FAITH - XMAS TREE CEREMONY
This is the first Sunday in Advent. So this week we center on Faith. The affirmation is: "Through Faith I am centered and guided every step of every day."
WHAT IS FAITH
So, what is Faith? It says in Hebrews 11 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible."a
In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore defines Faith as : "The perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance. Spiritual assurance; the power to do the seemingly impossible. It is a magnetic power that draws unto us our heart's desire from the invisible spiritual substance. Faith is a deep inner knowing that that which is sought, is already ours for the taking."b
Faith in God is the substance of existence. To have faith in God is to have the faith of God. We must have faith in God as our Father and source of all the good we desire.
Faith is more than mere belief. It is the very substance of that which is believed. It works by love. Thoughts of condemnation, enmity, and resistance must be released and divine love declared; then faith will work unhindered.
Faith working in spiritual substance accomplishes all things. This is the faith that co-operates with creative law. When faith is exercised deep in spiritual consciousness, it finds its home; and under divine law, without variation or disappointment, it brings results that are seemingly miraculous.
A good example of Faith is found in Mark 5: "A large crowd followed Jesus and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, 'If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.' Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' And his disciples said to him, 'You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, "Who touched me?" ' He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'"c
The Woman represents the feminine principle, but in this instance the life center in the subconscious is revealed as having lost its consciousness of strength. She had "spent all that she had; and grew worse."
How was this woman healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment? Jesus was so charged with the thought of spiritual intelligence and life that His aura saturated His garments with dynamic power and strength. When the negative, weakened mind of the woman touched, in faith, this mighty spiritual vibration, it flooded her with new life and she was healed.
So, how much faith is necessary? It says in Luke 17: "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!' The Lord replied, 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea", and it would obey you."d
Here Jesus is telling us something very peculiar about the power of faith. It is not a matter of quantity. Faith does not need to be increased--it just has to be expressed. Our awareness of faith and our consciousness of it may increase, but faith itself is a constant. We either use it or we don't. If faith is used, it works. If we do not use it, then all the increasing of it in the world doesn't matter.
The disciples asked him to increase their faith. He did not do it. He did not give them a formula for doing it either. He did not say to take an affirmation and affirm it so many times. Jesus knew there was no way the personal ego could develop faith through personal effort.
The question we might ask is this, "Why didn't Jesus do it for them? Why didn't he even tell them how to increase their own faith?" He implied that they did not even have the mustard seed degree of faith. He said that if they had had even that small amount they could have healed the boy. Since they could not heal him they must not have had even the mustard seed degree of faith. Evidently Jesus knew that faith was something that only God could increase in the individual.
A priest, an evangelist, and a minister were in a row boat in the middle of a pond fishing. None of them had caught anything all morning.
Then the evangelist stands up and says he needs to go to the bathroom so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He comes back ten minutes later the same way.
Then the minister decides he needs to go to the bathroom, too, so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He, too, comes back the same way ten minutes later.
The priest looks at both of them and decides that his faith is just as strong as his fishing buddies and that he can walk on water, too. He stands up and excuses himself. As he steps out, he makes a big splash down into the water.
The evangelist looks at the minister and says, "I suppose we should have told him where the rocks were."
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 Christ-like 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.
bCharles Fillmore Revealing Word, p67 FAITH