When I was a child growing up and attending our local Methodist Church, we were encouraged to practice giving up something through Lent, as is the Christian tradition. As children, it was suggested we did not eat chocolate or sweets. Is this something you experienced as well?
Looking back, I do not remember if they told us the reason for doing this, except that it was a good practice. Giving up something we enjoyed would strengthen our minds and bodies. Probably because I did not get the deeper meaning, I generally gave up sweets, though I hardly ate them anyway! There was probably some deeper teaching but I have never remembered it, perhaps because I did not find it supportive.
Truthfully, I walked away from Church because I did not believe their basic teaching - we had to be fearful of God (do the right thing or go to hell) and that Jesus was the only son of God.
What has served me throughout my life is that I have always believed God is love and all of us are equally loved, because we are all children of God. My spiritual searching took me to different ways of experiencing this through practicing meditation, following A Course in Miracles and leading a study group in Neale Donald Walsh’s series, Conversations with God.
However, it was when I came to Unity in 2002, that I began to understand the deeper teachings of the Bible. This included the powerful message that really connected with me - Jesus is our example and guide, not the exception: Jesus taught that the love and power of God is within us all. (Read the Unity book by Eric Butterworth, Discover the Power Within You.) This helped me dive into the deeper meaning of Bible ideas and practices, including Lent (although the practice of Lent is a Christian idea, not found in the Bible as a teaching practice).
There is so much good found within the Bible, especially when we dive into the deeper meanings and teachings. They are potentially profound and life changing, if we can fully grasp the concepts and put them into practice.
Thus we come to the practice of Lent in Unity and what it means to us … Simply, we suggest that through prayer, study and reflection, we can give up the thoughts and feelings we recognise no longer serve us as human and spiritual beings, so that we can accept and take on our true identity. In Unity, we teach that we are all divine beings on human journeys of awakening into our divinity, expressing this in our own unique and amazing ways. This is done through serving, loving, encouraging and supporting ourselves, each other and our planet.
What a powerful message. How amazing it would be if every one of us were able to accept that we are all equal in God’s sight (mind/heart) – it makes no difference what is the colour of our skin, our sexuality, our political ideals or our faith. Instead of fighting each other and our own experiences, we would be more able to learn from and embrace our different viewpoints and experiences, using them to create a better world where we can all awaken to our inner beauty and light.
If you would like to join us in study to dive into this for yourself, book your place at our Home Retreat in February. We will discuss some of Unity’s ideas on Lent and put the practices into motion. We will also have our Lent booklet, which will be available to order from 14th February. This guides us beautifully through the practice of letting go of old beliefs and ideas to claim our beautiful, radiant identity as beloved and one with God.
Whatever you do, we encourage you to know that, first and foremost, you are divine and loved, just as Jesus came to show his people. Instead of believing the story that you are unlovable or unworthy, be open to the idea that you are so much more than you think you are and let the season of Lent help you know this more deeply for yourself.
Rev Kimerie Mapletoft
Director of Silent Unity and Daily Word UK
Unity in the UK