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Sunday Message for April 4, 2021

ARISE AND SHINE

Let's start with a prayer: Retreating for a few moments of focused prayer, we reset mind and heart in the essential truth of our spiritual nature. We anchor our attention in God, the source of all that is life-sustaining. We command the mind to be attentive, nervous system to be still, heart to be open; and spirit to be free. By the unifying power of divine love, we pray in oneness with God. Amen

Shine bright like a diamond
Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I, we're like diamonds in the sky

These lyrics to a 2012 pop song speak to the theme for this month. In fact, the entire song, with a few strategically changed lyrics, is our anthem for this month.

Because each and every one of us came into this life to shine bright like a diamond. To glow, to radiate, to be ablaze with the Brilliance of the Divine shining forth as us.

Now perhaps we need a bit of polishing OR perhaps the rough edges could be softened OR perhaps a layer of soot and grime could be cleaned off, but regardless of any of that, at our core, there is Brilliance with a capital "B" and it sits patiently waiting to shine forth.

Say with me now: I am bright like a diamond! And I'm ready to shine!

Turn to your neighbor and say: You are so bright, I think I need my shades!

We will ARISE AND SHINE into our Brilliance this sacred Easter morning as we explore the metaphysics behind three Easter events. . .

The darkness of the crucifixion;
The light of the resurrection;
And finally, the brilliance of the ascension

As we explore these aspects of the Easter story, we will see that it can be our story of how we can shine the Brilliance of God in, as and through us. Because, in metaphysics, we look at everything in the Bible as allegorical for our lives. Everything in it is a story about us and our developing relationship to the Divine.

FIRST, THE DARKNESS OF THE CRUCIFIXION
First, The Darkness of the Crucifixion

In the Easter Story as well as in our story, moving to the light of the resurrection and then to the brilliance of the ascension begins with the darkness of the crucifixion.

So when we look at the seven last phrases that Jesus uttered on the cross specifically when he said "Today you will be with me in paradise." It's regarding what was going on around him

The Scripture tells us that on the day Jesus was crucified, darkness fell upon all the land from the 6th to the 9th hour. And on the 9th hour, he died.

In Matthew Chapter 27, starting at verse 51, it is reported that when Jesus died, the curtains at the door of the temple were torn from top to bottom.a

So, the curtains to the temple come down and a great earthquake occurred causing some of the tombs to open up and release the spirits of those who were in them.

This moment of crucifixion was a very dark and scary moment. Those around were frightened. Things were breaking down around them. For many, it seemed as if all was lost. Not only is there chaos, but that which they believed in was destroyed.

From the human point of view - from the viewpoint of the facts in the material world - a death had occurred, horribly and tragically. It was surely a devastating moment.

Remember, in metaphysics, we look at everything in the Bible as allegorical for our lives. Everything in it is a story about us and our developing relationship to the Divine.

Can we not see ourselves in the darkness of a moment like that at times in our lives? Who hasn't faced a devastating, scary, sad, horrific time -- where someone or something very, very important to us has died? Where we have experienced pain and heartbreak? Where it seems like much has been lost? Where we cannot see the Light, OR, said another way, where we have lost our connection with Source?

Have we not all experienced what we could call the darkness of a crucifixion - or two or three?

Some of you may be going through the darkness of a crucifixion right now. And if you are, I am so glad that you are here to have this experience with us this morning.

I think our nation, our world, is going through giant collective darkness right now.

Collectively, humanity is in the chaos mode where systems and ways of being are no longer working and are breaking down. They can no longer hold the evolution that is wanting to come forth, so they must die.

And even though it is dark, and it is scary, there must be a crucifixion before we can have a resurrection. In fact, the darkness of the crucifixion opens the way for the light of the resurrection.

The 19th century German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: "To be a traveler on this earth, you must know how to die and come to life again."b

SECOND - THE LIGHT OF THE RESURRECTION
Second, The Light of the Resurrection

And it is as we begin to awaken to the light - even a little bit - we come to life again. That light - the light of the resurrection -- is spoken of in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28: ". . . when the first day of the week began to dawn, there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb."c

In Mark and Luke, we are told that they came with spices to anoint the body. Now I certainly don't know what was going through their minds, but I wonder if there wasn't something in them looking for some light after all that darkness.

They knew Jesus had died - they witnessed it -- but in them could there have been a glimmer of light that this wasn't the end?

I don't think it unreasonable to think so. And just a glimmer of light is all that is needed to begin the resurrection experience.

The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28, goes on to say: ". . . 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.'"d

Even when everything appears dead in our lives, if we awaken enough - just enough - to see a glimmer of light, we will arise and shine into new levels of life, of love!

This is the promise of Easter. Easter is the awakening to life; the coming of the light; the beginning of brilliance.

In the words of Walter Starke in It's All God: "The breaking up of old forms is Easter's prelude to a new level of life on earth. Death and resurrection don't come once in a lifetime... Every time there is a divorce, a partner dies, one loses a job, or every time there is any shift in consciousness whatsoever, the old identity dies and a new one is born. Every shift in consciousness brings on an identity crisis. If we understand and welcome our personal Easters, we will be born again into a better place. Unfortunately, we have been trained to believe that crucifixion - the dark or shadow side - represents failure and should be avoided. Instead, when we see it as the flip side of resurrection, as no more than a stage in the creative and divine process, we will come out triumphant."e

Every time we shine the light of Truth onto the negativity of the world or the negativity that is hanging out in our minds, we experience the light of the resurrection.

As the Apostle Paul said: "We are transformed by the renewing of our minds."f

This morning, this beautiful Easter morning, I invite you to renew your mind about who you are.

Are you going to agree with your smallness or your greatness, with your dullness or your brilliance? In other words -- about your separation from or your connection to Source?

When you have a small or dull or separating thought about who and whose you are, a thought that shuts down your greatness and your brilliance, a thought that brings about a sense of separation -- you have 10 seconds to shift it.

Why? Because at about 10 seconds you will say these words, consciously or unconsciously - "I agree." And what you agree with, you bring into your experience.

What if today you stopped agreeing with your smallness, dullness and separation and start agreeing with your greatness, your brilliance, your oneness with the Divine?

When you begin to do that, the true miracle occurs. The miracle of the ascension of our consciousness to a higher level. To take it from where it is now to another upward turn around the spiral of evolution - and that is a brilliant thing!

THIRD - THE BRILLIANCE OF THE ASCENSION
Third, The Brilliance of the Ascension

Luke 24 beginning at verse 36: "And while they [meaning, the disciples] were discussing these things, Jesus stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you; it is I; do not be afraid.' They were confused and frightened, for they thought they saw a spirit."g

Jesus then spent the next bit of time proving who he was and that he was alive, topping it off with asking for and getting something to eat, and then speaking about the fulfillment of prophecy.

The scripture then reads: "And he said to them. . . 'I will send upon you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.' And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them and went up to heaven."

In metaphysical Bible study, we look at references to "city" to mean our minds; more precisely, a place in our minds where the Good and Truth conjoin.

Jesus says to them - stay in this place in your mind until illumination comes. Until the brilliance of the Ascended Consciousness is upon you.

And I believe this, my friends, this is the second coming of the Christ.

The second coming may not be when Jesus descends upon humankind, but rather when we each ascend into the Brilliant Beings of God that we already are, but don't already know!!

Today is a very, very powerful day and those things to which you commit today will have a life-long affect in your life.

Are you ready to be the Second Coming of the Christ by realizing that the darkness of the crucifixion is part of the Easter Story - an important part - and trusting God even in the midst of it?

Today, will you awaken to the light of Christ Consciousness and be resurrected into God's peace, power, and love?!

Today, will you commit to letting go of smallness, dullness and a sense of separation and rather ascend into the fullness and the wholeness - the greatness and the Brilliance -- of you as a Being of the Divine?

My hope, my prayer is that in this very moment this morning, you say yes to these things. Because if you do, then the work of the way shower, the master teacher, our brother Jesus was not done in vain.

Remember, my friends, you and I, you and I, we are diamonds in the sky and our charge is to arise and to shine as the Glory of God here on earth!

EASTER CEREMONY
In a moment we will have an opportunity to blossom forth in the beauty of this Easter Day. We are going to do a ceremony where the promise of the leaf is fulfilled in the blooming of the flower.

Would you now get out the sheet of paper that has on it the Easter Responsive Reading:

MINISTER: Lord Christ, we pause in adoration before Thy pure presence of being.

CONGREGATION: Lord Christ, we pause in adoration before Thy pure presence of being.

MINISTER:
"Glory be to the Father,
     And to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning,
     Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen. Amen."


MINISTER & CONGREGATION:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.h
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And leave us not in temptation but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

MINISTER: I believe in one God almighty - peace, love, joy, and life. Father and Creator of all good.

CONGREGATION: And in Christ, our Lord, through whose power I am saved from mistaken beliefs and unfulfilling experiences.

MINISTER: I believe in myself, in God in me,

CONGREGATION: And in my power through Christ to behold in myself the Son of God, for such I am in Truth.

MINISTER: I believe in all people, in God in them,

CONGREGATION: And in His power to be filled with all good, because God in their midst is All-Good.

MINISTER: I believe in forgiveness,

CONGREGATION: Which takes place when through Christ in me I remit and release mistaken beliefs from my consciousness.

MINISTER: I believe in the resurrection of the body to perfect life and health,

CONGREGATION: Which is achieved when through Christ the body is exalted above mistaken beliefs and limitations of any kind.

MINISTER: I believe in everlasting joy, peace, love, and life.

CONGREGATION: Which are realized when through the knowledge of Truth, we behold heaven in our very midst. Amen.

MINISTER: O Lord God, quicken in us the vision that, looking within the fleshly walls of Thy temple, beholds Thy Spirit there! Light within us the fire of Thy consuming love that burns away the dross of error and makes of our heart a holy shrine for Thine abiding. Give us to know Thy joy, as with patience and forbearance, with infinite thoughts and words and deeds of love, we reveal Thy Son within.

CONGREGATION & MINISTER: Through the power of the living Christ, I am quickened to newness of life.

MINISTER: Perhaps too the thought of some loved one at a distance, or of one who has slipped into the realm of life beyond the physical, may enter your thought. Let us become still and for this loved one affirm the same thoughts together:

CONGREGATION & MINISTER: Through the power of the living Christ, you are quickened to newness of life.

How we find God is less important than that we find Him. We are assured that if with all our heart we truly seek Him, we shall surely find Him. Sometimes we can more fully express our feelings and our desire in a simple act of faith than we can in words. In either case a symbol is employed. In one case we symbolize thought and feeling by the language of speech, in the other by the language of action. So today in flowers we offer our devotion in an active prayer of faith.

Let this vase of greenery before you symbolize the infinite life of God. The life of God is without beginning or end. It is green to symbolize the expression of life in the abundance of the natural world.

The life of each of us is a part of the larger life of God. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches..."i It is in us that the life of God comes into manifestation. The closer we live to Him the more beautiful and radiant our own life is, and the more glorious life becomes to us.

I invite you to come forward and place your flower in the vase. Then please pick up one of the gifts from Wayne and Louise and a written blessing, which has been lovingly and prayerfully prepared for you. I invite you to keep it and memorize it, and I trust that by the law of attraction you have received just the blessing that will most help and inspire you in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie before you.

As you place this flower in the vase let it be with the thought of consciously placing your life in the infinite life of God, or of recognizing that your life is already safely and lovingly held in His. Perhaps as you do so, the thought of some deeply felt desire of your heart will come to mind. If so, place this too in the encircling life of God.

So would you now come forward row by row and place a flower in the vase and we will watch the dull-green vase become a radiant figure of fragrant flowers. The drabness of Easter Eve gives way to the glory of Easter Day. The promise of the leaf is fulfilled in the blooming of the flower.

Easter is inviting us to believe in the Powers of God to create magnificent new life, to believe the miracle that God transforms caterpillars into butterflies, to believe the miracle that God transforms earthy bodies into heavenly bodies. Easter is the invitation to believe as children because maybe it is only children who understand the miracles of God.

BENEDICTION: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you." And you will become an inhabitant, here and now of "a new heaven and a new earth."j AMEN.



aMatthew 27:51
bJohann Wolfgang von Goethe
cMatthew 28
dMatthew 28
eWalter Starke It's All God
fRomans 12:2
gLuke 24:36
hMatthew 6:9
iJohn 15:5
jRomans 8:11



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