This Sunday, December 31, 2017, we continued our mini-Via theme of AHSCKNYE, which stands for Advent, Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years and Epiphany. We celebrate all of these traditions at Jubilee! Circle, recognizing the depth and the breadth of the spiritual expressions of humanity. Below is an excerpt from the Dec. 31, 2017 sermon celebrating the miracle of trust, along with a link to the sermon audio.
From the Jesus Story: Matthew 11:25-30: Come to me, all you that are weary …
From the Apostle Paul’s letters: Colossians 3:12-15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
From A Course in Miracles, Lesson 24: I do not perceive my own best interest.
Song used in the sermon: My Heart is Open – Maroon 5
We all have great intentions for the New Year, but research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are toast by February. We have all these desires, all these contradictory goals, and we just can’t seem to make them last. It’s enough to make you tired just thinking about it.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading. This isn’t just an invitation to berate ourselves for not keeping resolutions. It’s an invitation to surrender all the burdens we put on ourselves – both the joys we tend to cling to and the failures we tend to resist or push away.
We are heavy laden because we think we know what’s best for ourselves and we load ourselves up with plans and expectations and then blame other people and circumstances when they fail. “If only this had happened, or that had happened.” “If only I had more willpower or a deeper spirituality.” We cloud our consciousness with the choices we’ve made to either resist uncomfortable things or cling to things we like.
What we need, Jesus says, is rest, and not just any kind of rest. Jesus isn’t talking about taking a vacation or checking out mentally or spiritually. The rest he’s talking about is active, it’s contemplative, it’s resting within our Christ consciousness, taking a break from the ego’s incessant chatter about what we should be doing or what we should not be doing.
The Greek word used in this passage for rest connotes a Sabbath rest – one that puts us on the road to recovery, one that refreshes us and puts us in touch with our highest self where we can recharge our divine batteries. The passage says we will find rest for our “souls” and in Greek, that really means is we find rest for our lives … we find the path to our true life of surrender where our best interest comes to us without effort.
The Course says we can either have a grievance or we can have a miracle, but we can’t have both. While we’re burdening ourselves with grievances, we can find no time to rest, no time to meditate or contemplate deeply about the things that block us from the path to our true lives.
When we think of the word “grievance” though, we have specific ideas. A grievance, we think, is a grudge or an angry emotion or feelings of resistance. A grievance can be formed by situations we perceive as bad, but they also can be formed by events we may see as good. A grievance is anything we resist, or anything we cling to. We resist things that make us uncomfortable or angry or scared.
But, a grievance can be something we feel good about, too. When something good happens, instead of feeling that feeling and letting it go, we cling to it. We want to have that feeling again. We try to recreate the situation that brought us that good feeling, and even though we never quite feel that exact way again – because that exact situation will never happen again – we cling to the thought that one day it will.
Whenever we resist something, or cling to something, we create a grievance that loads us down with expectations and prevents us from experiencing a miracle. The way to make room for the miracle is to accept that Holy invitation to rest – to surrender to life’s experiences without resisting or clinging.
In this passage, Jesus gives thanks to God that true wisdom is withheld from the “wise and intelligent” and instead is given to “infants.” This clinging and resisting is our “wise” ego mind that believes it’s thinking rationally and knows what’s best for us, but our Christ Consciousness – that Holy infant – is where true wisdom lies. Babies don’t cling or resist. They simply enjoy life and let events pass through them. This is the heart of true wisdom.
Jesus says it is God’s gracious purpose to reveal the Holy will to us. But God only reveals that to the “infant” within us – that childlike wisdom that doesn’t dwell on the past or plan for the future but simply says “yes” to all that life offers. Breathe deeply.
This week’s assignment:
I invite you to say yes to how your life unfolds this week, especially in those moments when you find yourself resisting life’s moments of trial, or clinging to those moments of joy. Try to relax into the moment and touch that inner peace of your higher consciousness. And in recognition of this sixth day of Kwanzaa, I leave you with the words of the traditional blessing from this day of Kuumba: “May the year’s end meet us laughing, and stronger. And at the end of next year, may we sit together again, in larger numbers, with greater achievement and closer to liberation and a higher level of life.” Let the people say: “Oh, Yeah!”