Today we continue our exploration of the ancient teachings and wisdom of the Ten Commandments - the Ten Words, as we learned last week. Not COMMANDMENTS, but WORDS!
This month we are looking at how these ancient teachings are relevant to us today. Not only are they relevant, but they provide us with a roadmap for creating meaning, growth and richness every day of our lives. They help us tap into our inner guidance system. Eric Butterworth in a talk about Extra Senses said: "We should be on the quest for insight and understanding, but we need a guide and a compass. And the guide and the compass, much as we've deluded ourselves that it is some outer thing, cannot be a holy book or a holy person or a great master or a psychic or some performer or extrasensory feats, exciting as these things can be. The only adequate guide or compass is what Jesus refers to as, "The Holy Spirit within which shall reveal to you all the truth."a Infinite intelligence specializing itself in us and as us in an inward realization."b
For thousands of years, this has been available to us. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that. So this month, we are going to remember! As those of you who listened to last week's talk know, we are taking two commandments, two words, each week to explore. And we are exploring the deeper meanings behind the words. We are looking at how Biblical scholars throughout the ages have interpreted these ten rather brief and seeming to the point statements and what broad and wonderful meaning they have in our lives today.
Today we are going to move to Commandments - Words - three and four. Both of them, in different ways, DIRECT US ON HOW TO CREATE JOY IN OUR LIVES! Didn't know they did that, did you??
Charles Fillmore wrote: "The true source of joy is God, and only as we enter into the consciousness of our oneness with the Father can we find real joy. True joy takes hold of man's consciousness when he awakens to the realization of his divine nature and the blessings that accompany that realization."c
Commandment No. 3 tells us not to take God's name in vain and Commandment No. 4 tells us to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Well, these look pretty straightforward and direct, but as you've already figured out, we're going to dig underneath the obvious to that not-so-obvious, but even more profound meaning.
Today, we have three layers of meaning to each of these words. Each one getting richer than the other -- each one giving us the spiritual tools to create more JOY in our lives.
The third commandment, appearing at Exodus 20:7 says: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [we usually think that's the end of it, but there's more . . .] - for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."d
If you ask most people what's meant by the words of the Third Commandment, "You shall not take God's name in vain," (and that's all they think this third commandment says), they will answer what many of us were taught as children: that the commandment tells us not to swear or curse. And, yes, that is part of it - that's the first layer.
Perhaps this commandment, this roadmap/compass/guide for CREATING GREATER JOY IN OUR LIVES is an invitation to wake up and remember the sacredness of our relationship with God -- and not to trivialize that relationship.
Since God's presence is such an awe-inspiring blessing and so filled with love, we need to be extremely careful not to utter God's name in any thoughtless or empty phrases.
We do that in two ways.
First, we literally speak the awesome name of God in the most negative or trivial ways. We don't just frequently use "God" next to the word "damn"; we also employ dozens of other throwaway phrases.
Think, for example, about how you respond when someone walks into the room with an outrageous outfit or strange hairdo. It's uncommon not to mutter to yourself, "Oh, God!" or "Oh, Good Lord!"
Or when we feel disgusted about something or impatient with someone, it's almost automatic to say, "Oh, for God's sake!" or "For the love of God!"
The famous 19th century German writer Goethe described vividly this human challenge of whether or not to speak God's name thoughtlessly. He said: "People treat the name of God as if that incomprehensible and most high Being, who is beyond the reach of thought, were just another trivial thing. Otherwise they would not say 'Oh, God,' 'for the love of God,' 'good God' or any other such comments. These expressions become an empty phrase for most people, a barren name to which no thought is attached. If people were impressed by the sublime greatness of God, they would be silent; honor would keep them from mentioning God's name hardly at all."e
So the next time you hear yourself or someone else saying "Dear God," or "Oh, my God," in a thoughtless way, you might want to ask yourself, "Is that how I would like to relate to my Divine Source? Do I want to continue to be thoughtless and trite about something as profound and deep as the Infinite One?"
Second, there is another, and perhaps less obvious way, that we trivialize the name of God and it's illustrated in this story.
An 18th century Rabbi and founder of the Hassidic movement once visited a community where he was urged to go into the fine new synagogue. Everyone talked about its majestic architecture, its beautiful Torah, and its striking sculpture of the Ten Commandments.
So finally the Rabbi decided to visit, but when the door was opened, he looked inside and without a word, turned around to go back to the inn where he was staying.
"Rabbi," the leaders of the congregation complained, "Why aren't you going to enter this beautiful synagogue of which we are so proud?"
"There is no room," the Rabbi explained.
"No room? There are plenty of empty seats. It's a huge synagogue, the largest for hundreds of miles," they persisted.
"There was no room for me," the great rabbi said:
"All the thoughtless words filled it up. All the prayers that people utter without thinking or feeling are like dead words, which have no heart or soul in them. They do not soar up to heaven, but they lie there like dead leaves from a tree. They fill up the synagogue to overflowing and there's no room left for heartfelt words in that building."
In Unity, we do not have a lot of prayers we say over and over again like many religions do, but we do have some standard things. For example, The Peace Song. Or something as simple as our offering affirmation. I ask you if you have repeated the words so many times that they are beginning to become rote? If so, we are not in harmony with this "word," and perhaps it's time to take a fresh look at them, and look into your heart and see what they mean to you!
So that's our first layer of interpretation of "Commandment 3".
The second layer may strike a nerve for some of you. If we believe, as we do, that each and every one of us is an expression of the Divine; each and every one of us is God in physical manifestation, what are we doing when we say and think unkind words about our fellow human beings AND ourselves? Are we not taking the Lord's name in vain?
Could it be that we violate this "commandment" every time we judge ourselves or others harshly? Every time we think we are undeserving, unworthy, unlovable, etc.
Every time we think ill thoughts or wish harm on another? Are we not out of integrity with this guide, this compass point, this road map for creating joy? I think so.
There's yet another, and it comes from the second part of the passage: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
This commandment, which is a Law of Life, means a great deal more than using God's name trivially, because the name of God is not simply its sound, but the name of God is your conviction concerning God.
What do you think of the nature of God? REALLY, REALLY think? What do you think God is? This is the most important question in the whole world because your idea of God will determine your whole life.
Not what someone else told you, or what you think you ought to think? What do you really, really believe? In the words of Emmet Fox: "From the very marrow of your bones right down to the farthest place your influence goes, all is determined ultimately by your real belief about the nature of God."f
Our third layer of meaning of Word No. 3 says that you cannot escape (the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain) from the results of your idea of God, and whatever your idea of God is, will affect your life in every way. There is no getting away from that.
You take the name of God by your idea of God. Whatever your idea of God is, whatever idea you really believe in, that is what will be expressed in your life.
A God you believe who cares for all of Its creation, but you, will appear to have abandoned you!
A God you believe is cruel will appear to react on you cruelly and without love. You will suffer the results of that.
If you believe in a weak God, you will suffer the consequences of weakness.
If you believe in a human God, you will have all the trouble you would have if a human being really could run this universe. And if you look around and see the job humans have done to date, no further comment is necessary.
And so I ask you to reflect for a moment and ask yourself, "Where are you limiting God?" I do not think there is any one of us who is not limiting God in some respect in his/her thought, and because of that we are going to suffer limitation in some way, for we cannot take the name of God in vain!
But, if you believe that God is Spirit and think what Spirit means (Breath of Life), and if you believe God is Love, God is good, God is all power, God is intelligence, God is abundance, God is Flow, God is Wisdom, there will be joy and harmony and love.
Sure challenges may arise, but when you really believe that God is all these things, as unquestioningly, as unemotionally, as you believe the chair will support your weight each time you sit down, then everything will begin to come right.
Details may challenge you. You may get pain somewhere, but if you believe in the oneness and goodness and power of God, you will overcome it.
This may happen, that may happen, but when you remain steadfast in your belief about God, you shall triumph -- because you know that you cannot take the name of God in vain -- then the name of God cannot be without power for you.
Wow! Did you have any idea that "commandment" was so rich!?
Exodus 20:8: "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy."g
Does this challenge mean going to church on the Sabbath? Sure. Another common interpretation of this challenge is that the Sabbath is a day of rest.
An unnamed minister once said: In my grandparents' day, it was called the Holy Sabbath, in my parents day the Sabbath, and today we just call it the weekend.
And perhaps for some of us -- and I do get special dispensation for this one -- it is just another work day! But the 4th commandment tells us to: "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy."
So, at this first layer, this commandment - word - is telling us that we need to step back from the hustle and bustle of our lives and gain a greater perspective on our life. That we need to take time to reconnect with our spiritual nature, with that which is bigger than our circumstances and experiences.
Not because God demands it of us, but because we need it for our own emotional, spiritual and I say even physical well-being. According to this word, we need to take a day to get rejuvenated and spiritually recharged.
A congregant called in to the office one Monday morning and asked for the minister. The secretary said Mondays are the minister's day off. Well, this person was extremely distraught that the minister was not there to speak with him when he called, so he cornered her the next Sunday. And, with finger in her face, scolded her for taking the day off, telling her how she needed to be available all the time -- after all, he said, "the Devil never takes a day off" . . . to which she replied, "and if I don't either, I'll be just like him!" OBVIOUSLY NOT A TRUE STORY, BUT MAKES ITS POINT, DON'T YOU THINK?!
Do what you need to do to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of your regular schedule. Relax. Be spiritually nourished. If that means going to church, wonderful for us because we enjoy having you here!
But that's only the first layer -- there are yet two more layers we can uncover in meaning for this 4th word.
God created heaven and earth and on the 7th day rested. There is metaphysical significance here. Do the work, then rest. What is the last step of Affirmative Prayer? Release. Let it go, let it alone, rest!
In our prayer work, we build up a new consciousness by remembering the power of God's love, intelligence, peace and plenty. And then, we let it alone. This is the Sabbath Day! If you constantly keep opening the prayer to add something else, as it were, there is no Sabbath Day.
In any kind of mental work that you do, you must have a Sabbath. "Six days shalt thou labor . . But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord . . in it thou shalt not do any work."h
Now it may take ten seconds or it may take a year to get to that stage, but always the "seven days of creation" are whatever time that it takes to create a new condition in your life -- a healing, a harmony in some personal relationship.
To accomplish any work, you need a Sabbath Day. If you cannot let a thing alone when you have done it, it cannot grow. If you are making a cake, you spend some time on it. You get the ingredients and you put them together. That's the "six days." Then you put it in the oven and let it alone. Inexperienced bakers will want to keep opening the oven door to see how things are getting on, and you know that ruins the cake.
There is a time for work and there is a time for rest. I know not how many people there are in this metaphysical movement who miss their demonstration because they are praying so hard and so constantly that there is no Sabbath.
So, remember in all our spiritual work, there must be a Sabbath. Jesus said: "Unless a seed go into the earth and die, it cannot come up."i
That was his way of saying that we should make our prayer, do our spiritual work, and then rest from our labors, so that the demonstration can come to fruition. This is our Sabbath of the Lord.
One more layer . . . a deeper yet idea. When you are praying every day and recognizing that God is working in you and in all your affairs, and trying to live the spiritual life, then something else will happen. There will be a sense in which every day will be a Sabbath, because for you every day will be a holy day.
Of all the things that our study of the Bible and spiritual truth does for us, one of the greatest is that it wipes out the distinction between the secular and the sacred.
You will have made a fundamental step forward in your spiritual life the day you realize -- not the day you first hear of it -- but the day you realize that no longer for you is there any difference between the two, because you realize that everything that happens is the expression of God.
The day you can realize and know that God is all there is, that all things are sacred, that will be one of the greatest milestones in your whole history, and then it will always be the Sabbath Day for you. When you know that, you will understand what God meant when he said to Moses: "The place on which you are standing is holy ground."j
God is present everywhere, and that is the meaning of the Sabbath Day in its deepest sense. For those who understand the metaphysical teaching, it is always the Sabbath Day, and the place whereon we stand is holy ground.
And now, since it is Mother's Day, I would like to celebrate Mother's Day as a day of universal blessing for mothers and for all the women that we honor in our lives. A day when all mothers and nurturers are enfolded lovingly in the prayers and blessings of all people everywhere. So let's take a look at Mothers.
I truly believe that before we come to this world we pick the parents and the situation we want to come into so that we may develop and grow. Somewhere, on some other plane of existence, we decide what challenges we need so that we may grow spiritually. So we put ourselves into the most atrocious situations so that we can grow up. Or at least we THINK we grow up - but let our Mother come into the room, and we are again 5 years old.
So as we think about our Mothers and others who nurtured us, let's know that they did the best they knew how to do. They too, were raised by dysfunctional mothers, who were also raised by dysfunctional mothers.
So we can sit back and blame them - or we can step up and change the pattern of disfunctionality in our generation. Then we will be able to appreciate them for what they did for us even though they weren't perfect.
We all owe our mothers a deep and heartfelt thank you. Why do I say that? It's pretty simple -- Without her, we wouldn't be here!
So, wherever you are on the mother continuum - on one end having the most nurturing, wonderful, loving, caring mother to having, on the other end, the Wicked Witch of the West as your mother, we each owe our mothers a thank you for bringing us into this world.
Now I would like to pay tribute to the women we know by placing flowers in a vase in their honor.. I have been sent the names of women that I would like to acknowledge.
for Mitch Williams I place a flower in the vase in memory of his mother Mardell and his grandmothers Nellie and Thelma.
for Julie Harmeyer I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Carrie Fritz.
for Hank Rivera I place a flower in the vase in memory of Carmen Rivera and in honor of Laurie Matthews.
for Lygia Byrd I place a flower in the vase to honor her mother Betty and her daughters Samantha and Catherine.
for Cynthia Bythell I place a flower in the vase to honor her mother Elizabeth Roberts Reese and her grandmother Theresa Eggs.
for Darla Kautz I place a flower in the vase to honor her mother Audrey Paine and in memory of her stepmother Carol Paine.
for Wayne and Louise Leavet I place a flower in the vase in memory of Dorothy Leavet and Helen Raby
for Ireene Chin I place a flower in the vase in memory of Shirley, Anacleta, and Adela and in honor of Ana, Sherill, Irish, Segundina, Isabel, Virgilia, Anne Marie, and me, Rev Donna. And of course a flower from Jeshua for Ireene.
for Barbara Price I place a flower in the vase in honor of Nita Shelton
for Andy Walker I place a flower in the vase in honor of his grandmother Ramona, mother Patience Walker, sister Debbie, Kay's mom and daughter Michelle, ex-wife Caroline, another Caroline, sister-in-law Ruth Ann
For Peter and Laurie Childress I place a flower in the vase in memory of Peter's father, step mom, and aunt Cathy and to honor Laurie's grandmother Mary Long and Peter's mother Laurie Graham.
for Bobby Hayward I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Betty.
for Ginger Tweedy I place a flower in the vase to honor her mother Sue and her mentor Maxine.
for Robert Trent I place a flower in the vase in memory of Ruth, Clara, and Marie and to honor Cheryl, Bobbie Jo, Betty Jo, Billie Jo, Shelia, Sharon, Donna, Cheryl, Dolores, Ana, Jackie, Jerrilee, Myle, Anna and to all the Woman of Castro Valley Unity
for Mary Jo Wold I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Josie and her sister Mable. Also to honor her daughters Ardele, Janeen, and Marvetta.
for René Besold I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Floriece Pentz, and for Theresa Perez. Also to honor Nancy Pentz and Eleanor Vollmar.
for Joel Sokolsky I place a flower in the vase in memory of Esther Caplon and Rose Moogerman; also to honor Fraida Sokolsky and Judy Gerson.
for Bill and Dalphine Renner I place a flower in the vase in memory of Ethel Drost, Grace Renner, Ruby Binder and Rose Plummer; also to honor Estella Drost, Christine Renner, Monica Kenson, and Michelle Yound
for Anne Marie Foley I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Patricia Powell and her grandmothers Fran and Zelma
for Dana Bigelow I place a flower in the vase in memory his mother Geraldine Bigelow and to honor Dorothy Lee, Marty Owens, Amy Raguse, Janice Savage, and Anne Marie.
for Sally Nair I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Roselee.
for Maxine Tamez I place a flower in the vase in memory of her mother Marie Conroe, Sam's mother Gloria Ochoa, and her sister Joan Nunez and in honor of Melody Dillaplane and Kelsie Dillaphane.
for myself I place a flower in the vase in memory of my mother Helen, my grandmothers Katy and Edna and in honor of my daughter Caprice.
As I look at this vase filled with flowers, I think of the women in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Women we loved and hated. Women we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Women who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do.
Blessed are the mothers of yesterday. They nurture us with loving memories and inspire us to become all we are meant to be. Blessed are the mothers of today. They hold in their hands and in their hearts the keeping of tomorrow and the destiny of our children's future. Truly, God is blessing all mothers now. Amen.
bEric Butterworth Extra Senses