Being A Stone Catcher

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Welcome to issue three of Heart Thoughts for 2018. We have seen a January thaw and now we are back in a deep freeze, with another storm forecasted. A hearty thanks to all of you who continue to make Sunday morning at Unity of Greater Portland a priority in your schedule. Our dedicated team works all during the week to prepare a Sunday-morning feast, and we are grateful for you coming to partake of it.

circle of handsI want to acknowledge some folks who work behind the scenes to help create a welcoming and informative atmosphere when you arrive. Hilary Hayes comes in each week and restocks the chair backs in the sanctuary and waters the plants. Cindy Hildreth dresses the bulletin board that the sign-up sheets are on with the theme of the season and prepares our welcome packets. Jaclyn Ashla maintains the community bulletin board and Pat Bartke and Trish Vogel maintain the Seasons bulletin board. Mindy Rosseland prepares the announcement slides each week and Gary Wane prepares the Sunday service slides weekly. A high five to each of these folks!

This past Sunday was the opening of the Season for Nonviolence, which goes from now until the first part of April. This is our fourth season and each year it becomes a more important focus for us individually and as a spiritual community. Here is why I say this. This is a quote from an article written by Fr. John Dear (who will be with us on Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18): “Fifty years after the watershed year of 1968, we are at another watershed, and Dr. King has put the fundamental choice before us. This is the Year of Nonviolence or Nonexistence.”

“A culture of nonviolence is not an impossible dream,” Pope Francis said recently, following up on his 2017 World Day of Peace message, “Nonviolence – A New Style of Politics,” the first statement on nonviolence in the history of the Catholic Church.

But our culture of violence begs to differ. “No, Pope Francis,” it says, “a culture of nonviolence is an impossible dream. No, Dr. King, there is no choice; non-existence is inevitable.” Deep down, that’s what we think, isn’t it? That’s what the culture of violence, the voice of despair, tells us.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote over 50 years ago this: “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the pressing urgencies of the great cause of freedom… a time like this demands great leaders.”

The body of the message on Sunday was sharing about “stonecatchers,” which comes out of a book written by Bryan Stevenson called Just Mercy. Stevenson is a lawyer who started a non-profit organization called the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those on death row. This book was very moving for me and I strongly recommend it. Here is a TED talk Bryan did.

In the message from Sunday, I read from the chapter in the book, The Stonecatchers’ Song of Sorrow.

Have a great week and next week join me for “Kindness: Gotcha.”

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

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