Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey and Rev. LeRoy Lowell
2020 a new year and a new decade! Although it is a brand-new year our calendar has a lot of great events in the planning. It begins Sunday, January 12, with the White Stone ceremony, where you will be given a new name or word to take into this year. A bonus Sunday also is our beloved Julie Thompson, and she will be doing an hour of musical fun with her good friend Neil Lamb.
Beginning on January 14, another book group will begin. We have studied so many great books already and now we are onto another, Radical Spirit, written by Sr. Joan Chittister. Sr. Joan is an internationally known writer and lecturer. Her work on behalf of peace and justice, especially for women in church and society, has earned her numerous awards.
About this book… it is an invitation to help you lead a free and authentic life, one rooted in a radical spirit of humility drawn from ancient spiritual wisdom that echoes the insights of the ages…
The book is available in our bookstore.
Later in the month join me and learn that “no one and nothing is against you.” This will be part of the workshop I will be doing called I of the Storm on Sunday, January 26. This book is also available in our bookstore.
This is just January and includes A Course in Miracles, Men’s Gathering, Silent Saturday, and the Peace Vigil.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
This past weekend your new board met for their annual retreat at Marie Joseph Retreat Center. It was a wonderful time of getting to know each other and discussing the vision for Unity Center for Spiritual Growth going forward. At our next community meeting we will share the intentions that we are developing and goals to support us achieving the intentions.
The new officers were selected, and they are Matt Purinton, President; Barbara Kowalska, Treasurer; Erin Conway, Secretary; and Carolyn Sanford, Treasurer. Members at large are Kim Cowperthwaite and Sandy Hobbs, and Betty Gates is the board alternate.
The talk this week brought a lot of comments from those leaving saying, “Your talk was just for me today.” I am grateful when that happens. The talk was “Turning Uncomfortable to Comfortable.” How do you live through those uncomfortable times… those times when you might be changing jobs, having a relationship end, or facing a health challenge? The question that bubbles up is, “How am I going to make it through this?”
Do we struggle? Do we resist? Do we say, “Dear God, I’ve had enough change in my life; I’m not going to change any more. This is hurting me.” Or do we become, as Jesus Christ taught, non-resistant?
I’m here to promise you that by practicing non-resistance you are going to be get through this because you’re not alone. God is with you, working with you.
When you listen to this week’s message, you will hear about the analogy of a lamp and the source and how this relates to us and our source, which is God. When you turn yourself on to God, the light comes on. The light shines into every aspect of your life. There may be a part of your life that has been very, very dark. Everything seemed bleak. But now, coming through you, there is NEW God-given light.
This light is there in your life, it can come through you to produce healing. It can come through you to produce new ideas. It can come through you to give ideas to go in a brand-new direction to bring you greater success than ever before. It is the light of God. The light of God is greater than anything that is going on in your outer life. With the light of God shining through you, you are going to be changed forever. You are going to be new.
Here is a wonderful acronym for the light inside of you: L.I.G.H.T.— Live in God’s Highest Thought.
The next time you are in a panic about change, turn that panic into a faith-filled prayer, so that you can live through the in-between times of life with great God-given peace. This may be a good affirmation for you: I AM POISED IN THE CHRIST PRESENCE. NOTHING DISTURBS THE CALM PEACE OF MY SOUL.
If you’re in-between where you were, and where you want to be, if you’re going through change, I praise that activity in you. It is when God can be most creative with your life. It means you are growing.
Next Sunday we are hosting Vaishali Mamgain at our 10 a.m. service. Please join us and bring a family member or friend; they will be glad you did. I am so grateful to the person in my life that invited me to try her church in September of 1989. Here I am 30 years later, still growing.
You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Patricia Bessey
Even when I don’t want to talk about weather, I find it difficult not to when, once again, we are hit with a Sunday snowstorm. The good news is that it waited until it was time to go home. As a result of the storm the class “I of the Storm” (no pun intended) was postponed until next Sunday.
Rev. Airin Wolf Minister of Prayer
Many people serve our community, and some are visible, and some are not. I want to acknowledge someone I turn to often, and that is Rev. Airin Wolf. Rev. Airin is a hospital chaplain at Maine Medical Center. When I hear that one of you is in the hospital, I text Airin to see if he is working. Often he is and I ask him if he could make a visit. I tell him who is in there and he makes a point to stop in and pray with them. I am so very grateful for him and the service he provides. Thank you, Rev. Airin!
We are on the next to last muscle in the book Peaceful Revolution. To date we have examined the muscles of hope, empathy, appreciation, conscience, and reason, and this week was the muscle of discipline. The muscle of discipline allows us to control our impulses. The muscle of discipline helps us make good decisions in many ways.
Discipline allows one to control an impulse to lash out. You have often heard “sleep on it” (wait until the next morning). Discipline gives options. Discipline is like gold. Just as gold is a universal currency in the world of economics, discipline is a universal currency in the world of achievement. Gold can be exchanged for goods and services in every country, and discipline can be exchanged for hard work and perseverance in every endeavor.
Self-Control: A Higher Expression of Discipline
Definition of self-control: the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.
“Cool heads prevail.” — Proverb
Paul said: One of the most important life skills we can have is the ability to delay gratification. This requires self-control, a higher expression of discipline that allows us to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.
Self-control deals with the short term, self-discipline with the long term.
Inner Freedom: The Highest Expression of Discipline
There is no authentic inner freedom that does not, sooner or later, also affect and change human history. — Rollo May
Paul says: Although many people take their freedom for granted, far more people do not appreciate or even think about inner freedom. What is inner freedom? Inner freedom means being released from the prison of uncontrollable impulses. Instead of being a slave to every whim, discipline allows us to master our desires.
When the muscle of discipline grows strong, it becomes self-control, a higher expression of discipline that allows us to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.
When the muscle of discipline reaches its highest expression, we achieve inner freedom. Inner freedom is synonymous with inner peace and is usually accompanied by happiness and bliss.
Inner freedom is not guided by our efforts; it comes from seeing what is true. — Gautama Buddha
Listen to this week’s Sunday message to hear what Mike Tyson said about what happened when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997 and the complete message.
Next week will be the last muscle… the muscle of curiosity.
You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Patricia Bessey
UNITY CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH is our new name! At our Annual Meeting on Sunday, after some discussion and sharing the results from the cards returned from many of you with your choice name, it was decided that we would adopt this new name. To be clear, our legal name is Unity Church of Truth; however, we will be doing business as Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. This spring the State of Maine will be widening River Road and the expectation is that we will need to move our sign, which will be a perfect time to have one with our new name and that is lit at night. Over the next several weeks you will be seeing the change in name on publications coming out from us.
On Sunday we continued with the book Peaceful Revolution written by Paul K. Chappell and looked at the Muscle of Reason. I want to share some thoughts that come directly from Paul. On the site Peace Literacy.org he writes this: “Just as language is a faculty that can be developed and strengthened — similar to a muscle — hope, empathy, appreciation, conscience, reason, discipline, curiosity, and imagination are faculties that can be developed and strengthened. These metaphorical muscles, along with peace literacy skills and accurate understanding, are areas of potential growth.’
You have often heard that oil and water don’t mix well; the same is true for reason and emotion. Fear and hatred, for example, strangle reason, where empathy and appreciation give reason the oxygen that it needs to breathe. I have found, and you probably have as well, that when someone is either fearful or angry you can’t have a conversation that is logical and reasonable. First you must get them calmed down and then the chance to have a rational conversation goes up significantly.
Nelson Mandela went to prison a young, bitter, angry man, and while in prison he began to learn the language and history of the prison guards; he began to experience empathy and appreciation for them and understand their motivation and fears. Mandela’s empathy allowed him to think clearly and rationally during incredibly difficult circumstances. We all know what he went on to do, and to be: a nonviolent presence to the world.
Paul writes: “When we use the power of reason to ask the right questions, we become more difficult to deceive and politicians have a much harder time manipulating us. In our struggle to end war, reason allows us to question and refute the myths that keep the war machine running. If we believe the myth that human beings are naturally violent, then peace is viewed as a naïve dream and war seems inevitable. Reason tells us this could not be further from the truth.”
Charles Fillmore wrote a pamphlet called THE PURE REASON AND HONEST LOGIC OF PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY (1920 Edition). The information in this pamphlet is as relevant today as it was when it was written. You can read the complete pamphlet here to hear what I shared from it, listen to today’s talk.
The takeaway from this muscle is when we harness the muscle of reason in the 21st Century we can build solutions to our national and global problems. Paul writes, “We must also build an economic system that values people over profit, a fair society where people are given opportunity, and technology that allows us to live in harmony with our environment. Above all, we must build a global civilization of peace and prosperity that unleashes our full potential as human beings.”
Next week it will be the muscle of discipline.
Join me next Sunday after the service for a two-hour workshop on The I of the Storm.
You are a blessing in my life. Rev. Patricia Bessey
Once again, I begin this message talking about the weather. In less then 30 days it will be Spring, according to the calendar. On March 10, we move the clocks forward and begin daylight savings time. As a result of the storm on Sunday, we moved the Annual Meeting to this coming Sunday. I do hope you can join us.
The Annual Meeting is a time to remind us of the commitment we have made to this community by becoming a member and we have ownership in the ministry. With ownership comes being accountable to the wellbeing of the ministry and we can ensure that wellbeing by our attendance, sacred service, prayer and financial support. You are the channel in which Spirit sources Unity Center for Spiritual Growth and without you we wouldn’t exist.
The chapter for my talk this week was the Muscle of Conscience from Peaceful Revolution by Paul K. Chappell. I open the talk with a great story about a Buddhist Monk and his students. Don’t miss listening to it.
In this chapter Paul shares of his struggle to be deployed in Iraq when he had volunteered to go and then began to question his motives. He said that each of us needs to look at how we can be a force for good within the circumstances that surround us.
He was trying to find justification for volunteering to go to Iraq and to participate in a war that broke the Charter of the United Nations and thereby violated the U.S. Constitution, which states treaties are the “supreme law of the land.”
Paul states: “When our conscience does not find adequate justification for our actions, we become prey. Its arrows are made of guilt and their maddening sting can drive us to suicide.”
Our country is dealing with high suicide rates of active soldiers and veterans; could this lead to the cause? We hear over and over about “survivor guilt.”
There are three ways to escape the wrath of a guilty conscience.
1. Hide in ignorance…unaware of our wrongdoing…how our actions hurt others…then guilt loses its sting
2. Decrease our empathy…heart turns to stone…hardened heart deflects the arrow of guilt…lack of empathy little reason to feel guilt (in war it is why you see dehumanization of the enemy)
3. Give our conscience what it wants…being honest with ourselves…this becomes our greatest ally in the quest for a more humane and peaceful world.
Paul writes: “When we stop running from our conscience, it guides us on the road to inner and outer peace. When we cooperate with rather than fight our conscience, it becomes a moral compass pointing us toward ethical decisions to help rather than harm…my conscience was not content with the path I had chosen. And as long as my conscience was not at peace, I would never be at peace.”
I included an excerpt from a talk given by Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, called “Christ Conscience.” Here is a part of it.
“There is a divine goodness at the root of all existence. No man nor woman is so low but what it may at the touch of its secret spring be brought to light in them…It sleeps in the recesses of every mind and it comes forth when least expected. Many hushed it up for years, maybe for ages, but its day comes and it is a day of reckoning.
“Men and women are loathed to admit that there is within them a monitor with which they have sooner or later to cope, and they put off the day of judgment just as long as possible. They love not to deal with this leveler of the Spirit. It is too exact; it vents justice to the very limit.
“Whoever has felt the prick of conscience has been spoken to by the Spirit. Whoever has sat at the feet of his own inner convictions has caught sight of God.
“Man is never without a guide, no matter how loudly he may cry out for leading. There is always at hand a sure torch-bearer if he will but follow its light. It is too simple, too easy. Man has formed in his mind a far-off God who talks to him from some high mountain, or in the invisible depths of space. By thus looking afar for his God he ignores the one and only spark of divinity ever shining in his own soul.
“Herein is man fooled into believing that he can do those things which are not in harmony with truth and yet escape the consequences. He presumes upon God being too far away to ever behold his shortcomings, and ignores the God monitor within his own soul.
“This is the meaning of that old saying that a man and his conscience are always good friends so long as the way is smooth, but when it grows rugged, they fall out. They fall out because man has reached a point where he begins to consider his ways and look carefully over the life he is leading. This brings him to a beholding state of mind. He sees that what he considered right in the clear light of the divine good is not up to its standard. Here is where the divergence takes place between man and his conscience. They were friends in appearance only before or during the period of license. The conscience may seem to assent to the shortcomings of men, but it is ever the inner protestant that keeps knocking at the soul until the steps are arrested.”
“No matter what we do, we always have a part of ourselves that is quietly watching, and that knows right from wrong and can guide us if we listen.”
My Moral Compass Joe Flach
The compass I carry deep down in my soul Points to the moral directions I know I should go The needle always points in the direction of truth The journey I’ve cherished since the time of my youth Empathy and kindness appear on its face Footprints in the path I endeavor to trace Charity completes the compass’ leads So, whomever I meet I can help with their needs.
Join me next week as we explore the Muscle of Reason.
You are a blessing in my life. Rev. Patricia Bessey
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Our usual schedule:
8 a.m. Early Bird Service
9:15 a.m. Morning Prayer Circle
9:30 a.m. Meditation
10 a.m. Sunday Service
Unity Center for Spiritual Growth
54 River Road
Windham, ME 04062-4047 Get a map
Phone: (207) 893-1233
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