The Minister's Weekly Message

Rev. Mary Wood is in the office on
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Rev. Mary Wood's Weekly Messages

Please note that Rev. Mary generally updates her message on Wednesday afternoons.  You can use the arrows to move back to previous months to explore more of her blog.

DECEMBER 2017

Date Posted Post
2017-12-11
0:00 am

THE JOURNEY OF PEACE

Welcome to the second week of Advent – the sacred journey of the birth of the awareness and acceptance of our true Christ nature.  The journey of peace.  The peace that passes all human understanding, the peace that is forever present within each and every one of us,.  in an awareness of this, then we can Perceive Everyone as Christ Everywhere. 

Charles Fillmore, one of Unity’s co-founders, defines peace as “harmony and tranquility derived from awareness of the Christ consciousness.”  As we are peaceful within, then this is who we are in our relationships with our families, our friends, our communities.

 

 

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Mildred Norman stepped out in front of the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena,, CA on January 1, 1953 wearing a blue tunic imprinted with her new identity PEACE PILGRIM.  For the next 28 years, this silver-haired woman  criss-crossed North America, touching many thousands of hearts, minds and lives as she walked more than 25,000 miles on her pilgrimage for peace.  

Carrying just a comb and toothbrush, she shared her simple but profound message in thousands of communities -  “this is the way of peace:  Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”  She talked with people on dusty roads and city streets, in church, college,, civic groups, on TV and radio, discussing peace within and without.  “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”

Reminds me of a sign that hung above my desk when I worked at the Conservation Authority – For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.  Here are a couple of thoughts that help me along the journey of peace.  There are no criticisms, there are only observations.  When I know this and someone “criticizes” me, I can respond in love instead of reacting in fear.  I come to know what they are saying has nothing to do with who I am.  Any thought that causes stress is an argument with reality.  And such thoughts are variations on a theme:   Things should be different than they are, I want, they should or shouldn’t.  It always hurts when we argue with what is.

The theme of Gary Simmon’s book I of the Storm is “No one and no thing is against me.”  Gary says “There is no judgment that is truly about us.”  So when someone disagrees with you, it opens the possibility for new ways to look at something, the possibility for new opportunities.  An open mind is the only way to peace.  I thank God that Unity teachings always bring good news – God is always present, therefore peace is always present, even when it’s not apparent.  Peace is in the “I” of the storm.  When we’re aware of this peace within, we realize we have everything we need to be happy because we’ve chosen love not fear, because we have chosen God.  We know the world does not happen to us, but by us.

Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter 4.  “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And now, let us continue our Advent journey as Lauri Kangas reads from Luke 2:1-7.

We learned last week that Mary and Joseph represent the divine relationship – a balance of the intuition and intellect – the heart and the head.  Can you imagine making the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, about 80 miles.  Eight to ten days travelling, almost 9 months pregnant.  Stories tell us that Mary was riding on a donkey, but nowhere in scriptures is a donkey mentioned.  Research also tells me they might have been travelling in a caravan with others.

Metaphysically, when Mary and Joseph, our mind and heart are together, then the Christ is in expression, no matter how long or where we are in our journey – even when we might be riding a donkey.  The census they had to do refers to a time of our internal introspection when we look at our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  A journey that we can do daily, never mind only at Christmas.

And so, off Mary and Joseph go to take care of what needs to be done.  The trip to Bethlehem they took will be taken by everyone, sooner or later.  This road needs to be travelled slowly and lovingly, the same way Mary and Joseph travelled.  Their journey also tells us our transformation process continues even when we’re doing whatever we need to do.  Bethlehem means “house of bread, the house of food,” the place of our spiritual nourishment and good opportunities.  It signifies divine substance, the living energy out of which everything is made.  The living energy that is present everywhere, that pervades all things.  We take the journey to Bethlehem to become conscious of this divine substance.  Bethlehem was also a city of “common folk” and had no walls.  Metaphysically this implies that anyone can enter this consciousness of always-present substance.  It’s for all folks.

So, after 7 or 8 or 10 days on the road, they get to Bethlehem, and there’s no room at the inn!  Do they turn around and go back home?  No – they have faith that another way will show up.  A good lesson for us to be open to other possibilities when the way we think something should happen doesn’t happen.  the story goes that the innkeeper takes them to the stable and gives them shelter….  Even though there’s no mention of the innkeeper in the biblical story.  And the Christ child is born in a manger, a crib for feeding the animals.  Just like the Christ was born to feed us through his words, his actions, and his love.

We might also ask ourselves – is there room in the inn of my mind for the Christ child within?  Is there room for a new birth, or are my thoughts and feelings crowding out my intuition and understanding that’s needed for an awareness of the Christ within.  Let us make room for peaceful thoughts and feelings that bless us and move us from confusion and busyness to the quietness of the stable.  When we take time for meditation, we allow the awareness of the presence of God to come alive.  When the Christ child was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes to protect his little body from the cold or injury.  When we give birth to a new awareness and understanding, let’s be gentle with ourselves and love ourselves.  

This sacred journey we’re on begins as a glimmer of light in the heart and the mind.  I invite you during these days of advent to take time to allow this light to grow brighter.  Then we know peace as a gift of God.  The peace that passes all understanding, the peace that heals illness and wounds, the peace that brings all people together.  The peace that allows you and me to Perceive Everyone as Christ Everyone.

 

 

 
2017-12-04
0:00 am

THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

Today is the first Sunday of Advent that starts on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle.  For us in Unity, Advent is a time of a deeper awareness of the Christ spirit that dwells within each and every one of us, so every Christmas is a new birth.  A birth to the possibilities of living a life nourished and fed by the divine.  An ever deeper willingness to live the truth we know.

 

 

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And as we hear the story again this year, let us hear it from a beginner’s mind, open to the message of faith, peace, love and joy that it brings, and let us accept these gifts and allow them to take us farther on our journey to who we are, to the light of the Christ that shines within each and every one of us. 

The advent wreath is part of our journey.  It  began in 16th-century Germany, where in the deep of winter, people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope for the warm and longer days of spring.  The circle of the wreath symbolizes ongoing eternal life, the presence of God, which has no beginning or no end.  The candle light reminds us of the Christ within that does indeed take us through dark days and nights.  The purple candles symbolize expectant waiting and represent faith, peace and love.  The pink candle is the last one lit and represents joy.  The Christ candle in the middle will be lit at our service on Christmas eve, representing the birth of Jesus and the Christ within.

Do you know the story of “The Other Wise Man,” by Henry Van Dyke? Written in 1885, it tells the faith-filled story of a fourth wise man. He was a Persian Magi who was to join the other three when the long-awaited new star was seen in the heavens, so they could undertake their journey of faith together. The star appears, and Artaban sets off on his pilgrimage, but he stops along the way to offer assistance to a dying traveler. As a result, he shows up late and finds his friends have left without him.   Undaunted, he sets off alone to follow them across the desert; but he doesn’t make it to Bethlehem until after the other three Magi are long gone and Mary, Joseph and the Christ child left for Egypt. Carrying precious stones as gifts for the Christ, Artaban spends 30 years seeking and following Jesus. However, he is always just a bit too late because of many responsibilities to others that distract him from his spiritual purpose.

Artaban’s faith never wavers, although he is frustrated by the demands of life. His precious stones are used to purchase the freedom for 15 others; a mother and child threatened with arrest and death by Herod’s soldiers at the onset of his pilgrimage in Bethlehem; a woman being sold into slavery in Jerusalem near the end of his earthly journey.   Artaban’s faith is intermingled with despair.  He persists in seeing himself as a failure who has always fallen short of his spiritual goal. In Artaban’s final moment Jesus appears to him, assuring him that through his many acts of service he had unknowingly been the Christ—there was never a need to seek him elsewhere. Galatians 5:6:  The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. 

So, what is faith?  Charles Fillmore, our co-founder, writes in Christian Healing:  Faith is ever active, and it should be made the truth substance of every idea.  We should have faith in our own power, capacity, and ability; if we are to have this faith, our thoughts must be centered in the great universal Mind.  Success lies in God.  Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is a knowing deep within that all is well, that the good that we desire is already here and now. 

And now, in this place of faith, let’s start our advent journey.  I invite  Patricia Hurst to read scripture from Luke 1:26-35. 

First, let’s find out a little bit about Mary.  The New Testament doesn’t give us much information, but the Apocryphal Gospels (those that are left out of officially sanctioned versions of the Bible) are full of stories about her.  They say her parents, Anna and Joachim,  were “aged and childless”, and at the age of 3, Mary was dedicated to God at the Temple and remained there until she was 12.  In those days, a girl was betrothed when she reached her teens.  Mary came out of the temple, and the next thing she knew, she was engaged to be married, betrothed to Joseph, a hard-working carpenter.  Tradition claims Joseph was a widower, many years Mary’s senior, a kindly man and deeply religious who could trace his lineage back to David.  He had been selected for her by a miraculous sign.

Metaphysically, the Mary in us is a soul that’s pure, highly intuitive, and open to inspiration.    The angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings favored one!  The Lord is with you.  Do not be afraid, Mary.”  But she was afraid and confused by what he was saying.  We can understand her confusion because aren’t we often afraid of the unknown.    We want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  This feels safe for us.   And we can be afraid and confused when we first receive spiritual inspiration, because this usually makes changes in our lives.  But as we become more aware and receptive to this inspiration, then we gain faith and the truth of the indwelling Christ is revealed to us. 

Mary also represents divine love within each one of us.  The love that reaches beyond all the obstacles we think we see.  Mary represents the love that is open to the possibility of good in every situation.    This love reaches beyond all these perceived obstacles and seeks only good not only for ourselves, but for all of God’s creation.  This divine and gentle love expresses only good because at its very foundation it is the power of God that overcomes all adversity. 

Joseph had an important role to play, but his words aren’t even recorded.  Matthew 1:20 reads, “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”  Now what a lot of faith that would take to believe that…….Metaphysically, Joseph represents the intellectual part of our mind, our thinking nature.  William Cameron writes, Joseph had an intellectual use that was very high.  Yet, from the very beginning, he really didn’t understand the whole process.  He was told he wasn’t involved in the conception of this spiritual birth.  But he still consented and was very happy to be the human father of the child – to protect, guide, support and become the important father role.  Our intellect can do that.  The right state of mind is very important to the growth of a new spiritual awareness in us.

As Mary and Joseph had faith in God and in the blessing they were about to receive, let us know that we have all the faith that we will ever need.  Let us put our faith in prosperity, not poverty, in health, not sickness, in love not fear?  Let us have faith in God and faith in ourselves as we begin this sacred Advent journey to the birth of the Christ within.