Dear friends and students of The Urantia Book,
I hope and pray that you are all keeping well and in good spirits. We find ourselves in momentous times! We are constantly confronted with news about the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept our globe in the space of a month or two. We are alarmed at the rapid rate of infection and the rising death toll, particularly among our brothers and sisters in countries like the United States, Italy, Spain, the UK, and China. We are reminded of our fragility and our innate vulnerability as mere mortals on this planet. Disturbing images may raise questions in our minds concerning our personal preparedness for death. We don’t know the day nor the hour of our deaths. Indeed, we often take our health for granted. Notwithstanding The Urantia Book’s amazingly positive description of life beyond our existence here on Urantia, we may still harbour a fear of death and/or dying.
Fear is a very human problem; it is something that we are all familiar with. Paradoxically, it is also something that has enabled us to survive and thrive as a species on this planet. However, when our fear is unreasoned or unreasonable, then it seriously detracts from our peace and joy. I have written an article for this edition of Arena, entitled “Fear not”, which explores the evolutionary origins of fear and then highlights the Master’s exhortation to his disciples to “fear not” when confronted with personal and global crises. I hope you all find it inspiring and comforting.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has necessitated the cancellation of the national conference, which was scheduled for Auckland, New Zealand in October. However, on a happier note, the New Zealand organising committee has decided to hold a virtual conference via a Zoom session sometime in October. We have recently enjoyed two remarkably successful 24-hour global Zoom events sponsored by Urantia Association and co-sponsored by the Urantia Book Fellowship and the Urantia Foundation. These were made possible at very short notice by a wonderful team of hard workers which included the Association President Chris Wood, the Education Chair Jeannie Vazquez de Abreu, and our very own Kathleen Swadling, who is the Communications Chair. Congratulations to everyone who was involved in making these events so rewarding. This just goes to show what can be done when necessity dictates! I’m sure we can do likewise later this year.
Another casualty of the pandemic is the unfortunate cancellation of both the Urantia Global Experience conference in Vancouver which was scheduled for the 28th July this year and the International conference in Peru which was scheduled for early next year. Both organizing committees are planning to stage some alternative online virtual events.
I hope you all enjoy the autumn Arena! A big thank you to all the contributors, including our dynamic duo, Rita Schaad and Kathleen Swadling, whose behind the scenes work always seems to make everything run smoothly. Apologies to anyone whom I may have missed!
As winter approaches, I want to urge you all to stay safe and well! And may I close with this timely reminder:
All the worlds of every universe are constantly within the consciousness of God. He also says: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people, I have heard their cry, and I know their sorrows.” For “the Lord looks from heaven; he beholds all the sons of men; from the place of his habitation he looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” Every creature child may truly say: “He knows the way I take, and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” “God knows our downsittings and our uprisings; he understands our thoughts afar off and is acquainted with all our ways.” “All things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” And it should be a real comfort to every human being to understand that “he knows your frame; he remembers that you are dust.” Jesus, speaking of the living God, said, “Your Father knows what you have need of even before you ask him. [Paper 3:3.2, page 49.1]
Peace and love!