Gathered Togetherby Rev. Frances D. Montgomery, NST, CM
Many of you have heard me say that one of the best things about our religion to me, personally, is that we are taught to think for ourselves. No pope, no priest, no pastor, no minister, no evangelist has any closer link to the Spirit, the Infinite Intelligence, the God Force, than we, each and every one of us, does. That is true, IF we take the time to be connected to Spirit. This requires meditation, the desire, sincerely enough put, to make and take the time to connect with the God Force on a regular daily basis. We are taught to read, study, meditate, make our own decisions, use our own minds, to think things through. How many of us really do that DAILY in our lives? We get up and start readying for our day – many of us have a job or time clocks to punch. We have families who need our attention, meals to prepare, groceries to get in, houses to clean, appointments to be kept. We mean to meditate and get in touch with God and ourselves, we intend to, but honestly, for many, it simply doesn’t get done every day on a regular schedule. Part of being in touch with Infinite Intelligence has to do with learning to be better people in our daily lives, to utilize what we have learned in our dealings with those around us.
If we are able to be in touch with God Force just as closely as anyone else, why then, you may ask, do we need to even bother to come to church?
One of the main reasons to attend church as regularly as possible is simply because we don’t have the time or take the time or MAKE the time to get in touch with Spirit daily. We may send Spirit a thought here, a request there, a “God help me” someplace else, a “Spirit, I need a parking place” when we are driving but to really make spiritual contact takes more than one thought every three or four hours. And, it isn’t all about asking for this or that. It is a tuning in and listening time. A time for spirit to reach through to our minds and souls and fill us with reverence, love, peace, healing and information.
There are other reasons to come to church. One of the best is found in Matthew Chapter 18, verse 20, where Jesus, our Master Teacher, says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” There is strength in numbers. Two or three or more, working together, have more power than one person who may not take the dedicated time to tune in. Spirit is closer when we are gathered together. Also, when we gather together we put aside the cares and concerns of daily life and talk and interact in the spirit of worship. We can concentrate on Infinite Intelligence. We take time to meditate during healing. We take time to learn by listening to the speaker of the day. We have the opportunity to hear, from someone else’s point of view, what their experience has taught them or how they perceive God at work in their lives. We learn from explanations, shared exchanges conversationally, and also from the Force of God, who often puts words into our mouths which we hear ourselves saying and sometimes wonder where THAT came from and how on earth we were ever led or impressed to say THAT? In our church, as you all may have noticed, we interact, sometimes, even during the talk being given. Frequently someone will interject something from the congregation during a talk. There is no intention to be rude or to disrupt the service. Also, our congregation is small and closely connected. In a larger group this would never be acceptable. I am very aware that this is NOT the norm in other church services. I have attended other churches – Spiritualist as well as other denominations, and the congregation simply sits there, attentively listening. There is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, interaction often brings things more clearly into perspective from the comments or gives the speaker validation that the group is at least LISTENING to what is being said and feels free to participate or ask questions. In my opinion, that is wonderful, although with some speakers, we do out of respect, simply try to follow and take in and learn from what is being said. Rev. Steed is a great example of that! Usually when he speaks I am working to follow his talk and don’t even think about asking questions while he is talking. He is very good at explaining what he is saying and I simply listen and learn.
I really love the laughter we share in this church. We know laughter is vibration raising, it shows we are in communion with Spirit and that we care and are attentive. I know of no other church I have ever attended that shares more laughter during a service than ours does. I wonder, should an outsider drop by, from the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, or any other denomination for that matter, what they would think? I know for a fact that the lady where I took my first week of Ministerial Skills would certainly be disapproving!
We are as much spirit today as we shall ever be. The very life and breath of us IS the God Force. Without that, we would cease to exist. Once we realize that, we realize we are each an extension of God. That is why we really should take the time to communicate daily with Spirit. That would keep us focused and in tune. Failing that, we attend church to commune with Infinite Intelligence. We use the invocation at the beginning of the service to request, to ask or invite the God Force to join us in our service. We ask Spirit to be with us and lead us in what we say. We are aware of the responsibility involved for the speakers should they mislead anyone. Each and every person who has ever spoken from this platform is aware of the responsibility of what he or she is saying. We diligently attempt to be as honest and forthright as possible. We do not set ourselves up as the only way or the only viewpoint. We teach the best we know how and of course, this is only according to our own highest level of understanding. We encourage you to search on your own and develop your own understanding.
No one is able to teach more than they know unless Spirit works through that person, speaking through them to teach. That is not a normal circumstance. That would be an honor, in my opinion. Also, remember, the individual only attracts guides and teachers who are a grade ahead of them. First graders do not need professors. They need teachers who can reach their level of understanding and help to raise them up one more grade. College students need and understand more so their teachers need to be more highly educated. It is the same with pastors.
And so with all of that in mind, we feel the need to gather together to raise our spirits, souls and vibrations in our Sunday services. I ask any of you who have a subject you would like discussed on a Sunday to let me know what it would be. If we don’t know the answers, we will seek them or have a group session to discuss them. Without YOU there is no need for this or any church. We are here to do our best and to serve YOU on Sundays. We are available by phone or e mail to you at any time. My goal personally, is to be raised Spiritually to a higher level, to become more God-like and to learn to live daily what I have learned. As all of you know, that is NOT easy. It is actually very difficult to always hold your tongue, always control your temper, always speak kindly and encouragingly to others, never cut anyone off in traffic, to always be nice to strangers who phone at meal time. Knowledge without implementation is really not worth much. Knowing better and not living better just doesn’t get it. We want to discuss subjects that will enable you to personally take home and put them to use in your everyday life so that you may live more closely in touch with your God Force and become more spiritually attuned. If I am able to cause anyone here to put to use anything that I have said in their daily lives that will help them be a better person, I will have more than fulfilled my goal. We gather here to learn. We gather here that Spirit may teach us. We gather here to improve ourselves and our lives. We gather to invoke God to be with us and raise us up in truth. We also gather here to learn to love others.
I want to close with a few lines from a favorite song of mine. Many of you may know it as it was sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Others, Lord, yes, others, let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others that I may live like Thee.
Help me to live from day to day in such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray,
My prayers will be for others.