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Christmas Communion Magazine 2015
Mrs. Donna Miller gave this sermon on Sunday, July 19th.
You can click on the right-arrow-in-the-circle button to listen to the talk.
by Donna Miller
I have always been curious about why the Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Holy Ghost. As a child, I generally thought of it as a bigger, more spectacular version of Casper the Friendly Ghost. The truth is that the King James version of the Bible is the only translation that favors Ghost instead of Spirit, and in the days of King James, the word ghost meant “the living essence of a person.” Back then, "breath" or "soul" were often used as synonyms of "ghost." So the term Holy Ghost referred to the living essence of God.
We’ll go into more depth later about the Holy Spirit, but now, let’s look at the theme of purity:
As a young woman in my twenties, I went through a purity phase. Actually, it was pure fantasy. I wanted to shift from feeling hip and rebellious to a regained innocence, a childlike quality, and I associated this with images like unicorns, clear, fresh water, the full moon, white lilies and white dresses, a belief in fairies and elves, a trust in the inherent goodness of life. It was a fantasy inspired by reading Arthurian legends, William Blake, Wordsworth, and Thomas Traherne. But I couldn’t make it stick. It was a pie in the sky dream that had no substance, no way to really live it in daily life.
To some people purity is synonymous with morality. continue reading
We have just finished the first half of the Church Year—from Advent to Whitsunday (Pentecost)—devoted to the mystery-drama of the life of Christ, which typifies the spiritual evolution of all of us. Then Trinity Sunday comes along and celebrates the Three-in-One nature of God, followed by Corpus Christi, which gives high honor to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. On the next Sunday, we begin the official second half of the Church Year, dedicated to the practical application of all that was learned and inspired in the first half. Here is a quote from Bishop Charles W. Leadbeater about this:
"God has a plan for humanity and that plan is evolution. We have come forth from God, and to God we are to return. The Indian philosophers tell us that we are on the mivriti marga, or path of return, and a poet puts the same idea into other words: 'All the aim of life is just climbing back to God.' Christ's Church exists solely to help humanity in this process, and she has many ingenious methods of offering that help. One of them is the arrangement of the ecclesiastical year."
[On this second half of the Church Year]: "Now we come to the second half of the year which is devoted mainly to putting into practice the lessons that we have learned, to pouring out upon our brethren the power which we have developed within ourselves. To help us in our efforts by making them more precise and definite, we have in that later part of the year assigned to each Sunday some special intent which seems desirable to emphasize."
We can all, thus, be aware, as these Sundays proceed, of these Intents and, in our own way, apply them to our lives and growth. The more we are conscious of the meanings and purpose behind the outward forms of the Church—the Sacraments, the Liturgy, and the Church Year—the more we find the inner profundity awaken within us and true transformation takes place in our lives.
I believe that the suppression of emotion is one of the main culprits is keeping our inherent spiritual nature root-bound. By now it is commonplace to know about the medical and health benefits of "a good cry", but other lingering social conventions (and even spiritual teachings!) denigrate the natural feeling of sadness and the shedding of tears. (see: Health Benefits of Tears)
Of course most of us would prefer to feel joy, but denying, suppressing, or avoiding sad feelings when they naturally arise is a sure way to prolong the lessons and healing that stand before us. Rather than assuming an attitude of feeling joyful when healing is needed first, wisdom suggests that we find a way to accept the cup that has come to us. But remember, while we must do our own healing (ultimately an interior process), we need not do it alone. continue reading
Absolution, one of the Seven Sacraments of the church catholic, comes from the Latin root words ab solvo, which mean "to loosen". This Sacrament is intended to help the person to discontinue from erroneous behavior, but, as, or more important, to be relieved and disconnected from the downheartedness and guilt that perpetuate of such behavior. Absolution provides an important feature in the life of the spiritual aspirant.
Absolution has commonly become known in just one of it's forms - confession - the telling of one's sins to a priest. The Liberal Catholic Church offers two additional, traditional forms of the Sacrament of Absolution. continue reading
''Those who take their religion seriously commonly go through a period, sometimes a
long period, when they experience the apparent absence of God. The ideas, images,
concepts which they have previously used in thinking about God or addressing him
have suddenly become meaningless and unreal.
The person feels as if God is absent or does not exist. The reason for this disagreeable
phenomenon is ... continue reading
"The Spirit of God blows out from us so that we can love and perform good acts. Then he draws us into ourselves so that we can take rest and find enjoyment in him. This is eternal life: not unlike our breathing the air out of our lungs and breathing in fresh air. What I mean is: we move inwardly in a mystical enjoyment and move outwardly in good works, both in communion with God. Just as we open our eyes, look and then close them again, in such a smooth transition that we hardly notice what we are doing, so we die in God and live out of God, always remaining united to him."
"In the abyss of this darkness, in which the loving spirit has
died to itself, there begin the manifestation of God and eternal
life. For in this darkness there shines and is born an
incomprehensible Light, which is the Son of God, in Whom we behold
eternal life. And in this Light one becomes seeing; and this
Divine Light is given to the simple sight of the spirit, where the
spirit receives the brightness which is God Himself, above all
gifts and every creaturely activity, in the idle emptiness in
which the spirit has lost itself through love which attains an
external goal, and where it receives without means the
brightness of God, and is changed without interruption into
that brightness which it receives."
The fundamental energy of Christ’s church is compassionate love - His love for us, our love for Him, and our love for Him in our neighbors. So it is not surprising to find that prayers for the support of those in need play an important part in virtually all Christian services. But they play an especially significant role in the Eucharist of the apostolic churches. continue reading