The Wise Men’s journey was a journey toward greater spiritual understanding. When they finally found themselves in the presence of the Christ, they gave the baby gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts represented an outpouring of their souls.
The joy of Christmas is that it is a giving season. We each have our own gifts to share. And when we give, we give both outer gifts and inner gifts. The material gift is a symbol of a deeper gift of the Spirit. With every outer gift, we also give the gift of love, of prayer, of faith, of peace. As we wrap our gifts in colorful paper and bows, we also wrap them with our love.
Metaphysically, the gift of gold represents the riches of the Spirit. On the material level, it reminds us that we are part of a living flow of divine abundance and enoughness. On the spiritual level, it reminds us that we are blessed with “Gifts of the Spirit” – knowledge, wisdom, prophecy, faith, healing, and more.
As we make our own journey to discover the Christ within us, we step into that eternal flow of giving and receiving.
Each time we give from the soul, we honor God and the sacred child of God that each person is.
If you believe that God is a Being, with thoughts and emotions, wisdom and whims, and if you believe that humankind is separated from God by our own imperfect nature, then prayer would be all about talking to God — trying to bridge that gap of separation and influence God to help us.
In Unity, we start from the premise that God is not “a being”, changeable, moved by the whims of the moment. Rather, God is all good, everywhere present. We also believe that each human being is an expression of God. In our very essence, we are One with God.
Continue reading What is Prayer?
This song speaks to those times of challenge when we feel disconnected.
On the surface, the song is about a man who has been separated from the woman he loves. At a deeper level, it speaks to all of the types of disconnection we feel–from those we love, from our deepest self, from God.
In the opening lines, it reminds us of two great truths–nonresistance and impermanence.
I have always loved music. I can’t remember a time when it was not a central to my life. Music has allowed me to express my joys and my sorrows. It has lifted me up when I have felt the despair of depression. It has sung in my heart when I have felt the joy of new beginnings. It has been the bonding agent of many friendships as I joined with others in choirs, bands, ensembles, duets, musicals and in congregational songs at my spiritual home.
As a minister, I love finding spiritual messages in unexpected places. I love to seek out the sacred in the ordinary. I find pop music to be a rich source of spiritual wisdom. Many singer/songwriters use music to express their struggles and triumphs as they move through this human experience, just as the authors of our sacred scriptures used stories to do the same.
Songs like ‘Shower the People’ by James Taylor are sermons set to music, full of hard-won wisdom and the peace that comes from a journey toward self-awareness and self-acceptance.
As with all spiritual wisdom, it takes some effort on our part to seek out the lessons in these songs.
Continue reading The Healing Power of Music
In Buddhism, they have a special word for spiritual community–“Sangha”. It is one of the three pillars of Buddhist practice. There is a deep understanding of the value of being in a mutually supportive spiritual community.
In Christianity, there is also a special word used for spiritual community–“Church”. This word is a translation of the Greek word “Ecclesia” which means “community”. Unfortunately, this word has lost its original meaning. most people think “church” refers to the building that the community meets in, rather than the people themselves.
Because of this mis-understanding about the term “church”, many of us in Unity have begun calling our buildings “spiritual centers” and our gatherings “spiritual communities”. It is a way of reminding ourselves that our practice and our relationships are more important than our building.
When we embark on an intentional spiritual journey, we often find that most of our challenges–and most of our joys–come into visibility through our relationships with other people. Our relationships are the playing fields where we get to practice and integrate the spiritual lessons we are learning.
How do your relationships support you in your spiritual practice?
What is God? People have been pondering this question since there were people. Humankind has always carried with it an awareness of being part of something greater than itself.
We have given that ‘something’ a name (God) and assigned to it the attributes that seemed to speak to our deepest values and needs in the moment. As we have learned and grown (both individually and as a species), our values and needs have shifted, and with them, our concept of God.
I look around and see so many different concepts of God alive in the world today that I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I am tempted to ask, what has happened to humanity that we are so divided on something that ought to unify us?
Of course, a simple internet search confirms the hard truth. Humankind has always had a wide diversity of concepts about God. As you might expect, our concepts of God tell us more about ourselves than they tell us about God.
Perhaps the fact that there are so many different understandings of God alive today means that we are doing something right!