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Spiritual Matters

Mark new year with renewed faith

January 08, 2014 - I listened to a conversation on the radio the other day where a woman was talking about a new friend of hers, "I knew she was enlightened when I saw her drinking coconut water and holding a yoga mat."

It was my first good laugh of the day. I have nothing against coconut water, I understand it is one of the new healthier drinks, and I love yoga but these do not necessarily evidence enlightenment. The superficial level of spirituality pervades all the world's religions and spiritual paths.

I have my own theory about enlightenment. When I was a teenager I knew everything. As I gain experience (my way of saying 'getting older'), the more I know I don't know.

Eventually I will know that I know nothing and that will truly be enlightening. I believe Sgt. Shultz (think Hogan's Heroes) had it right all along, "I know nothing." As they say, the reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly.

Just because you have your plastic Jesus on your dashboard, or Buddha, or Moses, or Mohammad, or Krishna, or fill-in-the-blank: that doesn't make you a true Christian, or Buddhist, or Jew, or Moslem, or Hindu, or whatever. It is living the teachings of the master; it is putting them into practice in your daily life that makes you a true believer.

We are at the end of the first week of a new year. This is a new year, a new beginning, with new opportunities to be and do and achieve. For many our resolutions have already begun to waiver if not completely abandoned. Each day is a new opportunity to begin again, to be born anew.

"Unless one is born anew (from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) The new birth is a change that comes here and now. It is not a once and done experience. It is a continual awakening to the Son of God, the anointed one (Christ) within, the enlightened one (Buddha), the divine nature (Spirit) that we made in the image and likeness of.

Epiphany, January 6th, celebrates the Wise Men's visit to the baby Jesus. (Matthew 2:1-12) Epiphany means 'to show forth' or 'to appear', it is also a term to describe those 'Eureka' moments when the veil is lifted and we see beyond the surface level to the Truth within. The new birth is a present day epiphany that opens the door ever wider to a realization of the kingdom of God within. "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts." (Jeremiah 31:33)

"The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed… yeast… a treasure hidden in a field… a merchant in search of pearls… a net… " (Matthew 13), it is a here and now experience of the blessings that opening our minds and hearts to the presence and power of a greater reality (God) have to offer.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it." (Revelations 2:17)

To us who have the ability to see beyond the appearances of separation and can overcome our beliefs in lack and limitation, all we need and desire will be provided.

We will know our true nature as Sons and Daughters of the most high God and live in the awareness of our unity with God and all of God's expression in earth as it is in heaven.

May the new year treat you kindly; blessings of peace, joy & love

Rev. Matthew E. Long is pastor of Peace Unity Community

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