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Sunday Message for December 11, 2016


Our brother and master teacher Jesus is often referred to as the "Prince of Peace" and today it is our intention to Capture the Spirit of Peace. This entire month, we are CAPTURING THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON.

We did a lovely connecting and caring exercise at the beginning of service last week and I want to do something similar this morning, if you will indulge me. Would you turn to someone next to you, and if you don't know them share your names, and, say something kind to them and brief - kind and brief.

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 something kind, after which add "Who you are makes a difference." We captured a moment of connection, community and care, didn't we?


Now, to our theme for this morning, "Capturing the Spirit of Peace." A much, much, much needed topic.

At times like these in our world we wonder what we can do or we feel helpless that we can't make a difference. But I believe we can make a difference. I truly do. I love this ancient Chinese Proverb:
If there is light in the soul,
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace on earth.

And this morning I want to offer Seven Practices for Peace that will turn on the light in the soul. They come from Deepak Chopra's book Peace is the Waya The invitation is to follow one short and simple practice each day, each one centered on the theme of peace. Each practice takes only a few minutes. Think of the impact if we all did this even for, say, one month!

They are:
* Sunday: Be Peace
* Monday: Think Peace
* Tuesday: Feel Peace
* Wednesday: Speak Peace
* Thursday: Act Peace
* Friday: Create Peace
* Saturday: Share Peace

You are probably going to want to take some notes on this, so there is a handout in your program so you can do just that.


On Sunday, take 5 minutes to meditate for peace. Chopra offers a specific peace meditation, and we will actually do it later in the service, because, after all - today is Sunday! But I want to tell you what it is in case you want to write it down so you can repeat it.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words:
Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love
Allow these words to radiate from your heart's stillness out into your body for 5 minutes.
As you end your meditation, say to yourself,
"Today I let go of all resentments and grievances."

And then bring into your mind anyone against whom you have a grievance and make a choice today to let it go. Chopra suggests that you send that person your forgiveness, but I say take it a step further and do a ho'oponopono, the ancient Hawaiian tradition of taking full responsibility for creating everything, everything!, that comes within your experience:
I am sorry.
I love you.

And, as I said, since today is Sunday, we will do this meditation a little bit later, but now to the rest of the week.


On Monday, stand guard at the portals of your mind (as Emerson said) and if ever, during the day, you feel fear, frustration, upset or anything that disturbs your peace of mind, repeat these ancient intentions:
* Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful.

Aren't those beautiful? Say them with me, will you?
* Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful.

But this practice doesn't stop there. After saying:
* Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful, say
* Let my friends be loved, happy and peaceful.
* Let my perceived enemies be loved, happy and peaceful.
* Let all beings be loved, happy and peaceful.
* Let the whole world experience these things.

Use these words however many times you need to during the day to return to center.


This is the day to experience the emotions of peace. What are the emotions of peace? Compassion, understanding, and love, for starters. Right?

According to Chopra in Peace is the Way: "Compassion is the feeling of shared suffering. When you feel someone else's suffering, there is the birth of understanding. Understanding is the knowledge that suffering is shared by everyone. When you understand that you aren't alone in your suffering, there is the birth of love. When there is love there is the opportunity for peace."b

His name was John. He had wild hair, wore a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. One day John decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, messy T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so John starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. John gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward John. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A Godly man, very elegant, very dignified. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid sitting on the floor? And besides, that's just not acceptable behavior in the House of the Lord."

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. Even the minister is silent. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to John to worship with him so he won't be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister regained control, he said, "I was about to preach about compassion, understanding and love, but you probably wouldn't remember much of what I said. But, what you have just seen, you will never forget."

So, Tuesday is the day to feel compassion, understanding, and love for your fellow travelers.


Today, we speak peace. Set this intention:
"Today every word I utter will be chosen consciously. I will refrain from complaints, condemnation, and criticism."

Again, on Wednesday, set the intention to consciously choose every word you utter and refrain from complaints, condemnation, and criticism.

But that doesn't take it far enough. Also on Wednesday, do at least one of the following:
* Tell someone how much you appreciate them.
* Express genuine gratitude to someone who has helped and loved you.
* Offer healing or nurturing words to someone who needs them.
* Show respect to someone whose respect you value.


Today is the day to help someone: A child, a sick person, an older or frail person. Help can take many forms. Bring a smile to a stranger's face. If someone acts in a hurtful way, respond with a gesture of loving kindness. Send an anonymous gift to someone, however small. Offer help without asking for, or even expecting, gratitude or recognition. Just a few ideas for actions of peace.


Today, come up with at least one creative idea to resolve a conflict, either in your personal life or your family circle or among friends.

You may change an old habit that isn't working, look at someone in a new way, offer words you never offered before, or think of an activity that brings people together in good feeling and laughter.


Finally, on Saturday, share your practice of peacemaking with two people. As more of us participate in these practices, they will expand into a critical mass. Give them this information and invite them to begin the daily practice. Take two extra handouts and give them out!

In Peace is the Way, Chopra writes: "The seven practices for peace are simple, but when followed on a mass scale, their power is potentially unlimited. If you transform yourself into a peacemaker, you won't become an activist marching in the streets. You will not be 'anti' anything. No money is required. All you are asked to do is to go within and dedicate yourself to peace. It just might work. Even if you don't immediately see a decline in violence around the world, you will know in your heart that you have dedicated your own life to peace. The single best reason to become a peacemaker is this: every other approach has failed. No one knows what the critical mass must be before peace becomes the foundation of a new order; [regardless] your duty and mine is to bring about change by personal transformation."c


And now, we are going to celebrate in a way that only those of us in Unity do - celebrating in advance your most amazing 2017, where you experience Christ Consciousness and all that that brings with it in higher and deeper ways.

So let's look at creating some positive spiritual thoughts with our Burning Bowl service. This is a wonderful ritual of release, where we let go of old patterns, old attitudes that no longer serve us and replace them with positive, uplifting ones that free us. And we do this by saying good-bye to the year, 2016 and embracing and welcoming 2017. James Thurber said, "Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."d Awareness is the key. And we do that by staying present. The present holds the power of now.

Today is about letting go of those burdens that we are carrying around with us. One of Charles Fillmore's most powerful teachings is that, "We must do a mental house cleaning." So we are going to clear out any thoughts or beliefs that are no longer serving us. Some of those things may be Negative thoughts - thoughts about ourselves or others that are not for our highest good.

Unforgiveness - is there anyone you have not completely forgiven - including yourself?

Beliefs - any beliefs that are not based in truth such as prejudice and hate. Belief that illness or disease cannot be overcome.

Guilt - are you holding in feelings of guilt about something that has happened in the past?

Fear is very detrimental. It holds us back from reaching our full potential.

Attachments or addictions - any attachment to people or things that causes discord in our lives. All of these thoughts and behaviors hold us back from our highest good.

Now think about how these things have affected you throughout the years. How long have you been carrying them? That is what we are here to rid ourselves of today. In doing this I invite you to become aware that you are supported and enfolded in God's love. I invite you to let go and let God; to trust that you are being supported and strengthened in this love. It says in Ezekiel, "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you."e

So just get comfortable where you are sitting. Have a pencil and the paper with the fire on it available. Relax and feel the pew supporting your body, the way God's love supports you.

Father, Mother, God let us accept responsibility for our lives, for our thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions. Help us to now use our will to choose what we will take with us into the New Year and what we will release. We now turn over to Spirit, our negative thoughts, fears, beliefs and anything else keeping us from our good. Through the power of the Christ, we now release and let it all go. We give thanks and bless this ritual that we are about to perform.

Now move your focus down to the area of your heart, and visualize a pure white-golden light glowing there, becoming brighter and brighter - radiating outward. You are becoming a being of pure light and love - pure Spirit - feel yourself floating upward and over the countryside - a summer meadow, green and lush.

You see a child playing down there, sitting in a field of daises. As you gaze lovingly at the child, you realize it is your inner child, that little being that lives within you.

There is a beautiful sack beside the child, and you know it is your sack of life. Inside the sack are all of the things you have learned along the way. Ask your inner child to open the sack and see if there are any thoughts, hurts, or experiences that are left in the sack from childhood that no longer serve your inner child. Ask the child if he or she is willing to pull the things from the sack and release them to love. Assure your inner child that the sack will be much lighter when they are able to release the things that bring hurt to your heart ... habits that you developed during this stage that are not useful to you now.

Your child says yes. Gently take the things from her or him and release them in a bubble of pure light as you write them on your paper...

Now, your child turns and hands the sack to a youth leaning against a big beautiful oak tree, watching the bubbles of a dancing brook... The sack has grown larger throughout the years of living, of learning, of experiencing. You realize this youth is your inner adolescent, and you ask him or her to open the sack and remove any hurts or habits from that stage in your life that are blocking your highest good. Let your inner self gently place these memories into a bubble of light and place them into the brook to be washed away as you write them down

Now your adolescent carries your sack to where you are, standing on a mountain where you have full view of all the experiences of your life. The sack has again grown much larger.

Invite your higher self to take hold of the sack and open it. Are there any hurts... fears... attitudes... beliefs... feelings of shame or guilt... unhealthy habits... that are left in the sack from any state of your life that you are willing now to release? Assure yourself that the load will be much lighter when people and old hurts are forgiven, when habits are let go, when attitudes and beliefs are transformed, when fears are brought into the light.

As your Inner Self shuffles through the bag, you notice a white bird land beside you. This bird is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Whole Spirit of God. You bring out the hurts and fears and feelings and release them to the white bird, to carry them to the light as you write them on the paper.

Let the spirit of God work in you. Know that it is not by might, nor by power, but by spirit, active in you, that transformation happens. Give yourself a silent blessing for being open and receptive enough to become aware of that which is in need of transformation. It says in Psalms, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me."f

Now silently, meditatively, please come forward row by row, to the Christ candle, to the flame, representing the cleansing action of fire. Touch your paper to the candle to start it burning, and then place it in the bowl.

As you release the paper, release from your mind everything that you've written on that paper, knowing that the Living Spirit of Truth is healing and transforming everything right now. Say to yourself something like, "This is no longer a part of my life. The forgiving love of God in the Truth of Jesus Christ now makes me free." Then silently come back to your seat, and remain in quiet meditation until everyone is finished.


In a few minutes, we're going to experience a meditation to visualize the good you wish to see manifest in your life over the next twelve months - to visualize how your heaven on earth would look.

There are two things that keep us from being in heaven - first that we don't believe it's possible, and second, that we don't think we deserve it. This meditation will be a step in overcoming that. For a few minutes, you need to let go of all belief in limitations of time, money, ability, situation, whatever you think is keeping your good from you. You're going to write a letter to God, but dated December 31, 2017. In it, you're going to thank God for all the wonderful experiences you've had the past year - not the year 2016, which you've just completed; but the year 2017, which lies before you.

I've heard it said that thanking someone for something they've done is politeness, but thanking God for something in advance is faith. Jesus said, "So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."g So that's what we're going to do right now. We are going to put emotion into our belief.

Before we start our meditation, please take the paper that says "Dear God..." and have a pencil or pen ready. After the meditation, we'll take 5 minutes to write the letter.

In the letter, you will affirm what you want to experience as if it has already happened; that it's in your life now; not that it will come about or that you're going to do or have something. God works in the now. And if you're affirming something very specific, be sure to include a loophole for Spirit. Write "this or something better, thank you God," so that you're not putting any limitations on your good.

So, I invite you to close your eyes now, take a few deep breaths, let yourself relax, and return to that quiet, inner place of peace. Rest there, held in the beauty and comfort of the love that you are. In this peaceful place, take a moment to appreciate all that you have given and all that you have received in the past year, the year 2016. Thank yourself for the steps you have taken and the lessons you have learned. Recognize the healing you've accepted and the growth you have allowed. Let this gratitude fill your heart.

Picture yourself back on the mountain. Before you is a gateway, the gateway to your future, fresh and open, full of promise and opportunity. Behind you is everything you've experienced, everything that has happened to you in life, which has brought you to this moment, December 31, 2017. Step through the gateway and greet the new year, 2018, with open arms and a clear heart.

Begin to reflect on the past year in a positive and joy-filled way, seeing the pages of the months turning slowly. Allow the ideas and thoughts of a renewed consciousness to come into your mind. See yourself in the positive, loving light of the One Presence, knowing that your emotional, physical, and spiritual health are unfolding into the wholeness of the Christ-perfection right now...

Imagine your life December, 2017 brightly shining with love and blessing, laughter and joy, purpose, peace and grace. Know that this is God's will for you. Believe the scriptures when they say, "for God all things are possible."h

Remember that you are the co-creator of your life - remove all limits and know that the Kingdom of Heaven is now. Imagine your home, the harmony of your relationships, perfect health, a rewarding, fulfilling job, all the time you need, abundance in all areas of your life. Choose to let the Christ see and speak and hear and feel and act through you. This is heaven and it is your choice to live in it. Know that in Truth, you are prosperity, you are love and wisdom. You are guided in right ways, and you are Unlimited.

And now, as Spirit moves you, and remaining in a silent, meditative state, open your eyes and write your letter to God, dated December 31, 2017, thanking Spirit for all the blessings you have received throughout the year, 2017. Affirm the good that you have received for your life, your church, and your world. When you have finished, fold your letter, take it home, and put it away until the end of 2017. Say silently to yourself, "Thank you, God, that this is now so."

It is in releasing the old and accepting and giving thanks for the new that true freedom is ours. In the words of Jesus: "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me. "

I look forward to another year full of joyful surprises from Spirit. I see for each one of you, prosperity in all areas of your lives; and my vision for you is for many blessings, may 2017 be the year when all of your inner dreams manifest in the outer realm. God bless you and have a Merry Christmas

And again, our daily practices are:
* Sunday: Be Peace
* Monday: Think Peace
* Tuesday: Feel Peace
* Wednesday: Speak Peace
* Thursday: Act Peace
* Friday: Create Peace
* Saturday: Share Peace

In closing, we'll end with the Sunday practice:
Now, put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words:
Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love
Allow these words to radiate from your heart's stillness out into your body. . . . Then say to yourself, Today I relinquish all resentments and grievances."
Bring into your mind anyone against whom you have a grievance and let it go. Offer that person ho'oponopono by saying:
I am sorry.
I love you.
And so it is and so we let it be.

aDeepak Chopra Peace is the Way (beginning at p. 25)
bDeepak Chopra Peace is the Way p. 26
cDeepak Chopra Peace is the Way p. 29
dJames Thurber
eEzekiel 36:26
fPsalm 51:10
gMark 11:24
hMatthew 19:26

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