What Is a Peacemaker?

winter roadSunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as snow is falling and it is chilly out. We are less than two weeks before Christmas day. Just a reminder about our Christmas services: there will only be the 10 a.m. service on December 24 and then our Christmas candle light service at 7 p.m. It is a perfect service to bring family and friends.

At the 10 a.m. service we will have coffee and tea and we invite you to bring baked cookies and other sweets that are family favorites to share with your spiritual family.

I want to give a shout out to Bonnie LePage for the years of service she has given to providing us with excellent audio/visual for our Sunday Celebration services. This Sunday she will be handing over the reins to Gary Wane and Andrew Williamson, who will continue giving us the best support any minister could ask for. Well done, Bonnie! Please take a minute to thank her for her good work.

This past Sunday was the second Sunday of Advent, and the word was peace. The focus of the message was taken from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of the God of peace.” What is a peacemaker? Good question!

Let’s first look at what a peacemaking is not.

Peacemaking is not the absence of conflict. Peacemaking is not the avoidance of strife. Peacemaking is not the appeasement of parties. Peacemaking is not the accommodation of issues.

Peacemakers instead are pursuing all the beauty and blessedness of God upon another. William Barclay (writer of biblical commentary) translates this beatitude as, “They are people who produce right relationships in every sphere of life.”

Peacemaking is divine work. And Jesus is the supreme Peacemaker. He came to establish peace; his message was the demonstration of peace.

There have been many peacemakers in our lifetime, and one that I quote extensively in this talk is Fr. John Dear, who has been actively working for peace for 35 years. To hear more about Fr. Dear, listen to the Sunday message.

Another peacemaker that we are all familiar with is St. Francis of Assisi. Here is his famous prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

This Sunday the 8 a.m. service talk will be about Love in honor of the third Sunday of Advent. At the 10 a.m. service our children will be presenting a Christmas play.

Awakening To Hope And Faith: The Christ Consciousness

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

My heart is full to overflowing after the wonderful reception that both LeRoy and I received yesterday from this amazing community after having been away. It felt so good to be back!

The sanctuary is dressed to the nines for the holidays, thanks to Patti Lacombe and Randall Sawyer.

Please note that there will not be an 8 a.m. service on Christmas Eve morning, as we will be having a play put on by members of our community.

Advent began this past Sunday with the message of Hope and Faith. The focus of the message was that we are the light to dispel the darkness that seems to be surrounding us. Jesus, our elder brother and wayshower, came into the world to awaken within us the indwelling Spirit.

John 1:9 reads, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” The spiritual image and likeness in which we are all created is the I AM, the Christ, our own true Self or, as the Apostle Paul said: “. . . Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

The Christ is not “born” in the sense that something comes into being that did not exist before. The birth of the Christ is really an awakening or enlightenment that takes place within our individual consciousness. It is an awakening to the divine nature expressing as the true, spiritual, higher Self. God’s perfect idea for humankind has always been, and will always be, for it is eternal.

Our greatest awareness is reached when we realize that Christmas is really our story — the story of the birth of the Christ in us! Let your true Self be revealed to you as never before… let it be born in the manger of your heart.

Here is an affirmation to carry with you this week: “I AM the Christ, an expression of the living God.”

As it’s been said, “Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He is not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn.” We are reborn as we awaken to this Presence!

As you go through your week, whether at your job, Christmas shopping, or in the sanctuary of your own home, remember to let your light shine brightly. Scripture tells us, “And the Light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.”

Next Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent, and the theme is Peace. See you there!

Following the service next Sunday, plan to stay for a heart-based meditation workshop with Paul and Sandra Dugliss. Here is a great opportunity to do self-care through the holiday season. The following Saturday, December 16, will be the next Silent Saturday again, another opportunity to unplug from the to-do lists and deadlines that this time of the year tends to overload our calendars with.

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

Creating Your Brightest Future

Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Sunday message by Matt Jones, whose mission is to inspire individuals to “Create their Brightest Future” through his miraculous story of conquering cancer three times when doctors did not think he would live, going through a bone marrow transplant, having to relearn how to walk, and running marathons around the world.

In his talk, Matt shares the “Three Causes” that lead to the creation of one’s brightest future. Audience members will be uplifted and energized to have, be, and do more in Life.


Hello Friends! This week’s letter is again coming to you from Steph Plourde, as Revs. Pat and LeRoy enjoy their final week of time off before returning to Unity of Greater Portland. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that they have been sorely missed, but constantly surrounded in our love.

I want to thank our very talented and poised music director, Deana Gurney, who I hear did a pretty spectacular job pinch hitting after a little snafu at our 8 a.m. service this past week. It sounds like Deana literally did not miss a beat, providing beautiful music and meditation for our 8 o’clockers. We love you, Deana.

For our 10 a.m. service this past Sunday, we had guest speaker Matt Jones sharing a little of his life’s journey and message. Matt is a three-time cancer victor and has gone from having to relearn how to walk to running marathons on all seven continents. He had a powerful message about re-framing life circumstances, emphasizing that though we may not have control over what happens around us, we always have a choice about how we respond. Matt flatly states that he doesn’t have a lot of answers about why things happen, but was very clear that there is a “message in the mess,” “gain in the pain,” and that he is “too blessed to be stressed.” He used a beautiful example of a cross stitch flower his mother stitched for him. The back side is a tangled mess of threads, in which you can see no clear picture. The other side is the beautiful flower: clear and perfect. Matt explained that life can be like that — sometimes all we can see is the messy back of the stitchery, but we can trust that on the flip side is the precious flower. One thing, two views.

In the afternoon, Matt did a workshop and shared some of his favorite strategies for turning thinking around. He mentioned many of the writers that have had a profound influence on him, including Ken Keyes, James Allen, Charles Haanel, and Pam Grout. He also mentioned and quoted from Christian Larson, the American New Thought leader and teacher. In 1912, Larson published a poem that later became the Optimist Creed, which Matt shared with us:

Promise Yourself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I hope you find this as beautiful and empowering as I did.

This coming week marks the beginning of Advent. Rev. Pat will be back on Sunday with a talk titled “Awakening to Hope and Faith: The Christ Consciousness.” Remember that we have some wonderful holiday events coming up. All information is available on our website and on flyers in the foyer!

Have a wonderful week. Promise yourself to smile at every living creature you meet…

Blessings,
Steph

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

Let’s Get Real About… Personal Transformation

Sunday message by Rev. Pat Bessey.

The reviews are coming in on our awesome Kitchen Team and the fabulous meal that was prepared for us on Sunday. The food was delicious, there was a plethora of pies and the tables were decorated beautifully. It was truly a time of thanksgiving. I looked around the room and the tables were full (Maria told me that 63 meals were served) and the buzz of conversation was electric. Our kitchen team under Maria Lundy’s leadership goes above and beyond each week. They embody our core values of loving, accepting and welcoming.

I’d like to give a shout out to Todd Glacy as well for the wonderful concert he gave on Friday evening: Todd, you are a class act and we are blessed to have you in our midst!

As November is gratitude month, I would be remiss without mentioning our Children’s Ministry under the leadership of Leah Rush. Thank you to that team of dedicated teachers (of which there are openings) who create an energy of love and welcoming each week for our little friends. They share what they learned when they come back into the service and it is always aligned with Unity’s teaching. The lesson is subtly embedded in whatever fun activity they are engaged in — it is a win-win for the children. A high five to Leah and her team.

Without our dedicated volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do what we do at Unity of Greater Portland. THANK YOU to all of you!

This past Sunday ended the series on “Getting Real.” We looked at getting real about personal transformation. We want to experience transformation; however, many of us want it without having to change. In reality, though, change is going to be occurring whether you want it or not. This is probably a phrase you have heard and maybe have even said yourself: “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

There are two things certain in life and it is not “death and taxes,” as many of us learned; it is “change and God,” and God is changeless.

Read from Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, in A New Design for Living:

“We are all living in a world of continual change, a world in which thought, things, and experiences are all in a constant state of flux. It is the very nature of the universe that there should be continual change and variation. It is a living world, the creation of a living creative Intelligence, not a static world. But behind that which changes, behind that which causes the change, we have found that there is something stable and changeless. Something eternal upon which all of the external events depend for their very existence. Behind the endless process of change and the infinite variety of experience and expression there is That which does not change.”

Unity writer Martha Smock wrote in the Unity pamphlet Listen to the Christ:

“In Christ you are calmed and quieted; you rest in His presence and feel strengthened and upheld. Remember that though things change, God is changeless, enduring. God’s love is eternal.”

So, yes, change is inevitable, but behind it there is a solid foundation, which can lead us to the second part of our theme phrase: growth is optional. Again from Dr. Holmes: “Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long. She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul. This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible. Nature demands the change in order that we may advance. When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

And let us remember: In any change, whatever the magnitude of it is, when one door is shut, another opens. When a door closes, and locks shut, we have an opportunity, with the Spirit of God within us, to find an open door. There always is one. When we have patience, faith, and love to look for the open door, we will always find it – and that is where personal transformation occurs.

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