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Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell

Drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, New York Times bestselling author and controversial religious leader John Shelby Spong continues to challenge traditional Christian theology inEternal Life: A New Vision. In this remarkable spiritual autobiography about his lifelong struggle with the questions of God and death, he reveals how he ultimately came to believe in eternal life.

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Thoughts About Music

I have a friend, he’s a medical doctor and has probably seen some pretty moving things during his years of practice. But he once told me that the only time he has cried in the past ten years was while listening to Bach’s Mass in B minor. That confirms for me what I already knew, that music can move the soul like nothing else in this world can. So the natural question is how can that reality be leveraged for spiritual purposes within sacred community? And this is not a new idea. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written nearly two thousand years ago, he urged his friends to “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

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Music in Sacred Community

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” So wrote the famed philosopher, Nietzsche. I believe that music in sacred community is the medium which allows us to feel and to express our deepest emotions: joy, lament, awe and thanksgiving. Music in sacred community binds us together. Studies have shown that groups who make music together feel a certain kinship with each other, and leave that time of singing or drumming, playing instruments, etc. with their endorphins dancing, and their bodies humming with better health and vibrations. Surely when all of this is enhanced by words of hymns or songs, we can know that we have participated in a rich experience which has fed our souls.

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Singing in the Beloved Community

St. Augustine said that the one who sings, prays twice. We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words; we get closest to praying as we ought when we sing. But church singing has changed rapidly in the 30-some years I’ve been a pastor. The hip new hymnal that came out in the nineties contains far too many hymns that were written for an organ and a congregation in the hundreds, not a guitar, a piano, and a raggedy chorus of twenty-some.

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Bath Water Or Baby

Our hymnals are full of great hymns. Great because the melodies and harmonies have survived, in some cases for centuries. Great because the lyrics, whether in their original language, or translated, or adapted, can often read as timeless poetry, lending themselves to effortless memorization.

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Comfort, Assurance, Peace

May we be comforted, God, by your eternal presence — inward, around, among us
As the ground of all being, your creation knows no boundaries

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 15: Being an Instrument for Blessing

Finding ways to be a blessing to others is the best way to avoid doing harm. The idea of non-injury or harmlessness extends beyond our actions to our words and thoughts as well. We don’t want to burden children with guilt about their thoughts, but we want to offer opportunities to infuse their hearts and minds with thoughts of blessing and peace toward others.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 13: Learning Patience

The slow-moving currents in the ocean depths move in a rhythm untouched by the ever-changing surface of the sea. As we tune into patience and learn to feel a deeper rhythm, we discover that the eternal currents of the cosmic ocean of energy also flow unchanging, despite the storms that blow in material realities.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 11: Self- Control

When we put our highest selves in charge, our inner joy and understanding grows. Children can learn to feel for the right direction within and to recognize that every impulse is not the right one simply because it is there. Every time we remember to put our highest self in charge, the more inner joy and freedom we experience.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Grace and Salvation

For Christians grace is God’s gift of pardon. According to William Barclay the Greek word for grace was originally a military term. When an emperor came to the throne or celebrated a birthday, he would give his troops a donatirim (donation), which was a free gift that they had not earned; it was given out of the goodness of the emperor’s heart. This idea was picked up by the Christian scripture writers when they wrote about the grace of God. Grace is something that is unearned and undeserved – unmerited pardon.

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The Sixth Sense

The “sixth sense” in popular culture is a reference to paranormal powers of perception. But I sense it’s something deeper than clairvoyance. It’s not some kind of superpower. It is our ability and propensity to have a relationship with the underlying essence of all reality. There’s a subtle way in which we can know what we cannot know, touch what we cannot touch.

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