12.12.2021

How Bright is Your Star?

Sunday, December 12, 2021
Featuring: Rev. Lori Fleming

Click HERE to download this transcript.

Rev. Lori Fleming: So it’s the holiday season. People are starting to have Christmas parties and families are starting to get together again, thank goodness. So I'm going to give you some holiday eating tips. Okay? This is really important.

If you go to a party, avoid carrots. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing about the Christmas spirit. [Congregation laughs] In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, because they probably have rum balls there. [Congregation laughs]

Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch; you only find it at this time of the year. So drink up! Who cares if it has 10,000 calories in a sip! [Congregation laughs] Right on the hips! [Laughs] It's a treat; enjoy it! Have one for me. Have two! It’s later than you think.  It’s Christmas!

If something comes with gravy, use it. [Congregation laughs] Yeah; that's the whole point of gravy, right? It doesn't stand alone; you have to pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes; fill it up with gravy. [Congregation laughs] Eat the volcano, and then repeat. [Congregation laughs]

And as for mashed potatoes, always ask to make sure it's made with butter and whole milk. If they put oleo and skim milk in it, pass. [Congregation laughs] Why bother? I mean, that's like buying an expensive sports car with an automatic transmission. [Congregation laughs]

Do not have a snack before going to a party in order to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is eating other people’s party food for free. Lots of it! Hello? [Congregation laughs]

Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. [Congregation laughs and applauds] That got a clap in the first service, too! Uh huh! You can do that in January when you have nothing to do, right? This is the time to take long naps, which you're going to need after circling the buffet table with a plate full of 10 pounds of food and that vat of eggnog.

If you come across something really good at the buffet table, like some sugar cookies iced to look like Santa, stand there: position yourself right there and don’t budge. You can have as many as you want before becoming the center of attention. It's like a beautiful pair of shoes; if you don't buy them when you see them, they'll be gone! [Congregation laughs] And then you'll regret it.

Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin, mincemeat, cherry, whatever! Have a slice of each! If you don’t like mincemeat, then get two slices of two apple or two slices of pumpkin.  Always have at least three. [Congregation laughs] I mean, when else do you get to have three desserts at one time, right?

And did I mention fruitcake? [Congregation moans] Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all costs. I mean, have some standards, people! [Congregation laughs]

One final tip:  If you don’t feel terrible after you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention to this. So go back, read it again, pay attention. January is just around the corner.

Now, you know who Maxine is? The cartoon character? Here is her motto: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other …” [laughs with congregation] “body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “WOO HOO! What a ride!” [Congregation laughs and applauds]

Alright. Alright. Enough of that foolishness!

Okay; we're in the middle of the Christmas season. Integral to the Christmas story is the star from the east that guided the three wise men to the manger where Jesus was born.  Each of us is the star in the story of our own life In this Christmas season, I invite each and every one of you to let your light shine.

This morning my talk is entitled, “How Bright is Your Star?”

This is taken from the book of Matthew. It's about the visit of the wise men. This is Matthew Chapter 2, Verses 1 and 2: “In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

Interestingly enough, the Gospel of Mark has no story of Jesus' birth at all. Nothing about when he was a little boy. The Gospel of Mark starts with the John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River, and then the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus. And then he begins his ministry. He goes out and he goes out and he chooses his disciples one by one.

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of the Christmas that you're probably the most familiar with. It's with Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, because Joseph was born there, and he had to go back to enroll in the census. Mary came in riding on the donkey, because she was great with child. You remember that.

When they got to the inn, there was no room in the inn, because everyone was in town to register for the census. It's kind of like when Phoenix hosted the Super Bowl, and all the hotel rooms were taken up. [Congregation laughs] Except for the ones that weren't, and they were three times the price!

So I'm sure the innkeeper took one look at Mary and her pregnancy and said to himself, "You're not having that baby in my inn!" [Laughs] "Babies are messy and they're noisy!" And so, of course, they had to go to the stable with the animals, where Jesus was born.

But in that narrative in Luke, it's the angels who appear to shepherds, who are out in their fields, and the shepherds go to see Baby Jesus. There is no star.

Matthew is the only book that talks about the star in the east, and the wise men, or Magi.

So let's look at this metaphysically.

The star metaphysically represents spiritual light and illumination; intuition that we don't fully understand. You know you have that still, small voice sometimes in your head, and you think, "Nah, I'm not going to pay attention to that"? And if you had, it would have led you in the right direction.

The star represents humanity's first awakening before we realize our Christ wisdom and power that's in us: that was planted in our souls before we were born. When we were created. Then we have to learn how to use that power. The Christ is that spark of divinity that's within the human heart. It starts as a tiny pinpoint of light within our very depths, and we can allow it to grow and illuminate our souls: to spiritualize our souls.

It represents inner wisdom and reverence of Spirit, which bring understanding. And it grows our consciousness.

The star represents our spiritual growth and development. As we grow our spiritual nature, our inner wisdom begins to come through. It starts as an inner awakening, and it begins to attract thoughts of understanding and spiritual nourishment that works on substance. Substance is that "non-stuff" everything is made of that, when we think about it long enough, it brings whatever we're thinking about into existence. This brings forth everything that we're creating in the world of time and space.

The star represents revelations of truth that may be currently unknown to us: truths that we may not have the maturity to understand yet. We have to grow in our understanding. How, you might ask? You know the answer! It's through prayer and meditation. Through reading spiritual literature. Through devotion to developing our spiritual nature. By coming to church and being together with like-minded people.

The star appears in the east. The east, metaphysically, represents our inner consciousness: our spiritual consciousness. The regions within the depths of our soul, where there are vast pools of interior wisdom and intelligence just waiting for us to access! The regions within the depths of our souls are there for us to use to learn this intelligence and wisdom. This is where growth in our consciousness begins, as we come to know the great gifts of this wisdom and understanding within us.

The story continues. This is Matthew Chapter 2, Verse 9: "The Magi set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was born."

The star of Bethlehem lead us to our awakening: to the birth of the Christ consciousness within. This is really a rebirth, because the Christ has always been in us ... we just may not have realized it. Or we haven't remembered to live our life from this high spiritual perspective. We distracted by all those "shiny" things we spend too much time ... working, and we don't spend enough time creating our loving relationships with our friends and our family. Or we stay at the bar too long. Or we feed our other addictions, or we feed the drama in our life. All those "shiny" things make us forget who we are! And then we go to sleep spiritually.

The star of Bethlehem symbolizes our inner awareness that each and every one of us is a son or a daughter of the beloved God: the Living God. It represents our ability to accomplish whatever we undertake. Everything , no matter how difficult, no matter how impossible it may seem. Not just the little things, but those big, wonderful, enormous things that make a difference in our lives, in the lives in the people we love, and in the world.

If you have an idea to do something, that's Spirit up your consciousness to possibilities: unlimited possibilities to create anything! When we shine with spiritual illumination of the star within, we cannot fail! That's really good news! Spirit will not give us an idea that's too big for us to accomplish. AND Spirit will provide the next step to ensure our complete success! We don't have to do it by ourselves! There are always other people to help us out.

Jesus taught us how to succeed. He told us to ASK for what we want. He told us to SEEK it out. He told us to KNOCK on every door until we find what we're looking for. You can do that, my friends!

The light of the star calls forth the best in us, so we can succeed when others of equal ability might fail. The star of Bethlehem leads us back to our Christ nature, shining the light of Spirit within us.

The story continues. This is Verse 10: "When the Wise Men saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the stable, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. They opened their treasure chests; they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh."

The wise men were a learned class of people from ancient Persia, which is modern-day Iran. They were astrologers; they could predict the orderly movement of all the celestial bodies. About 2500 BC, people were nomads. They were hunter/gatherers. They would follow the herds, and they would pick whatever vegetables they can find along the way to sustain themselves. About that time, people realized that they could domesticate animals. And they found that it was easier to raise a sheep to eat than it was to go out and kill a wooly mammoth, and a lot safer, too! [Laughs]

They learned to plant seeds and food, because food became more plentiful. Once people started staying in one place, they realized that the sun and the moon and the stars all moved in an orderly manner. The wise men were learned in this art, and they used it to predict the future and to make decisions. The wise men were wealthy, and the brought the baby Jesus gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Now, that seems like kind of strange things to give to a baby. I mean, I usually give bibs or booties or rattles or those cute little "Onesie" things. But frankincense is an aromatic gum resin that's used in healing. Metaphysically, it represents the transmutation of material consciousness into spiritual consciousness. This represents health.

Myrhh is also an aromatic gum resin used in incense and perfume. Metaphysically, myrrh represents the eternity of Spirit and the beauty of Spirit. This represents wholeness.

And gold, of course, is pure. It's valuable. And a small amount of it is worth a lot. It's inert; it's unchanging. It represents a consciousness of the omnipresent richness of substance that everything is made out of. Gold represents the gift of spiritual gifts: the riches of the soul. And it represents unlimited prosperity.

So what did the wide men bring the baby Jesus? Health, wholeness and prosperity. Those are gifts we could all use!

The wise men represent all the accumulated wisdom and experience of humanity. And this wisdom is already in each and every one of us! These gifts represent our ability to heal, to stay healthy, and to live prosperous lives. We can know everything without ever realizing how or why we know. We just need to realize our spiritual nature, and access it through prayer and meditation: by aligning our mind with the Mind of God. By opening up our consciousness to receive divine inspiration.

When our faith and prayer to do the will of God begins to rise up in us, there is a great rejoicing! All the angels in heaven celebrate! When we begin to feel the connection to the Christ already in us, we begin to experience the riches of greater inner wisdom.

Look for the star! It points to the Christ child. The Christ child is within you, ready to be reborn anew in this Christmas season! You are the star; let your light shine! Let God work in you to bring out your very best.

Each time you see the beautiful Christmas lights, we can be reminded that each and every one of us is the light of the world. Let your light shine! You're the star in your own life!

To allow your light to shine, I found this "Letter from Jesus."

Jesus writes:

"Dear Children:

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking my name out of the season, like shortening the name of the day to Xmas or saying ‘Season’s Greetings’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’

Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of year, and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate my birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festivals."

The harvest festivals. [Continues reading]

"But I do appreciate being remembered any time. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children.”

Everybody knows how excited children get at Christmas time. I love Christmas!

Jesus says:

"I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate my birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER."

Get along and love one another!

"Now, having said that, let me go on.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a nativity scene depicting my birth, then just get rid of a couple of the Santas and snowmen and reindeer."

Everybody in my neighborhood has reindeer this year; I don't know what that's about!

"And put a small Nativity scene right there on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square, because there'd be many of them all around the town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a 'holiday tree' instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can and may remember me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grapevine if you wish. If you want to give me a present in remembrance of my birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.”

This is your homework; some of these things may make wonderful New Year's resolutions... ones that we may actually keep!

"1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way my birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers far away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know; they tell me about it all the time.

  1. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
  2. Instead of writing the President and complaining about the choice of words on his Christmas card he sent out this year, why don’t you write him -- no matter who you voted for -- write him and tell him that you're are praying for him and his family? He has one of the hardest jobs in the world.
  3. Instead of giving your friends and family lots of gifts you cannot afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Hold them in your lap and tell them you love them. Tell them what a great person they are; that's what they'll remember.”

Okay; this one's really hard.

“5. Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive them."

I just went from preaching to meddling, I know. [Congregation laughs] But if you can do that, you'll cleanse your consciousness. You'll feel so much better. Forgiveness is a wonderful spiritual tool.

"6. Instead of complaining about the lines in the grocery store, and that there aren’t enough cashiers, be patient, and give a smile to everyone. It could make a difference in someone's day. While you're waiting, talk to the person behind you.  Wish them a great day. This is how we create peace in the world: one person at a time. And it begins with you.

  1. Buy one of those packaged Christmas dinners at the grocery store for a needy family."

There are lots of hungry people out there. You know, they really should do that all year long!

"8. If you want to make a statement about your belief and loyalty to me, behave like a Christian. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

P.S. Don’t forget: I'm God and can take care of myself.  Just love me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest.  

Check out this list, and get to work. Time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is in your court.  

And now do have the most blessed Christmas with all those you love and remember.

I Love You,

Jesus”

With that in mind … [Congregation applauds] You get to choose: How bright is your star? [Congregation applauds]

Copyright 2021 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Lori Fleming

CLICK HERE to view Rev. Fleming's guided meditation during the service.

Location and Contact Information

Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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