Sunday, Jan. 2, 2010
After departing from the early service at UU Asheville I hurried on over to West Asheville to attend the 11:00am service at Unity Church of Asheville. Unity is a progressive approach to Christianity based firmly in the teachings of Jesus that also honors the universal truths present in all spiritual traditions. I have attended services at the larger Unity Center in Mills River before with great pleasure and when I heard there was a small Unity Church in West Asheville I knew I wanted to visit.
In addition, I noticed on their website that they have A Course In Miracles class that meets right after Sunday services. I’ve been practicing the Course in Miracles lessons for almost a year now so I was looking forward to spending time with other folks who were practicing the Course too.
Since I’d hurried over from the UU service I arrived a bit early at the Unity Church, which is situated on a lovely wooded property at 130 Shelborne Road. I browsed the church library for a few minutes as more people arrived. I was greeted by both Barbara, the church’s administrator and Angela Plum, one of the church’s ministers.
This is a small, family-like congregation who especially love sharing the gift of music with one another. There is no choir. Instead, Minister Rick Ackers leads a small band and the congregation sings along joyfully. This is one of my favorite things about church — it provides an opportunity for people to share their artistic expressions with their community for the sheer love of sharing. After a few songs a man read a passage from a spiritual text (I didn’t get the title) and then, in one of the finest baritone voices I’ve ever heard led the congregation in singing the Lord’s Prayer.
Next, Rick, led the congregation in a deep meditation that opened my heart and left me with a profound sense of my connection to Infinite Source. After the meditation the congregation affirmed this statement of faith and unity: “I am one with God. We are all one in Spirit. I can never be separated from Spirit, for God and I are one”. I’m not always able to affirm statements of faith when I visit Christian churches because I don’t always share the beliefs on which they are founded. But this was a statement I could affirm whole-heartedly.
Unity Church is one of those churches that includes a segment in the service called “Sharing the Peace” where everyone sort of moves around the congregation shaking hands or hugging and saying “peace be with you” or “God’s peace to you” or simply “welcome, I’m glad to see you”. It’s just delightful. In close, informal congregations like Unity Church of Asheville, Sharing the Peace can take a while. It was clear these people love each other and sincerely welcome visitors.
Rick’s message for the New Year centered around our efforts to make changes in our lives, especially changing habits. Habits become hard to break, he said, precisely because we see them as bad. If we can think of these habits instead as tools that got us this far, we can find it easier to bless and release the behavior as we move on to choose new behaviors that are more in line with our spiritual path. He offered this acronym, GLOW, as a way to remember this process:
G – Gratitude for the learned habits that got us this far.
L-Letting go of guilt, resistance and fear.
O-Opening up, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and to give more of our attention to the present moment filled with blessings and power.
W-Will, exercising our choice in the moment.
After a few more songs about Divine Love and prayers service ended with the whole congregation holding hands in a circle singing the Peace Song: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”.
I stayed for the Course in Miracles class which had about a dozen people in it all together. The group welcomed me and another visitor warmly as we shared a lesson and some readings from the Course. I felt a little inner giggle when it turned out the section we were reading from that afternoon was the same one I’d been reading that very morning. Little synchronicities like that remind me that I am always connected to Spirit.