Sunday, April 26, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Unity-and-Diversity Fellowship
April 26, 2015

 “The human soul is a lamp of God”, says a wise Hebrew proverb.  Individuals are weak, miserable animals until in their souls there burns the fire of God.  But when this fire kindles, and it kindles only in souls illuminated by faith, those individuals express the greatest power in the world.  And this cannot be otherwise, because then it is no longer their power which is at work, but the power of God.
- Count Leo Tolstoy, World Scriptures Vol. 2, page 140

With the advent of democracy, there has come a confusion as to what faith is and what happens when all valid religions come together into a larger whole and try to cooperate.  Where is one’s own religion in a world where all religions have an important part to play? All of a sudden, what was a clear picture seems to get unclear.  Some people reject religion as being valid in this new setting, while others are attached to one religion and still finding the others as less adequate.

It is crucial to understand that the essential qualities of faith continue to be valid, and that the power of faith still is a powerful force in the world.  Some people confuse the power of heart energy as being either a substitute for faith or an equivalent to it.  The heart is a powerful energy as well.  The problem is that the heart is part of the emotional level in human beings, and emotions can run high or low.  Marriages, for example, can be very intense in a positive way but also at times antagonistic and destructive. 

The soul is the term most often associated with the spiritual center of the Self and that which is beyond good and evil, right and wrong, and our connection with the Infinite.  It is in that state where the power comes and where transformation is likely to follow.  People of faith generally can accomplish great deeds that others are not capable of.  People of faith can often endure unbelievable suffering and still up out on top, as was achieved by Nelson Mandela with his twenty-seven years in prison in South Africa.

What is needed today is an increasingly powerful faith on the part of many individuals.  This faith is beyond the separate religions; it is a condition of how we lead our lives.  As a result, the interfaith movement is becoming more and more powerful and transformative.  It encourages people of different religions and of no official religion to come together and share the energy of faith which they have in common.  We must get beyond where we find one religion as being the only right one, while all others are inferior.  We must come to recognize that faith is common to all religions, and that the respect of that quality regardless of which religion or experience it is coming from is essential to the global civilization now being born.  When that happens, we will have a powerful force for growth and transformation superior to any experience from our previous civilizations.  This is the most important development in the concern for peace within ourselves and in the world at large.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Rev. Leland Stewart, B.S.E., B.T.
Gatherings of Creative Community
5 April 2015 (15)

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.  The moment to bridge the
chasms that divide us has come.  The time to build is upon us.
Nelson Mandela, Science and Spirituality, page 169

The coming of spring is a time of awakening, with new life being born all around us.  Religiously speaking, it is also the time of celebration for many of the religions of the world.  Christians observe Good Friday, followed by the celebration of Easter.  Jews observe Passover, beginning on April 4th, which is during the time between Good Friday and Easter.  Buddhism observes the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha either in April or May, and Hinduism has its own spring festival.  Islam observes the month of Ramadan, the time of which rotates throughout the year.

Religions have had their challenges, such as the crucifixion of Jesus and the events surrounding that tragic occasion.  The Baha’is had the death of the Bab, the forerunner of Baha-U-llah, the central figure of the Baha’i Faith.  Islam had to contend with the initial resistance of forces in Mecca which were opposed to the Muslim religion.  

However, the main purpose of religion is to support moral and spiritual values, as well as the building of community.  It is to give purpose to life, to help people to meet their challenges with peace and goodwill.  Even though the different religions have different rituals and ceremonies, their deeper purpose is to bring people together and to bring understanding.  At the birth of every new civilization, there is a new birth of faith. 

The challenge of our time is that we are at the end of Western and other civilizations and the beginning of global civilization.  It is the confusion of values as we transition from the old to the new that tends to bring conflict and violence.  Therefore, it is important for us to understand this transition and to support the emerging values which bring healing and cooperation among all peoples and all life.

I have observed that various portrayals of Jesus’s life have put the stress on the conflicts he went through, rather than on his beautiful teachings.  Easter, on the other hand, is the time when those conflicts are transcended, and on the Day of Ascension forty days after Easter Jesus is said to have ascended into heaven.  It is time to put the emphasis on what Christianity has to offer that can bring peace and harmony to a world greatly in need.  Islam and Judaism are also both in conflict, especially with the emergence of the violent actions of the “Islamic State”.  May this time be one of the willingness to accept different faiths and cultures within the emerging global community.

Spirit is One, paths are many!