What is Unity?

Abiding in the consciousness of unity, I am identified with God and at one with all good.

In considering the question, “What is Unity?”, the deepest answer lies in our understanding and practice of the relationship between ourselves and God. The first thing a student of Unity learns is that God is absolute good, everywhere present, and that our essence is of God and therefore, we are inherently good.

Our foundational spiritual practice is to establish conscious unity with God. We seek to hold an awareness of our oneness with God, first in our times of silent contemplation, and as we mature, to carry that awareness in our everyday activities. Eventually, we learn to carry the awareness of oneness even in life’s most challenging circumstances.

When we live in the consciousness of unity, we cannot be separate from God. We find that we are in touch with blessings that formerly passed by unnoticed. Our conscious unity with God reveals the energy of abundant blessings flowing all around us. We find strength, creativity, peace and wisdom that we had not dreamed possible before we began this practice.

Let this day be dedicated to unity, to finding your unity with God, to identifying yourself with divine blessings.

The Burning Bowl Ceremony

At year’s end, the burning bowl ceremony is a powerful ritual — a symbolic release — to let go of anything that no longer serves us.

The burning bowl ceremony is a fire ceremony in which we allow the wisdom of Spirit within to guide us toward what we need to release. We then write a word or a phrase summarizing what we have been guided to release on a slip of flash-paper. As we burn the paper, we symbolically set ourselves free.

We take this opportunity to release old wounds, negative or unhealthy thought patterns, unfulfilled expectations, mistakes, or situations that may be holding us back from living our best life.

The benefits of release include an increase of good in our lives. We release all unproductive thoughts and attitudes from our minds so that we can partake of the ever-renewing life and vitality God has prepared for us.

We release all concepts of lack or limitation and increase our use of divine ideas. God-within supplies us with ideas that lead us in living creative, satisfying lives.

We release all habits that hold us in unproductive, unhealthy life-styles. God’s power working in us and through us is more than enough to keep us living in positive, life-affirming ways. We open ourselves and our lives to the goodness of God.

The Gift of Myrrh

At Christmas time we celebrate the joy of birth — the birth of Jesus and the birth of the Christ consciousness within us. And yet, in this time of newness, we also find a reminder of the impermanence of life.

The third wise man presented the gift of Myrrh to the baby Jesus. Myrrh was a slightly pungent oil derived from a gum resin. It was used to anoint a body during the embalming process. As such, it is symbolic of death.

Metaphysically, the gift of Myrrh represents the eternal nature of the Spirit. It reminds us of our own dual nature. We are both fully human and fully divine. On the human level, all things are transient, here for a moment or a season and then gone. And on the level of Spirit, all things are eternal and we are eternally alive in God.

The gift of Myrrh invites us to open ourselves to the process of release and renewal. It invites us to honor our conflicting feelings – grief at letting go of the familiar, anxiety at facing the unknown, excitement as we consider the new opportunities opening up, and peace as we remember that we are all eternally One in Spirit.

Let us to come together in love, peace and connection as we support each other through this time of change, remaining centered in Spirit and holding each other in the light.

The Gift of Frankincense

In the Christmas tradition, three wise men visited the infant Jesus and presented him with gifts. The second wise man presented the gift of Frankincense.
Frankincense is a fragrant gum resin used in incense and perfumes. According to the Hebrew Bible, frankincense was one of several components of the holy incense ritually burned in Jerusalem’s sacred temples during ancient times. When incense is burned, it emits a fragrant vapor which can be sensed, but not seen. As such, it is symbolic of Spirit, which also can be sensed but not seen.
Metaphysically, the gift of frankincense represents the beauty of the Spirit. Just as the incense adds a beautiful fragrance to our environment, the awareness of spirit adds beauty and color to our daily lives. Wherever we are, there is always some form of beauty. We only have to open our senses to it.

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The Gift of Gold

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.

Non-Resistance

Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. He was president during a time of war in our country, and yet, paradoxically, Lincoln was a man who deeply understood and embraced the ideal of non-resistance.
Lincoln was once asked why he did not replace one of his cabinet members who was known to oppose him on every decision he made – a source of constant irritation. Typically, Lincoln answered with a story…
“Many years ago, I was passing a field where a farmer was trying to plow with a very old and decrepit horse. I noticed a big horsefly on the horse’s flank, and I was about to brush it off when the farmer said, ‘Don’t you bother that fly, Abe! If it wasn’t for that fly, this horse wouldn’t move an inch!”
Lincoln was saying that we need the difficult people and circumstances in our lives. They challenges us. They keep us moving forward. They prompt us to dig within ourselves for greater strength, creativity, and wisdom.
If we invest all our energy in resisting the difficult people and circumstances, then we miss the opportunity for growth inherent in a situation.
What are you resisting? What if you stopped?

Humility / Emptiness

The word “humility” has a bit of a mixed reputation. We typically believe that humble people are good – morally superior, even. We might think of humble people as saintly – so good they set a standard we mere mortals could never hope to achieve. The word brings to mind people like Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
Yet humility also carries the connotation of a person who is meek and submissive. We might think a humble person is easily pushed around by the more aggressive people in this word. We might say that being humble is a good thing – just not necessarily good for me.
If we look at some of the great Spiritual Masters, we can see that all of them practiced humility, and yet none of them were what you might call a pushover. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was strong and confident and did not cower in front of anyone.

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What is Prayer?

What Is Prayer? What Is Prayer For? These would seem to be fairly simple questions. Yet, it turns out that the answer to these questions greatly depends on what you believe about the nature of God, the nature of humankind, and the relationship between the two.

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.

So, if God is all good, everywhere present, and we are One with God, then what is Prayer? What is it for?
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The Blues

“Don’t wish it away. 
Don’t look on it like it’s forever.” 
Elton John and Bernie Taupin

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.

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The Healing Power of Music

“Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna work out fine if you only will.” James Taylor, Shower the People

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.
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