Via Creativa: Mothers of Invention – A New Teaching

By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

This Sunday, February 4, 2018, we continue our Via Creativa theme of Mothers of Invention. During this quarter, we’ll be exploring how we can bring forth that creative spirit of invention that can transform not just our inner world, but the world around us.

This week, we used music from Melissa Etheridge to learn how we can use our creativity to heal ourselves and the world. Below is an excerpt from the sermon along with links to the audio of the sermon and the full celebration.

Readings:
From the Jesus Story: Mark 1:21-28: A new teaching — with authority!
From the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 8:1-9: Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 3: An “imprisoned” mind is not free because it is possessed

Song used in the sermon: Melissa Etheridge – Heal Me

Sermon excerpt:

The Apostle Paul uses a dispute over potlucks at the early Christian gathering in Corinth to make the point that our ego prefers us to live in our fear and not in our higher Christ consciousness of love.

The communion table in Corinth had turned into a place of division for the fledgling congregation. Those with the means to bring food came early and they all ate and when the poor got there later, there was little or nothing left for them to eat. There were also some who brought food that they knew others couldn’t eat, namely food that had been sacrificed to idols.

This community was made up of both Gentiles and Jews and many of the Jews were still following the old laws that forbade them to eat such meat. Other Jews had abandoned those old teachings, while the Gentiles never followed such ideas.

This was a serious situation for this community. It wasn’t like a regular potluck where vegans feel left out because everybody brought meat or celiacs were offended because everything has gluten. This was a major point of contention that basically came down to this: Do we still follow the old teachings, or are we ready to change and follow this new teaching of Jesus?

That’s a question that remains relevant for us today. Food is simply one example of how communities, if they are not intentionally living into Jesus’ instructions on how to raise our consciousness and overcome ego, can fall into fearful, ego-based practices. The fight over food in this community was really a fight between those stuck in ego and those who wanted to truly connect with that higher self.

Paul tell them what they’re fighting over is really an illusion of the ego because “no idol in the world really exists because “there is no one but God.” This is similar to A Course in Miracles when it says “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

What Paul and the Course are both saying is this: We are not upset for the reasons we think we are. Our ego has convinced us that we’re upset over a specific thing, like food, but whenever we think we’re upset, we’re really just projecting our fear on whatever situation is before us in any moment.

Like the guy in the synagogue, we just yell at what we don’t understand – or we pretend that we know it all, and – like these people in Corinth – lord it over everyone around us. In both cases, we are trapped in fear, because as Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up.” It makes us feel more important that others. That’s fear.

We get out of it by making room for the miracle of love because, as Paul says, “love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.”

Wow!  What Paul is telling this community is that when they become certain about how God thinks or when they believe they know what God expects — especially from others — they’ve lost our way. The ego is the one that thinks in concrete certainty and sees the world in dualisms such as black and white, good and evil, sinner and saint.  That kind of certainty is founded on fear — which is, of course, the ego’s stock and trade.

That kind of certainty makes us self-righteous prigs, Paul says. The only remedy for the fearful ego is love — that agape kind of love that honors and ensures good will toward everyone — even those with whom we disagree. Just as Jesus honored that screaming man in the temple, Paul is telling this congregation to honor everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey.

In short, Paul is saying learning to creatively love everyone – including ourselves – is more important than getting all your doctrines and dogmas right. We may be all excited about our new knowledge of how to overcome ego and live into our true selves, and in that excited state, we may begin to look down on those we consider still stuck in ego.

That’s a trap of our own ego reasserting itself. Our true self never feels superior to anyone – because it knows that there is one of us here, and when we honor the ego and the divinity within anyone else, we honor it within ourselves. This is how we create a space for the miracle of healing – for both ourselves and our world.

Breathe deeply.

Listen to the full sermon.

Listen to the full celebration.

Here’s your assignment this week: I invite you to find ways, even if they’re small ways, to let go of your fear this week – to not worry about all the frozen chickens of ego in this world. Instead, be the free-spirited parrot and seek new ways to see this world and fall in love with it all over again. Change can be scary, yes, but it can also give us a chance to create new things and new ways of being in the world that will make everyone say:  “Oh, Yeah!”

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