Speaker: Sandy Souder, July 12, 2015

Good Morning Beloved!

During a trial, in a small Southern town, the prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly woman, to the stand. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why yes, I do know you. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”

Again, she replied, “Why yes I do. I’ve known him since he was a youngster too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.”

The defense attorney nearly died!

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, “If either of you idiots ask her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair!”

This month’s theme is Discover Compassion. And today we will relate it to the Power of Understanding for our prosperity discussion.

Let’s say the prosperity affirmation together: Affirmation: I find joy in living by giving from the spirit of God within.

I feel it’s easy to discuss compassion and understanding together. They seem to fit nicely.

In his brilliant book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, author Marcus J. Borg writes: “To put it boldly, for Jesus, compassion was political. He directly and repeatedly challenged the dominant sociopolitical paradigm of his social world and advocated instead what might be called a politics of compassion.” The concept of compassion was central to Jesus: “Be compassionate as God is compassionate,” he said. He was compassionate to everyone, including and especially those who were considered outcasts or untouchables: the poor, the maimed, the chronically ill, lepers, untouchables, Samaritans, Gentiles, tax collectors, sinners and women, who fell to the bottom of the social strata at that time. Jesus pointedly rejected the purity system that dictated who had rights and who didn’t; who was to be acknowledged and who wasn’t; and who one could speak to, eat with, touch, help, defend or befriend.

Jesus demonstrated again and again that the letter of human-made law is less important than the spirit of God’s law, which is love and compassion.

We can understand why the Fillmore’s, our founders, choose Jesus as our way-shower.

Now let’s look at understanding.

Charles Fillmore defines “understanding” on two levels. First, it is that in us that comprehends and knows in wisdom. He then goes a step higher to define “spiritual understanding” as that quickening (or awakening) of the Spirit within. It is the ability of the mind to apprehend and realize the laws of thought and the relation of ideas to one another.

Notice, it says he goes HIGHER. Higher to Spiritual Understanding.

Spiritual understanding is developed in many ways-no two people have exactly the same experience. Some come to it like Saul as he became Paul, in a blinding flash while others receive it gently and harmoniously. And some, experience the Spiritual 2×4! I’ve ha that a few times!

Either way, spiritual understanding leads us to live with the awareness of God, of the Divine Spirit, and to depend upon and expect from that Divine Spirit the good that shows up as prosperity in many ways. We are children of God, who desires to give us the kingdom of heaven. With this spiritual understanding, faith in that Universal goodness never waivers.

Understanding comes natural to us. It expresses as intuitive knowing, which comes from the “still, small voice” within. Your intuition, or inner teacher, is your highest form of understanding. Listen to that still small voice. Be aware when you know something and you cannot pinpoint where you learned it. This is your intuition kicking in. This is spiritual understanding.

And it is that “Still small voice” that guides our compassion. Think about it. Do you need to think or plan your feelings of compassion? I think not.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourself in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:12-14 NRSV).

We must have compassion for ourselves or else we add to our suffering. After becoming aware of and accepting our initial responses, we may then ask ourselves, “Is there another way to see this?”

Positive emotions like gratitude, appreciation, love, and compassion don’t just feel good. They balance the electromagnetic signals that our hearts and brains use to communicate.

If we are in balance, we prosper. Simple.

Here are some signs of a compassionate person:

Lets’ go of judgment;

Is more accepting of others;

Appreciates how other people feel;

Tries to help in difficult situations;

Acts as a sympathetic listener;

Renounces anger and aggression;

and works to maintain a harmonious, peaceful atmosphere at home and at work.

The awakening of our own faculty of understanding starts with questioning—questioning the old ways of thinking that may have been taken for granted. … The desire for understanding leads to thinking about what is learned and seeking to put it all together in a body of information that will provide a basis for living. Our integrity.

Understanding is different from wisdom. Charles Fillmore defines wisdom as “intuitive knowing; spiritual intuition, the relation of ideas to one another.”

To put it more simply, wisdom knows. Understanding knows why. When your understanding is developed in both head and feet, not only will you have the light in mind, but you will also have the ability to apply it in your world. Which is Unity’s 5th Principle.

Webster’s dictionary defines “understanding” as the mental quality of comprehension, discernment, or the ability to think and learn. Intellectual understanding usually means knowledge independent of feeling. It is literal knowledge without the consideration of Spirit.

“Intelligence without wisdom is fruitless and wisdom without compassion is simply not wise.” Unknown

Here is a story of wisdom, compassion and understanding…

His name is John. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day John decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started, so John starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed, and he can’t find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. John gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just sits down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward John. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A very elegant, very dignified man. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?”

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, “The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.” And then they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to John and worships with him so he won’t be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister regained control, he said, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”

A simple gesture of compassion, welcoming and love. I hope everyone feels that kind of welcome and love when they come to Unity of Rehoboth Beach.

You see, every time you put something positive into the universe, the world changes. Your kindness, compassion, love and understanding invite miracles to show up. In the whole world.

Myrtle Fillmore, said in ‘How to Let God Help You,’ “If you would grow in understanding of spiritual things, become as a little child and let the universal Spirit of good teach you.”

Here’s an example of ‘becoming as a child,’ showing us compassion and understanding.

This is story about a young boy named Shaya who was learning-disabled.

One Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to where his classmates were playing baseball. The game was in progress, and as Shaya and his father made their way toward the ball field, Shaya asked his father, “Do you think you could get me into the game?”

Shaya’s father knew his son was not at all athletic, he knew his son didn’t have the hand/eye coordination to hit the ball with the bat, he knew that he son couldn’t run very fast, and most of all, he thought that none of the boys would not want him on their team.

But he knew something else as well. He knew that if his son were chosen in, it would give him a sense of belonging. So, it was worth the risk.

So he approached one of the boys in the field and asked, “Do you think my son could get into the game?”

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said,

“We are losing by six runs and the game is already in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Both father and son were ecstatic. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored three runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, his team scored again, they are now only two runs behind.

Now there are two outs and the bases are loaded. And guess who was scheduled to bat? Shaya! His father held his breath. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and try to get a hit. Everyone figured that it was all but impossible, for he didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.

Now the game’s dynamics changed. As Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so he should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya. As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman and his team would have won. His team would have won. But he didn’t.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball in a high arc to right field, far and wide beyond the first baseman’s reach. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Shaya, run to first!” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide eyed with excitement.

By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who could easily tag out Shaya, who had rounded first and was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head, as everyone yelled, “Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to second.”

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards the direction of third base and shouted, “Shaya, run to third!”

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home! Shaya, run home!”

Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero.

I get chills each time I read this story. And as happens so often, our children show us true compassion and understanding.

Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

We see scenes like the stories mentioned playing across the world all the time. People stepping up to feed or clothe those in need, others saving people from harm, or saving all sorts of animals and wild life.

We hear about individuals making changes in their lives in sometimes drastic ways, like Caitlin Jenner and those who have stood for equality for all, paving the way for others to better their lives.

Each example reminds us of ways we too can express our compassion and understanding in our lives, with ourselves and for each other. True prosperity.

What are you focusing on when you leave your Spiritual Community each Sunday? Are you being the best you are capable of being with all the wisdom and understanding you have at the time?

A question I found on one of the minister’s Facebook pages has been in the back of my mind for some time, and maybe now is a good time to ask it…how do we treat others ‘after the Celebration Service is over and we lead our lives through the week?

That is the question of a successful Spiritual Community.

Let’s take that Question into meditation…