The ADVENT-ure of Faith

Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center is an Interfaith Church.  We come together as people from all religious backgrounds, or no religious background at all.  We find it helpful to draw from all traditions, realizing that there are many ways to express Truth, Light and Love.  Likewise there are many ways to naturally heal.

So, it is not that we don't look at specific traditions and see what we can learn from each one, because that is precisely what we like to do!  What we don't do is become fixated on any one way of practicing worship or observing rituals, to the extent of not opening ourselves up to each other's ideas.

With that being said, we are going to look at the tradition of Advent, which is an early Christian tradition which is still practiced by many today.  It begins with the Sunday closest to November 30th, and continues until Christmas day, on the 25th of December.  These traditions have been recorded to have taken place as early as the middle of the second century, but Christmas wasn't openly observed until the 4th century, because  Christianity was illegal until then. 

(Isn't it wonderful to be an interfaith church and have the legal right to worship however we want?  We need to cherish and protect these freedoms and never allow our beliefs to be oppressed!  It is very important that churches like ours exist!!  Imagine being persecuted for putting a Christmas tree up.  It has happened before and never think that it could not happen again.  Look what happened to the Jewish people during the second world war.  This was not an isolated genocide.  There have been many such religious attacks since the beginning of time.  Religion and government should NEVER be intertwined!)

Back to the topic of Advent.  Advent is a time of celebrating the coming of Christ.  Many traditions have been adopted by different religions over the years, some involving the use of various colors, and some involving practices as diverse as burning crops or playing bagpipes.  One common tradition is the use of an Advent calender, particularly to help children learn the Christmas story.  The calender leads up to Christmas, with little windows which open to reveal a surprise until you reach the biggest surprise of them all. 

The point of all this is to prepare.  Many traditions include fasting in their observance of Advent.  This was particularly done in times of old, but some still practice this aspect of Advent today.  Fasting has been used throughout the ages as a tool for purifying not only the body, but also the spirit and mind.  It is used with prayer for this purpose, and most often a time of quiet reflection in solitude.  I don't know if I will personally fast the entire 40 days which was the tradition, but I do know that I am fasting today.  This is a practice I regularly take part in and find to be of great benefit.

There are several ways of looking at Advent.  It was originally celebrated as a time of looking forward to Christmas, but also a time of thinking back to the longing of the people for the Messiah, and how they prepared themselves spiritually for this event. More recently it has gained the additional meaning of looking forward to what is known as the Second Coming of Christ, and of spiritually preparing oneself for that.  The word "advent" comes from the word for "coming," so either way it is a preparation for something to come.

I would like to suggest another way of looking at Advent; a way more suited to our purposes here, as an interfaith church.  Many people consider the word "Christ" to be synonymous with the word, "Jesus," but that is not necessarily so.  The metaphysical (meaning beneath the surface) interpretation of the word, "Christ," has to do with the seed of perfection implanted within us all; that part which was created in the image and likeness of God.  Jesus exemplified this, but he himself said that we can, as well, if we believe in his ways.
"He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." (John 14:12)
The birth of Christ symbolizes the birth, or awakening, of this Christ-like spirit in us.  It is the birth of the conscious realization of higher realms of awareness which will lead us to the expression of our full-potential as enlightened beings; expressions of God.  The second coming of Christ represents a reawakening, or quickening, of such.

So, in observing Advent, we are observing traditions which bring us closer to the realization of what we were created to be.  It is a time of preparing ourselves in such a way as to be receptive to the idea of the presence of God within us, acting in our life as the only Power for good.  The higher state of consciousness which is attained through such preparation begins with building our faith.  Faith is traditionally highlighted on the first Sunday in Advent as the beginning of this whole process of getting ready to give birth to Peace.  (Jesus is known as the Prince of Peace.)

Blue is the color usually associated with Advent, or sometimes purple, but blue is the color of hope, which some refer to as faith.  Hope and faith are a little bit different, but they are close enough to share a color, I think.  Hope hopes, but faith knows.  That is the difference to my way of thinking; an important distinction, for sure. 
        
Faith knows that all things work together for good, no matter how the situation may present itself or how contrary appearances may be.  It is the belief which brings miracles about.  We manifest on the physical plane what is held in the mind, so long as action to bring it about is applied. 

Faith in the existence of something bigger inside of us is essential to bringing it forth. For if we don't believe, then we won't pay attention to the guidance coming to us from within, or take advantage of the opportunities provided.  We may even have doubt that there is a solution at all.  All of our needs are supplied, but if we don't recognize and make use of these gifts, then we won't be saved from our own despair.

We have to believe in the wisdom and power within us in order to become wise and powerful forces for good in our own life.  We are created in the image and likeness of God. 

God is the Source of all Good, and the Source of the Wisdom and Power .  Christ is this same Power for Good within us. 

At Christmas we celebrate the awakening of this inner Power, referred to as the Christ and symbolized by Jesus, who lived through this Christ presence within and showed us the way. 

This is one way to look at the story being presented at Christmastime.  We are celebrating the bringing forth of this Power within us, in the image and likeness of God.  This is the Messiah, the promise of all things made possible for us.
"Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27)
The Power we're talking about is always for Good, or else it is not of God.  "It is the Father within which doeth the works."  The power of the ego is inferior to this, and isn't true power.  Our True Nature is GOOD, as we were created in the image of God.  To act through in accordance with the realization that God is active and present as the Power for Ultimate Good in our lives and all things, then we are said to be living in faith. 

Faith is the contact point between the Mind of God and the mind of man.  By holding the idea of God in our mind...the idea of good...the idea of the perfection inherent in each situation we encounter in life and the idea of this same perfection present in us...we open the doors to the manifestation of good in our life.  We open the way for God to work through us.  By living in this state of mind we are said to live in "Christ-consciousness," because we are acting from a position of faith.  All things are possible then.
"And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."  (Matthew 21:22)
To activate faith, however, we must apply action.  Faith cannot work on its own.  We need to step out in faith and do the things in our life that we need to do, believing that our efforts for good will pay off.  We need to believe in the Power within, but we must then ACT from this higher place in our mind.
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food.  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."  (James 2:14-26)
So what can we learn from this lesson in regard to healing?  First, in considering the symbolism held in the Advent, consider fasting from negative thinking and just believe in the Power for Good present in man, the potential for perfection implanted within us all.  Realize that you are in the process of bringing this out in yourself, when you celebrate the birth of the "Christ."  Have faith in the goodness of you and then ACT.  How to act?  In accordance with Love.  This is the lesson we'll be discussing next week.

But again, in regard to healing, keep in mind that you must believe you can be healed, and then you have to act...with love...in your best interest...according to God's Perfect Plan for our Good. 

Time and time again in the Bible, as well as other writings on healing, that it is faith that makes us well.  Whether it is the faith of the person of the Power of God within them to heal, or even if they believe that the Power resides outside of them, as in those who believe only Jesus, or the doctor, or a substance can heal them.  The fact is that they are healed because they believe they can be healed. 
"And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort : thy faith hath made thee whole ; go in peace." (Luke 8:48)
In cases where the person being healed does not believe, it is sometimes the belief of the person facilitating the healing which comes into play.  For instance, sometimes Jesus was the only one who believed, but nonetheless, healing occurred.  Consider the following passage:
"While he yet spake , there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him , Thy daughter is dead ; trouble not the Master.  But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.  And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept , and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, ariseAnd her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done ." (Luke 8:49-56)
Notice something in the passage above.  Jesus sent the disbelievers away.  This represents sending away doubt and disbelief from our own consciousness, so as to not interfere with our own belief.  Then after he healed the woman, he warned her parents against telling others what had occurred.  Could this be so as to not bring doubts back upon themselves? 

The parents did not believe that the healing could occur, but Jesus demonstrated that through faith, healing was indeed possible.  They believed because they saw.  Jesus believed without seeing first.  This is what faith is all about.  The parents were warned against telling others, because had not seen, so they may not see, and they may bring the parent's level of belief back down through their negative outlooks and attitudes, as displayed early on in the story.  This could cause a relapse and put the healing asunder.  This is what Jesus was warning of.  So thus, it is important to not allow others to sway our beliefs.  We must guard and protect our faith and not allow negative influences into our realm of belief.

Our realm of belief.  Where do we draw the lines?  Do we draw lines?  Why?  We need to get to the point of believing that anything is possible through the Christ-Spirit within.  That's when miracles will begin to occur in our life, so long as we act upon our belief and do not stay huddled in fear.  Fear is the opposite of faith, but as we know, opposites are just the other side of each other.  What I mean is that when we are in fear, it takes the place of faith, and that which we fear actually becomes that which we believe in, and according to our fears it is done, just as according to faith.  We can bring much trouble and sickness upon ourselves through fear.  Self-fulfilling prophesies, as they're sometimes called.

Fear is faith in reverse.  If we walk around thinking of nothing but how sick we are, or how poor, or how inadequate in any way, this is what we believe in, regardless of whether or not we think we believe in an an all Powerful God.  Obviously if we live in fear we do not believe in God's presence in us, acting as the Force for Good in our life. 

Examine what it is that you truly believe.  Look to your words to determine this.  If there are a lot of negative words in your head, then this is what you believe, and according to this it shall be done.  Healing cannot occur in an atmosphere of disbelief.  Temporary healing, perhaps, but not a complete healing of body, spirit and mind.  To be healed completely we must come from a point of belief.  This can be developed by acting on faith, even if it is yet incomplete.  All we need is a wee bit to start, and then cultivate it with good thoughts.
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20)
Faith is what keeps us going when all things look bleak.  Just keep believing and act in the best interest of all, and your faith shall be rewarded.  It may take time.  Patience is oftentimes the necessary companion to faith.  If it always happened instantaneously, then no faith would be required.  Faith is believing before we see the results, knowing they're in the works.  Rather than relying upon senses alone to tell us our Truth, we rely on what we believe. 

So, not seeing is believing, but believing is seeing, instead!  According to your faith, it is done.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
Believe, and you will see.  Just trust it's all for the good, even if you can't see why.  Believe in the Ultimate Power for Good at work in your life.

Blessings to you for a wonderful first week of Advent!  Advent is an ADVENTURE, for sure!  Next week we will continue with the topic of Love.

"Vibraceous, ND"

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