Creating Your Brightest Future

Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Sunday message by Matt Jones, whose mission is to inspire individuals to “Create their Brightest Future” through his miraculous story of conquering cancer three times when doctors did not think he would live, going through a bone marrow transplant, having to relearn how to walk, and running marathons around the world.

In his talk, Matt shares the “Three Causes” that lead to the creation of one’s brightest future. Audience members will be uplifted and energized to have, be, and do more in Life.


Hello Friends! This week’s letter is again coming to you from Steph Plourde, as Revs. Pat and LeRoy enjoy their final week of time off before returning to Unity of Greater Portland. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that they have been sorely missed, but constantly surrounded in our love.

I want to thank our very talented and poised music director, Deana Gurney, who I hear did a pretty spectacular job pinch hitting after a little snafu at our 8 a.m. service this past week. It sounds like Deana literally did not miss a beat, providing beautiful music and meditation for our 8 o’clockers. We love you, Deana.

For our 10 a.m. service this past Sunday, we had guest speaker Matt Jones sharing a little of his life’s journey and message. Matt is a three-time cancer victor and has gone from having to relearn how to walk to running marathons on all seven continents. He had a powerful message about re-framing life circumstances, emphasizing that though we may not have control over what happens around us, we always have a choice about how we respond. Matt flatly states that he doesn’t have a lot of answers about why things happen, but was very clear that there is a “message in the mess,” “gain in the pain,” and that he is “too blessed to be stressed.” He used a beautiful example of a cross stitch flower his mother stitched for him. The back side is a tangled mess of threads, in which you can see no clear picture. The other side is the beautiful flower: clear and perfect. Matt explained that life can be like that — sometimes all we can see is the messy back of the stitchery, but we can trust that on the flip side is the precious flower. One thing, two views.

In the afternoon, Matt did a workshop and shared some of his favorite strategies for turning thinking around. He mentioned many of the writers that have had a profound influence on him, including Ken Keyes, James Allen, Charles Haanel, and Pam Grout. He also mentioned and quoted from Christian Larson, the American New Thought leader and teacher. In 1912, Larson published a poem that later became the Optimist Creed, which Matt shared with us:

Promise Yourself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I hope you find this as beautiful and empowering as I did.

This coming week marks the beginning of Advent. Rev. Pat will be back on Sunday with a talk titled “Awakening to Hope and Faith: The Christ Consciousness.” Remember that we have some wonderful holiday events coming up. All information is available on our website and on flyers in the foyer!

Have a wonderful week. Promise yourself to smile at every living creature you meet…

Blessings,
Steph

Faith in Diaspora

Parivash Rohani

Parivash Rohani

Sunday Message by Guest Speaker Parivash Rohani

This week’s letter is coming to you from Steph Plourde, as Revs. Pat and LeRoy are taking some time off.

Today I had my first day off in what seems like a very long time. There is, to me, nothing more exquisite than a wide open, unplanned day. I’ve kept a fire going in my wood stove all day, listening to beautiful music, connecting with friends, cozying up with the kitties, reading, writing… doing all the things I love. All day, I felt the most incredible peace and contentment. I hope this note finds you experiencing some of the things you love, too.

This past Sunday we were very fortunate to have speaker Parivash Rohani as the final speaker in our Season for Interfaith and Intercultural Celebration. For those of you who were there and heard her speak, you know what I mean when I say that she sparkles: she exudes love, warmth, and joy. She told her incredible story of fleeing Iran in the face of religious persecution and about her journey to life in the U.S. Parivash talked about how closely aligned Unity’s principles are with the Baha’i principles. One of the fundamental principles in the Baha’i faith is the principle of The Common Foundation of All Religions. Excerpted from the public talks of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America in 1912, and published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace:

The foundation of all the divine religions is one. All are based upon reality. Reality does not admit plurality, yet amongst mankind there have arisen differences concerning the manifestations of God. Some have been Zoroastrians, some are Buddhists, some Jews, Christians, Mohammedans and so on. This has become a source of divergence whereas the teachings of the holy souls who founded the divine religions are one in essence and reality All these have served the world of humanity…. All have guided souls to the attainment of perfections, but among the nations certain imitations of ancestral forms of worship have arisen. These imitations are not the foundation and essence of the divine religions. Inasmuch as they differ from the reality and the essential teachings of the Manifestations of God, dissensions have arisen and prejudice has developed. Religious prejudice thus becomes the cause of warfare and battle. If we abandon these time-worn imitations and investigate reality all of us will be unified. No discord will remain; antagonism will disappear. All will associate in fellowship. All will enjoy the cordial bonds of friendship. The world of creation will then attain composure. The dark and gloomy clouds of blind imitations and dogmatic variances will be scattered and dispelled; the Sun of Reality will shine most gloriously.

Isn’t that just beautiful? And isn’t it so much in alignment with our commitment to inclusion, unity, and peace?  Scroll down for the Baha’i prayer that was read on Sunday at the service.

Our next Season will be the Season for Nonviolence, beginning in January. As we wrap up the SIIC, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Pat Bartke, who has coordinated the content of this Season and shared with all her passion for and commitment to all things interfaith. We love, bless, and appreciate you, Pat!

Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Next week we have guest speaker Matt Jones with us. Matt is a three-time cancer survivor and is on a quest to run 7 marathons on all 7 continents while sharing his inspirational message of how the right attitude helps you achieve your dreams. Please join us to hear Matt at the 10 a.m. service, followed by his workshop at noon. Also this Sunday,  we will have our Opportunity Alliance gift tags on our Christmas tree available for all to take. Thank you in advance for your generosity in helping families during this holiday season.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope it is filled with the people and things you love the most. Lastly, please join me in sending Revs. Pat and LeRoy boatloads of love and blessings.

Blessings,
Steph

Prayer for Humanity (Baha’i)

Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created…

O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock.  Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household.  In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.

O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.

O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.

O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.

O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.

Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.

O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.

Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Let’s Get Real About… Personal Transformation

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey.

The reviews are coming in on our awesome Kitchen Team and the fabulous meal that was prepared for us on Sunday. The food was delicious, there was a plethora of pies and the tables were decorated beautifully. It was truly a time of thanksgiving. I looked around the room and the tables were full (Maria told me that 63 meals were served) and the buzz of conversation was electric. Our kitchen team under Maria Lundy’s leadership goes above and beyond each week. They embody our core values of loving, accepting and welcoming.

I’d like to give a shout out to Todd Glacy as well for the wonderful concert he gave on Friday evening: Todd, you are a class act and we are blessed to have you in our midst!

As November is gratitude month, I would be remiss without mentioning our Children’s Ministry under the leadership of Leah Rush. Thank you to that team of dedicated teachers (of which there are openings) who create an energy of love and welcoming each week for our little friends. They share what they learned when they come back into the service and it is always aligned with Unity’s teaching. The lesson is subtly embedded in whatever fun activity they are engaged in — it is a win-win for the children. A high five to Leah and her team.

Without our dedicated volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do what we do at Unity of Greater Portland. THANK YOU to all of you!

This past Sunday ended the series on “Getting Real.” We looked at getting real about personal transformation. We want to experience transformation; however, many of us want it without having to change. In reality, though, change is going to be occurring whether you want it or not. This is probably a phrase you have heard and maybe have even said yourself: “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

There are two things certain in life and it is not “death and taxes,” as many of us learned; it is “change and God,” and God is changeless.

Read from Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, in A New Design for Living:

“We are all living in a world of continual change, a world in which thought, things, and experiences are all in a constant state of flux. It is the very nature of the universe that there should be continual change and variation. It is a living world, the creation of a living creative Intelligence, not a static world. But behind that which changes, behind that which causes the change, we have found that there is something stable and changeless. Something eternal upon which all of the external events depend for their very existence. Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change.”

Unity writer Martha Smock wrote in the Unity pamphlet Listen to the Christ:

“In Christ you are calmed and quieted; you rest in His presence and feel strengthened and upheld. Remember that though things change, God is changeless, enduring. God’s love is eternal.”

So, yes, change is inevitable, but behind it there is a solid foundation, which can lead us to the second part of our theme phrase: growth is optional. Again from Dr. Holmes: “Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands the change in order that we may advance. When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

And let us remember: In any change, whatever the magnitude of it is, when one door is shut, another opens. When a door closes, and locks shut, we have an opportunity, with the Spirit of God within us, to find an open door. There always is one. When we have patience, faith, and love to look for the open door, we will always find it – and that is where personal transformation occurs.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

Let’s Get Real About…Life

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Another week has rolled around, and the temperature is now feeling more like fall. Just a reminder that we have a policy in place for winter storms: If the weather bureau issues a winter storm warning, that is an automatic closing for our ministry. What this means is if it is during the week and there is a class or event scheduled, that it is canceled. The same applies to Sunday services.

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Many of you knew that Rev. LeRoy and I were planning a trip to New Zealand and would be gone for a month. That trip is canceled, as Rev. LeRoy is experiencing some physical challenges and it is not a time to travel. I will be taking a couple of weeks off and use the time for spiritual renewal. I am shamelessly asking you to please attend services as you would if I were there. We have great speakers for both the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services on November 19 and 26. I will be back on December 4. During this time off, I will not be answering emails or phone calls, so if you need to speak with someone, call the office at 893-1233, and the prayer line is checked daily.

It is interesting how the Universe has such a sense of humor. The series I am doing is called “Get Real.” This past Sunday it was “Let’s Get Real About Life.” Life has a way of turning things around and going in directions we weren’t expecting, such as not going to New Zealand. We looked at life from the lower case “l” and the upper case “L.”

Charles Fillmore in his book Talks on Truth wrote this: “We find that life is a principle; that it is inherent in Being, everywhere present at all times; that it is manifest to consciousness through vehicles; that these vehicles are animated by life according to their capacity or power to express it; that that capacity or power of expression is governed by the idea of life that is infused into it by the generative energy of the I AM.”

I shared a parable about a beautiful young river that became obsessed with chasing clouds and how that affected her life. It is a wonderful parable and has a great deal of meaning for us all.

Here are three points from the parable of which you might want to listen to get the full appreciation of these points…

  1. We are born with purity, beauty and innocence. We come into this life having that beautiful connection to Source, to Life (upper case “L”), to the ocean in our parable — innocent and pure, beautiful, playful, joyous. — And then we learn about clouds! All those things in life we want but do not have.
  2. We Chase After Clouds. The message our river is bringing us is that in this human life, we can get so caught up in chasing our clouds — whatever that looks like — and being unhappy about not having them we lose sight of everything else and become unhappy, desperate and resentful — in other words, we suffer. — But when we quit chasing it and open ourselves up to the beauty of life (the sky, the moon), then peace and happiness occur, and the clouds take on a whole new meaning.
  3. Return/Surrender to Source… to Life. Surrender here doesn’t mean white flags, giving up, conceding. I once heard the spiritual practice of surrender defined as: Having a belief that as deeply as we are willing to let go, Spirit is willing to fill us up.

So this is what this journey in life is about: realizing who we are in God, returning to center, returning to Source, returning to the ocean of Life itself.

The parable of the river’s journey helps us get real about the interplay between lower case “l” life and upper case “L” Life.

As a reminder:

  • We are born pure and innocent and beautiful and magnificent because we are born of Life;
  • We lose our footing and sometimes our way in this life when we chase after what we want and don’t have, rather than loving it into being; and
  • Our greatest, deepest satisfaction in this life occurs when we are in conscious union with the invisible, the ineffable, the eternal Life.

Next Sunday’s message will be “Let’s Get Real About Personal Transformation.”

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey