Reverend Tony Ponticello
(Have a piece of birthday cake ready to eat on Sunday – Honestly!!) Sunday March 7th the CMC celebrates its 34th birthday. On the 1st Sunday of March in 1987 Rev. Tony Ponticello and Rev. Larry Bedini (our co-founders) met with a handful of others to have our first meeting as the new legal entity the Community Miracles Center! This Sunday we celebrate that momentous day. As a special celebration every one of our 8 CMC Board Members will take a part in the Sunday Gathering and also say a few words about what this day means for them. Rev. Tony will give the main address. After we sing "Happy Birthday" we’ll all eat a piece of cake together so have a piece of cake ready for after the Gathering. If you are thinking of getting us a “birthday present” consider a special $34 donation – $1 for every terrific year of service to the ACIM Community. A couple of people have already done just that that. 22m. SUBSCRIBE & SHARE
The message of the Course is very consistent on this issue. The world we experience is an internal mental construct of our own making. There is no one actually out there but ourselves. "... you will begin to learn and understand ... when you met someone else, you had thought that he was someone else. And every holy encounter in which you enter fully will teach you this is not so." (OrEd.Tx.8.22) Actually there is no “out there” at all. It is all a dream, or better yet, an hallucination our mind is having. "What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up?" (OrEd.Tx.20.73) Let’s treat the question asked here as literal and not rhetorical. What would our experience of life be IF we understood that we made the world up? I believe then we would walk the world as Miracle Workers like Jesus did, and this is exactly what ACIM is calling us to do. 20m. SUBSCRIBE & SHARE
This is a famous phrase used by the British television comedy sketch group Monty Python in the 1970s. It was used to introduce something that was possibly bizarre, and had no relation to the previous segment. ACIM sometimes speaks of possible “future” states that seem quite bizarre and have no relation to the current world and its science as we know it. Look at this phrase from ACIM, "[The Real World] is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim." (OrEd.Tx.12.59) This is not talking about Heaven or Reality, but the healed world, the last step before Heaven. Yet how could this be? Perhaps this teaching from A Course of Love gives us a clue, "This is a harmony and cooperation that might one day extend to the sun and a demonstration that the sun need not rise – or perhaps need not set – and the earth would still be safely spinning in its orbit." (D:6.12) I call on everyone to let go of what seems scientific and possible, and to prepare for something completely different – something truly miraculous.
This past week we were challenged by the image of sisters, brothers, and others, storming the USA Capital building in Washington, DC. Armed force had to be used to turn back the people. Violence erupted and some people appear to have died. One woman was apparently shot and killed inside the Capital building itself. Surely we all want to be a healing influence in this situation. The Song of Prayer says, "You first forgive, then pray, and you are healed." (So.3.IV.4.1) Forgiveness is always the first step - but I see that many have formed strong, special hate relationships that they are very invested in. People will challenge their special love relationships much easier than the special hate ones. I know we all want to be part of this healing, then it is time to do the unthinkable, forgive the unforgivable, and then start trusting the world. "The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up." (OrEd.Mn.4.3)
We are in the midst of the Jewish Festival of Lights - Chanukah. Sunday will be day 3 of the 8 day celebration. Chanukah is a wonderful holiday to mesh with the ACIM teaching. The story always relates the miracle of how, after reclaiming the Temple, the Temple's menorah lamp burned for 8 days even though there was only 1 days worth of fuel oil. Looking out at the world it can seem as if many peoples' - and perhaps our own - fuel oil is running low. The light can seem to be flickering. However our steady light can shine into the lamps of others and ignite their eternally burning flame illuminating and thus reclaiming their Temples. Hallelujah! "The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark. It is everywhere, and it is eternal." (OrEd.Tx.9.91)
Many people appear to be looking for ways to escape from the challenges of life - as if life itself was a problem. Life is a gift, an enormous treasure, and a big work responsibility. There is a quote usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln, although he probably never said it, "Folks are about as happy as they have made their minds up to be." How true. Let's make up our minds to be happy this new year. What I know is we will never be happy if we are not fulfilling our function given us by Holy Spirit, and Holy Spirit doesn't give us the function of escaping physical life since physical life isn't a problem. Holy Spirit has big plans for us. He wants us to be leaders. "Let us together follow in this way that truth points out to us. And let us be the leaders of our many brothers who are seeking for the way but find it not." (WkBk.SpTp361.2) This is not escape. This is work responsibility accepted.
Thanksgiving has always been a time to focus on gratitude, abundance, and joy. That begins a Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Holiday Season which also has a foundation in abundance and joy. This year (2020) we face challenges that we have not had before. Many usual abundant celebrations seem restricted, less, or fragmented ... that seems to speak of lack. Yet it is still the ACIM student's challenge to understand that perceptions of lack are "faulty" or broken. Abundance or wholeness is the only ground of being that is a reflection of eternal truth. "42. Wholeness is the perceptual content of miracles. It thus corrects or atones for the faulty perception of lack anywhere." (OrEd.Tx.1.61) Let's look at some practical ways to see wholeness and abundance in the midst of a holiday season challenging us with lack, loss, and fragmentation. Let's manifest abundance miracles instead.
I realized recently that my main job, while functioning in my role as miracle teacher and healer, was to keep students trusting in the process, to keep them engaged. Some students drop out of dedication to the ACIM discipline at the exact moment when they should actually be increasing their engagement time and practice dedication. Some form of fear gets the better of them (literally). However we all have to be "... willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror .... You are severely tempted to abandon Him at the outside ring of fear, but He would lead you safely through and far beyond." (OrEd.Tx.18.87) There is a ring of fear or fire at the foundation of the world illusion. As we approach our center we have to pass through it. Keep trusting both your own path and instill that trust in the people you influence.
Now that the 2020 presidential election is over (sort of) I feel that we are entering a new time of healing. Regardless of what our political views are, and who we wanted to win the election, it is the time for all of us Miracle Workers to rise above the current "battleground" and let the healing energy flow through the American society. It is actually easier to do than many realize because Holy Spirit is always providing the perspective from above the battleground. "The overlooking of the battleground is now your purpose." (OrEd.Tx.23.50)
In the midst of abundant miracles this week (literally) I found myself strangely confronting thoughts of discouragement. On one level I knew this was my ego reacting to the miracles that were happening. ACIM tells us that the ego switches from suspiciousness to viciousness when it is severely challenged, and the discouragement was actually an indication that I was making fast spiritual progress. I was also comforted by this thought, "If the way seems long, let him be content. He has decided on the direction he will take. What more was asked of him?" (OrEd.Mn.22.2) I know which way to go, and I was heading in the right direction. That was all that was required. What a comfort it is to be able to declare this confidently. However the miracle was remembering that the healing is happening NOW and actually not in the future at all. "One source of perceived discouragement from which you suffer is your belief that this takes time, and that the results of the Holy Spirit's teaching are far in the future. This is not so." (OrEd.Tx15.2)
ACIM talks a lot about insanity. The ego voice in our minds is COMPLETELY insane. Many still identify with it, and ACIM students still have to deal with it -- but hopefully with the help of the Holy Spirit, so we ARE making progress. ACIM tells us, "You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone." (OrEd.Tx.17.73) (I aways laughs at his. Is this really a complement?) I will embrace this! Why should YOU come to the Sunday Gathering and listen to me, Rev. Tony? Because I am not longer WHOLLY insane! LOL!! Plus it's a great way to prove we are not alone. I have let go of loneliness and insanity and I challenge you to join me.
Almost 14 years ago the Community Miracles Center put on forth a profound teaching for the ACIM community but wrapped it in the frame of a hilarious show. If you never saw this before you are in for a treat! "Have you really considered how many opportunities you have to gladden yourselves and how many of them you have refused?" (OrEd.Tx.4.63) "Hi, This is Rev. Antoinette. It was such an honor to take part in 'An Opportunity to Gladden Yoursel'" at the 2007 ACIM Conference and now it's an additional honor to come home with you and be glad all over again! Please share this video with your ACIM friends. Let's not forget to laugh again. Let's not forget to embrace the broad diversity of our movement. Let's not misperceive our 'cracks.' And watch my twin, Rev. Tony Ponticello, on all his wonderful videos here on this platform."
Why are people sometimes vicious and even cruel? Even in ACIM circles this type of communication persists. One might think Course students would have a higher perspective, but experience has demonstrated otherwise. Actually the ego loves to come along for the spiritual ride and "righteous anger" has frequently been the purview of the egoicly, spiritual person. In the honor of having a "bottom-up" correction, and not a "top-gown" spiritual by-pass, let us look at the anger, and even the cruelty, in ourselves and in the ACIM community.
Valentine's Day is "Love's Day." While many try to ignore it and declare it an artificial holiday created by the flower, chocolate candy, and greeting card companies, Rev. Tony sees it as another little window of opportunity to dial up the love in our lives. The dictionary defines "love" as "a profoundly tender and passionate affection." That's a good six word definition for such a broad and complex idea. What are YOU profoundly tender, and passionate about? Valentine's day is not just about romantic partners anymore. Rev. Tony talks about how he uses Valentine's Day dials up the love in his lives!
Jury Duty a unique challenge for the dedicated ACIM student. While it is our civic duty and most of us LOVE democracy, being asked to judge a fellow brother or sister as "guilty" or "not guilty" feels to be something one just should NOT be doing. "See no one, then, as guilty, and you will affirm the truth of guiltlessness unto yourself." (OrEd.Tx.13.16) Plus a guilty verdict means that a judge will now decide upon appropriate punishment makes things even more cut and dry. We just can't do it. This past Wednesday, I Rev. Tony, was again summons to jury duty. This time when I got my turn in the jury box to talk to the judge I felt it was indeed MY day in court to deliver a message to the judge, the various court officials, the defense attorney, the plaintiff, the prosecutor, the other potential jurors, and the entire assembled jury pool! I had their attention! -- Rev. Tony
This past Tuesday we had a milestone. It was a full 6 months, half a year, 26 weeks, of being under an emergency "Shelter-In-Place" order in the city and county of San Francisco. Our order started Tuesday March 17. Yet I felt something else happening. I felt the Pandemic healing on multiple fronts. More and more things are opening up. Gyms are now opened. Hair salons can now see customers inside. Professional sports is back. Our fine San Francisco Museums are scheduled to open next week. These are outer manifestations of what I am sensing intuitively with my connection to Holy Spirit. The fear is ratcheting down. "The only thing that is required for a healing is a lack of fear. The fearful are not healed and cannot heal." (OrEd.Tx.27.45) The pandemic is healing.
It's Labor Day weekend 2020. On the level of form the country can celebrate that unemployment has declined. On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced an August unemployment rate of 8.4. It was 14.7 in April. Many people still have their self worth tied up with their work, labor, or vocation. ACIM calls us all to a true vocation, healing our mind by restoring integration and oneness. Our vocation then involves extending this healing to others. "What better vocation could there be for any part of the Kingdom than to restore it to the perfect integration that can make it whole?" (OrEd.Tx.5.28) Join us Sunday to celebrate true vocation and a new vision for Labor Day.
Having recently returned for a wonderfully successful, and amazingly healing ACIM Conference, Change Your Mind, Change the World, in Las Vegas, NV, Rev. Tony has been thinking about the event and the profound transformation it produced. And like any profound transformation... a small percentage of people were challenged, confronted, and disturbed - especially because of Rev. Tony's presentation at the Conference finale. Jesus tells us in ACIM, "... an extreme example is a particularly helpful learning device." What was Rev. Tony's process leading up to his "extreme example," and how does he feel about this new controversy now that it is all over? Rev. Tony shares his process: before, during, and after the Conference and see if you might not be singing "Viva Las Vegas" by the time is done.
“NOTHING IS BEYOND OUR POWER TO HEAL Because There Is NOTHING BEYOND US!”
We intellectually know we have the POWER TO HEAL everything. Now is the time to make that intellectual knowledge our experience, our reality. It has been two years since I started the CMC’s Healing Team and I have learned so much. I have learned the first thing we need to do is ask. NOTHING WILL BE DENIED OUR SIMPLE REQUEST but that means we have to make the request. Many people want healing but are still afraid to ask for it. I am not afraid. I ask all of you to join me in fearlessness. Make your SIMPLE REQUEST now!
I have noticed that there is lots of fear mongering going on in our culture from all sides. "Monger" means "a person who promotes a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable." We, as ACIM students, never want to fear monger. We want to spread words of: hope, peace, strength, and bliss! That's why I like the exclamation "WooHoo!!" It sums us all four of those traits. "Make no one fearful, for his guilt is yours." (OrEd.Tx.13.12) Obviously guilt and fear are the same thing. In these challenging times can we stop our guilt and fear mongering and move to "WooHoo"? That is our challenge.
In these interesting and challenging times many are guided to be outspoken about their societal and political views. Sometimes this outspokenness gets hardened into political views of Left versus Right with each side making the other side "bad" - maybe even "evil." Sometimes spiritual people avoid all such discussions in order to stay above the fray. However I think it is possible to stay in the conversation, have our strong views, without making the other side bad. We must remember that the left wing and the right wing still fly the same bird. "Whenever anyone can listen fairly to both sides of any issue, he will make the right decision." (OrEd.Tx.7.12)
When I change my mind to change the world, which world changes? There is an inner world where our true identity resides. There is the outer world of illusion and separation. Or is there? When ACIM tells us, "There is no world!" perhaps it means that the inner and the outer are actually the same and not different. Our ultimate release comes when we recognize, as ACIM tells us, "...the inner is the cause of the outer." How would you live your life if you truly understood that we are merely walking through our own minds as we function here in the world?" ***Note: There are some adult themes in this video. The opinions and statements of the speakers do not necessarily represent an official position of the Community Miracles Center.***
One of the most important questions Jesus asks us in ACIM is, "Why are you not rejoicing?" (OrEd.Tx.29.12) Well ... so ... WHY AREN'T we?!?! That was a big message for me this week. Time for some celebrating. Now that some restaurants in San Francisco are open with outdoor dining I have been going to them often to eat, finding new ones and eating at them, exploring new neighborhoods looking for new ones. What Fun!!! Next week I'm going on a 3 day / 2 night trip to Santa Cruz (a wonderful beach community 2 hours south of San Francisco) for a little "summer vacation." Restaurants and hotels are open there. Hey ... it's summer and I'm rejoicing. Why can I rejoice in the midst of a pandemic? Because as the above quotation continues, "You are free of pain and sickness, misery and loss, and all effects of hatred and attack. No more is pain your friend and guilt your god, and you should welcome the effects of love." (OrEd.Tx.29.12) I will, and AM welcoming those effects of love! "WooHoo!"
The ACIM teaching is much broader and far reaching then many students of it are ready to accept. However WE are ready - aren't we? Many Course students deny the body or try to ignore it and dissociate from it. Many Course students deny the world or try to ignore it and dissociate from it. Yet I don't believe this is really the ACIM teaching. Are students aware that ACIM tells us that the body becomes holy as we purify our minds? "... and the body becomes holy. Because it is holy it cannot be sick, nor can it die." (OrEd.Mn.12.5) Can we relate to this literally and not deny the teaching by saying this is a metaphor? Join me Sunday to raise the bar on our practice, application and manifestation.
What ACIM has taught me is that we came into this realm of manifestation because we made a promise to ourselves, we swore, to experience death and separation. The entire ego world plays out this promise everyday. However ACIM tells us we don't have to do that anymore. "Swear not to die, you holy Son of God! You make a bargain that you cannot keep. The Son of Life cannot be killed. He is immortal as his Father." (OrEd.Tx.29.39) ACIM acknowledges that we will see sickness and death, but it tells us not to give these images reality. Let's explore the Course's teaching about the final illusion.