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Uriah J. Fields

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By Uriah J. Fields
Monday, February 05, 2007

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My Lord's Day is Sunday. Here is the story of one Sunday in the eighties that was typical of most of my Sundays during the seventies, eighties and early nineties.

For more than a score of years during the seventies, eighties, and early 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 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 Mutualty 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), that Apostle Paul referred to when he said, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." (1 Cor. 16:2), and John the Revelator described 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 or the sabbath day as recorded in the Old Testament. It was after His unfathomable six-day creation feat that God rested on the seventh day. 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, the greatest day of the week. I cannot prove the veracity of this statement, nevertheless this is my conviction. 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 and one day tour of duty when I served as a Chaplain's Assistant. About two years after being discharged from the military I became the pastor of a Baptist church, a position I held for nine years. I resigned my position after volunteering to serve in the Peace Corps in Africa. Just days before I was to report for duty in the Peace Corps I decided that I would not enlist in the Peace Corps. Instead I relocated in California.
For over a decade, while on a soul-searching adventure I frequented various religious institutions on Sundays, including Christian churches, Unitarian churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslm mosques and Buddhist temples.

In the early 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 had no dogmas or doctrine, in the usual sense of the term. The service was interfaith, interracial, interdenominational and interplanetary. Angels frequently attended the services. God was defined as the "Totality of All Good."
Joined by other supporters of the alternative religious service we established the Mutuality Temple as a taberanacle 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 the church mosque, syangogue or temple and those who had given up on being affiliated with any religious institution.
My Lord's Day experience extended over a period of twenty-odd years that ended in 1994. 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, and other activities took place on the Lord's Day. I repeat, here I want to give a detailed and compehensive accounting of one typical Lord's Day experience in my life, that began fifteen minutes before I got out of bed and ended fifteen minutes after I went to bed, usually beginning at 5:45 a.m., and ending 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 described in this discourse has been for me a constancy for more than a score of years while I was resident fellow at the Mutuliity Center for Ceative Living. About ten minutes before getting out of bed I enumerated some of my blessings, including my health, the opportunity to serve and do good and have peace. Then I expressed thanks to God and meditated for a few minutes. Just before allowing my feet to touch the floor I said aloud and repeated it several times these words expressed by Kahlil Gibran:
"Awake at dawn
with a winged heart
And give thanks
for another day of loving."
While taking a shower I sang with the idea that I could clean my soul at the same time I cleaned the outside of my body. I sang three songs, "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, smiled and 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, a prune and herbal tea. Before eating I sang this "Grace" that I composed titled, "Let Us Sing Grace Before We Eat":
Let us sing gace 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."
At 9:15 .m., I went to the Mutuality Temple, rearranged some of the altar furniture and placyed 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 softly prerecorded music. This was followed by 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 one sentence prayers just as Jesus had often done when he prayed. The hour-long sevice ended with silence during a "touching ceremony," that consisted of holding and laying on of hands and hugging. Following dismissal from the service I joined others in having refresments. 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 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
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. The 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 socailizing 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."
Att 1:40 p.m., I returned downstairs to the Mutuality Temple that for this meeting was known as the Mutuality Center for cerative living. I distributed or had others to distribute progams in the seats and began playing the piano just to entertain myself and others who were present. Afterward, I played a cassette containing African music.
At 2:00 p.m., I called to order the Sunday afrernoon's community People United Freedom Forum (PUFF). I welcomed the people singing this song that I composed especially for ths purpose:
"My dear friend we welcome you;
We are glad you are here.
Partake freely of all the gifts 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 one of his magnificient paintings. Two years later he entered the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

The second phase. Following the creative period I sang "Ol' Man River," a song made famous by Paul Robeson. Following the announcements, including one about a man-woman seminar that will be held two Saturdays hence, I introduced John Jett, the scheduled lecturer for the afternoon. John is an administrator of a California governmental agency and a longtime supporter of the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. He donated two hundred volumes to the Mutuality Center Library. He spoke on the subject, "Living Better with Less."
Commenting on how to acquire and use money he emphasized how better, particuarly 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 said that many people who earn more money may not have more money or save more than they did when their incomes were smaller.
John cited at tesimony that I had given more than once at the Mutuality Center for Creative Living. In my testimony I stated that for years I ate breakfast each day at a moderate price restaurant. My usual breakfast consisted of two eggs, bacon or sausages, toast, coffee and I left a tip for the waitress, at a total cost of $4.00. Later, I changed my eating habit, giving up eating eggs and drinking coffee as staples on my menu and prepared my breakfast at home. It consisted of ot breakfast cereal, a banana an orange and herbal tea, at a cost of $2.00. Commenting on this John said, "Fields was now paying for his breakfast only one-half of what he paid when he ate breakfast at a restaurant."
the price he paid when he ate a restraurant."
He said that he drives his 1975 Mustang that was eight years old and added that during the last five years he had not had a car note. His transportation cost was about what a person pays using public transportation. He said that he is spending about one-fourth to one-third of what he would be spending if he had purchased a new car every three or four years. He shared another way that he has kept more of his money by no longer eating his lunch at the institutional cafeteria or a restaurant. Instead he carried his lunch to work the same as he did when he was a student. By doing that over the period of two years he was able to save 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 intermission.

The third phase of the PUFF experience began with the ringing of a bell. Tut Hayes, a community activist and PUFF devotee, facilitated the Roudtable Talkback. During the talkback participants 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, masterfully facilitates the roundtable talkback. He keeps confict to a minimum, elicits respect from each for each and inspires a high degee of group participation. Today everyone actively participated. One of the questions a participant asked John was, "What does a person do who cannot get a job?" This was during the period when President Ronald Reagan was president and unemployment was higher than usual, especially for African Americans. 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 sunday (strawberry over a roll) for $4.29. After paying tax and leaving a tip for the waiter the total cost was $6.00. While eating I was able to ralax and savor not only the food I was eating but the beauiful blessings, including the memory and awareness of them, that I had expereinced 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 listened to a sermon on "salvation" delivered by Reverend E. V. Hill, pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles over the Trinity TV Network. After announcing 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 remain in their graves just as all other dead people we have ever known, but Jesus arose on the third day and declared that "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." ( Matthew 28.18). Reverend Hill callenged 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 child living in poverty with his mother who had been deserted by his father who he would not meet until he was an adult. Then Hill talked 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 marvelled 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, not one time but more than a dozen times, during his sermonizing.
Afterward, I prepared myself for bed. At 9:15 p.m., I slipped between two sheets and reflected on the events that had transpired during my waking day. I thanked God for "another day of loving." I knew that I had been loved this day by God. I did not just thank God, I praised Him, ackowledged 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" and I chanted for a few times, "Go to sleep my child, tonight your Heavenly Father holds you in his bosom." Soon afterwards I drifted off to sleep.
My Lord's Day waking hours had ended. This day I had been blessed and 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 times during the day, "Lord, I am ready to do everything or nothing. I will listen to You." Like John the Revelator, I proudy declared with words and deeds, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." (Rev. 1:10)

Copyright 2007 by Uriah J. Fields

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