April 5, 2022
So many people have memories of Lent that include giving up things like chocolate, alcohol, or meat on certain days.
I remember eating dinner at a good friend’s house, whose family had a Scandinavian background on both the mother’s and father’s side. Their Lenten dinner included eating something called lutefisk, a very salty cod preserved in lye. Needless to say, lutefisk is an acquired taste that I never acquired.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the cofounders of the Unity movement, made some very good suggestions about “how to keep a true Lent.” But their ideas were very different from just giving up candy or adult beverages and eating lutefisk.
The Fillmores felt that Lent was a time for us to work on giving up, what they called, error thoughts. Examples of error thoughts include thoughts of scarcity and lack; thoughts that we are unworthy; thoughts that if something good happens to us, it will be taken away from us; and thoughts of negativity, resentment, and fear.
They saw the image of the cross as a good way of reminding ourselves of a need – and way – to “cross out” these error thoughts. Yet many of us who have tried to cross out these error thoughts have time and time again failed in the process.
If that includes you, then don’t worry because you are in excellent company. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul said he “kept doing things” that he didn’t want to do, and he “wasn’t doing things” he did want to do.
In both the case of the apostle Paul and we 21st Century humans, I think the fundamental problem is that we are trying to do this “crossing out” with our egos which are not strong enough (or disciplined enough) to do the job in the long run. The Fillmores suggested a better way to do this Lenten task.
They spoke about the 12 Powers in each and every one of us. In URV’s Youth and Family Ministry, our children have been learning about the 12 Powers. We just finished an adult class on the 12 Powers, and I also devoted a recent Sunday message to a new way of looking at the 12 Powers. To listen to this service, please click here.
While the powers of Faith, Love, Wisdom, and Strength are often talked about, there is one power that usually gets somewhat short-changed. That is the power of Elimination or Release. This significant power is inside of all of us. It is the ability to get rid of what is no longer serving us. It is the ability to clean out our metaphysical closet to make room – as it were – for a beautiful new wardrobe. Spirit wants to give us this fine clothing, but first, we have to make room for it.
When we move beyond our everyday egos and start using powers like elimination or release, we are “crossing out” error thoughts. We will find that when we are in difficult situations, we are handling them much better than before.
Unity World Headquarters just published a new booklet entitled Release and Renew 2022: A Spiritual Practice for Lent. This booklet is free! Visit unity.org to download a copy or order a print version.
There are many fantastic articles in this booklet. One that resonated with me was written by Rev. Gaylon McDowell, senior assistant minister at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago. He writes:
“Easter is a story about the overcoming power of God in an individual life. Easter is a reminder that we have within us the power to overcome any obstacle in our way … The Christ in you is your true spiritual wholeness that transcends your mental and physical natures … God can never be kept in the tomb of fear, despair, lack, sickness, confusion, and doubt. Jesus understood the power within him, and he urged his followers to accept the Truth about themselves.”
The editors of this wonderful booklet note that:
“Lent is the perfect season to practice letting go of dark worries and renewing our awareness of the good that always surrounds us. If you want to give up something for Lent, consider releasing the thoughts that keep you from expressing your higher self. If you want to celebrate the light that Easter brings, practice renewing your mind with uplifting thoughts and inspiring affirmations … in this Lenten season. Know that you are blessed with the power to release any thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that have been holding you back.”
So this Lent, I would suggest that we all do a few things:
First, we pray and journal about the error thoughts that keep us from being all we can realistically be.
Second, we don’t even expect our egos to do the job that needs to be done! It is good to have a right-sized Ego in your metaphysical car. But it is a mistake to let that ego sit in the driver’s seat.
Third, We remember our 12 Powers and all of their children who live inside each of us. We turn to the power of Release, and we let go and let God!
Fourth, we start and continue to thank and praise Spirit for – what Paul also told the Romans is – “the renewing of our minds.”
And lastly, we remember that sometimes progress is a step-by-step process, and thank God “the road goes ever on” (to borrow a phrase from J.R.R. Tolkien).
I don’t think there is any lutefisk in The Lord of The Rings.