Lectionary: October – December 2019

Oct 6 – We Can Do It
The Wisdom of the Torah (Exodus 1.8-14)
A new king began to rule Egypt. He did not know Joseph. This king said to the people, “Look at the Israelites. There are too many of them, and they are stronger than we are! We must make plans to stop them from growing stronger. If there is a war, they might join our enemies, defeat us, and escape from the land!”
The Egyptians decided to make life hard for the Israelites, so they put slave masters over the people. These masters forced the Israelites to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses for the king. The king used these cities to store grain and other things.
The Egyptians forced the Israelites to work harder and harder. But the harder they worked, the more they grew and spread, and the more the Egyptians became afraid of them. So the Egyptians made them work even harder.
They made life hard for the Israelites. They forced the Israelites to work hard at making bricks and mortar and to work hard in the fields. The Egyptians showed no mercy in all the hard work they made the Israelites do!

The Wisdom of the Torah (Exodus 3.1-15)
Moses’ father-in-law was named Jethro. Jethro was a priest of Midian. Moses took care of Jethro’s sheep. One day Moses led the sheep to the west side of the desert. He went to a mountain called Horeb, the mountain of God. On that mountain, Moses saw the angel of the Lord in a burning bush.
Moses saw a bush that was burning without being destroyed. So he decided to go closer to the bush and see how a bush could continue burning without being burned up.
The Lord saw Moses was coming to look at the bush. So he called to him from the bush. He said, “Moses, Moses!”
Moses said, “Yes, Lord.”
Then God said, “Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals. You are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors…”
Moses covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt, and I have heard their cries when the Egyptians hurt them. I know about their pain. Now I will go down and save my people from the Egyptians. I will take them from that land and lead them to a good land where they can be free from these troubles. It is a land filled with many good things [and’ many different people… I have heard the cries of the Israelites, and I have seen the way the Egyptians have made life hard for them. So now I am sending you to Pharaoh. Go! Lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “I am not a great person! How can I be the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God said, “You can do it because I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, you will come and worship me on this mountain.”
Then Moses said to God, “But if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me,’ then the people will ask, ‘What is this God’s name?’ What should I tell them?”
Then God said to Moses, “Tell them, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ When you go to the Israelites, tell them, ‘I Am’ sent me to you.” And God said, “Tell the Israelites that you were sent by Yahweh, the God of your ancestors... This will always be my name. It is how I want the people to remember me from now on.

Prayer after readings: You raise us up, holy God, to relieve suffering, to challenge injustice, to work for peace, to be healers in the world. May we answer you call and be the channels through which your grace may flow. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God, you are my Source and Substance. I trust in you. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: "There are few ways of spiritual enrichment like the exercise of faithful stewardship." Stephen Olford

Saints of the Week:
October 6: Myrtle Fillmore (1845 – 1931) – Myrtle contracted tuberculosis at a young age and spent many years experiencing herself to be chronically frail. She attended a lecture by metaphysician E.B. Weeks in 1886 and learned of the efficacy of affirmative prayer. She started declaring for herself, “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” In time, she found herself to be the picture of health. She was so excited about the discovery of the power of affirmative prayer that she started working with others with healing needs. She and her husband Charles went on to found the Silent Unity prayer ministry (and Unity School of Christianity and Unity Village, all of which are still in operation today). At the age of 86, Myrtle made her transition from this experience of life to the next on October 6, 1931.

Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches (1968)—Anniversary of the first service held by Troy Perry, a former Pentecostal minister from Florida (b. July 27, 1940) who had been thrown out of his church for being gay. Troy knew that his experience was not unusual and he felt called by God to start a church where GLBT people would be welcome. He held the first service in his living room near Los Angeles. Twelve people joined him for the first service of what became MCC of Los Angeles, the Founding Church of the Metropolitan Community Churches movement.

October 7: Ss. Sergius and Bacchus (d. 290)—Martyrs in death and lovers in life. These two saints were tortured for refusing to compromise their faith by making a sacrifice to Jupiter. They were officers in the Roman army and they were also a couple. After their arrest they were paraded through the streets in women’s clothing, which was meant to humiliate them. Bacchus died first and came to Sergius in a vision, telling him not to lose heart because they would soon be together for eternity. They later became patron saints of the Byzantine army, and are still honored among certain Arab nomads. Some gay people consider them to be patron saints of same-gender love.

October 10: Brown Landone (1847 – 1945) – as a child “BL” (as his friends would later call him) was considered an invalid. His family hired a nurse to care for him. He was mostly bedridden. One day when he was 13, his nurse left him alone briefly in order to refill one of his medicines. While she was away, BL smelled smoke. He remember his parents saying that if they ever had to leave suddenly, that there was a chest in the attack that must be saved. Without considering his illness or weakness, BL went up stairs, grabbed the heavy chest, and started carrying it downstairs. He blacked out and when he regained consciousness, he was outside next to the chest. He had somehow carried the heavy chest the whole way. The fire did minimal damage, but BL’s life was forever changed. He decided that if he could unconsciously summon strength to do what seemed an incredible feat, then perhaps he could summon such power consciously, at will. He determined right then to not be “bedridden” anymore, and, indeed, Landone lived in good health for most of his days (living to the age of 98!). Landone studied theology and medicine, and in his medical practice he discovered that positive suggestions often did as much good for his patients as medical treatment. In addition to his career as a healer, Brown Landone also wrote self-help books.

October 11: National Coming Out Day—Anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This day has been marked yearly in the GLBT community since 1987. Because equality cannot be achieved by staying in the closet, it is important for GLBT people to come out to friends and family. When people know a gay or lesbian individual personally, they are far less likely to maintain negative stereotypes and prejudices. Coming out isn’t a one time event, but is rather a lifelong process.

October 12: Matthew Shepherd (1976-1998)—Victim of hate crime. A 21 year old student at the University of Wyoming, Matthew was abducted, tied to a fence, and beaten into a coma by two young men. His murder gave a face to the tragedy of gay bashing. He is remembered not for any particular achievements in his brief life, but as a symbol of the violence that is bred by homophobia and the rhetoric of hate.

Oct 13 – Where is God When It All Goes Wrong?
The Gospel According to Mark (14.32-42)
Jesus and his followers went to a place named Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” But he told Peter, James, and John to come with him. He began to be very distressed and troubled, and he said to them, “My heart is so heavy with grief, I feel as if I am dying. Wait here and stay awake.”
Jesus went on a little farther away from them, fell to the ground, and prayed. He asked that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering. He said, “Abba…You can do all things. Don’t make me drink from this cup. Nevertheless, let your will be done.”
Then he went back to his followers and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, why are you sleeping? Could you not stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak.”
Again Jesus went away and prayed the same thing. Then he went back to the followers and again found them sleeping. They could not stay awake. They did not know what they should say to him.
After Jesus prayed a third time, he went back to his followers. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human One to be handed over to the control of unjust people. Stand up! We must go. Here comes the one who is handing me over to them.”

+The Gospel According to Mark (14.43-52)
While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve apostles, came there. He had a big crowd of people with him, all carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent from the religious authorities.
Judas planned to do something to show them which one was Jesus. He said, “The one I kiss will be Jesus. Arrest him and guard him while you lead him away.” So Judas went over to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” Then he kissed him. The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of the followers standing near Jesus grabbed his sword and pulled it out. He swung it at the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said, “Why do you come to get me with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal? Every day I was with you teaching in the Temple area. You did not arrest me there…Then all of Jesus’ followers left him and ran away.
One of those following Jesus was a young man wearing only a linen cloth. When the people tried to grab him, he left the cloth in their hands and ran away naked.

Prayer after readings: Forgive us, God, when we abandon the values of your kin-dom, when we betray the Christ Way, when we run from our duty to be your healers in a hurting world. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I will allow the Christ Light to shine through me today. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: "When you tithe, you notice your life simply flows better." Christiane Schull

Saints of the Week:
October 15: St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)—Mystic. Raised in a wealthy Spanish family, Teresa became a Carmelite nun. In an age in which women’s voices went unheard, she became a towering figure —author of four books, religious reformer, founder of 17 convents. As a woman who based her authority on mystical visions, she fell under the suspicion of the Inquisition. Her best known work, The Interior Castle, describes the soul as a castle, and the journey of prayer that leads from meditation to mystical union with Christ.

October 16: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (d. 1556)—Creator of the Book of Common Prayer. During a time of political and religious turmoil, as Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer was instrumental in the English Reformation and the institution of the Church of England. Under Queen Mary, a devout Catholic, he was declared a heretic and burned at the stake. His legacy is carried in the Book of Common Prayer, the beauty of its liturgical language and its influence on Christian and prayer and worship even to our own time.

October 17: Florence Scovel Shinn (1871 – 1940) – an actor, illustrator, and writer. She wrote mainly about metaphysical spirituality. She believed that “Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever [one] voices, [one] begins to attract.” Louise Hay once acknowledged Shinn as one of her early spiritual influences.

October 18: St. Luke the Evangelist—Luke was the only writer to attempt to tell the story of not only the life of Jesus (the Gospel of Luke), but the founding of the early Church (the book of Acts). He was a Gentile who never met Jesus, but tradition says he was a physician and a later companion of Paul. St. Luke is patron of physicians and artists.

Oct 20 – Praise God!
The Wisdom of Eckhart Tolle
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

The Wisdom of Melody Beattie
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

The Wisdom of Elsie MacKay
“We enter into life as we love the good and express it. Little ways to express the good come to us each moment of every day. The little things are important. A cheerful greeting, a smile, a phone call or note, a thought of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator as we stand in the sunshine and feel its comforting warmth – these little things add up to the realization of the Love of God that we all share.”

The Wisdom of the Psalter (Psalm 150)
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in the sanctuary; praise God in the mighty firmament!
Praise God for mighty deeds; praise God for divine greatness!
Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with lute and harp!
Praise God with tambourine and dance; praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with clanging cymbals; praise God with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Prayer after readings: For the blessings we’ve known, for the good that is possible, for your loving presence which is always with us, we give you thanks and praise, wonderful God. Amen..

Healing Rays Prayer: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth give alms out of your abundance. If you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms.” Tobit 4.8

Saints of the Week:
October 20: Bro. Wayne Teasdale (1945 – 2004) – a Catholic monk best known as a proponent of mutual understanding between the world’s religions, for an interfaith dialogue which he termed “interspirituality”. He was also an active campaigner on issues of social justice.

October 22: Ursula Gestefeld (1845 – 1921) – a student of Mary Baker Eddy, she and Eddy had a falling out and Gestefeld became an independent teacher of spiritual healing. She wrote a treatment for releasing the past; it included these words: “I have no sorrow, no regrets; I am filled with praise and rejoicing…Nothing that anyone can say of me can hurt me or turn me aside. I press forward steadily with no thought of blame for them who judge me according to the dead past…All malice, hatred, and enmity are left with the past. I bow only to love; I feel only love, for every human being. I begin to know God, for God is Love.”

Paul Tillich (1886-1965) – 20th century theologian who blended contemporary biblical scholarship, existential philosophy, ontology (study of being), and psychological insights to articulate a profound understanding of God. He denied the existence of the God in whom he deeply believed; that is, he denied God was a being (even a supreme one) but instead was the ground of being. God does not exist; rather, God IS existence. God is the power to be. Theological language and symbols, for Tillich, were symbolic.

October 23: James the Just (d. 62)—Brother of Jesus and martyr. James is traditionally believed to have been the first Bishop of the church in Jerusalem. He was leader of a more conservative Jewish wing of the early Jesus movement that was uncomfortable with Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles, but Peter helped forge a compromise between them. He is traditionally associated with the Epistle of James, a short letter that tells us much about the early church. Some of its primary concerns include the intrusion of class divisions among the believers, showing mercy toward the poor, and letting our faith be reflected in our actions. There is disagreement about whether or not he is “James the Lesser”, one of the 12 apostles.

Apostles Simon & Jude – Simon “the Zealot” (the Zealots were a political party) and Thaddeus Judas (probably shortened to “Jude” in English to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot). St. Jude is the patron of “lost causes” and some believe he was a vegetarian!

October 24: Archangel Raphael – St. Raphael is one of the seven Archangels who stand before the throne of God, and one of the only three mentioned by name in the Bible. He appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. Raphael’s name means “God heals.” Traditionally, some have believed it is Raphael who stirred the healing waters of Bethesda. Raphael is patron of physical ailments and medical professionals.

Prophet Nathan – chastised King David for his impropriety with Bathsheba and arranging to have her husband killed. In the prophetic tradition, he spoke truth to power.

October 25: Father Thomas Keating (1923 – 2018) – ‪One of the pioneers & leaders of the centering prayer movement. A graduate of both Yale and Fordham, he worked to recover and promote Contemplative traditions within Christianity (including Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer).

Oct 27 – It Gets Better
The Wisdom of Helen Zagat
“I have faith in God. My trust flows as a quiet stream. It moves with me wherever I go. I am sustained by its serene current. The deep place of peace within is the starting point for outward harmony, joy, and blessings in my life. I have faith in God.”

The Wisdom of Norman Vincent Peale
“[Thomas Edison’s] laboratory at Menlo Park caught fire one night and burned down…[While watching the disastrous fire] he spotted [his son Charles] and shouted, ‘Charles, go find your mother. Bring her here. She’ll never see anything like this as long as she lives!’ And the next morning, Thomas Edison remarked, ‘There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes burned up. Thank God we can start anew.’ Great people do not allow the vicissitudes of life to defeat them. They have something within them that rises victoriously above losses and disappointments. Whatever comes, life is good.”

The Wisdom of the Prophet Joel (2.23-28, 32a)
O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for God has given the early rain for your vindication, and has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of you, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other…I will pour out my spirit on all flesh…Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved…

Prayer after readings: Dear God, we give you thanks because we know that you will repay us for what the locusts have eaten. We know that the past is past and the future has infinite possibilities. And so it is.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am not limited by the past. God has great things in store for me. Alleluia!

Stewardship Thought: “I like to think of [tithing] as giving back to Life.” Louise Hay

Saints of the Week:
October 27: Christian D. Larson (1866 – 1955) – Studied at Meadville Theological School (a Unitarian seminary) and was influenced by “Mental Science” teachings. Larson was one of the spiritual teachers who influenced Ernest Holmes and later Larson worked with Holmes as the associate editor and frequent contributor for Science of Mind magazine. In 1912 Larson developed the Optimist Creed, which in 1922, was adopted by Optimist International, aka the Optimist Clubs. Larson taught, “We have…marvelous powers–even miracle powers–in the depth of mind and soul; and they are there to be used. We can use them, however, only as we deepen our thought, raise our consciousness, and go farther into the spirit…”

October 30: Albert Grier (1864 – 1941) – a Universalist minister for 20 years before becoming Founder of the Church of Truth in 1912. He also was the pastor of a Divine Science congregation. He wrote in Truth and Life, “To the inward eye of faith no condition is hopeless.” Grier viewed Jesus as a teacher who demonstrated that the Christ Consciousness was within each of us, and by following Jesus’ teachings we could become aware of that indwelling Christ Consciousness and demonstrate it as Jesus did.

November 1: Feast of All Saints—The tradition of remembering all the saints together dates to the early history of the Church, which affirmed “the communion of saints” as the mystical Body of Christ, transcending both time and space. This collective feast reminds us that each of us has our own special gifts, and we are each called to do something holy for God.

November 2: All Souls Day— In some traditions there has been a distinction between remembering the official canonized saints on All Saints Day and commemorating those whose names are not on any calendar, but are cherished as models of faith, or are dearly loved family and friends. They, as well, are part of that great “cloud of witnesses” who encourage us in our spiritual journey.

Oct 6 – We Can Do It
The Wisdom of the Torah (Exodus 1.8-14)
A new king began to rule Egypt. He did not know Joseph. This king said to the people, “Look at the Israelites. There are too many of them, and they are stronger than we are! We must make plans to stop them from growing stronger. If there is a war, they might join our enemies, defeat us, and escape from the land!”
The Egyptians decided to make life hard for the Israelites, so they put slave masters over the people. These masters forced the Israelites to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses for the king. The king used these cities to store grain and other things.
The Egyptians forced the Israelites to work harder and harder. But the harder they worked, the more they grew and spread, and the more the Egyptians became afraid of them. So the Egyptians made them work even harder.
They made life hard for the Israelites. They forced the Israelites to work hard at making bricks and mortar and to work hard in the fields. The Egyptians showed no mercy in all the hard work they made the Israelites do!

The Wisdom of the Torah (Exodus 3.1-15)
Moses’ father-in-law was named Jethro. Jethro was a priest of Midian. Moses took care of Jethro’s sheep. One day Moses led the sheep to the west side of the desert. He went to a mountain called Horeb, the mountain of God. On that mountain, Moses saw the angel of the Lord in a burning bush.
Moses saw a bush that was burning without being destroyed. So he decided to go closer to the bush and see how a bush could continue burning without being burned up.
The Lord saw Moses was coming to look at the bush. So he called to him from the bush. He said, “Moses, Moses!”
Moses said, “Yes, Lord.”
Then God said, “Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals. You are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors…”
Moses covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt, and I have heard their cries when the Egyptians hurt them. I know about their pain. Now I will go down and save my people from the Egyptians. I will take them from that land and lead them to a good land where they can be free from these troubles. It is a land filled with many good things [and’ many different people… I have heard the cries of the Israelites, and I have seen the way the Egyptians have made life hard for them. So now I am sending you to Pharaoh. Go! Lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “I am not a great person! How can I be the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
God said, “You can do it because I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, you will come and worship me on this mountain.”
Then Moses said to God, “But if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me,’ then the people will ask, ‘What is this God’s name?’ What should I tell them?”
Then God said to Moses, “Tell them, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ When you go to the Israelites, tell them, ‘I Am’ sent me to you.” And God said, “Tell the Israelites that you were sent by Yahweh, the God of your ancestors... This will always be my name. It is how I want the people to remember me from now on.

Prayer after readings: You raise us up, holy God, to relieve suffering, to challenge injustice, to work for peace, to be healers in the world. May we answer you call and be the channels through which your grace may flow. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: God, you are my Source and Substance. I trust in you. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: "There are few ways of spiritual enrichment like the exercise of faithful stewardship." Stephen Olford

Saints of the Week:
October 6: Myrtle Fillmore (1845 – 1931) – Myrtle contracted tuberculosis at a young age and spent many years experiencing herself to be chronically frail. She attended a lecture by metaphysician E.B. Weeks in 1886 and learned of the efficacy of affirmative prayer. She started declaring for herself, “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” In time, she found herself to be the picture of health. She was so excited about the discovery of the power of affirmative prayer that she started working with others with healing needs. She and her husband Charles went on to found the Silent Unity prayer ministry (and Unity School of Christianity and Unity Village, all of which are still in operation today). At the age of 86, Myrtle made her transition from this experience of life to the next on October 6, 1931.

Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches (1968)—Anniversary of the first service held by Troy Perry, a former Pentecostal minister from Florida (b. July 27, 1940) who had been thrown out of his church for being gay. Troy knew
that his experience was not unusual and he felt called by God to start a church where GLBT people would be welcome. He held the first service in his living room near Los Angeles. Twelve people joined him for the first service of what became MCC of Los Angeles, the Founding Church of the Metropolitan Community Churches movement.

October 7: Ss. Sergius and Bacchus (d. 290)—Martyrs in death and lovers in life. These two saints were tortured for refusing to compromise their faith by making a sacrifice to Jupiter. They were officers in the Roman army and they were also a couple. After their arrest they were paraded through the streets in women’s clothing, which was meant to humiliate them. Bacchus died first and came to Sergius in a vision, telling him not to lose heart because they would soon be together for eternity. They later became patron saints of the Byzantine army, and are still honored among certain Arab nomads. Some gay people consider them to be patron saints of same-gender love.

October 10: Brown Landone (1847 – 1945) – as a child “BL” (as his friends would later call him) was considered an invalid. His family hired a nurse to care for him. He was mostly bedridden. One day when he was 13, his nurse left him alone briefly in order to refill one of his medicines. While she was away, BL smelled smoke. He remember his parents saying that if they ever had to leave suddenly, that there was a chest in the attack that must be saved. Without considering his illness or weakness, BL went up stairs, grabbed the heavy chest, and started carrying it downstairs. He blacked out and when he regained consciousness, he was outside next to the chest. He had somehow carried the heavy chest the whole way. The fire did minimal damage, but BL’s life was forever changed. He decided that if he could unconsciously summon strength to do what seemed an incredible feat, then perhaps he could summon such power consciously, at will. He determined right then to not be “bedridden” anymore, and, indeed, Landone lived in good health for most of his days (living to the age of 98!). Landone studied theology and medicine, and in his medical practice he discovered that positive suggestions often did as much good for his patients as medical treatment. In addition to his career as a healer, Brown Landone also wrote self-help books.

October 11: National Coming Out Day—Anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This day has been marked yearly in the GLBT community since 1987. Because equality cannot be achieved by staying in the closet, it is important for GLBT people to come out to friends and family. When people know a gay or lesbian individual personally, they are far less likely to maintain negative stereotypes and prejudices. Coming out isn’t a one time event, but is rather a lifelong process.

October 12: Matthew Shepherd (1976-1998)—Victim of hate crime. A 21 year old student at the University of Wyoming, Matthew was abducted, tied to a fence, and beaten into a coma by two young men. His murder gave a face to the tragedy of gay bashing. He is remembered not for any particular achievements in his brief life, but as a symbol of the violence that is bred by homophobia and the rhetoric of hate.

Oct 13 – Where is God When It All Goes Wrong?
The Gospel According to Mark (14.32-42)
Jesus and his followers went to a place named Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” But he told Peter, James, and John to come with him. He began to be very distressed and troubled, and he said to them, “My heart is so heavy with grief, I feel as if I am dying. Wait here and stay awake.”
Jesus went on a little farther away from them, fell to the ground, and prayed. He asked that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering. He said, “Abba…You can do all things. Don’t make me drink from this cup. Nevertheless, let your will be done.”
Then he went back to his followers and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, why are you sleeping? Could you not stay awake with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak.”
Again Jesus went away and prayed the same thing. Then he went back to the followers and again found them sleeping. They could not stay awake. They did not know what they should say to him.
After Jesus prayed a third time, he went back to his followers. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human One to be handed over to the control of unjust people. Stand up! We must go. Here comes the one who is handing me over to them.”

+The Gospel According to Mark (14.43-52)
While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve apostles, came there. He had a big crowd of people with him, all carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent from the religious authorities.
Judas planned to do something to show them which one was Jesus. He said, “The one I kiss will be Jesus. Arrest him and guard him while you lead him away.” So Judas went over to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” Then he kissed him. The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of the followers standing near Jesus grabbed his sword and pulled it out. He swung it at the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said, “Why do you come to get me with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal? Every day I was with you teaching in the Temple area. You did not arrest me there…Then all of Jesus’ followers left him and ran away.
One of those following Jesus was a young man wearing only a linen cloth. When the people tried to grab him, he left the cloth in their hands and ran away naked.

Prayer after readings: Forgive us, God, when we abandon the values of your kin-dom, when we betray the Christ Way, when we run from our duty to be your healers in a hurting world. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I will allow the Christ Light to shine through me today. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: "When you tithe, you notice your life simply flows better." Christiane Schull

Saints of the Week:
October 15: St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)—Mystic. Raised in a wealthy Spanish family, Teresa became a Carmelite nun. In an age in which women’s voices went unheard, she became a towering figure —author of four books, religious reformer, founder of 17 convents. As a woman who based her authority on mystical visions, she fell under the suspicion of the Inquisition. Her best known work, The Interior Castle, describes the soul as a castle, and the journey of prayer that leads from meditation to mystical union with Christ.

October 16: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (d. 1556)—Creator of the Book of Common Prayer. During a time of political and religious turmoil, as Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer was instrumental in the English Reformation and the institution of the Church of England. Under Queen Mary, a devout Catholic, he was declared a heretic and burned at the stake. His legacy is carried in the Book of Common Prayer, the beauty of its liturgical language and its influence on Christian and prayer and worship even to our own time.

October 17: Florence Scovel Shinn (1871 – 1940) – an actor, illustrator, and writer. She wrote mainly about metaphysical spirituality. She believed that “Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever [one] voices, [one] begins to attract.” Louise Hay once acknowledged Shinn as one of her early spiritual influences.

October 18: St. Luke the Evangelist—Luke was the only writer to attempt to tell the story of not only the life of Jesus (the Gospel of Luke), but the founding of the early Church (the book of Acts). He was a Gentile who never met Jesus, but tradition says he was a physician and a later companion of Paul. St. Luke is patron of physicians and artists.

Oct 20 – Praise God!
The Wisdom of Eckhart Tolle
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

The Wisdom of Melody Beattie
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

The Wisdom of Elsie MacKay
“We enter into life as we love the good and express it. Little ways to express the good come to us each moment of every day. The little things are important. A cheerful greeting, a smile, a phone call or note, a thought of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator as we stand in the sunshine and feel its comforting warmth – these little things add up to the realization of the Love of God that we all share.”

The Wisdom of the Psalter (Psalm 150)
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in the sanctuary; praise God in the mighty firmament!
Praise God for mighty deeds; praise God for divine greatness!
Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with lute and harp!
Praise God with tambourine and dance; praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with clanging cymbals; praise God with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Prayer after readings: For the blessings we’ve known, for the good that is possible, for your loving presence which is always with us, we give you thanks and praise, wonderful God. Amen..

Healing Rays Prayer: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Give alms in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth give alms out of your abundance. If you have but little, distribute even some of that. But do not hesitate to give alms.” Tobit 4.8

Saints of the Week:
October 20: Bro. Wayne Teasdale (1945 – 2004) – a Catholic monk best known as a proponent of mutual understanding between the world’s religions, for an interfaith dialogue which he termed “interspirituality”. He was also an active campaigner on issues of social justice.

October 22: Ursula Gestefeld (1845 – 1921) – a student of Mary Baker Eddy, she and Eddy had a falling out and Gestefeld became an independent teacher of spiritual healing. She wrote a treatment for releasing the past; it included these words: “I have no sorrow, no regrets; I am filled with praise and rejoicing…Nothing that anyone can say of me can hurt me or turn me aside. I press forward steadily with no thought of blame for them who judge me according to the dead past…All malice, hatred, and enmity are left with the past. I bow only to love; I feel only love, for every human being. I begin to know God, for God is Love.”

Paul Tillich (1886-1965) – 20th century theologian who blended contemporary biblical scholarship, existential philosophy, ontology (study of being), and psychological insights to articulate a profound understanding of God. He denied the existence of the God in whom he deeply believed; that is, he denied God was a being (even a supreme one) but instead was the ground of being. God does not exist; rather, God IS existence. God is the power to be. Theological language and symbols, for Tillich, were symbolic.

October 23: James the Just (d. 62)—Brother of Jesus and martyr. James is traditionally believed to have been the first Bishop of the church in Jerusalem. He was leader of a more conservative Jewish wing of the early Jesus movement that was uncomfortable with Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles, but Peter helped forge a compromise between them. He is traditionally associated with the Epistle of James, a short letter that tells us much about the early church. Some of its primary concerns include the intrusion of class divisions among the believers, showing mercy toward the poor, and letting our faith be reflected in our actions. There is disagreement about whether or not he is “James the Lesser”, one of the 12 apostles.

Apostles Simon & Jude – Simon “the Zealot” (the Zealots were a political party) and Thaddeus Judas (probably shortened to “Jude” in English to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot). St. Jude is the patron of “lost causes” and some believe he was a vegetarian!

October 24: Archangel Raphael – St. Raphael is one of the seven Archangels who stand before the throne of God, and one of the only three mentioned by name in the Bible. He appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. Raphael’s name means “God heals.” Traditionally, some have believed it is Raphael who stirred the healing waters of Bethesda. Raphael is patron of physical ailments and medical professionals.

Prophet Nathan – chastised King David for his impropriety with Bathsheba and arranging to have her husband killed. In the prophetic tradition, he spoke truth to power.

October 25: Father Thomas Keating (1923 – 2018) – ‪One of the pioneers & leaders of the centering prayer movement. A graduate of both Yale and Fordham, he worked to recover and promote Contemplative traditions within Christianity (including Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer).

Oct 27 – It Gets Better
The Wisdom of Helen Zagat
“I have faith in God. My trust flows as a quiet stream. It moves with me wherever I go. I am sustained by its serene current. The deep place of peace within is the starting point for outward harmony, joy, and blessings in my life. I have faith in God.”

The Wisdom of Norman Vincent Peale
“[Thomas Edison’s] laboratory at Menlo Park caught fire one night and burned down…[While watching the disastrous fire] he spotted [his son Charles] and shouted, ‘Charles, go find your mother. Bring her here. She’ll never see anything like this as long as she lives!’ And the next morning, Thomas Edison remarked, ‘There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes burned up. Thank God we can start anew.’ Great people do not allow the vicissitudes of life to defeat them. They have something within them that rises victoriously above losses and disappointments. Whatever comes, life is good.”

The Wisdom of the Prophet Joel (2.23-28, 32a)
O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for God has given the early rain for your vindication, and has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of you, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other…I will pour out my spirit on all flesh…Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved…

Prayer after readings: Dear God, we give you thanks because we know that you will repay us for what the locusts have eaten. We know that the past is past and the future has infinite possibilities. And so it is.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am not limited by the past. God has great things in store for me. Alleluia!

Stewardship Thought: “I like to think of [tithing] as giving back to Life.” Louise Hay

Saints of the Week:
October 27: Christian D. Larson (1866 – 1955) – Studied at Meadville Theological School (a Unitarian seminary) and was influenced by “Mental Science” teachings. Larson was one of the spiritual teachers who influenced Ernest Holmes and later Larson worked with Holmes as the associate editor and frequent contributor for Science of Mind magazine. In 1912 Larson developed the Optimist Creed, which in 1922, was adopted by Optimist International, aka the Optimist Clubs. Larson taught, “We have…marvelous powers–even miracle powers–in the depth of mind and soul; and they are there to be used. We can use them, however, only as we deepen our thought, raise our consciousness, and go farther into the spirit…”

October 30: Albert Grier (1864 – 1941) – a Universalist minister for 20 years before becoming Founder of the Church of Truth in 1912. He also was the pastor of a Divine Science congregation. He wrote in Truth and Life, “To the inward eye of faith no condition is hopeless.” Grier viewed Jesus as a teacher who demonstrated that the Christ Consciousness was within each of us, and by following Jesus’ teachings we could become aware of that indwelling Christ Consciousness and demonstrate it as Jesus did.

November 1: Feast of All Saints—The tradition of remembering all the saints together dates to the early history of the Church, which affirmed “the communion of saints” as the mystical Body of Christ, transcending both time and space. This collective feast reminds us that each of us has our own special gifts, and we are each called to do something holy for God.

November 2: All Souls Day— In some traditions there has been a distinction between remembering the official canonized saints on All Saints Day and commemorating those whose names are not on any calendar, but are cherished as models of faith, or are dearly loved family and friends. They, as well, are part of that great “cloud of witnesses” who encourage us in our spiritual journey.

Dec 1 – Prophetic Hope (Advent 1/World AIDS Day)

Wisdom of the Psalter (Psalm 103.1-5)
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy names. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget divine benefits: God forgives your mistakes, heals your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with love and mercy, and satisfies you with good things all your life so that your youthful vigor may be renewed like the eagles.

Wisdom of the Isaiac literature (Isaiah 66.13)
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…

Wisdom of the Prophet Jeremiah (30.17)
I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast…

Wisdom from the Johannine tradition (3 John 1.2)
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.

The Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (Romans 5.2b-5)
…we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Prayer after readings: Everlasting Hope, fill us today, and embrace us, especially during those times that we find it so difficult to embrace you. Sustain us, and lead us to constantly renewed joy. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: Hope within me is renewed today and every day. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” Sir Winston Churchill

Saints of the Week:
December 1: World AIDS Day—Since 1988 this day has been a time for remembering those who have died and for renewing our commitment to support those living with HIV throughout the world. The red ribbon, which began as a “grass roots” effort, has become an international symbol of AIDS awareness.

December 3: Mary Baker Eddy (1821 – 1910): Author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and Founder of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston. Also the leading figure in the Christian Science movement. Mrs. Eddy said, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.”

December 4: St. Barbara (d. 306) – Barbara, a Greek pagan, embraced the Christian faith and dedicated herself to serving the Lord as a consecrated virgin. Her father tried to arrange marriages for her but she always refused. Her father had a bathhouse built for her. It became a place of healing. St. Simeon Metaphrastes compared it to the stream of Jordan. In time, Barbara ran away from her father but he found her (with the help of a shepherd who, as a result of his helping to capture Barbara, found his flocks, according to legend, turned to locusts) and locked her away. Still she would not marry nor renounce her newfound faith. Prayer gave her the strength to endure her trials. Finally, Barbara was condemned to death by beheading by her father. Her martyrdom took place on December 4th. Soon after, her father was struck by lightning.

December 6: St. Nicholas (270-343) – known for compassion, courage, and generosity. He is the patron of sailors, pawnbrokers, and children. When his parents died, he gave most of his inheritance to the poor. Because of various miracles attributed to his intercession, he is sometimes called Nicholas the Wonderworker. He was a bishop in Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire. His great deeds as told in legend include resurrecting three children who had been killed by a nefarious butcher who killed them and intended to cure them as ham, offering himself in exchange for the release of captives, and attending the first Council of Nicea (his name is included in some records but not in others).

Dec 8 – Angelic Peace (Advent 2)

Wisdom of the Psalter (Psalm 78.25; 91.11)
Humans ate the bread of angels. God sent them all they could eat. God will post angels over you to guard you in all your ways.

The Wisdom of the Torah (Genesis 21.15-20)
…when all their drinking water was gone, Hagar put her son under a bush. Then she walked a short distance away and sat down. She thought her son would die because there was no water. She did not want to watch him die. She sat there and began to cry.
God heard the boy crying, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven. The angel said, “What is wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid! God has heard the boy crying there. Go help the boy. Hold his hand and lead him. I will make him the ancestor of many people.”
Then God allowed Hagar to see a well of water. So she went to the well and filled her bag with water. Then she gave water to the boy to drink.
God continued to be with the boy while he grew up…

The Gospel According to Luke (2.8-10, 13-14)
And there were shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to people of goodwill.”

Prayer after readings: May the ministry of angels guide us in the ways of peace and plenty, hope and healing, joy and justice. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: Angels guide me daily toward my highest and best good. Alleluia! Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Jesus (Luke 6.38)

Saints of the Week:
December 8: Bodhi Day – commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), achieved awakening or enlightenment (bodhi in Sanskrit). Siddhartha had recently forsaken extreme ascetic practices and decided to sit under a tree and meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.

December 9: Blessed Juan Diego (16th century)—Witness to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared, it is said, to Juan Diego with dark skin and Indian features, surrounded by symbols of Indian religion and culture. She spoke to him in his native Nahuatl, not Spanish. The message to the church was clear: it must not serve as the agent of colonial oppression, but be rooted in the experience of the people.

December 10: Thomas Merton (1915-1968)—Trappist monk. An American priest whose writings are among the greatest spiritual works of our time, Merton initially turned his back on the world by seeking solitude at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. In time he came to understand a deep solidarity with humanity and concern for issues of peace and justice. He also had a strong interest in Eastern spirituality, especially Zen Buddhism, from which he learned that the path to God is found in experience, not analysis.

December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – commemoration of St. Mary’s visitation to Juan Diego

Sister Alicia Domon (d.1977)—French nun and martyr. During a period of military dictatorship in Argentina thousands of civilians were abducted and never heard from again, including several French nuns who had devoted themselves to working with the poor and oppressed. Sister Alicia became closely involved with the Mothers of the Disappeared, who dressed in black and gathered in silence in the central plaza each day, carrying pictures of their children. Along with several others, Alicia was abducted and, as later reports revealed, tossed out of an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean.

December 13: F. Bernadette Turner (1903 – 1995) – Turner wanted to be an Episcopal priest when she was young, but was not allowed because of her gender. She still wanted to serve and help people, so she earned multiple degrees in Education, Sociology, Social Work, and finally a PhD in Psychology. She discovered Divine Science and trained to become a Divine Science minister. She pastored Divine Science churches in Chicago and Roanoke. In retirement, she continued to minister as a chaplain to the retirement home where she lived. Then, at the age of 86, she was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church and the following year (1990) at the age 87, she was ordained an Episcopal priest (her lifelong dream finally fulfilled). She continued serving as chaplain to her community where she encouraged seniors to renew their energy by taking rest, exercise, good nutrition, and meditation.

St. Lucy 283 – 304) – a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women along with St. Mary who are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day is celebrated in the West on 13 December. St. Lucia of Syracuse was honored in the Middle Ages and remained a well-known saint in early modern England.

December 14: Fannie Brooks James (1854 – 1914) – Nona Brooks’ sister. Author of Truth and Health. A former Presbyterian, she struggled with health and financial issues in her younger years. Her lot improved once she was introduced to New Thought metaphysics. She was an early teacher, writer, and leader in the Divine Science movement. Emphasizing the Divine Science focus on Omnipresence, she wrote, “If God is OMNIPRESENCE, there is nothing anywhere but God.”

Dec 15 – Joy Beyond Conditions (Advent 3)

The Gospel According to Luke (2.16-20)
The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them [by angels] about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The Gospel According to Luke (2.25-32)
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Holy One, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your liberation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Prayer after readings: Seeing a child, a new beginning, a moment of beauty can be enough to fill us with joy and to remind us that the future has infinite possibilities. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: Dear God, give me joy. With gratitude, I receive it. Amen.

Stewardship Thought: “Giving and receiving are one in truth.” A Course in Miracles

Saints of the Week:
December 15: Joseph Murphy (1898 – 1981) – an Irish Catholic priest, pharmacist, and psychologist who became a Religious Science minister and then a Divine Science minister. In his life he met Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. He was a friend of Ernest Holmes and also of Emmet Fox. He loved the teachings of Nona Brooks. He pastored a large New Thought church in Los Angeles and wrote the self-help classic, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Murphy taught, “Your subconscious never sleeps. It is always on the job. It controls all your vital functions. Forgive yourself and everyone else before you go to sleep, and healing will take place much more rapidly.”

December 16: Joseph Perry Green (1898 – 1981) – founder of the College of Divine Metaphysics (still offering correspondence courses today).

December 17: Feast of St. Lazarus of Bethany – Lazarus was part of Jesus’ chosen family. Some Queer scholars think it is possible their relationship was romantic in nature.

Claude M. Bristol (1891 – 1951) – WW1 veteran and journalist who investigated and practiced what he called “mind stuff” (the power of belief, determination, and visualization). Comedienne Phyllis Diller credited his book The Magic of Believing with changing her life and jumpstarting her career. She often gave copies of the book to young performers seeking her advice. Bristol advised, “You have to think big to be big” and “We usually get what we anticipate.”

Dom Bede Griffiths (1906-1994)—Monk and Sannyasi. Raised in a middle-class English family and student of C. S. Lewis at Oxford, Griffiths’ spiritual journey led him first to the Catholic faith and the life of a Benedictine monk. While sent to establish a monastery in India, he came to believe that the secularized West had much to learn from the East. He helped found a Christian ashram that was faithful to Christian traditions, but adopted the disciplines of the East, including yoga and meditation. He dressed in the saffron robes and lived as a sannyasi, or Hindu holy man. His liturgies combined Christian and Hindu prayers and readings. He believed he could find the truth of Christ present within all the religions of the world.

December 21: Apostle Thomas (d. 72) – there is a sayings gospel attributed to Thomas (Gospel of Thomas) which may be as old as the canonical Gospel of Mark (c. 70 CE). Thomas was the only apostle not in hiding after Jesus’ execution. When others claimed to have experienced a resurrected Jesus, Thomas doubted them and said he would have to experience it for himself. Thomas was also the only apostle who voiced support for Jesus’ journey to visit Lazarus when he was ill. The other apostles were afraid the trip was dangerous, and Thomas said that as his disciples they should share in the danger and go with him. Thomas shows us that honest doubt can be part of profound faith.

Dec 22 – Season of Love (Advent 4)

The Wisdom of the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 13.4-8a, 13)
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

The Gospel According to Matthew (1.19-25)
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child…Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the holy Spirit.
She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will [be a liberator].
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, a young woman conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife…and he gave the child the name, Jesus.

Prayer after readings: We trust your love, O God. We give thanks for it. We seek to share it in the world by expressing our own love, compassion, and kindness. May love consecrate this season, this church, and our lives. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: The power of love blesses me always and in all way. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “Let there be an offering to sustain and strengthen this place which is sacred to so many of us, a community of memory and of hope, for we are now the keepers of the dream.” Brandoch L. Lovely

Saints of the Week:
December 23: Warren Felt Evans (1817 – 1889) – attended Middlebury and Darmouth colleges. He became a Methodist minister and then left Methodism to join the Swedenborgian church (Church of the New Jerusalem). After visiting Phineas P. Quimby (the “father” of New Thought) for treatment for an ailment, Evans himself became a “mind cure” practitioner. He was the first to write about the healing methods used and taught by Phineas Quimby. WFE declared, “All outward power that we exercise over the things about us is but a shadow in comparison with the inward power that resides in imagination and will.”
Rabbi Abraham Heschel (1907-1972)—Teacher. A major force in Jewish spiritual renewal, Heschel came from a long line of Hasidic rabbis. After studying philosophy at Warsaw and Berlin he taught at several universities, eventually escaping to the United States from Nazi Germany. As a champion of interfaith dialogue, his writings exerted a tremendous influence on Christian thought. With a deep sense of prophetic justice, he sought to connect the mysticism of his Hasidic faith with the modern secular world.

Johnnie Colemon (1920 – 2014) – Johnnie Colemon experienced a dramatic healing when she discovered New Thought, but soon after encountered racism when she began studying for the ministry. Nevertheless, she completed her ministerial studies and was ordained. Later, she founded her own church (Christ Universal Temple), an association of churches and ministries (Universal Foundation for Better Living), and a ministry school. The theology of CUT & UFBL is “Fillmorean” (the philosophy of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore). Colemon taught the affirmation, “I am the thinker that thinks the thought that makes the thing.”

December 24: Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) – Champion of positive thinking and author of The Power of Positive Thinking and founder of Guideposts Magazine. Peale was a Methodist minister who became Dutch Reformed so that he could pastor New York’s prestigious Marble Collegiate Church. Peale famously taught, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” He also said, “If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.” He praised enthusiasm: “There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” And he encouraged optimism: “Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”

December 25: Nativity of Jesus (c. 4 bce)—The celebration of Christmas at the darkest days of Winter marks the birth of light and hope for the world. The traditional date of Jesus’ birth was determined in Rome in 336, taking the place of an existing Roman holiday, the birth of the Unconquerable Sun. The actual date Jesus was born was more likely in the Spring. The word “Christmas” goes back to the 12th century and is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass.”

Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary (circa 4 BCE – 29 CE) – is understood in a variety of ways. What one believes about Jesus has to do with how mystically/spiritually/allegorically oriented one is, or how “concrete” (or literalist) one tries to be. Historical criticism would point out that what we know of Jesus is at best second hand (and sometimes more removed than that), and that words attributed to him are never written in his own hand, but are written by people decades after his execution. His original followers saw him as a teacher and a healer. He was clearly a charismatic person who was able to draw crowds and impact people very deeply. Some people came to view him as the long awaited and hoped for messiah (a leader who would reestablish the independent Jewish state).

After his death, people glorified him all the more (as people do with slain heroes), and within a hundred years of his death some were remembering him as “God” in human flesh (similar to the Greek, Egyptian, and Roman gods of the time). In any case, he was someone who profoundly impacted human history and who continues to inspire people thousands of years after his death. People experienced and remembered him as being somehow God-filled, though the explanations of the experiences vary widely.
From the evidence we have, it seems that Jesus’ message was that all people are children of God and that the Realm of God is actually within the human spirit. He also seemed to believe that God was more concerned with people’s character, motivation, and true desires than with their religiosity or conformity to tradition or even to scripture. His teachings helped people feel liberated in spite of political oppression and whole in spite of physical maladies. A word often used for this wholeness and liberation is “salvation.”

Jesus, or so our stories about him suggest, was not opposed to reinterpreting old religious views to fit new realities and to include more people into the experience of God’s love and grace. He believed the most important commandment was simply to love, and he taught the Golden Rule, which is to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. He scandalized people of his time by eating with people outside his social group, by being friendly with presumably corrupt tax collectors as well as with prostitutes, by healing even the enemies of his people (and healing at times when any work, including healing was forbidden), and by intentionally reaching out to and speaking well of Samaritans (who were often despised by his community).

Heraclitus (circa 535 – 475 BCE) – known for his teaching that change is central to the universe, summarized by his
statement, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” He said that all things come to be in accordance with the Logos (that is, “word,” or “reason”). Notice that Heraclitus lived half a millennium before Jesus, almost 600 years before the writer of the Gospel of John (who opens his Gospel with, “In the beginning was the Logos…[and] all things came to be through [the Logos], and without [the Logos] nothing came to be”). Logos philosophy was alive and well long before the Church applied it to Jesus.

Ammonius Saccas (mid-third century CE?) – was an exponent of Neo-Platonism which was pantheistic (belief that the
divine is all pervasive…God is all or is in all…not to be confused with panentheism, the belief that all is in God). Saccaas believed that God is the only creator and that the ultimate reality of the universe is an infinite, unknowable, perfect ONE. It may have been Saccas who first used “Word” to define “Logos.”

December 26: St. Stephen (5 – 34)—Deacon and martyr. Most likely a Hellenistic Jew, Stephen is remembered as one of the first deacons chosen in the early Christian community in Jerusalem to aid the Apostles by caring for the sick and needy. Stephen’s story is told in Acts 6-7.

E. Otis Charles (1926 – 2013) – Bishop of Utah in the Episcopal Church, member of the Standing Liturgical Commission (which developed the 1979 version of the Book of Common Prayer), Bishop in Charge for Navajoland, and after he retired from diocesan duties, became the President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School. In 1993 Bishop Charles “came out” as gay, reportedly the first bishop in a mainline denomination ever to do so.

December 27: St. John the Evangelist (6 – 100)—Apostle. John became, with Peter and James, one of the inner circle of Jesus’ followers. Ancient icons picture him as the “Beloved Disciple” at the Last Supper with his head on Jesus’ breast. Tradition holds that he took care of Mary after Jesus’ death on the cross, and that he later settled at Ephesus in modern Turkey. It is John who reminds us over and over of Jesus’ command for us to love one another.

December 24 – Glory, Peace, & Goodwill (Xmas Eve)
The Wisdom of Gerald Jampolsky
“Would you be willing to believe for a moment that there is a light beyond this physical world, which is brighter than any earthly light? It is brighter, more loving, more beautiful, and more powerful than any you have seen with your eyes.
Would you be willing to consider that there is Light Source – an Energy that created all life, and that you and I and everyone on earth are part of it?
Would you, for just an instant, believe that you are a reflection of this Light and that you are the Light of the world, here to receive from your Source, to be that Light, and to shine the Light of Love upon all who you touch?
Allow the following words to slowly take form on your lips as you say to yourself, in a gentle whisper, ‘I am the Light of the world. I am here to shine the Light of Love on everyone, excluding no one.’”

The Magnificat, the Song of Mary (Luke 1.46-54):
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, [who] has looked with favor on [me]…Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is [God’s] name. [Divine] mercy is for those who [seek God] from generation to generation. [God] has shown strength…[and] has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. [God] has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; [God] has filled the hungry with good things, and sent [exploiters] away empty. [God] has helped [the people of God]…”

The Gospel according to Luke (2.7-14, 16, 20 KJV):
And [Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward [all people]. And [the shepherds] came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Prayer after readings: Heavenly Light, please shine on us and in us and through us tonight, and in the days to come. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: My Christmas prayer is the prayer of the angels: May peace and goodwill prevail in my life and throughout our earth home. Amen.

Dec 29 – Following Christ
The Wisdom of Paramahansa Yogananda
O Cosmic Christ, may we…conquer the…dividing selfishness that prevents the gathering in sweet accord of all people in the one fold of Spirit.
…Teach us not to resent the inevitable tests of life: the daily challenge to our fortitude by adversities, our self-control by temptation, and our goodwill by misunderstanding. Purified by contemplation on thee, innumerable devotees perfume their lives with emanations from thy flower soul. O good shepherd! Thou leadest thy countless flock to the evergreen pastures of peace.

The Gospel According to Mark (1.1-20)
The Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, begins with what the prophet said would happen. He wrote:
“Listen! I will send my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare the way for you.”
“There is someone shouting in the desert: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Make the road smooth for him.’”
So John the Baptizer came and was baptizing people in the desert area. He told them to be baptized to show that they wanted to change their lives… All the people from Judea, including everyone from Jerusalem, came out to John. They confessed their errors, and he baptized them in the Jordan River.
John wore clothes made from camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
This is what John told the people: “There is someone coming later who is able to do more than I can. I am not good enough to be the one who stoops down to untie his sandals. I baptize you with water, but the one who is coming will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”
About that time Jesus came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the place where John was. John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the sky torn open. The Spirit came down on him like a dove. A voice came from heaven and said, “You are mine, the one I love. I am very pleased with you.”
Then the Spirit sent Jesus into the desert alone. He was there for 40 days…During this time he was out among the wild animals. Then angels came and helped him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee and told people the Good News from God. He said, “The right time is now here. God’s realm is very near. Change your hearts and lives, and believe the Good News!”
Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee. He saw Simon and his brother Andrew. These two men fished for a living, and they were throwing a net into the lake to catch fish. Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you a different kind of fishers. You will bring in people, not fish.” So they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.
Jesus continued walking by Lake Galilee. He saw two more brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat, preparing their nets to catch fish. Their father Zebedee and the people who worked for him were in the boat with the brothers. When Jesus saw the brothers, he told them to come. They left their father and followed Jesus.

Prayer after readings: Give us the grace and the courage, O God, to follow the path of Jesus. Amen.

Healing Rays Prayer: I am a follower of the Jesus Way and in that righteous path I am divinely blessed. And so it is.

Stewardship Thought: “It is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi

Saints of the Week:
December 29: King David & Jonathan – Rev. Kittredge Cherry has written, “The modern idea of sexual orientation didn’t exist in Biblical times, but the powerful love story of Jonathan and David in 1 and 2 Samuel suggests that same-sex couples are affirmed and blessed by God.” Jonathan and David shared a special bond and a lifelong covenant. In song, David affirmed he loved Jonathan in a way that he never loved a woman. David replaced Jonathan’s father as king.

January 1: Holy Name of Jesus—Perhaps as a counterbalance to the ancient pagan festivities around the New Year, the Church came to associate January 1st with the naming of Jesus at his circumcision (Luke 2:21).

January 3: St. Genevieve (c. 419 – 502)– Patron saint of Paris (in the musical Camelot, Guinevere sings a prayer to St. Genevieve). Her prayers are thought to have saved Paris from invading Huns, and on another occasion when the city was besieged, her diplomatic efforts are thought to have benefitted the city. Genevieve was a nun known for her charitable work.

Takashi Nagai (1908-1951)—Mystic of Nagasaki. Nagai witnessed the atomic blast over his city. His wife’s charred remains were found in the Catholic cathedral, rosary clasped in her hands. As a physician he worked tirelessly for the survivors. When the radiation left him an invalid he became a contemplative, devoting himself to a life of prayer.

 

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