Greetings, Beloveds

I’m really looking forward to the self-discovery that our Annual Theme, “One God, Many Stories”, will provide each of us that chooses to engage to the extent our hearts are ready to receive the wisdom that will be drawn from us as the theme progresses. You’ll be learning more and more about it in the coming weeks.
A big part of it though, is really listening to what other people have to say.

In the coming year, you will all have an opportunity to listen to others’ stories and share your own, if you’d like to do so. Stay tuned for more information on that! But for now, I’d like to share my notes from this past Sunday, as I have had many requests. Our monthly topic for the theme is GRACE. Don’t forget, Sunday Talks can always be viewed on YouTube. Follow the link on the website, interested in revisiting a lesson. 😊

Notes from Talk, Our Story of Grace:

Amy Rees Anderson, Blogger:
“There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their whole story.” – Marjorie Hinckley

“We see people through a certain lens…we make snap judgments…we make assumptions about their lives from what we see on the outside…we get a first impression and we put them into a box to define them…

“But then when we get to know a person, and I mean truly get to know a person…their hopes, their fears, their insecurities, theirs hurts, their wishes, their regrets, their goals, their failures, their successes and we truly learn their whole story…well, we will find that it is difficult not to love them once we learn all they have been through in their lives.”

“The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.”
— Barack Obama

“But there for the grace of God, go I.” – common phrase heard in my Catholic childhood

Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford”, in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution.

A paraphrase from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:8–10, which states, “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am…”.

Proverb: there but for the grace of God go I

1. A recognition that others’ misfortune could be one’s own, if it weren’t for the blessing of the Divine, or for one’s luck.
2. Humankind’s fate is in God’s hands.
3. More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.

Usage notes
• This proverb is an expression of humility; in using it, a speaker acknowledges that outside factors (such as God’s grace, or his upbringing) have played a role in her/his success in life.
• The adverbial phrase is often set off with commas: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
• Used also to express that one cannot judge others for their flaws for we are all equally flawed.

Walk in Another’s Shoes? Reflections on Empathy, Power and Privilege
Tim Soutphommasane

Clearly, some people will be better than others at feeling empathy. Psychologists have found that empathy correlates with personality traits such as sensitivity, nonconformity, even-temperedness and social self-confidence. Some scholars even suggest there may be an ideological quality to the conditions of empathy . . . . to be sensitive to need and suffering, and to value caring for those who are vulnerable.

There are also people who are literally prepared to go much further than most to step into another’s skin. Perhaps the most extreme example involved the journalist John Howard Griffin. In 1959, Griffin, a white American, posed himself a question: “What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin colour, something over which one has no control?” With the help of a dermatologist, Griffin began taking a course of drugs and underwent extended ultraviolent treatments. In effect, he turned his skin from fair to dark.

For six weeks, Griffin travelled as a black man through the deep south – in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. He caught Greyhound buses; occasionally, he hitchhiked. He closely observed his treatment by his fellow Americans, particularly those who were white. His experiences would eventually be published as the book Black Like Me (1961). In it, Griffin grieves at how “my own people could give the hate stare, could shrivel men’s souls, could deprive humans of rights they unhesitatingly accord their livestock.” Griffin had seen his society from the eyes of another.

Welcoming Grace
By Rev. Margo J. Ford
Affirmation: Grace is an upward pull of the universe, lifting me to the heights of my divine nature.
Seeking the Meaning of Grace

St. Augustine said: “What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know.” If we asked a dozen people their definition of grace, we might uncover a dozen different answers including, “I don’t know.”

The Quest by Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla explains: “The gift is yours from God simply because you are God’s child. You didn’t have to earn it, and you don’t have to prove you deserve it. It is yours unconditionally. It comes with being part of creation. It is the gift of grace.”

Monk and mystic Thomas Merton wrote, “Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered into our souls to act as a kind of spiritual penicillin. Grace is unity, oneness within ourselves, oneness with God.”

In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the results of works.” And 2 Timothy 1:6 adds: “For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”

Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk living in the 19th century, put it this way: “God’s grace is always blowing, but you must raise your sail.” In other words, we must be open, receptive, and welcoming to the activity of grace within.

Victor Daley, the Australian poet, was being tenderly cared for in a Catholic hospital as he was dying. One of his last acts was to thank the nurses for all their kindness to him. “Don’t thank us,” the nurses said. “Thank the grace of God.” Very perceptively the poet asked, “But aren’t you the grace of God?”

Welcoming Grace

I invite you to remember the many times in which your life has been deeply touched by grace, and also the myriad ways in which you have been grace in the life of another. May you continue to experience and to be the upward pull of the universe, lifting you to the heights of your divine nature.
This month you may want to consider:

• How you would clearly explain your understanding of grace to someone else
• Experiences of grace in your life
• Ways you have shown up as grace in the world—the upward pull of the universe, lifting you to the heights of your divine nature

Charles Fillmore

“The grace of God,” says Charles Fillmore, “is greater than the laws of man. . . . To become recipients of that which the Father would bestow, we should take the element of grace into consideration; that even beyond what we ask, seek, earn, or deserve under the law, God is more than willing to give.

“God, as the great creative principle of the universe, will always meet us more than half way. By becoming receptive to the ‘grace of God,’ we receive the measure of God’s provision, which exceeds any of our imaginings.

Daily Word
Friday, August 31, 2018

The grace of God is like a flowing river—a wellspring of light, love, and abundance—that gently leads me through the circumstances of life. I don’t need to worry about why or how God’s grace is revealed. I trust that through it, I will I have the insight, resources, and skills to make good things happen in my life.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” These words from the apostle Paul to the Corinthians are a reminder that I have within me the necessities to live a free and abundant life. Whatever my need, whatever I am concerned about, I can be sure that through divine grace, the answer will be sufficient for me and those I care about. God’s grace is more than enough for me because I am the activity of God expressing as me.

By the grace of God I am what I am.—1 Corinthians 15:10

Blessings, All!
Hope to see you at Unity of the Sierra for more conversation on Grace . . . .

Love & Light,
Toni King, Spiritual Advisor