Hallelujah he has risen! The joy of Easter is here! The resurrection has taken place… and what a glorious Easter it was. Here in Maine the weather was beautiful, and the music and service were the finest for a resurrection event.
But what happens next. The 40 days following are as much an event as Easter and yet we tend to get on with our lives. This is a little long but well worth the read.
It was during this time that Jesus appears to his disciples on various occasions. The first of course is to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb when she thinks he is the gardener.
What is notable here that Mary is the first who he appears to because in that time women were among the lowest of the low. So he is following his pattern of looking first to the downtrodden.
Then on to the road to Emmaus he comes upon Cleopas and a companion who were conversing with each other about the events they had witnessed. He catches up with them and asks what they were discussing. They respond, “Don’t you know all the things that have occurred?” They go on and tell him all that had happened and Jesus in turn gives them a history lesson; he interpreted to them things pertaining to Himself in all the scriptures. They arrive at their destination and ask Jesus to stay with them as evening was closing in. It was at dinner as he broke the bread and began to hand it to them that “their eyes were fully opened, and they recognized him. And he disappeared. As they looked at each other they said, “Were not our hearts burning as He was speaking to us on the road?”
Then what happened is what we would do… they hurried to where the disciples were and told them what they had experienced. They thought he was a ghost… the doors were locked because they feared being crucified and suddenly Jesus stands in their midst. To verify it is him he shows them his hands and feet. They were filled with joy. They gave him food to eat, and he told them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me must be fulfilled.”
Then eight days later he appears again to them and Thomas is there, which he wasn’t previously, and he is not convinced it is Jesus. He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands, and take your hand and stick it into My side.”
Thomas believed and Jesus instructed them to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all the things that he had commanded of them. He then tells them he will be with them till the end of the world.
His last appearance is at the sea of Tiberias. The disciples have now gone back to their livelihood of fishing. After having fished all night and caught nothing Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. At that time, they didn’t know it was Jesus but does as he says. The nets are too heavy with fish they couldn’t pull it in. At that moment Peter exclaims, “It is the Lord” and he jumps into the sea and hurries ashore. Jesus prepares them breakfast with the fish. He breaks bread and gave it to them and then the fish.
After 40 days he is lifted up; Luke writes the account in the Book of Acts. He gave them the orders, “Do not withdraw from Jerusalem, but keep waiting for what the Father has promised, about which you heard from me, because John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days after this.”
“Lord,” they asked, “are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He answered, “It is not yours to know the time or season which the Father has placed in His own judgment, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant parts of the earth.” And after He had said these things, while they watched, He was lifted up and a cloud caught Him up from their vision. And as they were gazing into the sky, two men in white garments stood alongside them, and they said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld Him going into the sky.”
This coming Sunday Rev. Matt Purinton will be our guest speaker. Matt is our Board chair, and I am very grateful he is willing to step in for me as I along with Rev. LeRoy will be leading the Silent Retreat at Marie Joseph’s starting on Sunday. It is not too late to join us.
Also, mark your calendar for May 1, Unity Cleanup Day. It is more than cleaning up; it is a way for us to come together in community in a safe way. Masks and social distancing will be in place. If you would be interested in helping inside, please let me know. I will be orchestrating this piece. Oh, did I say we are going to have fun… absolutely!
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
THAT WAS EASY… our community meeting on Sunday was well attended and we moved through the agenda with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. If you missed it, you can watch it here. Use passcode L?8v?. There is an agenda item that you might be interested in.
Randall Sawyer has come forward with a desire to remove and replace the children’s playground equipment. At this time, he is seeking to put together a task team. If you would like to join him after hearing the conversation from the meeting, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday was Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. I began the message with a story about Albrecht Deuer and his friend Hans and a beautiful painting of praying hands. It tells the story about friendship and about giving ourselves to God. Knowing that God always has a plan for our lives.
The story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem is so familiar to most of us. I focused a lot on prayer and the importance of having a close relationship with God. Something that I did point out which was new to me, and I learned from reading Matthew Fox’s new book Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – And Beyond, is that when the scriptures say, “your faith has made you well” it really is “your trust has made you well.” In translating from Greek to English, the Greek word for “trust” got translated “faith.”
This is a huge revelation to me, as I have mentioned that what I have been working with is my God trustworthy. The importance of trust for me trumps faith. Julian of Norwich writes on the importance of trust. She says: “God wants us to pay attention to these words and be strong in absolute trust, in both well and woe.” Matthew Fox writes: “Absolute trust – what is that? How strong and complete is that?” She (Julian) refuses us the option of mild trust or ‘maybe’ trust, but rather an absolute trust.” He then goes on to say: Trust is a key virtue for Julian. She adds, ‘Just as God loves and delights in us, it is his will that we love and delight in him, and fully trust in him, and all will be well.’ From trust comes hope, and ‘all will be well,’ she promises.”
Now think of all the events starting with Palm Sunday right through to the resurrection. I believe that Jesus’ trust in the Father was so strong, so absolute, that he could walk through it all with love. Even in the garden when his trusted disciples couldn’t stay awake, he showed them great love because his trust in God never wavered. As Julian said, “Fully trust in him, and all will be well.”
Join me on Thursday evening at 7 as we meet Jesus in the garden. Bring your Bible, paper and pen. This will be a meaningful experience… trust me!
Next Sunday we will experience the risen Christ together. Until then…work on “trust.” Notice when you are at a crossroads and you are deciding… can you hear Jesus saying, “go; your trust has made you well”?
Mark your calendar to be with us on May 1 for Unity Cleanup Day beginning at 9:30 a.m. Just bring yourself masked and ready to have some fun together.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
We are having a beautiful spring week… Last Sunday afternoon Rev. LeRoy and I went down to church and walked the labyrinth and it felt so good to be free of heavy jackets. Join us at the Community Meeting on Sunday to get the date of our Spring Clean Up Day. Yes, we are coming together hallelujah, we can be in each other’s presence; of course we will be putting in place the protocols from Maine CDC in order for all to be safe.
It was a real joy to host Bukeka Blakemore as our guest vocalist. Bukeka and I served together at Unity Church of Overland Park in the mid ’90s. It was so much fun having her with us. You can listen to more of her music by going to her website, www.bukekastyle.com.
Living Originally is the book written by Rev. Robert Brumet, and it is what I am using for the current talk series. The theme for Sunday was Radical Self Awareness. Brumet defines it to be aware of my present moment experience by being aware of my mental, emotional and physical responses to my experience and to be aware that I am aware. Simply said, “I know that I know.”
This chapter is the first practice, and this practice is to be used all of the time in your daily lives. These spiritual practices ideally need to be used for a certain period of time to be properly understood and to be effective.
The practice this week was on the body. Brumet says, “A central part of this practice is to be aware of sensations in the body as continuously as possible. Simple infuse your body with awareness. Feel the body from inside the body itself. We are not just thinking about the body or attempting to visualize it but simply feeling it directly. Notice whatever sensations naturally come into your awareness. Feel these sensations without interpretations or reactivity.”
Certain daily activities may be more amenable to awareness practice than others. For most of us, it’s easier to do the practice when we are alone than with another. Start off by applying the practice when engaged in fairly routine tasks such as personal hygiene activities, house cleaning, yard work.
A related strategy is to engage the practice consciously for the first hour of each day. During this period, we are typically engaged in relatively routine activities and perhaps we are alone. Start out by simply focusing on body sensations as you perform your morning routine. If possible, move a bit more slowly and deliberately in order to enhance the awareness practice. And other times during the day, even if we are quite busy, we often have brief down times, such as waiting at a stop light or standing in line in the store.
These are great opportunities to engage in a brief awareness practice. Simply take a deep breath and see all the sensations in your body; be fully present to your experience of life, even if it’s only for a few seconds. As you engage in more complex mental or emotional activities of your day, you can still engage the practice; perhaps it’s to a lesser degree, but any amount of awareness is better than none at all.
Although the general practice is in our everyday life, a period of daily sitting meditation is also essential.
In sitting, we sharpen our practice by focusing clearly on some small part of our total experience. Here is a meditation you can download demonstrating this by Robert Brumet.
Practice consistently. Daily sitting practice is deeply important even is if it’s for only 5 or 10 minutes a day.
I will leave you with these 5 ways to cultivate radical self-awareness…some we have already discussed:
1. Create space and time
2. Practice mindfulness
3. Journal your awareness
4. Practice listening
5. Gain a different perspective
For the next few weeks, we will put this series on hold as we focus on Holy Week and Easter.
Thank you for supporting us with your presence and your generous giving. We are so grateful that you have stayed close during this past year and it isn’t over yet; however, it looks like there is light coming soon.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey
Vaishali Mamgain shares with us how paying attention to our physical responses to events like the Capitol attack can help white people better understand the experiences of Black-, brown- and queer-bodied folks.
Vaishali received her PhD. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Maine and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We are just three days away from the Spring Equinox and the official beginning of Spring. It has been a long winter… it has been a long year! I am looking with great anticipation to the time when we can be together again. Join us on March 28 at our Community Meeting and your Board of Trustees will share our plans for moving forward.
On Sunday we were blessed with the wisdom shared by our speaker, Vaishali Mamgain. We experienced some technical difficulties in the beginning; however, we worked them out and the technology gods were with us as Vaishali didn’t experience any internet disruptions.
The talk title was “What Is Ours to Change.” She begins by telling a story of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a Catholic priest who along with others called the Catonsville Nine burned files of young men who were going to be drafted for the Vietnam War. They justified doing this by saying “better the files than bodies of children.” This action was not just for the Vietnam people but was directed at Catholics as well as all Americans.
Coming back to the question “what is ours to change,” Vaishali invites us as spiritual people to ponder this question in this historical moment of time. She highlights the racial, social, environmental justice and the serenity of indigenous people. She gives us some important information on these issues; however, she then quotes Fr. Berrigan again. He said: “Don’t just do something stand there.” In other words, don’t run out to fix things but develop a spiritual practice. A practice of prayer and meditation. A practice that allows us to tune in, to become self-aware and know what our motivation is to act. Am I ready to go out into the world in this way? This requires deep listening, which only comes through our practice.
She shared three Zen peacemaker precepts from her teacher roshi Joan Halifax. They are 1) not knowing 2) bearing witness 3) compassionate action.
I look forward to working closely with Vaishali on issues that affect all of us. And as Lilla Watson says, “If you have come to help us you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound with ours, then let us work together.”
Join us next week when we host Bukeka Blakemore as our guest musician. Bukeka was cited in Kansas City Business Magazine as Most Influential Women Class of 2013. She is an award-winning singer/songwriter, and she will be with us next Sunday.
The message from the book Living Originally by Unity writer Rev. Robert Brumet is titled Radical Self-Awareness.
The Nonviolent Practice this week: Week 3-Dreaming, Mission
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a great dream. What is your dream for peace? Write it down. What is one thing you can do to honor your dreams? Do it each day this week.
“My life is my message,” says Gandhi. Write down what you want to stand for in your life. Note at least one way you can show, through action, that you stand for your beliefs. Take action each day this week.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey