A Life of Service

An address by Brother Bernard

Recorded in the Cowley Church, Oxford, just before Christmas

Good evening friends.

It is with joy that we come into your midst to leave with you one or two thoughts that might be of help to you in your pathway through life. We were listening to those words by one of our friends from our side of life, Silver Birch, and we were thinking about the effect of service and the thought came that service being rendered requires somebody to accept it and that will be the theme of our talk tonight.

You are coming up to your Christmas Season. What does Christmas mean to you? It is just an occasion for eating and drinking or do your realise something of the wonder when that baby was born some two thousand years ago. When you look back do you realise what a failure the life of Jesus really was? He was the first born of Joseph and Mary and the first born is always very important in any family and there was probably great preparations made for His coming in his own house and then, just before the birth, the decree came that everyone had to go to the city in which they were registered. Joseph and Mary had to journey through the length of Palestine, to Bethlehem, because Joseph was of the House of David. And instead of being born in a cottage, in a home where preparations had been made, He was born in a stable because there was no room for them at the inn.

It is a simple story, is it not? Known to each one of you probably from childhood; the baby Jesus lying in a manger. And over the centuries there have been many, many stories added to the original and all of them expressing the wonder that the baby came at that time. And when He came into the world He came to bring a message of love and that is the essence of what He taught the people; to love one another; and in loving to serve one another. But, as we said at the beginning, to serve means that someone has got to accept your service.

In your modern world you often pride yourselves upon being independent. You find it difficult to accept, particularly if what you are asked to accept smacks of charity, or of alms, or is given in a patronising way. And yet if there was not somebody to accept your service it would be very empty and of no use at all.

You are given presents at Christmas and how often do you receive something and immediately say "Oh! You shouldn't have done that", or I didn't expect this, that, or the other. Remember that the acceptance of a gift is as important as the giving and if you can accept graciously; if you make the person who is giving you a present, or doing you a service, or giving you some help, if you can accept it with a smile, if you can show how grateful you are for it, if you can put on one side your pride, your self-satisfaction then you will be giving far more than mere lip service because the person who is donating, whether it be material goods, whether it be of spiritual upliftment, whether it be of advice, whatever it is that person will feel twice as good because you have been prepared to accept with pleasure, with gratitude, with love.

As you go through life there are so many ways in which you can be of help. Ways in which you can serve without asking for reward, without expecting to be thanked, without thinking how good you are to be doing this, or that, or the other. You have got to realise that each one of you, because you are Spiritualists, because you know something about the truth of the Eternity of Life, so you have a greater responsibility than those who have no knowledge, those who are still in ignorance, those who refuse to listen.

Your life upon the earth plane is a journey. You start out as a baby and you go through your schools, collages and universities, and out you go into the world where you have to earn your own living. And, in due time, you come to the end of your days in work and you come to the years of retirement. Everyone goes through that particular experience unless their time upon the earth plane is much shorter than the normal. And what you learn through life, whether it be what you learn at school, in your work, in your homes, in your play, in your recreations, in your meetings, whatever it may be it is all experience that goes to build your character, that goes to develop your soul, that goes to sort out in your life the things that are necessary for your progression.

When you come to the end of your days upon Earth and your soul leaves behind the body like shedding an overcoat, or an overall, and goes forward into the next stage of life; into, what you term, the other side. You cannot take with you any of the material goods that you have acquired upon Earth; you take with you your character, your soul, the lessons that you have learned, the progress that you have made, the love that you have engendered among other people, and the love that you have given out to other people. They go with you to Spirit and in Spirit you have the chance to look back and see what you have made of your life. You have an opportunity to deal with the things that you have left undone. You have an opportunity to make amends for the wrongs that you have done and you have the opportunity to realise the blessings that have occurred in your life when you have performed something that has been of service. Whether it be service to a fellow being upon the earth plane, whether it be service to your village, to your town, to your employer, to your country, or whether it be of service to Spirit.

Remember there are people, human beings, on the other side of life who are still in the grey places. People who do not realise where they are. People who have no knowledge of Spirit Truths when they were upon the earth plane and when they get to the other side of life they are completely confused. Often they cannot see Spirit Light but they can see a light that is engendered by a meeting such as this. They can see the lights that are kindled by your Circles. They can see a light that is kindled by your prayers and in seeing that light they are often enabled to see Spirit Light. That is a way you can be of service to Spirit. Send out your thoughts of love to all those on both sides of life; those who are unloved, those who are criminals, those who have committed crimes that make you shudder, those that are vandals, braggarts and hooligans, those who are destructive upon Earth. Send them all your love. Remember that whatever soul it is, in whatever state it is, there is still a spark of God, it is still upon the journey that will eventually lead to God.

It is difficult, we know, to love someone who is hateful but Jesus did. When He walked the earth plane He loved the sinners as well as the saints. He realised that on the earth plane you have all types of souls in all different conditions but to them all He gave His love. And that is what we are asking you to do.

The reading from Silver Birch spoke of service. Service can be material, it can also be Spiritual. And often the Spiritual is more important than the material.

So our message to you is very simple. It is to ask you to send love to all those with whom you come into contact. To send loving thoughts out to those on the other side who are wandering in the darkness. To send out thoughts of love to those upon the earth plane who are evil in your sight. Remember you cannot see into peoples minds. You cannot understand the motives that drive people to do certain things. You can hate their deeds, but you must learn to love the person behind them. Give service where you can, give it with a smile, give freely and unstintingly. In the words of the prayer that is often used in your orthodox churches; "to give and not to count the cost; to labour and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy Will".

We come to you in love and we give you our love, assuring you that those on the other side of life who are linked to you, whether by bonds of relationship, bonds of friendship, bonds of love, that they are sill alive and they are still close to you. They still give you their love and their blessing.

Goodnight and God bless you all.

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