Keep a True Lent, by Charles Fillmore, , at sacred-texts.com
WHEN WE SING, "I'll go with Him all the way," we do not always realize the mighty import of our words. Jesus went all the way from the human to the divine. He went all the way to immortality. He raised not only His own consciousness from despair and hopelessness to assurance and confidence in the presence and continued help of a loving Father-God, but He opened the way for the whole race to do likewise. When we determine to follow Him all the way we undertake the mighty work of the ages, a revolution of character before which the famous tasks of Hercules pale into insignificance.
As a matter of fact no one has ever followed Jesus all the way in the revolution in our race thought that He initiated. Many devout, sincere men have attempted to do so, but Jesus is yet to be understood and imitated in His work of salvation.
In the first place we have not understood the depth of our bondage to error and evil, nor the enormity of the consequences if it is allowed to continue. But Jesus knew how the human mind wraps itself up in its own error thought and brings darkness and desolation beyond redemption, unless the light of divine understanding is released in the consciousness. Jesus knew how to quicken this inner light by
being Himself the great Light, and He showed us how to attain the same spiritual brightness. In the face of ignorance, superstition, and persecution He boldly proclaimed: "I am the light of the world." "Ye are the light of the world." "Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
To understand Jesus' experiences in their spiritual significance and their effect on our human bondage we should become better acquainted with the real character of the man and His relation to us, because the many claims of Jesus' spiritual superiority made by His followers and Himself must have a basis of Truth.
That Jesus had elements of greatness far beyond those of any other man that has ever lived on this earth is universally accepted by both the religious and the secular world. Some Christians claim that He came direct from heaven; that He was very God incarnate. Other Christians see in Him simply the fulfillment of the ideal man designed by Divine Mind. Neither of these views quite meets the logic of unbiased reason considered in connection with the events of Jesus' life.
If Jesus was very God and had all power, why did He suffer the agony in Gethsemane and cry out to His Father for help? If He was a mere man, an evolved representative of our race, why did He lay claim to an existence prior and superior to the Jesus incarnation, "And now, Father, glorify thou me with
thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." "Before Abraham was born, I am."
He claimed the whole human race as His "flock" and compared them to sheep with Himself as the shepherd:
But they did not understand. "There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words. And many of them said, He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the sayings of one possessed with a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"
Men in Jesus' time could not understand how what appeared to be an ordinary man could be the beginning of a whole new race of men as Jesus claimed to be. So they thought He was crazy when He made the assertion. We in our day do not fully understand how one man and one woman increase their species. It is a divine mystery, yet we bear witness to it.
In the 1st chapter of John's Gospel it is written: "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not."
The fact is that the relationship which Jesus bears to the human family is quite beyond our present intellectual comprehension.
In order to understand the status of Jesus we have to visualize a universe like that in which we live as having existed during billions of years in the past, as having fulfilled its mission in the evolution of a superrace of men, and as then passing away leaving as its fruit God-men with creative power. Jesus was one of the God-men of that ancient creation, and it was His destiny to bring forth from the depths of Being a race of potential gods, place them in an environment where they could grow as He grew and become, like Him, a Son of God. As stated by Paul, "we are also his offspring."
The beginning of our race evolution is given in the allegory of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jehovah is Christ, who formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
When the Adamic race reached a point in their evolution where they had personal-will volition, they began to think and act independently of the Jehovah or Christ Mind. Then the sense consciousness began to rule and the materialization of the body resulted.
Degeneration of the whole man followed. Loss of ability to draw constantly on the one and only source of life threw the whole race into an anemic condition. Their bodies began to disintegrate, and death came into the world. Then Satan, the mind of sense, began to rule; sin was in the saddle. The people like sheep had gone astray; they were lost in the wilderness of sense; they were in the throes of race extinction. New life had to be imparted; a blood transfusion was imperative. Christ then began a series of physical incarnations, beginning prehistorically and ending with His Jesus incarnation.
Why does the all-powerful God have to resort to the limitations of law to attain creative ends? We can only reply that there is no evidence anywhere in nature that any end has ever been accomplished except through the work of law. As men make civil laws and enforce them with penalties, even to death, so the human race has formed laws of physical birth and death, laws of sickness and physical inability, laws making food the source of bodily existence, laws of mind recognizing no other source of existence except the physical, the material.
The total of these race laws has formed a race consciousness separate from and independent of creative Mind, and when that Mind sought to help men spiritually, the mind of the flesh opposed it and made every effort to solve its problems in its own way.
The way of the flesh always proved futile and
disastrous because of human selfishness and greed.
Thus it became absolutely necessary for Christ, the Father of us all, to make closer contact with our physical or fleshly consciousness and pour into it a new life current. So Christ Himself, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, incarnated in Jesus and brought to our immediate attention both spiritually and physically the abundant life of primal being, Elohim God. Hence the proclamation of Christ in Jesus, "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."
Modern scientists explain that the atoms that build molecules, cells, and tissues are composed of electrical units; that these units seem to contain the elements that convey life to all creation; that the cells of our body are energized by these life-giving atoms; and that the ether filling all space is heavily charged with this life-giving electricity. Science does not say that this omnipresent energy is divine life, nor does it admit that it is moved by mind, either divine or human. But spiritual discernment reveals that there is but one life and one intelligence penetrating and permeating man and the universe and that where there is evidence of life there is evidence of Being. Consequently the life-giving atom is the life-giving God, whom we conceive according to our degree of spiritual unfoldment.
If we have developed the mind of the Spirit, we see and feel the quickening life of the energy at the center of the atoms of our body. All spiritual concepts
begin in the mind and are translated into atomic life in the body. Here we have the point of contact between the Christ life and the race life. It also explains why our life as a people was no longer receiving the energy flow from the parent stream. Like the prodigal son, we had gone into a country far from the Father, and there was a famine in that land. We were starving for the divine substance and got no satisfaction out of the husks, the food of the swine.
Because of the gulf between the Mind of Being and the sense mind of the race, no life flow was possible. Then Christ incarnate in the flesh through Jesus offered His body as a life or electrical transformer. The atomic units of His body were sundered and sown as points of life and light in our mind and body atmosphere, to the end that anyone who concentrates his thoughts on Christ in faith will attract as a spiritual magnet one or many of His body atoms. These Christ atoms, appropriated by the individual, become food and drink and form the nucleus of a regenerated body for the person appropriating them.
This casting forth of His life and body for the regeneration of His people is promised in the use of the bread and wine as symbols, in the Last Supper, as described in the 26th chapter of Matthew. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and
gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins."
Thus Jesus gave His life and body substance as a kind of blood transfusion to a dying race, and the agony in Gethsemane was the contemplation of the wrenching of the central ego of the trillions of living electrons, protons, atoms, molecules, and cells composing His organism. Thus the body and life elements of the Christ body were sown as seed in the soil of our race mind, and it is our privilege to appropriate and incorporate these precious elements into our mind and body.
The body of Christ Jesus is not to be subject to permanent disintegration and death; in the creative processes of God it must be made part of our redeemed body and restored to its parent source, the Christ. As He said, "Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again."
Here also we have made clear the mystery of salvation through the blood of Christ. It is not a miracle nor a personal sacrifice, but a meeting of a crisis in the race evolution by the transfusion of life from a Father to His perishing children. Understanding this in the sense of its scientific reality should make us every one more energetic in taking advantage of our only means of escape from the ills of the flesh and insuring our ultimate salvation. "Pray that ye enter not into temptation" is translated by
Fenton, "Pray, for fear trial should overtake you." The same idea is brought out in the Lord's Prayer, which in the King James Version reads, "Lead us not into temptation," but which, according to good authorities should be, "You would not lead us into temptation, nor forsake us in trial." The petition is for strength to overcome trial.
As Paul so tellingly wrote to the Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
The Lenten Lessons
THE WORD LENT comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for spring, which is derived from a verb meaning to lengthen. Lent comes in the spring when the days become noticeably longer.
This annual season of fasting, prayer, and penitence has been observed by the Western Church since the first century after Christ, although it has not always been forty days long. In more recent times it has been kept forty days, after the example of Moses and Elijah, and to commemorate the forty days of fasting and prayer that Jesus spent in the wilderness.
The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the custom that prevailed in the early Church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents on the first day of Lent, in token of repentance for sin.
Ash Wednesday comes forty-six days before Easter. There are six Sundays in Lent, and they are not considered part of Lent, because in the Western Church Sunday is always a feast day. The forty weekdays beginning with Ash Wednesday constitute Lent.
The fifth Sunday in Lent is known as Passion Sunday, because it marks the beginning of Passion-tide, the last two weeks of Lent. These two weeks specifically commemorate the Passion of Jesus, or His experiences following the Last Supper.
The last week of Lent is called Holy Week. It includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem when the people strewed palms in His way.
Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, is a corruption of the Latin word mandati meaning "of the commandment," and refers to the command "This do in remembrance of me" spoken by Jesus in regard to His breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine at the Last Supper. Maundy Thursday commemorates the event of the Last Supper.
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, probably known originally as God's Friday, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.
Easter Day, of course, commemorates the Resurrection. The word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Eastre, the name of the Goddess of spring, in whose honor a festival was celebrated each April. Easter Day always comes on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after March 21. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is the next Sunday. Easter can never fall earlier than March 22 nor later than April 25.
Lent is a season of spiritual growth, a time for progressive unfoldment. When we can blend and merge our mind with God-Mind, the way is open for the Lord to glorify us and to lift us into a higher, purer, more spiritual state.
"Where two or three are gathered together in
my name, there am I in the midst of them," said Jesus. Unity students everywhere are invited to participate yearly in our Lenten program. Christ is in our midst, as the God of our planet, as the one great Teacher. Place all burdens on the Lord and enter the Lenten season expecting definite results.
Fasting means abstaining from; it is abstinence. The place of overcoming is in the consciousness of man. The forty-day fast is an all-round denial of sense demands. In fasting, we as metaphysicians abstain from error thinking and meditate on spiritual Truth until we incorporate it into the consciousness of oneness with the Father.
The desire to excel is in all men. It is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which ever urges us on through earth toward heaven. It should be encouraged and cultivated in the right direction.
As day after day we steadily adhere to our firm resolve to follow the steps outlined for the Lenten season, we discover that we are building on a firm foundation, and are mounting into a higher consciousness. We come to know that Christ is indeed with us and is resurrecting in us His realizations of light, life, and substance.
1st Day, Ash Wednesday. Read Matthew 5:1-16.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is so-called from the ceremonial of ashes. Ashes symbolize repentance.
John the Baptist came, saying, "Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repentance means denial; it is a relinquishment and should be made without too much vehemence. Therefore, I deny out of consciousness old error thoughts, as if I were gently sweeping away cobwebs, and I affirm positively and fearlessly that I am a child of God, and that my inheritance is from Him.
As I follow this rule I find that I am letting go of old mortal beliefs and the Divine within is flaming higher and higher. Its pure white light is infusing all my surroundings with a delightful spirit of wisdom, dignity, and peace. I realize more and more the law of righteous thinking that is bringing me into a consciousness of my perfect dominion.
In Christ it is not difficult to eliminate belief in strife and contention. If petty quarrels, jealousy, uncharitable thoughts come into my life, I overcome them by a quiet but positive denial made in the realization that no error has any power or reality in itself. I turn away from the belief in negation, and my thinking changes. I rid my consciousness of limited thoughts that have encumbered and darkened my understanding. I break down mortal
thought and ascend into a spiritual realm, the kingdom of the heavens.
In the spirit of divine love I affirm: "Forgetting the things that are behind, I realize I am strong, positive, powerful, wise, loving, fearless, free spirit. I am God's perfect child."
2d Day, Thursday. Read Luke 7:1-17.
The science of Spirit is the orderly study of truths formulated in Divine Mind according to the operation of universal law. An affirmation is a positive and orderly statement of Truth. By affirmation we claim and appropriate that which is ours.
The Word is the working power of Divine Mind. One will never go down to defeat if in his hour of need he positively affirms the almightiness of God-Mind through Christ, and invokes its help in his behalf.
I declare that as a child of God I am now entering the Christ consciousness of perfection. This is in itself an affirmation, the highest I can make. Jesus helped Himself into this high state of being by His use of the spoken word. He continually made the very highest affirmations such as, "I and the Father are one," "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." I am joint heir with Jesus to the infinite good of the kingdom, and by the faithful use of my spoken word I claim my heavenly good.
Faith is the result of many affirmations. Each affirmation helps to build up a substantial, firm, unwavering state of mind, because it establishes Truth in consciousness.
As day by day I repeat and courageously live affirmations of Truth, I come to know that I am opening a channel of intelligent communication with the silent forces at the depths of being; thoughts and words therefrom flow forth, and I realize an entirely new source of power developing within me.
I affirm: "Through Jesus Christ I realize my divine sonship, and I am transformed into His image and likeness."
3d Day, Friday. Read John 15:1-16.
"God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." We do not see God with our physical eyes excepting as He manifests Himself through His works. His attributes are therefore brought into expression by man who is His son and who is like Him in essence. Jesus was a true expression of God because He was like Him. If we would manifest the divine attributes, we must seek to attain the consciousness and the understanding that characterized Jesus. We must endeavor to raise our thoughts and feelings to God's level if we would make ourselves channels through which
He can come forth into expression and manifestation.
God transcendent suggests God as above and beyond His creation. This idea of God as remote from the practical affairs of man or from man's own experience is false. God (perfection) is not out of reach of His offspring nor something beyond or above them. Tennyson tells us that "closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet."
I am centered in God because I focus my attention on His ideas and ideals. The Holy Spirit, which is the Word of God in action, leads me into a consciousness of my divine sonship and inheritance. My inheritance from Him is executive ability, abundant supply, faithfulness, joy, all good. "I am thy portion and thine inheritance."
In the name of Jesus Christ I declare: "God's perfect plan of bodily perfection is bearing fruit, and I am made whole."
4th Day, Saturday. Read John 10:1-18.
I am a child of the Father, and my inheritance is from Him. I AM is the Christ within me, the true spiritual being, whom God made in His image and likeness. Through the I AM (the Christ), I link myself with the Father, with Spirit, with life, wisdom, love, peace, strength, power, and Truth.
I AM is the gate through which my thoughts
come forth from the invisible, and it is through this gate that I go to get into the presence of Spirit.
The I AM has its being in heaven; its home is in the realm of God ideals. I hitch my I AM to the star of God, and infinite joy follows as night the day.
The I AM always assures me that the preponderance of power is in spiritual things. Fear throws dust in one's eyes and hides the mighty spiritual forces that are always with one. I deny ignorance and fear, and affirm the presence and power of the I AM. "I AM THAT I AM . . . I AM hath sent me unto you."
I realize that spiritual character is the rock foundation of being. As I build my consciousness in God-Mind, I find that I am in heaven right here on earth. I let go of the little self and take hold of the big self. "Not my will, but thine, be done." The I AM is the will in its highest aspect. The will may be said to be the man, because it is the directive power that decides the character formation which makes what is called individuality.
I boldly affirm: "I am a child of God, and I am joint heir with Jesus to abiding life, wisdom, love, peace, substance, strength, and power."
1st Sunday. Read Matthew 5:21-26.
The altar represents a fixed, definite center in the consciousness of man. It is a place within where
we meet the Lord face to face and are willing to give up our sins, give up the lower for the higher, the personal for the impersonal, the animal for the divine.
The altar, mentioned in Revelation 11:1 symbolizes the consciousness of full consecration that takes place in the temple of worship, the body. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service."
The altar to the unknown God is a yearning to know the unrevealed Spirit, and a reaching out of the mind for a fuller realization of its source.
Prayer does not change God--it changes us. Sincere desire is a form of prayer. Deep desire is essential for spiritual growth. It is desire--earnest, intense desire--that draws the whole being up out of mortality and its transient joys into the power to appreciate and receive real spiritual blessings. This is a demonstration, the proving of a Truth principle in one's body and affairs. It is the manifestation of an ideal when its accomplishment has been brought about by one's conformity in thought, word, and act, to the creative principle of God.
Kneeling at the altar I take my statement of Truth and hold it steadily in mind until I get my realization, the logic of my mind is satisfied, and there is the lifting up and expanding of soul consciousness.
To this end I affirm: "It is not I, 'but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.'"