Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Purpose of a Church

For the longest period of time, I believed that the purpose of a church, or spiritual gathering place, was to give the congregation their fill of spirit...of God.....of love. However, my beliefs over the years have changed radically, and in this sense , I find myself creating a whole new set of beliefs.

If the congregation depends on the church to "feed " them spiritually, to give them all that they need from a religious or spiritual sense, it creates dependency. In this case, the people would believe that they cannot find a way to get this fulfillment, that they "need" the church, and many churches may like this type of dependency.

I believe that the churches of today should be the gathering place where people get their spiritual "appetizer", enough thought provoking information and joy to wet the appetite, but not fill them up.

In this case everyone stays empowered, as the church encourages the people to go out in the world to find their meal, and to know they are welcome back each week to help instill more questions, not just answers.

As congregations from around the world realize that the "real" spiritual work is done in their daily lives, not just on Sundays, the church remains as a sacred place, but not a place where the powerful rule.

Slow down. Enjoy the nib lets offered at your services, then find the rest of your path in your own divine life, in your private readings, and your sacred alone time with God, Spirit, Energy.

Love, peace David Essel

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learn About Goddesses

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving: A Native American View

by Jacqueline Keeler

I celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.
This may surprise those people who wonder what Native Americans think of this official U.S. celebration of the survival of early arrivals in a European invasion that culminated in the death of 10 to 30 million native people.

Thanksgiving to me has never been about Pilgrims. When I was six, my mother, a woman of the Dineh nation, told my sister and me not to sing "Land of the Pilgrim's pride" in "America the Beautiful." Our people, she said, had been here much longer and taken much better care of the land. We were to sing "Land of the Indian's pride" instead.

I was proud to sing the new lyrics in school, but I sang softly. It was enough for me to know the difference. At six, I felt I had learned something very important. As a child of a Native American family, you are part of a very select group of survivors, and I learned that my family possessed some "inside" knowledge of what really happened when those poor, tired masses came to our homes.

When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry -- half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger. When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state. He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them. Their English crops had failed. The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food.

These were not merely "friendly Indians." They had already experienced European slave traders raiding their villages for a hundred years or so, and they were wary -- but it was their way to give freely to those who had nothing. Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect. Among the Dakota, my father's people, they say, when asked to give, "Are we not Dakota and alive?" It was believed that by giving there would be enough for all -- the exact opposite of the system we live in now, which is based on selling, not giving.

To the Pilgrims, and most English and European peoples, the Wampanoags were heathens, and of the Devil. They saw Squanto not as an equal but as an instrument of their God to help his chosen people, themselves.

Since that initial sharing, Native American food has spread around the world. Nearly 70 percent of all crops grown today were originally cultivated by Native American peoples. And at the "first Thanksgiving" the Wampanoags provided most of the food -- and signed a treaty granting Pilgrims the right to the land at Plymouth, the real reason for the first Thanksgiving.

What did the Europeans give in return? Within 20 years European disease and treachery had decimated the Wampanoags. Most diseases then came from animals that Europeans had domesticated. Some estimate that diseases accounted for a death toll reaching 90 percent in some Native American communities. The Pilgrims viewed the Indians as savages requiring the salvation of Christianity. They failed to recognize the deeply spiritual nature of the Native American people and their bond with the gods of nature. The Pilgrims aggressively tried to recruit the "savages." Those who accepted Christianity found themselves ostracized by their tribes and accepted by the Pilgrims as mere disciples. The Pilgrims' tampering with the beliefs of the Indians greatly offended the tribal leaders.

In stories told by the Dakota people, an evil person always keeps his or her heart in a secret place separate from the body. The hero must find that secret place and destroy the heart in order to stop the evil.

I see, in the "First Thanksgiving" story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism.

Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused. Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle.

And the healing can begin.

Jacqueline Keeler, a member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux works with the American Indian Child Resource Center in Oakland, California. Her work has appeared in Winds of Change, an American Indian journal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Give Presence, Not Presents

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast Potluck

Please join us on Sunday, November 23rd immediately following our Sunday Service for a Thanksgiving Potluck Feast.

Here's the Thanksgiving Fest Menu (so far):
David Essel/Renee Bledsoe - Turkey Breast/Gravy (succulently roasted by Publix)
Renee Bledsoe - Stuffing (Ancient secret recipe)
Rick Tiner- Mashed Potatoes (Hope you like lumps he says...I do!)
Willo Uhl- Salad (The Queen of Food)
Eva & Joey Stulb- Unknown dessert (Love a mystery...surprise us)
Joanna Salerno - Apple & Pumpkin Pie (An amazing cook)
Joan Cannon - Baked Bread (Home made)
Lynn Pietrzyk - Sweet potatoes (with all the trimmings)
Jacqui Knapp- Cranberry Sauce (personal fave, love the whole berry kind, but not picky)
Susie Diblasi - 2 Pumpkins Pies (Yet, Another amazing cook)
Barb Smith - Fresh Green Bean Salad (Notice the word: Fresh - love that!)
Deb Noufrios - Greek Salad (yes, diversity is the spice of life!)
Desiree Golden - Pumpkin Soup (sounds lovely)

Our Church is providing plasticware/paperware, utensils and drinks!

We've pretty much got all our bases covered so just bring your favorite dish to share. You don't need to RSVP at this point, unless of course you want to! You can call Renee at 239-560-6314 or email from the website at

See you Sunday! Come hungry!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” - Melody Beattie

The Promise of the Love of the Goddess

What there will be is something that you are only just beginning to delve into….
a soul connection through an open, honest, intimate relationship with a woman
who holds all the power of the divine feminine within and without her body.
And she is fully aware of how to call down, capture and use this energy for the good of all. All the healing ecstacy, bliss and joy that you can hold is what awaits.

This is a woman that will not compromise her integrity to cling in desperation to anyone.

This is a woman who will not enable your weaknesses.

This is a woman who isn’t afraid to be alone, because she knows she is never alone.

This is a woman who will not allow you to harm her in any way.

This is a woman who is strong enough to be nurturing and tender.

This is a woman whose wisdom is her guide, who doesn’t allow herself to be ruled by her emotions, but allows pure feeling both joy and sadness to flow purely and freely through her.

This is a woman who can be present to you and present to her life.

It will not feel like anything that you are used to.

This is not being in love.

This is Being Love.

Just be love.

For that is what you truly are.

All of the rest is a choice based on your intention.