our very lives for God's Grace to have its way with us!
In the Revealing Word from the Charles Fillmore Reference Library, under Grace it says: "'Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ' (John 1:17); that is, the real saving, redeeming, transforming power came to man through the work that Jesus did in establishing for the race a new and higher consciousness in the earth."f
So think, for a moment, that you are climbing a mountain. The summit is an experience of the presence of God and this is your goal -- to reach this summit. Through human effort you climb to a High Meadow. It is a beautiful place, and you think you have arrived at your goal, but eventually you realize this is not the summit.
The peak is shrouded in mist. You cannot even see the trailhead which leads to the experience you desire. At the High Meadow, you must wait. No amount of human effort will take you higher. However, in the distance and through the mist you see a woman coming toward you, and you know that she is coming to lead you higher.
Her name is GRACE. With Grace, you are taken into the mist, into the mystery that is the Presence. And ultimately into Grace Consciousness, which is your awakening into Oneness.
In this analogy, we climb to the High Meadow through the use of our spiritual practices -- prayers, affirmations, denials, visioning, meditation, etc., etc. These practices lift us up out of race consciousness, and they are very important, very important.
During our climb to the High Meadow, our spiritual practices are like a wind taking us to higher states of consciousness and they make us receptive to God's Grace. But practices alone will not reveal total oneness with Spirit. We must WAIT for Grace to come and take us higher.
In other words, we can never "do enough" to live in the Presence of Grace. Truly waking up to Grace Consciousness is not a result of working on ourselves, but a recognition of OURSELVES.
Joel Goldsmith, in The Art of Meditation, writes: "But the basis of our work is to 'leave your nets,' to leave this search for more . . . and [to] open consciousness to the spiritual realities. . . . Grace can only be attained by a state of inner silence, a state of inner awareness and receptivity . . ."g
I will add, "a state of inner awareness and receptivity to the recognition of OURSELVES, AS the Presence of Grace."
And when we have that recognition, then the energy of Grace will come over us like a soft blanket when we need comfort, filling us with the feeling that regardless of what roadblocks surround us, whatever race consciousness says about a situation, all will be removed when the time is right.
Grace is an unreasonable force. It pays no mind to what we consider difficulties. It has the power to lift us beyond our abilities and to draw support into our lives just when we need it.
When such moments occur, ask yourself, as you give thanks for what you are receiving, whether the power behind the coming together of the right people and the right circumstances at the right time isn't the Presence of Grace. In all likelihood, my friends, it is.
So let us take a moment right now to live in the Presence of Grace . . .
Father-Mother-God, let us feel your presence with us as we start up the mountain to the summit. Help us to have the soul strength to see ourselves as we truly are, your beloved children.
Even when we stray off the path, help us to see the perfection in the challenges we create in our lives. Help us to see the lesson in each situation and to remember that we are safe in your all inclusive arms.
As we reach the High Meadow of this mountain, let us rest for a moment. This seems to be our summit, but we know that with God there is always more. More to know, more to experience, more to be.
We can't see the summit from here. We don't even know where our next step will be. So in faith we wait, knowing that we can trust in the process that is taking place.
But, now, in the distance and through the mist we see a woman coming toward us, and we know that she is coming to lead us higher.
Her name is GRACE. With Grace, we are taken into the mist, into the mystery that is the Presence. And ultimately into Grace Consciousness, which is our awakening into Oneness. We have now moved from race, into Grace Consciousness.
Thank you God
dErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 597
eErnest Holmes Science of Mind, p. 430
fRevealing Word Charles Fillmore p. 88
gJoel Goldsmith, The Art of Meditation, p. 22