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Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral. This is a house of prayer for all people. All are welcome here. Whoever you are and where ever you are on your spiritual journey you bring special gifts to share. And we pray that you will find spiritual nourishment for your journey here.
The Call to Worship based on Psalm 103
Come praise the eternal God!
Let all that is within us—
ALL: body, emotions, mind, and will—
Sing out in joy and gratitude
When we are famished and weak,
God fills us with good and beautiful things,
ALL: satisfying our needs, and restoring our strength.
Come, praise the eternal God!
ALL: Sing songs from a grateful heart
God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life. Amen
The wisdom of Marianne Williamson
“The circumstances of my life may go up and down, for the mortal world is changeable. The immortal world, however, is changeless, for there is only love. I build my house on the rock of the immortal world…I extend my perception beyond what my senses perceive, to what my heart knows is true. I withdraw my belief that I need anyone or anything to be other than what they are, in order for me to be secure. I know that whenever fear expresses itself, love will ultimately prevail. Therefore I need not fear…nor despair. To the extent to which I see what is truly true, I see only cause for happiness.
Happiness is the choice I make today. It does not rest on my circumstances, but on my frame of mind. I surrender to God any emotional habits that lead me down the path of unhappiness, and pray for guidance in shifting my thoughts.”
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to GOD, “You are my provider; I have no good apart from you.”
…The HOLY ONE is my chosen portion and my cup…I have a goodly heritage.
I bless our God who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I am always mindful of the divine Presence in my life, and therefore, I shall not be shaken.
And so it is that my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
For God does not give up on me…I behold the path of life. In the divine Presence there is fullness of joy; God offers joy forevermore.
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The events in Paris on Friday the 13th this past week are still fresh in our minds as we gather today. Our worst fears are realized. The refugees flooding into Europe are bringing ISIS radicals bent on destroying civilization as we know it. Paris and indeed much of the world is locked in dread and fear. Terror reigns. It might be easy, perhaps even prudent to assume that this may be the most dangerous and uncertain time in history. Bleak isn’t it?
But there are also stories of human compassion and caring that are so sweet and so gentle they make us weep at the sweetness; strangers taking in strangers on Friday night to shelter them against the attacks. Twitter lit up with the hashtag #PorteOuverte, Open Door, urging people to find shelter in the midst of the mayhem. A woman interviewed on TV saying she held the person next to her as they lay on the floor of a restaurant later to find that the woman she cradled for her own comfort was comforted by her as she lay dying in her arms. Humans showing ultimate humanity in the face of unspeakable violence.
And where do we go from here? Does the specter of hatred take root in us again or do we concentrate on love and connection? Do we concentrate on peace or violence. Do we look for solutions or revenge? Do we choose to love our neighbor or feed mistrust and terror? These are the choices before us today.
As I reflected on our readings for this week one question just kept rolling over and over in my mind: “What is real?” On Sunday night last week I was watching the television show 60 Minutes. Scientists were discussing the possibility, perhaps even probability that there are more dimensions of time and space than we are aware. Could we exist in the same space as those loved ones of ours who have ceased to live in physical bodies? What else might be in these dimensions to which we have no access? What is real?
And even more startling, as I was flying this week, flying in a metal tube that weighs thousands of pounds 40,000 feet in the air, I was reading an article called “Solid objects are mostly empty space.” Here is a quote: “Your body is mostly empty space. A rock, a tree, a table, all these things are mostly empty space. These objects act as if they were solid all the way through. But a series of extraordinary experiments have shown that this is just an illusion.”
Experiments by scientists in 1909 prove that the atoms that make up our bodies and everything that we see and experience in the “real” world are mostly empty space. The charges on these particles cause us to experience things as “solid.” But if these electronic charges did not function to repel and attract, our hand would pass through solid granite.
“Scientific discoveries allow us to see the world around us in strange and surprising ways. Look carefully at a rock, a tree, a table or your hand. Those objects are really just clouds of tiny particles held together by powerful electrical forces. Solid objects are mostly empty space.” According to Kelly Cline, Ph.D., is associate professor of astronomy and mathematics at Carroll College.
So if what appears to be solid reality is mostly empty space, what is real? Our reading from Mary Ann Williamson today tells us to rely on the essence of the immortal world, those things that are changeless, the essence of all living things… love.
When we concentrate on the changeless love from which we were created we can let go of our need to control and change people around us. Williamson says, “I withdraw my belief that I need anyone or anything to be other than what they are, in order for me to be secure.”
One of the most often read passages in 12 step literature is from page 449 in the third addition of the book Alcoholics Anonymous in a story by someone in recovery. “… [A]cceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
Acceptance does not mean that we do not work for justice. Acceptance simply means that we come to terms with the way things are. This is necessary for us to come to terms with the forces that perpetuate injustice in the world. When we can accept what is going on around us we are released from using all of our energy in worry and despair and are more able to channel our energy toward making justice.
Williamson goes on to say that love will prevail over fear. Love is what keeps us out of despair. When we are able to accept things as they are, to accept people as they are, we are more able to love not the outward manifestation that we judge but the inner immortal being that is infused with the divine spark. Once we come to terms with the reality that love will ultimately prevail we are able to see beyond circumstances of the moment to the ultimate reality of God’s love for all of us, unconditionally, passionately, eternally.
When we are able to let go of fear and despair, we begin to see the miracles that are happening all around us, our perspective changes. And when our perspective changes we begin to experience happiness.
This is, I believe, what Williamson means when she says, “Happiness is the choice I make today. It does not rest on my circumstances, but on my frame of mind.” It’s not as simplistic as choosing to be happy. What allows happiness to overwhelm us is our choice to see people as they are, to meet them where they are, and love them anyway.
I’m so grateful for God’s unconditional love and acceptance of me. As our Psalm says, “God does not give up on me.” Even when I am tempted to give up on myself, God continues to believe in me, support me, love me. God is not fooled by my failures. God does not judge my failed attempts as character flaws. God just loves me, and loves me, and loves me and sees my immortal self, which is the divine spark, the essence of love with which we are all infused.
The key to happiness is not for people, places and things around us to change to suit what we think we want. The key to happiness and serenity is acceptance and love. We need not live in worry and despair. As the Psalmist says, “And so it is that my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.” We can choose to rest secure in the knowledge that God’s love for us will sustain us even through our darkest hours.
Let us choose love this week in all that we do allowing God’s grace to infuse everything we do with peace and happiness no matter what comes our way. Amen.