“The Porcupine Syndrome”
 Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
August 21, 2016
All Rights Reserved



What was it that drew you to Unity? UNITY has taught me some practical ways to experience God & heal the sense of separation I felt between myself & God, myself & others. Today's service is celebrates our commitment to God, to each other & to our church home. In our Unity of purpose, we are guided by infinite wisdom & prospered by Divine Love. Amen.


In this present moment feel your willingness to allow the presence of God to reveal itself to you & to reveal to you a path to peace. In the midst of all the world’s seeming chaos & confusion there is peace & we can always find & be at peace for God is peace. That is the only reality there ever has been, is now, or ever can be. This morning, give yourself the gift of silent peace. Let yourself breathe with the rhythm of the universe that you are. Be willing to let go. Be willing to let God. Be willing to cease control & open yourself to cooperating, to supporting God’s plan for good & only good for all the universe & reflect all the beauty, all the joy, all the love & all the peace that you are & always have been in this moment of silence.

In quiet moments of prayer recognize yourself as being 1 heart with all of your brothers & sisters in the family of humanity. Give thanks for all the souls whose paths cross your own. Give thanks for the appearance of the good, the bad, the right & the wrong & your own inherent willingness & ability to behold God’s presence & power in it all without judgment. From the peace of God within you comes all the rich, all the healing, all the wholeness, all the love & all the joy that is contained within the vastness of the infinity of this universe. I am so grateful to be here with you this morning, giving thanks for love, recognizing love & surrounded by like minded people who are dedicated to walking every day along the path of peace. Thank you God. I love being your child. I love being alive & I love being part of the exciting adventure of humanity. For all the adventures of life I am grateful. In the name & through the power of the incredible Christ presence. Amen.


Someone once said that humans are a lot like a prickle of porcupines on a cold wintry night. The cold drives us closer together & into a tight huddle to keep warm. As we begin to snuggle really close, our sharp quills pop out & cause us to jab & prick each other – a condition that drives us apart. But before long we start getting cold again so we move back together to get warm again, only to stab & puncture each other once more. & so we participate in this strange, rhythmic ‘tribal dance over & over again.’ The bottom line is: we need each other but we also needle each other. The question we’re exploring today is “How can we break the porcupine syndrome?”

An article in Quest Magazine stated: "Against all odds, a few uncommon people throw caution to the wind; ready to protect the weak, uphold excellence, defend the rule of law or just make the world a slightly better place to live. Without them, America wouldn't exist, with them, we can do anything that needs doing." The article goes on to talk about Unity & how since 1886, Unity has been helping to build a giraffe society. So what does a giraffe society look like?

1. A giraffe sticks its neck out - We have to stick our necks out & do new things; not by being pushy or willful but very gently & peace loving like the giraffe.

2. Have a higher perfective; Giraffes have a different view of life from the other animals around them. They eat off the tops of trees; that’s a prosperity consciousness.

3. They have enlarged hearts because their necks are so long. We need enlarged hearts & not just our physical hearts, but our emotional hearts through which we express love & connect with each other.

Jesus was a person who wanted to build a giraffe society. He saw humanity from a higher view & had the courage to stick out his neck & speak out with love. He understood that the purpose of religion was to let God as compassion & grace come through into the world. Unity isn’t listed among the world's top 10 religions. People either are a part of us or think of us as an unusual church or an unchurch. They don't know what we teach because we don't fit the standard mold for Christianity. Like the giraffe, we see Christianity from a different viewpoint. Here are some examples.

1. We ordained women in 1906. Ignoring the teaching of Peter & Paul who said, "Women should be silent in the churches."

2. Charles & Myrtle Fillmore were affirming health in the 1900's when life expectancy was low & medical treatment consisted primarily of applying leaches to whatever hurt. They taught the mind body connection that science finally recognized.

3. In 1896, after founding Unity, the Fillmore’s were invited to host the International Divine Science convention at Unity. They had to meet the people when they got off the trains, find everyone lodging & arrange all meals. They were so busy that they didn't publish their own magazine that month. They felt they were doing a great work for humanity & not just for Unity.

4. Unity is often asked if we have 'foreign missions-missionaries like 'real Christian churches do." Our missionaries have always been Daily Word, Unity Magazine & our prayer ministry, Silent Unity. 2 of James Dillet Freemans writings were left on the moon by Apollo astronauts- neither of which were Unity students. In 1969 Edwin Buzz Aldrin carried a copy of the Prayer for Protection & left it there & in 1971 James B. Irwin took a microfilm copy of Freeman’s poem “I Am There”.

5. In 1995, the First World Conference was held by Unity in England. 700 people from 33 countries came to talk about Unity's future as a world movement; more than a third of them weren’t members of any Unity church. 40 different denominations were represented. There were more Presbyterians than anybody else, lots of Catholics, agnostics, fewest Baptists. They came because we are an idea to help bring God into the world for people because we're seen as a positive minded religion. Many are negative minded saying "It's God's will for you to suffer." Unity came along & said, "No, that isn't true." Jesus said, "I come to have life & have it abundantly. It is God's pleasure to give you the gifts of the kingdom" God means for you to have a great, healthy, happy, prosperous life. This was Jesus’ revolutionary new teaching but old beliefs are very slow to disappear. Like the idea that God is 'out there or up there somewhere.'

6. Unity teaches that God is in you, if you don't find God there, you won't really find God anywhere. You might find an image of God, but God is love & intelligent life in you, as you, all around you, closer than your own breath.

7. Unity helps people learn to connect with the intelligent life of God, their indwelling Christ through prayer & meditation. We don't try to change God when we pray. "Dear God do this or do that. God's already perfect. What I want to change is me, because I know I need changing. Practice affirmative prayer & you can change your life.

8. The Fillmore’s never used the word church. They founded study groups, classes, a Unity Society for Practical Christianity with activities to help everyone live a better happier life & a prayer ministry called Silent Unity. Unity has teachings, but no creed or dogma. Unity services offer spiritual principles for us to apply to our daily problems. Those who study its teachings are called Unity students or Truth students.

The essence of the name "Unity" is a new & different kind of church that leaves no one out & that is now over 100 years old & part of a new force in the world, that comes from inside of you. Each of us is created in the image & likeness of God & so each 1 of us inherently has a message to share with humanity & in our own very unique & very special way we give it in the best way we know how. In his work at Silent Unity, Frank Whitney who founded the wonderful concept of the Daily Word would always end his prayers with people by saying, “You can begin again.” It is not over until you say it is. You can begin again right now, today. You can make the decision to go forward in faith.

Paul was talking to young Timothy who was tired, afraid & wanted to give up. He came to Paul & said, “I can’t handle this.” Paul said to him, “Oh, Timothy, neglect not the gift of God that is within you. Press on to that high calling in Christ Jesus.” I think we all need to hear words of encouragement like these from time to time. Sure there are times when it is difficult, very difficult, but there is always a voice within you saying, “Press on. Press on. There is more.” It is tempting to fall into thinking that your best days are behind you & adopting a positive thought to hold onto at such times is a vital part of the Unity life style. When you are tempted to think the best days are over say, “The best years of my life are yet to be lived. Thank you God.”

Living a spiritualize life calls for strong faith, courage & determination that will not quit. There is something wanting to press out from us, express from us—God giving God’s self through us into the world. All of us are on this spiritual journey travel from personal ego-self to God or cosmic consciousness where we stop thinking so much about ourselves & we begin to engage ourselves in ministering to God’s family. In that ministry, we find that everything we do, everything we give & everything we are is God’s gift to us. We find that we must keep giving to receive more. As your Minister, I want to remind all of us that the most powerful energy in the world is the ‘silence of prayer.’

Myrtle Fillmore took the inward journey to discover the reality of God’s presence & know this presence as perfect life. She affirmed, “The life of God within me is perfect.’ She called it forth by recognizing her oneness with God & transformed her life from illness to wholeness. Unity teaches that healing is dependent upon a steadfast faith, true vision & inner expectancy. Prayer is our link with this healing power & process. Remember, the same power that moved through Jesus Christ to perform healing miracles is the same power that is moving through you. There is only one presence & one power.” This is the power of our connectedness; the power of our oneness. “God is in charge & all is well with me & with the world.”

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth & the truth will set you free.” His message is ‘to know’ the Truth & not to ‘know about it.’ Many people know about the Truth but then it becomes just an intellectual process. Charles Fillmore said, “The intellect must be spiritualized.” The intellect is a wonderful explorer, adventurer & investigator. It goes out & finds all of these wonderful things for us. Then it comes back & we have to take it to the heart & turn it into wisdom. If too much of our knowing is based on outer things we live a surface life, knowing about things but not ever knowing. There must be a son of God activity so the path of prayer calls for the spiritually adventurous to step out on faith & trust the keeper of infinity. Prayer is the key to healing for it is our journey back to God. I often think that when people get sick or in some kind of distress their real problem is that they are lonely to go home, lonely to go back to God & back to that center within them which is all & knows all & is all power. We yearn to come home to that center of life, peace, joy, harmony & prosperity within us.

Unity opens the mind to the omnipresence of God—that everywhere present light energy empowering love to have its perfect expressing in us. Healing is a commitment to a faith that does remove mountains. It takes the potential within us & makes healing possible for with God all things are possible. So we have this potential within us for goodness, for wonder, for mystery, beauty & sacredness but it becomes possible to experience God as these things when we give expression to the potential within us. The Christ in us is calling for each of us to ‘stretch forth your hand & reach out into the world.’ Don’t get into your exclusive Ego self but get into your inclusive Christ self.

Whatever needs to be healed recognize it is the spirit of God inviting each of us to bring that difficulty into the light & in the light there is no darkness. “If thine eye be single, the whole body shall be filled with light, & the crooked places made straight.” We have been called here to do a great healing work & to remember that all of us have a direct connection to universal mind. We have 3 avenues through which we function & operate: thought, desire & action. The most far reaching of these 3 in its effect is the power of thought. Unity teaches us that thought is the parent of action. Thought gives birth to action & movement.

Charles Fillmore said, “The time will come where there will be nothing to heal. There will only be something to know.” There is something great to know about ourselves & when we know it we find that healing is as natural as breathing. What is it that I don’t know about myself that is standing in the way? The answer is: There is nothing to heal. There is just something to know—to know God’s love, power, peace & joy.

The truth is: God does not heal us, for in Divine Mind there is not a recognition of things to be healed. In God mind there is only the perfect image of God in which we were created. When we take hold of this idea & understand the concept of God that Jesus & Unity teaches healing comes. Know there is nothing in you to be healed but certainly there is something in us to know. When we know it, can accept it & love it.

As Jacob said to the angel: “I will not leave your until you bless me.” Perhaps the problems in our lives, the hurt, the pain, the grief, the sorrow the illness is asking us to bless it so it can leave us. Charles Fillmore was asked, “How do you know God is here?’ He said, “I know because I feel peace.”

Now let's go back to the idea of creating a giraffe society. To quote again from Quest magazine, "Suppose each of us resolved to think hard about the shared human condition & then responded to it, each in our own way. Imagine a nation in which people actually stopped fearing strangers & treated them as fellow members of the same endangered species. Imagine a world in which a nucleus of daring governments actually heeded the highest good, not for themselves, but for all living creatures. Imagine.

Unity teaches that thoughts held in mind produce after their kind in outer. Imagine peace filling this room, this country, beyond to bless not only the Middle East, but everywhere on our planet. Because that's what it would mean to really create a giraffe society. The spread of Unity worldwide not as another religion, but as the experience of world peace.

This week spend some quiet time thinking about your life. Think about your giraffe qualities & new ways to expand them. Then look back over your life & decide who in your life has been there for you. Who has stuck their neck out for you, encouraged you to take the next step forward & then send them a card & thank them & tell them that they have been a giraffe in your life.

In closing let's turn within & think about the giraffe people around us & celebrate & give thanks. Right now, centered in God, we move through our life, our necks fully extended, we see the beauty of God's plan & express goodness in every area of our lives. We are ready & willing to make this earth a heaven in full expression. Our hearts are enlarged so that we move forward with a gentle strength free of apathy & mediocrity & open to compassion & the love of spirit. We feel the light & power of God within us, for so it is. Amen.



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