Like Looking at the Sun

Part 2 in Series: What Makes A Christian?

It is amazing how often we fail a most basic mark of the faith.

It is a downright scandal how rarely it is preached.

It’s questionable how directly our religious and moral practices stem from it.

Yet if we believe the direct words of Jesus Himself–you know, God–the very ability of others to recognize our Christian identity is dependent on how we follow this.

We gather in churches. We have elaborate worship and praise. And yet we barely give lip service to the first and foremost of the commandments. When we do, it is often to give exceptions–No, Jesus didn’t really mean that. . .

I’m talking about the Greatest Commandment–love God and love neighbor. Abundantly.

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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 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 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 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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Worship Materials: Trinity

From the Festive Worship collection

THEME The many and the one – Images of the imageless God.

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Do not let the Christian doctrine of the Trinity alienate you from the oneness of God; for God is both the many and the one.

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Ecumenism

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

Until we discern the riches of the other tradition, any union will simply be a matter of absorption.
Uniting two traditions can create a space where a third and more life- giving form of spirituality can emerge.

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The Truth Will Set You Free: A Homecoming Sermon

Homecoming after a splendid summer respite. Readings Proverbs 1:20-23; Ephesians 4:11-13 and John 8:30-32. I am indebted to Peter Rollins for his excellent insights into the need for church to be a place where we consult our suffering.

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Worship Materials: Sexuality, Sensuousness and Gender Equality

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

Our senses and our use of them are part of God’s creation.
To attempt to deny our senses is as much an insult to God as is the misuse of them.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Christian Church

The church as we know it came about when one group of believers was opposed by a dissenting group. Then it became necessary for each group to define their concepts of Christianity and to label all others heretics.

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In nature as in Jesus

From the Boundless Life collection

In nature as in Jesus,
All life is truly one,
But we divide Christ’s mantle
And drown Creation’s song,

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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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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Christian Missions

I think Christian missionaries should live among the people exhibiting their Christianity in their daily lives. If the people see something in their lives that is missing in their own lives they will ask about it, which gives the missionary permission to tell them about their faith.

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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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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Prayer

I think we need some method of communicating with God and prayer is the logical answer. But prayer in which we stop everything we are doing, get down on our knees, fold our hands and pray is not my idea of prayer. I think we should try to communicate with God any time we have a second to think about God or ask God to be with a loved one or friend, or share anything in our life with God. While driving, when watching TV, while on the lake alone, working in the garden, any of those times and many more, we should take a moment to commune (talk, whatever word you want to use) with God. It may be that those moments are more for us than for God, but I like to think that God listens and cares. I admit that I get awfully frustrated when I feel God is not listening because my petitions are not immediately answered in the way that I have requested. I know God’s answer may be “no,” but that is difficult to swallow.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Evil One

When it comes to the existence of the devil, people normally have one of two reactions: they dismiss the devil and scoff at the idea that there is such an entity, or they exalt the devil, and attribute far more to him (or it) than is deserved. In a recent Gallup poll, 70% of Americans believe in the devil. Half of those surveyed believe that he (this evil force is most often referred to in masculine terms) is a personal force, while the other half believes he is an impersonal force.
Let us see what the Bible says about Satan, the devil and the evil one.

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The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon

The earliest version of the New Testament, now in English for the first time!

History preserves the name of the person responsible for the first New Testament, the circumstances surrounding his work, and even the date he decided to build a textual foundation for his fledgling Christian community. So why do so few people know about him? Jason BeDuhn introduces Marcion, reconstructs his text, and explores his impact on the study of Luke-Acts, the two-source theory, and the Q hypothesis.

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Evolution of the Word:

The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

the full-text of the New Testament—and one of the only Bibles organized in chronological order and including explanatory annotations that give readers a more informed understanding of the Scripture

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