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Join us for Rev. John Riley’s sermon, “Do Life Better Together.” In this insightful message, Rev. Riley explores the transformative power of unity and community. Our evolutionary purpose is clear: we aim to inspire positive change in the world. By affirming our commitment to transforming lives and making a difference together, we tap into our collective strength. Rev. Riley discusses the shifting landscape of our lives, especially in the wake of recent global changes. Mental health challenges and depression have become more prevalent, emphasizing the need for personal growth and transformation. He highlights practices like deep breathing, mindfulness, and meditation as tools to cope with these changes and cultivate inner peace.

The sermon delves into the importance of connection, reducing triggers, and focusing on positive thoughts. Rev. Riley also touches on the concept of forgiveness and its role in personal empowerment. Furthermore, he introduces Unity’s Fall Enrichment Program, which offers a unique opportunity to come together as a community, discuss these ideas, and support one another on their spiritual journeys. By embracing transformation and shifting from a mindset of “not enough” to boundless possibilities, we can make a positive impact on our lives and the world.

    Watch the full Sunday Service here.

    Transcript of "Do Life Better Together"

    Inspiring Positive Change Together

    Good morning, unity. Good morning. Good morning, and welcome, welcome, welcome. Our evolutionary purpose statement here is we are transforming lives and inspiring people to make a positive difference in the world. I’m gonna say that one more time, then invite you to affirm it with me. I am transforming lives and inspiring people to make a positive difference in the world. Together. I am transforming lives and making, firing people to make a positive difference in the world. I got caught up in my own self. So feel that, take that in ’cause that’s really what we are here for. We are here to be with each other, to support each other, to hold each other in prayer, in affirmative prayer, to hold each other in our hearts, and to be that, that, that energy, that up uplifts one another. That’s really the whole idea of what this church thing is. The spiritual center thing is, is to be with one another. And so together, we transform lives together.

    Transcending Towards Noble Selves

    We inspire people to make a positive difference in the world, and to together we make a positive difference in the world. So what does the world word transcend really mean? So this is the idea of changing really. That to transform is to change the nature of something to, to make it more usually better, right? To transform something. Spiritual transformation then is to change. The nature of our being is to change our consciousness, your beingness in the world. That’s what spiritual transformation is all about. It’s how we are in the world. And when we are coming from that perspective, from that higher self, that noble self, then we are doing life better than we are making a difference in the world. And so here we’re looking at that idea to opening up more to the nature of that noble self, to our own internal self, to, to open up a little bit more so we can experience it and express it more in the world. And that’s really what this whole thing is about, in my view. So why is that important? You’re the pastor? Because I’m the pastor. I I was actually asking a different question, not why is it important that I think that, but why, why is it, that’s a beautiful answer.

    Insights from Recent Research

    Why is it important for us to be willing to transform, be willing to move into a space? And so I was doing a little research about what life is like right now. Any, anybody have a clue? Anybody experience it? It’s fabulous. It’s fabulous. It is. And it’s changed. It’s changed. Life has changed. Life is evolving, culturally is evolving, culture is shifting. And it has been happening since the end of World War ii. And this recent Covid 19 pandemic has just accelerated it. But during that last five years, five years, it feels like 10, 20 years, three years, thank you. During that last three years, only life has changed so much. The effects, the effects of it were on us individually, on us, culturally, and on us globally. Now, there’s a, i I did some research and there were a few things that I found out there from Pew Research. And one of the projects, this was from March of 2003, the Coronavirus Pandemic has been associated with worsening mental health among people in the United States and around the world.

    Addressing the Impact of Recent Research

    A Gallup poll in May of this year says that depression is at its highest rate in the US since it started measuring depression in 2015. And in fact, it’s higher now than it was at the peak of the depression. This is not just isolated to the us For the Gallup poll said globally, nearly four in 10 adults, ages 15 or older, either endure significant depression or anxiety themselves, or have a close friend or family member who suffers from it. So 40% of us, 40% of us are either have some form of it or know somebody. And that affects us too. So this is why it is so important. This is why it is so important for us to look at this idea of transformation, of, of changing our consciousness, of growing into it. I found another article, this is by the Mayo Clinic. This is from July of this year. Worry and anxiety about C Ovid 19 and its impact can be overwhelming. So this was a wonderful article that tells us some things that we can do to help us support our each other and ourselves during this pandemic. So listen to some of this, these ideas.

    Finding Balance in Today’s Changing Landscape

    First, it’s care of body. And what they say is to relax and recharge. That’s one of the things that they want you to do. Now, many of the things that they tell you in this, in this article are very much instructions, right? Go do this, go do that. This one, they backed off a little bit. They said, well, many people benefit from the practice such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, mindfulness, or meditation. Now, we have many people in here that practice those. Would you agree with that statement? Yeah. So there’s our own informal pull, right? There’s a lot of people, these are the practices that they suggest for one of the practices that they suggest to help us remain calm, remain present, and remain in the moment care of mind. Their biggest, their high, their high highlight on that is reducing your triggers. And one of the things that they talk about is focusing on positive thoughts, focusing on the good in life. So in unity, of course, we, that’s one of our fundamental cornerstones, is focusing on the good, but not to the extent of shoving down or ignoring that which is disturbing us, not ignoring that which we are suffering from or the pain that we’re feeling, right?

    Reclaiming Power Through Forgiveness: Healing and Transformation

    But to honor that and to bring that into the light so that it can be healed. If you’ve been part of the q the quantum living class, or the Q class of the art and practice of living with nothing and no one against you, yes, it’s have a hundred names, three. But one of the practices is to honor, to recognize, oh, I’m triggered. I’m triggered. And so what can I do to disassemble to reduce the effect of that trigger? Forgiveness practices is another one of Unity’s practice, practice fundamental practices that helps us move into that idea of reducing our triggers. That is, it’s the idea of emptying our file cabinet. I love Dr. Lukins book, forgive for Good. He talks about unforgiveness as we have this big file cabinet. And anytime you do something to me, it goes into my file cabinet. And then whenever something happens again, I pull open the file. Oh, yes, let’s see. Here you are. And here’s everything coming up again. And forgiveness, real forgiveness is reclaiming our power.

    Authentic Connections in a Changing World: Nurturing Unity and Wellness

    Forgiveness is emptying that file cabinet. It’s not ignoring what, what happened. It’s just knowing that this does not control me anymore. I don’t have to pull out that big file and say, this is is our relationship, because it’s not, it allows us to let go of those things and to be be in our relationship without being a doormat of knowing our spiritual boundaries, but taking back our power, our individual power, so that we feel that sense of empowerment and wholeness in the moment. And of course let’s see, the, the, the another, the third major component in this article was the idea of connecting with others. So to combat that anxiety, to back that that depression connecting with others. Now, how has your connection changed in the last three years? Has it changed at all? Have you felt, you know, we’re doing more things online or the way we connect with each other is a little bit different, even now that we, we feel like we may be coming out of it, right? There’s still a little hesitance within us. And so I believe that this form of connection isn’t just any ordinary form of connection. It’s not going on an app, right? And finding someone who has your same color hair, I don’t knows about making a conscious connection, about making an authentic connection.

    Embracing Unity and Compassion in Times of Change

    It’s about making connections that help us really develop each other in the process. Avoid stigma, discrimination. For me, that’s really the sense of other, anytime we think about this idea of, well, they’re like this, that’s the other that we’re making wrong. And that creates separation between us, that creates division between us. Not just the beliefs that we might have that that different, but just that idea that we’re different from each other creates separation. So for me, it’s that idea of growing compassion, growing self-compassion, knowing that we have a common humanity. Knowing, knowing that we have a commonality in this idea of our divine nature. We may express it differently or not at all. We may express it beautifully or sometimes not. And yet, at the core of us, that’s who we are, is that beautiful, divine, noble self, that beautiful nature. And so as the new culture emerges, whether it’s a culture of transformation, of stagnation, or of degration, culture is changing. And so we have the opportunity for us to be at the forefront of that change and to lead that change from a sense of, of knowing ourself, from the sense of knowing that we are here to do life better together.

    Lessons from Apostle Paul’s Letter to Rome

    Now, the apostle Paul was in Corinth, and he was really excited to get to Rome because there was a group of people following the way, right, following the way that the master teacher Jesus was teaching or had taught. And he was really excited to go to Rome, to minister to them, to talk with them. So he wrote a big book. He wrote a giant letter. And that letter was was then taken by, by, by courier to to Rome to the, to the people there. And he was so excited because he was first gonna go to Jerusalem and then some other place, Spain, I think, and then over to, to Rome. Well, he got into Jerusalem and he was immediately arrested. He did make it to Rome, but he made it to Rome as a prisoner. So he never got to minister to those people. He never got to get in front of them and, and, and really be with them, commune with them, to pray with them, to teach with them, to grow with them. That was his dream. He didn’t make it there, but his letter did. And I have to tell you, this is one of the most powerful letters when you look at it from a, a, a consciousness of spirituality. When you look at it from the realm of, and we could look at it metaphysically, but from the realm of spirituality, the first part of the letter was all about righteousness. Now, in unity, what we term righteousness is right thinking. That’s when our thoughts are in alignment with Spirit.

    Insights from Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Rome

    Our thoughts are in alignment with the good in life. Our thoughts are in alignment with that, which is uplifting. That’s right. Thinking. And so the first part of the letter was, there’s a need for that. Would anyone disagree with that? And he was talking about how, oh yeah, that’s, that was a wrong, that was, that was a bad teaching moment there. I didn’t raise my hand and then ask you the ne the negative question. Anyway, back to the story, right? There is a need for that in our life. We can see that today. The second part of the letter is that it is provided, it is there for you. This energy, these teachings, Spirit, divine love, the harmonizing energy of Spirit, God, however you want to talk about God as consciousness as the whole of consciousness, as the universe, as divine mind, as infinite intelligence, infinite possibility.

    Unveiling the Power Within

    The realm from which all things are possible. It is there and provided and ready for you. And the third part of it was it will win out. It is what is emerging. It is what is unfolding. And it will in unfold in you if you let it. If you allow it, it’s there within you. Whether you’ll like it or not. For God is always present. As Casey said, God is in you, wherever you are, and in all around you. God is the in you. Like the ocean is in the wave, as Eric Butterworth would say. Or as thi not Hanh would say, enlightenment is the wave, realizing it’s the ocean, right? That’s the truth of you. And so when we allow it, it will lift you up. It will be, you know, it will boy you up in times of trouble. It will be the anchor. When the wind is blowing, it is that within you? That is. And the fourth part of that letter was, well, how do you do that? It was all about the practice. It was all about putting it into practice.

    Transforming Thoughts, Renewing Minds

    At the very beginning of chapter 12, Paul tells us, be willing to live, serve and love. Be not conformed by this world. Be ye be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect, and the will of God. There’s nothing else. This is like the primary thing you need to do. Be willing to transform your thoughts. Be willing to align yourself with the presence and power. Be willing to be with each other in doing that. Later on in that, in that letter, in that part of the letter, he talks about the body of Christ. Meaning we are the body of this intelligence. We are the body of this consciousness for we are the people who come together. And when we come together from that standpoint, we give it power. We’re two or more are gathered. I will be there too. That energy that flows between us. And so how do we do this? That’s always the big question. And I always try to give some practice, some practice that you can do to play with for the week to see how it lifts you up, to see if it works with you, to see how it, it, it buoys you up.

    Transformation Amidst Life’s Demands

    But the first thing, the first part of the practice is being willing, is simply being willing. Because I know all of the pushback I have all of the pushback. I don’t have enough time. I’ve got too many things on my plate. I’ve gotta take the kids to dance and football and dance and football. And I’ve gotta do all of these things. Anybody else? I’ve got my work task list. I’ve got my home task list. I’ve gotta do the laundry. Anyone else have these lists? Or is it just me? Am I the only one doing things in the world? Yeah, we’re all doing stuff. ’cause That’s what we’re all about in this western culture, doing. So when we can get back to the beingness and taking time to practice that beingness, then that beingness shows up in all we do. It becomes the energy that lifts us up. That makes things fun. Even the laundry. Woohoo. Hey, I love the laundry. What are you talking about? I used to take all my shirts to get to get dry, to get washed and laundered and starched and pressed. And then they didn’t do it the way I like to do it. So I started doing it myself.

    Unleashing the Transformative Power of Choice and Togetherness

    I remember my mom, she had her ironing board and the big rack of, of shirts. Well, that’s me. I love it. I turn on the tv, I listen to a podcast, I’m ironing my shirts. It fills me up. I I know it’s crazy, huh? What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here? Why does it fill me up? Anyone? Because I’m willing. ’cause I’m making a choice. I’m saying I’m choosing this. So I’m not just doing something out of habit. I’m doing it as a spiritual practice. Even the laundry, even ironing my shirt. Everything can be a spiritual practice when we choose to look at it through that lens of Spirit, being willing, making the choice and practicing it. Now today, those are the three main components when we’re doing it ourselves. And I think one that we have been missing is this idea of being together, of doing it together. Because when two or more are gathered, greater things appear. Have you had that dialogue where you are bouncing ideas off of one another and all of a sudden there’s a greater sense of what you want to accomplish?

    Building Stronger Connections and Ideas

    There’s a greater idea that pops up after being together. That might be a, a week later it’s like, oh, now I remember what was said. And that lifts me up. Has anybody, have you ever had that experience? We had a meeting with our platform team. It was an envisioning meeting and it was with Casey, rusty, Joe, Lisa. And we were, we came together to let go of anything and everything that we thought was wrong or broken. First to let go of all of that. Lack to let go of that sense of not enough to let it go. And then just vis envision what the experience can be like here for each other. We have, we had a full whiteboard full of ideas. And some of those ideas we glossed over and I wanted to get back to them. So we got another meeting coming up, maybe through email, maybe after the holidays. ’cause I’ve got too much on my plate, but being willing to practice together to come together, it fulfills that need of creating real connection, real connections with each other, to creating a relationship that helps lift us out of whatever funk that we’re in. It fulfills that need of growing spiritually so that we can bounce ideas off of each other and allow that to really take hold within us and create an interconnection between us.

    The Power of Interconnected Togetherness

    When we practice together, we create something greater than ourselves and we grow. I was on my class, I’m taking a class called the, the integral ministry practice. It’s taking, taking Integral Theory and Applying, which is a whole book, a whole set of books and applying it to ministry. And in that, we were having this discussion. One person was on this end of the spectrum. Another person was on that end of the spectrum. A couple of us were right in the middle, and everything was okay. We didn’t make one person right, or one person wrong. We just allowed the, the, the perspectives to be we allowed it to be. And we took in what was ours to take in. And on one side, I was probably leaning more on one side of the spectrum. And after I thought about it more, I could understand his point of view and I can see how that point of view makes sense from a specific perspective. And it shifted my perspective not to agree with him, but just to have a broader sense of what I’m experiencing and how I can then apply that in my life. And how can I, can that bring that into my life? That’s the power of having this interconnected connect togetherness. And so that brings me to our fall program, a fall enrichment program. It’s been about three years since we’ve had one, and we’re doing it a little bit differently this year.

    A Journey of Spiritual Growth and Connection

    So everyone take a nice deep breath while I get a drink of water. Come on, keep breathing. It is one of our practices. After all. The main difference is we usually use a book and there’s some great books out there. And what kept coming to me is that’s really deep and heavy, that’s really deep and heavy, all good, but really deep and heavy. And what came to me in my time of discernment was we need to lift us up a little bit more. And we need to come together a little bit more. We need to practice the, the, the idea of coming together. And so I borrowed the, the, the format from the Unity Center in San Diego, which is a very successful, one of the largest unity churches in the country. And just a fabulous program. And they do their spiritual programs based on the talk. So I said, okay, let’s try that. So I came up with a really light idea for the topic. You ready? Evolving out of not enough. Yeah, that’s light. That’s easy.

    Overcoming the Not Enough Mindset

    So here’s the thing. Here’s, here’s what came to me. Here’s what you know, we have some of the best, I think some of the best spiritual teachings around unity. New thought movement. We, we have great tools. Our abundance teachings are fantastic. But then why don’t we always use it? You know, the fundamental practice of prayer and meditation is foundational for me. And when you do it consistently, time and time again, you feel the benefits. And for me, it has become a non negotiation, a non-negotiable task or activity. It’s something that I’m always going to do. ’cause I know the benefits, and it didn’t come to me the first time I meditated, but it came after practice and practice and practice. And I had some aha moments during meditation when I was in my youth. And I just, I saw it and I felt it. And I said, this is it. Unity is it. But why don’t we practice it more? Any of the teachings, why do we fall back into our old patterns? Why don’t we, why do we slip back into our old belief system? Because underlying that is a sense of not enough. And it’s cultural. It’s how we grew up, especially in this culture where you have to do, do, do, achieve, achieve, achieve.

    Evolving Beyond Scarcity: A Journey to Abundance

    So next week we’re going to start this program, and it will kick it off with a Sunday service. And if you want to join a group, a small group to practice, then there’s some signup sheets in the Yes Hall when we go in there for our lunch. And if you’re worried about it, here’s what I have out in the, in the in the Yes hall, there’s a flyer called Evolving Out of Not Enough. And it tells you everything about the experience. We used to have a booklet, and this was part of the booklet. Now you’re gonna get the booklet one week at a time. You okay with that? Yeah. All right. That’s, that’s a quorum. So what are we going to do? Well, there’s, there is a, a suggested agenda for each program. You’re going to come together, you’re going to read the heart agreements together. You’re going to have an opening prayer. And the opening prayer is on the weekly guide. You can use it or you can use your own. But here’s an opening prayer. It will have the ideas. And so we’ll, you’ll review the, the heart agreements.

    Transformative Conversations for Abundance

    You’ll have an opening prayer together. You will check in personally in your group. Here’s what’s going on. And then you’ll have a dis you can have a discussion about the talk. And each week you’re going to get questions about the talk questions that will help you dive into, you know, not what did John say, but how does this show up in your life? When have you experienced this in your life? To help you deepen your experience of this idea, these ideas that come forward so that then you can come together and talk about those ideas and wrestle with those ideas and have your different opinions and say, I don’t know what the heck he’s talking about. And be okay with that. ’cause Someone in the group can give you some guidance or can say, well, here’s what I experience in that, in that in that process, in that question, in that idea. So that we can grow together and learn together and create a connection together and pray with each other and pray for with, and affirmatively pray with each other.

    Discovering Wisdom Through Dialogue

    There’s a discussion about the talk question. There’s a wrap up in any announcements that there may be. There’s a closing prayer also included if you’d like it. And then there’s refreshment and social time. That’s the basic structure. And everyone is invited to participate. To participate, you know, helping, making sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak. If you want an opportunity to pray in front of somebody, this is the perfect opportunity to pray in front of somebody. And what a gift, what a gift it is, even if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, what a gift it is to serve someone else. There is a rabbinic tradition called, and I’m gonna not pronounce it correctly, but chevruta, it’s a rabbinic tradition and approach to Talmudic study, to really studying the Torah. And it’s a study in which small groups of students intentionally argue with one another to find meaning from a text through a, through the passionate conflict discussion. Usually it’s done in pairs, and some of the people have the same partner for their entire lives. Other times it’s a one-off, or it turns or it’s a turn to the person next to you type of thing.

    The Path to Transformation

    Now, you know, we’re unity, so we don’t like arguing and that’s okay, but just think about this idea of wrestling with these concepts, wrestling with this idea that culture’s changing, wrestling with the idea that I’m made in the divine image, that I am, I have this noble self to me, wrestling in this idea of how we connect with one another and talking with it so that we can grow and experience a greater sense of knowing. So the talk guide, the talk reflections, I have a talk reflection from last week’s service as a sample. They’re, they’re available in the Yes Hall as well. And here’s the thing, show up as you are. Show up who you are. That’s the wonderful thing about Unity, is that we are open and welcoming to all people to show, show up as you are, because we’re not going to judge you, right? You’re not gonna judge each other. That’s the goal. And that’s the practice. That’s one of the practices. How can we not judge each other? Those heart agreements on the back? That’s spiritual practice as well. You know, how can you live into that agreement that I’m going to honor what you’re saying to me.

    Journeying Together Towards Transformation

    I’m going to honor how you show up and who you are, and not have to put on my alter ego or my, my religious persona. Now, it sounds hard, it sounds uncomfortable. I’ve never prayed in front of somebody out loud. I’ve never let a group, right? I don’t have enough time. You know, if you don’t want to do it, these will still be available for your own personal growth if you’d like. But what a gift it is to another, for you to show up for them, for you to show up for another person, to be present to their questions, to their Spirit, to their, to their heart, as they open their heart. What a gift it is, and what a gift they are giving you by being present, by opening their home, by opening their zoom, whatever it is, just to be present with one another, to come together and to see how we can start to evolve out of this idea of not enough. So I go back to the beginning, are you willing?

    Shifting Mindsets: Embracing the Power of Possibility

    Spiritual transformation can take a lifetime or it can take moments. And when we release our inner doubt, our sense of not enough, we shift into the mindset of possibility. And we are exercising our innate power of faith. So by stepping into this process, at, into the Fall Enrichment program, that’s what you’re doing. And if not, if it’s not time, if it’s not ready, if you can’t make it, if you got a trip, that’s okay too. You can still receive all of the reflection questions and do it on your own time. So, are you willing to shift into your mindset from not enough to the possibilities? Are you willing to move your feet and to try it to test things out? Are you willing to live more from your purpose, live more purposeful, and as a result, feel more content and more grateful for as you do, the world of possibilities will open up to you and you’ll make a positive difference in the world. I’m not sure if I update, if I updated the affirmation on the screen, so I’m going to read it to you and then invite it to invite you to affirm it with me.

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