ENROLLING IN THE MASTER'S PROGRAM
In our education system, we go to grade school, high school, college, and after you get your four-year degree, you can apply to graduate school. In graduate school, you narrow your focus and enter into a specific area of study with some rigorous courses and practicums, where you actually practice whatever it is you're focused on, and you create endeavors that produce results around that specific area of study. And, then you are given a Master's Degree.
This month, we are engaged in our own Master's Program - a Master's Program in Spirituality. It's a short course of study - only five weeks, but if you successfully complete it, meaning you are here every Sunday and are actively engaged in the work as the weeks in between unfold, you will receive a Certificate of Graduation on the last Sunday of the month!
As a reminder, our Master's Program comes from the four levels of consciousness evolution:
* Why Me or Mortal (victim),
* By Me or Metaphysician (through consciousness, I can make it happen),
* Through Me or Mystic ("the Father within doeth the work") and
* As Me or Master (I am one with God)
Now, there are those who have come before us who have mastered living in such a way that we call them Master. We call Jesus the Master Teacher because he mastered living in such a way that others were absolutely transformed in his presence.
Just getting close to him, just touching the hem of his garment, just being in that energy field, brought transformation because he lived from a consciousness of Oneness.
Today is our day to get fully enrolled in our own Master's Program - thus our title.
THE MASTER'S PROGRAM
What does it mean to enroll? It means . . .
* To get engaged in,
* to sign up for,
* to put our name on,
* to join,
* to become an active participant in . . .
. . . a way of thinking and being and acting and feeling that moves us toward our focused intention - and for our purpose here this month, our focused intention is to move more and more and more into the ways of Oneness.
Now, I am very aware that each one of us is on our own personal and unique journey of life. And we are each in our own personal and unique stage in our personal and unique journey. And wherever we are, it's the perfect place to be.
Science of Mind founder Ernest Holmes says in the Science of Mind textbook that the only place we can begin our spiritual journey is right where we are! And right where we are is a perfect place to begin.
Last week we took our entrance exam, the LRE, to help us assess where we might slot into our program. LRE - standing for: Where are we when a Life Challenge hits; Where are we in our Relationship with God all the time, not just when Life Challenges hit; and Where are we with our Earth Stewardship, remembering that we are charged with dominion, care, nurturing of that which sustains us and gives us physical life.
And wherever you are in your personal and unique journey right now, this morning I invite you to enroll in, get engaged in, sign up for, put your name on, fully participate in mastering the next step for you, whatever that next step is, in living from a sense of greater and deeper Oneness.
Oneness means we realize that when a Life Challenge comes it is meant for us, it's not done to us. Oneness means that our relationship with God is not a relationship with something or someone outside of ourselves but rather with that which lives and moves and has it's being as us and that it is a relationship to be cultivated at all times - at all times! And Oneness means we are profoundly aware that we have to take care of Mother Earth because she is us and we are her!
So, this morning we enroll in the Master's Program by Cultivating Conscious Connection. Conscious Connection.
Master's level living means that I incorporate into my life, practices that keep me in conscious connection to God's Presence AS me. Brother Lawrence called it: "Practicing the Presence." Paul called it: "Praying without ceasing."
It's the building of a connection that becomes more and more and more conscious. So, the moments of remembering God's Presence expand and extend in our lives and the times of forgetting who we are and forgetting God's Presence gets smaller and narrower. And that comes with the practice of mastering conscious connection.
How do we really enter into this conscious connection with God? We listen and we follow.
There's a teaching story in the Bible about a man to whom God spoke. God said to this man, whose name was Jonah - you may have heard of him - God said to him:
"Jonah, I want you to cross over here and go to Nineveh. There are some things going on there that aren't quite copasetic and I want you to straighten them out. This is my assignment for you. This is what you're supposed to be doing with your life right now."
Or, words to that effect! But, the communication was very clear. The directions were very clear. The purpose was very clear.
So, what did Jonah do? He got in a boat and went the opposite direction. He ran! Because he never did like those Ninevites, and he thought that whatever they created, they deserved - he wasn't going to save them.
He went exactly the opposite of what the God of his being told him. Anybody ever run in the exact opposite direction of what they were clearly being told.
Plan A was that God gave Jonah the guidance gently and clearly. Plan B was that Jonah didn't listen to it, so God used plan B. The situation got more intense.
And in that intensity, he's on the boat, headed exactly the wrong direction with his life, a storm comes up, he's tossed out and swallowed by a whale. We know this story. Now, that's God's attention-getting device.
And some of us have got some whales right now in our lives because we didn't listen to the subtle message. We didn't pay attention to the subtle message. The deal is when God sends guidance with gentleness, it's folly to ignore it. I've learned that!
The question I get a lot is how do I know that really is God's guidance vs. my own fear, ego, stubbornness, etc.? Listen, follow and observe. OR listen, don't follow and observe. You'll learn.
Now, right now, deep down, we've all been feeling some nudges. They come in different ways. They can come in a yearning that there's got to be more for life. They can come in an uneasiness in our awareness. That maybe a certain thing we've done for a long time or been part of or practiced in our life in a certain way - it was okay for a while, but it's not okay now; some way we lived life that we know isn't right for us now, but we're ignoring it. We're in the boat, going the opposite direction from that guidance.
It can come through our conscience, that place where you just feel at peace, or not, and we try to do something to try to get that uneasiness to go away.
Now, to fully enroll in, engage in, sign up for and participate in our Master's Program in Spirituality, we must start listening! I don't know how God's guidance has been coming to you, but I know it's there.
In fact, right now, some ideas are coming to you. Are you willing to listen to them? And so this conscious connection step is really a surrendered step, it's surrendering ourselves to the guidance of God. In order for us to get our Masters this month, we must surrender to the Touch of the Master's Hand!
THE MASTER'S HAND
You may have heard this poem before, but it bears repeating this morning. It's called "The Touch of the Master's Hand" by Myra B. Welch:
"Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar - now who'll make it two --
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three . . . but no!
From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bidden for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow;
"A thousand dollars - and who'll make it two?
Two thousand - and who'll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going - and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand -
What changed it's worth?" The man replied:
"The touch of the master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and torn within,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd.
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on,
He's going once, and going twice -
He's going - and almost gone!
But the MASTER comes, and the foolish crowd,
Never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the MASTER'S hand.a
Our homework this week for our Master's Program in Spirituality is to place ourselves in the Master's Hands by making conscious connections with that center in us where God's wisdom and guidance are and then to make our choices and our actions from that place.
In this way, we enroll in, we engage in, we fully sign up for this expanded, this deep, this connected way of living, which leads us to our deepest hopes and fulfilled dreams.
And now I would like to recognize all biological mothers, all females who have served in the role as mothers and all males who have served in the role, so let's talk about Mothers, since this is Mother's Day.
The service today is to celebrate Mother's Day as a day of universal blessing for mothers and for all the women that we honor in our lives. A day when all mothers and nurturers are enfolded lovingly in the prayers and blessings of all people everywhere. So let's take a look at Mothers.
In Reader's Digest, Jeanne Young wrote, "My children, who had forgotten to shop for Mother's Day, presented me with a homemade card. The contrite message read: "We know you deserve the very best, Mom. But we're glad you kept us anyway." It is a card I will never throw away."
And that's what being a mother is all about. Holding your children in your heart for who they are. When we honor and love them, they learn to honor and love us.
I truly believe that before we come to this world we pick the parents and the situation we want to come into so that we may develop and grow.
My Mother did not bond with me because of her own situation in life at the time I was born. But because of that, I gained the soul strength to do what I came here to do.
Somewhere, on some other plane of existence, we decide what challenges we need so that we may grow spiritually. So we put ourselves into the most atrocious situations so that we can grow up.
Or at least we THINK we grow - but let our Mother come into the room, and we are again 5 years old.
So as we think about our Mothers and others who nurtured us, let's know that they did the best they knew how to do. They too, were raised by dysfunctional mothers, who were also raised by dysfunctional mothers.
So we can sit back and blame them - or we can step up and change the pattern of dysfunctionality in our generation. Then we will be able to appreciate them for what they did for us even though they weren't perfect.
We all owe our mothers a deep and heartfelt thank you. Why do I say that? It's pretty simple -- Without her, we wouldn't be here!
So, wherever you are on the mother continuum - on one end having the most nurturing, wonderful, loving, caring mother to having, on the other end, the Wicked Witch of the West as your mother, we each owe our mothers a thank you for bringing us into this world.
Now I would like to pay tribute to the women we know. I have been sent the names of women that I would like to acknowledge.
But first I would like to invite those who wish to come forward to honor women in their lives. Please come up, place a flower in the vase and acknowledge the women in your life.
Now, the names that have been sent in to be honored are…
As you look at this vase filled with flowers, think of the women in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Women we loved and hated. Women we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Women who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do.
Blessed are the mothers of yesterday. They nurture us with loving memories and inspire us to become all we are meant to be. Blessed are the mothers of today. They hold in their hands and in their hearts the keeping of tomorrow and the destiny of our children's future. Truly, God is blessing all mothers now. Amen.
a"The Touch of the Master's Hand" Myra B. Welch