Monday, August 29, 2011

sermon: "Peace Beyond Pain, Hope Beyond Horror"

"Peace Beyond Pain, Hope Beyond Horror"
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Using affirmations in our personal spiritual practice

sermon: "Who Are You?"

"Who Are You?"
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

The power of focused attention

Sermon: "I Am ___ (& I Get to Fill in the Blank)"

"I Am ___ (& I Get to Fill in the Blank)"
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

The power of I Am statements and how to use them effectively

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Magic & Miracles

Daily Wisdom from Spirit & Truth
Saturday, August 27

Magic & Miracles

If you and I were the ones to discover the way life functions in the quantum, we would say it is, by definition, magic. It’s the stuff of fairy tales.” Natalie Reid

Magic. Power. Infinite Potential. Miracles. Energy. Indomitable Hope. Determination. Choice. Are these words so different in their meaning and application? Once we one-pointedly focus on something, we tend to gravitate toward it or attract it to us. Of course, there can be unintended consequences. If we focus on discontent, then we tend to get stuck in unhappiness. If we focus on feeling victimized, we tend to feel powerless and alone. But if we focus on hope, joy, love, and generosity, then those blessings tend to manifest for us. What we think about habitually we manifest eventually. It may or may not be magic, but it is most certainly true.

Prayer Treatment
Today I choose to focus on hope, health, and happiness and I expect these blessings to be manifest in my experience. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Spirit & Truth is a daily devotional magazine published by Sunshine Cathedral

Prayer For Those Facing Hurricane Irene

Prayer For Those Facing Hurricane Irene

We know that it is in God that we live and move and have our being. All life is within and part of the one universal Life. And so as storms and winds and heavy rains continue, we trust that Life is expressing for the highest good of all. We affirm strength and courage for those waiting out the storm and we know that order and healing quickly follow everywhere the storm passes. May we live in harmony with Nature and may we know that ultimately, all is well. Amen.

- Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Thought Friends of MCC on Facebook

Search for
New Thought Friends of MCC
on Facebook

New Thought Friends of MCC is a forum to allow inquirers (people just beginning to explore New Thought) to ask questions, as well as give more seasoned practitioners a place to share resources (book titles, curricula, movie reviews, articles, conference dates, websites, etc.), and of course, prayer requests can be made on the site as well.

I hope this can be an encouraging resource for New Thought practitioners in and on the edges of MCC.

I have been in MCC for 20 years, in MCC ministry for 18 years, and fully ordained as an MCC minister for 14 years (after completing course work from The Samaritan Institute for Religious Studies). However, the first sermon i ever preached was in the late 80s in a small Unity church. And while I did "traditional seminary" after ordination (Union Theological Seminary and Episcopal Divinity School, respectively) I have also in the last 20-something years been part of (and led) A Course in Miracles groups, have taken a Science of Mind course, earned a Certificate from the College of Divine Metaphysics, and received ordination credentials from United Divine Science. I've been active in the International New Thought Alliance for about 5 years now. I am fascinated by New Thought history (and that its beginnings are very feminist) and the moments in my life where I have received the most healing was as a result of practicing New Thought principles. What i have discovered is that there are many people in MCC (and other non-New Thought churches) whose stories are similar to mine. So, why not form a group?!

The group description is as follows:

"This group is for members, ministers, and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches whose spiritual practices include New Thought/Ancient Wisdom traditions. Anyone who is part of MCC or who loves someone who is part of MCC and who also has benefited from or is interested in New Thought philosophy is encouraged to become part of this group. Any MCCer or MCC ally who includes Reiki, A Course in Miracles, the teachings of Louise Hay or Emma Curtis Hopkins, Divine Science, Religious Science/Science of Mind, Fillmorean Theology (Unity or Universal Foundation for Better Living), the teachings of Rev. Ike, The Power of Positive Thinking, Kriya Yoga, positive psychology, or other metaphysical systems in their spiritual life will likely find this group to be a source of encouragement and community. Welcome to New Thought Friends of MCC. MCC is a progressive and inclusive spiritual movement founded in 1968 as a welcoming and affirming home for LBGT people and their allies."

Feel free to join the group, or to recommend it to anyone you think might enjoy it. Thanks and many blessings!

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three Spiritual Principles

‎"My only religion is Compassion. My only god is Love. My spiritual path is the path of service; and because of these three principles, I celebrate the diverse expressions of that Love in the many traditions of the world." Dharmacharya Gududas Sunyatananda

New Thought, Ancient Wisdom...What I've Learned

What I've learned from great thinkers: God is omnipresent, indeed is Omnipresence (Malinda Cramer); We are part of God (Ralph Waldo Emerson); God works through us (Thomas Troward); There is a connection between our thoughts/attitudes and our health (Phineas Parkhust Quimby); The purpose of spiritual living is to become God-Realized and Self-Realized (Paramahansa Yogananda); & Almost anything in life can be improved if we are willing to do the spiritual and mental work (Louise Hay).

A Prayer by Yogananda

"[God], let me feel that I am thy child. Save me from beggary! Let all good things, including health, prosperity, and wisdom seek me instead of my pursuing them." Paramahansa Yogananda

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August Spirit & Truth

Click on the link above to read Sunshine Cathedral's daily devotional magazine, "Spirit & Truth"

Peace Beyond Pain, Hope Beyond Horror

Peace Beyond Pain, Hope Beyond Horror
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, Sunshine Cathedral
Aug. 14th, 2011
Genesis 43.1-11, 13, 15; Matthew 15.22-28

Beyond our progressive, positive, and practical spiritual community I have friends who don’t understand our relentlessly optimistic approach to life. I think they hear and read our positive affirmations and then remember that old Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley, who was a little nerdy, a little awkward, and a little smug with his lispy affirmations for self-esteem.

Of course, Al Franken was making a caricature of a self-help spiritual seeker and he based the character on people he knew who were involved in Twelve Step programs.

But the truth is, many people in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics , Codependents Anonymous, Al-Anon and other Twelve Step programs have greatly benefited from the optimism, the support, the accountability, and the positive self-talk that they discovered in the program.

Other helping disciplines have adopted these same practices, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and positive psychology for example.

As a child I heard over and over the story of the Little Engine Who Could. When faced with a daunting task, the little engine encouraged himself with self-talk…I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…and he learned that he could and he did.

The movie “The Help” (based on the book by the same name) has domestic workers in segregated Mississippi tell their stories of what it is like to live under such oppressive conditions. The main character is a housekeeper and nanny who repeatedly tells the little girl she cares for positive things. She tells her throughout the film, “You is kind. You is smart. And you is important.” And she has the child repeat those words after her each time.

The practice of using self-talk to develop positive attitudes has long been embraced and promoted among athletes and sales people. After all, St. Paul said, “faith comes by hearing” and the one sure way to make certain we hear positive messages is to say them to ourselves.

We see this practice in the bible.
“God is my shepherd, my provider; I want for nothing. God makes me to lie down in beautiful green pastures and God leads me beside the calm waters of tranquility. God restores my peace of mind and leads me in the paths of right thinking and right action…Even if mortal danger approaches, I will fear no evil for God is with me. God’s tools are present to comfort me. God has abundance for me that my so-called enemies cannot take away. I am anointed and satisfied. Surely, goodness and mercy will be with me throughout my life and I will dwell in God’s presence forever.” The 23rd Psalm may be the most famous positive affirmation in the world!

This kind of positive self-talk isn’t limited to the Psalter. The anonymous writer whom we have named John affirmed, “Greater is the power within me than the power people believe is in the world.” 1 John 4.4

The Apostle Paul was a believer in affirmations.
“I can do all things through the Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4.13). He also said, “We are more than conquerors” (Romans 8.37). Paul went on to affirm, “I am convinced that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.”

In the first half of the 20th century there was a Divine Science minister named Emmet Fox who was a popular speaker in New York City, drawing enormous crowds every week. He also wrote books and his teachings were popular in the early days of the AA movement. Emmet Fox also influenced a Methodist minister who transferred his credentials to the Reformed Church in America so that he could answer a call to pastor the Marble Collegiate Church in New York…that famous Protestant minister who was influenced by Emmet Fox was of course Norman Vincent Peale who introduced The Power of Positive Thinking into the mainstream of Christianity and into the vocabulary of people all along the spiritual spectrum.

Dr. Peale said, “Plant seeds of expectation in your mind; cultivate thoughts that anticipate achievement. Believe in yourself as being capable of overcoming all obstacles and weaknesses.”

That’s good advice, but how do we do it? We encourage ourselves, we affirm what is true of us even when circumstances don’t seem to verify that truth. We affirm what is spiritually true of us as children of God. “I am kind. I am smart. I am important.” We affirm that good things are possible for us and that we even deserve them. We even affirm that God wants us to be blessed! New Thought teacher Emma Curtis Hopkins had two powerful prayer statements that I use in my own prayer life. She said, “There is good for me and I ought to have it!” And she would also say, “There is no mixture of evil with my good.” Plant positive seeds in your mind; cultivate those positive thoughts. That’s Peale’s advice, and it’s modeled for us in scripture.

Dr. Peale also said, “You become a worrier by practicing worry. You become free of worry by practicing the opposite…” Positive affirmations, optimistic self-talk is the practice of moving beyond fear and worry, it is the bold attempt to develop the habit of going to peace instead of to pieces, of summoning hope rather than fear, of imagining what good is possible rather than what disaster is probable.

No, our affirmations aren’t a silly game, nor are they a diversion from the harsh realities of the world. They are the way we instill hope in our hearts and that we remain focused on the possibilities of life. And that method of positive prayer often yields remarkable results.

That same kind of progressive, positive, and practical spirituality is present in both of our scripture lessons today.

In the book of Genesis, Joseph was his father’s favorite child. Joseph was not only daddy’s little baby, but he was given a special gift…a coat of many colors. And his brothers were annoyed by this. Now, traditionally we have been taught that what frosted their cupcakes about that coat is that only Joseph got one and they felt left out. But bible scholar Mona West tells us that such vibrant, multi-colored cloaks were often worn by young women. If this is true, then Joseph’s brothers aren’t mad that he got a gift and they didn’t; they’re mad that he’s cross-dressing in public! And their father encourages it, he even gave him the darn dress, er, coat of many colors. There’s quite a bit of drag in the bible, but that’s another sermon.

In an unimaginably reprehensible act, Joseph’s brothers abduct him, sell him into slavery, and tell their parents that Joseph was killed. Joseph grows up a slave in a foreign nation, and later he winds up in prison on a false charge. But somehow through all of this, Joseph finds reasons to celebrate life. He shares the gifts he has with others. He’s very good at analyzing dreams, and so he does so freely for whoever asks. His optimistic and generous attitude serves him well and he eventually not only is freed from prison but is elevated to a high government position. He has gone from slave to prisoner to national leader! Even when things look bleak, he is able to see God at work in his life and he trusts that good can come from apparent chaos. When his family comes to his adopted country looking for aid, Joseph is in a position to help them and again, he gladly gives what he can even to people who hurt him. He will tell his brothers down the line, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” That is the positive faith that we are trying to develop with positive affirmations.

We see positive spirituality at work in the Gospel story as well. Jesus at first doesn’t want to be bothered by this Canaanite woman who is asking him for help. And, a literalist reading of scripture would not condemn him. Deuteronomy 20.17 says, “You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, & Jubusites…” If we are meant to take the bible literally, Jesus should have stabbed this woman on the spot! But instead, he simply ignores and insults her; but she won’t take that. Thank God we take the bible seriously rather than literally, and Matthew would say, “well done!”

The Canaanite woman affirms her sacred value, her human dignity. No matter what any scripture says, no matter what any religious person says, in spite of cultural prejudices, she insists that she and her daughter deserve to have the healing opportunities in their lives. She says, “Could you be bothered to show us the kindness or compassion that you would show to a little dog?” And because she affirmed her own sacred value, not only did she get the miracle she was seeking, but she helped Jesus grow and heal too.

Homiletics professor Barbara Lunblad says of this passage, “Jesus was converted that day to a larger vision of the Commonwealth of God.” Isn’t that what we all want?

By affirming God’s presence, by affirming God’s love, by affirming our sacred value, by affirming that possibilities exist beyond what we’ve experienced so far, we can develop the attitude that lets us see miracles riding on the waves of disappointment, healing following heartache, and blessings rising from the ashes of despair. One bad moment may lead to a new possibility and the painful moment then becomes part of a larger narrative that tells of our ultimate healing, success, and joy. But to get there, we have to practice relentless optimism, and we do that with our positive affirmations.

I can’t promise that every problem will be easily solved and I can’t promise that every heartache will be instantly healed, but I can promise that the possibility of peace beyond pain and hope beyond horror is very real, especially as we train ourselves to be more and more optimistic. And we build optimism just the way we established all of our attitudes, by consistent practice. What we think habitually we’ll experience eventually. And we can choose to think optimistically by developing the habit of affirming divine possibilities. And this is the good news! Amen.

© Durrell Watkins 2011

I am kind.
I am smart.
I am important.
I am a magnet for miracles.
There is good for me and I ought to have it!
And there is no evil mixed with my good.
Thank you God!
And so it is.

“Affirm your divine selfhood; look the world in the face and fear nothing.” Emmet Fox

To watch the streaming video of this sermon, go to