Light of Faith – Power of Perception, Conviction and Expectancy

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey. One in a series based on the book Divine Audacity.

We have another opportunity to highlight a group of committed individuals that gave of their time and talent to Unity of Greater Portland. On Saturday Matt Purinton, Jeff Plumer, his friend Paul, and Sandy Watson refreshed our labyrinth — and it looks exquisite. The labyrinth is a source of comfort for many both in and outside of our community. Kudos for the pocket of beauty you created.

Also, on Saturday another committed group came together to create a healing circle for Rev. LeRoy. It was an awesome experience. Comments that I heard were “it was a beautiful, powerful experience… I have never experienced anything like this in any church.” Rev. LeRoy was moved, and his heart was opened ever wider. Many thanks to those who were not in attendance but sending long distant prayer. We heard from so many friends all over the country that are praying for him.

We have an amazing community, with so much love, support and connection. Give yourself the gift of being in this energy as much as you can. We need each other: this journey is not one we take alone. Research has shown that having a spiritual community can improve your life. Strong relationships have been proven to increase life expectancy, which is why one study found a strong association between church attendance and improved health, mood and wellbeing. So be kind to yourself and make Sunday morning a priority to be at Unity of Greater Portland.

How many of you look forward to your work week? There was a time in my life when Monday morning came around and I saw my energy and enthusiasm tumble. I knew I wasn’t doing what I came here to do and was to afraid to let go of what was secure and take the leap of faith that was required from me. If this resonates at all with you I suggest you listen to the talk.

As you may know my message each week is coming from a series based on the book Divine Audacity, written by Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett. This week we looked at the power of Faith.

From Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, defines faith as “the perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance. It is spiritual assurance, the power to do the seemingly impossible. It is a force that draws to us our heart’s desire right out of the invisible spiritual substance. It is a deeper inner knowing that that which is sought is already ours for the taking, the ‘assurance of things hoped for.’”

Faith is our innate power to create our reality by our perceptions, our beliefs, and our own interpretations.

Perception = awareness = consciousness.

Consciousness is the persistent trend of thoughts and feelings that becomes the eyeglasses we use to look out at the world which is our perception. What we focus on becomes our reality. It is not what’s out there but how we see what’s out there.

It is important to question our perception. We look out at the world and “assign meaning” according to our perception.

Here is a wonderful quote from Unity minister Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann from her book, Your God Given Potential that I think addresses what meaning we assign: Faith is the quality in us which enables us to look past appearances of lack, limitation or difficulty, to take hold of the divine idea and believe in it even though we do not see any evidence of it except in our mind. Through faith we know with an inner knowing the Truth that has not yet expressed in our manifest world.

The greatest faith is demonstrated by those who not only perceive possibilities but see the impossible as possible. We exercise faith when we see Truth hidden in the facts, see great possibilities in impossible situations.

Affirmation for this week: I live in faith, perceive the good, trust all is well, and expect the best!

Next week we will be looking at the power of Understanding.

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

White Stone Ceremony

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

I know that we Mainers are tough and many of you proved it on Sunday by showing up when the temperature was well below zero. As I drove down River Road on my way to the 8 a.m. service my car thermometer was registering -24… yikes… but you all showed up!

What may have motivated you was the service which is always the first Sunday of the new year, the White Stone Ceremony. I love this service because it is a reminder that we have a clean slate in which to create our life… it represents freedom.

This is a quote from John Selby’s book, Seven Masters, One Path: “We can’t hold one thing tightly in our grasp, and at the same time reach out and take something new. We must let go of and put aside what we are grasping, in order to be able to receive something that we want or need much more. All spiritual and psychological growth requires a letting go of a limited belief in order to open up and receive a more expansive belief — or even better, a direct experience of reality that makes all beliefs unnecessary.”

The Burning Bowl ceremony we do on New Year’s Eve and this ceremony set us up to release and then receive or take in the wonders of life.

This ceremony evolved from the book of Revelation 2:17. It reads, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

The source of the white stone is from the time of Jesus. When a prisoner was released he was given a white stone to symbolize his freedom and to prove that he had been let go from prison. As long as he had his white stone, he was assured his freedom. It is a symbol of overcoming adversity or an external challenge. And when we overcome there is a shift in consciousness — we grow, we change, and our lives become richer. We become blessed and nourished by new things. A new name is written on it — our experiences of life will be changed because of our new intentions and our new thoughts and beliefs — our shift in consciousness.

If you were not present on Sunday, you can pick up a white stone this Sunday and find your new name.

Listen; listen to what your Spirit is telling you to write on your white stone. What are you hearing or feeling or knowing? What are your intentions? What if Spirit was writing on your white stone? What is it that Spirit will write? Ask, right now. Ask what would be the most helpful name, or what would be the most helpful word to take into this New Year?

Once you receive your word keep this stone as a reminder of this moment and your choice to be free. God bless you and have a new year of renewal and freedom.

Before I end I want to bring to your attention to the Heart-Based Meditation workshop on Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., facilitated by Dr. Paul and Sandra Dugliss. They are returning by popular demand. I look forward to seeing you there.

The following Tuesday evening, the Women Empowering Women group will go in a new direction using the material in the book Traveling with the Turtle. This is an opportunity to deepen your spiritual life and to live a nonviolent life. It will meet the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. for 13 months. Please join me and others who are on the journey traveling with the turtle.

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

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

SisterHeart: The Story of an Indian Nun and Maher

Sister Lucy Kurien

Sister Lucy Kurien

Sister Lucy Kurien, Founder of Maher Ashram, spoke at our 10 a.m. service and presented a workshop at noon.

Message from Rev. Pat Bessey:

I want to give a high five to the awesome team that keeps Unity of Greater Portland running while I am away. Special thanks to Steph who did triple duty: speaking at the 8 a.m. service, facilitating the Prosperity Plus II class, and keeping all the ducks moving in the right direction.

Rev. LeRoy and I had an incredible time at Chautauqua Institute. We were the Unity representatives for the week. Chautauqua Institute has been in existence since 1874, when it was founded by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent. It was started as a teaching camp for Sunday school teachers. It has developed into a 9-week season of programs that offer lectures and classes in the arts, education, religion and music.

We represented Unity of Chautauqua by speaking at their Sunday service, holding an 8 a.m. Daily Word Meditation each morning, and doing a one-hour class on Wednesday night. There were so many wonderful offerings it was difficult to decide what to partake of. We have already made a commitment to go back next year.

This week many of our children and teachers head back to school. Our love and prayers are with you all as this is a big adjustment.

Now on to Sunday — what a powerful service we had with our special guest, Sister Lucy Kurien.

Here is some information about Sr. Lucy and the Maher organization:

  • Sister Lucy is an Indian nun dedicated to service to the destitute, abandoned, abused of India. “Love is my religion. … It is not we who do seva/service, rather the Divine who does service through us.”
  • Founder of Maher (which means “Mother’s Home” in local language) despite no formal training, no funds of her own (she lived in convent) – a living example for what one person can do with Love as your only resource.
  • Maher celebrated 20 years of service this year, has directly helped over 4,000 women and 3,100 children, many living at Maher for all their years of schooling, and/or continue on as staff, in 3 states of India.
  • Maher was recently awarded the coveted “Consultative Status” at the UN.
  • Inaugurated “Maher Interfaith Association” during World Interfaith Harmony
  • In addition to homes for women, children, mentally disturbed, and the aged, Maher organizes local self-help groups (mostly micro-finance) and does Village Outreach on topics ranging from hygiene, value of educating girls, alcoholism, anger management, AIDs awareness, and much more.
  • Maher is a values-based organization: steadfastly interfaith, caste-free, no bribesever, supporting the environment.
James Dillet Freeman

James Dillet Freeman

In the 8 a.m. service the topic was prayer. I closed with the long version of the Prayer for Protection. Most don’t know this version exists. It was written by James Dillet Freeman, Unity’s Poet Laureate, for all soldiers during World War II. I think it is just as relevant and powerful today as it was when written.

“The light of God surrounds me,
The love of God enfolds me,
The power of God protects me,
The presence of God watches over me.
The Mind of God guides me.
The Life of God flows through me.
The Laws of God direct me.
The Power of God abides within me.
The Joy of God uplifts me.
The Strength of God renews me.
The Beauty of God inspires me.
Wherever I am, God is.”

Next week will begin a short series, “Unity Practical Christianity: The Silence.”

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

 

My Cup Runneth Over

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

For several years, I have been pretty successful getting through the winter without a pesky cold. Not so this year! If you were here on Sunday you would know that I was pretty congested, which actually added some extra impact to the message.

The message title was “My Cup Runneth Over.” Having not talked about money in the entire time I have been at Unity of Greater Portland, I decided to capitalize on my physical congestion and share from the platform what can happen when we are metaphysically congested. So the answer to the question, “How does money and a stuffy nose end up in the same sentence?” is that in the same way we experience physical congestion and discomfort when we have a cold, we may experience profound metaphysical congestion and discomfort in the area of personal finances when we aren’t putting certain key principles into practice.

After having a very restless night and ruminating on finances, I saw that I was entertaining lack and limitation. Upon waking the next morning, I was still congested, and I was directed to a six-point practical financial plan that author and visionary Alan Cohen wrote many years ago.

Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen wrote: “I am not an economist, and frankly I don’t understand all of the complexities of the current market. I do, however, understand the relationship between thought, belief, feeling, attitude, expectation, identity, and practical prosperity. So here is my 6-point plan, which will surely work if you apply it.

“The first point is Vision:  A visionary sees and remembers the Big Picture in the face of current appearances to the contrary. A visionary thrives under all conditions. There are always people who do well in difficult economic times, as well as those who fail in prosperous times.

“It is not the economy at large that determines your well-being; it is the consciousness you hold in relation to it.

“The second point is Trust: When human affairs appear to falter, the hand of the divine becomes very real and practical. A Higher Power is currently running the universe far more intelligently and successfully than even the best economists.

“The third point is Reframe:  You may remember that the Chinese written symbol for ‘crisis’ is a combination of two other symbols: ‘Danger’ and ‘Opportunity.’ If there is danger in your current financial position, know that there is also an opportunity.

“The fourth point is Reset Priorities: When money seems tight, we have a window of insight to recognize how rich we are, no matter how much or how little we have in the bank. When financial challenges arise, we can use this time to grow closer to our families, homes, nature, activities that truly bring us joy, and to grow closer to ourselves and our Higher Power.

“The fifth point is Circulate: Keep moving your energy, financially and otherwise. The brilliant metaphysician and Unity writer Florence Scovel Shin noted: ‘All disease is due to congestion and all healing is due to circulation.’

“This dynamic applies impeccably to personal economic congestion. When people are afraid to spend money, there is less money in circulation, then people grow more afraid to spend and the cycle goes on.

“The sixth and final point is Milk Every Moment: It would be easy to think that you will be able to relax and enjoy your life as soon as your current crisis is averted or offset. But that’s the carrot at the end of the stick – the one that you never get to bite. Either life is rewarding NOW, or it never will be.”

And from Norma Gentile – a larger perspective:

“This transition in our corporate and financial world reflects humanity’s continued growth toward Unity Consciousness.

“We are being called to totally undo everything that’s been built with a hierarchical format – everything that has been built without a sense of true heart and integrity.

“We as a race are moving into greater prosperity. While it may not seem that way in your personal affairs, you are in the process of releasing that which no longer serves your financial world, which is the underpinning of our present society.

“Because of the loud external circumstances, it becomes harder to choose while not in a state of fear or panic. Fear separates you from all that is. Love binds you to all those around you and to ALL that is. Choose one expression – love or fear – and you choose the resulting influence in your life.”

Return to Source – The God essence of Love. Acknowledge Spirit as the Source and substance of the universe. Take delight in the many blessing you already have. Live in gratitude and greater riches will be bestowed upon you – to have and to share.

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