On January 3, 2016, Rev. Tony Ponticllo addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA for the Sunday Service. It was the first Sunday Service in the new year. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
Happy New Year everybody! (A few people quietly respond "Happy New Year.") Let's do better than that. Happy New Year everybody! (More people, much louder, and more enthusiastic, "Happy New Year!")
It's the first Sunday of the New Year, January 3rd. Nice to have you here. The title of my talk today is "A New Year from the Time of Christ." I want to focus in on that. We think about the new year by itself frequently, but A Course In Miracles is clear that the new year has significance because it has come out of the time of Christ, which is actually the Christmas celebration.
Before I get going, I want to welcome everyone who is watching this on YouTube. (Rev. Tony looks into the new video camera that has been set up in the front row.) Thank you for being here; thank you for watching. Tune in every week as we put new Sunday teachings and Miracle Shares on YouTube.**1 And there will be a time for you later on to click and give a donation to the Community Miracles Center, which of course we would really appreciate, because it allows us to continue our healing work.
A Course In Miracles says, "The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside yourself but shining in the Heaven within and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come." (OrEd.Tx.15.102) I just want to be clear that when ACIM talks about the time of Christ, which it does in several places, that it is actually talking about Christmas. The juxtaposition of the phrase and Christmas is really clear. So the time of Christ, when ACIM refers to it, means Christmas. Here it says, "Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy." (OrEd.Tx.15.108) Again, being very clear about this, the time of Christ is Christmas.
Then it says, "This is the weekend in which a new year will be born from the time of Christ." (OrEd.Tx.15.110) This actually is the weekend when a new year is born from the time of Christ. We are, right now, in that weekend A Course In Miracles is talking about. It is important to embrace that teaching, to think about this New Year and what it means to all of us now. It is important to think about what it is going to mean for us as the year goes along. How do we approach this new year, especially coming out of this time, when hopefully we have realized that the Christ energy – the Christ soul, the Christ being – has been born again within us?
The time of Christ is, of course, a celebration. We celebrate that the Christ energy, the Christ being, our Christed nature, has been infused into us, from our creation. During Christmas we have a unique time to truly celebrate that truth and embrace it with a new fervor. Of course, it is the entire holiday season, it's Chanukah, it's Kwanzaa, and it's Christmas. It's all the things that we celebrate at the end of the calendar year, to embrace and reinforce that there really is something within us that is Divine, that is perfect, that we get strength and energy from. This Divine essence is always there for us to tap into.
I love how the very beginning of the year, for some of us, starts with an amazing fireworks display. Those of us who were brave and hardy, who went to the fireworks this year, thank you for doing that. Thank you for being there with me and helping me get there, because I could have easily just gone to bed (laughter) and not trekked down to Pier 14. But it was great. It was great to be down there; it was great to see those fireworks. I was able to record a very good, high definition video with my iPhone of the finale of the fireworks. It is sitting on the computer in the office if anybody who would like to see it. It's a minute and 45 seconds long. I would love to show it to you after the service. It's really lovely. We'll put it up on YouTube. Then you can all click on it and watch the 1 minute and 45 second video of the finale of the San Francisco fireworks January 1st 2016.**2
I think it's important to remember the holiday season is supposed to be a celebration, a big celebration. A Course In Miracles says something about celebrating. I think it's missed by a lot of people. You have to remember that in Jesus' time when they wanted to celebrate something – especially if they wanted to celebrate returning armies which had just been successful in battle – they would cut down palm fronds and they waved them in front of the returning armies in celebration of their victories. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, that week before he eventually got crucified, but at the beginning of Holy Week the citizens of Jerusalem celebrated him. They cut down palm fronds and they waved them vigorously to make a big visual display and a big noise. The people probably threw them down right before he passed, at his feet, so he can walk or ride over them. Jesus' ride into Jerusalem was a loud and visual celebration. I think we forget that. I know when I was a child, the big celebration aspect of Palm Sunday was not clear to me. I never knew what the association with palms was. I never knew that Palm Sunday was supposed to be a celebration. When we got "palms" in my Catholic church they were actually little reeds. We processed with our reeds all around the church perimeter, but we were very sober about it. We were thinking about the crucifixion that was coming and Palm Sunday was quite a somber thing.
Palm Sunday is supposed to be a huge celebration of victory. A Course In Miracles says, "This week begins with palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign the Son of God is innocent." (OrEd.Tx.20.2) A Course In Miracles is referring to Easter here, but I think it's important to remember that we move from celebration to something new, to something transcendent. Before we do something new, it's important to celebrate and thus complete what has gone before. Hopefully, that's what we did with our holiday celebrations. Now that the celebration is complete we can build upon it. We can build something new for the new year. When you're thinking about the new year remember it's built upon your accomplishments from the previous year, that you hopefully just celebrated.
I do want to make one thing clear. This is a little pet peeve of mine. The time of Christ is about the Christ nature being born within us. It's not truly about the time of Jesus' birth, though we usually associate it with Jesus, or our society associates Jesus' birth with the celebration at this time of year. But A Course In Miracles is really clear that the time of Christ is about the Christ being born within us. I think that is important.
I also think it's important for Course students to practice not confusing the word "Jesus" with the word "Christ." That is what society has done, and that is the way traditional Christianity has done it for years. The words have become synonymous for most people. When people are referring to Jesus they say, "Christ," meaning "Jesus." However I think we ACIM students could serve ourselves, and serve others who we talk to, better if we really got clear on the fact that "Jesus" is not synonymous with "Christ." When ACIM says "Christ," it's not referring to "Jesus." If we want to refer to Jesus, we should say "Jesus" and not say "Christ." I'm going to be on that this year. I've been through this issue before. Especially for us here at the Community Miracles Center, can we be aware of this, think about it, and try not to mix those words up? I think it's important.
I know some people, especially people who study The Way of Mastery, have now gotten into the habit of referring to Jesus as "Jeshua." I think that is fine. I understand what they are saying and maybe that helps them get something straight. I am not one who embraces the "Jeshua" name, maybe because I have not studied The Way of Mastery or some of those other teachings. I still like to refer to Jesus as "Jesus." Seems okay with me. It's okay with A Course In Miracles so, it's okay with me. I think if ACIM, wanted us to refer to Jesus as "Jeshua," the Course would have had something about that in the Course itself – and it's not. But I'm fine with other people doing it. I'm fine about other people studying whatever else they want to study to help them get to the Truth. I am reminded though of a statement in ACIM that says, "... what you are studying is a unified thought system in which nothing is lacking that is needed, and nothing is included that is contradictory or irrelevant." (OrEd.WkBk.42.8) Do whatever you want to do, but for me if calling Jesus "Jeshua" was very important for ACIM students, there would be something about it in ACIM, because anything we might need is in ACIM. The thought system is not lacking anything. That is my little statement about that.
A Course In Miracles does say other things about the New Year, "So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening." (OrEd.Tx.15.112) Contrary to what many spiritual people think – that being spiritual is in some way a relaxing, a going within, and a realizing that there is nothing we need to do – ACIM is pretty clear, I believe, that there is a lot we need to do. "There is much to do, and we have been long delayed." (OrEd.Tx.15.112) Hopefully we won't use our spirituality just to delay us longer, and sometimes I see that happening. For me being spiritual and doing this discipline is a real call to action. It's not just a meditative thing or a retreat from the world. It's a real engagement with the world but in a different sort of way – in a very spiritually guided way. Some people like to focus in on ACIM where it says "I need do nothing." (OrEd.Tx.18.68) Again, I understand that. But they really do need to read that section thoroughly because at the end of that section, it says "This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent." (OrEd.Tx.18.70)
We need do nothing within this quiet, calm center – from the Christed center possibly – but then from that calm center, we are sent on many "busy doings." We need to get that clear. If you are going to study A Course In Miracles you need to read it all and not just the phrases that seem to resonate with you and ignore and then forget what it is actually saying.
In the previous statement it talked about the Great Awakening – it capitalizes that term. And in another place it talks about the Great Crusade, which I think is the exact same thing. It's just using a slightly different term. This is in Chapter One. It says, "As you share my inability to tolerate lack of love in yourself and others, you must join the Great Crusade to correct it." (OrEd.Tx.1.31) So we have to join this Great Crusade – it doesn't say we should join the Great Crusade, it says we must join the Great Crusade. It really isn't an option. Another word in that phrase jumped out at me today. It says, "As you share my inability (Rev. Tony's emphasis) to tolerate lack of love …" It's that word "inability." As we proceed on this path, on this training, it actually becomes – we actually become – unable to tolerate lack of love. It's not an option. We actually can't do it. We can't tolerate lack of love. We must do something to correct it. I think we need to understand that, both within ourselves and what we see that seems to be outside of ourselves. Doing this discipline is going to make us unable to tolerate lack of love. When we see lack of love, we must do something about it.
Then it says something else interesting, which of course is in the Original Edition, and in the other earlier edits, but not in the Foundation for Inner Peace edition. It says, "The slogan for the Crusade is ‘Listen, learn and do.'" (OrEd.Tx.1.31) So if you just have studied the Foundation for Inner Peace edition you don't know that the Great Crusade has a slogan. Let's continue, "The slogan for the Crusade is ‘Listen, learn and do': Listen to my voice, learn to undo error, and do something to correct it." (OrEd.Tx.1.31) Then it says something very interesting, "The first two are not enough." (OrEd.Tx.1.31) It's not enough just to listen and to learn. "The real members of my party are active workers." (OrEd.Tx.1.31) The real members of Jesus' group of followers are active workers. They are active doers. Again, if you just have studied the Foundation for Inner Peace version, you don't have that line that says the real members of Jesus' party are active workers. So maybe you didn't get that message, but if you study some of the earlier edits, then that is in there. Hopefully you are getting the message that being an A Course In Miracles student is about doing. As we are here in the beginning of the year. I think it is good to understand this and get clear for ourselves what our doing is going to be this year. How are we going to participate in the Great Crusade this year? What will we do to heal the world this year?
There's many statements in A Course In Miracles which reinforce this. I'm quoting a lot today, because it's the beginning of the year, and I think we should get clear on what the teaching actually says. One of these statements has always been very important for me and actually was the impetus and energy upon which Rev. Larry and I formed the Community Miracles Center in 1987. It is this one, "Let us not rest content until the world has joined our changed perception. Let us not be satisfied until forgiveness has been made complete. And let us not attempt to change our function. We must save the world. For we who made it must behold it through the eyes of Christ, that what was made to die can be restored to Everlasting Life." (WkBk.SpTp.241.5) We must save the world. It's not an option. It's not something we could choose to do or not choose to do. If we don't choose to do it, we're just delaying. We're stalling, and the world just waits for us to finally make the choice that is inevitable
We have to save the world because the world is us, and if we don't save the world, we don't get saved. If we don't bring peace to the world, we don't have peace ourselves. As A Course In Miracles students, here at the beginning of the year, I think it's important to truly embrace that, ask for guidance about that, put that on top of the celebration of our Christed nature that we have just gone through. We realized how powerful we were, realize how eternal we were. We celebrated that in the recent time of Christ. Remember the celebration of that. Then upon that foundation, ask the Holy Spirit, ask Jesus, or ask Jeshua – if that is your ilk – ask them what would you have me do here in the new year upon the foundation of the celebration of my Christed nature? What would you have me do to save the world?
That's my charge for myself and for all of you this morning. Ask your Guide, "What would you have me do to save the world this year?" I am about it. I am here. I must do it; I have no choice. I won't be happy until I do it; I won't be at peace until I do it. I have celebrated how powerful and omnipotent I am. So – let's get on with it! What would you have me do with this power and this omnipotence that I have?
I am going to end with what Rev. Peter read, which was the Community Miracles Center's Mission Statement. I have been reading our Mission Statement a lot lately with all our students who are starting ACIM-2, which is our ministerial training program. Many students start at the beginning of the year. The Mission Statement is on the ACIM-2 Agreements and we read it and talk about it during their class interview. If they're going to become a minister in this church, they have to be able to connect with our Mission Statement. If they don't connect with that Mission Statement, it's probably inappropriate for them to become a minister in this church, because our Mission Statement is all about the Great Crusade. Our Mission Statement is all about listening, learning, and thus doing something. So I ask you all to sit quietly for a moment while I read this and take it in. Because if you can connect with this Mission, then join Community Miracles Center. Be a part of us. Participate with us, like many of you do. Understand that just by your being here, just by sitting in this room this morning, just by you watching this video on YouTube, you are participating in the Great Crusade to save the world, because that's what the Community Miracles Center is about.
"The Community Miracles Center is a worldwide community for anyone who is interested in the spiritual teaching A Course in Miracles. We are on the ‘Great Crusade' in learning how to forgive the world that we are in. We do that by LISTENING to guidance from Holy Spirit or our Higher Power, LEARNING about true cause and effect, and actively DOING things to shift the errors in perception. Our mission is to transform the world we see into a reflection of Heaven and manifest the ‘Real World.' We do this locally, nationally, and internationally."
If those thoughts resonate within you, then it's great that you're here. It's great that you're listening, because that's what we're about. Find ways to participate with us. Join us. Help us save the world. We will do that collectively with a much greater energy, and a much greater force, than any of us could ever do it alone. Join the Community Miracles Center in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Thank you. (applause) ♥
**1 The video of this lecture and many others can be found on the the Community Miracles Center's YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/cmc_youtube
**2 The video for the fireworks finale: http://bit.ly/2016_fireworks
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the January 2016 (Vol. 29 No.11) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.