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Sermons

Sunday Message for March 20, 2016

HOLY GROUND

Each week this month, in preparation for Easter, we are being called into a Sacred Connection, or, said another way, into a Connection with the Sacred. Today, we do that by, first, looking at an amazing occurrence appearing in Exodus, Chapter 3.

It is when a young Moses, while shepherding his sheep, comes upon a bush that is burning but is not being consumed. As he steps closer to examine it, the voice of God says: "Do not come near; take the shoes off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground."a (Ex. 3:5)

This is a turning point in Biblical history. It is the time when Moses received the call from the God of his Being to make the Sacred Connection - to connect with the Sacred -- and in that connection to be who he came here to be and do what he came here to do. And he came here to be a Great Leader and to free the Israelites from slavery. It is from this moment that Moses lived his Divine Purpose not always without some kicking and screaming, but live it he does.

In our Unity tradition, we believe that the Bible is written on many levels/layers, and that the deepest level is the level that addresses our developing and deepening connection with the God of our Being.

So, while at the historical level this incident is about Moses' making the Sacred Connection, at a deeper level it is about our Sacred Connection and the revelation that we are each standing at the point of a Divine Call to be that which we are meant to be -- that we each have burning within us the flame of the great I AM and so wherever we stand, it is sacred, it is revered - wherever we are, we are standing on Holy Ground.

THE GROUND OF ALL BEING

Bishop John Shelby Spong in his book entitled, A New Christianity for a New World, talks about the change of looking at God from a theistic, external being to experiencing God as -- to use his words -- the Ground of All Being. In the book, he says: "Can we not begin to envision a Transcendence that enters our life and also calls us beyond the limits of our humanity toward the Ground of All Being, including our own? Can we cease the groveling to a supernatural being to parent us, to take care of us, to watch over us and to protect us? Can we reject those patterns of our past and open ourselves in new ways to discover the Ground of Being that is met and known in the Self as Expanded Consciousness?"b

Wow! Charles Fillmore couldn't have asked better questions. Today, we are being called to stand on the Holy Ground, the powerful place of Beingness. Firmly knowing that we meet God at the Core of our Being!

Spong also writes: "God is the Ground of All Being who is worshipped when we have the courage to BE. "

Listen to that again - it is our message for this morning: "God is the Ground of All Being who is worshipped when we have the courage to BE."c

Holmes once said this simple, yet profoundly powerful thing: "I AM, what more can I say? I am, it is enough. "

Right now, say with me, will you? "I am standing on the Holy Ground of Being . . . I am and that is more than enough."d

Today is recognized as Palm Sunday. The day that Jesus decided to stand on the Holy Ground of Being and to have the courage to BE! He knew that riding into Jerusalem was going to make those with the power very, very unhappy.

Why would he want to waltz into Jerusalem when he knew that the Pharisees and the Sadducees were not happy with him? When he knew that death to his physical body awaited him?

He made the decision because he had more work to do and it needed to be done there! When we read the story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, we can detect that Jesus had a definite purpose, and a conviction about that purpose, in his triumphant entry. He rode into the city with great authority, being hailed as a king by those around him.

To show him honor and respect, people made a path for him out of palm branches, which had long been a symbol of victory. And so the masses were placing palm branches before him.

It was Palm Sunday in modern times, and the family's 6-year old son had to stay home from church because of strep throat. When the rest of the family returned home carrying palm branches, the little boy asked what they were for. His mother explained: "People put them on the ground as Jesus came by."

"Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed. "The one Sunday I don't go to church, and Jesus shows up!"

Do you suppose Jesus' ride into Jerusalem was easy? Although he rode into the city with great authority, being hailed as a king by those around him, having people make a path for him out of palms, it must have taken a good deal of courage, of internal strength to be able to do that because he knew what lie ahead of him.

Likewise, it took strength and courage for Moses to become the one who would free the Israelites from the tyranny of the Egyptians. Both of these "stories" illustrate to us this idea of Standing on the Ground of Being and having the courage to BE! They both stood on Holy Ground. We all stand on Holy Ground, on the Holy Ground of BEING.

This morning, our invitation is simple . . . Do you have the courage to BE your Truth?

There is a great line delivered by Denzel Washington in movie The Manchurian Candidate. He said: "Beyond what has been planted in us is the truth; we have to find that truth. It's the only thing that will save us."e

Do you have the courage to BE your Truth?
Do you have the courage to BE your gifts into the world and live on purpose?
Do you have the courage to BE love when fear is all around you?
Do you have the courage to BE peace when discord seems to be the prevailing energy?
Do you have the courage to BE abundance when all around are bemoaning lack?
Do you have courage to BE health when disease seems to have attacked your body?
Do you have the courage to recognize that wherever you stand, you are standing on Holy Ground?!

We are charged with those things this beautiful Palm Sunday morning as we remember God's words to Moses: . . . take the shoes off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.

In a few moments, we will anchor and confirm all of this in our traditional Palm Sunday Rose Blessing Ceremony, but for the moment, let's pray. arbra Streisand did a song called On Holy Ground, let's let the lyrics of that song be our prayer:

When I walked through the doors I sensed His presence
And I knew this was a place where love abounds
For this is a temple, the God we love abides here
Oh, we are standing in His presence on holy ground

We are standing on holy ground
And I know, I know there are angels all around
Let us praise, praise Him now
For we are standing in His presence on holy ground

In His presence I know there is joy beyond all measure
And at His feet, sweet peace of mind can still be found
For when we have a need He is still the answer
Oh, reach out and claim it for we are standing on holy ground

We are standing on holy ground
And I know there are angels all around
Let us praise, praise Him now
For we are standing in His presence on holy ground
Amen

ROSE BLESSING CEREMONY
This Rose Blessing symbolizes, in ceremony, our recognition that the human is immersed in the Divine -- that we are all truly ONE in God and that we live in the all-embracing circle of Divine Love.

We recognize today that each one of you comes forth from God, that each of you is a Divine Creation, and that this Wholeness is the very being, the very life, the very essence of you. Truly you are made in God's image.

This moment is a defining moment for each one of you. In this moment, you publicly pledge to recognize that wherever you stand, you are standing on Holy Ground. And, this morning, I invite you to remove your shoes for this ceremony if you so desire to recognize that the place on which you stand is holy ground.

In a moment I will individually bless those who so desire, by dipping a rose in water. The water symbolizes the flow of life, the flow of clarity and the flow of wisdom through you.

The rose, always a symbol of love, today symbolizes the Divine Love that is the Sacred and with this ceremony we consciously make the Sacred Connection.

I will walk down the center aisle, so if you could just come to me to be blessed. Maxine, could you assist me with this?

[Soft instrumental music under ceremony]
[The assistant hands a rose to the Minister doing the blessing, she lightly dips the rose into the water, touches the rose to the forehead of the congregant and proclaims a brief blessing from the heart.]
[Once the last congregant is blessed, the Senior Minister offers a prayer of blessing for the entire congregation.]

May your spirit soar throughout the vast cathedral of your being.
May your mind whirl joyful cartwheels of creativity.
May your heart sing sweet lullabies of timelessness.
May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself.
May today be your day to dance lightly with life
to sing wild songs of adventure,
to invite rainbows and butterflies out to play,
to soar your spirit and unfurl your joy.f
AMEN



aExodus 3:5
bBishop John Shelby Spong A New Christianity for a New World
cBishop John Shelby Spong A New Christianity for a New World
dErnest Holmes
eDenzel Washington The Manchurian Candidate
fJonathan Lockwood Huie



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