The Mystery of Communion

YouTube: The Mystery of Communion

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28

According to Matthew, the inception of the ritual of Communion occurred during the last Passover meal – the Last Supper – that Jesus shared with his disciples. Today, the elements of wine and bread, or grape juice and a cracker, are ritually administered in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for our salvation. The Catholic church takes it further with the concept of transubstantiation, the belief that the blessed sacraments actually become the blood and body of Jesus.

The word communion carries the meaning of communication. The mystic sees communion as an actual union, a natural communication between God and the individual. The practice of spiritual communion, going directly to the indwelling Father, was the secret of Jesus’ power. Because of the challenges involved in silencing the busy mind and becoming receptive to the still small voice of God, ritual often takes precedence over the actual practice of the Presence, as the now famous mystic, Brother Lawrence, called it.  

Few Unity leaders have adopted the formal ritual of Communion. We have preferred the route of communion, or communication, with our spiritual source, which we do through meditation. While religious institutions can withhold Communion from those they deem unworthy, Unity recognizes that each individual is one with God and all are free to establish a first-hand experience with their spiritual source. We do not advocate the use of ritual or specific elements as requirements for communion with God. We leave that up to each person.

It is easy to substitute a ritual for an actual experience. We should remember that nearly every religious ritual has its basis in a spiritual principle. In terms of spiritual advancement, the practice is the principle is mandatory. The ritual is optional.  

The Marriage of Head and Heart

YouTube: The Marriage of Head and Heart

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female … a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh …” Matthew 19:4-5

This week, Beth and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary. We’ve been through a lot together, including raising two children and 41 years of ministry.

The verse above is attributed to Jesus, but it’s quoted nearly verbatim in other parts of the Bible, suggesting it was a popular reference. I like to think of it as a reference to the ideal marriage between the intellect (male) and the intuition (female) of each individual. We have a physical and spiritual side, with the body being the earthly vehicle of the soul. The fact-oriented intellect is an invaluable tool for navigating through the material world, so much so that we often neglect the intuitive, spiritual side.

Metaphysically speaking, the man leaving his father and mother represents that period when the individual expands their awareness of themselves as something more than we typically associate with our body-based earthly history. To be joined with a wife is to become aware intuitively that our true essence is spiritual, that we occupy a body, but we are much more.

The marriage of head and heart is the beginning of a new understanding of how we approach life. Am I a human being seeking a spiritual experience, or am I a spiritual being having a human experience? It is a very important and meaningful distinction to make, as it opens our mind to a much larger context that quite possibly encompasses many incarnations. This thought alone is mind expanding. In this sense, we leave our earthly mother and father as our beginning point. They gave birth to our body, but not to our soul. So we turn to the soul which has always carried the larger picture of what our life is about.   

Religion and Spirituality

Youtube: Religion and Spirituality

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Today we’re witnessing a move away from organized religion toward a more personal quest for spiritual enlightenment. It’s common to hear people say that religion in general no longer appeals to them, as they’ve grown weary of being told what they’re supposed to think. This week I was reading a blog written by a Catholic Monsignor who, using the above passage, explained why the road to Hell (the wide gate) is taken by so many. Among the items he lists that make the average human “difficult to save,” he says, “we don’t like to be told what to do.”   

If being told what we must do comes from an edict issued by either the Catholic or Protestant Church authorities, then I would agree with the Monsignor. I do not trust the integrity of my spiritual quest to either source.

The notion of the wide gate leading to destruction is probably a warning from Matthew, not Jesus, that there are consequences to falling away from the early church’s developing doctrine. When you consider the emphasis that mainstream Christianity has placed on sin and the possibility of Hell, you see that fear has always been used as a motivator.

I would argue exactly the opposite from the Monsignor, that the narrow gate is the one that leads to the experience true spiritual enlightenment. Abandoning organized religion is not a prerequisite to a spiritual awakening. But learning to go alone, think alone and seek light alone, as Emilie Cady advised, is the path to a first-hand experience with God.

Some of the most enlightened Christian teachers in history have been condemned and branded as heretics by Catholic and Protestant authorities alike. Their crime? They didn’t like to be told what to do. Though every religion makes God the centerpiece, God is not found in any of them. God is experienced at the center of one’s being, usually in quiet solitude.

If, in your quest for understanding, you find religious trappings helpful and comforting, keep them. But know the narrow gate to enlightenment is the one that usually draws the smallest crowd.   

Believe in Yourself

YouTube: Believe in Yourself

“He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.” John 14:12

It seems clear that the Gospel writers modified certain passages that might suggest an alternative view to their portrayal of Jesus’ divine uniqueness and power. For instance, Jesus may very well have said that you can do the things I do, and greater things. But John added, “… he who believes in me … ” to keep his (John’s) only begotten designation intact. Based on the principles of mysticism—the omnipotence of God, the divinity of the individual, and the oneness of God and the individual—Jesus would more likely have said, “If you believe in yourself, if you come to know your own connection with God, your indwelling Father as I do, you’ll do the kinds of things I do, and even greater things.”

Can we afford to take such liberties with scripture? Are we just twisting it into something we want it to say? The average reader of the Gospels is probably unaware that this is exactly what the authors did. They used the voice and person of Jesus to advance the narrative of the early church. We’re left with the job of distinguishing between the teachings of the church and the teachings of Jesus.

Did Jesus make himself the exclusive gateway to God? The mainstream Christian has certainly adopted this doctrine as absolute fact. But it contradicts the truth of omnipresence, which implies all people have equal access to God, regardless of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof.

To believe in yourself is to affirm your divine makeup, which includes as your source the creative life force that is God. There’s no need to aspire to be a miracle worker. You begin with the simple acceptance that you are an expression of God. Affirm that you now let the limitless will of God work through you, to expand your understanding and to erase any limitation you have set on yourself. Believe in yourself as the worthy channel through which God is now expressing.