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Sunday Message for December 4, 2016

CAPTURING THE SPIRIT OF YOU

December is a special, time of year, isn't it? It is a great time of beauty, connection, community, care, joy, giving, love, family, celebration and merriment!

Or . . . not so much! For some, it can be a challenging time of year, with feelings of loneliness and isolation; of overwhelm and not enough; it can be a time of depression and restriction. And, if there are challenges going on in our lives or in our world, or if we have experienced a loss, this time of year can make it all feel so much worse. I truly understand that.

So this time of year can be a real dichotomy. And I find it sometimes challenging to address it, because I don't want focus on the challenges this time of year brings out, yet I don't want to ignore them either.

I don't want to do a "spiritual bypass" on them and slap a smiley face over a broken heart. Holmes tells us in the SOM: "We are not so cold blooded as to say to a person with pain that there is no such thing as pain. That is not our idea or purpose. We admit the fact. IT IS QUITE A DIFFERENT THING TO ADMIT ITS NECESSITY."a

So, I say to each of you, wherever you are this holiday season, I am glad you are here this morning.

Now, let me be clear. I don't just mean here at Unity in Castro Valley this morning (although, I am glad of that), but rather I mean it in a much bigger and more significant way. This morning, I am glad you are here - in this life expression, in this time and space with all the rest of us!

Could you just turn to someone next to you, and if you don't know them share your names, and then say "I am glad you are here."

Now do that with a second person.

Now, find a third person and before speaking, just take 5 seconds to make eye contact, share names and then say "I'm glad you're here."

And then add, "Who you are makes a difference."

That was a nice little connection, wasn't it? And that's what the Spirit of this Season really is all about. It is about Connection, Community and Care. Connection, community and care with one another and connection, communion and care with ourselves.

And, I believe that if we use this season to be a reminder to more fully embrace the Consciousness of the Christ, then we can Capture the Spirit of the Season and be brought into a place of Connection, Communion and Care, which brings renewal and hope and joy wherever our hearts may be this season.

And what is the Consciousness of the Christ? We will explore this in depth in a few weeks, but for this morning, let's at least make sure we are all on the same page about the phrase.

Charles Fillmore, in Talks on Truth wrote: "He was more than Jesus of Nazareth, more than any other man who ever lived on the earth. He was more than man, as we understand the appellation in its everyday use, because there came into His manhood a factor to which most men are strangers. This factor was the Christ consciousness. The unfoldment of this consciousness by Jesus made Him God incarnate, because Christ is the mind of God individualized, and whoever so loses his personality as to be swallowed up in God becomes Christ Jesus, or God man. . . . The way to do this is the way Jesus did it. He acknowledged Himself to be the Son of God. The attainment of the Christ consciousness calls for nothing less on our part than a definite recognition of ourselves as sons of God right here and now, regardless of appearances to the contrary. We know that we are sons of God - then why not acknowledge it and proceed to take possession of our God right?"b

And this definite recognition and acknowledgment of ourselves as sons (and daughters) of God is the Consciousness of the Christ we are talking about. This month is all about awaking that consciousness in all of us.

CAPTURING THE SPIRIT

Today, we will focus on "Capturing the Spirit of You."

I love this story that US Congressman Samuel Tribble told about how he and his wife taught their young daughter that she was her own person. That who she was is important.

Now this occurred in the early 1900s, which very interestingly, was the same time that our wonderful NT teachings were really being brought forth into the world. Coincidence - I don't think so!

Back to the story. Wherever Congressman Tribble's daughter went, the little girl was constantly associated with her father. "Oh, you must be Congressman Tribble's daughter," well-intentioned adults would coo.

One day she came crying to her parents saying that she wanted to be herself, not simply known as Congressman Tribble's little girl. Her father loved on her and told her not to worry about it. She should just be herself!

Her mother gave her a tangible suggestion. She said, "The next time that happens, just stand right up and say, 'No, I am Constance Tribble!'"

The opportunity arose just a few days later. A group of people met her and when they heard her name, they said, "Why, Congressman Tribble must be your father!"

Constance looked right back at them and said,

"Oh, no! That's not what my mother says!"

We can be assured than Congressman Tribble was her father, but that fact was only a part of who Constance Tribble was. She rightly believed herself to be unique, and she wanted to be known as her own person.

And each and every one of us is a unique expression of the One Perfect Life, the One Perfect Mind.

Fillmore writes in Talks on Truth: ". . . there is but one I AM. It cannot be cut into parts; it is Principle. That which says, 'I am' in all men, women, and children is identical. Your I AM is the Son of the God Idea, and all the possibilities of the Principle, through that Idea, are open to you. To 'know yourself is to know that you are I AM, and not flesh and blood."c

The Persian poet Rumi said this a bit more poetically when he wrote:
"Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that."d

How many of you are familiar with the name Abraham Maslow? He was an American psychologist who is known to have been the founder of a movement called HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY. And he came up with a Hierarchy of Human Needs. Remember that from our college days? Anyone know what they are, from the most basic up?

Briefly:
Physiological Needs - That which is needed for our survival. Air, water, food, clothing and shelter are all physiological needs.

After those needs are met, we have Safety Needs, which include physical security, financial security, health and well-being.

After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human needs involves feelings of belongingness through friendship, emotional intimacy, family, social groups, etc. Bottom line: we need to love and be loved.

Next up the ladder is Esteem. All humans have a need to feel respected. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs: a "lower" version of esteem which is the need for respect from others. The "higher" version manifests itself as the need for self-respect.

And finally, at least in his original hierarchy, is Self-actualization. Maslow said: "What a man can be, he must be."e

This quotation forms the basis of the need for self-actualization. I believe the person who has Captured the Spirit of Him or Herself is the self actualized person!

Maslow stated that there are 3 ways of being in which a self-actualized person engages. I want to look at those this morning and suggest they are ways for you to Capture the Spirit of You!

1. Self-actualized people are independent of the opinion of others.

In other words and in the title of Terry Cole-Whittacker's classic book of year ago, What You Think of Me is None of My Business. But, my friends, what you think of yourself is ALL that matters. And the Truth of you is:
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
The entire Universe lives inside of you and everything that you want is already there
You are the place where God comes to a point of Individualized and Personified Expression.
You are the light of the world!

Let's say:
* I am a manuscript of a divine letter.
* I am a mirror reflecting a noble face.
* The entire Universe lives inside of me . . . and everything I want . . . is already here.
* I am the place . . . where God comes to a point . . . of Individualized and Personified Expression. . .
* I am the light of the world!

2. Self-actualized people are detached from the OUTCOME, while staying focused on what they desire to experience.

Boy that's straight Unity teaching, isn't it? But most of us are VERY attached to our results, aren't we? Do you know where attachment comes from?

It's based on the fear of not getting what we want and not trusting the Law, the Field of Pure Potentiality, not trusting the TRUE SELF! To self-actualize - to Capture the Spirit of You - to move into Christ Consciousness -- we must release the fear that keeps us attached!

Say with me,
"I release the fear . . . and detach from the outcome . . . because I know it's all God . . . so it's all good!"

3. Self-actualized people have no investment in power or in the control of other people.

Marianne Williamson once wrote that: "Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."f

And we ARE powerful beyond measure, but it is not a power to control other people and make them do what we want . . . but rather the power inherent in every human being.

Because of our oneness with God, our True power is God power. Until we are conscious of the nature of our power, and until we learn how to use it for the good of all, we will continue to witness power used in destructive ways as we see on an all-too-often basis in our society.

Brene Brown, the great authority and author on authenticity, once gave this brilliant statement for how to behave when faced with a challenging situation: "Don't puff up, don't shrink back, stand in your power."g

Here's an example of that. Frank Szymanski, a CENTER for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 1940s, had been called in as a witness in a civil suit in South Bend, Indiana.

"Are you on the Notre Dame football team this year?" the judge asked.

"Yes, your honor," he said.

"What position?" "Center, your Honor."

"How good a center are you?"

Szymanski squirmed in his seat a moment, but then said firmly, "Sir, I'm the best center Notre Dame has ever had."

The coach, Frank Leahy, who was in the courtroom, was surprised. Szymanski had always been modest and unassuming. So when the proceedings were over, he took Szymanski aside and asked him why he had made such a bold statement.

Szmanski blushed, and then said: "I hated to do it, Coach. But, after all, I was under oath."

Let's say: "I stand in the Power of God living through me and as me."

So, I believe that to be self-actualized is to Capture the Spirit of You. And to do that:
First, be independent of the opinion of others.

Say with me:
* I am a manuscript of a divine letter.
* I am a mirror reflecting a noble face.
* The entire Universe lives inside of me . . . and everything I want . . . is already here.
* I am the place . . . where God comes to a point . . . of Individualized and Personified Expression. . .
* I am the light of the world!

Second, be detached from the outcome.

Say with me,
"I release the fear . . . and detach from the outcome . . . because I know it's all God . . . so it's all good!"

And, finally, have no investment in power or in the control of other people.

Let's say:
"I stand in the Power of God living through me and as me."

And here's an interesting final note, in his later years, Maslow explored a further dimension of needs, while saying his own vision on self-actualization was too narrow.

He called the further dimension self-transcendence and said that the self finds its true actualization in giving itself to some higher goal outside itself, in altruism and spirituality.

And it is in altruism and spirituality that we truly Capture the Spirit of who We Are: an expression of the Divine Givingness of Life to Its Creation! And so it is.

Twelve Lights of Bethlehem
Candlelighting Service


1 Baby Jesus-Life
Acolyte: This candle represents Life, which we light for the baby Jesus.
Narrator: Jesus was like a candle in a dark world. When we think of Christmas, all thoughts flow toward his birth. Light from light, Jesus demonstrates the universal Divine Presence, and through him, we see the image of God in everyone.

2 Mary-Faith
Acolyte: This candle represents Faith, which we light for Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Narrator: According to the Gospel of Luke, when confronted by the Divine commission to give birth to and nurture the Christ child, this ordinary young woman responded with extraordinary words of trusting faith: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name" (Luke 1:46-49).

3 Joseph-Understanding
Acolyte: This candle represents the golden light of Understanding, which we light for Joseph, the father of Jesus and husband to Mary.
Narrator: With an understanding heart, Joseph accepted his role in the amazing circumstances we celebrate this season. The gospels report that, after the angel choirs had adjourned to heaven and the Wise Men returned to their far-off lands, it was Joseph who remained as father and guardian of a child whose life would change the world. In quiet ways, by acts of unsung courage, he demonstrated a keen understanding of the dangers and joys of life, and always acted from the highest principles for the greatest good.

4 Bethlehem-Power
Acolyte: This candle represents Power, which we light for the little town of Bethlehem.
Narrator: Prophets had foretold that the Promised One would come from Bethlehem, the place where the powerful King David had been born. Yet the power Bethlehem represents is far greater than the might of armies. Bethlehem means "house of bread" in Hebrew, and one day the child born that night would challenge all people to feed the hungry, and clothe the needy, and comfort the afflicted. By the words of power he brought, Jesus taught humankind to affirm the Power and Presence of God in all circumstances. The power of that affirmation will heal the sick, lift the poor out of poverty, and transform the world into a commonwealth of peace.

5 Shepherds-Love
Acolyte: This candle represents Love, which we light for the shepherds.
Narrator: These were simple folk, not kings in their palaces, yet the Gospel of Luke says the birth of the Christ child was announced to them as "good news of great joy for all the people" (Luke 2:10). They responded with eagerness, and when they knelt before the manger, their hearts were filled with divine Love.

6 Prophets and Herald Angels-Zeal
Acolyte: This candle represents Zeal, which we light for Prophets and Herald Angels.
Narrator: The Prophet Isaiah had written: "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace ... The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this" (Isaiah 9:6-7). Luke reports that angelic voices rang out that dark night, announcing the holy birth. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!'" (Luke 2:13). Jesus would tell the people that God favors everyone. Isaiah the prophet and the Herald Angels conspired to give us a vision of heaven and earth united by the power of Zeal.

7 The Manger-Order
Acolyte: This candle represents Divine Order, which we light in memory of the Manger.
Narrator: Jesus has been called "King of kings" and "Lord of lords." Yet, when it was time for him to be born, his desperate parents converted an animal food trough into a makeshift cradle. As Luke writes, she "wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7). This simple action shows God working through all circumstances. Looking at the manger in the Christmas crèche offers a visual symbol of the balance and harmony flowing through the Universe. Even when circumstances appear desperate, we can access that flow of good through exercising our trust in Divine Order.

8 Wise Men-Wisdom
Acolyte: This candle represents the flame of Wisdom, which we light for the Wise Men.
Narrator: Many people saw the star, but the Gospel of Matthew says only the Wise Men from the East chose to act on their vision. The power of Wisdom is the guiding light that gives us the right decision when we trust the Christ within. With this candle we remember the good judgment shown by wise men and wise women throughout the ages who have found the way to their inner Christ.

9 The Star of Bethlehem-Imagination
Acolyte: This candle represents Imagination, which we light in memory of the Star which led the Magi to Bethlehem.
Narrator: The Gospel of Matthew says Wise Men followed that star until it came to rest over Bethlehem, where they found the Christ. The star represents the ability to create new ideas and set them in motion. It is the power to see through appearances to the inner, eternal Truth of every circumstance. With the eyes of Imagination, the Magi found their Christ by following a star; we can use our power of Imagination to discover the Christ within everyone.

10 Gold-Strength
Acolyte: This candle represents Strength, which we light in memory of the gift of gold.
Narrator: The first gift the Magi gave the baby Jesus was gold, which represents the kingly nature of Jesus, his prosperity consciousness, and his ability to perform all necessary tasks. Spiritual Strength is the true gold of existence, the energy of God flowing through us. Gold also symbolizes the gifts of God, which strengthen us during times of difficulty and give us the ability to share our time, talent, and treasure with others.

11 Frankincense-Will
Acolyte: This candle represents Will, which we light in memory of the gift of frankincense.
Narrator: Because frankincense was an incense of the temple, it represents the divine nature of Jesus, which is the Christ that dwells within everyone. To allow more and more of the Christ to express through us takes an act of Will, the willingness to name and claim our divine heritage.

12 Myrrh-Renunciation or Elimination
Acolyte: This candle represents Renunciation, which we light in memory of the gift of myrrh.
Narrator: This candle points to the human nature of Jesus. In biblical times, myrrh was a perfume used to prepare bodies for burial. It represents the power to let go and let God, to recognize we are in good hands when we trust God. Jesus, who was born in a manger, would die on a cross. Yet his teachings have changed billions of lives for the better. If he was able to let go and let God, so can we. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child this night, we release any thoughts of lack or limitation and turn our lives over to God's guidance, knowing in every circumstance God is within us, we are in God, and all is well.

May there always be room in your heart
for divinity to find a birthing place.
May you be holy as the angels were,
faithful as the shepherds were,
humble as the cattle were,
wise as the Wise Men were.
May you have the compassion Mary had
and the understanding Joseph had,
and may the blessing of the Christ child be yours,
not because of His birth night long ago,
but because His love is born in you today!

I would remind you that this next ceremony that we are about to do is very sacred to many people - so hold your nonsense for later.

MINISTER. The small candles that are being given to you are to remind you that you have been entrusted with a gift of God, the Christ within you, and that as Jesus became the light of the world by letting His light shine, so that same Christ light, quickened and glowing in each of us, is to become the light of our world, and is even to reach beyond our own world into the life of others.

The candles were given to you unlighted, because you alone can bring forth the light that is within you, even though others may call it forth by the inspiration that they give you. You are to light them from the light of the universal Christ, for it is in the light of the Christ that we find the light within us and learn how to bring it into expression. You are to place your candle with the others, there to let it shine and add its brightness to "the light of the world." You will place your candle in a bed of salt, for those who light the light of Christ within themselves are indeed the salt of the earth. So this simple ceremony becomes a prayer of the hand and the heart as well as of the lips so that the Truth which it symbolizes may be speedily manifest for you.

You can then take a special blessing that has been lovingly selected with the prayer that it may reach the person for whom the Spirit intends it.

So, row by row, come forward, light your candle from the tall one, place it in the tray of salt before it, and go back to your seat

Now that everyone has added their own unique individual light to the light of the world, let's just go around the room and read the affirmation that you received



aErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 213
bCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth, p. 169, 170
cCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth p. 76-77
dRumi
eAbraham Maslow
fMarianne Williamson
gBrene Brown



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