2022 National Study Day Reflections

ANZURA’s 2022 National Study Day was held on Saturday 18th June. Various study groups came together to study Paper 155 – Fleeing Through Northern Galilee. Following are some reflections from those who participated:

Canberra Online Study Group

William Wentworth

Three members of the Canberra Study Group, Verona, Ysbrand and William, met by Zoom, and were later joined by Phillip, Termina and Gordon. Some lively discussion ensued as we read the paper.

Our attention was caught by Jesus’ statement to the apostles that to live out the truth is a more effective way of winning souls than preaching. There was also considerable discussion about his comments on the crystallized creeds, and how Judaism had become formalized into lifeless dogma. Some of us saw obvious parallels with modern Christianity.

However, the core of the paper seems to be the two discourses on religion which Jesus gave in response to a question from Thomas. Jesus referred to the evolution of religion, pointing out that he was himself was an agent of such an evolutionary leap in our planet’s religions, and that such development involves hard spiritual effort, many mistakes, and difficult struggles in order to leave the safety of tradition and engage in true spiritual growth. To transition from the religion of the mind to the religion of the spirit is the supreme adventure of existence, for that is what brings us closer to the Father.

In the second discourse, Jesus does, however, warn us that having begun our journey into truth, we should not be betrayed into looking down on those who still languish in the traditional creeds. He points out that those creeds have crystallized from the sincere efforts of previous generations and are not to be despised. The Father responds to the “faintest flicker” of faith.

I think each one of us derived something worthwhile from our reading and discussion.  

Phillip Marriott

Thank you, William, for hosting our online Study of Paper 155. Although we couldn’t meet in person it was great to meet virtually in spirit and share this paper with Gordon, Termina, Ysbrand, Verona, William, and myself.

For me the paper speaks of spiritual unity as a progressive, dynamic connection with the Father. It does not necessarily make life easy or solve my life problems, if anything, just more bearable and challenging. The answers are not written down or contained within The Urantia Book or any other book, because they are progressive and every changing. Life is dynamic and everyone is different.

Also this paper speaks of spiritual acceptance and experience no matter another’s intellectual conclusions. The scientist can have God because God exists outside of time and space; God does not invalidate the material world of facts and figures. Neither does nature invalidate the spiritual.

Jesus warned his believers that, if their religious longings were only material, increasing knowledge of nature would, by progressive displacement of the supposed supernatural origin of things, ultimately deprive them of their faith in God. But that, if their religion were spiritual, never could the progress of physical science disturb their faith in eternal realities and divine values. [Paper 155:3.6, page 1727.6 emphasis mine]

While the religion of authority may impart a present feeling of settled security, you pay for such a transient satisfaction the price of the loss of your spiritual freedom and religious liberty. My Father does not require of you as the price of entering the kingdom of heaven that you should force yourself to subscribe to a belief in things which are spiritually repugnant, unholy, and untruthful. It is not required of you that your own sense of mercy, justice, and truth should be outraged by submission to an outworn system of religious forms and ceremonies. The religion of the spirit leaves you forever free to follow the truth wherever the leadings of the spirit may take you. [Paper 155:6.5, page 1731.3 emphasis mine]

Never forget there is only one adventure which is more satisfying and thrilling than the attempt to discover the will of the living God, and that is the supreme experience of honestly trying to do that divine will. And fail not to remember that the will of God can be done in any earthly occupation. Some callings are not holy and others secular. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led; that is, subordinated to truth, ennobled by love, dominated by mercy, and restrained by fairness—justice. The spirit which my Father and I shall send into the world is not only the Spirit of Truth but also the spirit of idealistic beauty. [Paper 155:6.11, page 1732.4 emphasis mine]

My safe harbour is not the creeds, and customs of our theological institutes and texts, but the safe harbour of fellowship and connection with my spiritual Father.

Increasingly they learned from Jesus to look upon human personalities in terms of their possibilities in time and in eternity. They learned that many souls can best be led to love the unseen God by being first taught to love their brethren whom they can see. And it was in this connection that new meaning became attached to the Master’s pronouncement concerning unselfish service for one’s fellows: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” [Paper 155:3.4, page 1727.4 emphasis mine]

The very Father that forever pours forth love, life and all else I require. I do not need to ask, I just need to be present to have presence, connection and will. It is I who turns his back to the Father, all I need to remember is that he is the way and the path. My job is to walk with him, who is the way.

Now, mistake not, my Father will ever respond to the faintest flicker of faith. He takes note of the physical and superstitious emotions of the primitive man. And with those honest but fearful souls whose faith is so weak that it amounts to little more than an intellectual conformity to a passive attitude of assent to religions of authority, the Father is ever alert to honor and foster even all such feeble attempts to reach out for him. But you who have been called out of darkness into the light are expected to believe with a whole heart; your faith shall dominate the combined attitudes of body, mind, and spirit. [Paper 155:6.17, page 1733.5 emphasis mine]

Verona Armstrong

The essence of Paper 155 centres on Jesus’ (the Master’s) teaching about the religion of the Spirit. He reminded the apostles of previous religious devotion (a) primitive religion – the religion of fear, (b) the religion of civilization being the established religions of authority and (c) the true religion being the religion of the spirit in human experience

After much discussion and questioning of Jesus by the apostles about this new religion of the spirit, the Master told them that true religion was loyalty to ones highest convictions and that it entailed effort, struggle conflict, faith, determination, love, loyalty and progress ([Paper 155:5.11, page 1721.6]

On the other hand he told them that previous religious devotion was an easy path of certainty and intellectual stability.  Jesus made it clear that the difference between the religion of the mind and religion of the spirit is that the religion of the mind was based in ecclesiastical authority while religion of the spirit is wholly based in human experience and he never grew weary of telling them of the great danger of accepting religious symbols and ceremonies in the place of religious experience –

… his whole earth life was consistently devoted to the mission of thawing out the frozen forms of religion into the liquid liberties of enlightened sonship. [Paper 155:3.8, page 1727.8]

Jesus pointing out each of the twenty-four and calling them by name, Jesus said:

And now, which one of you would prefer to take this easy path of conformity to an established and fossilized religion, rather than suffer the difficulties and persecutions attendant upon the mission of proclaiming a better way of salvation to men … and living your personal experience in the eternal truths and supreme grandeurs of the kingdom of heaven? “ [Paper 155:5.13, page 1730.1]

“The extent to which you have to go with your message to the people is, in a way, the measure of your failure to live the whole or righteous life, the truth-co-ordinated life.” [Paper 155:1.5, page 1726.2]

Jesus ended this flight through Northern Galilee by saying:

 “You are my apostles … but rather, shall your religion become the fact of real experience which testifies that God has found you, and that you have enlisted in the eternal adventure of finding the God who has thus found and son-shipped you.” [Paper 155:6.18, page 1733.6]

“Let us be on our way.”  [Paper 155:6.19, page 1733.7]

While Jesus did not teach direct reference to Thought Adjusters to the apostles in Paper 155 we must acknowledge that Adjuster fragments are indeed pure energy and pure spirit and proceed directly from the Universal Father, they are of God, they are God. Paper 107:1.2.

Melbourne Study Group

Regina Williamson

This is one of those special occasions in the Urantia community where groups in Australia and New Zealand are given the opportunity to read the same paper on the same day. Our meeting in Melbourne was held as a face to face gathering and seven people attended which included two new people—one who was new to the book and the other a long-time reader. 

After socialising we read the entire paper right through first and then went back to read and discuss. This paper contained very beneficial material. It is teamwork. It binds us. It brings tolerance. It opens our eyes as we read:

Increasingly they learned from Jesus to look upon human personalities in terms of their possibilities in time and eternity. They learned that many souls can best be led to love the unseen God by being first taught to love their brethren whom they can see. And it was in this connection that the new meaning became attached to the Master’s pronouncement concerning unselfish service for one’s fellows: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” [Paper 155:3.4, page 1727.4]

Well, it certainly stops you to think on how you treat others. It was a great day.

Sydney Study Group

Kathleen Swadling

Nine of us gathered in our home in Mona Vale on a glorious sunny-Sydney winter’s day for a delightful social lunch and study intensive. One of the things I really appreciate about the annual study days is that often people come who do not normally attend the regular monthly study group meetings. These included Ed who travelled from Western Sydney, Rex and Christine from the Central Coast, and Andrew from Newcastle. In addition, there were a few regulars that included Rita (also from Newcastle), Julian, Robert, Trevor, and me.

This Paper 155—Fleeing Through Northern Galilee—is a really significant paper in the Jesus story as it comes directly after Jesus has finally managed to divest himself of the distractions of the wonder-seeking multitudes after the Crisis at Capernaum and the dramatic days that followed. The scene is now set for Jesus to teach the apostles and disciples in earnest about his gospel. And teach it he did!

What an enlightening experience it was to read and discuss these in-depth teachings from Jesus with such a fantastic group of people. We sat around our sun-drenched veranda sheltered from the cold wind and marvelled over and over again at the personal revelations we all had in response to what we were reading.

I have an old Urantia Book that I don’t use very often anymore as it started to fall apart. Once I read through it with the conscious intention to highlight everything I read that filled me with awe and wonder. I’ve just been flipping through this particular book and see that this paper has more paragraphs highlighted than not! If anyone reading this article has not read Paper 155 recently, I thoroughly recommend you have a good read of it. Once is never enough!

Enjoy these photos from our day…