FROM DEATH TO DIVINE AWAKENING
"You raise me up to more than I can be." That song was written with a person in mind - I'm quite sure -- but this morning, I want the "you" to have a different meaning. The "you" we are going to talk about this morning is not "you" a person, but "you" a concept - in fact the concept of death, which I suspect sounds pretty strange . . . but hear me out! Because this morning we are going to go . . .
From Death to Divine Awakening.
From the seeming end to an aliveness greater than ever before.
From what appears to be over to a fresh, heightened beginning.
That is what "you raise me up" means this morning, this beautiful Easter morning.
And there is nothing found in the life and teachings of the Master Teacher Jesus more profound, more meaningful or more holy than the lessons taught and the messages we find around his resurrection.
In THE GOSPEL of MATTHEW, Chapter 28, verses 1 - 6, we are told:
"In the evening of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb. And behold a great earthquake took place; for the angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and went up and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his garments were white as snow. And for fear of him, the guards who were watching trembled and became as if they were dead. But the angel answered, saying to the women, You need not be afraid; for I know that you are seeking Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he had said."a
YOU NEED NOT BE AFRAID
And it is those last sentences where our profound, meaningful and holy lesson for this morning is found:
You need not be afraid; for I know that you are seeking Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he had said.
You need not be afraid; I know you are seeking Jesus who died, but he is not here for he has had a Divine Awakening.
You need not be afraid; I know you are seeking Jesus who seems to have ended, but he really is more alive than ever before.
You need not be afraid; I know you are seeking Jesus whose life appears to be over, but who in fact is experiencing a fresh, heightened beginning.
The deep, sweet teaching within the resurrection story, which is very real and pertinent for us today over 2000 years after it occurred, is that death is not the end - rather it is a beginning to an elevated state.
And this is true whether this ending comes in the form of death of the physical body, death of a relationship, death of a job, death of a 401K, death of an economic structure, death of an idea, death of a habit, even the death of a dream.
Before I go on, I want to be very, very clear -- by saying this, I am not minimizing the effect that some deaths have on us from the perspective of our human emotions. We have experienced a lot of physical death of loved ones in the last few years here in our center - for instance, Jared, Jeshua's father, and Ireene's beloved husband and there have been losses in the lives of you who attend here.
These are experiences that cause our hearts deep grief and great sadness - and to differing degrees, so do the loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream. And there is a definite and necessary place for grief and our ability to feel all the feelings that these experiences bring up for us. All of these deaths hurt our hearts.
Just as the hearts of those who loved Jesus hurt on Friday as they were taking him down off the cross. Someone they loved, a dream they had had, their future, had died.
And, yes, Jesus did die, and with him, it seemed all the hope and promise his life brought died as well. And, yet, three days later, on that Sabbath morning, an angel said to the Marys:
I know that you are seeking Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he had said.
Showing us in a profound way that death is not an ending but an opportunity for a Divine Awakening! In fact, some of our greatest crucifixions have revealed the possibility for our greatest resurrections.
So I want to ask you this morning -- What looks like a death in your life right now? A relationship? A Job? A loved one?
And I ask you right now, what new life will you allow this "death" to awaken in you?
A deeper commitment to love?
The fuller expression of your creativity?
A deeper integrity in your financial and business affairs?
A closer relationship with the God of your being?
Only you can decide what the resurrection will mean for you. You have the spark of unlimited possibilities within you, because the Christ light shines from within you. But you have the right and the responsibility to decide what your Divine Awakening will be.
Emilie Cady in Lessons In Truth chapter two: "All that we can ever need or desire is the infinite Father-Principle, the great reservoir of unexpressed good. There is no limit to the Source of our being, nor to His willingness to manifest more of Himself through us, when we are willing to do his will."b
Now up to now I've been speaking about deaths that have occurred in our lives, what if we shifted the focus for a moment and looked at Jesus' death and resurrection as a metaphor for the idea that at any moment, any time, we can choose to let an old way of thinking, believing, acting, behaving die so that we can RISE UP!
So I ask now - not how are you going to respond, but rather how could you be proactive?
Is there a FEAR in you that today you could let die?
Is there GUILT in you that today you could let die?
Is there SHAME in you that you could today let die?
Are there FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY, INTERNAL TAPES OF I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH in you that today you could let die?
Is there ANGER in you that today you could let die?
Do you have an unsupportive or unhealthy HABIT that today you could let die?
If you choose today to let any or all of those things die -- the glory of God that is within you would today be resurrected! And the key point to remember is that it is there all along!
I want us to create a new catch phrase here - It's "Easter moment." An "Easter Moment" is when we consciously let something that does not serve us die, so that we can be born anew into a spiritual awareness and a new consciousness and an expanding way of revealing the spiritual nature that is already ours!
Modern New Thought author Jean Houston said, "It is no longer possible for us to live as pale, diminished versions of ourselves."c
We really are here by Divine Appointment. We really are here for a Sacred Purpose. Our lives are really meant to be used for something beautiful and holy. Do you believe that?
Dr. Michael Beckwith: "We are here to unfold a cosmic destiny, not just make little bubbles and waves."d
I spoke last Sunday of futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard's view that crises are always evolutionary drivers.
From an evolutionary standpoint, our current social, economic structures can't hold the evolution that is wanting to come forth, so they must die as well. Chaos is a step in the process of the higher version coming forth. We must have and hold on to the vision of a higher functioning. Welcome the chaos of the reordering for a higher level.
Remember, the next higher order of functioning already exists. It is seeking expression. The pressure we feel is this higher order pushing forth. It will instruct you when you are open to the knowing. The Divine is holding the pattern for the greater expansion of you.
Let me illustrate that idea with a story -- a true story. A New Thought minister was standing at the back of the Church greeting people as they were leaving one morning. "Good morning" she said to this little boy who was waiting in line to see her after Church.
"I've been waiting to tell you something that happened to me," he said. "Wonderful," she said.
"Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a bunny rabbit. I always wished I were furry and free to hop and run all over. I wished and I wished but I finally gave up because I saw that I was never going to get my wish and become a rabbit. Then, last week a miracle happened."
"Really," she chuckled imagining that he had received a special pet rabbit.
"Yes," he said with his eyes wide in wonder. "After all this time of wishing, one night I had a dream, and in my dream, I was a bunny rabbit and I felt what it was like to be furry and free and run and hop and play. I had a wonderful time and I got my wish."
"That's wonderful," she agreed.
"But that's not all," he said excitedly. "During my dream, God showed me how wonderful it is to be a bunny rabbit and when I woke up I realized that the feelings that I wanted to feel in being a bunny rabbit are already inside me. SO, I'VE BEEN CARRYING WHAT I WANTED WITH ME ALL ALONG."
His eyes were wide with recognition and hers were filled with tears of appreciation at his newly found inner splendor.
"Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with me," she managed to get out.
"I just thought you'd like to know," he said as he smiled and walked off with his mom into the crowd.
Emilie Cady Finding the Christ in Ourselves: "We must all recognize, I think, that it was the Christ within which made Jesus what he was; and our power now to help ourselves and to help others, lies in our getting to comprehend the truth, for it is a truth whether we realize it or not, that this same Christ lives within us as it lived in Jesus. It is the part of himself which God has put within us, and which ever lives there with an inexpressible love and desire to spring to the circumference of our being, or to our consciousness, as our sufficiency in all things."e
Easter reminds us regardless of how dark it may get . . .
- God always turns night into light.
- God always turns a no way - into a new way.
- Spirit is always triumphant and everything is made new.
- The Easter story assures us that out of seeming loss there is always renewal and, in fact, an awakened life.
Michael Pollan, in Second Nature: "A garden that never died eventually would weary. Robbed of springtime, unacquainted with the extraordinary perfume that rises from the soil after it's had its rest, the garden that winter doesn't visit, is a dull place. The return every spring of earth's first freshness would never be kept if not for the frosts and rot and ripe deaths of fall. So when I go out from the garden for the last time in autumn, I always leave the gate open behind me."f
bEmilie Cady Lessons In Truth Ch. 2
dDr. Michael Beckwith
eEmilie Cady Finding the Christ in Ourselves
fMichael Pollan Second Nature