Sunday Talk given by Rev. Rhonda Murray 23 May 2021
Have you ever been asked: “Just WHO do you think you are?”
It’s usually said in a derogatory manner.
But it’s a fair-enough question: Who DO you think you are?
A school-teacher asked her class to write a list of the ten most important people in their lives. There were the usual lists including parents, their teacher, and Santa Claus, but one very wise little girl wrote:
“Myself and the next nine people I will be before I die.”
Yes, we take on many different roles as we go through life. Count up on your fingers now the roles you have lived, or still live.
There are family roles, work roles, positions in organisations, sporting roles.
Think of the service roles that have contributed to the wellbeing of others.
Think of the roles that have given you the most satisfaction, or the most fun.
Think also of the things you have wanted to do but never made happen.
A trip to the outback, to Longreach and Winton in Central Queensland, has been on my bucket list for years, and I’m very glad that I finally did it, including the 26-hour train trip each way!
One of the highlights for me was the Longreach Distance Education School, with online classes serving students scattered over hundreds of kilometres. Our tour group had a tour of the school, then watched a teacher doing an online grade 4 maths class. https://longreachsde.eq.edu.au/
I particularly wanted to see the dinosaur footprints the area is famous for, and I found them fascinating. Just think, 39 million years uncovered in recent decades and preserved at the Age of Dinosaurs and also the Dinosaur Stampede, both out of Winton.
A big highlight was the “March of the Titanosaurs”, showing the footprints of a range of dinosaurs from small to huge. Seeing the footprints of the various dinosaurs preserved in dried-out mud as they moved along a trail was an unforgettable experience. It only opened days before, and we were there on the second day that it was open to the public. This is part of the “Australian Age of Dinosaurs, home to the world’s largest collection of Australia’s largest dinosaur fossils.
An ongoing work is the cleaning of dinosaur bones, carefully scraping away the sandstone to reveal the bones.
The Dinosaur Stampede National Memorial, further out of Winton, captures the moment when a huge dinosaur sprang out of the rainforest to chase the smaller species for its dinner. As all the dinosaurs fled for their lives, their footprints in the mud were captured as one moment in time. How amazing to be able to see it 39 million years later.
The land around Winton was at one time covered by an inland sea, then dense rainforest, and now huge grassy plains subject to dry spells and drought. As the rocks cracked during the huge changes in pressure, beautiful opals were created in the cracks. Creation is indeed a process of change, just as our lives are a process of change.
When we look at life metaphysically, we see the role of change in our own lives, as we progress through different life stages. The Fillmores taught that we are 3-fold in nature, Spirit, Soul and Body. It’s easy to see how the body changes, and our thinking and feeling that are part of our soul also change through the years.
However, we are expressions of the Omnipresent Spirit, and that is eternal and unchanging, and so is the spiritual part of us. What changes is our awareness of our spiritual nature, and our ability to access more of that through our growing spiritual awareness.
20th Century Unity Minister and author Imelda Shanklin rewords the question in her book What Are You? She points out the what is more important than the who. “Until you can answer this question (What are you?), you don’t know yourself well enough to trust yourself, to be happy, to be assured of continued safety and well-being.”
Who we are depends on our understanding of what we are, as spiritual beings living right now in a physical body, our life depending on our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes.
Metaphysically we are many expressions of Spirit, as are the characters in the Bible. They all give clues to what we express as we evolve in our spiritual consciousness.
Let’s take for example Jesus’ close friends Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, who lived at Bethany, outside Jerusalem.
Lazarus is best remembered as the one Jesus called out of the tomb. As in the later story of Jesus in the tomb, there was a large rock to be rolled away. The rock symbolizes Faith, and our gift of Faith allows us to roll away old thinking and rise from a negative state of consciousness to new life, to rise to new ways of thinking, to new awareness of ourselves as spiritual beings.
Mary and Marthasymbolize two aspects of love, Martha as the one who shows her love by service, while Mary’s love is more openly expressed as devotion, attention and spiritual growth.
In a discussion with some other women recently, the subject of mothers arose. We found that the majority of our mothers were not physically affectionate but showed their love in practical ways such as meals on the table, clothes washed and ironed. This is the Martha in us all, male and female, showing how we care through loving deeds.
While Martha was busy in the kitchen, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening and learning. This Mary is that aspect of our soul that sees past the physical to the spiritual within. Her devotion to Jesus shows in us as our willingness to explore the spiritual path, to be open and receptive to knowing our oneness with the Christ Spirit within ourselves.
Jesus symbolizes our spiritual awareness, and Mary our willingness to find it within ourselves. She takes the idea of love from something outside ourselves, to that higher level of Love that is the gift of Divine Love within us.
Mary goes beyond Martha’s “love through service” to the unconditional expression of Love. That’s why Jesus said, when Martha complained about Mary not helping in the kitchen: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
A Unity classic book on prayer is Effectual Prayer, by Frances W. Foulks.
“The secret of health is in pure and harmonious thought. The secret of happiness is in the finding of the kingdom of heaven within. The secret of success and prosperity is in absolute trust in the Giver of gifts. The secret of the manifestation of all the good we need and desire is in the high watch, the lifted vision.”
Let’s lift our vision to see ourselves as Spirit sees us and expresses though us and as us. Let’s choose to let Spirit express through our thoughts and feelings. Let’s choose to be fully alive, unconditionally loving, and open to the wisdom that comes to us from the Christ within, our spiritual selves.
So, what am I? What are you? We are Spirit, Soul and Body, and can choose to be open to Spirit expressing through us as life, love, wisdom, strength, and all the good we desire.