Tales that Teach – The Parable of the Sower

Have you noticed how many people are vying for your attention? I am sure your inbox is as full as mine with webinars, self-help podcasts and a slew of other opportunities. Some of them I delete before even opening them… especially the ones that say, “don’t delete before you read.” Others I open and for a minute or so decide what my response is going to be to the request. Often if it is a subject I am interested in, and they offer to send the recording even if you don’t attend, I might sign up for it.

When I step back and look at how I respond to the many opportunities presented I understand that you may be doing the same thing. Then I feel a sense of gratitude that we are now livestreaming our Sunday Celebration service and that you can access it at any time. It certainly isn’t the same experience as what actually being present in the sanctuary is; however, it is a best second place. It isn’t the same as having a cup of coffee following the service and catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a very long time. It isn’t the same as browsing in the Unity Book and Gift Store where you find the next book to read or a gift for a friend. It isn’t the same as taking time before or after the service and walking the labyrinth. I know when the time is right Spirit will nudge you to walk through the doors and find YOUR seat in the sanctuary. Until then let us know you are with us by commenting in the chat box even if you are watching it at another time.

We continued with the Tales That Teach and this week it was the parable of The Sower. I enjoyed sharing this parable because for me it reaffirms God’s love for his children. It doesn’t matter what you have done; you are never excluded from God’s love. The focus of this parable was on the Sower, which is God. Metaphysically looking at this parable, the seed is the word of the Kingdom. This word is that we become aware of our Oneness with God created with Divine potential. That not only do we have faith in God, but we have faith in ourselves as well. Our mind is like the soil. We all are at different places in consciousness, which is represented by the different types of soil the seed landed on.

I am going to cut to the chase here and say this parable is simple and to the point; we were created with Divine potential, and it’s our choice to live and move through the world on rocky soil or raise our consciousness and become the fertile soil where truth principle grows abundantly and effortlessly!

Next week is a familiar parable, that of the Samaritan; join me as we experiment with Coffee Hour in person or online!

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

Tales that Teach – Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son

So, I have been thinking… I am always thinking about you and our community. My thoughts have been how to connect our in-person folks with our online folks and here is an experiment I want to try. This coming Sunday following the service, let’s meet in Unity Hall with a cup of coffee or tea and have a discussion similar to Sharing the Good News or about something said in the talk that you resonated with. Our online folks can join us via Zoom. The link will be in the chat box Sunday morning. This will be a new version of Coffee Hour. Are you game to try it with me?

The message on Sunday was about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. It is a series I am doing called “The Tales That Teach.” If you were with me last week, you know this is looking at the teachings of the nonviolent Jesus. We see how Jesus uses the parables to teach a nonviolent message of transformation to those who have ears to hear… do you have ears to hear? … notice where transformation might be occurring in your own life. Notice where you are responding rather than reacting to uncomfortable situations. Notice where you are following the nonviolent Jesus and are living the nonviolent life.

I am using a book written by Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science. She offers a very interesting perspective that isn’t usually associated with these parables. She says that “Religion has been defined to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Therefore, if we hear a parable and think, ‘I really like that’ or worse, fail to take any challenge, we are not listening well enough.”

She speaks to the importance of the readers of the parables to know about the original contexts… to understand how the Samaritans and Jews related to each other. To determine the cultural expectations of fathers and sons, how day laborers and vineyard owners established their contractual obligations. To learn of the social roles that were open to women and who went to the temple to pray. Levine says “if we get the context wrong, we’ll get Jesus wrong as well. The parables are open-ended in that interpretation will take place in every act of reading, but they are also historically specific. When the historical context goes missing or we get it wrong, the parables become open to problematic and sometimes abusive readings.”

She goes on to say when hearing the parables of Jesus, it is best to hear them through those who first heard them. They were the Jews in Galilee and Judea. She also says to do so requires several leaps of faith.

From her book, Short Stories by Jesus, she writes: “The first leap concerns what Jesus himself said, for we do not know with certainty if Jesus actually told the parables recorded in the Gospels. Second, even if he did tell them, we know with certainty neither the composition of the audience not their reaction. Third, it is unlikely, were he to have composed the parables, that he only used them on one occasion or told them exactly the same way each time.

“The concern for the ‘authenticity’ of the parables relates to the broader issue of what is known as historical Jesus studies. We do not have access to Jesus directly; he leaves us no writing, no autobiography, no sanctioned biography. To be blunt, he leaves us neither a physical body nor a body of writing.”

So hopefully I have given you something to ponder this week. If you would like to watch the service and get Levine’s thoughts on the three parables from this week’s message, watch the video of our livestream.

In closing I will say that while in seminary we had discussions about the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith, and I always came back to the Jesus of faith, which is the Christ consciousness in Jesus and in each one of us.

Join me next Sunday for the Parable of the Sower and join me as we experiment with Coffee Hour.

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

P.S. Thank you to Janice Murphy for responding to the call for greeters and ushers. Welcome Janice this Sunday as she is greeting. Please consider greeting and ushering one Sunday a month or preparing coffee for hospitality one Sunday a month. Contact me to let me know you are “all in.”

Tales That Teach – Jesus: Master Teacher

WE DID IT! We livestreamed for the first time this past Sunday. A huge shout out to Chris Purinton, our AV tech, for making this possible. I find this interesting that we had almost as many viewers online at 10 a.m. catching the service as we had folks in the sanctuary. This will be the way of the future for us going forward.

I started a new series on Sunday called “Tales That Teach.” We will be awakening our hearts to the teachings of the nonviolent Jesus. I pointed out that Jesus had various methods for teaching. They were storytelling, precepts, and parables. This series will be focusing on the parables he used.

Storytelling was the means of conveying information long before Jesus’ time. Stories were the means to reflect wisdom and knowledge to the people, and stories were used for many generations. It is believed by most historians and psychologists that storytelling is one of the many things that define and bind humanity.

Precepts are short, usually meaningful statements that are clear and direct. Here are a few examples: “Judge not, so that you may not be judged.” “Ask, and it will be given to you.” “Seek first the kingdom of God.” These are clear, concise, directions.

Parables are metaphorical in nature; they’re short, fictitious narratives based on a familiar experience and having application to spiritual life. They are brief symbolical stories told to illustrate truth principles.

I choose to do this series now because we have the capacity to understand, we have the capacity to reap the abundance, and yet sometimes we forget; we let things of the world get in the way and, as the gospel says, “our hearts become dull.” This will be an opportunity to re-familiarize ourselves with Jesus’ stories, and understand the message more clearly. If you missed the service or want to refresh your memory, watch today’s video.

This coming Sunday the parables we are going to review are the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. All of these come from the gospel of John. See you Sunday!

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

P.S. Please consider greeting and ushering one Sunday a month or preparing coffee for hospitality one Sunday a month. Contact me to let me know you are “all in.”

P.S.S. If you have joined us on either of the last two Sunday,s you know now that we are asking you not to sing. We also know how difficult it is not to sing… here is a solution: bring your mask with you, put it on during songs and sing your heart out!!!

 

Imagine With Me

News flash: We will be livestreaming at the 10 a.m. service this coming Sunday to Facebook and YouTube. There will be no early service.

Where does one begin to put into words the feeling that “love” elicits when your heart is full? I am writing this on Sunday afternoon following our first in-person service since March of 2020.

The energy in the building was electrifying… smiles and hugs were happening everywhere I looked. Old friends seeing one another for the first time in over a year. For some it was even longer. Neither the Board of Trustees nor I knew if folks were ready to come back; however, we have said all along we will follow CDC guidelines and it was clear that it was time to reconvene. And it is evident you were ready to come back. Thank you for making it a special and important day in our ministry’s history. This will be talked about for years to come.

A shout out to Michelle Neas and Kim Cowperthwaite for the festive atmosphere that welcomed us home. It truly was a time of great celebration!

The topic for the message on Sunday was “Imagine with Me!” The power of imagination is one of our 12 Powers that our co-founder Charles Fillmore identified and that we all have. Imagination is the faculty of mind which “lays hold of” spiritual ideas and translates them into material form. It also “beholds” material forms in their spiritual essence, or reality; that is, as ideas in mind. Imagination is the great symbol interpreter of the mind.

I decided on this topic imagination because as we begin to step back into the world after COVID-19 we are at a choice point. We can go back to business as usual, or we can use these last 15 months to inform us as to what is important to us and what can we leave behind. We can use our power of imagination to reimagine an expanded version of ourselves as a community. We can discern what is important to us and will want to continue and what were we doing because we have always done it that way. I heard in the sharing on Sunday the word “space” and we have had the opportunity to put some space into our lives and like it.

I have also heard it said, “I am more about being now instead of doing.” I get that and both are needed. It is in the being that we open to the possibilities to lay hold of spiritual ideas and then the doing is to bring them into reality.

The questions I pose to you are these:
• What are you most hopeful about going forward with in your own life?
• What do you see your role is in the life of this community going forward?
• What would you like more of, or less of, as we reimagine Unity Center for Spiritual Growth?

Please send me your thoughts.

On Sunday I will begin a series called Tales That Teach. It begins with Jesus, Master Teacher.

Sacred service opportunity… let me know if you are willing to prepare coffee and tea for next week’s hospitality.

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