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Parables for Today
 Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
  June 26, 2022

 All Rights Reserved


Unity is about practicing the presence and learning to rest deeply in the Presence of God. Unity is also about learning to use the power of the spoken word to co-create with God; “for the thoughts we hold in mind produce after their kind.” As I speak words of joy, health, peace and prosperity, I speak them not just for myself, but for you and for every living creature on Earth and beyond. I invite you to silently speak these powerful ideas inside yourself. “I am immersed in God’s guidance. I am one with God’s power. I am in perfect health. I am God’s prosperity.”

These God ideas are now moving within you and unlocking the invisible, inexhaustible treasures of your Soul. The Spirit of God is indestructible within you. It is the sacred, imperishable center of your being that is life, power, action and cause of all that is real and eternal. It is our God-conscious identity.

Silently affirm: I am one with the divine ideas of God. I am one with the help of God. I am one with the peace of God. I rest in the silence and identify myself with God. My whole nature is enriched with the nobility of that mind which was also in Christ Jesus. With gratitude and joy I accept the full realization and affirm:  “I have the individuality of the Christ mind within me. My personality glows and radiates with this inner illumination. Each day in prayer and meditation, I renew my recognition that this is the eternal truth of my being. God is the I am that I am; the triumphant Christ of my being. Let’s rest for a moment in full realization of that Truth in the silence of prayer.

Through the Christ within you have the guidance of God that you seek. God is always and forever with you. You can never be apart from God and that means that every cell, organ, bone and tissue of your body is one with Divine Life. You are a beloved child of God and heir to all the Divine Ideas that bring true and lasting prosperity. You have prosperity in friendships, prosperity in love and you are always being guided in knowing the right way to go. You have prosperity within that leads you to prosperity without.

As a child of God you are one with God. We affirm these things to be true and accept them without doubt in the name and nature of Jesus Christ. Now let’s close with the Prayer for Protection.

The light of God surrounds us; the love of God enfolds us; the power of God protects us and the presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are God is and all is well. Amen


Jesus was a Master Teacher. He traveled around teaching people by telling parables (short stories) and aphorisms, which are short statements of Truth.  Why? Because if you hear a short story or a short statement with a profound meaning, you ponder it. As you walk around, doing what you have to do a part of your mind is still thinking about the story you heard yesterday or the day before and then suddenly you have an aha moment!

Unity Bible scholar Ed Rabel called this the cosmic 2x4 effect.  It hits you over the head and reveals a profound meaning hidden in the story or aphorism. Today I’m sharing some stories and aphorisms for you to ponder.

One day a Christian Scholar who believed that every single word in the Bible was literally true decided to take an airplane trip to New York to visit some friends. He was seated next to a Scientist on the airplane. The Scientist observed him reading a Bible and said, “Now, according to the Bible the earth was created some 5,000 years ago. But we have discovered bones that point to life existing on earth a million years ago.” The man responded, “Well, when God created the earth 5000 years ago He deliberately put those bones in the ground to test our faith and to see if we would believe His word rather than scientific evidence.”

Spiritual things must be interpreted spiritually. Rigid beliefs lead to distortions of Truth. At the heart of every religion is a Truth but even the highest and best truth can be distorted and eventually completely concealed by man with dogma, falsehoods and even outright lies. When we accept whatever we are told with blind faith we put blinders on over our own eyes and minds and then run to tell others that we have found the Truth. We think of a dear friend and say, “If only he could hear this message. If I do one thing in my life it will be to drag them to hear this message.”

My way or your way to discovering Truth may not be what another needs. It is like the monkey who lifted a fish out of the water and placed it high up in a tree. “What are you doing?” cried the fish. “I’m saving you from drowning,” replied the monkey.

A young man went to a great Teacher and asked, “What is spirituality? The Teacher replied, “Spirituality is that, that succeeds in bringing one to an inner transformation.” The young man said, ‘But if I apply the traditional methods handed down by other teachers isn’t that spirituality? The teacher answered, “It is not spirituality if it does not perform it’s function for you. Just as a blanket is no longer a blanket if it does not keep you warm.”

A young fish swam up to a much larger, older ocean fish and said, “Excuse me, you are so much older than I, can you tell me where I can find this thing called an ocean? The older fish laughed and said, “The ocean is the thing that you are swimming in right now.” The young fish responded, “No, that’s not right. This is just water. What I’m seeking is the ocean.”  Disappointed, the young fish swam off to search elsewhere.

A young man was seeking God. He heard of a Wise Man who might be able to help him. When he found the wise man he said, “For years I have been seeking God. I have searched everywhere. I have searched on the highest mountains to the dessert, to the silence of the greatest churches and temples and in the dwellings of the poor.” The Wise Man asked, “Well have you found him?” The young man sadly said, “No I haven’t. Have you?” What could the wise man say, with the evening sun sending shafts of golden light into the room and hundreds of sparrows singing in a nearby tree? In the distance one could hear the sound of highway traffic and a mosquito sounded a tiny warning that it was going to strike. All this beauty and wonder and yet the young man could stand there and say that he had not found God. After awhile the young man sadly left to continue his search elsewhere.

God is in this room. God is in you and in the very place you are sitting. God is the air you breathe. God is the rain that falls. God is in the trees, the growing grass, the flowers and even the fragrance of flowers. There is no place that God is not.

In Hindu India they have a magnificent image they use to describe God’s relationship with all creation. Here it is: God dances creation. He is the Dancer. Creation is the dance. Now the dance is different from the Dancer and yet it has no existence apart from him. You can’t take it home in a box if it pleases you. The moment the Dancer stops, the dance ceases to be.

In our quest for God we often think too much. We reflect too much and we talk too much. Even when we look at this dance that we call creation we are the whole time thinking, talking to ourselves and to others, reflecting, analyzing and making judgments. Be silent and contemplate the dance. Just look at a star, a flower, a leaf, a bird, a stone; any fragment of the dance will do. Just look and listen, smell and touch and taste and it won’t be long before you see the Dancer Himself.

Ernest Wilson was one of Unity’s greatest ministers. In his book, “Like A Miracle” he wrote an entire chapter on contemplation and said, “Take time to look, really look, at a sunrise or a sunset or a sky when a storm is brewing. Seek out a giggling stream or listen to the music of the wind in the trees. Lift up your eyes because the heavens are telling you of the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.”

 A certain disciple was always complaining to His Teacher saying, “You are hiding the final secret from me.” He simply would not accept his teachers denials. One day they were walking in the hills when they heard a bird sing. “Did you hear that bird sing? Said the teacher. “Yes” said the disciple. “Well, now you know that I have hidden nothing from you.”

If you really hear a bird sing, if you really see a tree, you would know God beyond words and concepts. Oh, you might say that you’ve heard hundreds of birds sing and seen thousands of trees. Was it the tree you saw or the label? If you look at a tree and just see a tree, you have not seen the tree. If you look at a tree and see a miracle of creation, then you have seen the tree.

Unity’s co-founder Charles Fillmore said, “The Divine is all around us. The knowledge of its’ presence only awaits the opening of your inner eye, the single eye as Jesus taught.” When you look with this eye, your whole body is full of light that is neither light from the sun or moon. It is light of the Father.

When one disciple attained enlighenment he wrote these lines to celebrate. “O wondrous marvel, before enlightenment, I chop wood, I draw water from the well and carry it to my dwelling place. After enlightenment, I chop wood, I draw water from the well and & carry it to my dwelling place.”

Sooner or later each one of us will attain enlightenment. It is why we are here. When you achieve enlightenment nothing really changes. A tree is still a tree. People are just as they were before and so are you. The one difference is that you see things with a different eye and you are more detached from it all now and your heart is full of wonder and that is the essence of contemplation; a sense of wonder as you look at creation.

Contemplation is different from ecstasy in that ecstasy leads to withdrawal. The enlightened contemplative continues to chop wood and carry water just as Jesus did. Contemplation is also different from the perception of beauty.  The perception of beauty in a painting or a sunset produces delight whereas contemplation produces wonder, absolute wonder no matter what it observes: a sunset, a stone, even the hymnal rack on the back of the pew in front of you.

The first year I was here, way back in 1981, two of our founding members,  Willard and Vira Porter took making pew holders for Unity on as their project. It took them an entire year to make and paint them all. Think of these two people who most of you have never met or heard of before and the love that they put into designing something that would hold a couple of hymnals, pens, paper, and anything else we want to make handy for people. Think about Willard and Vera Porter and their desire to leave something of themselves here to benefit others when they died. Think about all the people who have sat in the seat you are sitting in and know that they would be honored to know that you are sitting in the seat they once sat in because they know that you are just as good as they are because you have the same Spirit in you that they have in them.

Years ago we had a Labador Retrever named Rex. He was a great dog and he moved with Jim from California to Vancouver. Once we moved into our house in the forest, Rex who had been a California City Dog, reluctantly transitioned into the protector of our forest domain. He was especially vigilent about squirrels and raccoons coming down the huge cedar tree in the back yard and into the fountain on the deck to play in the water or wash their food. You see, Rex believed the fountain was his personal water dish. Rex would sit on the deck looking up that tree, ears cocked, tail tensely wagging. He was attending 100%. No thought disturbed his total concentration. No worry for tomorrow. Even if he would lay down by the fountain if you looked close enough you would see that his eyes were opened like slits and he was still 100% attending to looking up that tree. This image is the nearest thing to pure contemplation that I have ever seen.

Here is an ancient Eastern formula for contemplation. “Be totally in the present. Drop every thought of the future. Drop every thought of the past. Drop every image and obstruction and come into the present moment and contemplation will arise.”

After many years of training, a disciple begged his teacher to give him enlightenment. The teacher led him to a bamboo grove and said, “See that bamboo? How tall it is. See the other one there? How short it is.” The disciple nodded and was enlightened.

The story of Buddha is a facinating story of someone who was much like many of us. In the beginning of his life, he sought everything outside of himself until he found the secret that everything that really counts is within and has been from the very beginning. He starved himself. He overate. He explored everything and did everything to find the Nirvana that we all seek. Well, as the story goes, one day as he sat under a Bodhi Tree, he was enlightened. His disciples said, “You have found the secret you have sought your whole life to find. Tell us the secret.” And he said: “When you draw in a shallow breath, O monks, be aware that you are drawing in a shallow breath. And when you draw in a deep breath O monks, be aware that you are drawing in a deep breath. And when you draw in a medium sized breath, O monks be aware that you are drawing in a medium sized breath. Awareness, attention, absorption, enlightenment.”

A priest was once asked what makes a person holy. He replied, “Every hour is divided up into a certain number of seconds and every second into a certain number of fractions. Anyone who is able to be totally present in each fraction of a second is holy.”

 A man watched his neighbor Harold as he crawled around on his hands and knees in his front yard. Assuming  he was searching for something in the grass and being a good neighbor he said, “What are you searching for Harold? Can I help? Harold answered, “I’m looking for my keys.” So both men are now on their hands and knees searching for the keys in the grass. After awhile the neighbor asked, “Harold, where exactly do you think you dropped your keys?  And Harold answered, “In my basement.” “Good Lord,” said the neighbor, “Then what are we doing out here crawling around in the grass?” And Harold said, “The light is better out here.”

A student asked his teacher,  “All the mountains and rivers, the earth and stars. Where do they come from?  His teacher answered, “Where does your question come from? Search within.”

I have one last story for you this morning. A great mystic went alone into the desert to meditate and to be with God for 30 days. When he came back, his students said, “Tell us. What is God like?”

How could he tell them what he had experienced in his heart. Can God be put into words? But his students kept asking and asking so he finally gave them a formula. It was inadequate and inaccurate but he hoped that some of them might be tempted to follow the formula and experience it for themselves. His students wrote the formula down and made it into a sacred text. They imposed it on others as a Holy Belief and they went to great pains to spread it in foreign lands. Some even gave their lives for it. The great mystic was very sad. Perhaps it would have been better if he had said nothing at all.

Jesus taught people how to find the Divinity within themselves. Over 2000 years later, Unity has taken up His mission and we continue to teach people to go within to find and experience God for themselves. If we do that we will find that there is no separation between God and us and that Divinity is in all of us.

Experience God with you, within you and all around you  today. Spend some quality time contemplating the Divine every day because God is contemplating you in every instant. I’ll close with an old saying, “The sun that gives sight to the eagle blinds the owl.”

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