By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday, July 1, 2018, we continue our Via Positiva theme of Yes! In Deed! exploring the various ways that we can embody our “Yes!” our “Oh, Yeah” in the world.
This Sunday we used music from Bob Dylan to learn how an being of service in the world can help us embody the joy we seek in the world.
From the Jesus Story: Luke 9:57-62: I will follow you wherever you go.
From the Apostle Paul: Galatians 5:1, 13-25: If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 18: You have been willing to bring the darkness to light
Song used in the sermon: Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan
How do we know whether we’re serving fear or love? The Apostle Paul gives us a few hints in his letter to the early Christians in Galatia.
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,” Paul told them.
As we listen to that list, our thoughts may turn to all the people we know who do those things – most of them probably work in Washington, D.C., or other houses of power around the country. Want to know who you’re serving right now? Ego. Because the ego LOVES to have us think about other people when the talk turns to behavior.
This is where we begin to “bite and devour” one another, Paul says. We can always think about how badly others behave, but have we examined our own lives for “works of the flesh,” as Paul says? But that word “sarx” that he uses isn’t what we think about when we hear the word “flesh.” This is not something lurid. Sarx is simply our bodily selves – this ego-driven flesh suit we walk around in – and make no mistake, every ego in this room loves to “bite and devour” others. Spend five minutes on Facebook and you’ll see lots of egoic cannibals on the loose, biting and devouring one another.
Facebook, honestly, is where I can see my own penchant for biting and devouring others and indulging in works of the flesh. Here, I can feel superior and snarky, calling out others for their actions and beliefs, calling them names, and feeling pretty justified in doing so. “Strife, anger, quarrels, factions, dissentions,” all the works of the flesh I personally have engaged in on Facebook – and in real life. All in service to the ego. I suspect I am not alone.
The ego calls this freedom, though, because who are you to tell me what I can say or do on Facebook or out in the world? I am free to do what I want. And, so we are, but this freedom has a cost, Paul says. This is where the ego’s laws of cause and effect come into play. When we miscreate in the world by following the ego’s penchant for strife, anger and separation – which is the cause – the effect is immediate. We are in hell. We’re like Arno standing at that McDonald’s counter confronted with the hell of hatred he has created for himself, all because of a gentle smile.
However, there is hope. In any moment, if we’re the least bit willing, we can have a miracle. We can have our perspective changed and stop serving the ego and instead serve love.
This Jubilants, is true Cause and Effect, and there is no law against it. The true Cause is always the Holy, and whenever we act from that Cause the effects are always “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
We are called to true freedom, Jubilants, to follow the Spirit that calls to us in each moment. The ego’s voice, though, speaks first and it always speaks loudest. Hearing the voice of Spirit takes practice, but often it comes to us in disguise – as good friends who will call you on your egoic action – or even a gentle, radiantly smiling fast food server.
Here’s your assignment this week: I invite you, Jubilants to bring your darkness to the light this week. Give over to the Holy any thoughts of anger, hatred, division or despair and allow Her to shine away all that darkness. When the light overtakes you, shine it out into this world where others may overtaken by their own dark thoughts and feelings. When you live our your light – your Yes – in deed this week, whether it’s a small or large deed or act of kindness – it will make the entire world say: “Oh, Yeah!”