Tuesday, March 31, 2009

clusters of virtue...

My love for gardening is theoretical and my abilities are non-existent which is a pretty decent reminder that I am not the vine or the vine-dresser. That must make me a branch. Rev. Tilden exhorts us to fill our small branch with the same "sap of life" that flows through the vine...

THE TRUE VINE (Scripture Readings)

"I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

John xv.
THE TRUE VINE (Tilden's Meditation)

JESUS is supposed to be passing with his disciples from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives; and he, ever listening, hears the lesson God had written on the vine. He was the vine of God's planting; his disciples were the branches. But they would not all cleave to the vine. Some would drop off, like Judas; some would soon wither under the hot rays of temptation and deny him, like Peter. Jesus spoke of a union, not of carpentry, but of growth. Let us hold fast to the fruit-bearing result of that union, under the pruning and training hand of The Great Vine Dresser. When we see a branch bending under the weight of ripe clusters, we do not ask if it abides in the vine; so the clusters of virtue prove that our branch is in living union with the living Vine. Proximity cannot make union; distance cannot break it. Let the same sap of life that fills the vine flow continually into our little branch also, that so we may Abide in The Vine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

get out of the basement!

In today's Leaflet, Rev. Tilden reminds us that "our soul's home has many stories." How deeply true that is. Unfortunately I often feel either locked in the basement, or stuck in an elevator that is rocketing from floor to floor and not opening its doors. Any yet, the briefest glances into "the upper room" are enough to keep me "making the preparations."

THE UPPER ROOM (Scripture Readings)

"THEN came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go, and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare'?
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he eniereth in.
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples ?
And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Luke xxll.

THE UPPER ROOM (Tilden's Meditations)

"UPPER Room! Our soul's home has many stories; it rests on the earth, but rises to heaven. Man must not live in his basement. He must go up and look out of the windows of his intellectual chamber and put that in order; higher still, where he sees his relations to God and eternal life; yet higher, where the Divine voice is heard in the soul. Here our best thoughts come ; here we make preparations for the best things we ever do in life. This Upper Room of the soul should be large, with windows all around, that the clear breezes of thought may blow through; and it must be furnished. As we sit here at the open windows of Hope we can see the bow of promise, telling us that the floods of evil will be at last stayed, and the new heaven and new earth will appear, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Here we are touched as by the finger of God; and when our eyes are shaded from the glare of earthly lights by some great sorrow, from this height we see our sorrow as only cloud-shadow, that will be followed by golden sunshine.
Life is crowned and glorified ! Here make ready.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Patience to wait...

Patience does not come easily for me and just about everything in our culture argues against taking the long view. We want relief and we want it now and are told we can get it...
Rev. Tilden reminds us to look upon our lives "as the angels see it," to have the patience born of surrender of our own will.
"We are compassed about'" says the book of Hebrews," with so great a cloud of witnesses." Looking to them helps me take the long view and "run with patience." May it be so for you too.

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Scripture Readings)

LET us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. . . .
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons. . . .
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, . . . Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Tilden's Meditation)

"TRUST is born of suffering. We sing —

Thy mercy bids all nature bloom,
The sun shines bright, and man is gay;
Thy equal mercy spreads the gloom
That darkens o'er his little day."

When was this stanza born ? Was it the child of sunshine only, or did the shadow reveal the deeper truth, as the evening shadows bring out the stars hidden in the glare of day ? When our path is darkened, it is only to reveal new lights in the firmament of God's love.
Would we could look upon our human life as the angels see it! It would give us patience to wait. "Now no chastening seemeth joyous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth" perfected fruit. Shadow is as needful as light, but it is shadow; we cannot make it sunshine any more than we can change night into day with lighted tapers. We must accept the shadow, and gather, as the dear gift of God, the fruit which ripens within it. Whenever OUR way gives pause for us to listen, we hear "God's 'ways are right."
He makes our clouds His chariot, and, at last, lets fall the rain of His infinite Peace.

Have a blessed sabbath.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

the celestial way

The philosopher and evangelical writer, Dallas Willard, puts immortality in a way I very much admire when he speaks of living an eternal kind of life now and everyday. Rev. Tilden, in this morning's Leaflet, speaks of our "double immortality." "The celestial way is still open," faithful hearts are the key.

IMMORTALITY (Scripture Readings)

"AND leaving Nazareth, Jesus came and dwelt in Capernaum, . . . That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Now, a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, . . . Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. . . .
Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. . . .
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. . . .
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the Living: for all live 'unto him.
Matt. Iv. Luke xx. John xl.

IMMORTALITY (Tilden's Meditation)

GREAT lives spring from great Faith. The golden hands on the great clock of nature never go back. The inspiring truth of man's double immortality, earthly and heavenly, having once been given to humanity, will never be let go. No season ever passes when some one may not say to a friend, "He whom thou lovest is sick;" but sickness, as Jesus says, is not unto death; for when the light of the glory of God falls upon it, it is transmuted into life. Death is not the dark valley, leading down ; but the bright archway, leading up. There is another continent beyond the sea. The map of this life suggests another life; it is needful to complete the sphere; both hemispheres of life are ours, and the sea does not separate, but unites. The celestial way is still open. Can anything but our faithless hearts close the gate ? Even they cannot quite close it; for light enough shines through, every time it opens, to make us say,
"Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief."


Friday, March 27, 2009

Feed my sheep...

How are people to know that we are disciples? Today's Leaflet reflects the heart of the gospel-love. It is easy to over sentimentalize love-to require of it a Hallmark aura when in reality, love is doing the work.

LOVE (Scripture Readings)

A NEW commandment I give unto you, That ye love one
another ;
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
. . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these ? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me ? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John xiii. xv. xxi.

LOVE (Tilden's Meditation)

LOVE is something so high that only the word, God, can compass its meaning. It is the heart of Christ. It is the life of the world. Love leans with John on the Redeemer's breast. It weeps with Peter at remembered sin, and distills from those penitential drops the elixir of a new life. It sits with Mary at Jesus' feet. It serves with Martha. It bids the man so lame with selfishness that he cannot take a step to help his brother, rise up and walk; yea, more, run, on errands of mercy. It touches the deaf ear, and the voice of the Lord is heard in the garden of the soul. The joy Love gives its possessor is God's own seal on its Divinity. The love of the Holy One is so deep toward the unholy as to love him out of evil into good. He lets His loving hand down to the lowest, that He may lift him to the highest.
How solemnly impressive are these questionings to the penitent disciple, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" thrice testing his love and ours! What a mighty legacy Jesus bequeaths to us of a work still to be done as proof of our love: "Feed my sheep"!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

heart and head united

James at Monkey Mind is continuing his excellent discussion of the "mind and heart" conversation in Unitarian Universalism. It put me in mind of the "conversion" of William Phillips Tilden. As a young man Tilden, who had been raised a Unitarian, had what he later called "the greatest crisis of his life" when he experienced an "inward awakening" that told him to "Be a man. Live a truer and nobler life". The liberal Arminianism in which he had been raised suddenly seemed thin gruel and he began to attend church with Baptist relatives which stirred him. He soon found, however, that "his heart had been converted, not his head" and that he remained, in principle, a Unitarian. His head and heart were finally united at Medford where he first heard the preaching of Caleb Stetson. Said Tilden of Stetson’s impact, "My soul was awake now, hungry for the bread of heaven, and I found it.”
Here is to the uniting of head and heart. Blessings


We live in a culture that would have us never acknowledge spiritual hunger. Immediate and temporary bandages hide the wounds and we are surprised when we find they haven't healed. Today's Leaflet speaks to this condition...

"THE BREAD OF LIFE (Scripture Readings)

LABOUR not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
. . . Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, -verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Then said they unto him, Lord, ever more give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . .
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. . . .
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live 'by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
. . . The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.
I am that bread of life.
John vl.

THE BREAD OF LIFE (Tilden's Meditation)

"THIS bread of heaven can nourish only those who partake; and none will partake but those who hunger. Here is living bread: his truth, his life, his spirit. This is indeed bread for the soul. It nourishes devotion. It still feeds the hungry world. If it heals not the sick body, it heals the sadder sickness of the heart. If it couches not the blind eye, it pours light on darkened mind. If it raises not the widow's son, it comforts the widow's sorrow. If it opens not sealed ears, it unseals conscience. If it brings not strength to palsied limb, it does start life in palsied soul. Jesus would link life with his coming death. His body, broken on the cross, was to become the bread of life to all the world. God's word spoken to his soul was in his life made flesh; so he lives on through the ages, the Way to noblest living, the Truth that inspires, the Life that always is."


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

every corner of the heart

Each year as spring arrives and the days get longer I am struck by an awareness of the effects of the abscence of daylight. The extra minutes are like balm...Today's leaflet revels in the light.

"THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Scripture Readings)

"IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. . . .
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness hnoweth not whither he goeth.
While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John I,vili, xii

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (Tilden's Meditation)

LIGHT of Life! Here is a life that has Light for all! Everybody knows this Light. It is warmer than any other; it shines; it finds its way like a sunbeam into every corner of the heart. There are flashes of light that blaze into the soul, at times, like the lightning, flooding the whole heavens at once from zenith to horizon, and that startle us by what they show of our capacity and our destiny. This Light of Life is charged with God's creative energy. It constructs character after its own likeness. It shines on barren fields, and they blossom into fruitfulness. It sends its rays into frozen hearts, and they melt into loving deeds. The structure of the sun may be told by analyzing the rays of light which it sends forth; so the light of a pure life shows the structure of the character which radiates it. This Light, Jesus says, they shall have who follow him. How follow ? Listen for the voice. Obey its high behests. Whoso so walks will walk in his light who is The Light of Life."
May we all bask in the light! Blessings

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

take up my cross...

William Phillips Tilden takes up the Cross in today's leaflet. The Christian idea of taking up one's daily cross can easily turn into a manifestation of a "cult of suffering," the embracing of pain and sacrifice for its own sake (I must admit to a "monastic" side that has a "no pain no gain" idea of spirituality-its a very small side and getting smaller every day!)
The Boston Unitarians, as they do so often, place this central doctrine on a plane of practicality and deep meaningfulness (see as well James Walker's sermon here)

THE CROSS (Scripture Readings)

"AND. when he had called the people unto him with his disciples, also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?
And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
Let these sayings sink down into your ears.

Mark vlii. Luke Ix.

THE CROSS (Tilden's Meditation)

IT is the spirit of the Cross we want: the spirit of self- denial, of patience, of submission, and calm trust. In sickness the Cross pours the auroral light of immortality upon us in our pain. But health too has its crosses, poverty its burdens, wealth its trials, adversity its discouragements, prosperity its temptations, every phase of life its crosses to be borne bravely every day. These crosses are not to crucify us, but to crucify in us that which stands between us and our Best. God's love is seen in crosses as well as crowns. Christ took the cross of duty, soon learning that it led directly to the cross of suffering and death. Here his disciples find him suffering for them all, and rising into glory by the cross on which he was lifted. Every cord for the uplifting of the world has had this dark thread of pain twisted into it. The rugged path through which the world must rise is the path of sacrifice. The Cross of Christ becomes the blessed symbol of God's forgiving love for a world that needs Redemption."

"May these sayings sink down into our ears." Blessings

Monday, March 23, 2009

the least of these...

Today's Leaflet concerns one of the most beautiful and most deeply challenging representations of God in the Christian Scriptures; God as (not just with) the poor, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, and sick. Imagine if all who called themselves Christian (including myself) truly lived the implications of this idea even now and again...

THE JUDGMENT (Scripture Reading)

'THEN shall the King say unto them on his right hand,
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink ?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and clothed thee ?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Matt. xxv.

THE JUDGMENT (Tilden's Meditation)

"OF all the parables of Jesus, there is none more solemnly impressive. Behold the ground of judgment! This new Messiah would be bound to his fellow-men by ties so vital that every kind deed or every neglect toward the least would be as toward himself. Secure from want ourselves we grow unmindful; we turn the dull ear; we are absorbed in our cares; we forget the divine message, "Inasmuch as ye did it not. . . ." Unconscious evil and very conscious virtue say in surprise, "When saw we thee an hungered . . . and did not minister unto thee?" But fortunately there is unconscious good also; this renders pure service with no selfish alloy; it shines by its own light, without any painstaking of pouring in oil, or trimming the lamp. It says in equal surprise, "When saw we thee an hungered and fed thee ?" And a voice as full of tenderness as the heart of God, says, " Come, ye blessed of my Father, . . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

the sun of brotherly love...

Spring (at least formally) has arrived and its the sabbath again. My favorite times of the years are the transitions between seasons-all have their own budding symbolism and all beckon change.
Rev. Tilden tells us that "the sun of brotherly love has left its winter solstice and is crossing the vernal equinox"
May it be so for you and for all.

"THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT" (Scripture Readings)

But covet earnestly the best gifts; . . . Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; -whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. Follow after charity.

I Cor. xii. xiii. xlv

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT (Tilden's Meditations)

THESE words have sublimity and persuasive power that enter and fill every soul. Love is to man what the law of attraction is to the earth and heavens. Just as this law curves the orbit of each planet and star around a common centre, so the law of Love draws mankind together, and its guiding power and curve forever keep us in moving harmony with the Centre of All things. Our God has been pleased so to fashion the human heart that its help must ever come through hearts charged with Love; a Love unquenchable, like the love of a mother for her child, which will not let go till the feet are safely treading the path of light.
The universal Charity of Jesus comprehended the despised publican, the hated Samaritan, the benighted heathen, and sought to bring a world to God. Faith must be baptized into an All- comprehending Love. Hope must be lighted with Love to keep the world bright. The sun of brotherly love has left its winter solstice, is crossing the vernal equinox. Hearts are growing warmer for God's Seed of "The Golden Rule" and the "Inasmuch '' to take root, that will bear the fruit of a Love that suffers long and yet is kind; a. Love that seeks not her own; a Love that never fails; a Love that will never vanish away; a Love that Abides.

Let the sun shine in. Blessings

Saturday, March 21, 2009

a new order of nobility...

For me, the true heart and challenge of the teachings of Jesus lies in his upending of our ideas of what constitutes greatness and nobility. This is Rev. Tilden's subject this morning. The Boston Unitarians were often caricatured for their belief in "salvation by character," an idea that sometimes had class connotations. Tilden explains that the best seats in the house are available to anyone and everyone if we will "reach forth and make it ours."

"SEATS IN THE KINGDOM" (Scripture Reading)

'THEN came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
And he said unto her, What wilt thou ? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? They say unto him, We are able.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. . . .
But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Matt. xx
SEATS IN THE KINGDOM (Tilden's Meditation)

" YE know not what ye ask." Seats of honor in the spiritual kingdom are not to be had for the asking. God alone knows who will be high or who low in His kingdom. If any would be chief, let him see how well he can serve. These two sons did sit close to the Master, but not in the way the motherly heart had planned. We all need a deeper baptism into Christ's idea of Greatness. It is another name for Goodness. Jesus would win from evil by showing the divineness of Good. Let us consecrate all our faculties to goodness. This is divine power ; it is God-like. Jesus gives a new order of nobility, of divine appointment; it is character ; there is none other so high. The rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, may belong to it. It does not come by birth. It cannot be bought with money, even at a great price. It is something to be won. Blessed are ye ! for the nobility of Heaven itself is yours, if you will reach forth and make it yours. For, " It shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."

Friday, March 20, 2009

the yoke of love and obedience...

The Apostle Paul famously asked, "Why do I do what I don't want to do and don't do what I want to do? Rev. Tilden reminds us of the peace beyond joy of living a day of kind voice, good deed, and pure thoughts, a day of "lifting the burdens of others." Such a day seems far from us as we are so embroiled in our own worries and concerns. And yet, we know from experience the deep rest that comes from living such a day. "Why do I do what I don't want to do and don't do what I want to do?"

"REST (Scripture Readings)

"AND the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matt. xi. Mark vl.

REST (Tilden's Meditation)

MAN finds his true repose in a life that takes hold of the Eternal. Much as we need Christian work, there is need of something more, Rest, Rest in God, Rest in the bosom of His Everlasting Love. "Come ye yourselves and rest awhile" at the Master's feet.
"Come unto me and I will give you rest." Come, and let our hearts be sunned and warmed in the light of this infinite peace. What sweet rest comes to the soul at night, when all day long the voice has been kind and the deed good, the thought pure, hour by hour. Such days have glorious sunsets; the beauty of God is in the clouds. Lifting others' burdens not only lightens our own but brings a peace deeper than joy over us, like the light of day as it slowly flushes the East to herald the sunrise. So our mornings and our evenings are full of Peace. Let us put on the yoke of love and obedience, which fits the soul so perfectly that it makes every duty easy and every burden light.
To the lowly is given the promise."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Open up the windows...

Robert Penn Warren once wrote that he could only be a follower of Emerson from an airplane (where, presumably, up above it all, the world looks to be beautiful and intelligible.) I once took this as a powerful critique but have come to believe the opposite.
When we are receptive to the very small, quiet, "brooks of joy" all about us, Rev. Tilden reminds us in today's Leaflet, "the light and warmth of our glad religion may shine in"

"GOOD CHEER (Scripture Reading)

Son, be of good cheer: thy sins be forgiven thee.
Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
And it came to pass afterward, that Jesus went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
And all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
. . . will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Matt. ix. . Mark x. Luke vi. viii. xili. John xvi.

GOOD CHEER (Tilden's Meditation)

A CHEERFUL Christian is like a man living on the summit of a mountain. His days are longer and sunnier than in the valley. The day-spring greets him earlier, and the twilight lingers later on this child of light. We should not plant the seeds of our faith in the shadows of life alone, but also in the open fields where the sun of a healthy joy can quicken them. Keep the windows of the soul wide open, that the light and warmth of our glad religion may shine in. Find God oftener in the gladness of life. Think of Him not only in the dark days, which are so few, but also in bright days, which are so many. See Him not only through tears; but always in smiles. Think how many brooks of joy and gladness there are running along our way from youth onward. The stream of life itself is a joy; then it gives to the spirit a buoyancy that lends a healthy hue to all our thinking. Be of good cheer; Jesus brought glad tidings. Keep bright colors in your faith, and your heart shall rejoice.
" And your joy no man taketh from you."

Open up the windows! Blessings

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the broken image of God...

Forgiveness for me, at least on the surface, has always been easier to give than to receive. But some time ago I realized that my self-perceived willingness to forgive was more a function of my "path of least resistance" nature than the true recognition of my own brokenness and radical need for that very same forgiveness. At that point, forgiveness became not something I gave away, but passed on-not from a place of superiority, but of brokenness. And that, to quote the over quoted Robert Frost, "has made all the difference." Today's Leaflet...

"FORGIVENESS" (Scripture Reading)

AND when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Therefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And Jesus said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. . . .
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, -went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. . . .
And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Matt. v. Mark xi. Luke vii. John vill.

FORGIVENESS (Tilden's Meditation)

"WHEN God seems nearest and the Christ spirit dearest, we see most clearly, and feel most deeply, the divine quality of forgiveness. God is always ready to forgive, but man is not always ready to receive. God cannot bestow unless we take; and we cannot take forgiveness until we can give it away. There is no place for it in our hearts; they are not large enough to hold it, till then. Man, as he becomes Godlike, must forgive also. No wonder penitent Magdalene clung to Jesus, and felt a power come from heaven to cast out evil spirits. Even in this outcast woman, fit only to be stoned, as the self-righteous thought, Jesus saw the broken image of God, yet to be restored. A bruised reed he never broke, nor quenched a light because it flickered ; but he bound up the wounded, and fed the dying flame with the oil of hope in God.
"Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."

May we all be able to receive, and then to give, forgiveness. Blessings

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

the river Love...

The older I get, the more the physical body demonstrates its temporariness, the easier it is to believe with Rev. Tilden in today's leaflet, that death "helps the spirit out of its material body into its native air."
It is harder, sometimes, to believe that the "river Love reigns" at least on this side, and fear,instead, often abounds. And yet, in moments of surrender or acquiescence, fear fades and all is well. May it be so for all:

"THE SPARROWS FALL" (Scripture Reading)

"WHEN there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trade one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees -which is hypocrisy.
For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the house-tops.
And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matt. x. Luke xii

"THE SPARROW'S FALL" (Tilden's Meditation)

"DEATH sooner or later comes to all. But if it be the gate to higher life, who would wish to escape it ? Who would be anxious about the how or the when of the going, when He, without whom no sparrow falls, folds every child of His in His embrace ? The death-angel does not make us spirits; God did that at the beginning; but it helps the spirit out of its material body into its native air. On both sides the river Love reigns. Fear ye not, therefore, children of God! heirs of Life eternal ! ye are of more value than many sparrows. Fear ye not! Does the tornado sweep the earth ? He " maketh the clouds his chariot: and walketh upon the wings of the wind." Does the sea engulf our dearest treasures? "The sea is his, and he made it." He "hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand." He is working out His vast designs; turning defeat into victory, and making our sharpest trials tend to growth of soul. Our Father is at the helm of Destiny and " All's well!"


Monday, March 16, 2009

farthing of a kind word...

It is a fact that we human creatures often come only by necessity to great truths that have been accessible all along. Our current economic crises, for example, has forced people to make significant decisions about how to spend dwindling monies and that has created discussion on the meaning of wealth and what is really essential. William Phillips Tilden reminds us in today's Leaflet that wealth is not measured by what we have but but our capacity to give.

"A CUP OF COLD WATER" (Scripture Readings)

AND Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Matt. x. Mark ii.

"A CUP OF COLD WATER (Tilden's Meditation)

IN the ear of Heaven the music of a good deed is sweeter than the grandest anthem ever sung; every such deed lets in the good in double measure, blessing giver and receiver. This is God's stamp on the coin of Love. It is they who give most of this divine coin that are the richest, and there are none so poor that they have not at least the farthing of a kind word with which to start this greatly remunerative investment, which we may always use, but never spend. Let us coin our best thoughts into deeds. We find heaven in service.
Sunsets are beautiful, but it is the common sunshine silently coming down all day long that warms the earth and starts the seeds. Just as night retreats before the morning, and winter before the sun, climbing as now higher and higher in the heavens each day, so evil is driven out by the good shining in. It is not great deeds, but little cups of water and little farthings, though they be even all our living, that win the blessing. Thus is the water in the stone jars of little home duties changing into wine all the time."


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Matchless majesty

May your sabbath be joyful, restful, and a time of "matchless majesty." William Phillips Tilden's Leaflet for the Third Sunday in Lent:


BE ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. . . .
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: . . .
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
II Cor. iv. Ephesians Iv. v.

THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT (Tilden's Meditation)

Make melody in your heart to the Lord." Power to do this comes when all the keys of our nature are touched by a sacred purpose that brings out the tones, — light, thankful, kindly, tender, loving, all uniting into one grand anthem of a noble life. There is melody in a life of service.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man." Humanity must rise by growth, from centre to circumference, from within to without, like the cedars of Lebanon and our own oaks and pines. The call summons us to a perfect manhood, a Christ- like manhood. Perfect loyalty, which is a glad, perfect obedience, lifts us to the mountain peaks of virtue nearest heaven. Here duties spring into privileges. Here the years grow fuller of Christ-helpfulness, "till we all come unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Even the spiritual stature of The Master ? Then would the whole world be redeemed.
Look at the man, Christ Jesus, as Paul calls him! Look at the Son of Man as he calls himself! Look at the matchless majesty of the Son of God, as he was by virtue of his life!

Walk in the light! so shalt thou know
That fellowship of love
His spirit only can bestow
Who reigns in light above

Walk in the light! and thou shall find
Thy heart made truly his.
Who dwells in cloudless light enshrined
In whom no darkness is.

Walk in the light! and thou shalt own
Thy darkness passed away;
Because that light hath on thee shone
In which is perfect day.

Walk in the light! and e'en the tomb
No fearful shade shall wear;
Glory shall chase away its gloom,
For Christ hath conquered there.

Walk in the light! and thine shall be
A path, though thorny, bright;
For God, by grace, shall dwell in thee,
And god himself is light.

Bernard Barton


Saturday, March 14, 2009

the gates of care...

Rev. Tilden speaks, this morning, on one of the most easily sentimentalized scenes in all of scripture-the blessing of the children.
For Emerson, the "fall" comes with self-consciousness. Tilden describes self-conceit as the barrier to our purer nature and prescribes the open heartedness of children.

LITTLE CHILDREN (Scripture Reading)

'THEN were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. . . .
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. . . .
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Matt, xvlli. xlx. Mark x.

LITTLE CHILDREN (Tilden's Meditation)

"HERE Jesus comes into the Home as the children's friend. He saw how near the throne they were. The light- hearted, happy children looked up into his sweet, calm face, knowing he loved them. How tender the invitation to come so close that he might lay his hands upon them, and tell them that, in the good time coming, the dear God had a great deal for every one of them to do. Think of the potential glory of a young life given to the highest. It is the inspiration of the Almighty that gives the understanding of childhood; an understanding which often puts to shame the doubts and misgivings of what we call our riper age. We permit the gates of care to shut off the young blood from our hearts before the time. We must receive the kingdom of God as a little child. What is it to be child-like ? It is to be open-hearted toward God. It is to be rid of self-conceit, whose presence makes the heart poor. God help us to be more child-like, and pray and work and live more nearly In His Name."
Pray, work and live with an open heart... Blessings

Friday, March 13, 2009

no one left behind...

Today's Leaflet provides wonderful comfort and a profound challenge to all who would follow The Way. For as we will never be "left behind" by the Good Shepherd, so too, as the Body, are we charged with leaving no one else behind.

"NINETY AND NINE" (Scripture)

"AND the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And Jesus spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. . . .
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. . . .
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Luke xv. John x.

"NINETY AND NINE" (Tilden's Meditation)

"IESUS is the sinner's friend, not the friend of his sins, but the friend of him whom he would separate from his sins and lead to God. Divine Love can never close and bolt the door of mercy against any soul, however far he may have wandered. The faithful shepherd leaves the ninety and nine safely grazing in the field, and searches through briar and thicket for this estray from God's fold. The faint bleat of a single lost lamb is louder in his ear than the roar of the tempest. He never rests till the lost is found, and then never drives it back, but lays the poor weary thing on his shoulder and bears it home with a glad heart. Because The Good Shepherd will always follow and bring us in, is it no matter where we stray ? Because the lost will be found, is it a slight thing to be lost ? Not more truly was the fish made for water or the bird for the upper air, than man for virtue, purity, and God. Sin clips the wings of the soul ; leaves it to crawl on the earth instead of rising into the pure airs of holy living. Divine Love goes out to find the sin-sick child."
May we all rise "into the pure airs" this Lenten season. Blessings

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stand in thy lot...

The first sentence of Rev. Tilden's Lenten meditation illuminates what has become for me a central religious tenet. Our greatest treasures do lie within yet we trust not and instead continue to look outward. The season of Lent calls on all of us to take that time to look within and then trust...

"THE HIDDEN TREASURE "(Scripture Reading)

"ANOTHER parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
. . . And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty

Matt. xiil.

THE HIDDEN TREASURE (Tilden's Meditation)

"THE most precious treasure we know, the treasures of the kingdom of heaven within the soul, are hid in the field of our every-day experience. They are hid as the sap is hid in the tree, as Love is hid in the heart, as the soul is hid in the body. If we could only see the hope often hid in our fear, the strength hid in our weakness, the good hid in things we call evil, and see these close around our feet, we should not waste our time searching in fields not our own. The treasures of faith and hope may be found quite as often hid in the dry sands of poverty and the cold caves of adversity, as in the warm soil sunned by prosperity. The greatest being ever clothed in humanity was so poor he had not where to lay his head. Stand in thy lot, close by his side, and learn from his truth that the soul may grow rich in treasures immortal. You do not see them ; God himself has hid them there, right where you stand.

"Stand in thy lot" and may our souls "grow rich in treasures immortal!" Blessings

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ignis fatuus

We are so rarely aware of the reality of our own condition...at least I have learned that to be true of myself. And then we find ourselves far from home..."the soul gets bewildered." Rev. Tilden reminds us in this morning's Leaflet that we can return to the "table that always waits."


A CERTAIN man had two sons:
And the younger of them said to his father. Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. . . .
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him. . . . he was lost, and is found.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad.
Luke xv.

THE PRODIGAL SON (Tilden's Meditation)

"THE far-country is very near. We may be there without knowing it; for there the soul gets bewildered, loses the points of the compass, takes a will-o'-the-wisp for a star, and is led round by the ignis fatuus of unrestrained indulgence, through the bogs of sensuality or the dark thickets of covetousness, wasting the precious substance of its God-given capacity. There is no waster like sin. It Is the sure precursor of a mighty famine of the soul. Conscience, freshly commissioned from God, laid his hand on the young man, and he cried, " Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee!" It is confession that gives strength. It opens the door for God's angels to come in and put us in right position, Godward and manward. He returns to his father's table, that always waits while even one is wandering. It is only by fleeing from the hell of sin that the heaven of obedience is gained. His penitent confession was more grateful to his father's heart than anything put on to hide his nakedness. The cloth he needed was from the home wardrobe, from which his childhood's innocence was clothed; and it was ready.
" Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; . . . He was lost, and is found."

"And when he came to himself"...what a wonderful phrase. May it be so for all of us. Blessings

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The feast is spread!

It has happened that I have gone home to tell my wife of an invitation to dinner whereupon she asks, "What are we supposed to bring?" whereupon I will say something like, "They said no need to bring anything," whereupon my wife looks at me as if I am utterly clueless..."
In today's Leaflet, Rev. Tilden reminds us who is invited to the Father's supper and just what we should bring...

THE GREAT SUPPER (Scripture Reading)

WHEN thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
And thou shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. . . .
Then the master of the house . . . said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

Luke xiv

THE GREAT SUPPER (Tilden's Meditation)

"COME ; for all things are now ready."
Ready for whom ? For you, and for me, and for everybody the wide world over. Ready for what ? For our best, our very best. The supper is ready; the table is spread. There is food for all on the Father's table. The supply is inexhaustible. Come ! Come! there is truth for the mind, there is love for the heart, and peace for the soul. Come! Would any thoughtless one offer an excuse for not coming to this feast ? Excused from what ? From the love of God ? From purity of heart ? From holiness of life ? They do not see that it is an invitation to a feast as rich as God's love can make it. The feast is spread. He who sits at the head of the table, that dear Son of God, repeats the invitation of our Father with sweet, persuasive voice :
" Come; for all things are now ready."

It is all too easy for me to find an excuse to stay home from the feast. The season of Lent reminds me of what I miss...Blessings

Monday, March 9, 2009

mystic threads

One of the reasons that the Boston Unitarians became my teachers on the Way is their blending of the practical, moral and mystical 'threads" of living a religious life. This is much on display in this morning's Leaflet for Lent from Rev. Tilden:

Light (Scripture Reading)

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.
The seed is the word of God.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
He that doeth truth cometh to the light.
Matt. v. vii. Mark ix. Luke vi. vlil. John ill.

LIGHT (Tilden's Meditation)

"GOD help us to let shine the light that His own hand, hath kindled ; to take away the bushel of our own placing and to put our light on the candlestick God made for it, that it may give light to all that are in the house. The virtue of the light depends upon its power of illumination. Good works are themselves light. Doing comes closer than having. What one has he may lose; but what one does is never lost. No star-lighted heaven speaks to the heart like a heaven-lighted soul, — a soul filled with the echoes of the spirit's voice; a human star, touched with intelligence, warmed with love, knowing the light and love that kindled both. Each soul seems to have a sphere like the atmosphere around the earth, through which there is an outgoing on mystic threads of communication whereby its own light is imparted. There is something in this world to live for that is not riches; something that no flood-tide of prosperity can ever bring, or ebb-tide of adversity take away; something we carry with us wherever we go. It is what we are, our Best. God make that a light to some life!"
May we all see glimpses of our best selves during this season of lent and may that "make a light" for someone else. Blessings

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Brighter and brighter...

William Phillips Tilden was a near total "Peace Man" who, even as an ardent abolitionist, could only with great pain accept the Civil War. In his autobiography he relates that his lukewarm endorsement did not go over well in his congregations as his sermons lacked "powder and shell." For this second Sunday in lent, Tilden makes Paul's famous "armour of God" passage serve the great "upward walk." Have a blessed Sabbath.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. . . .
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
fraying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance. . . .
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Ephesians vi.

THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT (Tilden's Meditation)

"BE strong in the Lord ! Look aloft! Open your soul to the Holy Spirit, so that " By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness," ye may "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
" Take unto you the whole armour of God." Spend your life in answering others' prayers; help those weaker than yourself to stand. To win an angel guest be an angel guest; live for something mightier than your own little self. Sing " Hand in hand with angels" as you brush away your tears to lift another's burden. The two-fold love of God and man, the love of God humanized, and the love of man spiritualized, must work together, like the two halves of the human heart, in purifying our spiritual life, and in giving to the pulse a strong and healthy beat. Man draws strength, not only from the sunshine of favorable circumstances, but from clouds of trial, storms of temptation, and gales of adversity. Life is lifted above chance into eternal verities, born out of the bosom of The Great Forever, the heart of the Eternal. The soul, by virtue of its birthright, is made strong for the upward look, and for the upward walk in the path that grows brighter and brighter to the perfect day."


PRESS on, press on! ye sons of light
Untiring in your holy fight
Still treading each temptation down
and battling for a brighter crown

Press on, press on! through toil and woe,
With calm resolve, to triumph go;
And make each dark and threatening ill
Yield but a higher glory still.
Press on, press on! still look in Faith
To him who conquereth sin and death
Then shall ye hear his word, " Well done."
True to the last, press on, press on!

William Gaskell.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Fatherhood of God, Orders and thanks

Many thanks to those that sent comments yesterday. It was, for BU, quite a flurry...I appreciate everyone who took the time.
Peacebang wrote about the Boston Unitarian's focus on the Fatherhood of God and her comment made a special impact as I had been thinking more about that as well. I was blessed with wonderful parents who made thinking of God in parental terms a natural expression (and I am, of course, male, which means I didn't even consider the gender aspects of God as Father until the view had already become implanted in my mind and heart.
As I have gotten older and, I hope, a small bit wiser, I have come to understand how the idea of God as Father causes dramatically different feelings and emotions in people. My view of God as Father has also been changed as I face my own shortcomings as a Father...
I suppose the image remains largely because it was my first view of God and also because I believe that most all of us have an ideal of what Fatherhood (or Parenthood) should be...and that ideal is how I think of the idea of God as Father.
Finally, I am a stay-at-home father for our three children and my wonderful wife is the primary breadwinner. Traditional parental roles for our family and so many others have been shiftting for many years. When I think of God as Father, I ascribe no gender...so "God" becomes, for me, as a "perfect parent" a vision of the highest that I would seek to be (and fall far short of...and yet the vision is before me)
Thank you Peacebang for the comment and I would love to hear what others think about this very important question...
Thanks also to David at UU Way of Life for the good words and for your passionate and very heartfelt and amibitious efforts. I will write more as time goes on.
Blessings and thanks to all.

a ripple of helpfulness

What makes a miracle? No longer a hotly debated issue, in the 19th century it became a major point of contention between the "orthodox Unitarians" and the emerging "transcendentalists." William Phillips Tilden reminds us that every miracle begins with "the helping hand." May the eyes of our souls be cleared and our hands and mouths be ready for the act of mercy and the word of kindness...

BETHESDA (Scripture Reading)

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole ?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
And immediately the man was made whole.
John v.

BETHESDA (Tilden's Meditations)

"Who does not need the strength and the warmth of the clasp of a friendly hand to guide over the cold hard steps of discouragement into the angel-touched waters of healing mercy ? We are too often blind to the occasions for the helping hand on the instant need. If only the cataracts could be taken from the eyes of the soul to clear the vision! Every act of Love in the wide world repeats itself. Every kind word, like God's own word, of which it is an imperfect syllable, a stammering accent, always wakes an answer in some heart, and this again in another, so sending a ripple of helpfulness clear across the sea of human life. Love and Labor go hand in hand. Love needs Labor for expression, and Labor needs Love for inspiration. We are one body with many members: the eye for seeing; the ear for hearing ; the hands for working; the feet for running; all animated with the Christ spirit of healing Love. All hear his voice bidding crippled humanity. "Rise; . . and walk."


Friday, March 6, 2009


We are grateful for the draught of cold water when we are thirtsy. Brother Tilden reminds us that we are probably more thirsty than we acknowledge...

THE WELL AT SYCHAR (Scripture Reading)

"THEN cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar. . . . Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
Then cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. . . .
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

J0hn iv.

THE WELL AT SYCHAR (Tilden's Meditation)

"THE wells around Nazareth were as symbolic to the mind of Jesus as the lilies of the field; so we learn from his words to the woman of Samaria as they sat together at the well of Sychar under the hot rays of a noon-day sun. A week-day meeting on the highway! How vast and far-reaching its results! Then were there opened wells of truth which are full to-day for thirsting humanity. Water becomes the symbol of refreshment of soul as well as of body. It is thirst that makes a draught from the living spring so grateful.
"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
How familiar the words! We were born to them. But to great thoughts like these we need to be born again every day. How deep are God's wells ! How many are the secret springs, all out of sight, which fill them! We feed on God's life and think not whence the gift. Blessed are we when Jesus opens the well, and the roots of our life touch living springs.
" Give me this water, that I thirst not."


Thursday, March 5, 2009

a perpetual prayer

On this eighth day of Lent, Brother Tilden offers words on the Lord's prayer, and ours:


BUT thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
And take heed. to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, . . . and cares of this life; . . . Watch ye therefore, and pray always.
Matt. vi. Luke xxi.

THE LORD'S PRAYER (Tilden's Meditations)

"THIS prayer keeps God daily before us as "Our Father;" teaches us to hallow His name in speech and work, and to bring the kingdom of God here and now. The forgiving love of God we nightly pray for shall remind us that the forgiveness we receive is not ours to hold, but to pass on to our brother man, even till seventy times seven. Prayer is the key to hidden riches and strength which no other key will unlock. What would tempted ones do without it ? The spirit of our own prayer will bring of itself deliverance from the power of evil. The Christian prays a perpetual prayer, not only on knees, but with unwearied feet, tireless hands, sweet smile. No life of nobleness was ever lived without some personal knowledge of the presence chamber of the Great All- Father. Let us live in the spirit of this prayer. It contains a depth of wisdom that still feeds the world's best thought.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

aim at the highest...

One week into the season of Lent, Brother Tilden speaks of a common theme of the BU's, the Fatherhood of God (see Ware Jr. and Channing.)

THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD (Scripture Readings)

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
. . . Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
. . . For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven.
Matt. v. vl. vll. x. xxill.

THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD (Tilden's Meditations)

"THE Fatherhood of God is the sublimest revelation of Christianity. The soul's cry is for a Father, and it will find no peace till it rests in a Father's arms. The Great Spirit is in living communion with our souls. Do we know Him ? Do we listen for His voice and expect to hear ? The presence of God is too near to be seen; too interior for the senses to lay hold on; but it must be felt in the soul as the centre of its life. Our Father! He is the sun round which all our Christian doctrines revolve. Its golden beams stream all through Christ's teachings. Do we value as we should the early thought of God as it first breaks in on a pure child's mind, and consider how that thought is often the pole-star that shapes his course round the world ? Love God as your Father. He loves you. Let His love waken yours. The essence of the Infinite One the finite mind cannot fathom. But when we say, Our Father, He comes forth out of the mystery of mysteries and speaks to our hearts and bids us aim at the highest conceivable ideal; an ideal that will always be above, rising in endless spirals higher, higher, higher!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

become simple...

A truth that has taken me years to even approach is that the spiritual path is a simple path and available to all (did I mention, however, that I, myself, have only scratched the surface of this truth?) And even that came only when I became profoundly "hungry" and "poor" as we all do to one degree or another. So I offer Brother Tilden on the Beatitudes for all "benighted travellers" on the way...

"THE BEATITUDES" (Scripture)

AND seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for their's is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before

Matt v.

The Beatitudes (Tilden's Meditation)

"FROM the way St. Luke opens his fragments of the Sermon on the Mount we infer that Jesus spent the whole previous night in prayer to God. This helps us to understand the spiritual exaltation of his opening words. He had been alone with God.
"Blessed be ye poor: for your's is the kingdom of God." "Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled."
High words, because spoken from the watch-tower of loftiest contemplation; but they become simple to souls that rise unto the spiritual region where they were uttered. How deep and high the thoughts! They carry us down to foundation principles, and up to eternal verities. The Sermon on the Mount is illuminated with the Fatherhood of God, as the stars illumine the great dome above us. It is the Father who paints the lily; feeds the ravens; cares for the sparrow ; answers prayer. This Gospel arches a new heaven above us, and puts a new earth beneath our feet. With what power his words fell upon those who waited for them, as benighted travellers wait for the Morning!"


Monday, March 2, 2009

Live by the day...

I spent many years searching for the Kingdom thinking if I learned enough theology, practiced the right kind of prayer, lived the right kind of life etc...it would come to me. All this only to discover that the Kingdom is within, and it is lived in each day of life, and that, as William Phillips Tilden reminds us in today's Leaflet for Lent, "God is bending over (us) with messages of love:"

THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Scripture readings)

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
. . . Be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Behold the fowls of the air: far they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
And why take ye thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Matt. vi. Luke x. xli. xvll.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Tilden's Meditation)

FIRST seek the kingdom of God. It is a condition of soul, by which we enter through the gate of a higher life. It means the enthronement of Righteousness, which is Right put into service. This is the soul's crown. But this kingdom will not come of itself; it must be sought. Seek it as a pearl of great price. Seek first what God has put first. Jesus would have his disciples seek and find this kingdom just where all the world never thought of looking for it, "The kingdom of God is within you." Jesus lays his ear reverently to the earth to catch the whisper of his Father's spirit that he hears on mountain-top or in the valley. Live by the day, as the birds do; trouble not about to-morrow; God is bending over you with messages of love. Do not feed the body and starve the soul. The soul must grow and be clothed upon in Righteousness through the Spirit of Christ within. He came and toiled and died to bring his kingdom into human hearts. This is His Salvation."

May we all put right into service today and every day. Blessings

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A likeness to thy Son...

For the most part, western churches do not include the Sundays during lent among the 40 days as Sunday looks to Easter in its celebration of the triumph of Jesus over death. In this book of devotions, Laura Tilden (daughter of William Phillips Tilden and compiler of this devotional) includes scripture and, usually, a hymn (this week by William Henry Furness)
(The picture I have included is a detail of picture I remember so vividly hanging in my Grandparent's home when I was growing up. It was framed in ornate plastic and, for some reason, I remember it as backlit, thus providing a glow. It is, and always will be, a central visual representation of Jesus for me.

The First Sunday in Lent (Scripture Readings)

"DESPISEST thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. our Lord.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
And if children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . .
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans)



I FEEL within a want
Forever burning there.
What I so thirst for, grant,
O Thou who hearest prayer

This is the thing I crave, —
A likeness to thy Son :
This would I rather have
Than call the world my own

'Tis my most fervent prayer;
Be it more fervent still ;
Be it my highest care ;
Be it my settled will.

William Henry Furness.
Have a blessed Sabbath.