A: There is an old Greek term from early Christianity that sums up what happens when we go to church called koinonia. Basically, this word represents love. It is the fellowship of a committed community of believers that participate in sharing intimate spiritual communion with each other and God.
Is it required? No, but it sure does sweeten the journey!
The great loss of the digital age is the loss of community and opportunities to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When we are feeling downtrodden, our spiritual community is a place where we have friends that love us and can lift us up in a warm embrace. We also get opportunities to pay back and be the friends doing the lifting! We’ve all heard the saying, “If you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend.” The marvelous thing about church is that we who attend, and get involved, experience something beautiful with a family of choice. Like any relationship, the more we invest, the richer our experience becomes. We shift from just receiving, to being, which is an amazing opportunity to progress in our spiritual journey.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Well, if we don’t participate in our local church but continue to “window shop” we never fully experience the love that’s available in a church family. Like a family there is always something we can agree upon or at least have something to debate. If we don’t agree with something or notice an oversight by the church, rather than complain and make things worse we can “be the change” and do something positive about it! Every flower enhances the beauty of the bouquet. With the contribution of good intentions we grow together and build a stronger community.
Some of us attend church for self-improvement because we want to have a great life. We study books and attend classes. Emilie Cady warned us in her book, “Lessons in Truth” to avoid reading “many” books. As leaders, we strive to bring only powerful material that will improve our lives. Positive changes occur only if we practice doing and being the things we learn. If we think, “Oh I’ve already read about that” or “I already know that,” we might be skimming the surface and derailing our spiritual and emotional maturity. I attended a Hawkins lecture once that Michael Beckwith and Dr. Roger Teal were also in attendance. These individuals have built and maintain huge ministries that have served thousands of people over many years. Yet during the lecture, they exhibited a humility and hunger for Truth. A humble heart never stops growing because it admits it doesn’t have all the answers.
A huge part of our quality of life is in giving. Whether we give acts of service, time or finance, we are giving energy. When we give from a place of love our lives become rich! Those that volunteer, experience this flow of love as they share kindness. As the Christ taught, what we give, we receive instantly. In the east this practice is called karma yoga, which is the discipline of selfless action as a way to perfection or enlightenment. In the west, it is a devotional pathway of God through the heart. My hope is that we all experience this divine flow of love and create a little bit of heaven right here in Unity Church of El Cajon.
The significance of Christmas in Unity is the celebration of our spiritual birth and launch of a grand awakening. Life prior to my spiritual awakening was a continuous process of searching for something outside of me that would bring satisfaction and happiness. However, each time I plugged in something, happiness only lasted until the newness wore off. Finally, when I surrendered to God and decided to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ I experienced contentment and joy for the first time in my life. Life has been amazing ever since. I continue to ask, “How good can it get?”
I invite you to a life of greater love and lasting joy. “Yes” to Christ and celebrate your very own Merry Christmas within and a celebration with a like-minded community at UCEC!
~ Rev Brian