MY LORD'S DAY EXPERIENCE


 

MY LORD'S DAY EXPERIENCE
By Uriah J. Fields

My Lord's Day is Sunday. Here is the account of one Sunday that is typical of most of my Sundays during the score of years from mid-nineteen seventies to mid-nineteen nineties.

        I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day
                                      - Revelation 1:10

      For more than a score of years from the mid-nineteen seventies to the mid-nineteen nineties while I was a resident fellow at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living in Los Angeles, My Lord's Day experience was typical for me as was the Sunday experience for many other people. But my Lord's Day experience was unique, creative and unlike the Sunday experiences of other people or my own in years prior to my becoming a resident fellow at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living.
      I have chosen to call my Sunday "My Lord's Day" because of all the days of the week Sunday holds the greatest meaning for me. Apparently, the Psalmist had this day in mind when he said "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." (Psalm 122:1). Apostle Paul referred to this day when he said, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." (1 Cor. 16:2), as did John the Revelator noted when he said , "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." (Revelation 1:10). On the Christian calendar Sunday is comparable to the seventh day of the Sabbath day as recorded in the Old Testament.
      It was after God's unfathomable six-day creation feat that He rested on the Sabbath. In the Ten Commandments the Israelites were admonished to "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8).
      While each day is special, being a day that the Lord made, as stated earlier, Sunday is the Lord's day. Certainly, My Lord's Day, is the greatest day of the week. I cannot prove the veracity of this statement, nevertheless, this is my conviction  and experience. Now, I want to chronicle one Lord's day in my life that is typical of many other Lord's days I experienced during the more than a score of years when I was a resident fellow at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. However, before I do this I want to share with my readers a bit of personal history regarding my Sunday experiences prior to this period. During my growing-up years in the hamlet of Sunflower, Alabama, I attended church worship service twice a month. One Sunday at the Baptist church and one Sunday at the Methodist church. I attended Sunday school every Sunday at the Baptist church.
        While serving in the military I attended chapel service each Sunday, including the last two years of my four-year tour of duty when I served as a Chaplain's Assistant. While in the military frequently I attended church services off the Army post. It was during that time that I was licensed to preach by a Baptist church in Baltimore, Maryland. About two years after I was discharged from the Army I became the pastor of the Bell Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, a position I held for nine years. (This church was bombed by racists during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and rebuilt during my pastoral leadership). I resigned as pastor to serve in the Peace Corps in Africa. But just days before I was to report for my orientation before going to Africa, I was led by the Spirit to not go East for my orientation at the University of Pittsburgh but to go West to California. This I did. I resided in California for the next thirty-three years. 
     For more than a decade, while on a soul-searching adventure I frequented various religious institutions on Sundays, including Christian churches of various denominations, Unitarian churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslim Mosques and Buddhist temples. During that time I completed my discovery of the Mutuality Philosophy that I have since embraced as a way of being.
     In the early nineteen seventies I established an alternative religious Sunday service that was held at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living, an agency that I had founded several years earlier. Although this religious service reflected my understanding of the Mutuality Philosophy which can be defined as: the concept of man as a responsible being with his own happiness as both the practical and ultimate purpose of his life, with creative expression as his noblest activity, and love as his only absolute. It has no dogmas or doctrine, in the usual sense of the term. The service was interfaith, interracial, interdenominational and interplanetary. Angels sometimes attended the service. God was defined as the "Totality of All Good."
     Joined by other supporter of this alternative religious service we established the Mutuality Temple as a tabernacle where people could congregate to celebrate the glory of God on the Lord's day. My interest was to attract people who felt short-changed when they attended services at the church, mosque, synagogue or temple and those who had given up on being affiliated with any religious institution.
     My Lord's Day experience extending over a period of twenty-odd years ended in 1995. It included more than the activities I participated in at the Mutuality Temple. During this period, I was also engaged in other activities that were held at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living, the site where the Mutuality Temple was located. Other activities took place at that location on the Lord's day. I repeat, here I want to give a detail and comprehensive account of one typical Lord's day (all day) experience in my life, that began fifteen minutes before I got out of bed and ended fifteen minutes  after I went to bed, that began at 5:45 a.m., and ended at 9:30 p.m.
     Today is Sunday, the second Sunday in the month of April in the year of our Lord. It could have been any Sunday of the month but I have randomly selected to showcase this one. Observing Sunday in the fashion presented in this discourse has been for me a constancy for more than a score of years while I was a resident fellow at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. About ten minutes before getting our of bed I enumerated some of my blessings, including my health, the opportunity to serve and do good and for peace. Then I expressed thanks to God and meditated for a few minutes. Just as my feet touched the floor I said aloud and repeatedly these words first uttered by Kahlil Gibran:
       Awake at dawn
            with a winged heart
       And give thanks
            for another day of  loving.
     While taking a bath I sang with the idea that I could clean my soul at the same time I cleaned the outside of my body. These are the three songs I sang, "Born Free," "I Am Thankful" and "Praise, Praise, Praise," the latter two songs being my own compositions. While brushing my teeth, combing my hair and taking a vitamin c I looked into the mirror and smiled as I said "I am beautiful! I am a child of God!"
       At 7:00 a.m., I left my upstairs residence and brought the coffee/tea pot and other items that would be used for refreshments downstairs to the Mutuality Temple. I checked to see if everything was in order for the Temple service that would be held later that morning. Afterwards I returned to my residence and prepared breakfast. My breakfast consisted of raisin bran cereal served with milk, a banana, a grapefruit, a muffin with jelly, a prune and herbal tea. Before eating I sang this grace that I composed, "Let Us Sing Grace Before We Eat." 
        Let us sing grace before we eat.
       We thank you Dear God for enabling"
       us to break bread together. And for
       this food  that we are about to receive
       to nourish our bodies. Bless it to our
       use and us in your service.
       And so it is.
     I ate breakfast alone except I experienced the presence of God. After eating a delectable breakfast I washed the dishes. Then I turned on the radio and listened to see if  there was anything going on in the  world that was of interest to me. I spent fifteen minutes reading from Norman Vincent Peale's book
"The Power of Positive Thinking." This book has inspired me many times.
      At 9:15 a.m., I went to the Mutuality Temple, rearranged some of the altar furniture and played the piano as I waited for people who congregated for the 9:30 a.m., service. I began the meditation and prayer service by playing recorded music. This was followed with chanting "ho-ho-ho and "om-om-om." Then I played a guided meditation cassette I made that ended with a period for silence. Participants offered prayers. Some gave sentence prayers just as Jesus had often done when he prayed. The hour-long service ended with a silence during a "touching ceremony," that consisted of physically embracing and hugging. Following dismissal from the service I joined others in having refreshments. Some participants spent time in the reading room.
     At 11:00 a.m., I facilitated the worship, more correctly, the celebration, service at the Mutuality Temple. After playing soft music for a few minutes, I extended welcome and greetings to the attendees and recited this meditation that I composed:
       This is a you-me celebration.
       Of you and me, by you and me,
       And for you and me.
       Let us be here now,
       Experience what is, create by
         choice what we want and
         relate fully with each other;
       Let our presence be evident.
       Real presence is real love - the
          sharing of self with the other,
          the giving of ourselves completely.
       We celebrate life;
       So in pain or in joy there is meaning.
      We are glad, we rejoice, life is
          delectable.
      In celebration our deepest feelings are
          revealed and whether there be pain
          or joy we are enraptured as we
          experience ourselves and our brothers
          and our sisters.
       They look at us, they listen to us,
          they understand us; they care deeply
          about us.
      In celebration we strip naked,
      We lay bare soul to soul,
      We embrace each other and the universe
          in the eternal now.
      We create a human chain of friendship
         in  which no link is any weaker than its
         strongest link.
       So you and me, partly human and partly
           divine are all organismic process.
      You are me and I am you.
      You plus me make one, not two
      That's what  it means to celebrate!
       So let us celebrate now!
     Today, we continued our study of the "Great Religions of the World" relying heavily upon a volume on this subject that was published by "Life" magazine. Our focus is on Hinduism. Some participants were amazed to learn that Hinduism embraces or allows other religious persuasions to be practiced by adherents of the Hindu faith. One person announced that he was a Baptist Hindu. More than just learning about Hinduism, emphasis was placed on how the principles of Hinduism can be applied in the day-to-day living of people who are not Hindu. At 12:10 p.m., the service ended. Following dismissal from the service there was a fifteen minute period for socializing and partaking of refreshments.
     Shortly after 12:30 p.m., I returned to my residence where I spent about twenty minutes in quiet time that included attending to my body elimination and grooming needs. My lunch consisted of a tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes, an apple, hot herbal tea and a glass of water which I consumed after I said grace. For about ten minutes I browsed the "Los Angeles Times."
     At 1:30 p.m., I returned downstairs to the Mutuality Temple for the meeting that was held at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. I had two people to distribute the programs or place them in the seats. Then I began playing the piano just to entertain myself and others who were already present. Afterwards, I played a cassette containing African music.
    At 2:00 p.m., I called to order the Sunday afternoon's community People United Freedom Forum, commonly referred to as PUFF. I welcomed the people with my singing this song that I composed especially for this purpose, "My Dear Friend We Welcome You":
       My dear friend we welcome you;
      We are glad you are here,
      Partake freely of all the gift
      We have for you;
      And feel free to share yourself with us.
      We are honored by your presence,
      Your love permeates our surrounding,
      And we are inspired because you are here.
      We greet you with a kiss of friendship
       And extend to you our love..
       And extend to you our love... .
     There are three phases to the PUFF experience. The first phase is a creative period conducted by Ruth Bowles, an artist and Mutuality Center volunteer. During the twenty-minute creative period eight persons shared their creative expressions with other attendees. The participants expressed their own creative talents and offerings. I sang a song that I had just composed titled, "Don't Complain, Be Thankful." A fifteen year old youth, Robert Bowles, presented and commented on his magnficient paintings. Two years later he enrolled at the prestigious Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.
    Following the creative period I sang "Ol' Man River," a song made famous by Paul Robeson. Announcements were made that included one that announced a man-woman seminar to be held two Saturdays hence, I introduced John Jett, the scheduled lecturer for the afternoon. John is an administrator for a California governmental agency and a longtime supporter of the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. He contributed more than a hundred volumes to the Mutuality Center's library. He spoke on the subject, "Living Better with Less." Commenting on how to acquire and use money he emphasized how better, particularly healthier, living can be achieved with less money than people generally spend. He made a comparison of people spending more money and receiving reduced benefits with people over-eating  while being undernourished. He said two ways to have more money, are to earn more money or spend less money. He emphasized that some people who earn more money but do not have more money or save more than they did when their earnings were smaller.
    John cited a testimony that this writer had given more than once at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. In my testimony I said that for years I ate breakfast at a moderate priced restaurant.   My usual breakfast consisted of two eggs, bacon or sausages, toast, jelly, coffee and I left a tip for the waitress at a total cost of $4.00. Later, I changed my eating habits, giving up eating eggs and drinking coffee, as staples of my breakfast. Preparing breakfast at home that consisted of oat breakfast cereal, a banana, an orange, toast and jam, and herbal tea the cost was $2.00. Commenting on this John said "Fields had for one-half the price he paid when eating at the restaurant ate a wholesome breakfast." Then John said that he drives his 1975 mustang automobile that was eight years old and added that during the last five years he had not had a car note. His transportation cost, he estimated, was probably less than that a person pays when using public transportation. He calculated that he spends about one-third of what he would be paying if he had purchased a new car every three or four years. He cited another example of how he ceased eating lunch at the institutional cafeteria where he works or at a restaurant, but instead carried his lunch to work just as he did when he was a student. By doing that for a period of three years he said he saved enough money to pay for the trip he made to France where he had a delightful experience. Following the lecture and a brief question-and-answer period there was a fifteen minute refreshment intermission.
     The third phase of the PUFF experience began with the ringing of the bell. Tut Hayes, a community  activist and PUFF devotee facilitated the Roundtable Talkback. During the Roundtable Talkback participants sitting in a circle asked the speaker questions, expressed their views on the subject of the lecture and dialogued with the speaker and each other during the hour-and-fifteen minute talkback. Tut masterfuly facilitates the Roundtable Talkback. He keeps conflictful confrontation to a minimum, elicts respect from each for each and inspires a high degree of group participation. Today, everyone actually participated. One of the questions a participant asked John was "What does a person do who can't get a job?" (This was during the period when Ronald Reagan was President and unemployment was higher than usual, especially in the African American communities. It was also a time when Regan said that he didn't know any poor folk.)
    This was John's answer: "Anyone here can get a job. He may not get the job that he wants, but he can get a job. The thing to do is to accept any job until you can get a better job." He added, "Whatever job you have do it well." Then he said, perhaps facetiously, "You may become the next boss on your job."
     Following the People United Freedom Forum, I returned to my residence and changed my attire to a bit more casual dress before going to the Norms restaurant, a medium priced restaurant that attracts a large clientele, not just because the price is right, but because the restaurant serves good food. I had a fish dinner, a baked potato, mixed vegetables, soup, salad, ice tea and a strawberry sundae (strawberries over a roll) for $4.29. After paying tax and leaving a tip for the waiter the total cost was about $6.00. While eating I was able to relax and savor not only the food I was eating but the beautiful blessings, including the memory and awareness of them, that I had experienced earlier during the day. I spent an hour and a half at the restaurant.
    Having returned to my residence I listened to the news on the radio and read the "Los Angeles Times Book Review." Later, I watched and listened to a sermon titled "Salvation" preached by Reverend E. V. Hill, pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, a feature of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). After Hill announced his text he said, "Neither is there salvation in any other: "For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4:12). He continued, "Buddha can't save you; Mohammed can't save you. They couldn't save themselves. Only Jesus can save you." Then he said, that Buddha and Mohammed remained in their graves just as all other dead people we have known, but Jesus arose on the third day and declared that "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18). Hill endeavored to challenge his listeners and viewers to cease seeking salvation in material things, including drugs, other people and worldly pleasures. He added, "I can't save you, but I have come to tell you that Jesus can save you." He talked about how he was saved when he was a teenager living in poverty with his mother who had been deserted by his father who he met for the first time when he was an adult. Then he started talking about being covered with the blood of Jesus that can protect believers from the evil forces that they encounter in their day-to-day living. I marveled at how he could talk about something so serious as salvation and ghoulish as the death and blood of Jesus with such a sense of humor that caused his listeners to laugh heartily, not one time, but more than a dozen times, during his sermonizing.
     Afterward,  I prepared myself for bed. At 9:30 p.m., I slipped between two sheets and briefly reflected on some of the events that had transpired during my waking day. I thanked God for "another day of loving." I acknowledged that I had been loved this day by God. I didn't just thank God, I praised Him as I acknowledged His faithfulness and awesomeness. Verbally, I expressed glory and honor to Him. Then I emptied my mind of all thoughts save these two: "O God grant that I rest tonight in peace." I chanted several times "Go to sleep my child tonight your Heavnely Father holds you in His bosom." Then I drifted off to sleep.
    My Lord's day waking hours had ended. This day I had been blessed and had been a blessing to others and to God. I had listened to God and he had heard me say to Him, not once but several or more times during the day, "Lord, I am ready to do everything or nothing. I will listen to You." Like John the Revelator, I proudly declared by words and deeds:
        I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day."
                                     
(Revelation 1:10)
 
Biographical Sketch
URIAH J. FIELDS, M.Ed., M.Div., Ph.D., is founder and president of the American Christan Freedom Society, Encourager-in-Chief of the Mutuality Warrior Corps and author of  Mutuality: The Full Life Process" and The Magic Power of Positive Ideas. He served as a Chaplain's Assistant during the Korean War and was the pastor of a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her bus seat to a white person. Four days after her arrest he helped found and was elected original secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) that provided structure for conducting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was elected to serve as president of the MIA. (When this article was first published Fields lived in Los Angeles. At the time of the reissuing of this article he lives in central Virginia).

Copyright 1996 and 2014 by Uriah J. Fields
 














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