Message of Faith – The Lord’s Prayer, Love Your Neighbor

This weeks Message of Faith submitted by Rev. Joanne Rowden

Rev. Joanne Rowden
Rev. Joanne Rowden

Growing up in Catholicism, the Lord’s Prayer has been a familiar prayer to me for my whole life. For me, the words held no special meaning. They were just words to another prayer like The Hail Mary, Bless Us Our Lord, and Now I Lay me Down to Sleep. Since coming to Unity, and opening to affirmative prayer, I have begun to experience prayer in a whole new way. The question is, can I experience the Lord’s Prayer in a whole new way?

In Unity, we know that prayer is not to change God’s mind. Prayer is to change my mind. In prayer, I align my mind with Divine mind. I open to new possibilities and experiences. I move beyond the problem to the possibility that exists in this moment. Prayer is a shift in consciousness. When we repeat words without thought to what we are saying, prayer is not really occurring since there is no shift in consciousness. How then should we pray?

We begin any prayer with our foundation in God. Taking a breath we remember that there is no spot that God is not! God is right here present and available. Knowing this, I center in awareness of the Power of God that is available to me here and now. This is what the first line of the Lord’s Prayer reminds me.

The second line of the Lord’s Prayer reminds me of my purpose. I am here to do the will of God which is to demonstrate heaven on earth! Now you may be wondering whether heaven on earth is even possible. You need only watch the news, listen to talk radio, or engage in conversation around the office to think that we are all going to hell in a hand basket! How naïve can you be to think you can create heaven on earth?

In Unity we teach that heaven, like hell, is a state of consciousness. The state of the world indicates that many are familiar with a hell state of consciousness based in separation, fear, selfishness and greed. A heaven state of consciousness is one of oneness, love, compassion, understanding and peace. It is a moment by moment choice that we each make to act from a consciousness of separation (hell) or oneness (heaven). You and I get to make that choice daily through our thoughts, words and actions.

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to choose heaven. It is why we are here. It is why we pray. It is my intention to move from this awareness of the illusion of separation to an awareness of the Truth of Oneness. I do so each time I extend love to the world.

We create heaven on earth whenever we are willing to love our neighbor. As our bulletin stated this week, love thy homeless neighbor; thy Muslim neighbor; thy black neighbor; thy gay neighbor; thy white neighbor; thy Jewish neighbor; thy transgendered neighbor; thy Christian neighbor; thy atheist neighbor; thy racist neighbor; thy addicted neighbor. Everyone is our neighbor, and the greatest gifts are those that we have trouble including in our circle of love. It is with these ones that we have an opportunity to move more deeply into an understanding of what it means to create heaven on earth by loving them.

Our spiritual practice this week asks us to expand our idea of who is our neighbor? Who do I have trouble bringing into the circle and extending my love towards? Do I have any generalizations about people that keep me from loving them as a neighbor? Am I willing to set aside those generalizations and ask, “What does love look like here?” What is one action I can take each day to expand my circle of love? In this practice, I allow God’s will to be done as I consciously create heaven on earth.

Abundant peace and blessings… Rev. Joanne


Rev. Joanne Rowden
Rev. Joanne Rowden

Rev. Joanne Rowden is the senior minister at Unity Spiritual Center in Westlake, OH. She served as the minister at Unity in Edinboro for 13 years before taking on this new position on November 1, 2014. She lives in Hinckley, OH with her husband.

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