OUR FATHER, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN
This month at Unity of Castro Valley, we have turned inward to find meaning in "The Lord's Prayer. Today is our last look at the Prayer because the next two Sundays being Christmas Eve day and New Year's Eve day will be different and special.
So, today we are going to look at the translation of the "Lord's Prayer" that is most common to many of us.
And to set the tone for today's talk, as I have done each week, I'd like to start by simply reciting the Prayer (in English).
Minister: Our Father, which art in heaven.........
Female & Male (together): Yes?
Minister: Excuse me. I . . um . . . Wow .. . .The strangest thing just happened . . . . I thought I heard . . . . well, never mind . . . let's start over again. Our Father, which are in heaven . . .
Female & Male (together): Yes, did you call me?
Minister: Call? Call who? OK! Who out there is messing with me? Jarrett, Ireene, Andy? Just cut it out. One more time . . . "Our Father which art in heaven..."
Female & Male (together): There you go again.
Male: You called me. You said, "Our Father which art in heaven..."
Female: So, here I AM. What's on your mind?
Minister: What's on my mind? You know, they say when we talk to God we're praying, but when God talks to us we're schizophrenic? Have I gone over the edge?
Female & Male (together): No, I don't think so.
Minister: That's a relief. Well, nothing's really on my mind. I'm a little busy here - you see, I'm a minister and I'm giving a Sunday talk on Jesus' ancient prayer. I was really just reciting the prayer right now to set the tone. Of course, you already know all of this, but I really don't have anything particular on my mind!
Female & Male (together): All right then, go on.
Minister: Thank you. Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name......
Female: Excuse me, but I just have to ask you . . . Do you know the meaning of what you just said? Because, it is really, really important.
Minister: You know, I'm trying to do a sermon here. I've got all these people waiting to hear something inspirational from me - and you're really interrupting.
Male: I'm interrupting you? Oh, really?!?
Minister: God interrupting a sermon about God. Ok, Ok, I see the irony! My apologies! Well, let's see. "Hallowed be thy name?" "Hallowed be thy name?" It sounds pretty good, but what does it mean? This is a test, isn't it? You're testing me to see if I'm up to speed as a minister! I knew this would happen some day!!
Male: Donna, Donna, Donna. Haven't you learned yet that I don't give you tests? I was just wondering if you knew the power in the words you just spoke. "Hallowed" means wholeness and perfection. "Name" really refers to the nature of something.
So, when you said, "hallowed be thy name" what you really said was that wholeness and perfection are my nature. That is such an important concept to grasp -- one that I think you're congregation could benefit from fully understanding . . . .
Female: . . . because if my nature is wholeness and perfection, then I know nothing of separation and imperfection. I know nothing of sickness, of troubles, of sorrow, of failure, of pain, of hurt. Hallowed be thy name means my nature is altogether good and that I am the author of perfect good!
And since you called me Father, implying a parent-child relationship, you must realize the tremendous significant connection here. The nature of the parent is automatically transferred to the child. It is a cosmic law that like begets like.
Just like it's not possible for a rosebush to produce lilies or for a cow to give birth to a dog, my offspring must be of the same nature as I. And since my nature is wholeness and perfection - so is yours, my child, so is yours -- whatever appearances may say to the contrary. Now that's something to share with your congregation, isn't it?
Minister: Yes, I'd say so. Since you brought it up, may I ask a question about this father thing?
Female & Male (together): Certainly. A lot of people do.
Minister: Why "father"? Why are you always portrayed as masculine?
Female: It's really pretty simple. Just remember. This prayer was spoken over 2000 years ago. Using masculine terminology was the norm. Look at Talks on Truth, for example. Charles Fillmore wrote it as recently as 1917, and yet it still uses masculine terms.
By the way, I want you to know that I don't mind every time you gender neutralize a Charles Fillmore quote!
I know that some of my children did not have human fathers who were nurturing, supportive and unconditionally loving and so, for them, thinking of me as father may not feel very good.
But what is important is the Cosmic Concept of the Perfect Father. That is what I am. Because wholeness and perfection are my nature, I know only love, I know only support, I know only nurturing.
Male: I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't really care what label you put on me! Call me Father, call me Mother, call me Sally, call me Howard -- you know as in "Howard be thy Name" -- I don't care!
Now, why don't you get on with your prayer. We're taking up a lot of service time here.
Minister: Oh, you're right. I've still got a talk to give. Let's see, where was I? "Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed by thy name." Yes, here I am. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Male: Now, here's where things get interesting. Do you really mean what you just said?
Minister: Well, yes, I think so. I mean, yes, of course I mean that!
Male: You're praying to have my kingdom come and to have my will be expressed on earth. That's quite a goal! And you realize, of course, that this one is up to you? That is to say, your work is to bring more and more of my ideas such as -- peace and love and harmony and abundance -- into concrete form upon this plane. Now, I don't mean just you. I mean everybody. That is what you are all here to do!
Remember, you were born to make manifest my glory that is within you. Hey, how do you like that - God quoting Marianne Williamson!
Anyway, here's what I want you to do. You've got to get the word out to let people know that I have glorious and wonderful plans for them. My will for them is that they express life fully and freely and joyously.
It is NEVER my will that they suffer. But I know a lot of them do. Please tell them, in whatever way you can, that it is NOT my will that brings this about, but it is their sense of separation from me. It is because they forget that my nature, and therefore their nature, is whole and perfect. . . .
Female: . . . They forget that I am as close as their breath. They forget that when they think, they are using my Mind and my creative power. If they realized the power in their thoughts, they would think twice before they think!
And tell them also to listen to those creative urges within them. Tell them to pay attention to those deep inner knowings that they all have - Tell them that that's me talking to them. Tell them it's me trying to get their attention. But so often they just dismiss my voice as a pie-in-the-sky dream. What they forget is that they bring the kingdom to earth and express my will here on earth by living fully!
Of course, I could tell them all of this directly if they would only listen.
Minister: Um? I wonder how well I listen.
Male: Well, now that you mention it, you could continue to work on that. But remember, you are a work in progress, just like everyone else!
Minister: Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than I expected. "Give us this day our daily bread."
Female: You know, you might benefit from cutting out some of the bread. You don't really need more carbs.
Minister: Hey, wait a minute! This is starting to get kind of personal! I didn't really want to hear that.
Male: Praying can be a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That's what I'm trying to get across to you. You called Me and here I AM. It's too late to stop now. Keep praying. I'm interested in the next part of your prayer ....... ......Well, go on.
Minister: I'm not so sure I want to.
Male: Why not?
Minister: I'm afraid of what you'll say.
Male: Why don't you try me and see.
Minister: OK, here goes. "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Female: Let's get one thing straight right up at the front. I don't forgive!
Female: You heard me. I don't forgive!
Minister: Well that news certainly fills me with the warm and fuzzies!
Male: Just think about it for a minute. Go back to that "hallowed be thy name" part we just went over. If my nature is wholeness and perfection, I know nothing else; and if your nature is wholeness and perfection, I know nothing else . . . of you -- Then I know of nothing to forgive! Simple as that.
You, on the other hand, are a different story. When you don't forgive, you really muck up the works. My wholeness and perfection have a pretty hard time expressing through you when you're unforgiving.
That's really what this line of the prayer means. As you forgive events and people in your life, you are freed from feelings of separation from me.
So, have you forgiven everyone you need to forgive?
Minister: Well, I'm trying to.
Male: As Yoda said in the great spiritual movie Star Wars -- "There is no try, there is only do." I inspired that line, you know!
Female: So, I'll ask the question again, have you forgiven everyone and everything you need to forgive? For example, what about our current political climate? Is there any forgiveness work there?
Minister: I knew it! I knew you would bring that up! That's why I didn't really want to go here. You know it's all really icky feeling and I'm just not ready to forgive!
Female: But what about your prayer? You just prayed to forgive everyone. You just prayed to have your connection with me strengthened. Didn't you mean it?
Minister: Well, yes I meant it - but can this one thing be an exception? I bet there are people here with me who'd like it to be, aren't there?!
Male: No, actually, there can't be. You see, I can't express through you -- you can't live the kingdom here on earth -- if you insist on carrying around any bitterness inside, now can you?
Minister: No. I guess not.
Male: So, what are you going to do about it? Not "try" to do about it but "do" about it!
Minister: Well, I'm going to keep working on it.
Male: Nope -- that won't cut it! What you are going to do about it now?
Minister: Right here? Right now? In the middle of service which, by the way, I really need to get back to.
Female: This is important. They'll wait!
Minister: Ok, here goes [Sped through no enthusiasm or feeling]:
I fully and freely forgive and release you. I loose you and let you go quickly to your good and in peace. All things are cleared up between us now and forever. I now behold you with the eyes of love and I rejoice in your perfection. You are free and I am free too.
Female: Well, it was a start, but let's try it one more time. . . with a little more gusto.
Minister: [With heart and feeling] I fully and freely forgive and release you. I loose you and let you go quickly to your good and in peace. All things are cleared up between us now and forever. I now behold you with the eyes of love and I rejoice in your perfection. You are free and I am free too.
Male: There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?
Minister: Hmmm, well, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I feel pretty great! Lighter and freer and closer to you; more filled with your Presence.
Female: That is the whole idea, you know. You're not through with your prayer -- so, go on.
Minister: Leave me not in temptation but deliver me from evil.
Female: Of course I'll do this! I always do this. You're the one who needs to cooperate!
Minister: What do you mean by that?
Male: Come on! Just look at some of the "temptations" that get you! You make choices that aren't always the greatest for you, don't you? What about, just this week, for example. You choose to stay up late and watch some inane TV show even though you had committed to yourself that you would get up early and work out. Did you get up? No, because you were too tired.
What about your choice to overload your schedule so that you hardly have any free time?
What about the choice you make now and then to get involved in gossip?
What about the choice to become fearful when appearances aren't what you want?
What about the choice to lose patience with a friend?
What about your choice to think those negative thoughts?
What about the choice to . . .
Minister: OK! OK! I get the picture. I make my choices and I reap the consequences. Right?
Male: Right! See, you are a quick learner. And just so we are really clear about this line of the prayer, I've never been a big fan of the word "evil." People think it means some negative power separate from me. But if I am wholeness and perfection - as we've already established I am - then a negative power separate from me is impossible. . .
Female: I loved it when your Ernest Holmes wrote: "The problem of evil will be met only to the degree that you cease doing evil and do good, for evil will disappear when you no longer indulge in it."a That Ernest was a pretty smart guy. You should listen to him more often! Now, go ahead and finish your prayer.
Minister: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
Female: Do you know what would bring me glory forever? Do you know what would really make me happy?
Minister: No, but I' suspect you're about to tell me.
Female: If you realized who walks as you all the time.
Male: If we had these conversations more often.
Female: If you would allow me to direct and guide your life. If you would keep working on that forgiveness piece -- it's a pretty constant thing.
Female & Male (together): Then, my kingdom, my power and my glory would be yours as well -- right here on earth.
Minister: Amen to that.
Female: Yes, amen to that.
Minister: Gee. Now, I really have to get back to my lesson today. I've still got a sanctuary full of people waiting to hear something inspiring. So, what should we tell them?
Female & Male (together): I think you and I already did.
Minister: I guess you're right. Hey! I have an idea. To congregation: Now that we have this new understanding for the prayer, how about it if we say it together. And I bet if we asked, God would even join us.
Female & Male : I'd love to!
Our Father, which art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Leave us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever!
Amen, amen and amen!
And now, we are going to celebrate in a Unity way - celebrating in advance your most amazing 2018, 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, 2017 and embracing and welcoming 2018. James Thurber said, "Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."b 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.
For instance: unforgiveness, prejudice, hate, illness, disease, guilt, fear, or addictions
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 so, I invite you to let go and let God; to trust that you are being supported and strengthened in God's love. It says in Ezekiel, "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you."c
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."d
Now silently, meditatively, please come forward row by row, to the flame, representing the cleansing action of fire. Touch your paper to the flame 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, 2018. In it, you're going to thank God for all the wonderful experiences you've had the past year - not the year 2017, which you've just completed; but the year 2018, 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."e 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 a few 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 2017. 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, 2018. Step through the gateway and greet the new year, 2019, 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, 2018 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."f
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, 2018, thanking Spirit for all the blessings you have received throughout the year, 2018. 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 2018. 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 2018 be the year when all of your inner dreams manifest in the outer realm. God bless you and have a Merry Christmas.