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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 8: Lifelong Learning

Most young children are born with a sense of wonder and anticipate discovery around every corner. A shiny penny or a snowflake holds a world of delight. But perhaps because our culture tends to overstimulate and excite our children, boredom begins to seep in as children get older. It’s not uncommon to hear complaints of, “I’ve seen that” or “I know that already” from children who are already closing the doors to their sense of discovery.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 7: Integrity of the Earth

The best way to enjoy the planet is to get out and do something — not sit and talk about it.

This lesson offers an encouraging reminder for an attitude of enjoyment and appreciation when we experience the natural world in all its forms. To enjoy means to have an inner experience of joy — to be “in joy” as our bodies and minds are engaged in activity.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 6: Peace and Justice

Progressive Christians believe that resisting oppression or cruelty in society has always been both an obligation and an opportunity for those who follow Jesus. It is an obligation because it is a way to test our commitment to the path. It is an opportunity because putting oneself at risk on behalf of another, as a result of one’s compassion, can be one of the most direct paths to an experience of the realm of God or that absolute sense of connectedness.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 5: Search for Understanding

This point, recognizing that we open ourselves to a constant flow of grace as we search for understanding, is inextricably linked to the eighth point in Progressive Christian beliefs: that we are committed to a lifelong path of learning. For as soon as we think we have arrived at the end point of understanding, we close ourselves to that flow of grace. Wisdom teachers of all paths describe gradual awakening or a progressive realization of understanding, marked by moments of clear inner revelation; but if we keep searching, there are ever-new octaves of clarity.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 4: How We Behave

The Jesus of the scriptures was a man of action. He was someone who healed, demonstrated compassion, took a stand against injustices, loved unconditionally, and told his disciples to go and do likewise. As followers of Jesus, Progressive Christians are dedicated to treating
their fellow human beings with kindness, caring, and compassion.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 3: Inclusive of All

No matter what our family looks like outwardly, or whether our family is one of blood or one of choice, family is where we have some of the deepest connections of our hearts. Family is our first and lifelong teacher.

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A Joyful Path, Year Two – Unit 2: Many Ways

This group of lessons introduces children to the beliefs and rituals of five major world religions.

The core value of this curriculum is that children have experiences that open their hearts and give them moments of joy and feelings of unity with nature and with others. These moments can occur through the arts and through the physical body. Therefore, most of the activities involve one or both. The intellect analyzes and distinguishes differences—valuable skills for scientific research and progress. The heart receives and feels unity. One of the goals of these lessons is that children understand that people of different religions have much in common.

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A Joyful Path Curriculum, Year Two – Unit 1: The Path and Teachings of Jesus

In “A Joyful Path, Year Two”  we focus on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world.  It has stories and affirmations written to help children clarify their own personal beliefs while staying open to the wisdom of other traditions.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 1: The Nameless One, Who or What is God?

This lesson presents just a few ways to open discussion with children and help them explore both the concept of an infinite, omnipresent, impersonal God and also the concept of a deeply personal, divine presence. Neither can be completely understood by any form, expression, or outward experience.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 2: A Teacher of the Way; Who Was Jesus?

Download the PDF of A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson #2- “A Teacher of the Way; Who Was Jesus?” right into your digital device. The Jesus story offers a reflection of our own inner potential and a timeless example of how to live a life of God awareness and true freedom.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 3: The Stories of Our Tradition- The Bible and How We Use It

Lesson 3 from Year One is about: THE STORIES OF OUR TRADITION: The Bible and How We Use It. This is a downloadable PDF file.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 4: Discovering Divine Energy

Download the PDF of A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson #4- “Discovering Divine Energy ” right into your digital device. Divine energy is always available to us if our hearts are open and willing to let it flow.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 5: God In Nature

The natural world constantly offers opportunities to experience the presence of spirit in endless variation. Nature is one of the most clear and obvious manifestations of God in our universe.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 6: Remembering God’s Presence

Remembering that God is within us and a part of everything that ever was and ever will be is one of the most important things we can do.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 7: Concentrating Our Energy

To succeed at any undertaking requires the ability to calmly focus our energy. Without concentration even our best efforts are weakened — even our efforts to love, meditate, or simply pray.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 8: Learning from Mistakes

If we look honestly at our mistakes and listen within for guidance, we will discover our true identity as an unlimited spirit.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 10: Sharing

When we share, our awareness grows beyond our little self to a broader reality.

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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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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 12: Stillness

Taking time to be in stillness is important for physical and mental well-being, and it is absolutely vital if we want an inner experience of spirit. It is not easy to quiet the storms of excitement and learn to be comfortable with stillness. Providing opportunities to practice is a priceless gift we can give children.

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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 14: Service

Through service we find love and truth in action. When we serve with love and compassion, those whom we serve become brothers and sisters, not the others.

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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 16: Practicing Humility

Humility does not mean self-abasement — it means recognizing an infinite power greater than our little self. Where does humility come in when self-esteem and self-confidence are valued so highly in our society?

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 17: Non-Greed

To be anxious and fearful of our own needs means we are forgetting who we really are. Spending all of our time and energy acquiring possessions means we are looking outward for satisfaction and neglecting the only source of true happiness — our eternal identity as spirit.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 18: What is Success?

True success means growing in our ability to love and to experience inner happiness.Outward accomplishments are fun, and we want to
always strive for our best. But worldly achievements will always lead to disappointment. True success lies in an ever-increasing experience of spirit in all circumstances

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 19: Willpower

Willpower is our willingness combined with our power, applied with concentration and determination. Applying our willpower to achieve goals is really a discovery of the divine power and guidance that lies within all creation. We discover that willingness opens the gate to infinite possibilities.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 20: Courage

Courage does not mean fearlessness and is a quality that exists within all beings and can be accessed at any time. We need only to turn inward to face life’s challenges with the courage that is already ours. Feeling anxious or fearful of new outward circumstances is normal for most people, but finding the courage to face those circumstances means recognizing that our divine nature is perfectly equipped and we have the inner resources to handle challenges.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 21: Filling Our Minds with Goodness

The more we choose to see beauty and goodness, the more we will live in happiness and joy.
High-mindedness is looking at life’s experiences from the high ground, where beauty and joy can be seen beyond ugliness and hardship that can cloud our vision. It is a conscious choice to keep company with positive thoughts and to be happy. High-mindedness is not pretending ugliness does not exist; it is really a celebration of divine goodness everywhere.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 22: Opening Our Hearts in Prayer

One way we can build an awareness of our inner wisdom, as well as create a spiritual life, is through prayer. God, the Divine Presence, the Spirit of Life and Love — whatever names we use for this Mystery permeating and holding all things in existence — comes to visibility in the human reality we are … Prayer is the means to deepen awareness that we are intimately connected and bonded with our planet, our universe and all that is in this Presence. It is the means to accept our responsibility for making the Presence of God visible and effective in the human species. Prayer is a way to express our commitment to give the best possible expression we can to this sacred presence. Prayer has to both encourage and challenge us: we pray to be better than we are. Prayer is not about words expressed to an elsewhere God. Prayer is about reflection on life and the interconnectedness of everyone and all things within God’s Presence. Prayer is an affirmation of this presence and of our dignity.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 23: Accessing Sacred Guidance

>We all have moments when we have to make tough decisions quickly, and sometimes the way is not clear. How will we recognize the highest good when split-second decisions are needed? And how do we prepare children for the inevitable difficult decisions they will face? The answer to both questions is practice. We can’t expect to understand inner guidance in a crisis if we haven’t listened for guidance any other time in our lives. Every day presents opportunities to feel for the right direction. Every decision we make should be made with soul intuition and not just mental reasoning. Children can learn to feel for inner guidance and use that understanding in all life’s challenges. Your true self is a spiritual being housed in a human being. If we can access the voice of our true selves, the guidance we are looking for will always be available.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 24: Infinite Possibilities in Each Moment

Most people would define work as something that is hard to do and creativity as something fun. But when we are open to the sacred guidance that is abundant in the universe, work and creativity become the same thing. The most creative and inspiring work can be accomplished when we are open to all possibilities.
Being open to infinite possibilities means letting inspiration flow freely — and not blocking that flow with thoughts of what we want to happen or what other people might think of what we are doing.
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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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 25: Expanding Awareness

Deep within our hearts, we all long for an expanded sense of self. We long to feel oneness with the universe, with spirit in all things, and with the infinite spirit that created everything that is. Each time we experience a sense of connection or a hint of freedom from our ego self-definition, we become more aware of the Sacred that is always in us and around us. Jesus may have called it the “Kingdom of God.” Some scholars believe, however, that “Queendom” or “Sacred Unity” is a more accurate translation of Jesus’ words when he spoke about this realm of God which is always available to each of us.
Children naturally look for how they are a part of the world around them. They notice sameness and feel oneness more readily than adults who have been gradually trained to see only differences and separation. As we grow in our awareness, we learn that there is nowhere we can go and be apart from the constant, unchanging presence of God. We are never truly separate from anyone or anything in the universe. All that we do affects the world and everyone in it, like a ripple in a pond.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 26: A Heavy Load

It seems to be human nature to weigh down our hearts with the past and project our minds into the future. Jesus admonished his listeners to forgive, to love, to be merciful, and to give up worry about the future or the past, long before “living in the moment” was an over-used phrase.
Every true spiritual teacher tells us that the joy we are seeking lies within our hearts now. The past cannot be changed. The future is unknown. Letting go of regrets and worries frees our energy to be focused on the infinite potential of the present moment. To make the choice to live joyfully in this moment is true freedom — the freedom to be who we are.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 27: Forgiving and Healing

There is abundant love within each of us, but even when we try to act as messengers of love in the world, we often mess up the message. Like the old game of telephone, where a message is passed along and completely mixed up by the time it reaches the end of the line, we mix up divine love with our own desires, confusions, and misunderstandings and end up hurting one another. Then we must forgive.
Getting children to say the words, “I forgive you,” is not enough. True forgiveness is inward and will actually remove the hurts we have from our hearts, like pulling weeds in a beautiful garden. Forgiving is not simply a gift we give someone who has wronged us, either; it is a step in our own spiritual growth that will enable our hearts to blossom as intended.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 28: Security

When our identity is defined in outward ways, we are going to feel insecure because outward definitions always change. If we understand our identity as changeless spirit, then it is easier to let go of our attachment to our physical self. Jesus and other spiritual teachers have taught us that a spiritual path and our experiences on that path will lead us to a deeper understanding. It isn’t enough to just read the words or have the beliefs — we need to act in harmony with those beliefs in order to be more aware of who we really are.
The world will tell us that our security depends on money in the bank or the right clothes or an important job, but we know all those things are temporary. True security that lasts forever comes from discovering the reality that we are spiritual beings. With that knowledge, we can face anything, even our fear of death. We can’t force children to feel secure, but we can encourage them to find that truth within themselves and live from that experience. We can also talk about death in a way that is not fearful. Our Western society does much to teach fear of death. We may not know what happens after we die, but if we are secure in the knowledge that our true self does not die, it only grows and evolves, then we need not fear death or any outward physical changes that happen to our human body.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 29: Perseverance

Perseverance is important in any worthwhile endeavor. History is full of examples of great men and women who made tremendous contributions to the world simply because they didn’t quit when things became difficult. Great talent or intelligence doesn’t matter if it is not applied with fortitude and endurance toward a goal.
Obtaining spiritual goals also requires perseverance. To grow in spirit and inner understanding means we keep up our efforts through the difficulties life presents. Persevering through the difficulties is what brings us deeper faith, deeper understanding, and deeper, more lasting joy. That is the fruit of patient endurance that Jesus referred to.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 30: Truthfulness

Being truthful puts us in harmony with our spiritual self and is an expression of our divine nature. There are many different kinds of truth, but being truthful is primarily about being conscious of our motivations and expressing that truth in the way we live and treat others, as well as how we speak. Why do we say what we say? Are we sharing the truth about who we are?

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 31: Willingness

Everyone has the option to say no — no, I don’t want to learn. No, I don’t want to work that hard. No, I won’t love that person. We were created with free will; saying no is a natural part of our development. But eventually, we begin to realize that saying no doesn’t usually bring us joy. We yearn for true happiness, and to find true happiness we must first stop saying no and say yes to growth opportunities.
One of the greatest challenges in leading a spiritual life is simply being willing to try. Willingness requires that we step out of our comfort zone of limitations into new possibilities and allow new understanding to come through our experiences. Spiritual growth is about change. If we are not willing to have new experiences, or we are afraid of change, spiritual growth is impossible. Being willing is one of the greatest spiritual challenges, but it is also the secret to the greatest spiritual blessings. The disciples who followed Jesus left old ideas and habits behind and they discovered their true identity and their highest potential, all because they were willing.
Meeting life with willingness requires enthusiasm, courage, good humor, humility, and a sense of adventure. It also means that we recognize the presence of God in every circumstance. Every life challenge shrinks when we are willing to take it on. If we encourage willingness in children, they will discover infinite possibilities in life and the infinite presence of spirit through every opportunity.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 32: Inclusion

When we exclude others, we refuse to relate to realities different than our own, and we keep our experience defined in a way that is comfortable and familiar. If we want children to be inclusive, we have to help them redefine their experiences in a broader way. For instance, if older children exclude a younger child from a ball game because she can’t catch the ball, we can guide them to give her a special job that makes her feel part of the game. Finding a way to include her will expand their limited thinking. Scolding them for excluding her will most likely make them resentful, which leads to closing the heart.
Accepting and coping with outward differences is an important step toward opening the heart to others. But to really include others in our reality, we must understand that despite apparent differences, there is only one self, one spirit, and one true reality, underlying all that is. The more children experience their own spiritual nature, the more they will recognize the one spirit in all.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 33: Expressing Gratitude

When we are not grateful to the giver of our blessings, we develop insensitivity and an attitude of entitlement. This shuts us out of the divine flow and keeps us distant from grace. In contrast, expressing gratitude opens our hearts and invites more blessings into our lives. Cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving for all we receive is the surest way to awaken awareness to God’s presence in every moment.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 34: Experiencing God as Light, A Christmas Lesson

Download the PDF of A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson #34 – “Experiencing God as Light” right into your digital device. God can be experienced as light, visible to the physical eyes and as a universal inner reality.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 35: Experiencing God as Joy, A Christmas Lesson

We know true joy when we experience the reality of God’s presence within. The word joy is used at Christmastime so often that it is almost synonymous with the season. When we have an inner awareness of the presence of God, we experience joy. When we celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate that living presence born on earth. Joyful day! God’s presence can be experienced in every moment of our lives when we become aware that the reality of God never changes; it is not dependent on circumstance or season.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 36: Experiencing God as Love

Jesus taught that we should love everyone, even our enemies. In this age of multi-media information, we are made aware of all the reasons people can be difficult to love; loving everyone appears even more daunting than it must have two thousand years ago. However, if we remember that universal divine love exists within and flows throughout all creation, it becomes clear that our part is not to make ourselves love, but to allow love to flow through us at every opportunity. Every moment is an opportunity.
Jesus was a pure channel for universal love; love flowed through him without interruption or corruption. The power of that pure love could be felt by all who opened their heart to the experience, and we can experience it as well if we open our hearts to the possibility.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 37: Palm Sunday

In the last lesson about living courageously, the emphasis was on discovering the courage that exists within our divine nature. The Easter story of Jesus shows how courage in the face of ignorance and fear is ultimately an expression of true selfless love. His appearance in Jerusalem despite the threats against him was not a grand gesture to show how brave he was but a selfless act of friendship and love. His life was an expression of love for all people, and he lived each day as a messenger of that light. Considering his personal safety would have been an ego affirmation, which he strongly rejected when Peter expressed fear for his teacher’s life.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 38: Easter

Like all spiritual and religious celebrations, Easter can be experienced and understood on many levels. In the cycles of nature, we see examples of renewed life: animals being born, trees sprouting leaves, and flowers bursting with color in the spring. Our hearts respond with deep yearning for inner renewal as well. Springtime rituals in the northern hemisphere have always been a way to welcome the awakening life energy of the earth and the return of light, but they are also symbolic of the inner awakening that all souls experience. In the southern hemisphere, Easter is celebrated in the fall and is a time to celebrate the fall harvest and the gathering of family and friends.
A Christian scholar, the Venerable Bede (672–735 AD), first asserted that Easter was named after Eostre, the great mother goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring, eastre. Pagan festivals associated with birth, the renewal of life, fertility, and sunrise date back to long before Christianity. Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area are recorded as having a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Many of the present-day customs of Easter have their origins in these festivals.

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