|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Unity Classic: What Unity Teaches
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
February 6, 2022
All Rights Reserved
“Peace Be Still” These words comforted the disciples many years ago and they are just as effective today. In times of sadness and grief, listen to the voice of your indwelling Christ say, “Believe in God and believe also in me.” (Jn. 14:1) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (Jn 14:27)
Turn within to the loving Christ essence that you truly are and rest in the presence of God and feel strengthened and renewed. Remember that even though things change, God is changeless and enduring. If your life seems to be going through an upheaval or change, Christ is at the heart of you, at the heart of all of us, at the heart of this ministry, our country, and our world. If you tell yourself that you don’t have what it takes to succeed in a given situation, there is that in you, which says, “Be strong and persistent.”
However great or small your accomplishments may appear to be up to this point, there is more in you to be expressed. You are a spiritual being with divine potential. You have the capacity to add to the joy and gladness of life. You have the capacity to express love to others and to relate to others in love and understanding. Do not hold back in fear or listen to the voices of pessimism who would discourage you. Listen only to the voice of Christ who says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn.10: 10). Have you been going through a time of darkness? The Christ says to you, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” (Jn. 12:46) The light of Christ shines in you, it shines for you, it shines through you to bless the world. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” (Mt. 5:15) Today Christ is calling each of us to rise up a little higher. Higher in understanding, higher in receptivity, higher in expressing prosperity, higher in expressing love and higher in expressing our own God given potential. Regardless of appearances, all things are working together for the highest good of this ministry and everyone in it for we are beloved children of a loving universe and loving God.
As we allow our minds now to return to this place, to this wonderful Sanctuary we prepare to go forward enjoying God’s gift of this wonderful day. We are so grateful. Amen.
“WHAT UNITY TEACHES”
Unity is different from other religions out there in several important ways. Here are 4 of them.
1. We are a teaching movement rather than a creed or denomination. Unity of Vancouver is a teaching ministry. Our focus is to help humanity by teaching humanity about their spiritual nature. We work with the concept that our lives are a science laboratory.
There are 5 parts to the idea of our oneness with God that Jesus lived and taught as the “truth that will set you free.” Let’s read them together.
1. God is absolute good and everywhere present.
According to Jesus, there are two ways of living in this world. We can live a life centered in Ego/personality or a life centered in God/individuality.
There are many benefits to living a life centered in God. One that is very important to me is peace of mind. To me that’s the pearl of great price that Jesus spoke of in one of his parables. Unity is an inward path focusing on the daily practice of prayer and meditation. When I think of God and enter a consciousness of God within me, I know that somehow, as a result of that Truth, everything is going to work out fine, in fact more than fine.
When we aren’t centered in God and seeing God in everything and everyone beginning with ourselves, we are centered in ego or personality and "living" either in our thinking or feeling nature. When we live in our thoughts or emotions, we allow them to control us. However, the goal of spirituality isn’t learning to control our thoughts and emotions. The goal is learning to balance what Jesus called the mystical marriage of our thinking and feeling nature.
Balance is the result of the realization that “I am one with God” and living life from my own indwelling Christ. As Paul said, “The same mind is in you that was in Christ Jesus.” When we operate our body vehicle from our God or Christ center, then we’re in right consciousness and in the right relationship to God and good things result because God mind sees that God is the only power and presence. The Christ Mind sees that God is everything. One of my favorite phrases is: “There is no spot where God is not!”
Whenever the storms of life appear remain centered in God and know the storm will pass. The most repeated phrase in the Bible is: “And it came to pass.” And as the storms pass, we learn something from them because this is what earth life is all about. Life is a learning process. Every time we seek God's Presence and Power in a situation, we increase our knowledge of God and ourselves and we take on more of the attributes of God. As a result, we go forth from that situation changed and move a little closer to the goal of being the next evolution of man – a Christ. When you’re centered in God, “Nothing can disturb the calm peace of your soul” for you are centered in the Christ Mind.
When you enter a Unity center, or any church for that matter, you’re going to find a certain pattern of belief and thought. If you walk into a Baptist Church, what do you expect to find? A bunch of Baptists, right? If you walk into a Methodist Church, you find Methodists. If you walk into a Catholic Church, you find Catholics. In each of these experiences you expect to find people of common thought and you do. There’s a common thought pattern among Baptists, among Methodists and among Catholics. As we say in Unity, you find ‘like-minded people.
Life is a dynamic educational process and of all the things that we teach in Unity, the principles of Truth, as we call them, they boil down to these 5 basic ideas.
1. The first has to do with our concept of God. Spiritually, this is the most important idea that we need to come to terms with in our life. Why? Because everything we do is an expression of our understanding of God and our relationship with God. Many people are brought up with the idea of a God of judgment, anger, power, and vengeance that results in a fear of God. Unity like Jesus believe in and taught about a God of Love and blessings, not punishment.
Every moment of every day, you and I are expressing what our understanding of God is and what we believe our relationship with God is. We’re expressing or giving out into life our consciousness. In Unity we have what we refer to as our "Foundation Statement": There is only One Presence and One Power in the universe and in my life, God the good Omnipotent. This statement expresses our concept of God, and we affirm this at the beginning of every worship service.
The 2nd important idea has to do with the "Law of Mind/Action also referred to as the Law of Creation." The Law states: “Thoughts held in mind produce in the outer after their kind.” God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. When God created something ‘out of itself’, he/she called it good. The Bible says that we’re created in the image and likeness of God. We’re co-creators with God.
What we experience in the physical or material world is the result of what we have established within our consciousness as our thoughts and feelings and believe to be true. We don’t necessarily create all illness or situations, but we do create our interpretation of all the events of our life and our judgment and our reaction to those events. Our reaction to what happens to us determines the outcome. Everything really begins in mind. "As a person thinketh in his or her heart, so is he/she." Whenever you go to a Unity Ministry, in some way you’re going to hear these two elements addressed: The concept of God as the principle of absolute good and the Law of mind/action. If someone in Unity doesn't have some belief in those two principles--in God as the only presence and power and in the law of mind/action, then I don't know why they’re in Unity. This doesn't mean that if someone comes into Unity and doesn't quite buy into those concepts that they’re excluded, of course not, everybody’s welcome. But why hang around Unity if you don't in some way believe in those two principles? That’s what Unity is all about.
Why stay in a church if you don’t share some of the basic beliefs held by people who go there? The truth is that some of us didn't and that’s how we got interested in Unity in the first place. But many people do stay in churches even when they don’t believe what is taught there because their parents were Catholics, or their friends are Baptists, or their business connections are there, etc. There are many reasons people attend a certain church beyond faith and religion. But, to me, everything in Unity boils down to our concept of God and how we work with that concept of God using the Law of mind/action. The other three points of Unity’s belief system evolve from them. And I would have to add something unique about Unity and Unity of Vancouver. We come for a spiritual purpose and not for a social purpose or to make business contacts or to sell something or to attempt to exploit this spiritual family and get something out of them, like the clown who showed up one Sunday morning trying to sell real estate!
Prayer is the highest form of thinking and feeling. We pray to change our mind, not God’s. I remember a story that I heard when I first came into Unity concerning the nature of God about a man named Bill. Bill was a self-proclaimed agnostic or atheist. He didn't believe in God, and he didn't believe in prayer. He had a lot of problems, and a friend was trying to convince him to try prayer, saying that prayer works and that there really is a God. Bill just kept saying, "No, there isn't." Finally, his friend said, "There must have been at least once in your life when you prayed or asked God for help. At first Bill said, "Never!" Then he said, "Oh, wait a minute. There was one time when I went hunting and got lost in the woods. I couldn't find my way back to camp. All of a sudden, I cried out, "Oh God, if you're there, help me!" Well, what happened, his friend asked. "Nothing," Bill said, "I didn't hear any voices coming down from heaven and the trees didn't part." "Something happened," his friend said, "because you're here today. " "Of course,” Bill said, "But God didn't have anything to do with it. Why if that Indian guide hadn't heard me cry out and come along to help me, I would have frozen to death out there.” This story hit home with me, because I was a person who struggled with the concept of God. I had grown up with the concept of a God way up there in the sky, a man with a white beard looking a lot like Santa Claus. I had also been taught a beseeching, supplicating, begging way of prayer that didn’t work in my life.
In Unity we talk of God as Principle, impersonal principle. The principle of all-good. The source of all things. We say that God is the first cause, and that God is constant and changeless. In Unity we know that God is absolute GOOD and everywhere PRESENT including, individualized in us as the very essence of our being. Human beings are beloved children of God because we ‘live, move and have our being in God’, the very essence of you is GOD. In Unity we know that God won't "do" anything for us. God has already done everything by individualizing Itself in you and me as the fullness of life, love, wisdom, joy, the fullness of any spiritual quality that you can think of. You don't have love. You are love in expression. You don't have intelligence. You are God’s intelligence in expression.
A person must use and live the truth that they know and make SPIRITUALITY a way of daily life. Using God is something we "do" in Unity. What did you think when you first heard that term, "I'm using God?" Does anybody like to be used? It often has a negative connotation, doesn't it? But you and I are using God all the time because God is the only Presence and Power in the universe and God is individualized within each of us. You express God in everything you do. You have the free will and the power to choose how, when, or if it will be directed.
In Unity, electricity is often used to illustrate this idea. Electricity is neither good nor bad. It's impersonal or neutral. The power of electricity can be used for a not-so-good purpose--to kill somebody. Is it the electricity that is doing something bad? Who is the doer? It’s the user. The use that you and I make of electricity that appears to make it good or bad, constructive, or destructive. In the same sense, we use God power, we take the only Presence and Power there is and use it according to our will.
Affirmative Prayer and meditation are the methods that we use to stay centered in God, so that we use our free will to let God be God in & through us, so that we live in Unity with all life. Another one of my favorite Unity phrases is: “God can only do to you what God can do through you.”
Prayer and meditation help us to cooperate with God using the law of mind/action. So that the thoughts and feelings we hold within are the highest, most whole, most pure, most in the image and likeness of the Divine Idea or perfect ideal that they represent in God mind. PRAYER is the highest form of thinking and feeling. We pray to change our mind, not God’s. I make a choice to think something negative and have a negative experience or to think something positive and have a positive experience.
Here is another story that I heard when I first came into Unity that helped me to understand the idea that life is consciousness and the idea that what we think determines the kind of experiences we have.
For many years, an elderly lady, lived in the same dilapidated home. She always said, "One of these days I'm going to move out of this old house and get a beautiful new home." Her friends asked, "When?" And she’d say, "One of these days." Then she died. When she got to Heaven, she was met by an angel who said, "My dear, you have lived such a wonderful life, you can have anything you want." They walked down the street and on both sides of the street, there were all kinds of homes, beautiful homes, and dilapidated ones like the one she had lived in. The angel said, "You can have whatever you wish." Can you guess what home she picked? She picked out the same kind of house she had lived in on earth. Why? What hadn’t changed? Her consciousness. When she made her transition, her physical body was no longer there but she took with her the only thing that she could take with her and that was the contents of her mind. Her consciousness.
Your life is a Testimonial of your belief in God. Once you make this great discovery, then it's up to you to do something with it. As we say in Unity, "What you are is God's gift to you. What you become is your gift to God." It's up to us to do something individually and collectively with God’s great gift of life. And that's what Unity of Vancouver is here for; to be of service to help each person to learn how to fully express the potential which we are in Spirit.
In Unity we don't wait for Heaven to happen on Earth as it is in Heaven. We know that Heaven will happen on Earth as we put the reality of God into practice.
What do you think?
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