Standing In Faith in Uncertain Times

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So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Friend, we are in unprecedented times… the flow of information is coming in fast and furiously. How are you doing? Before I go further, please reach out to me if you need support… it may be just the need to hear a voice other than your own. I don’t know about you, but I can be heard talking to myself out loud. I am also hearing the voice in my head.

We don’t know how long it will be that we will be doing social distancing and staying at home; however, as long as it is, you can attend the 10 a.m. service via Facebook Live

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says: Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

I share how to let your light shine, using words from Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Faith is the prescription to keeping your light bright:

They did their works through faith.
They soared beyond their works through faith.
They were teachers through faith.
They were healers through faith.
They were builders through faith.
They were overcomers through faith.

Many, many times in the history of Unity they came to a place where it seemed that they could not go on, yet they went on through faith. They taught that God is a help in every need and they prayed in this simple faith. They never lost faith.

Once Unity was in serious financial straits. Bills that had to be paid were piling up, and there did not seem to be money enough to meet the payroll. The Fillmore’s called their staff together to pray about the matter. One of the staff said, “Let us pray that the money holds out.”

“Oh, no,” whispered Myrtle Fillmore, “let us pray that our faith holds out.”

Again, please join me on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., and from time to time during the week you may find me doing a short Facebook Live check-in. I will send out an invite ahead of each event.

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

Moved by Compassion

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey

The plans for Mirabai Starr’s visit have been in process for a year and in ten days she will be here in Maine. There are still opportunities for you to experience her either on Friday evening at the University of Southern Maine, Saturday at Saint Joseph’s College or on Sunday here at Unity. At both USM and SJC we have expanded registration by offering live streaming at the events.

For the day-long retreat the cost is $35, and if you want lunch (which we recommend) it is an additional $7. To register go to our “Donate” button before Monday, March 9.

On Sunday the message was on compassion, “Moved by Compassion.” In Unity we see Jesus as our teacher and wayshower and the message was focused on how Jesus handled the healing of the leper. It comes from the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45.

Jesus is moved by compassion and stretches out his hand and heals the leper. The important significance of this action is that Jesus is breaking the law, violates the tradition, turns over all the cleanliness rules, is excommunicated and kicked out of society.

What does this scripture teach us? The leper shows the proper attitude toward Jesus, by kneeling down and asking for Jesus’ healing touch. There is a part of each one of us that is like the leper, that needs healing from Jesus. Each one of us has leprosy of the heart, or the soul. We need to go to Christ in our brokenness, our weakness, our frailty and vulnerability and ask for help, and keep going to him, and he will be moved by compassion, stretch out his hand, touch us, and heal us.

Jesus’ teaching of the lepers is that of compassion and we are his followers which means we must become people of compassion, too. Compassion breeds compassion… once we accept it, then we will want to show compassion to each other and to everyone on the planet.

Unfortunately, we are not that different from the people of Jesus’ time. We have a whole new set of lepers today whom we ostracize, whom we exclude and excommunicate and declare unclean and push aside.

Like Jesus, we must side with the lepers of our time,
• cultivate a heart of compassion,
• stretch out our hands,
• touch them,
• heal them, and
• welcome them back into the community.

We must reconcile with everyone everywhere. From now on, like Jesus, we are a people of infinite compassion.

I have given you just a snippet of the message here. You can hear the complete message in the audio file of Sunday’s service.

Let me conclude with this quote from Chief Seattle:

This we know, all things are connected.
Like the blood which unites one family, all things are connected.
Our God is the same God, whose compassion is equal for all.

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

Wisdom of Rosa Parks

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Today is Ash Wednesday! It is the beginning of the Lenten Season. Traditionally it is a practice of placing ashes on your forehead as a sign of repentance. Have you ever wondered where the ashes came from? My colleagues Bill and Cher Holton wrote in the weekly musing, “The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. These ashes are mixed with oil, and this paste is used by the priest or minister to make the sign of the cross and each person’s forehead.”

Traditionally Ash Wednesday is to focus on sinfulness, unworthiness, and repentance. Our MetaSpiritual perspective of Ash Wednesday is recognition of our Oneness, our worthiness and our Divinity. The acronym for LENT…Let’s Eliminate Negative Thinking. We resolve to deny the power of anything in the outer that creates the belief in separation from our True Nature.

This past Sunday we held our Annual Meeting and because of some changes we have made it was an abbreviated agenda as we will be voting on issues pertinent to the ministry in the fall as a result of changing our fiscal year to end on August 31.

We took the opportunity to use the time allotted at the Annual Meeting to do a burning bowl and visioning process with those in attendance. It was a very powerful experience and will give the Board of Trustees important information as we plan the vision going forward for Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. Thank you to all who gave of their time and input…it is very valuable.

A shout out to Deana Gurney, our fabulous music director for the choices of songs for the service. She does an outstanding job each week and we are so grateful for her talent and consciousness.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

The talk was in celebration of Black History Month and I featured the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Most everyone knows of Rosa Parks, however, many told me following the service they learned much more than they already knew.

Here are a couple of quotes and my hope is that you will listen to the entire message.

From D. Martin Luther King Jr…“No one can understand the action Rosa Parks took that day, unless we realize that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, ‘I can take it no longer.’”

From Rev Jesse Jackson…“She sat down in order that we might stand up. Her imprisonment opened the doors for our long journey toward freedom.”

From Rosa herself…“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

In an interview several years ago, Rosa Parks was asked if there had been moments in her life when she doubted God. She said, “I can’t think of any time when I actually doubted the presence of the Lord. There were times, of course, when I felt somewhat discouraged, but I don’t dwell on anything negative when it comes to my life. I think negative attitudes are very destructive, so I think positively and have hope in the future and in those people who are willing to live good lives and do the very best that they can to help themselves and other people.” And she continued, “I think the Lord gave me the strength and the courage to resist the way I was being treated.”

Join me this Sunday for the message on “Moved by Compassion.”

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

Claiming Our Awaken Presence

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Rev. LeRoy Lowell

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

This past week Rev. LeRoy and I celebrated, and it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day. We were three years out from February 13, 2017, which is when LeRoy was admitted into Massachusetts General Hospital after being in and out of the hospital here in Maine since November of 2016. After spending 40 days in the hospital, he was released the day before Easter, and we saw it then, and do today, as his own resurrection experience.

Three years out, we have not forgotten the enormous support we got from this community. We both were in your prayers daily and that kept us buoyed up when test after test didn’t give us an answer to his medical need. The cards, texts, and phone calls were such a source of comfort to us.

Once home he continued to improve, only to find himself back in the hospital in May of 2017 with congested heart failure… nearly three years out from that you are seeing him get stronger and stronger every week. Your love, service, and prayers have been priceless. THANK YOU!

This leads me to the message from Sunday. Over the last four weeks, I have been inviting you to say yes, to let 2020 be the year that you awaken, truly awaken, to the life of beauty and wonder that Spirit intends for you. Rev. LeRoy’s experience reminds us that life is precious, and we have no guarantees, so the time is now to live from our Divine self.

It is time that we live in a conscious space of absolute union with the Divine with no thoughts of separation, no belief in division, no feelings of less than and no self-judgment, self-recrimination or self-doubt.

The 20th Century Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher Osho reminds us of our divinity with this quote: “Drop the idea of becoming someone because you are already a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it.”

If you were not at the service on Sunday, I invite you to listen to it and to listen to the meditation. It is a great visioning process to assist you to step into your Divine self and let go of any baggage you might be carrying.

Rosaparks

Rosa Parks

Next Sunday, join me as we look at the first lady of civil rights, Rosa Parks, and five unsung heroes of the civil rights movement during Black History Month.

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

P.S. The Season for Nonviolence began on January 30, which is the anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi.Each day from then until April 4, which is the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., I am posting quotes and other information pertinent to nonviolence on our Facebook page. I hope you check it out.

Staying Awake While Navigating the Wake

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey

A shout out to everyone who made it to church on Sunday. It was -8 degrees as we made our way there for the 8 a.m. service. However, the warmth inside was cozy and comfortable with all the wonderful energy that everyone brought.

If you RSVP’d “yes” to the invitation to awaken in 2020 to the life of beauty and wonder that Spirit intends for you, then continue reading this. This week the focus was on staying awake while navigating the wake. For the water skiers or kneeboarders reading this, you know how important it is to stay awake when you are on the end of the rope. If you take your focus off the present moment you will end up in the water, taking on water. When you stay present and are staying in the middle of the wake, things can be calm, but within a few feet either side, you’ve got this wave of roiling water which can be very treacherous.

At times, we feel like we are living in the wake of pain, upset, challenges and strife. But true beauty, true wonder, true awe, in fact miracles, come when we stay awake even in the middle of the wakes of life!

In the message on Sunday, I quoted from one of my favorite poets, Mark Nepo, from his book, The Book of Awakening. This is a portion of that quote: “Death pushed me to the edge. Nowhere to back off. And to the shame of my fears, I danced with abandon on his face. I never danced as free. And Death backed off, the way dark backs off a sudden burst of flame. Now there’s nothing left, but to keep dancing. It is the way I would have chosen had I been born three time as brave. We are often called further into experience than we’d like to go, but it is this extra leap that lands us in the vibrant center of what it means to be alive.”

Are you being called, right now, further into an experience than you might like to go? If so, my friends, I invite you to stay awake as you navigate through it. Because when you do, the beauty, the blessings, the awe and the wonder that await you, truly are holy!

Please take the time to listen to the message from Sunday and hear about the love and courage of Etty Hillesum as well as the complete piece from Mark Nepo.

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

Awakening My Heart to Grace

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey

In our mission statement, we have three areas that determine whether we do an event or not. They are: Is it educational, is it service-oriented, and does it create community? On Friday evening the event was a potluck and open mic. This event fulfilled our criteria. And as icing on the cake, it was so much fun. A shout out to Elizabeth Peterson and all who supported her in making this happen. We ate great food, heard from many within and outside our community with singing, original poetry reading and just plain fun and laughter.

Tami-Joy Palmiter had us join her in singing a song from the 13 Grandmothers called Sing the Water Song. 

(See a video here: Sing the Water Song from Sing The Water Song on Vimeo.)

Stay tuned; we will be having a community event on the last Friday of each month with a potluck and a different fun activity.

As we continued with the theme of Awakening in 2020 — To fully awaken to a life of beauty and wonder that Spirit has designed for you —  the message on Sunday was “Awaken My Heart to Grace.”

What is God’s Grace?

Lowell Fillmore, son of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, helps us understand the concept of Grace when he says, “Remember that the grace of God is God’s love in action. God’s grace is unlimited and so wonderful that words can scarcely describe it. We can use such words as mercy, forgiveness, compassion, goodwill, kindness, inspiration, and generosity to describe God’s grace, but they are hardly adequate to cover the fullness of its meaning.”

Here are other definitions of Grace given by Unity authors over the years:

“Grace is God’s gift of love and mercy, given freely to us whether or not we deserve it. We cannot steal, borrow, buy, or earn it. We can only accept or refuse it” (Handbook of Positive Prayer, 151).

This flies in the face of the following…

Did you hear that you didn’t deserve this grace; that it was completely unmerited. Were you ever told that as a sinful human being, you could not possibly merit or deserve the grace of God because you were so flawed and you could never even earn it because you could never be good enough?

“The grace of God extends to all people, not alone to one sect or creed. All men are equal in favor with God.” (Keep a True Lent, 169).

In Psalms 45:2, it reads: “. . . grace is poured upon your lips; therefore, God has blessed you forever.”

And the Apostle Paul wrote: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not our own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of any works . . .”

So, we could say that grace is . . .

* God’s divine love — freely given to all,
* God’s eternal protection — freely given to all,
* God’s ever-present blessings — freely given to all,
* God’s complete givingness — freely bestowed upon all,
* God’s gift of absolute favor — freely given to all.

If this is God’s intention for us, and I believe it is, how is it that this is not how we are seeing people treated in our world today?

“The true nature of God as law is realized not through merit, but through grace — love. No one really feels he has earned love, for love from any source is felt as a free gift, as grace.” (Leddy and Randolph Schmelig, Steps in Self-Knowledge, 89).

In The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, he writes: “Each person is born with an unencumbered spot – free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry – an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that . . . theologians call it the soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke [considered the German language’s greatest poet of the 20th Century] calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love. To know this spot [of Grace] is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it.”

Next Sunday we continue with “Staying Awake While Navigating the Wake.”

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

Heart Thoughts

“You are cordially invited to let 2020 be the year that you awaken, truly awaken, to the life of beauty and wonder that Spirit intends for you.” This is the invitation I extended this past Sunday to all. The question I asked is: Are you ready to RSVP with a resounding “yes”? I put that to all who are reading this as well. The theme for our ministry this year is “Perfect Vision 2020 – Deepening Our Spiritual Journey.” The message on Sunday is the beginning of us doing a deep dive into how we are living this spiritual life….

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