Shady Ladies of the Bible: Jezebel

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Thank you to our amazing kitchen staff and to all of you that brought food in for our BBQ this past Sunday. The food was wonderful and the fellowship, as always, was exceptional. We are so blessed with this team that provides a meal for us each week. If you are not part of the team and would like to help, extra hands are always welcome! If you love to cook and want to add to the menu on a Sunday, you don’t have to wait for Potluck Sunday – an extra dish is always received with open arms and hearts!

There will be one more week of the Shady Lady of the Bible series. This coming Sunday, we will be talking about Shady Wives of the Bible. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take the lessons from this week’s biblical character: Jezebel.

Jezebel is a foreigner from Phoenicia and marries King Ahab, the king of Israel. She is beautiful, comes from nobility, enjoyed a life of luxury and was from a cosmopolitan, populous and extremely diverse area. The area where King Ahab lived was very conservative, and she was to be their queen.

Jezebel was very unpopular with the people of Israel as she worshiped an idolatrous deity named Baal. They wanted her to conform and worship the “One God,” Yahweh. Not only did she worship Baal, but she converted King Ahab to do so also.

She does a lot of wicked things as the Queen and ends up losing her life in the end. There is a lot to unpack in this story. You can read her story in 1st and 2nd Kings.

When Jezebel enters the scene in the 9th Century B.C.E., she provides a perfect opportunity for the Bible writer to teach a moral lesson about the evil outcomes of idolatry, for she is a foreign idol worshiper who seems to be the power behind her husband. From the Deuteronomist’s viewpoint, Jezebel embodies everything that must be eliminated from Israel so that the purity of the cult of Yahweh will not be further contaminated.

Jezebel’s name has been used for thousands of years to describe cunning, ruthless and reprehensible women; however, there are others who believe that Jezebel was one of the first suffragists and that it’s time to change that definition to: a strong, courageous, loyal woman who stands up for what she believes in, no matter the cost.

Jezebel is an outspoken woman in a time when females have little status and few rights; a foreigner in a xenophobic land; an idol worshiper in a place with a Yahweh-based, state-sponsored religion; a murderer and meddler in political affairs in a nation of strong patriarchs; a traitor in a country where no ruler is above the law; and all of this in the territory where the Ten Commandments originate.

Listen to the complete message from the 10 a.m. service (audio only) or watch the message from the 8 a.m. service above.

This coming Sunday we welcome back Julie Thompson during the 10 a.m. service.

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

Shady Ladies of the Bible: Bathsheba

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

It is August! Have you been taking time to enjoy summer? Maybe you have been on a trip or visiting family? Whatever you have been doing, I hope you have been having fun!

This week at Unity of Greater Portland there is a group of children having fun at Spirit Camp. This is a nature-based, spiritual camp for children ages 5 – 10. Be on alert next Sunday when you arrive, as the energy of imagination, creativity and joy will be high as these children have filled our space with their expansive vibrations!

This past Sunday we continued with the series Shady Ladies of the Bible. The Old Testament story was about David and Bathsheba. It is a story of lust, power, greed and murder. Although David is the main character and much of the story is about his behavior, Bathsheba is where the emphasis is. She may not really fall into the category of Shady Ladies; she could be seductive and luring, but she may also be powerless in this story.

Remember that during this time, women were considered property, so Bathsheba really had no say when David’s servant came to bring her to him. She had to submit to the king. She was overtaken by the power of David.

Unity teaches that all characters from the Bible represent parts of our consciousness, each having a metaphysical interpretation. David represents love, but love has to be tempered with wisdom and good judgment. In this case, that didn’t happen. As the story goes, David who wrote all those beautiful Psalms, never once prayed for wisdom or asked for guidance in this situation. He schemed and deceived his way through it.

Bathsheba represents feelings. In this story, we see feelings being pushed around by love. What I came to admire about Bathsheba is the way she said yes to the Universe. Her life didn’t turn out the way she expected – like some of ours – but she appears to have accepted the divine flow. So maybe this story is about trusting the universe, about surrendering to what is – not because we are powerless, but because we trust what is happening in our lives has a purpose for our highest good regardless of its initial appearance.

There is no better prayer for Bathsheba and us than this:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Next week, the Shady Lady will be Jezebel.

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

Shady Ladies of the Bible: Delilah

Sunday Mesage by Rev. Pat Bessey

It was great to be back with you on Sunday. The Peace Literacy training with Paul K. Chappell was for me an opportunity to deepen the principles of Peace Literacy that I have been studying since Paul’s visit in March of 2015 and a renewed commitment to further this work. Stay tuned!

I continued the series “Shady Ladies of the Bible” with the story of Samson and Delilah. The story in the Bible is found in the Book of Judges, Chapters 13 – 16. This is another story of a couple who are unable to have children and an Angel of the Lord comes to tell Samson’s mother that she will have a son. He will be consecrated to God.

In this story, the main characters are Samson, Delilah and the Philistines. Unity teaches that all the characters in the Bible are aspects of our own consciousness. A way to think of this also is that the Bible is an evolution of our own story. We move through the Old Testament and it is a time when we are very much in the world… it is an-eye-for-an-eye consciousness. As we move into the New Testament and begin to follow the teachings of Jesus, we then move into a higher state of consciousness, and love, compassion and forgiveness become our way of expressing in the world.

Now let us look at what Samson, Delilah and the Philistines represent in us. The long hair worn by Samson represents a spiritual power that grows from the mind of a person operating from an elevated consciousness.

In other words, Samson’s hair is the spiritual force (spirit of the Lord) growing from the higher mind. Unfortunately, Samson identified his strength with the outer being his hair rather that his inner spiritual power.

A question to ask yourself: Where do I see my power coming from? Is it outside myself – perhaps in my good looks, my intelligence or my wealth? If so, what happens if it is taken away?

Delilah represents emotions: poured out; exhausted; weak; pining with desire; lustful pining; languishing; longing.

“Delilahs” are anything we let get in the way of our soul’s purpose, like:
• distractions,
• temptations,
• laziness…
• what saps your strength…
• drugs, alcohol, food… television…
• staying too busy…
• living unconscious…

The trouble is that a lot of these things are attractive – at least at first – and they don’t wave the banner saying, “I am your destruction.”

The act of cutting Samson’s hair is symbolic of our emotions cutting off the Higher Mind (Spirit) ruling our lives. We all know that emotions play a strong role in our decision-making process. But we were never meant to be ruled by emotions. We’re to be ruled by the Spirit, or Higher Mind.

And then we have the Philistines. They represent negative thoughts that become our enemies.

From Unity’s Metaphysical Bible Dictionary: When the five-sense man gives himself up to sense desires and makes no attempt to live in spiritual consciousness he is ruled by Philistine thoughts. This is a suppression of the real man, and if such living is continued the soul will finally be crowded out of its rightful domain, the land of Israel.

When we react from our emotions, our thoughts truly become the greatest enemy we could have. Thoughts and emotions seemingly have this synergistic relationship that can spiral out of control and send us into the whirlwinds of a stressful life.

How do we give up our strength to thoughts that become our enemies? Being plugged in to the news all day or living in a state of fear about money or health?

So the moral of this story is that our true power comes from the divine within. We can lose our hair, our brains, our looks and still be expressions of Spirit… your ultimate identity is Divine… you are the Strength of God… so don’t let anything get in the way of that.

Next week we will look at David and Bathsheba.

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

 

 

Moving Toward Simplicity

Rev. Todd Glacy

Sunday Message by Rev. Todd Glacy (Audio)

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey: A high five to Matt Purinton and Rev. Todd Glacy for their great messages on Sunday.

Above is the audio file of Todd’s talk, Moving Toward Simplicity.

“By simplifying our external lives we can simplify our internal lives, and when we simplify our internal lives we can experience more freedom, peace and relaxation.” ~ Todd Glacy

I am grateful to you both as I am at a Peace Literacy training with Paul K. Chappell in Santa Barbara, CA. Here with me is Rev. LeRoy; my admin assistant; Steph Plourde; Kim Cowperthwaite and Janice Murphy.

Paul K ChappellMany of you attended a workshop with Paul in March of 2016. His work is dedicated to teaching peace literacy. He was recently interviewed by The Moon Magazine, and I am sharing part of that article:

The MOON: You’ve been championing the cause of peace for 10 years now – even while still a soldier in Iraq. Are you discouraged? Do you feel as if we’re going backwards?

Chappell: No, I’m not discouraged. When you understand the causes of human suffering, nothing that happens is surprising. If I knew a man who ate unhealthy food and smoked, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had heart disease. Nor would I be discouraged, because we know the steps he could take to improve his health and prevent a heart attack.

People have unspoken needs for purpose, meaning, belonging, and self-worth, which are not filled in healthy ways by consumerism and, as a result, are creating a vacuum that can be filled by fanaticism and extremism. Human beings also crave explanations. When things “are going wrong” with the country, for example, people want to know: Why is the economy bad? Why is there terrorism? What’s the explanation for all these mass shootings? This need for explanations is so powerful that if we don’t have an accurate explanation, we’ll invent inaccurate ones. For example, medieval Europeans, craving an explanation for the plague but not knowing what viruses and bacteria were, said that plague was caused by God or the planets.

Taken together, the explanations we believe create our worldview. Having a worldview is as important as having food and water. That’s why, if you threaten someone’s worldview, they’ll often react as if you’re threatening them physically. When Galileo said that the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around, the Catholic Church threatened to torture him if he did not recant. He threatened their worldview. When you talk politics or religion with someone who disagrees with you, they might become aggressive. Usually this aggression falls into the realm of “posturing,” but sometimes the aggression can become physical-or even lethal-as when people go to war over differing religious or political beliefs. And just as the fight-or-flight response causes many animals to create distance between themselves and a threat, many people will simply walk away from you, unfriend you on Facebook, or create distance in some other way when you endanger their worldview.

The MOON: Yet it seems that we’re exposed to more types of people, cultures, and worldviews than ever before in human history. Isn’t the world growing closer and more interconnected?

Chappell: Yes, but seeing the world becoming more interconnected has made a lot of people feel more insignificant, or even worthless. When humans lived in small communities they knew they had a place; they belonged; and belonging to that place gave them a sense of worthiness. As the world has become more interconnected globally, we’ve also had breakdowns in community, with the result that more people feel disconnected, alienated, and powerless.

The MOON: Wow. That’s quite a transformation, Paul. And now you’re a champion for peace literacy. Let’s talk about what that entails. It’s a really tall order, isn’t it? Just the first aspect of peace literacy, “recognizing our shared humanity,” seems like a stretch goal.

Chappell: Peace literacy is a tall order, but so is learning math, or reading and writing. Our education system devotes the time needed to teach these subjects; if we decide peace literacy is important, we can devote the time and resources to teaching it, as well.

In fact, waging peace requires even more training than waging war because it addresses the root causes of the problem, while waging war only deals with the symptoms. Fortunately, people seem to find this information very compelling. It empowers them. They can better understand and deal with human behavior-their own and others’.

People want easy answers, but peace literacy is complex. There’s no “six-minute abs” class for peace literacy. But if you want to play a sport really well, or be really good on the guitar, or violin, you’re going to have to devote time and effort to it. Proficiency at anything takes time and commitment. There’s no shortcut.

The MOON: That’s why it seems like a tall order. We’re not teaching those skills in school, for the most part. Maybe in kindergarten, where we’re taught to share, take turns, and keep our hands to ourselves, but we don’t explore the subject in much complexity. So how do people begin? With themselves?

Chappell: To teach our shared humanity I focus on what all humans have in common, regardless of race, religion, nationality, education, or gender. For example, we all need trust. There’s not a human being on the planet who doesn’t want to be around people they can trust. Hitler; Osama bin Laden; members of the mafia; members of the peace movement; members of ISIS-everyone in the world wants to be around people they can trust. The breakdown of trust, which is something we’re seeing right now among Americans, is extremely damaging to a society. People have even lost trust in our institutions-like government, science, and the media. It’s impossible to have a healthy democracy without a shared basis in trust. Another trait we have in common is that no one likes being betrayed. These are two of many factors that unite all humans and transcend surface differences.

Next week we will return to the series The Shady Ladies of the Bible, and we will be talking about Delila.

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

 

Shady Ladies of the the Bible: Hagar

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

This past Sunday was another great one. I have begun a new series called “Shady Ladies of the Bible” and I started with Hagar. Who was Hagar? She was an immature, petulant slave of Abraham and Sarah. The story of Hagar is found in Genesis chapters 15 – 21. She is called into service to be the surrogate mother of the heir to Abraham’s inheritance. After she conceives she begins to gloat that she is pregnant while Sarah couldn’t become pregnant. This didn’t go over very well with Sarah. It wasn’t long before Sarah told Abraham that he needed to get rid of Hagar. And he did. I will get back to this in just a moment.

Abraham was told by God that he would be the father of many, many offspring. Time and years went by with still no heir. Both Abraham and Sarah’s faith waivered. Then once again God told them the next year it would happen. Sarah laughed uproariously and got into trouble with God. However, it did happen and Sarah had a son. They named him Isaac, which means “laughter.”

Now back to Hagar. When she was pregnant and in the desert, the Angel of the Lord came to her and told her to go back to Sarah and Abraham. She did that and had her baby, named Ismael. The two children began to grow up together; however, Sarah didn’t like that and once again turned Hagar out. Hagar went back into the desert and found herself without water for her and her son. Listen to the talk and hear the metaphysics of this story and the meaning of these three Bible characters.

This coming Sunday, Rev. LeRoy, Steph Plourde, Kim Cowperthwaite, Janice Murphy and I will be going out to a Peace Literacy training with Paul K. Chappell. Some of you may remember when Paul came to Unity of Greater Portland in March of 2016. He left his mark on this community with his message of Peace Literacy. Here is what Paul says: “During an era when humanity has the technological capacity to destroy itself, peace literacy means survival literacy. As a child in school I spent many years learning to read and write, but I did not learn peace literacy skills. Peace literacy educates us on solving the root causes of our problems rather than merely dealing with symptoms, which is another reason why the survival and wellbeing of our country and planet depend on peace literacy.” – Paul K. Chappell, West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran, former Army Captain, Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

As we continue to work toward fulfilling our vision of a spiritually transformed world, we believe this work is an important tool for our tool bag. We are looking for the guidance as to how we apply what we learn in this training to our work here at Unity of Greater Portland.

This coming Sunday, Matt Purinton will be speaking at the 8 a.m. service and Rev. Todd Glacy will be speaking at the 10 a.m., service followed by a Gong Journeywork workshop.

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