Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
(From the Easter Morning Service at Sunrise Ranch, April 24, 2011)
Good to be here together on Easter morning. Traditionally people around the world gather on this day to celebrate the coming forth of Jesus from the tomb. So there is tradition involved, but more importantly there is a message in that story that’s relevant for us, which has to do with our coming forth and the coming forth of life through us. It has to do with the opportunity that we have on this day to feel and to know, to experience and to bring the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit isn’t just something for church. It sounds like a religious way of naming something, but the Holy Spirit is that sacred power within us that comes from our core, that gives us life. We wouldn’t have life without it.
So we’re here today to bring the power of the Holy Spirit into our experience and to our world. And that happens in a profoundly simple way. The power of life, the power of the Holy Spirit, comes in and through us because of what happens in our thoughts and feelings. Try it! Try turning your thoughts and your feelings towards what is most precious in your life, however you would name that. Think of what you love above all, what is worth living your life for. It may come to focus in a person; it may be associated with your understanding of God, by whatever name; it may be named by the word love, because love itself, in whatever form, is precious.
As our thoughts and feelings turn towards what is most precious, the very core of life itself, something begins to happen in thought and feeling and in awareness. There is an opening of consciousness. And stay with it—the longer thought and feeling stay in appreciation of what is most precious, the more the energy of the Holy Spirit comes into our bodies and into our world through us. We are wired for it. Doctors and scientists are figuring that out. They are finding that the whole human body, the mind and the emotions, the glands, the brain—everything about us—is wired for God, wired for the Holy Spirit to come through. They are finding that out from a scientific standpoint. We can do our own little experiment in our own life. We can find out what happens when we consistently open to the potential that is present in life.
We have some idea of what’s happened in our life up to this point, and our senses are telling us something about what’s happening right now in front of us. But we don’t really know what’s possible to us as we move into the rest of our life, do we? You could assume it’s going to be the same as what’s happened up until now, only we are getting a little older as we go along. But you don’t really know what is going to happen, do you? And neither do I.
That is the magic of possibility. What could occur? What could be known and revealed and made manifest in your life? What is the extent of the magic that could happen with other people? What is the extent of what could be created in the community of people with whom you live? That is all about the possible.
When thought and feeling open to the preciousness of what is possible in our life, we’re invoking something within ourselves. We’re invoking the power of the Holy Spirit in and through ourselves that could make the possible real. That takes the power of the Holy Spirit moving through us, bringing life, manifesting new creations, bringing love to other people so that they can touch it and feel it from us, charging the fields and communities that we work in with the very power of the Holy Spirit.
I bet you didn’t think you were walking into a religious revival here this morning! But this is not really a religious revival, which might be relegated to some kind of religious emotionality. I am invoking the very power of who we are, the very power of life, and inviting an openness to that power to charge our own bodies with health and well-being, with the resurrecting power of life to bring health. We’re wired for that, as I say. Everything in us responds to the power of life moving through us as we open to it.
Of course, we could assume that whatever has happened up until now establishes a limit on how it is going to be from here on out. We could assume that it is all downhill from here. We could entertain old attitudes and emotions that fill our lives with fear, so that we try to ward off what we don’t want to have happen in our life, never really opening to the power and potential of what could be.
What is possible in the community that you share with other people, whether it’s a family, a town, an organization, extended friends and family? For the most part, people feel victimized by the communities in which they live—what other people are saying and doing, either in front of them or behind their back. With that sense of victimization comes the assumption that what has been happening is what will happen. And if a person gets fed up enough with the current family or the current community or current organization, they may go looking for another one, not realizing that within them, within each of us, is the power to do something about the fields in which we live and serve.
We can charge those fields with our love. We can transform those fields with the Holy Spirit moving through us—through our words, through the things that we do, through the love that we share with other people, and through the vision we share of what we could be doing together. We can acknowledge whatever has been difficult and challenging. We can acknowledge whatever feelings might be present within us. And we can still say, with conviction, when we are open to the possible, that it doesn’t have to keep being that way. We could bring new possibility, new life into this situation.
When you have that thought, and perhaps attempt to muster a positive emotion to go with it, you might wonder if you are whistling in the dark—that it is all just imagination. So, for most people, they are waiting for something wonderful to happen so that they can have positive thoughts and feelings and feel justified in having them. How about turning that on its ear? Maybe if a person has a joyful thought and a joyful feeling, they might manifest something different in their life.
They have found that the human body likes joy. Our health responds to a state of joy. Most people wait to feel good physically before they feel joyful, but we could turn that on its ear too. We could bring joy into our physical body.
I notice that there is something about our biorhythms that is connected with other people. We are separate physically, but the Holy Spirit knows no bounds. We are connected spiritually. We could all think a happy, visionary thought together and feel the feelings of joy that come when we think that thought, and then feel the energy that’s generated. These days we talk about an energy crisis, so we’re talking about energy at many levels. And you might think that the energy that moves in the human energy field doesn’t mean that much. It won’t turn on these lights or power the heat or run your car. But it is all connected.
More and more, as humanity, we are finding out that what happens in our awareness, in our consciousness and in our energy field is having a big impact on the planet. We used to think that the planet is affecting us; that we are victims of the weather, victims of the plant and animal life, and of other people. But today it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are not just victims of what is happening to the planet. In fact, the planet is a victim of what we are doing to it. And that all starts in what’s happening in human consciousness and in the human energy field. As with many things, we’ve got that quite backwards.
So today is Easter, and we have the record of a man who addressed the issues that we are speaking of this morning. The story of Easter is the story of civilization attempting to perpetrate something on a man. And it is the story of all-powerful life, the all-powerful spirit that was in that man, that overcame the world, that proved that the power of the spirit within humanity is much stronger than the power of the civilization that humanity has created. We are creating civilization—it is not creating us. And therefore we must be more powerful than that human world.
I’ve been pondering recently how accessible to me and to us the spirit that Jesus brought actually is. I think most often the word Christ is used as if it were his last name, Jesus Christ, whereas that word is from the Greek and it has to do with the spirit that he brought, the spirit of the Christ. This is not a spirit to which he had exclusive rights. Certainly the way he brought the Christ was unique to him. And the fact that he brought the Christ to the world sets him apart from many others. Yet still, it was the spirit of the universal Christ that he brought.
Pondering how distant the spirit of the universal Christ has become to so many, even people around the world who consider themselves Christians, I had the thought of creating a First Christians Council. It would be a council of people from whatever background, whether they thought of themselves as religious or not. They would be from whatever religious faith or spiritual path, but people who would be keenly interested in receiving firsthand the message and the spirit that Jesus brought. So while acknowledging whatever spiritual paths there have been over the ages, by whatever name, the people of the Council would seek a firsthand experience of the spirit that Jesus brought: the Christ. They would seek to do as he asked and to truly follow him, to truly receive and to bring his good news, his gospel of the kingdom; to walk the way that he walked, as he enjoined us to do.
Last Sunday, I was in St. David’s cathedral in Wales. It is a glorious building. St. David is considered the patron saint of Wales, and the cathedral dates back to the 12th century. It was huge, built of stone, with a massive ceiling and a wondrous organ. With friends, I participated in Evensong, which was the Sunday evening worship service, mostly sung by the choir. Their voices filled the space above, and it was glorious. I have deep appreciation for the spiritual path that inspired people to build a church that beautiful.
As I enjoyed this beautiful building, I was keenly aware that, for me, I did not want to be worshiping the church, as beautiful as it was, or just worshiping the liturgy of the service. I wanted to be worshiping the spirit that had inspired those things. I wanted to worship that spirit directly, so that I could proclaim for myself my love for that spirit and let that spirit fill me, in my life and in my living, so that I could preach the gospel, the good news of life, to my world.
So in honor of that spirit, I would like to read these words from Matthew 24:
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
The end of what? The end of not knowing the gospel of the kingdom; the end of not knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit; the end of a world that isn’t filled with that spirit, that energy, that awareness. We live in a world that begins with the assumption that the kingdom of heaven is not at hand, that it is a hard world. Every man for himself. Every woman for herself.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
I’m up for that—for bringing that gospel without ceasing, until there is an end of the spiritual amnesia that has possessed humanity. Do you find yourself stopping bringing what you have to bring to the world out of discouragement because of the way that the world is? If the world seems discouraging or disillusioning, do you stop? Do you end then, with your gift to the world? We could look at these issues on a global scale, whether it is the prospect of financial chaos or nuclear meltdown, and all the rest of what is going on in the world. We could be disillusioned by all those things. And we could look more closely at hand. It’s disheartening when you see someone else do something that to you doesn’t seem to be in their integrity. I know I can feel those things. Do I end then? Does my preaching of the good news, the bringing of Holy Spirit into my world, end then? That is exactly opposite to Jesus’ words. He foretold an end to the way of the world as it is today, not an end to the bringing of spiritual awakening.
So we have the opportunity to carry on in the spiritual current that this great man brought, the current of the Christ. As he said, the works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these. His life wasn’t the ending of something but the beginning of it.
These words from Revelation speak to where we’re going and what it is when the unknowingness of the world does end:
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
It doesn’t say “Just the special people.” Without reservation, the tabernacle of God is with men, and I take that to be all men, and I take it to be all men and women. A tabernacle is a dwelling place for God—the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit within us. As beautiful as that cathedral is, and as much as I love this Dome, I don’t think we are talking about buildings here. We are not talking about churches; we’re not talking about religion or spiritual paths. All those things may aid us to come to this place of understanding that we ourselves are the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. We are designed to be that.
I feel the author struggling to talk about something that has not yet been experienced by humanity. He says, “And God himself shall be with them.” Not just a word for God, not just a picture or the idea, but the reality. “God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” If we are the tabernacle of God, as humanity, then this building can be the tabernacle of God because we are here. This place can be the tabernacle of God, and this world can be the tabernacle of God. And then the word of the prophet may be fulfilled: “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)
Thank you for this time on Easter morning. Thank you for being part of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in and through us. And we know that our lives touch many others, that we are letting the gospel of the kingdom be preached round the world, preached perhaps on a Sunday morning through words, but most importantly preached by the quality of the expression of spirit in our life every day, by our openness to what’s possible, and letting the beauty of what’s possible be revealed in our life.