This Sermon Delivered on February 19, 2017 at First Congregational Church of Oakland
I have the mind of an artist and the heart of a preacher. What this means is I have a lot to say and I like to take my time in getting there. However, what I have learned since the first Revolution of Love service in Berkeley on 12-12-12, is that it is easier for people to understand you when you’re clear and focused. In other words when I repeat the message over and over again, I am a more effective preacher.
Today I feel called to being the most effective I have ever been for you all. I feel charged and impassioned because of what we are living through right now. The chaos, the violence, the hate speech that we are faced with creates depression, fear, and anger for many of us. We must be reminded of —yes, I will say my signature word—the POTENTIALITY that exists in us and around us, in all nations for ALL people, under God with God for God.
So I am going to be as laser like in love and potent in wisdom as I can for you. For the time is truly now and this is the Revolution. Yes!
Many years ago I printed this out and and taped it to my kitchen cabinet in LA. It has traveled with me wherever I have gone. For those of you who may not be able to see it clearly it is a picture of Mario Savio a UC Berkeleyite and prominent political activist of the 1960s, During the Free Speech Movement in 1964 he spoke these now notable words on the steps of Sproul Plaza:
“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon t he wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”
Mario had it right. There comes a time when we can no longer ignore violence. There comes a time when we can no longer be complicit with hate. There comes a time when we can no longer avoid the shadows of humankind. And so it really comes down to this one question:
Are you ready to die so that you can live ?
Wait…..What was that I just asked?
Are you ready to die so that you can live? In other words, are you ready to leave everything you know so that you may return to love? Because that means dying. That means surrender and that means freedom. What is magnificently entailed in that freedom is a return to love. A return to the Love that you are and that this world is calling for right now. This death, it means leaving what we know, and its scary. But it is the answer for us. Yes, There comes a time when we have to ask ourselves are we ready to die to live to love? We are being called to rise. We are being called home. We are being called to ascend and return to the ultimate. Return to Love. Today, I want us to ascend together. Will you explore what this means with me.
What is Love?
I was in grade school, about 2nd grade, and one day at recess a boy called out, Justin loves you. For some reason this evoked strange fear in me and when I returned home that day I told my mom. With tears streaming down my cheeks and between choked breaths, I told her, “Mom, Justin loves me.” My mother’s face went from alarm to relief with a touch of amusement. She must have thought I was going to tell her something terrible.
It’s interesting to think back on this now. As we get older the need to be loved and to love becomes a focal point. It is sometimes consuming. We embark on the love of all loves. Society places a huge importance on getting married, partnered, and starting families of our own. All the while the drive to be loved and love is ever present. For many, the love that we receive in a relationship takes the place of a relationship with ourselves, or a relationship with God. This is when things go off track.
When we begin to make a person our sole reason for being, and call that love, oh boy, back the truck up. Our reason for being is not a person, place, or thing. Our reason for being, our true call: is to heal and love.
So when I say to you that today we are returning to love it is important to clearly define what love I am talking about.
I just talked about Eros, the greek word for romantic love. There is another kind of love, philia, which is brotherly love, still there is another love and this is used in the Bible, Agape, often thought of as unconditional love.
For the last several years I often cite Agape as the love of The Revolution. After all, wouldn’t it be grand to have unconditional love sweeping across the planet? Yes?
Then about 2 years ago, something began to rumble in me and in my quietude I began question “are there limits to how much we can love?” “ how do we love?” and “what is love really?”
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the Revolution of Love anymore. No. I just realized that the everything was under construction and so was I. They say that life imitates art. Well I would also say that life imitates Spirit. For the last several months I have been teaching you the HopeCycle. It is the seven stage journey from Hope to Love. As we have been going through this journey, I have been directly living it. When we were in the desert, I had just been in the desert (literally in Palm Springs), when we saw the first spark of hope, I had just seen a spark of hope. When we rose up and ran to the waterfall to take respite, I had just rose. When we went into the jungle to explore our dreams and visions, I too had been intense exploration. The cave we sat in in December with the candle and the stillness, I sat in long past solstice, through the new year. And when it was time to roll the stone away (last sermon) I wanted to stay there in the cave. I didn’t want to leave. But then the women’s march happened and I saw people wake up and emerge from that cave and it was glorious.
So as I began to prepare this final sermon of this series, the sermon on the ascension and return to Love, I realized that the ascension in me was happening. That yet again I was returning to a Higher Love in a way that I never had.
So, What is love?
Is it a feeling? An action? a noun a verb? People say God is love, that Love is God. I say it is the pulse that keeps going till the end of time. It is when you go through the desert and cannot take another step and you feel something guiding beside you. It is when your head falls in your hands in despair and you feel the embrace of the all mighty. It is the feeling of joy when you see the mobilization of people around the world saying yes to life, yes to freedom. It is when you are reminded of your greatness and your heart opens all over again. It is God. It is You.
How do we ascend to Love?
Through rewiring. Have you seen the Matrix? There is a scene where Neo, after his mind being freed, is laying on the table and basically being rewired. He asks Morpheus, his mentor, “Why do my eyes hurt?” And Morpheus responds, “because you’ve never used them.”
All of us have places within us that need rewiring. I said earlier that we are all here to heal and love. This is our call. We heal ourselves and love ourselves, this makes us more available to the Infinite Reality which some call God. As we begin to know this Infinite Reality we recognize people. We see them. We hear them. Therefore more healing and loving spontaneously begins to ricochet. We become spiritual pin ball machines. But first we have to recognize that we need to say yes to this rewiring process.
How do we say yes? The first 3 stages of this HopeCycle were all about the remembrance of WHO YOU ARE. I often say you are made in the image of God, imago dei. I also say you are made in pure Love. This is who you are. It is imperative to tell yourself this several times a day so that you are resolute in the knowing. When you know who you are it is far easier to move in this world, to have compassion, to not only heal and love yourself but others.
Number two, stages 4 and 5 were about exploring WHY YOU ARE HERE. Knowing who you are, that you are made in the image of God, is only the beginning. As we sink deeper into that truth, the wellspring of purpose comes forward. Why are YOU here? Under the umbrella of healing and loving is the implicit call to SERVE. How do you feel called to serve? This can be anything. How you will bring your why into this universe is the magic that is you. Stages 6 and now 7 the ascension is about bringing all of it to life, your who, your why, and returning to the all sustaining Divine Love.
How do we ascend? How do we return to Love? We Remember who we are that we are made in the image of God, made in pure Love. We Remember why we are here, we are here to heal and love and serve. And we say yes. When it’s time, when you are ready, ask God for help.
To close, I want to be clear with why this matters:
At a time when people are beginning to rouse from a deep sleep, a time when people are waking up, now more than ever we must ascend to love. For this is our Divine Birthright. This is what is true. It is what is Holy. We are meant to live a life of glory, of joy, of peace, of freedom. ALL OF US are meant for this. The potentiality which exists right now is not only the spark of hope, it is the pulse of Love. The pulse is not quiet anymore, it is deafening. It is beating and we are here for it. We are living at a time of Great Call. What could be better than responding to it? When I say this to you today, I am not only reminding this for you, but for our children, and our children’s children. So there is really only one question now, are you ready to ascend to love? There comes a time when we can no longer ignore the love that is knocking at our door beckoning us to rise. There comes a time when we can no longer ignore the joy of love calling us home. There comes a time when the surrender happens and we fall back into the lap of the Divine.
It is at this point you know who you are, you know why you are here, and you can no longer wait in vain. You can no longer wait, even on the Lord! You must emerge. You must ascend! The time is now, this is Our Revolution! Amen.
© Rev. Felicia Helen Parazaider