Posted in New World, non-violence, world changes

Voting and Hoping for a Savior?

Sisters and brothers,

Why all the divisive language?  Why, as we are getting closer to the day of the presidential election, are we continuing the “us vs. them” rhetoric?  Rhetoric which is casting “the other” in the role of villain and our own favored candidate in the role of savior?  Are we voting and hoping for a savior?

If we are looking for Trump or Biden or any of the other presidential candidates to save our nation, we are looking and hoping in the wrong direction.  The salvation we are all looking for WILL NOT come from outside of us.  It can only come from within.

I know, to many that may seem like “whoo whoo talk” or sounds a little religiously familiar; but the truth of the matter is that the mess we have gotten ourselves into as a nation started with ourselves.  In other words, we have no one else to blame, and it is only our own actions that will bring forth any change.

You want to change the world?  Then change yourself!

The ills of our nation began in the desire to have power and control in worlds where we felt powerless.  Whether it was religious persecution or the longing for a better life that brought us here, or if we were dragged here in chains for the purpose of servitude, it was fear that brought us here.  Fear compels us to seek separation (if for no other reason than to paint ourselves as heroes and the other as the villain) and separation is exactly what has defined this nation even before those men signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • Male and female.
  • Black and white.
  • Civilized and barbarous.
  • Rich and poor.
  • Catholic and Protestant.
  • Educated and Ignorant.
  • Gay and Straight.
  • Republican and Democrat.

The list goes on and on and one.  It is separation that has defined our nation and this separation was brought about by our own hand.  As such, if we truly want to save our nation (it’s a good start in the direction of saving the world), then we have to put an end to separation.  But separation doesn’t end because we want it to.  Separation ends when we heal the wound that created separation in the first place.  Which brings me back to my original point:

If we are voting and hoping for a savior, we are looking in the wrong direction.

Saving our nation begins with saving ourselves and that is an inside job.  When we heal what is separate within us, only then are we able to be a vehicle through which the separation that plagues our world can be healed.  It starts with ourselves and it starts within.

The process is woefully simple, but I have found that few have the courage or tenacity to do this great work.  The great work of which I speak is simply this:

Learning how to love.

Learning how to love begins by learning how to love ourselves.  Loving ourselves is the natural consequence of healing all that is separate within us:  our fears, our past traumas and our fear-based conditioning.  Loving ourselves includes learning to love the parts of ourselves we have been conditioned to believe are unlovable – our vulnerabilities and imperfections; and most importantly – our shadow.  Our shadow is the accumulation of what we have rejected/suppressed or repressed inside of us along with all the parts of ourselves that remain unlived.

As we learn to love ourselves, we find that the walls of separation we have build around ourselves and others, begin to fall away.  Suddenly we have empathy for another’s pain.  We have understanding of another’s challenges.  We can see the world through the eyes of those whose experiences have differed from our own.  And we learn compassion. When we learn compassion we discover that there is beauty in diversity and that every single human being has needs that are worthy.

Most importantly, we learn what the ancients knew full-well, a species which is divided will destroy itself.  A species that can come together in cooperation and collaboration in support of the common good will thrive.

The only true savior is that which we can find within ourselves. Isn’t time we stop looking outside of ourselves for a savior and start looking within?

 

 

Posted in Mary Magdalene, order of the magdalene

How Mary Magdalene Saves the World

Christian doctrine tells us that Jesus saved us through his dying and rising, transmuting the “sin” of humanity through his sacrifice, thereby eliminating the separation between humanity and God. Whether or not we literally believe this to be true (personally, I have another idea of how Jesus “saves”), it is a metaphor that has informed and formed the development of Western civilization and that of any other culture touched by its influence. As a culture that has embraced sacrifice and death as the way to salvation, we have entirely missed the point of the human experience – the point being the human experience itself.  In focusing only on sacrifice and death, we have forgotten how to live.

If Jesus saved us through his sacrifice, death and resurrection,

Mary Magdalene saves us through her living.

Enter Mary Magdalene. If Jesus saved us through his sacrifice, death and resurrection, Mary Magdalene saves us through her living. She lived the fullness of the human experience and unlike Jesus, was not released from her suffering by death.  She suffered the pain of abuse, rejection, condemnation, ridicule, trauma, loss, homelessness, expulsion, banishment, and every other form of human pain.  Death did not relief her of her suffering.  Instead, she had to find a path through the suffering and to the liberation that was waiting on the other side of the challenge.  In finding her way through the suffering, Mary was healed and transformed, growing in strength and courage because of her ability to find her way through the suffering.  Mary Magdalene provides for us an example of human resilience.  We do not worship her for her martyrdom, for she did not die for anyone’s sin.  Instead, we see in her the way to make it through the inherent challenges of the human experience while paving the way for others to do the same.

Saving the World through Our Living

This is the call of the Magdalene – especially for those called into her service. We are not here to save others through our death. We are here to save ourselves and provide an example for others while transmuting the very path itself.  This is the “magic” of the Magdalene priesthood.  When we allow ourselves to be fully present to the challenges that life will hand us and use the tools we have been given to find our way through those challenges, we are strengthened, we grow in courage, we are healed of our wounds and we are transformed.  In this transformation, we are better able to enjoy the sublime moments of life – appreciating the beauty and wonder, finding joy in the simple things, embracing the ecstasy of love, reveling in the banquet of life.  We learn how to love, how to find peace, contentment and joy.  And we are changed.  As we are changed, and so are all those around us – our friends and loved ones, our family, and every single person we meet along the way.  Through the example of the Magdalene and the tools she left behind, we learn how to live and in learning how to live we are saved and the whole world with us.

Posted in Weekly Lesson

Following Jesus’ Example is Hard

Anyone can call themselves a Christian.  In fact, 2.3 billion people do (Pew Research 2015). Calling oneself a Christian, or proclaiming “Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior,” however, has absolutely nothing to do with our ability to follow Jesus’ example.  Following Jesus is easy.  Followi...

Posted in Empowerment, Lessons

It’s Not Enough to Be Saved

As I was reflecting on this week’s scripture passage from Mark’s gospel, the following words hit me between the eyes:

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

In the spirit of Imagination/Contemplation, I immediately thought of how these words might apply to me and to my own Divine calling. Not to say that I am Jesus, but to say that I/we are called to be like him in love.  The reason the Jesus story matters is because it invites us beyond the smallness of our human egos to the great love that dwells within and then seeks to be known through us.  Jesus came to save us from ourselves – from the too small self that is ruled by our fears, unhealed wounds and unhealthy societal conditioning – so that the God-self within us can shine.  Like Jesus, we are both fully human and fully Divine and we are here to unleash the inner Divinity that is imprisoned by all those things formerly mentioned.  This is what Jesus did for himself and then tried to teach others, and which we are now called to do.

In the words above that bore a hole into my brain, I heard the calling of my own Soul – looking out over the horizon of humanity I felt deep compassion for all of humanity’s pain. I felt the struggle.  I saw humanity’s pain and woe.  I heard the cries and moans of complaint over all the difficulties and challenges of the human condition.  And I felt their/our longing – the deep, empty, vacant longing for that which we cannot name – the longing that some have called “for God” and what others have described as “home.”  The longing to be reunited with what we have lost – not even knowing what it is we have lost.  It is the common pain of the human condition and I felt in every fiber of my being.  We are all lost sheep just trying to find our way home.

And in the midst of the pain that I saw in the ocean of humanity, I felt my own pain. I remembered discovering that pain and finding the fleeting relief of this pain in my intimate relationship with (that which I call) God.  I remembered finding enduring relief of that pain in coming to know myself – all of me.  My personal pains, losses, struggles, traumas, betrayals, places of brokenness and imperfection.  I found it in every rejection I had suffered and in finding my way beyond that suffering.  I remembered and in the remembering – I re-membered myself.  I put myself back together piece by piece by piece by re-locating every lost part of myself and welcoming myself home.

And then I saw myself helping those sheep find their way home because now I knew the way. This is what Jesus modeled and what he calls us to do – each through our own unique gifts. Some will be healers.  Other teachers.  Still others civil leaders, artists, craftsman, advocates, workers for justice, etc. etc. etc.  We are each uniquely gifted to be a vessel of Divine Love in the world and in Re-membering ourselves we are then called to lead others home.

This is who we are. This is what we are called to do.  It is not enough to simply call Jesus our “Savior” and “Our Lord.”  In fact, we don’t even need to consider Jesus either of these things to find the kind of salvation that Jesus brings.  Jesus saves by showing us the way to our true nature as One within ourselves, with the Divine and with all of creation, and then he asks us to do the same.  Just like he did with the disciples.  Jesus didn’t offer to feed the 5000 hungry people…..he empowered the disciples to do it.  He asks us to do the same.

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Posted in Death, Spiritual Direction

Oh Death

Borrowing from a popular song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydrtF45-y-g) :

Let’s talk about death baby

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be

Let’s talk about death…..

As it has been said, there are two things that are certain in the human experience: change and death.  We have spoken at length about change, but we haven’t spent much time on the topic of death.  Death is certain and every day of our lives is a slow (or quick) march toward that death.  We cannot avoid it – our own death or the death of those we love and care about.  While death is certain, and could simply be viewed as an ordinary part of our human experience, it is also our greatest fear.

As we fear and resist change, so too do we resist and fear death. It may not be death specifically that we fear, but the inability to control, when, how and with how much pain (physical or otherwise) we experience death.  We also fear that which comes after death – if anything.  And perhaps more than the “if anything” we fear the possibility that this life might be all there is….that there is nothing waiting for us on the other side of death.  From a rational, objective, scientific perspective, we have no way to prove what there may or may not be after death.  What it there’s nothing!?

 

Every religious institution has its own beliefs about death and what comes thereafter. Some suggest that this life is all there is.  Others preach the ever-evolving wheel of karma and that we return to this life over and over and over until we have worked off that karma so as to earn enlightenment or nirvana.  Some suggest the purpose of the human journey is to grow spiritually and that we return until our eternal Soul has completed its growth.  Others suggest a place of eternal damnation.  Others suggest a place of eternal reward.  Some used to suggest there were places in between (limbo or purgatory), but both of these seem to have been eliminated in favor of heaven or hell.  Others believe in a hierarchical afterlife where only the very special chosen ones will receive the fullness of the heavenly reward.  The beliefs that human beings have developed around the idea of death are endless.  No matter which of these is true, we have no control over when death will come for us or how that death will happen (unless it is by our own hand)…..and this scares the hell out of most people.

Until it does not. In the Christian tradition, we are told that Jesus came so as to conquer death…..:

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  John 3: 11-17

God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,  and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1: 9-10

 

…but what was the death that Jesus conquered? Jesus did die…(at least that’s what scripture and Christian doctrine tell us).  If Jesus brought eternal life, it is not an eternal life on this human plane.  Christianity then goes on to tells us that in his death Jesus guaranteed eternal life for “all who believe in him.”  But what about the rest of the world?  Are only Christians saved?  I very much doubt it. I personally believe we are all saved, but not in the way that has anything to do with a heavenly reward, or lack thereof.  Instead, it is not physical death and the “what comes after” that Jesus saves us from.  Instead, Jesus came to save us from that which prevents us from LIVING while we are right here, trying to get through this thing called life (Cue Prince).  Ironically, the way we make it through this human experience is to face down and move through this which we fear the most – namely death.

 

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Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Divine Revelation, God, grief, Inspiration, Jesus

We Are Our Own Saviors (or God Does Not Save Part II)

(Read Part I HERE).

It is an interesting thing when you suddenly realize that the “God” you were taught to believe in, put all your faith in and to whom you have devoted your life was never there for you. For me, this is a realization and an awakening that has been a long time coming, so when it showed up, I knew what to do with it.  I simply let the realization be and allowed the “old man in the sky God” to die.  With this death, I have allowed myself to be present to the grieving (rage, sorrow, mind-numbing paralysis, depression) as a “New” God is being born within me.

LadyofLight

But here’s the funny thing…..there is no “New” God being born in me, instead, it is the LOVE that has always been present within me, guiding me, supporting me, protecting me, comforting me, healing me, and loving me….taking center stage. This LOVE has always been there, whispering truth to me and showing me the way.

This LOVE is the “kingdom of God” that Jesus spoke of as residing “within and among you.” The “God” that Jesus knew was the LOVE that dwelled within him.  This “God” was also the LOVE that dwells within every human being.  This “God” is also the LOVE that made up and encompassed all of creation.  This is the LOVE that Jesus wanted all of us to know.

From a Genesis perspective, I think of it as: “God was (or is)” (spirit, source, energy, etc.) and then “God Became.” The Spark that is God split into a gazillion pieces and became everything we see in creation, including ourselves.  Jesus knew this “God” as “Love” and this “Love” is what dwells within us and IS us in our becoming.  I know, it’s a little mind-blowing….especially if all we ever knew before was the God “out there.”  But when we really think about it, we already know this God who is LOVE that dwells within us.  Let me offer a few examples of this knowing from my own life:

  • This LOVE told me who I could trust and who to be wary of.
  • This LOVE told me (tells me) when people are lying….it also tells me when I’m lying to myself.
  • This LOVE tells me when I am venturing down the wrong path, and it tells me through bodily sensations of unease and sometimes even guilt.
  • This LOVE told me NOT to get into the car of the strange man who offered to give me a ride as I was walking to the bus stop as a teenager.
  • This LOVE picked my foot off the gas pedal and slammed it down on the brake just in time to miss a van barreling through a red light at 60mph, saving myself and my children from sure death.
  • This LOVE helped me to recognize the educational opportunities that would support my Soul’s purpose.
  • This LOVE helps me to recognize the personal and professional opportunities consistent with my Soul’s purpose and gives me the courage and tenacity to pursue them.
  • This LOVE helps me to recognize those who will be my friends, supportive business colleagues and resources in support of my Soul’s purpose.

 

In short, this LOVE is ME trying to be ME – the ME that the “God spark” within me decided it wanted to be in deciding to be ME. This LOVE knows why it came here and who it came to be through me and it supports me in knowing and finding all I need to experience in order to be ME.  This LOVE also lets me know when I am entering into experiences that will not be supportive of the ME I came here to be.

DSCF3134

What is true for me is also true for you. We all KNOW this LOVE that is within us and we all hear the voice of this LOVE trying to support us in being who we came here to be.  We know this LOVE in the tiny whispering voice of our intuition.  We know this LOVE in those moments of deep inner knowing that guides us.  This LOVE communicates to us through our dreams and our imagination.  This LOVE helps us to recognize books, movies, TV shows that will feed us and which will bore us to death.  The key to knowing this LOVE is to PAY ATTENTION…..and TRUST.  It turns out, unlike the “old man in the sky God” who may or may not keep us safe or protect us from harm, LOVE will never lead us astray.  And when the consequences of the human condition (disappointment, loss, suffering and death) show up at our door, LOVE helps us find our way through, supports us in our healing, and helps us to find the new life on the other side of the loss.

It is through this LOVE that we find we are our own saviors and that in fact, there is nothing from which we need saving. The LOVE that dwells in us is simply here to be LOVE and to be that LOVE more and more each day.  When we embrace this truth we realize that all there is is love and that love is all there is.  Salvation comes when we realize this truth.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, Virtual Church

Who is Saved? Authentic Freedom Virtual Church

The Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, November 2, 2014 is LIVE.

This week’s service explores the topic of SALVATION.  Do we need to proclaim Jesus Christ our personal Lord and savior in order to be saved?  Jesus might argue, “NO.”  In fact, he might be more concerned about how we experience the human condition than how we spend our afterlife.

Attend this week’s service HERE.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Jesus, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Who is Saved?

The theme of this week’s Agape’ Meditation Newsletter, supplement to this Sunday’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church, is SALVATION.  Do we need to believe in Jesus to be saved?   Jesus might say, no. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thirty-first Sunday Ordinary Time

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Jn 6: 37 – 40

 Resurrection

Additional Readings: 

Wis 3: 1-9

Ps 23: 1-6

Rom 5: 5-11

 

We’re All Saved?

This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.

 

John’s gospel is a tricky one. On one hand, there are statements like the one above – indicating God’s will that all will be reunited in God’s love. Reflection on this statement seems to open the door to “salvation” to all human beings. Soon following that, however, is the Johnnine qualifier “everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life.” Suddenly, the promise of reunion with God seems conditional – only those who see the Son and believe are saved. If we believe that Jesus came to teach us how to love and that Jesus preached of a God whose love is unconditional, how is it that only Christians can be saved? Inconsistencies like these are what have led to centuries of Christian arrogance creating horrors like the Crusades, the Inquisition and Witch Hunts that have killed millions of people all “in the name of God.”

When faced with these inconsistencies, prayerful meditation on scripture is critical. It is only in prayer, inviting God to help us see past the inconsistencies of scripture, that we can be open to receiving God’s truth. (John’s gospel, for example, was written between 90 and 100 CE and is a theological reflection on the resurrected Christ. Additionally, John’s gospel has likely been significantly redacted to fit a specific agenda.) The Vatican II Fathers used these techniques of prayerful reflection, along with theological debate, in developing the Vatican II documents. In these documents, the bishops, cardinals and pope are clear – all human beings can be saved – regardless of their religious beliefs. Salvation, in their eyes, is something that we cannot grasp, but is a mystery known only to God. If God is unconditionally loving – that means EVERYONE – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, even Atheist. All are one in God.

Where have you found scriptural inconsistencies to be troubling?

How do you reconcile the God of love that you know with the fickle and jealous God often portrayed in scripture?

What do you want to believe about God?

What do you want to believe about salvation?

 

Spiritual Practices – Piercing through the veil

Lectio-Divina (Divine Reading) is a spiritual practice which helps us to see through the veil of human perceptions and agendas to access God’s truth. This week, you are invited to apply Lectio-Divina to the above scripture to uncover God’s truth for you.

Read the scripture slowly and meditatively, looking for a word or phrase that jumps out at you. Receive this word or phrase as God’s nourishment for you today.

Meditate on this word or phrase. Ponder it in your mind. Reflect on what it might be saying to you. Perhaps repeat it over and over in your mind, allowing you to arrive at a place of stillness where you can hear God’s voice in the midst of those words.

Respond to this word or phrase. Write or say aloud your thoughts and feelings about this word or phrase. What does it mean to you? What do you want to say to God in exchange for this word or phrase?

Rest in silence and allow God’s grace to enter you….receiving what God wants you to receive from this meditation, allowing the word or phrase to nourish and become part of you.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we understood that Jesus came to remind us of the truth of our Oneness with God. This Oneness applies to EVERYONE and everything. All of creation comes from God, is a part of God, and returns to God. From this perspective, salvation is the extent to which we have remembered this Oneness. While existing in the human condition, we may only get a glimpse of this Oneness, but with diligent practice, these glimpses increase and become more enduring. And, nothing and no one is denied access to these experiences of Oneness, experiencing glimpses of salvation in the midst of human condition, and enjoying the fullness of salvation once the human condition is released and we return in full recollection of our Oneness with God.

Where have you experienced glimpses of your Oneness with God?

How are you setting time aside for your spiritual practice so you can remember your Oneness with God and experience salvation in the midst of the human condition?

 

Posted in Agape Project, Jesus, Oneness with God, Virtual Church

Agape Meditation Newsletter – John 3:16

Please find the Agape Meditation Supplement to the Virtual Church for Sunday, June 15, 2014.  The theme is John 3:16 – was Jesus about separation or love?

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3: 16 – 18

 

Additional Readings: 

Ex 34: 4B – 6, 6-8

Dn 3: 52-56

2 Cor 13: 11-13

john316sign

John 3: 16

I must admit, that I can’t help but cringe when I read John 3: 16 – not because of its words, but because of the way in which these words have been used to create separation instead of LOVE. Certainly, separation is something we can infer from this reading – a certain kind of privilege afforded to those who believe in Jesus as the only son of God and as the sole means of heavenly salvation. However, I cannot believe that separation or privilege were Jesus’ intentions. Instead, I believe, that the salvation about which the author of John is referring is the salvation we find in our earthly experience when we turn to Jesus as our teacher and guide and follow his example for attaining peace in this life and for coming to know our original nature as One with God and with each other in LOVE. When we take Jesus’ teachings and example seriously and apply them in life, all we have is love and in perfect love, there can be no separation.

Where have you found the unifying power of Love in Jesus’ teachings?  

How are you called to be and live LOVE more freely through Jesus’ teachings and example?

 

Spiritual Practices – Separate or One?

Set aside 20-30 minutes to enter into this meditation practice. You will need your computer or personal music device to access the music that will be used in this practice.

  1. Sit in silence.
  2. Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above.
  3. Listen to the following song: ONE by Creed. (Youtube Link HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLSU4KRXZ9o)
  4. Re-read the scripture above, open to how you might interpret it from the perspective of Unity/Oneness instead of separation.
  5. Re-write the passage in a way that more clearly articulates Jesus’ intention of LOVE and Oneness.

Authentic Freedom 

In Authentic Freedom, we recognize that the remedy to human suffering is remembering our Oneness with God, within ourselves, with each other and with all of creation. Remembering this Oneness does not eliminate the challenges of the human condition, but it does give us the support we need to move through these challenges while being open to God’s grace in the midst of them. We learn of this Oneness through the stories of Jesus’ teachings and the example he set for his disciples of a prayerful life. Contemplation is the process through which we remember this Oneness.

How are you following Jesus’ example of prayerful contemplation?

How have you found contemplation to be helpful in cultivating inner peace and giving you the resources to weather life’s challenges?