Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a country where we are free to worship the religion of our choice? We have so many we can choose from and we can attend any church at any time! I love the diversity of our religions and different faith groups! Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, various Eastern religions, and so many more! I just wish we could all live together in peace, love and accept each other as we are, and show respect to each other regardless of any perceived differences. The majority do. It’s just sad that those who don’t are the ones who usually get the press.
There are many amazing religions and churches right here in Cookeville, and I’ve met and gotten to know so many beautiful people from the various beliefs. When we look at a person’s heart instead of their labels, we realize just how much we really do have in common.
There is goodness in most all religions and their foundations are based on love. Their spiritual masters taught us to love one another and to harm no one. They know it’s more important to walk the talk, than talk the talk. They know to be an example and that they don’t have to force anything on anyone. They know that their love and light will attract people to them.
I love the quote by Senator Cory Booker: “Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all His children. Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”
This is one reason I love Unity Church. Like many other churches, we have a friendly and loving church family, we support and encourage each other, and we try to be an example... without judgment, condemnation, or fear. In fact, our mission statement says, “Unity Church of the Cumberlands is a beacon of spiritual love and joy that shines through us to all the region and the world. As we awaken to and celebrate our oneness with God and each other, this growing awareness brings health, abundance, and happiness to all who claim it.”
We also have a Vision Statement which says that we “Demonstrate the teachings of Jesus by living the following practices in words, actions, and deeds. Our Unity Church is… Welcoming: From the time members and guests enter our parking lot until the time they leave, all people feel welcomed! Here at Unity, we treat people as we want to be treated ourselves. Diverse: People of all races, ages, economic, or marital status, no matter whom they love, live with, or where they work, are treated with love and respect. We behold the Christ in every person in our community of love. The Spirit of Love and Joy: Everyone who enters feels the love and respect we have for God, for each other, and for ourselves. We radiate Divine Love. Vibrant and Alive: We express our enthusiasm for life in kind and loving words to each other, in the music, in readings, in classes, in prayers, in talks, and in all our activities. Faith-Full: We choose this vision for our church, and we let the fullness of God’s love and power supply our every need as it comes about.”
Are we perfect at it? Not at all. We still have that human side to us so we sometimes deal with our egos and personal wants and needs. But the Mission and Vision statements give us something to aspire to; a roadmap to how we see ourselves becoming. If your church doesn’t have Mission or Vision statements, then I would highly recommend creating them.
There is an Indian Sanskrit greeting that I love, and I use it often. There are variations of the meaning, but this is the one I like best. “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.” This word is… Namaste'.
No matter what religion you belong or what you believe, I leave you with the Prayer of Protection. “The light of God surrounds us. The love of God enfolds us. The Power of God protects us. The presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are, God is, and all is well.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper, March 21, 2014.