From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service June 2017
Over the years in this meditation community we have had a number of worship services devoted to exploring the dichotomy of creation and destruction. The vast majority of these sessions have been primarily about the latter, the destruction side of things. For the longest time, it was important to help each other get over thinking that destruction is a bad thing. Like every dichotomy that gets played out on Planet Earth, it is simply what it is. Destruction, as well as creation, is not intrinsically bad or good. We needed to get more comfortable with the idea of things coming to an end, things dying, if you will. We needed to get more skilled at helping destruction happen with a minimal of suffering; and get ready for the times in which we now find ourselves.
Whatever you call it, we are swimming in a sea of destruction of every aspect of our natural and human world, our environment and infrastructure, our way of life, played out in our political, social, economic and religious systems to name a few.
I was very happy after I realized the implications of being drawn to doing a sermon on co-creating with the divine. Time for us to get on with reestablishing a new world order, so to speak. This order is not the kind of order that humans build when we get lost to our need for domination and power over each other. This world order has to do with the kind of order that naturally arises when we surrender ourselves to the indwelling God. Or as the Christ would say, as quoted in John 14;27:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.
In the interest of some of those in this community making and helping others to make this miraculous transition, I thought we would explore some of the nuts and bolts of what it actually means to go about co-creating with God. Co-creation is a concept that resonates with many people but few really could put their finger on the message that those words actually contain or how to make it happen. So let me give it a shot.
We know that God is an awesome, majestic unending Creative force. Indeed, one of the most common synonyms used by various religious people for God is the Creator; or the Creator-of-Us-All.
Most people also believe that humankind reflects the creativity of the divine, that we are made in God’s image and so we are intrinsically creative. But what does that actually mean. . .and how do we go about creating in conjunction with, as opposed to opposition to the will of the divine?
As I have been preparing this sermon, I have been watching the news about our current rash of extreme weather. In my opinion, climate change is one of the clearest reflections of how much we have gotten out of sync with the divine. Sometimes I can find a slight bit of amusement about the irony of someone like fundamentalist Christian Tony Perkins, leader of the highly influential, hate-filled Family Research Council saying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for homosexuality and then having his own home destroyed by a flood. More often I am filled only with sorrow, anger and on my better days, compassion.
But here’s the rub. Our extreme weather events these days are both a consequence of our inability to understand co-creation; and a call to action for us to start getting with the program. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and blame God, or attribute to God everything that is happening in our world. Humans have a LOT to do with what happens on Planet Earth. When you look closely at the political discourse around climate change, the question of who is responsible is what you see at the core. Too many individuals are trying to pretend, increasingly unsuccessfully, that humans have little or nothing to do with climate change. For decades, humans have mindlessly slaughtered animals, fouled the oceans and waterways, desecrated the Earth through drilling, mining and most recently fracking, et. al.
Destroying the Earth was and is not a God-given mandate. God is Nature and Nature is God. God cannot destroy itself.
Humans? That’s another matter. You have to be really out of touch with God if you do not see that human animals have set the stage for our own annihilation through our treatment of our physical home.
God/Nature is not punishing us through hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, droughts, etc. It is giving us our (final) warning(s).
We already have been co-creating with the divine from day one. It’s our basic nature to do so. We have just not been doing so with any degree of awareness or finesse. God creates the stars, the planets and the entire Heaven; and we decide how to invite them into our life. We decide whether to base our health care decisions on the movement of Heavenly bodies through astrology or the science of the physical Earth through biology.
God sets forth the rivers, and we decide whether to swim them, sail vessels or construct dams on them. I’m being a bit simplistic in that all human behavior is based in part on spiritual forces so even the invention and application of technologies contain the hand print of the divine, but you get my drift.
We are in partnership with God one way or the other. Whether we experience a loving and supportive relationship or some kind of toxic soup depends on our choices.
Over the centuries many people affiliated with many religions have lost their sense of God, lost their faith because they have accepted the lie that everything in our World is up to God. In human history, loud are the periodic questions about why God allows so much suffering and the episodic conclusions that God has forsaken us. Our Creator never leaves us. The Creator loves us enough to allow us to create whatever hell or heaven on Earth we wish to experience. It waits for us to wake up to the responsibility of free will; and participates joyfully in any partnership which we offer.
So, it’s 120 degrees in Phoenix. Anyone here want to experience that? Let’s talk about what we need to not make that a reality in Washington State and elsewhere. This morning I want to talk about two aspects of co-creation and how to think about it, about which we all could stand to make some progress.
First and foremost, we need to figure out where God actually lives; or in the words often used in religious discussions, where God dwells. This is one of the great mysteries, is it not? For eons people have tried to make sense out of the idea that God is everything and everywhere. And still we have evil and ugliness and things of that ilk that seem far from God-like. People who do not understand dichotomies often try to resolve this confusion by assigning all the evil and ugliness to what I believe is a mythical creature called Satan or the devil.
But then, how can you say that God is everything and everywhere?
We are not going to resolve this mystery today. After all, mysteries are meant to be mysterious. But I want to give you a way to think about it and encourage you to start training your mind, if you haven’t already started this process. Because it is a critical one. There is a reason why Jesus of Nazareth talked more about the Kingdom of God than any other topic of his ministry. He did so because this topic is at the center of human confusion. Christ was VERY CLEAR. The Kingdom of God is WITHIN. Within each one of us, without exception.
God is everywhere and everything. But God cannot be fully experienced unless we seek our Creator within us, unless we choose with our free will, to know the Father, the Mother, however you want to envision that Creative force, to acknowledge it living in our own God-given space. The Living God, the indwelling God, can only be fully known within each individual. Where does God dwell most intently? Within you, waiting for your discovery of it, your communication, your adoration. In the words of the 46th Psalm:
Be Still and Know that I Am
There is a second part to co-creating with the divine that is critical. When people first learn to turn within, whether they do that through some form of meditation or prayer, religious practice, surrounding themselves with Nature, great works of art or music, or as my atheist Mother learned to do in the latter part of her life, sitting quietly with her own thoughts over a cup of coffee each morning—whatever the process, people generally have to contend with what in Buddhism is referred to as the “chattering monkeys.”
Encountering your inner world, you will probably find the chaos of the external world that you have fallen into the habit of letting have full access to your brain You may find the voices of parents and teachers and others who have shaped your reality in the absence of you knowing how to shape your own. You may even see images or run into stored emotion from periods of time long since gone, from your childhood and from other lifetimes. For most people it is a process that takes a lot of time to find yourself in all that mess of repressed and out-of-date energies.
In this voyage of self-discovery, it is what comes after finding yourself that is so crucial to the art of co- creating with God. Once you find yourself, you have to give yourself away. Not to the world, not to another person, but to your creator. You have to choose to lay down your resistance. You have to surrender.
When you think about how many centuries of warfare we have created on Planet Earth, along with its perspective that surrendering is a bad thing, it is amazing that any of us want to or are capable of doing so at all. But we need to. We need to learn to give up our ego, which is what surrendering is all about.
Ego is a tricky thing. Telling someone that they are dealing with their ego is considered an insult. However, mental health professionals like to talk about “ego strength” as an important part of healthy personalities. In psychology at least, we acknowledge that ego is not only common but also can come in handy at times. So here we have another dichotomy. Ego is neither bad nor good. It depends on what we do with it.
Ego is the band aids we put over our owies to keep them from getting infected. It allows us to put pain on hold, repress it until we are more ready to resolve it. Hurts a little when you rip it off band aids but is really no big deal except for sissies. Sometimes if the hurt has been huge, ego is like scar tissue, and then it’s a little bigger of a deal to recover from it. You might even need the help of someone with surgical skills. The point is, to move forward at some point you are going to need to get better and better at processing hurtful information, as well as resolving earlier repressed pain.
Since the universe is always moving forward, you can do the passive thing and let the universe decide when this point is and let it blindside you. Or you can ask the universe aka God to set before you that which you need to heal at the time and in the manner that is most pleasing to it. This is the essence of surrendering. That is the essence of co-creating with the divine. You find yourself and you give yourself freely into the hands of the Almighty
As I write this, I am aware that most of you are primarily focused on the finding-yourself part of spiritual development. If you want to start practicing the surrendering part of spiritual development, my suggestion is that you make this a part of your daily meditations, however brief.
For several years I ended most of my meditations with a mantra of sorts. I would maintain a strong focus inward after clearing my space using the techniques you all know how to do; and then I would say slowly and repeatedly, speaking to the God of my heart, “Make Me an Instrument of Your Love. Make Me an Instrument of Your Will.” The first statement was an acknowledgement of my individual path in this life; and my need for help finding it. The second statement was the surrendering part. After a couple of years I noticed that much to my chagrin, I was still tripping over my ego on a regular basis. But I could no longer base major decisions on my ego. When I would try, I would hit what felt like an invisible brick wall. As our Muslim brothers and sisters would say: Allah Akbar, God is greater. God was answering my prayers and protecting me from the worst of my stupidities.
My Creator became a greater participant in creating my life when I, with all of my heart, invited it to play an active role.
If you want to use universal words, surrendering is also a part of the Lord’s Prayer. Repeat that sacred prayer if it has meaning for you. Thy Will be Done. Not My Will or Our Will, Thy Will.
Find your own methodology. Create your own words but give your energy to the indwelling divine. The extent to which you do this will dictate the amount of the peace talked about by the Christ you will experience. As the Tibetan meditation master Ajahn Chah says: “If you let go a little you a will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.”
So back to it being 120 degrees in Phoenix this week. Can we really change our descent into global heating enough to take the human species off the endangered species list? Possibly. Probably. I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that not only is the endpoint at hand, but so is the beginning point.
This I also know as truth: We can’t do it by ourselves. We are going to need to use our collective will and enormous creativity to lay our fate in the hands of the divine.
The solutions are far beyond what human brains can envision on our own. Join me in asking for the intercession of the universe, as we learn to harness our own God-given creativity in the service of us all.
Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven