Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Healing Rays: A Progressive, Positive, Practical Weekly Reflection
by Durrell Watkins
January 26, 2010

Divine Order
"We know that all things work for good for those who love God..." St. Paul (Rom. 8.28)

There is a story about a rabbi who kept having mishaps while traveling. He went to an inn for lodging, but the inn was full. While he was sleeping outdoors, his donkey ran away. Then, he clumsily knocked over and broke his lantern. Instead of getting too upset after each disappointment, he simply affirmed, "All that God does is done well." As one teacher of mine would say, he went to peace instead of to pieces.

The next morning, he learned that marauders had stormed the village he had slept in. They robbed the inn (the one where he couldn't find a room). While he was sleeping outside, if his donkey had not escaped, it might have made noise which would have attracted the bandits' attention. Similarly, if he hadn't broken his lamp, the light might have given his location away. He was able to sleep safely while chaos was breaking out all around him because he was able to trust that even in his minor setbacks, something good was possible.

Of course, the bandits should not have terrorized the village, and not everyone was lucky enough to have some happy accidents to keep them safe; but the point of the story is that even when things were difficult, the rabbi chose serenity over anxiety, and blessings were able to come out of his initial disappointments. When things aren't going well, maybe we can affirm that really, everything IS in divine order. Once we get through the experience, we might find that Grace was providing for our needs all along.

Monday, January 25, 2010

True Self

Spirit & Truth

True Self
“…as Saul was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul…why are you persecuting me?’” Acts 9.3-4 (NAB)

Saul (later to be known as Paul) encounters the mystical Christ. He sees a light. He hears a voice. He imagines the voice saying, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul was persecuting followers of the Jesus Way, but in the vision, the risen Christ is the Christ in the followers being persecuted. The Resurrection experienced by Saul was a mystical, visionary Resurrection, whereby he encountered the True Self, the Self that flourishes regardless of circumstances. When he sees past his prejudices to the True Self, or Christ Nature within all Life, his path changes and he becomes a devotee of the Cosmic Christ. When we encounter the divinity of the universal True Self, we too are changed for the better.

My True Christ Nature shines today!

Rev. Durrell Watkins, MA, MDiv, DMin (Sunshine Cathedral)
Spirit & Truth is a daily devotional magazine published by Sunshine Cathedral

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Redeeming Jesus

Redeeming Jesus Mini-Conference.

We would like you to attend this exciting event on January 22nd and 23rd at Sunshine Cathedral.
Why the provocative title for the conference? To redeem is to recover. When we were children so of use would "redeem" soda bottles, that is, we'd get money back for the glass bottles. We recovered our money. The Redeeming Jesus Mini-Conference will focus on how Progressive Christians can recover Jesus from narrow and exclusive understandings. We'll learn how there are a variety of joyous and empowering ways to faithfully follow Jesus' example in the 21st century.

Our speakers for the conference are: Robert Griffin (pastor), Mona West (bible scholar), BK Hipsher (theologian), Celene Lillie (bible scholar), Michael Diaz (pastor), Durrell Watkins (artist-theologian & pastor), Tom Bohache (bible scholar & pastor), and Gay Lynn Williamson-Grigas (motivational speaker).

We will explore Christology from Feminist, Gender transgressive, Non-canonical, Liberation, Pop-cultural, Queer, and New Thought perspectives. We'll learn how one can fall in love with Jesus from several different social locations and how more inclusive, pluralistic Christologies can be empowering for not only committed people of faith but for seekers as well.

The conference includes dinner on Friday night (22nd), and breakfast and lunch on Saturday (23rd). The conference will be good for lay leaders, clergy, students, life-long learners, and those who are just curious. MCC clergy can count the conference as "continuing education." And all of this is only $50 for the whole mini-conference ($35 for university or seminary students).

To learn more about the conference, the speakers, or about lodging options, please visit www.sunshinecathedral.org. That's also where you will find a link to register for the conference.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Open At the Top

Reprinted from Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Open At the Top

Ernest Holmes called his Religious Science philosophy "open at the top," meaning that all religions had insights worth exploring, that new learning was always possible, that spiritual truths could be discovered from many sources and from one's own experience.

In fact, Holmes never claimed that his Religious Science or "Science of Mind" was divinely revealed. It wasn't dictated by the Archangel Gabriel. It wasn't delivered by the Angel Moroni. It wasn't written down as an oracle or a prophecy. It wasn't canonized by an ecclesiastical council. It wasn't written in a trance. It wasn't the work of an ascended master being channeled through Holmes. It was simply what he discovered from his own research and what he could personally verify by way of practice. Holmes was able to blend the discoveries of science, the opinions of philosophy, and the revelation of religions to form what he believed was a spiritual or religious "science," that is, a systematic approach to spirituality that could be tested and its results repeated.

I'm not pushing the Science of Mind, aka Religious Science, though I have been profoundly influenced by it. What I am pushing is the idea that religion should be "open." Non-doctrinal, open, flexible, inclusive, experiential spirituality that sees the wisdom of science, the brilliance of philosophy, and the beauty of Judaism, Buddhism, the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Emerson and Swedenborg and more is something that can not only help us live happier and maybe even healthier and more prosperous lives but also help prevent needless religious wars and the spiritual violence caused by religious bigotry.

I'm not pushing Science of Mind, per se, but I am pushing for religion that is "open at the top." I hope to see an open Christianity, an open Islam, an open Judaism, an open Wicca, an open Buddhism, an open Hinduism, an open Unitarian Universalism, an open Humanism, an open Agnosticism, an open approach to A Course in Miracles...an openness in Religion that allows for peace and mutual forbearance. I'm ready for religion that builds up the individual seeker without tearing down the lesbian or the gay man or the transexual or the atheist or persons of other religious paths. I don't think a single religion is the answer, nor do I think that the absence of religion is the answer. I believe the answer is whatever religion that helps you without hurting others. I believe the answer is religion that is open at the top.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sharing the Light

Watch these episodes (and others) of Sharing the Light on the Sunshine Cathedral You Tube channel. Sharing the Light is a 10 minute talk show where spiritual, theological, ethical, and social issues are discussed by Sunshine Cathedral ministers.

Danger for Gays in Jamaica, Nigeria, & Uganda

Cardinal Says: "No Heaven for Gays"

Gay & Christian

Affirmative Prayer

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Does Positive Thinking Really Work?

The Authority of Scripture

Where Do We Go When We Die?

A Progressive View of Salvation

Redeeming Jesus Invitation

Beholding the Sacred

Spirit & Truth
Today is Monday, January 18, 2010.

On this day in 1993 the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in all 50 states for the first time.

Beholding the Sacred
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change
.” Buddha

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked the Apostle Peter. Peter said, “You are anointed — the child of the living God.” I love that. No complicated creed. No council debates. No proof texts. Just the awareness that an enlightened Soul, a God-realized, God-filled, Loving Teacher was in Peter’s presence. You are God’s child. You are anointed with God’s grace. You are filled with God’s love . When we recognize our own sacred value or the sacred value of another, we are seeing truly; we are seeing God with us. And whenever and wherever we encounter the Divine, we find ourselves changed for the better.

I see God everywhere I look. Beholding the Sacred, I find myself abundantly blessed.

Rev. Durrell Watkins, MA, MDiv, DMin (Sunshine Cathedral)
This was first published in Spirit & Truth, a Sunshine Cathedral publication

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Time to Wake Up

Healing Rays: A Progressive, Positive, Practical Weekly Reflection
by Durrell Watkins
January 18, 2010

Time to Wake Up

"Jacob woke up from his dream and said, 'Surely the Divine is in this place, and I wasn't aware of it.'" Genesis 28.16

Dreams seem real when we are having them. Eventually we wake up from our dreams, and no matter how terrifying or ridiculous or sad the dream was, we can always comfort ourselves by remembering that it was just a dream. Now awake, we are free to choose thoughts and make choices that will create the sort of life we deserve and desire.

Some of us have been living a dream...the dream of being disconnected from our divine Source, of being separate from the rest of the Universe, of being fragile, alone, and not good enough. In our dream, someone told us we were bad and in the dream, it seemed real and frightening. But we can wake up from the dream. In the dream, our sacred value may have been hidden or denied, but in Reality, we are the children of God, filled with the spirit of God, part of the creation that God calls very good. It's time to wake up and affirm that the Divine is in this place, in our lives, in our hearts, it is expressing in, through, and as us. We may not have known that Truth in the dream, but once we wake up, we do know and can live in the power and the joy of the divinity that surrounds and fills us.


Watch a video invitation to the Redeeming Jesus Mini-Conference at Sunshine Cathedral
January 22nd - 23rd (http://www.youtube.com/sunshinecathedral#p/u/0/jY5a7iofWcA) or read about it and register at www.sunshinecathedral.org.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson Just Goes Too FAR

Pat Robertson should be so ashamed of himself. Really, Pat? A seismic disaster is b/c an entire country made a deal with the boogie-man? Could he REALLY be that superstitious? Not to mention being so unkind toward desperate, hurting people. There must be medication that can help this dillusional soul...

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Ain't There Yet

Responding to a family emergency, I recently visited my family in the Mid-South.

Spending 7 days in Northeast Texas/Southwest Arkansas, I experienced the following: I heard three medical professionals asked by complete strangers about their nationalities (all three were asked what their nationality was and one was even asked if her country of origin was "as horrible as we hear on TV"). I heard some nurses referred to as "male" nurses (while presumably they did not provide care exclusively to male patients). And I had my sexual orientation openly, freely, and unapologetically discussed.

The well-meaning people who brought up my same-gender love and attraction tried to “advocate” for my marginalized status by minimizing my feelings, experience, and way of being in the world. No one compared my love for and commitment to my spouse to the love and commitment they share with theirs, but they did compare my sexual orientation to one choosing to get a tattoo (“I don’t like it but I don’t love my son who did it any less”), and to preferring beef to other foods (“I love steak, I like chicken, and I don’t care for shrimp at all...it’s just a matter of taste really”), and to being so insignificant it should never be given any thought (“what difference does it make? Why should anyone even have to know about it?”).

One person reportedly said to my mother recently, “How is your oldest son? You know, we have ‘one’ in our family too.” Really??? I instructed my mother to inform such people in the future, “Oh no, your fag is not the same as my fag; mine is a professional homo-activist. He’s openly and proudly gay for a living.” Sadly, my mom didn’t think she was capable of such snark.

Of course, in a perfect world, my committed relationship would not be controversial. But as long as my mutual, caring, long-term relationship is used to keep me from marrying the person I love, adopting children in need of a safe and loving home, serving in the military, getting ordained in many denominations, and even teaching students in many public school districts, then of course it is an issue.

As long as people insist on dehumanizing the “Other” (even when attempting to speak well of them!), then it is a very big issue, and much more work must be done to confront and diminish prejudice and heal the damage it has done.

When people, from their privilege, insist that race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or ethnicity are no longer issues needing to be addressed, they show how woefully misinformed they are.

I’m very proud that we have such openly same-gender loving people in political leadership as Rep. Barney Frank. I’m glad that we have now had three women to hold the highest position in the U.S. Cabinet. I’m proud that race did not prevent President Barack Obama from getting elected in 2008.

I’m happy that progress has been made in many ways. I am also aware that there is much more progress to be made. “Liberty and justice for all” remains an ideal to which we pledge ourselves in the US, and it also remains an ideal that has not yet been fully reached. More education, more discussion, more progress is needed. If one ever doubts that to be the case, then I suggest a little trip to the middle of the country. My recent trip has certainly reminded me that we have not yet transformed our society into the Promised Land. As long as we’ll admit that, however, then it may just be possible to keep moving forward. But we can't get there, until we realize that we aren't yet there.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Spirit & Truth
Today is Sunday, January 10, 2010.

Spiritually Clean
“Atonement is the exemplification of [humanity’s] unity with God, whereby [humanity] reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.” Mary Baker Eddy

At Jesus’ baptism, we are told that as he came up out of the water he saw the heavens opening up and the spirit descending on him as a dove might land on a branch. And he heard within himself an affirming Voice saying, “You are my child; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1.9-11). Charles Fillmore taught that ritual baptism “symbolizes a cleansing process, the letting go of error.” As Jesus bathed in the Truth of Pure Consciousness, all false beliefs in lack or limitation were washed away, and what was left was the divine affirmation of his sacred value. May we be so washed today.

I am immersed in the truth of infinite Love, and I realize that I am a unit of Pure Consciousness. I am God’s child. Any notion to the contrary has been washed away.

Rev. Durrell Watkins, MA, MDiv, DMin (Sunshine Cathedral)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Taking Responsibility for 2010

Healing Rays: A Progressive, Positive, Practical Weekly Reflection
by Durrell Watkins
January 4, 2010

Taking Responsibility for 2010

I was not a very happy child. Being a queer child in the rural mid-South in the 1970s was not the easiest path on which to start! Home life was difficult, so not only did I experience the world to be a fairly hostile place, I did not find home to be a safe refuge from the scary world.

By mid-high school I started coming out of my shell and by college had claimed my authority as a person of power! Of course, being young and having an unpleasant past, I had no idea how to use that power, and often misused it with pretty difficult consequences to follow. There were plenty of missteps, false starts, rocky relationships, and just plain old unwise choices!

For the last decade or so, life has been much better, with more "ups" than "downs" and with learning lessons more quickly from the "downs." Most of my relationships are healthy and harmonious, and the few that aren't have something valuable to teach me.

I've come to realize that I energetically create, attract, or move toward most of the conditions in my life (maybe "all" of them, but that's a hard pill to swallow). When life isn't what I think I want, if I will spend time finding and fixing my fears, my regrets, my lack of clarity, or if I will do the work to forgive and release someone who I believe hurt or betrayed me, then pretty quickly, life gets right back on track.

2010 is a New Year, or at least it can be. We can bring all the regrets, mistakes, hurt feelings, and disappointments from 2009 into 2010 if we choose to; but then we'll just get 2009: The Sequel. Or we can change an attitude here and there, forgive a person or two (maybe even ourselves), broaden our perspectives, choose a new thought that will create a new feeling that will generate a new energy that will create, attract, or move us toward a new experience.

The past is behind us. Let's make 2010 the year we really want to have; let's make 2010 a year of happiness, progress, and fulfillment. Let's know that we are the thinker who is thinking the thoughts that are creating our lives. Amen.

Rev. Durrell Watkins, DMin

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Spirit & Truth
Today is the Eighth Day of Christmas, New Year’s Day, Celebration of the Holy Name of Jesus, & the Feast of St. Mary.

Happy New Year
The old year has gone, but the New Year is full of treasures for you to use.” Paramahansa Yogananda

Maybe we enjoyed some amazing accomplishments in 2009.We can be grateful for those beautiful memories, but we can’t live in the past. There are more accomplishments to be had. Or, perhaps 2009 brought disappointments. And while we can acknowledge those experiences, they, too, are forever in the past. We mustn’t allow the past to keep us from experiencing the blessings that are available now. Rather than reliving the past, let’s create the future we deserve and desire. 2010 is a New Year with new opportunities. Let’s make the most of them!

What amazing treasures will this New Year offer me? I’m willing to find and enjoy the gifts that are waiting for me.

Rev. Durrell Watkins, MA, MDiv, DMin (Sunshine Cathedral)
originally printed in "Spirit & Truth" magazine