Faith is not a belief, it is a way to perceive the world
Do You Hear What I Hear?1
Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite
We love Christmas songs, especially when they are based on a familiar theme. Some are whimsical and fun. Who doesn’t smile when they hear Frosty the Snowman or Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer? But they are even more powerful when associated with strong emotions or faith. Do You Hear What I Hear? is one such song. It was written by a married couple, Gloria Shayne and Noel Regney, in October of 1962, as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. While very pertinent at the time, it is no less effective now in focusing our attention toward peace and harmony in the world today.
This first Sunday of Advent, Rev. Joanne asks us, “Do You See What I See?” What do you “see” Christmas, and the Christmas season, as signifying? Christmas has many happy meanings – including the birth of Jesus, family gatherings, and gift exchanges. But for some people, it can also have not-so-happy meanings – memory of loss of loved ones, family conflict, personal loneliness.
As a Christ-based ministry, Unity shares some of the symbolism of Christian traditions. One such tradition is the Advent Wreath. One candle is lit each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. Though the order in which they are given may vary slightly from one church to another, most share that the four colored candles represent holding in our consciousness thoughts of Faith, Joy, Peace, and Love, with the white candle in the center representing the Christ.
When people are asked to define the word Faith in a religious or spiritual context, the answer we hear often is related to a set of dogmatic beliefs set down by some authority – quite literally, “carved in stone.” We may have been taught that to be a Christian we must believe x, y, and z, and if we do not, then by definition we are not Christian. The Bible has numerous places that speak to Faith. One well-known passage tells us:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3
For many centuries, this passage, and others like it, has been interpreted, at least in part, as meaning that God is not only omnipotent, but will intervene in human affairs. If we have faith in God, then the interventions will be in our favor. If we pray and believe “correctly,” it is akin to putting a coin in a prayer vending machine and pressing the appropriate button for the dispensing of God’s favors – physical healing, prosperity, romance, family harmony, world peace. But if we do not have faith, and do not pray correctly, God will either ignore us, allow bad things to happen to us, or directly punish us for our sins.
This is not what Unity teaches about faith. In The Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore takes this very same passage and interprets faith as:
The perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance. Spiritual assurance; the power to do the seemingly impossible. It is a magnetic power that draws unto us our heart's desire from the invisible spiritual substance. Faith is a deep inner knowing that that which is sought is already ours for the taking.2
Fillmore has much more to say about faith; the above definition was but one of eighteen entries for the term. I encourage you to discover them for yourself. The Revealing Word and many other Unity writings are available free of charge at www.truthunity.net.
Rev. Joanne reminds us that Advent is a season of preparation. In traditional Christianity this has meant preparing for the arrival of the Christ child. When anyone is expecting the birth of a child, the expectant parents do not simply wait and do nothing. There is much work to be done to assure they can provide the best environment for their bundle of joy.
The symbolism of the Advent season is not meant to be only for expectant parents. It is meant for everyone to open our consciousness to the coming of the Christ. The child known as Jesus, who arrived more than two thousand years ago, is the perfect example of embodied Christ-consciousness, our Way Shower. Jesus taught us that we too have the Christ in us and that we can do all that he has done, and more.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12
When things are going well in our lives, faith is not something we often think about. We are much more likely to invoke the need for faith when we are experiencing difficulty or crisis. Faith is a universal Truth Principle, and works in our lives in all circumstances. As Rev. Joanne said, when we are experiencing difficulty faith invites us to remember that we can see things truly without giving power to them. It also allows us to see the Light, however dim it may be. This Light from faith we see is not just for ourselves, but also for others. Our Advent reading tells us that:
Faith is the gift you bring when someone in your life is hurting. Your faith can be their bridge to improved circumstances because you can hold the vision – keep the faith – to see them healed, prospered and at peace.
So in Unity, faith is not what we believe, but how we perceive the world. Like all spiritual principles, we need to practice our faith to move it from the realm of belief to solidly within the realm of knowing. During our journey along this path we may waver, but we can always return to our center, the Christ within each of us, and embrace our faith anew every day.
I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24
This week, be aware of when you are feeling worry, doubt, fear. It’s bound to arise as you stretch out of your comfort zone! Realize: “This has no power over me!” If needed, take a breath and invite the Spirit of God within to help you through the discomfort. Repeat as needed.
Embracing faith as a Truth Principle is an effective way for us to empower ourselves to successfully live our lives in this temporal realm. My spiritual practice for this week will be to understand that worry, doubt, and fear are all signs of a growth opportunity. When I experience these emotions, I will consciously take a moment to stop and breathe, and try to understand what lesson I am being asked to learn. The answer may not be immediately obvious, but I know that through faith, I will not only identify the question, but by following the path of meditation and active contemplation that the answers will surely come. How will you step out in faith this week?
1Do You Hear What I Hear?, Lyrics – Noel Regney; Music – Gloria Shayne.
2Fillmore, Charles, The Revealing Word, Unity Press