This weeks Message of Faith submitted by Rev. Joanne Rowden
One pastors view of recent happenings in Florida…
Through the Eyes of A Child: World of Love
As I write this morning, my heart is heavy with the reality of yet another act of violence which has occurred. The daily news of violence, terrorism, and war overwhelms me. It can be easy to shut down, build defenses, and judge. Is this the reality of the world we have created for our children? Can I see a world of love in the midst of the pain and suffering?
In Unity, we know love to be the harmonizing Power of the universe. If we want to heal the pain and suffering that is here in this moment, love is the answer. Fear will simply create more pain. Indifference will simply allow more suffering. Resignation will change nothing. Love is the answer. Love heals. Love transforms. Love uplifts. Love alone brings harmony.
As you see a brand new baby welcomed into the world, the opportunity to experience love is palpable in the moment. Here is an innocent new life that is totally open, vulnerable and dependent. Hold him and your heart expands. Look into her eyes and see innocence reflected. I cannot give power to the idea of original sin when I am holding an original blessing.
And yet, life is not easy. As we grow, defenses build around our hearts. We see the “other” and react in fear. Sides are taken. We learn to navigate a world that appears broken. We discover how to keep ourselves safe. Each defense we build creates a deeper division that becomes more difficult to breach. And yet, Jesus gave us two simple commandments which will support you and I in overcoming the world.
The first is to love God with all your heart, soul and might. Scripture reminds me that God is love. I am made in the image and likeness of this Spirit of Love and Life. In love there is no degree of separation. In love there is possibility and potential. Loving God with all my heart asks me to seek the good, reveal the good, be the good. Give no power to fear. Scripture reminds us that God did not give you or I a Spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a clear mind. Responding to life from love is the way to loving God with all your heart, soul and might.
The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor. Love your ornery neighbor, your Muslim neighbor, your atheist neighbor, your gay neighbor, your straight neighbor, your black neighbor, your white neighbor, your transgender neighbor, your rich neighbor, your poor neighbor. Love without condition. Love without reward. Just love.
Jesus told us that upon these two commandments rests all the law. The Kingdom of Heaven can be revealed here and now as each one of us simply chooses to love the one before us. The question is, what does love look like here?
Love looks like your hands, your feet, your words, your actions. Love looks like a heart open with compassion rather than shut down with defense. Love looks like a mind open to understanding rather than shut down with what you think you know. Love looks like a hand offered to help, a hug offered to heal, a kind word offered to uplift. Love looks like engagement with those who don’t think and act like you. It looks like reaching out to your brother or sister, not in condemnation, but in compassion. Love gives no power to fear. Love asks us to meet in the space of possibility and reveal the good in, through and as us in each moment.
Yes, my heart is heavy this morning. Yes my mind is overwhelmed with the news. And yet what choice is there but to ask once more, “How can I be love expressing in this moment?” This is the only choice I really have to make. This is the only choice that has the potential to heal this moment. This is what I choose to focus upon. Open, vulnerable, defenseless…there is no guarantee that I will not be hurt. But only as I center in love will I discover the power within me to move through the hurt with strength, peace and grace.
In spite of the pain and suffering, I know I live and breathe and have my being in love. This is the Kingdom waiting to be revealed. Not by a distant God, but a God expressing as each one of us. We are the ones that we have been waiting for. We are the ones with the power to reveal the good. We are the ones who have come here at this time to live and love. Choose to see a world of love. Choose to be love expressing.
This week, look for ways to be love in action. Give a smile. Offer a hug. Speak words of encouragement. Look for the good. Visit a nursing home. Read to a child. Set aside the need to be right. Let someone know, “You are loved!”
Abundant peace and blessings… Rev. Joanne
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.