Stop. Look. Listen.

shining flowers in the sunlight

Psalms 24, 29, 8, 84
Isaiah 42:1-12
John 3:16-21
Ephesians 6:10-20

Take heed of the old adage for crossing the street: “Stop. Look. Listen.” Three simple directions that can assuredly help you see the glory that is around you! Finding what stirs your soul and reconnects you to your sacred center is as individual as a fingerprint. The Scriptures for this day in the advent season are dripping with awe and longing for the beauty and promises of God. What fills your spirit to its brim? What makes you want to sing out joyfully with a huge grin on your face? Imagine it and then send out your praises to the Divine! Share beauty, glory, and gladness in this sparkly season of Christmas! A season that reminds us that God is with us. Advent represents God’s light entering into our darkened world. We should smile and allow that light to fill our days, bless our interactions with others and spread warmth to all we encounter.

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Kelley Wheat-Rivers earned her masters degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Claremont School of Theology. She is now a Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator at Liberty Hospice and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, both in Wilmington, NC.

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Lost in God

Someone asked, “What is love?” God answered, “You will know when you lose yourself in Me.”

–Jalalal-din Rumi, 13th century Sufi mystic

For the Sufi mystic, losing oneself in God is the answer. In the modern world, though, how many of us can completely lose ourselves in the search for God? Between getting the kids ready for school and feeding our families, working, and volunteering for our faith community, some of us may feel as if we have lost God in the process of living. But it is important to recognize that God is waiting for us to get closer and lose ourselves in God’s loving embrace. Living can be found in losing oneself. But how does one do this?

Like the Jewish mystics, you might lose yourself in the sacred scriptures. You could spend 15 minutes each morning, reading and reflecting on what the words you read mean to you. Perhaps you could journal your thoughts—giving yourself the deadline of Christmas—like a countdown of this holy month, which culminates in the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. Rejoice in the gift of the one who so loves us. When you awaken on Christmas morning, read your journal and witness a birth of a new you.

Likewise, you might find, like the Sufi mystics, that music and dance is a useful tool for losing yourself in God. Decide today to spend each day rocking out to the music of your choice. Lose yourself in the words and sing at the top of your lungs. Spin around as if you are a Whirling Dervish and feel the loving embrace of God as you meditate on the beauty of the music spread before you—tantalizing your ears and heart. Feel your love of God in your body and lose yourself in this feeling.

This is the month of peace, forgiveness and love. In losing yourself in God, you just may find more of these in your life. Now, that is living!

Prayer:

Dear God, may I find a way to lose myself in you, each day, during this holy month. I recognize that sometimes I am so busy; and I cannot imagine how I can squeeze in another minute, but I desire to love more and thus live more. I covenant to spend time with you each day and, I hope I will find that the greatest gift given to me, when I awaken this Christmas morning, is the gift of life and…love. You said, “…faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) I believe this, God. I will seek it, starting today. Amen.

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Summer Albayati-Krikeche is a woman who speaks inside and outside of the church. She is a candidate for ordained ministry in the Unitarian Universalist church, and serves as an intern chaplain at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. While studying in seminary, Summer felt that all of the sacred scriptures called us to help the oppressed. Shortly, thereafter, she decided to help those considered the most marginalized in any society—orphans. In 2009, Summer founded Orphan Whispers, a nonprofit that helps orphans in conflict and post-conflict societies, and is currently focusing on the orphans in Iraq.