REMEMBER TO REMEMBER
There is a statement in the Judeo-Christian Bible that pretty much sums up a major teaching in New Thought: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."a Not, be ye comforted - not be ye pacified -- not be ye encouraged -- not even be ye inspired or be ye uplifted-- but be ye TRANSFORMED - by the renewing of your mind.
Transformed is a pretty strong word. Be ye changed at depth by something that goes on in your mind. Be ye changed at depth by a change in attitude. And, that is exactly what we have been exploring all this month with our theme of "Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude."
Each week, we have looked at attitudes that will TRANSFORM YOU. And today, as we bring this theme to a close, is no exception. And today, I am going to make a bold proclamation.
I am going to proclaim that this morning, here in this sanctuary, we are each TRANSFORMED! We are each changed at depth by our experience. Now, I am not arrogant enough to think it will necessarily be because of something I say -- in fact, it could have happened already by simply walking into the sweet energy that is this spiritual community -- or in experiencing the music so far this morning -- or the beautiful prayer -- or in the greeting of one another. It matters not how our transformation comes about this morning -- it matters only that it does. Are you open to being transformed?!
GOOD! So today, as we take our last look at attitudes that will TRANSFORM us, and as we are in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, it feels appropriate to have an ATTITUDE OF REMEMBERING.
Remembering what? Well, remembering THREE transforming things.
1. REMEMBER AND HONOR THOSE OF HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES IN WAR
First, and most certainly, today it is important to remember those individuals who have given their lives in service to our country . . .
There's a sweet story about a little boy, Alex, who stood one Sunday morning staring up at a large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."
"Good morning, pastor" replied the young man, keeping his gaze focused on the plaque.
"Pastor Dave, what are all those names on the plaque?" Alex asked. "Well son, those are all the people who have died in the service," replied the pastor.
Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex's voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, "Which one -- the 9:30 or the 11:15 service?"
That is such a sweet little story and it makes us chuckle, but - of course - losing a loved one, a friend, who is serving their country is nothing to chuckle at.
And so this morning, the FIRST thing for us to remember -- to remember AND to honor -- is those who have lost their human lives in service to their country -- regardless of our political persuasion or our views and opinions on war.
And it is equally important to remember -- and to surround with the power of pure, sweet love -- anyone here today who has lost a loved one or a friend in such a way.
If you have lost someone dear to you in service to our country, you don't have to identify yourselves, but I want you to know that RIGHT NOW you are upheld in the arms of love. So let's have a moment of silence while Cynthia plays Taps.
2. REMEMBER THAT NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES GOD IS PRESENT
The second TRANSFORMING concept that I want us to remember this morning is that no matter what -- no matter what -- is happening in this journey we call life . . .
from the loss of a loved one to the birth of a baby --
from the diagnosis of cancer to a clean bill of health --
from the demise of a 20-year marriage to the blush of new love --
No matter what is happening in this journey we call life, God is present.
During our moment of silence, Cynthia played Taps for us -- music that we all know is used at military funerals. But I wonder how many of us know the story behind the song.
It is told that in 1862 during the Civil War, Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing, Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of a narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who was severely wounded on the field.
Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, Captain Ellicombe decided to risk being captured to bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach to avoid being noticed, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward the encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own line, he discovered the soldier was actually a Confederate soldier, but that he was dead.
The Captain lit the lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier, and it was the face of his own son! It seems the boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and, without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status and asked if he could have a group of Army band members play at the service.
The request for a full military burial with a band was denied since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say he could have a small funeral with one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper stuffed in the pocket of his son's uniform.
Those notes became the song known as Taps. We are all familiar with the melody, but do we know the words? Listen to them as Maxine sings them for us.
Day is done... Gone the sun... From the lakes...From the hills...From the sky...
All is well... Safely rest.... God is nigh.
Fading light... Dims the sight... And a star... Gems the sky... gleaming bright...
From afar...Drawing nigh... Falls the night.
Thanks and praise...For our days...Neath the sun...Neath the stars...Neath the sky...
As we go...This we know...God is nigh.
As we go . . . this we know . . . God is nigh. This morning, I want us to remember, remember, remember, that no matter what is happening in this journey we call life . . . God is right in the midst of it!
God is NIGH in times of troubles --- in times of joy
God is NIGH in times of challenges --in times of play
God is NIGH in times of grief -- in times of celebration
God is NIGH in times of confusion -- in times of clarity
God is NIGH in times of pain -- in times of relief -
GOD IS ALWAYS NIGH!
Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science, said so beautifully in the SOM textbook: "There is a Divine Presence at the Center of things . . . and It ought to be so real to us that we feel it everywhere, in everything, in everyone, and in every situation."b
In other words, we ought to remember that everywhere, in everything, in everyone, and in every situation GOD IS NIGH. And our remembering of this ought to be so real that we FEEL it!
One of the most comforting passages in the entire Judeo-Christian scripture is the 23rd Psalm. I recently received an interpretation of it that invites us to see that God is everywhere, in everything, in everyone and in every situation. Listen to this . . .
The Lord is my Shepherd---that's relationship!
I shall not want---that's supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures---that's rest!
He leadeth me beside still waters---that's refreshment!
He restoreth my soul---that's healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness---that's guidance!
For His namesake---that's purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death---that's growth through challenge!
I will fear no evil---that's protection!
For Thou art with me---that's assurance!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me---that's discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies---that's overcoming!
Thou anointest my head with oil---that's Divine consecration!
My cup runneth over---that's abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life---that's blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord---that's security!
Foreverc--- AND that's eternity!
Copies of that are available in the foyer.
3. REMEMBER THAT THIS LIFE IS JUST A SHORT STOP IN THE ETERNAL JOURNEY, SO MAKE IT COUNT!
The last line of the 23rd Psalm -- and I will dwell in the House of the Lord Forever -- takes us to the third idea for us to remember this morning.
In our first point of remembering today I chose my words carefully when I asked us to remember those who had "lost their human lives in service to their country." LOST THEIR HUMAN LIVES is the key phrase here -- because a fundamental tenet of New Thought -- as it is with all the spiritual teachings -- is that life is eternal, life is ongoing, life is everlasting.
In the words of Ernest Holmes, in the Science of Mind textbook: "I shall never die, for the Spirit within me is God and cannot change. My life is hid within the Universe of Love and Light, and that Light shall live forever. Go, fear of death and change; be gone from my thought, fear of death and uncertainty. That which is cannot become that which is not; and that which I am can never change. The Spirit of Eternity is enthroned within me, and the Life of Endless Ages flows through my being. From Eternity to Eternity my Life flows along the way of peace and harmony."d
The third idea I want us to remember this morning is two-fold: First, Life is eternal - if you need to explore that idea to really embody it, please do it.
The second "fold" of our third idea is that while, yes, Life is eternal, this human experience has a finite time -- it does have a "shelf life" -- and we never know when it will be over, so let's make it count!
George Burns once said: "When I talk about thinking young, I'm taking about enthusiasm, keeping active, having plans and projects for tomorrow, meeting people, doing things. . . . A lot of people are too quick to decide that their lives are over. And if you really think your life is over, and you have no place to go, I advise you to take very short steps. It will take longer to get there. The point is, with a good positive attitude and a little luck [which, of course, we know there is no such thing as!], there's no reason why you can't live to be 100. Once you've done that, you've really got it made, because very few people over 100 die."e
So, while we are here, experiencing this brief portion of our eternal journey, let's live, let's be fully present; let's fully love.
Ernest Holmes: "No man need prepare to meet his God, he is meeting Him every day and each hour in the day. He meets Him in the rising sun, in the flowing stream, in the budding rose, in the joy of friendship and love, and in the silence of his own soul."f
And he wrote: "It is not necessary, if we should pass on tonight, that anyone should remember that we have ever lived. All that means anything is that while we live, WE LIVE. With this in mind, and believing that there is an Infinite Law of the Spirit, or Law of Life, which tends to multiply our gifts, because in so doing it multiples Its own experience, Its own pleasure, Its own fruition, we may assume that spiritual man is already a success, is already supplied with everything he needs."g
So, this morning remember to be the fullest, most alive and MOST LOVING expression of the Divine that you can possibly be.
So this morning, we are transformed by remembering to remember and to honor those who have given this human life over in the act of serving our country . . .
We are transformed by remembering to remember that in every situation, God is Nigh (to use the words of Taps) . . .
And we are transformed by remembering to remember to remember that Life, with a capital L, is eternal and since this human life we live is not, let us fully live and fully love while we are here . . .
I want to conclude with a poem. This is not a poem by a famous poet . . . it was written by a 19 year old, who recently enlisted in the Navy and wrote this poem the night before he shipped out for Iraq:
BY JOHN WOLF
IT'S TIME TO GO TO WORK NOW,
JUST ANOTHER DAY INDEED.
ONLY DIFFERENCE IS,
MY WORK HURTS AND MAKES PEOPLE BLEED.
PROTECTING THE UNITED STATES IS MY JOB,
I FEEL I DO SO WELL.
ONLY PROBLEM WITH THAT IS,
WHEN I DIE IS IT HEAVEN OR HELL.
I VOLUNTEERED FOR THIS JOB,
KNOWING FULL OF IT'S THREAT.
I CAN NOT AND WILL NOT COME HOME,
UNTIL THE MISSION IS MET.
I DON'T KNOW WHY I DO IT,
FOR RECOGNITION AND MERIT NOT SO,
FOR WHEN IT'S TIME TO LEAVE,
IT'S A SIMPLE "TIME TO GO"
IT'S WEIRD HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW,
LEAVING THE ONES THAT I LOVE.
A FEELING I CAN'T EXPLAIN,
A FEELING SENT FROM ABOVE.
WHY THERE'S WAR, I DON'T KNOW,
TO SEPARATE WRONG FROM RIGHT,
IF THAT IS THE CASE, THEN I'M CONFUSED,
CAUSE IT JUST CAUSES A BIGGER FIGHT.
WHY CAN'T WE LEARN TO LOVE MORE,
LIKE WE WERE ALWAYS BROUGHT UP.
THERE IS TO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO
LIKE WATCHING YOUR CHILD GROW UP.
I'D LIKE TO TAKE THE TIME OUT NOW
TO THANK EVERYONE I KNOW.
YOUR DIFFERENT PATHS OF LIFE,
CERTAINLY HELPED ME GROW.
I'M BEING WATCHED OVER FOR CERTAIN,
OF THIS I AM CONFIDENT.
I KNOW GOD IS LOOKING OUT,
I FEEL THE LOVE HE SENT.
I AM NOT SCARED TO GO TO WAR,
IT IS MY DUTY NOW,
I HELP PROTECT THE UNITED STATES,
WHERE DOES THE COURAGE COME FROM?
I DON'T KNOW WHERE OR HOW.
I WILL COME HOME SOON,
BUT THIS IS NO GUARANTEE.
THIS FEELING THAT I FEEL RIGHT NOW,
IS SURELY YOU LOVING ME.
bErnest Holmes Science of Mind, textbook
dErnest Holmes Science of Mind, textbook pg. 546
fErnest Holmes Science of Mind, textbook p. 388
gErnest Holmes Science of Mind, textbook p. 270