QUICKENING OUR DIVINE POTENTIAL
Today, we take a look the "Q" in our "Minding Our Ps and Qs" Theme - Our Q stands for "Quickening our Divine Potential Within."
To prepare us to Quicken our Divine Potential, we will do a mindfulness exercise. If this is your first Sunday here this month, each week we have engaged in a short internal process we've called mindfulness.
Here we go for today's -- close your eyes if you desire and return in your mind to the last line of this month's affirmation, which we recited earlier. The line is: "I open my mind to know who I really am!"
Repeat this line to yourself somewhat like Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz when she tapped her heels together three times and repeated to herself, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home" -- only without the heel tapping! Think it over and over. . . . "I open my mind to know who I really am!"
. . . continue thinking these words . . . . Breathe them in. Now let go of consciously thinking the words, but let the remnants of the thought linger in your awareness. . . . . Good, now gently bring yourself back to this moment and open your eyes. That was the first half of our mindfulness exercise for today - we'll do the second half later.
I OPEN MY MIND TO KNOW WHO I REALLY AM!
Now that your mind is open to it, there are two elements to this statement I want us to explore and experience this morning: The first is who you really are and knowing that.
1. WHO YOU REALLY ARE
1. Who You Really Are
Who are you really?! What I am about to say here will come as no great surprise for anyone who has been hanging around here for more than 5 minutes. But even if you have heard this before, and regardless of the level that you embody what I am about to say, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to allow these concepts to QUICKEN something inside of you.
QUICKEN them in such a way that you walk out of these doors this morning permanently uplifted a notch or two that causes you to show up in the world in a more spiritually grounded and empowered way. How's that for a lofty goal!
Here is one sentence from Dr. Ernest Holmes that beautifully encapsulates the answer to the question "who are you really?": "Spirit put the stamp of individuality upon Itself, and called it you. " Isn't that a great concept?! Spirit, God, Infinite Creator, Eternal Intelligence, Perfect Love - whatever word or phrase you want to use -- individualized Itself as you!
We are probably all familiar with the Biblical phrase, "you are made in the image and likeness of God." Yes? This could be said another way: God formed Itself as your image and likeness. Take a deep breath - breathe it in - deeper than ever before!
So, if God formed Itself into the package known as you, then every nook and cranny of you, every aspect of you, every dimension of you, everything of and about you is Divine! And, the foundational essence of who and what you REALLY are is Eternal Intelligence and Perfect Love.
Many of us grew up with the concept of original sin. And even if we didn't have it in our face - it is a concept that is in our "race consciousness", which simply means the collective beliefs of the human race.
What about this concept -- We are not born in original sin but rather in original innocence! And, we have the Unconditional Acceptance and Love of God as our divine birthright.
Now I can hear all the big "buts" coming up. I can just hear the wheels turning inside some of your heads. You're thinking things like,
"But you don't know me -- all the terrible things I have done or said or thought!" Or
"But you don't know all the terrible things that have happened to me that have damaged me permanently." Or
"But you don't know that I really am not worthwhile because I'm not smart or I'm lazy or I'm selfish, etc. etc."
Did I miss anything?!
If we believe the theology of original sin we would say, well, yes, all of these things are true and they are true because you are inherently bad, you are inherently flawed.
The theology of original innocence, however, says that, yes, you may have made a million mistakes - some small some gigantic, and, yes, others may have made mistakes to your detriment, but every one of them was made out of ignorance. We are ignorant of the truth of ourselves, of God, and of one another. We are ignorant of the Truth that we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine Almighty and are endowed with power of creation through our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We are ignorant of our connection to one another, and the earth and all life. We are ignorant!
All that we do that is not life affirming is a result of ignorance; it is not proof that some dark, unworthy being resides at our core. We still may flounder and offend and fall off track, but despite that we are inherently good. We are inherently good because God created us, and "God don't make no junk," to quote the great philosopher, Dennis the Menace.
St Francis of Assisi was an Italian Roman Catholic monk, living in the 13th century who founded the Franciscan order and was canonized in 1228. Most known for being the author of the profoundly beautiful prayer, which begins "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace."
What you may not know is that he was not always saintly! In fact, he grew up very wealthy and lived a life of wild indulgence -- however wildly indulgent life in the 13th century could be!
He was once asked by one of his companions: Why you, Francis? Why you? Why did God choose you as a lighthouse to bless the world?
St. Francis smiled and replied: Why me? I'll tell you why me. Because there could hardly be anyone who has made as many mistakes as I have. I have done and been everything you can think of that is abhorrent and unholy. I had absolutely nothing to offer the world. That is precisely why God chose to glorify me -- to give hope to people who feel they have nothing to give, for if the Holy Spirit can work through me, it can work through anyone.
The words of someone who was a light of God on this planet -- "If the Holy Spirit can work through me, it can work through anyone." And that means it can and does work through each and every one of us. So our second mission is to KNOW this.
2. TO KNOW WHO YOU REALLY ARE
2. To Know Who You Really Are
Ernest Holmes, in his out-of-print book The Philosophy of Jesus for the World Today, wrote: "We must come to believe (I'll edit that to say KNOW) that the Father does dwell within us, and that this creative Spirit which is back of all things also flows through us. God has need of us or we would not have been put here. The Divine wishes to express through us or we would have no existence. . . . Let us see what would happen to us if we should include ourselves in God's creation. Right at the start we would learn to have a little better opinion of ourselves. "
How then can we begin to have a little better opinion of ourselves? Well, prayer is a good place to begin. Here's a prayer written by Laura Crude. I realize this is not an affirmative prayer such as we teach in Unity, but it relays its point so sweetly that I didn't want to do my usual editing of it!
Please untie the Nots (that's spelled N-O-T-S) that are invading my mind, my heart and my life. Please remove the HAVE NOTS, the CAN NOTS, and the DO NOTS that invade my mind. Please erase the WILL NOTS, the MAY NOTS and the MIGHT NOTS that invade my heart. Please release me from the COULD NOTS, the WOULD NOTS, and the SHOULD NOTS that invade my life.
Most of all, Dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart, and my life all of the AM NOTS that I have allowed to hold me back. Please erase from my mind the thought that I AM NOT good enough. Please remove from my heart the feeling that I AM NOT lovable enough. Please untie from my life everything that I clutch that supports the belief that I AM NOT enough.
Today, dear God, I come to you humbly and reverently asking that you untie, eliminate and erase all of the NOTS that have invaded every aspect of my life. For your mercy and your grace, I am so grateful. Let these words take on the presence of the Holy Spirit to become living conditions in my life. Amen.
And when all of those Nots are removed, what do we have left - well in the words of poet Walt Whitman: "In the faces of men and women, I see God. "
Do you remember the mission I gave you at the beginning of this talk? It is to allow these concepts to QUICKEN something inside of you, so much so that you walk out of these doors this morning permanently uplifted a notch or two and that uplifting causes you to show up in the world in a more spiritually grounded and empowered way.
We are going to conclude this morning with the second half of our mindfulness exercise. So just close your eyes and center within your being...
I open my mind to know who I really am.
As I now know who I really am, this is how I choose to show up in the world . . . be specific . . . be concrete. . .
Know that you are the Face of God and that God holds you in His heart. So now just accept who you really are. And allow the Christ Light to shine forth from you And so it is!
And now we are going to have a communion service, if you would get out the responsive reading and follow along.
MINISTER: "Almighty Father-Mother-God, Creative Cause, unto whom our hearts and minds are open, all our desires known, and in whose wisdom all secrets are revealed, recreate and purify our hearts. Cleanse and renew our minds by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may love You perfectly and magnify Your Holy Name. Unto You we give all praise and thanks through the indwelling Spirit of Truth. Amen."
"The Master Teacher of the ages said, 'The Lord our God is One; and you shall Love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment.' And a second like unto it is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments the whole law and prophecy hangs.'"
CONGREGATION: "There is but One Presence and One Power in all the Universe, God the Good, Omnipotent. I love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. I recognize my oneness with all mankind."
MINISTER: "We recognize that man is truly a spiritual being, made in the image and after the likeness of the Creative Cause. We also realize that all sickness, poverty and disharmony stem from our failure to live in this consciousness. Let us now acknowledge our truly spiritual natures and resolve to lead a life following the commandment of God and adhering to spiritual law."
CONGREGATION: "O Lord God, we now cleanse our hearts and minds by rejecting all thoughts that are unlike Your all-providing, loving nature. We know that Your will for us is all good, and we now confidently and gratefully claim this good."
MINISTER: "We need to recognize that all mistakes and shortcomings, whether on our part or of other people are due to ignorance; that we and all others act at the level of our limited understanding. Therefore, we understand that God does not hold error against the perpetrator. However, to gain freedom from the burden of our error we must first forgive all who may ever have offended us."
CONGREGATION: "Almighty God, I now forgive all who may ever have offended me. I forgive all persons all things."
MINISTER: "If we have offended others we must resolve to do all possible to adjust the offense, and claim their forgiveness and accept release from the Almighty God."
CONGREGATION: "Almighty God, I sincerely regret my offenses against other persons. I now claim their forgiveness. I now accept Your forgiveness. I am now free from the past and the mistakes of the past."
MINISTER: It says in Luke 22:19-20: "Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
Bread represents universal substance. Our daily bread is the sustenance for spirit, mind, and body. When we partake of the bread, we focus our minds and thoughts on the Christ.
The wine symbolizes the vitality that forms the connecting link between soul and body. Partaking of wine symbolizes knowledge that our own life is God life. By drinking the wine we are incorporating and acknowledging our desire to live a Christ life without beginning and without end.
I invite you all to come forward and form a semi-circle and celebrate the remembrance of the Christ of your being by symbolically participating in the eating of the bread of Divine Ideas and drinking the wine of eternal Christ life.
Semi circle forms...
BREAD AND WINE CEREMONY: You are made clean through the Christ within. Receive love, healing, and cleansing power as you open your heart, becoming truly one with God and the Christ of your being in this holy moment.
Because we have all been ordained by God to feed our brothers and sisters and to uplift them in the Christ consciousness. We will now give the sacrament of communion to each other.
CONGREGANT: This is bread of Divine Ideas. Take it and eat. This is the wine of eternal Christ life. Take it and drink. Do these things in recognition of the Christ. I behold the Christ in You.
MINISTER: You may be seated.
"In prayer and silence we have appropriated the radiant Substance and quickening Life of Spirit. We have felt the inspiration of God Indwelling lifting our thoughts and feelings to a higher plane of understanding. Now we go forth and consecrate our thoughts and activities to His service."
CONGREGATION: "To this end I have been born; and to this end I am come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth."
MINISTER: "We consecrate ourselves through recognizing our purpose to bear witness to the life of Truth. May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock and my redeemer."
"Almighty, Ever living God, we give thanks for this time of conscious communion with You in which we have appropriated the Substance and Life of Your Spirit. We give thanks that in mind and body and affairs we are being quickened and raised to the consciousness of our own divine nature, and that in all we think, say and do, we are increasingly manifesting this Divine likeness. In the Name of the Indwelling Spirit of Truth, Amen."
aDr. Ernest Holmes
bErnest Holmes The Philosophy of Jesus for the World Today