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Sunday Message for December 3, 2017

OH THOU, FROM WHOM THE BREATH OF LIFE COMES

The holiday season is officially upon us. Did it sneak up on any else but me, despite the Christmas ads that started before Halloween?!

However it arrived, it's here and while the outside world is embroiled in the trappings of the holiday season and we may be as well, each week at Unity in Castro Valley, we will turn inward to find rich and deep transformative meaning in one of the most well-known and oft-cited prayers in human history - the prayer taught by the man whose birth we celebrate this month, Jesus, the Christ; the prayer known as "The Lord's Prayer" or also called "The Our Father."

Of this prayer Emmet Fox in Sermon on the Mount, wrote: "The Lord's Prayer . . . was carefully constructed by Jesus with certain, very clear ends in view. That is why, of all his teachings, it is by far the best known, and the most often quoted. . . Undoubtedly everyone who is seeking to follow along the Way that Jesus led, should make a point of using the Lord's Prayer, and using it intelligently . . . ."a

And, we, in New Thought, absolutely follow along the Way that Jesus led. We often refer to him as "The Way Shower." We believe he came to show us BY EXAMPLE (1) who we are and (2) how to work with the Law of the Universe.

Of Jesus, Holmes said in SOM: "We do believe that in the unique personage of Jesus, the Christ was more fully orbed than in anyone of whom we have record. We do believe that in the person of Jesus more of God was manifest. We also believe that Christ comes alike to each and all. There is no one particular man predestined to become the Christ. We must understand the Christ is not a person, but a Principle. It was impossible for Jesus not to have become the Christ, as the human gave way to the Divine, as the man gave way to God, as the flesh gave way to Spirit, as the will of division gave way to the will of unity -- Jesus the man became a living embodiment of the Christ. If we can look upon Jesus from this viewpoint, we shall be able to study his life as a living example."b

And so this man, this Living Example, this Way Shower, whose birth we celebrate this month, gave us a prayer, a powerful, powerful prayer, a prayer of transformation.

Again Emmet Fox, Sermon on the Mount, says: "The Great Prayer is a compact formula for the development of the soul. It is designed with the utmost care for the specific purpose; so that those who use it . . . with understanding will experience a real change of soul. The only progress [that matters] . . . is the change of soul. The mere acquisition of fresh knowledge received intellectually makes no change in the soul. The Lord's Prayer is especially designed to bring this change about . . . ."c

Fox is talking about true spiritual knowledge or I think we could call it spiritual mastery! Where we are changed at our core to live, move, breath and have our being from a place of connection with/as Source. Where it's just there. No one has to remind us; we don't have to remind ourselves. It's just there! It is who we are!

This powerful, ancient prayer, that helps us get there, has gone through many translations and interpretations, and we will explore three of them this month.

The Aramaic language, like Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, has layers and levels of meaning. The words are organized and defined by a poetic system where different meanings of every word are possible. So, every line of the Lord's Prayer could be translated into English in several different ways, and it has been.

As an example of how it can be translated, and how it can lose a little something in the translation:
"Our Father, who are in Heaven, Howard be thy name."
OR
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, how didja know my name?"
AND
"Give us this day our jelly bread."
OR
"Give us this steak and daily bread, and forgive us our mattresses."
Then there's:
"And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
One child believed that the next line was:
"Lead a snot into temptation" and thought he was praying for his little sister to get into trouble.
And a little girl finished it with:
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some E-mail. Amen."

So, as you can see, many translations!

LORDS PRAYER

Today, we will look at a beautiful translation that begins with: "Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes.

Here's the English translation:
Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiness.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Let Your will come true - in the universe just as on earth. Give us wisdom for our daily need, detach the fetters of faults that bind us, like we let go the guilt of others.
Let us not be lost in superficial things, but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Sealed in trust, faith and truth.

Kahil Gibran in The Prophet said: "What is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether."d

Doesn't that translation do that beautifully? It expands us into the living ether!

This morning I want to do two things. First focus on the first two verses with a bit of conversation and then, grounded on that conversation, let you have an experience of your own with the rest of the prayer.

Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration. May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiness.

I don't know about you, but for me, those words just open me up to something pretty profound.

Eric Butterworth once wrote: "You may believe that there is a Cosmic force that acts upon you, that guides you and heals you. But in the principle of unity, you are not simply the creation of God, molded and shaped and set out on the path of life. You are the force or presence of God expressing Itself as you. And you have no existence outside of that force or presence. The purpose of all religion should be to help people to find this cosmic awareness of unity with God . . ."e

And there it is in the Master Teacher's words: May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiness.

Gregg Braden, at his Cell to Soul Retreat in New Mexico, began it by laying out a very provocative, thought-provoking statement. He said that the way we answer one question - one question -- will inform everything in our lives. It will be the foundation of every decision about relationships, jobs, health, every choice we ever make. And it is a deceptively simple question and yet deeply profound. It is one that humanity has been asking for millennia and seeking the answer to it outside of themselves.

Do you want to know what that question is? I thought so! It is "Who Am I?"f

He then proceeded to address that question through scientific research that now says we are not what we've been told, and we are so much more than we've ever imagined.

Science now tells us (although it's not yet being taught publicly, but Braden has the research to show it) that humanity did not evolve from struggle and strive over eons of time, evolving from ameba in the water up to the Neanderthal. Rather, we arrived as we are today about 200,000 years ago, with everything in tact as it is today.

Here's an unpacking of that research. In 1987, "Lucy" was discovered. "Lucy" was a Neanderthal infant from whom they were able to take DNA. The scientists thought they had found the first person from whom we had evolved and it was all very, very exciting, until they saw the results of the DNA test. It showed something very profound and shocking. Her DNA is NOT the same as ours.

It is now believed (but not yet being publicly taught or even discussed in the scientific world) that the Neanderthal (who did evolve from apes) and the human as we are today, which is called the "Anatomically Modern Human," walked the earth at the same time.

Let me say that again because it is kinda huge!

It is now believed (but not yet being publicly taught or even discussed in the scientific world) that the Neanderthal (who did evolve from apes) and the human as we are today, which is called the "Anatomically Modern Human," walked the earth at the same time.

And that is what we are. We are the "Anatomically Modern Human," and we survived, the Neanderthal did not.

With this discovery, science (which has said we evolved from apes) and religion (which says that God created Adam, an "Anatomically Modern Human") can now walk hand in hand!

Our DNA, utterly unique to us, wires us to have deep intuition, empathy, pre-cognition, compassion, self healing abilities, wisdom, great resiliency, insights. No other beings have this.

So, who are you?

You are God's light. You are holy. You come from the breath of life that fills all.

The first two lines of this most holy prayer are a call for us to remember that!

"Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration. May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiness."

They really are the first two steps of an Affirmative Prayer, aren't they? And I often say that if we were to get, really, really get, embody, live from, breath from, act from, vote from, decide from the first two steps, then we actually wouldn't need the rest. But until we are there, like Jesus was there, then, we do and that's OK. That's why there is more to the Lord's Prayer.

We teach in New Thought all the time that we are One of God, connected with all things, and that is the message of this morning, but my question is: Is your connection that of a cobweb or a cable?

In your mind's eye, first picture cobwebs in a tree, on a plant, or in a corner of a room. Now instead of cobwebs imagine steel cables.

If you have the idea of connection, of who you are, just in your head as an intellectual exercise, then your life will be held together by cobwebs.

The slightest little offsetting experience will pull it apart.

But if you live by the power of God, if you live from the realization that the breath of life breathed life into you and that you are a holy being of light, you will be fortified with a strength greater than steel cables.

That is what this Prayer is inviting us all into just in its first two lines. The rest of it takes us deeper into the experience of who we are, in and as God.

THE PRAYER

Let's go deeply into it as we make it personal for our lives here today and look at it as the steel cable of our connection. Close your eyes, and allow yourself to just be with this prayer.

"Oh Thou, from whom the breath of life comes, who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration.
May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiness.
Your Heavenly Domain approaches.
Let Your will come true - in the universe just as on earth.
Give us wisdom for our daily need, detach the fetters of faults that bind us, like we let go the guilt of others.
Let us not be lost in superficial things, but let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose.
From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age.
Sealed in trust, faith and truth.

And that is what we do. And so it is.

CHRISTMAS TREE CEREMONY

And now, to start the holiday season off joyously. We are going to have a ceremony that explores the symbolism of the Christmas tree and all its ornaments.

Each year we, like little kids, eagerly await the trimming of the Christmas tree. But let's look behind the tinsel and trimmings to what they represent.

The TREE itself is a symbol. Its branches are ever green. But they remind us that the life of God is eternal and is constantly being renewed in us. The tree, as we do, reaches up to a higher understanding of God. Its branches reach outward on all sides, as if to welcome all races of people and all creeds.

On the tree are strings of LIGHTS. How beautifully the colored lights glow, each symbolizing the Christ light. The many colors remind us that each of us expresses good in his own way, yet he draws his life and strength and wisdom from God, the source of all good. Even as Jesus Christ became the light of the world, so can we let His light shine forth through us to bless our world.

We place colored BALLS on the tree. So, now everyone who has colored Christmas tree ball ornaments come up and put them on the tree. Many colors are reflected from these shiny balls, yet the colors seem to harmonize. This is symbolic of the different races and creeds and nations and indicates that they can live together in peace and harmony. Jesus was born to point the way to peace among men. The Christ Spirit in all men will teach them how to solve their problems so that there will be justice and freedom for all.

Next we have a tiny ANGELS for our tree. So, now everyone who has Angels come up and put them on the tree. The angel is a symbol of the Christlike thoughts that help us to express more of the Christ Spirit. At Christmastime we can send angel thoughts or thoughts of good will to people all over the world.

Now we have toy HORNS to sound our Christmas joy. So, now everyone who has Horns come up and put them on the tree. When we hear the notes of "Joy to the World," let our hearts be filled with a deep abiding joy, the joy that comes to us when we love God and do His will.

Beside the horn we now hang a golden BELL. So, now everyone who has Bells come up and put them on the tree. For hundreds of years at Christmastime, the bells have chimed out the message, "Christ is born." "Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He's not born in thee, thy soul is all forlorn."

A BIRD perches on a branch of our tree. So, now everyone who has Birds come up and put them on the tree. It is the dove of peace, reminding us that if we truly want peace, we must let peace express through us. We must live peaceably with others.

Here are long strands of bright BEADS and tinseled CHAINS for our tree. So, now if you could put those on the tree. Does it not seem that the beads are smiles that lead from one person to another? And the links of bright tinsel represent the deeds of kindness that link many human hearts in understanding and love.

Now on our tree we place SANTA CLAUS. So, now if you could put those on the tree. Here is the Spirit of giving, all dressed up in a red suit. We can express the spirit of Santa Claus in our giving, too. We can send love and a blessing along with our gifts.

We place on our tree a tiny white LAMB. So, now if you could put those on the tree. The lamb is a symbol of innocence and purity. It reminds us of the Good Shepherd who told His disciples, "Feed my sheep." As modern disciples, shall we give spiritual food to those who hunger for a better way of life?

Our tree needs a crowning touch. At the very top we place a shining STAR. What memories and thoughts that star brings to mind! We see the Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem, and we know that the light of the Bethlehem star still shines to guide men.

And now that the tree is trimmed, let us turn in thankfulness to the Father and know that: 'The star of God's light shines within each of us, to help us keep the Christmas Spirit through all the year.' May you have The Spirit of Christmas which is Peace, The Gladness of Christmas which is Hope, and The Heart of Christmas which is Love.



aEmmet Fox Sermon on the Mount, p. 147
bErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 359
cEmmet Fox Sermon on the Mount, p. 147
dKahil Gibran in The Prophet
eEric Butterworth
fGregg Braden, Cell to Soul Retreat in New Mexico



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