Every week, Dwight Campbell writes a commentary on Billy's sermon to use as a discussion tool for the Men's Group that meets each Thursday. They meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
Fellow Asburians, the Men's Group will meet this Thursday from 7:00 to 8:30 pm upstairs in the Youth Room at Asbury Memorial. After check-in, our opening discussions will be about Billy's Sunday Sermon "Healing Wounds and Overcoming Fears".
Link to this sermon
The musical "Carousel" opened on Broadway in 1945 and immediately became a big hit. Much to Billy's dismay, it was named best musical of the 20th Century by Time Magazine in 1999. For extra impact, after listing 13 other big name musicals that Billy thought were better than Carousel, he added "just to name a few".
Billy moves into today's sermon with a brief character sketch of Billy Bigelow, the lead actor in Carousel. Bigelow's obstreperous and womanizing personality was developed as a defense against the bullied little boy still residing inside the grown body. Billy (our Pastor) uses Bigelow to make the point that our conditioned self is the effect of our total and combined life experiences; what we learned and what we thought.
This should be the first point of pause. It is a great opportunity to evaluate our lives and bring to our consciousness what life experiences made us who we are now? Do you wish they were different? Do you wish you had handled them differently? Why? Search for truth here. To paraphrase Shakespeare, "Be true to yourself, and you cannot be false to anyone". Or said another way, at least know the mask we are wearing.
At this point, Billy takes a slight detour into gun violence and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. In Billy's own fashion, he summarized the tragedy concisely as follows: "In 10 minutes, 59 people were killed, hundreds more were injured, and 20,000 lives were impacted forever."
The remainder of the sermon revolves around two simple statements that Billy asks us to consider. First, "The world was created for me." Second, "From dust I came and to dust I will return." As a spiritual being having a human experience (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) we continually are asked to balance our divine nature with the humility of being human. Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Indian Guru of nondualism expressed it this way.
"Wisdom tells me I am nothing.
Love tells me I am everything.
Between these two banks, the river of my life flows."
At some point on this journey, we will realize, as Maya Angelou did when she read from "Lessons of Truth", that God loves us and is always there. Once this becomes felt at a deep level, they journey changes. Billy closes his sermon with the same thought as he quotes from the musical Carousel...
"Whenever I felt my ride slowing down, Your gentle hand would push me around, picking me up each time I fell, You rode beside me on my carousel.
I look forward to an interesting meeting.
Love and Blessings,