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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

We had 15 guys at MCC this past Sunday. We occupied two full pews, up front on the left side. The sermon this Sunday was about Joy vs Happiness.

“Let us not confuse joy with happiness. We deserve to be happy and we tend to thrive better when we are happy. When we are happy, we treat others better, we believe in ourselves more, we don’t begrudge others their good fortune, we tend to be kinder and more generous. Happiness is wonderful and I wish you lots of it.

Happiness is a condition, and like all conditions, comes and goes. But joy is a state of being that isn’t dependent on what is happening to or around us.

George Bernard Shaw said this about joy: “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Saint Oprah says that joy is “a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace, a connection to what matters.”

Don’t be surprised if you see Joy vs Happiness come up as a future topic.

-Steve

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We got a good turnout at MCC this morning, but I was late because I got a little distracted by the yard sale across the street. Let me tell you, I got some great deals.

But the message this morning was right-on. Here are the parts I especially liked:

We tend to project onto others what we really believe about ourselves; which is why theologian Howard Thurman said “every judgment is a self-judgment.” Or as one thinker put it, “We are never more discontented with others than we are with ourselves” (Henri Frederic Arnier).

When we are unkind or unfair, that is a reflection of our own insecurities and self-doubts, just as when people are unkind or unfair to us, that is much more about them than about us. To change our unattractive habits, we must recognize them for the errors they are, and then develop new habits of appreciating and loving ourselves; as we learn to love ourselves more, love is what we will more often transfer onto others, and love is what we more often will attract.

Now, let’s be real for a minute. To have peace within, we have to stop looking for, creating, and perpetuating conflict. Our schools, our businesses, our government, our relationships, our churches…the level of perpetual fault finding, complaining and attacking has reached toxic levels in our society. We can’t fix the world, but we can work on us and show the world what is possible. We have to break the habit of complaining; we have to move beyond pessimism and perpetual unhappiness. Those are only habits, and habits can be broken and replaced with new habits. This new season of a new liturgical year is a perfect time to embrace a new way of thinking and speaking and relating…it’s a perfect time to embrace a more peaceful way of being. I need that; maybe you do too.

If we think of P.E.A.C.E. as meaning People Everywhere Are Created Equal, then we’ll see our mission as affirming that message and sharing it boldly and indefatigably. That’s why we marched on Wilton Drive on World AIDS Day…people living with HIV are created equal to everyone else and they need to know that. That’s why we continue to hope for, work for, and demand marriage equality. That’s why we confront racism and sexism, even in our own community and even in our own hearts. People Everywhere Are Created Equal; we need to believe that about ourselves, and we need to believe that about all people.

Gays and Lesbians, Heterosexuals and Bisexuals, Transgender folk and Muslims and Jews and Christians and Hindus and Agnostics and Buddhists, people from every nation, men and women, People Everywhere Are Created Equal.

Another point made during the sermon that I liked, was to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. How many times I forget that!!!

Have a Happy Sunday

-Steve

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Ok, I admit it. Mostly I go to church to be with my friends. And BTW, 13 of us were there today. We’re taking up TWO pews now. I like the music and the sermons are sometimes inspiring, but most of the time they don’t jolt me awake. I usually can multi-task through them while planning the rest of my day. Maybe I should have finished my Dunkin Donuts coffee, but I wasn’t ready for the message this morning. Praying for Discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness is not my idea of serentity and peacefulness. There I was, sitting there half-drozy in half-coffee awake mode (they made me throw the other half away before I could come into church) and all of a sudden I hear “May God bless us with a restless discomfort………….” Huh??? Then I heard “May God bless us with holy anger………” Oh please, leave me be. Praying for tears and foolishness followed. Don’t make me think…on Sunday Morning at that. So I reached for the printed version to find out what we were supposed to be praying for.

“May God bless us with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that we may seek truth bodly and love deep within our hearts.

“May God bless us with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among people.

“May God bless us with the gift of tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

“May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we really CAN make a difference in this world, so that we are able to do what other claim cannot be done.”

Ok, let’s be honest here. This is not your typical mass. To me those are not spiritual or religious words, those are political calls to action and issues I struggle with every day.

I’m good on the foolishness, I’ve got plenty for the whole group. Using it to believe I can change things sounds like the same call to arms Robert Kennedy made when he said “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Was he just being foolish?

Anger is a tricky one. There is good anger that motivates and bad anger that debilitates. Kind of like Good Cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Which is the good one, HDL or LDL? I keep getting the two confused.

Tears are there too. I do care about people in need. But actually reaching out a hand and helping sometimes takes work.

But the first one really is the one that got me thinking; restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships. I may have to take that one to my therapy session this week. That’s the one I really want to ponder.

All four of those prayer requests can be related to HIV and how we deal with HIV. Think about it. There might be a topic in there someplace. Have a good Sunday and a good week everyone.

Peace
-Steve

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Progressive Positive Practical

I go to the MCC church for many reasons. There is the social aspect, a place to go on Sunday morning to be with friends I like very much.

I go for the music. The music is diverse and fantastic every Sunday, although some Sundays are better than others. Today was one of those Sundays when the music was absolutely Spectacular. Elena Correia performed an aria from La Traviatta that was outstanding and received a standing ovation.

But mostly I go for the message. Spirituality is a cofactor integral to my health. I could get spirituality at any number of the gay-friendly progressive churches. But the sermon today is why I go to the MCC.

The Reverend Durrell Watkins is an HIV Pozitive Gay man, just like me. His sermon today was titled The Magic of a Grateful Heart. This is what moved me:

“I’ve seen people survive amazingly difficult health challenges, seemingly because they were more grateful for the possibilities that existed than they were discouraged by the disease, or they were more grateful for the medical treatments available to them than they were troubled by their discomfort, or they were more grateful for one more day of life than they were afraid of an uncertain future. The power of gratitude sustained them and sometimes transformed their experience.

I’ve even known people who were grateful for their disease, because they said it helped them wake up, to know what mattered, to be more present to the people in their lives, and even to take better care of themselves. Whether or not the disease shortened their lives, it did cause them to be more mindful, more loving, more grateful, more intentional, and therefore more alive for as long as they lived. Gratitude can work miracles.
……Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. Feel it and express it. Express it with your words, your actions, your giving. Release the power of gratitude by expressing it”

Let me restate my first paragraph. I go to the MCC church for many reasons. There is the social aspect, a place to go on Sunday morning to be with friends I love very much.

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Sunday Morning, 8-22-2010

Each week, more of us from The Group are attending the Sunshine Cathedral Sunday morning service. We’ve now filled up one pew. It’s really nice to spend Sunday morning with a bunch of friends doing something fun, healthy & truly inspirational. Come join Lain, Bob, Tom, Derek, Jimmy, Keith, Kevin, Steve and others at the 10:30 service some Sunday and see if this is for you.

After the service we walked over to the Church’s social room to speak about the service, meet some others, and to grab some snacks (sandwiches, cakes, cookies, veggies…) before heading out to Peter Pan for a Group Brunch. I hate eating on an empty stomach!

Other guys from the Group are finding inspiration at the Unity Church in Victoria Park and at Center for Spiritual Living at 26th Street and 15th Ave in Wilton Manors. Both deliver an uplifting, positive message as well.

– Steve

From the Service:

The Rev. Durell Watkins‘ sermon, titled “UpLifting” spoke of compassion and the power to heal.

“Religion isn’t meant to make us hate ourselves. It isn’t meant to make us hate other people who practice their understanding of the divine differently. It isn’t meant to make us condemn the unchurched, or those of other churches, or those who worship in synagogues, or in mosques…Religion is meant to help us stand tall with hope and dignity. Religion is meant to bring us together so we can help one another stand tall with dignity and hope and love.”

“When the world bends the truth about the sacred value of women, of same-gender loving people, of gender variant people, of our brothers and sisters in or from the middle east, when the world bends the truth of God’s unconditional love while using the language of vengeance and hatred…when depression, homophobia, illness, abuse, slander, or any condition bends us down, we can be sure the will of God is for us to return to wholeness and for us to be raised up to hope and joy and empowerment…and no abusively misused biblical text can change that truth.”

“...we are in the lifting up business…not tearing down, not wearing down, not breaking down, but lifting up. And as we lift up others, we ARE the good news.

“The Good News Affirmed
When I am down, I can be raised back up.
Nothing can keep me down forever.
The power of hope lifts me up today.
And I share hope to uplift others.”

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Sunshine Cathedral Fort Lauderdale

Sunshine Cathedral MCC Fort Lauderdale

Take part in Sunshine Cathedral’s Sunday morning worship service. No matter what your spiritual beliefs or dis-beliefs, you are fully welcomed to join in this “celebration of unconditional love.”

Fort Lauderdale’s Sunshine Cathedral, a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), practices at Progressive & Positive theology. The Rev. Durell Watkins, an HIV+ Gay Man, always inspires and entertains.

The Service has something for everyone – Inspiration, Music, Laughter, and Community Fellowship. Everyone finds acceptance. Some find healing. Many find divine inspiration. The Service is rich in pageantry. Some members liken it to a Broadway Show.

Join the Group for the 10:30 Service and then go out afterwards for Sunday Afternoon Brunch.
1480 SW 9th Ave (just South of Davie Blvd), Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

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