Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodness has everything to do with it

Are you struggling with something today? This week's Bible lesson may have your answer. I just shared some of its ideas with someone and decided that could be the basis for today's blog. Starting with the Golden Text and running all the way through is the fact of God's goodness. It blesses all of His ideas, eliminates the presence of anything unlike good, denies power to that which would claim to be able to harm us or those we love.

There is an interesting progression in the lesson. We begin with God showing Moses His goodness, letting it pass right before him. This was not literally face to face, but to show this was different from a vision or dream. In the next section, King Nebuchadnezzar is plagued by nighmares. He calls upon all his court wisemen to tell him what they mean but they insist that no one could possible do that. He orders them all put to death, but Daniel intervenes and offers to solve the mystery if the King will give him a little time. Daniel uses this time to pray, he does not attempt to figure it out by human means or methods, he turns to divine Mind. Daniel gets his answer and in turn gives it to the King. But before going to the King Daniel gives thanks to God for His goodness. The next few illustrations concern Jesus and his ability to see good present in all of God's children.

Try spending this day thinking about God's great goodness. Ponder how good fills all space, is the force behind all action, meets every need. Look for evidence of good around you. Know that you, as His image and likeness, reflect goodness yourself. Expect a good outcome.

Go in peace.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Different versions of the Bible

Thank you, anonymous, for that comment on a study for 2008. I love your idea to read a Bible through and the Message Bible is an excellent choice. Mrs. Eddy owned many Bibles and referred to them as she studied. I have about half a dozen myself. The Message Bible in modern English makes for comfortable reading. I have never learned to read another language but am told that it is a challenge to translate things from one language to another because words can have many meanings. I have read the Kings James version right through.

In 2008 I will be giving a series of Bible talks for an assisted living facility in a nearby town. Over the years I have done this in several places, not all Christian Science facilities. This one has a small group of residents of many faiths. I look forward to our walk through the Bible, focusing on the main characters. We begin in January with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Are any of you involved in Bible study groups? Many moons ago I went through the letters of Paul in Bible Study Fellowship at the invitation of a neighbor. Interesting to hear what others think of Paul and his writings. The best seminar I attended on Paul was given by Laura Pleming. I am also a big fan of Cobby Crisler's Bible talks.

Had a New Year's Day menu all planned but woke up this morning with a whole new concept so will redo my menu ideas. Should be a relaxed day, beginning with the traditional viewing of the Rose Parade. Our church group once got involved in decorating floats. Quite an experience.

Enjoy these last few days of 2007 and think of all the good things that came your way.

Go in peace.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Thoughts

Are you feeling optimistic about 2008? There was a time when I would walk along the beach with son Matthew at the end of December and we would share our thoughts about the coming year. It is a natural time to set some goals that we hoped to see realized in the coming year. I remember those talks as very positive.

So, just what is optimism? How does one view life as an optimist? Optimism is usually defined as a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation. Another definition is the belief that the universe is improving and that good will ultimately triumph over evil. That makes an optimist one who usually expects a favorable outcome. An early version of Webster's Dictionary gives this wonderful definition: "The opinion or doctrice that everything in nature, being the work of God, is ordered for the best, or that the ordering of things in the universe is such as to produce the highest good".

As a student of Christian Science, I start each day with a calming and comforting prayer for the awareness that acknowledges the allness of God, good. I stay with this until I can feel the presence of God and see how divine Love governs all situations. In a recent Sentinel article the writer felt that prayer can simply be a request to be shown what God has already supplied in abundance to everyone....since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good. (S&H 494) God is also divine Mind, the source of all intelligence, the answer to every challenge.

What most people want is to feel happy. Happy with themselves, the life, their career, their future. A happy person is a joy to be around as they radiate optimism. Because it is based on trusting in Good, an infallible, unfailing, reliable Good. My study of Christian Science and the ways it has impacted my life makes me happy.

After much prayer and listening I have gotten the answer for what I will be studying in 2008 for my own personal spiritual growth. As usual, having done this for over 25 eyars now, the answer was unexpected. I sometimes study Bible characters but that was not how I was directed for next year. As I listened and accepted that answer (I usually think 'that can't be right' the first few times and finally come to see that it is) many ideas came forth. This should be interesting. I will share with you in January. I hope you are thinking about how you can support your own spiritual growth in the coming year. Feel free to share that. I'd love to hear about it. If you haven't tried this, watch the blog in January and I will explain how I go about doing it.

Go in peace, with optimism.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas - Giving and Recieving

As a Journal listed practitioner I get mailings from all the CS facilities around the country. They usually contain inspiring reports of the many healings taking place and the scope of that healing work. Yesterday I got one from The Leaves, located near Dallas, Texas. It included reprints of two articles written by William McCracken, originally printed in the Christian Science Sentinels in 1916-1917.

The first was titled 'Giving and Receiving' and this sentence really stood out to me. It was referring to the response from the field to a call for funds when the extension was being built to The Mother Church. Many branch churches sent the whole of their own building funds. Later they were able to raise funds in unexpected and more expeditious ways. Mr. McCracken says, "They thus proved that by breaking seeming mortal law which attempted to declare that they could not affor to give, they promptly also broke the same law which was trying to prevent them from receiving". What a marvelous statement!

In the other article entitled "Reproving Sham Poverty" he refers to Jesus parable of the talents. We all have gifts and talents given to us by Our Father, although this parable was also about supply. He writes: "This requires, not the reduction of man's dominion but its enlargement, not contraction but expansion, not paucity of ideas but their multiplication, not burying talents but putting them out to interest".

I am so grateful for this 'daily bread' that shows up from unexpected sources and gives me the ideas I need to meet the demands of each day. Another article I was reading directed thought to more spiritual levels. It is on page 387 in S&H. "The history of Christianity furnishes sublime proofs of the supporting influence and protecting power bestowed on man by his heavenly Father, omnipotent Mind, who gives man faith and understanding whereby to defend himself, not only from temptation, but from bodily suffering". Supporting influence. Protecting power. Always present and available.

Go about this final weekend before Christmas filled with the true spirit of giving.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chrsitmas and gift giving

I plan to give all kinds of gifts today. My actual Christmas shopping is already done, most of the presents wrapped, those going out of state mailed. So what I want to do today is give freely and joyfully today.

I'll start with my morning prayers and strive to see everyone everywhere embraced in divine Love. There are so many ways to give. I can help with the hectic breakfast round here, lending a hand or a happy thought. As I go about my day I can let someone else go ahead of me in line, point somewhere to where they can find something, smile at a stranger, greet a friend warmly, show kindness, be a place of calm in the midst of chaos. I can take the time to pray for comfort and joy to those who seem without home or hope. I can walk above the storm and invite others into my peace.

Some gifts are for others. Some are for myself. I can stop what I am doing and fully appreciate the beauty of a Christmas carol playing on the radio. I can savor the moment when I open a Christmas card and read the message. I can prepare meals lovingly and with a full heart. I can be so grateful that most of my family is nearby. I can know that there is a special place in my heart and daily thoughts for those who do not. I can be aware of the many gifts God has already showered on me and know that Love is infinite. I can cherish my religion and the right to practice it freely. I can be happy with who I am right now.

See how many gifts you can bestow today. It feels wonderful.

Go in peace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas and Peace on Earth

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

As I listened to Vince Gill sing this carol on the radio this morning, I thought about what that means. Peace on earth begins within me, within my own concept. It stars with how I view myself, my family, my community, my church, my world. It includes all the definitions of peace.

Let it begin with me. Let me have a deep understanding that my life is so much more than just the absence of war or hostility. But that is a good way to start. Overall my life is free from open warfare or active hostility, but it is my job to keep it that way. No warring emotions or motives within myself, certainly no active hostility in my thought toward any person, place or thing. No animosity toward anyone or anything. Let it begin with me.

Peace also means inner contentment and serenity. I would pray about that with the first line of the 23rd Psalm. Peace means I shall not want or be wanting. Especially this time of the year when it is so tempting to wish I had a comfortable savings account, a reliable income stream, a checkbook full enough to buy presents for those I love. I don't have any of those things and haven't had them for the last five years or more. Yet, each Christmas I am pleased with what I can do for my family and friends. This morning I am thinking that the best gift of all is to exude that sense of peace around them during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Like ripples in a pond, that one pebble dropped in the water spreads outward and affects everything.

Let it begin with me. If I can understand clearly that I lack nothing and in fact am abundantly blessed with all good I can spread that sense of peace outwardly as well as feeling it inwardly. I have found the way of life that brings me contentment and strength and happiness and yes, peace.

Let it begin with me....and let it begin with you.

Go in peace.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas and Wonder

I hope that you are filled with wonder at this time of the year. There are two definitions of wonder. One is an emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding or marvelous. The other definition is a feeling of puzzlement or doubt. I pray you approach the holiday season with that first meaning and not the second. In the December 24th issue of the Christian Science Sentinel one writer says it this way: "To me, this quality, whether expressed by a child or an adult, indicates a thought filled with appreciation". Those who study and practice Christian Science agree with another idea she includes in the article, wonder-filled trust in God brings complete healing.

One of our local radio stations plays Christmas music beginning on Thanksgiving day and all the way to Christmas day. I listen to the carols all day long. It would be difficult to say which one is my favorite because I love so many of them. My son Jim played some new ones he found on the internet when I was over there yesterday baking cookies with grandson Sean. Some are so joyous you just have to smile when you hear them. Some are so powerful you just have to be still and listen, like hearing Julie Andrews sing Hark, the herald angels sing. This year I feel a special connection to Josh Groban's beautiful song from The Polar Express, "Believe". One lyric is 'you have everything you need if you just believe'. If you watch that Christmas special it is all about the sense of wonder.

This morning I was led to look closer at one of the Christmas carols that is found in our hymnal. Hymn 222 is O Little Town of Bethlehem. Yesterday I got an email from a Bible resource and research site. Their lead article was questioning where Jesus was born, Bethlehem or Nazareth. Eminent Bible scholars had written opposing opinions. As I read the words of that carol I can picture the scene. It filled me with wonder and also made me wonder who wrote it. So I looked it up in our hymnal concordance and notes book. The author was Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) and he is described as 'the most celebrated contemporary of Mary Baker Eddy during her foundational work in Boston'. To be honest, I never heard of him, but I am going to try to track down the biography referred to written by Bishop Lawrence, Brooks' successor. It begins with Phillips, at the age of 20, 6'4" tall, seeing himself as a failure after trying to teach boys in the Boston Latin School. His mother then encouraged him to take his first communion and then go on to divinity school. He is called to the Church of the Advent in Philadelphia. In 1865 the nation mourned Abraham Lincoln. Brooks' eloquent obituary was published. He spent Christmas of 1865 in Bethlehem, in Palestine and two years later a friend urged him to write a Christmas carol. He eventually became Bishop of Massachusetts. He said that prayer is not conquering God's reluctance, but availing ourselves of His willingness.

Today I will be thinking about wonder and keeping my sense of appreciation active.

Go in wondering peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas and the Star

To me, the star is a beacon, a guiding light, physical and spiritual. I tie it in with the first citation in this week's Bible lesson on God, the Preserver of Man. "The Lord our God, he it is that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed". (Joshua 24:17) What a wonderful passage and how practical it is when we apply it to our human experience.

There are three distinct types of thought. Where you choose to keep your thinking determines your experience. This passage identifies that first stage, the one where we view ourselves as slaves in 'Egypt', in servitude to a situation, held in bondage to a physical or financial condition. We have all had the 'Egypt' experience. But this is not the reality of Life.

Many find a way of 'being', the system of worship that works for them, and they follow this path out of that first level into the second. It is where we find ourselves in an improved situation, something we can live with or just accept as our lot in life. We wander around at this level, our basic needs met, but still in a 'desert' setting. This is not the reality of Life either.

That third level of understanding is when we realize who we are as the privileged children of God, with all that comes with it. It is when we can feel the presence of Good and know that we stand on holy ground, are in the secret place of the Most High, the Promised Land. In this place, this state of thought, there is no illness, no unhappiness, no lack, no bad relationships, no unsolved problems. When challenges arise, we can meet them with poise and confidence. When thought changes, there is healing and the physical or any other need is met.

The passage tells us that this applies to the way we go and the people we encounter. When we need direction, the way will be clear. If there seems to be blockage of some kind, it will clear. Progress is assured. In traffice. Planning your day. If we can't figure out how to do something, Mind shows us. This passage promises fruitful, pleasant encounters with the people we interact with today. Family. Friends. Customers. Students. Teachers. Sales people. Neighbors. Strangers. Church members.

Let this be your star today and through this holiday season. Expect good.

Go in peace.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas and the Magi

Magi is defined as the religious caste to which the Wise Men belonged. They traveled from the east to worship the infant Jesus. These men were not Jewish, so it is comforting right away to see that the salvation offered is for all mankind, extended to all people.

Since the early Middle Ages they have been called the Three Kings. Psalm 72:10 says "the Kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents". Isaiah 60:6 says "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord". These Kings were given the names of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The Magi were a priestly caste, one of the six tribes of Media. They worshipped the elements, fire, air, earth, and water. The Magi wore white robes with a tall felt cap. They interpreted dreams and omens.

They are mentioned in Matt 2:1 as Wise Men come from the east. They went to the ruler of that land to ask after the child, continued the search on their own, and found the little family guided by a star. Jesus was now a young child and they were living in a house. It was there that the Wise Men presented their gifts; gold, frankincense and myrr. The gold was probably put to good use when the little family has to flee to Egypt from Herod, determined to kill any threat to his rule. The Wise Men had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod. This could well have come from the angel Gabriel. They had done what they came to do, and departed back to their own country.

Frankincense is the fragrant gum of a tree. It is white in color and was an ingredient in the holy anointing oil with which priests were consecrated. Pure frankinsense was poured upon the loaves of bread left on the altar. Most of those trees grew in India and along the coast of Africa and Arabia. The frankincense itself is a gum resin which dries into 'tears' often an inch long with a balsamic odor, reddish in color when burnt.

Myrrh is a fragrant substance, another ingredient in the oil used to anoint priests. At the crucifixion it was offered to Jesus in wine, probably to deaden pain. It was also used for imbalming the dead. The tree from whose bark it was produced grew in Arabia. These were costly and precious gifts, valuable for trading when the family lived so long in Egypt.

One wonders how this trip changed the Magi. They must have been highly motivated to have traveled so far. They wanted to see with their own eyes this special child. How devoted are we to honoring the Christ and the Christmas season? How far would we travel, even in thought, to be close to the Christ? Does it change your life to know those great tidings? How wise are we in the way we spend this day?

We move on next to the star. It had quite an impact on those who saw it and understood.

Go in peace.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas and the Shepherds

Loving the 23rd Psalm as I do, I love the shepherds that are part of the Nativity. One Bible resource says that they might have been guarding the Temple's sheep. At that point in biblical life animals were sacrificed and given as burnt offerings to send a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Only those sheep that were perfect and free of blemishes, the very best of the flock, were used. They were guarded by those shepherds who were the most spiritual and devout. How appropriate that Gabriel should bring them these 'glad tidings'. No more would there need to be such sacrifices for God was sending His own son to give his life once and for all. And that life would not end in death but in resurrection and ascension.

Shepherds are watchers. Mrs. Eddy often writes that we are to watch and pray. The shepherds devote their life to the care and protection of their flock. They are wakeful shepherds through the night. They see the dawn before those who are asleep. How beautiful that night sky must have been. If you have ever been able to get away from the city and watch the stars undimmed by city lights, it is an amazing sight. One truly glimpses infinity. Imagine that sky filled with luminous stars with one very special star right over Bethlehem. My Matthew used to work at Griffith Observatory. Each holiday season they would have a display about what that star might have been. We'll be expanding on the Nativity with the Magi next and what the stars meant to them.

Gabriel, that busy angel, appears to the shepherds, who are at first fearful. He reassures them, this is not something to fear but a great and wonderful moment. Great tidings of joy. And as they listen to his message, more angels sing out in a heavenly choir. We can have this same experience as we watch for the true meaning of Christmas. The whole world changed with the arrival of that child.

The shepherds went into Bethlehem to see this for themselves. No camera crew present, no media coverage at all. Very few actually knew. And many of them kept quiet about it, protecting Jesus and his family. Those shepherds must have gone back into the hills afterward with much to think about.

When we see evidence of divine Love present in our life, when we see the good in others, when we trust God's maginficent plan, we are being good shepherds. And Gabriel can speak with us as he did with them. Good tidings. The greatest gift ever given. For you.

Go in peace.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas and angels

As one studies the details of the Nativity, there are busy angels all through it. Mrs. Eddy defines angels in part as 'God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect." As spiritual messages and messengers few angels are identified by name. But there are several archangels and those mentioned in Science and Health are Gabriel and Michael. Mrs. Eddy interprets their purpose in a way that helps me recognize them, even when they are not named. She says Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength, leading the hosts of heaven against the power of the enemy. Gabriel has a different task, he is the bringer of good tidings, the one who assures those in trouble the Love is a very present help.

In the Nativity, Gabriel speaks first with Zacharias and then his wife Elizabeth bringing the good news that despite years of being barren they are to become parents. Their child will be John the Baptist who will be great in the sight of the Lord and filled with the Holy Ghose. John will baptist with water and prepare thought for the Messiah. Once Elizabeth hears this news she hides herself away for five months. Surely to protect this very special thing that has occured.

Gabriel is sent next to Mary to tell her that she is the virgin from the lineage of David who has been chosen to bear the Messiah. This must have been quite a message for Mary to take in. Gabriel tells her what no one else knows, Elizabeth is pregnant, so Mary goes immediately to see her. When she greets her with joy for the news the angel brought, Elizabeth feels the baby move in her womb. Elizabeth seems to also know about Mary's own news, and that must have come from Gabriel as well. Mary stays with her for three months and then goes home.

We continue the Nativity in Matthew where Gabriel appears to Joseph, who must have been a bit surprised to find Mary three months pregnant. He is reassured, but a new wrinkle appears with the tax imposed by Caesar Agustus. They must travel to Bethlehem where Joseph registers to pay the tax. It is in Bethlehem that Gabriel visits with the shepherds keeping watch over their flock at night. He tells them not to be afraid, he is bringing them wonderful news. The long-awaited Messiah has been born!

There is no reason to think Gabriel visited the Magi. They knew of the birth of Messiah by reading the stars. We will get to the star another day. The last mentions of heavenly visitors is when Gabriel returns to tell Joseph that they must flee into Egypt to avoid Herod's murderous decree. Years later, he will let them know it is safe to return and then they go back home to Nazareth.

So can we expect to hear from Gabriel this holiday season? Yes. As you go through the holiday season there will be many times you need that quiet assurance of the presence of divine Love. At family gatherings. When you are feeling frazzled by crowds. As the list of presents you want to give exceeds your budget. Don't think for one minute that the Antichrist is not busy, especially during the Christmas season, to stir up trouble, discontent, and unhappiness. He will use every trick in his book to turn our attention away from the feelings we have for our siblings, our spouses, our parents, our children, our friends, our coworkers, our church.

Although we haven't mentioned him much, this is where Michael comes in. Know that he is ready and willing to fight those battles, to protect you and your feelings, to guard your love for family and friends, to use all the mighty power he has to help you keep Christmas. Thanks to Michael we can feel all of our goodwill to our fellow man.

Go in peace, accompanied by angels.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

drop that burden

Tis the season. If you are beginning to feel a bit burdened, this might help.

A writer tells of his Mom, who was an anxious person. He would talk with her about this, trying to convince her of the uselessness of fretting, but to no avail. One morning she came down to breakfast wreathed in smiles. He asked her what had happened, and she told him that in the night she had a dream.

She was walking along a highway with a great crowd of people who all seemed tired and burdened. They were all carrying little black bundles. She noticed there were beings dropping these black bundles for the people to pick up and carry. Like the others, she had her needless load and was weighed down. After a while she saw a man with a bright and loving face, passing through the crowd, comforting the people.

At last he came near her. She looked up and told him how tired she was. He smiled and said, "My dear child, I did not give you these loads, you have no need of them. They are just the devil's burdens. Just drop them and you will be borne on eagle's wings". At this point she awoke and was filled with a sense of peace and joy. From that day on she was the most cheerful member of the household.

Are you the most cheerful member of your household? Drop those burdens. They are not coming from divine Love. You don't have to pick them up, much less carry them. Love will carry them for you.

Go in peace.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh, I see

I wondered why the story of Philip and Simon of Samaria was in this week's lesson. Well, of course, it was because Simon was a sorcerer. According to Dummelow's Bible Commentary the graphic details of Philip's ministry were obtained from Philip himself. Most of the Book of Acts are eye witness accounts and interviews that Luke collected. Luke stayed at Philip's house in Caesarea and met his four daughters, who were considered prophetesses. Paul spent three years in prison at Caesarea and that may have been when Luke stayed with Philip.

The people of that city had long been in awe of Simon's sorcery and believed him to be powerful. But once they heard Philip speak the good news of Jesus' life and resurrection, they chose instead to follow his teachings and were baptised, washed clean of their former beliefs in sorcery. This change occured because of the healing works Philip performed, what appeared to them to be miracles.

There are any number of public figures these days who seem to generate public worship. More and more we are seeing their immoral acts brought to light and they are being held accountable for their behavior. Those who formerly admired them, even patterning their ideas of success or beauty from them, begin to rethink their models. It is easy to be 'bewitched' by some new fad diet or get-rich-quick scheme, presented with sincerity by a spokesperson. But we need to stay awake and alert to such as Simon. Yet, even Simon was changed when he came into contact with the real thing.

The nativity is the real thing. Cherish every aspect of it as Christmas is less than a month away.
It has relevance in your life. Are you a wakeful shepherd or a Maji, studying to find deeper truth? Are you awaiting the birth of a new idea? Are you singing hymns and Christmas carols in honor of the season? Are you excited about what it all means?

Go in peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Nativity - Prophecy

T0 appreciate all the details of the Nativity it is interesting to see just what prophecy was given in the Old Testament. If you read this story in Matthew's Gospel, you can see how he follows each occurance with a reference from earlier writings. Many things were foretold about the Messiah and his appearing. In Isaiah's writings he tells that the Lord will give a special sign, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. Isaiah also said that the Messiah would be born of the stem of Jesse, David's father. Jesus was later referred to as the son of David because of that prophecy. That would indicate his lineage and prepare them for Mary's part in the story. In Micah 5:2 we are told where the birth would happen with this prophecy:...thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.

Matthew's Gospel was written for the Jews and includes hundreds of references to the Old Testament. Luke's Gospel was written for the Gentiles who would have had no familiarity with the Old Testament or Jewish beliefs. Mark's Gospel is the memoirs of Peter and opens with Jesus as an adult. John's Gospel is the most spiritual and does not give the details of the nativity.

So I studied this story with Matthew and Luke, a nicely balanced telling. Matthew writes what he gathered from the years he spent as a chosen disciple of the Master. Luke was a physician and historian. His gospel is made up of first hand accounts. He no doubt spoke with Mary and could add things Matthew did not know.

The average Jewish man would have been schooled in the prophecies concerning the Messiah and his much anticipated appearance. Jewish women were not allowed to study scripture but attended Sabbath services hidden behind screens. They would have heard things the Rabbi taught as well as things that were discussed in their household. They believed the Messiah would come, that he would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and be of the lineage of David. All this would verify the gospels.

I have to ask myself what I believe about the Messiah. Two thousand years later his name and message has spread all over the globe. It's hard to imagine the actual event happening so quietly and humbly, with so few witnesses. It would be many years before this blessed child grew to manhood and began his work. Yet I can feel the wonder of it every December. Some part of me wishes I could have been there. I'd like to think I would have recognized him. No matter. I know him now and honor him. Like a reformed Scrooge, I can say truthfully that I try to 'keep Christmas' in my heart all year long.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Nativity and the Christmas Season

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day, with a sweet church service, a delicious feast, and dessert with more family and friends. It was the start of a great weekend. The kids went camping and I had the house to myself for some quiet reflection. Then I put away Thanksgiving and set out Christmas decorations as I listened to Christmas music.

A few years ago I came across Mrs. Eddy's reference to the Nativity in Prose Works. She wrote: "It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize the nativity of Jesus". I took that to heart and spent the next year reading the nativity as it appears in the Gospels, the references from the Old Testament, and what Mrs. Eddy had to say. It was a year of appreciation for this holiest of stories. So I think I will share some of what I learned in the Blog over the next few weeks, along with insights from studying our weekly Bible lesson.

When I did my study I wrote down the elements of the Nativity and then each month studied parts of it. For me, the essence of the Nativity is the prophecies, the angels, the shepherds, the Magi, the star, Mary and Joseph. Tomorrow I will start with the prophecies.

This week's Bible lesson is all about "How Not to be Fooled' by the suggestions of mortal mind or what Mrs. Eddy calls animal magnetism. Hypnotism was very much the rage in her day and was studied by scientific committees with members like Benjamin Franklin. Mesmerists attracted huge crowds. Seances were a popular evening entertainment. Mrs. Eddy helps us handle the power of suggestion twice a year, when this topic comes up in the rotation.

This time the emphasis is on seeing that there is one God and His creation and nothing else. No other power. We are reminded of how He protects us with selections from the 91st Psalm. I worked today with the references to 'noisome pestilence' and 'snare of the fowler'. Those are malicious speech or the destroying word, that which cuts and stings. We don't want to be on the receiving end or, heaven forbid, the one speaking that way. Nothing else is present but good and with good filling all space nothing evil can happen to you. You also cannot be caught by subliminal advertising, or blantant efforts to influence your spending. You cannot get caught up in some soap opera view of life, for yourself or for your friends. You cannot be tempted to try fad diets.

My favorite sentence this week is "God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power". What an amazing concept.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Acts 3:1-10

This week's Bible lesson is about Soul and body. I like to think of Soul as awareness. And what Soul is aware of is perfection, goodness, wholeness, untouched by accident or birth defects, time or space. A wonderful example of this is given in Acts. We read about a man who has been unable to stand or walk his whole life. We are not given specifics but he was unable to support himself physically or financially. So his whole life he had been carried to a place outside of the temple, a gate where others were able to enter and pray. He sat there all day begging. Everyone in the city knew him. One day he sees Peter and John approaching and he asks them for money . But Peter asks him to look at them. This was a demand for his undivided attention. It says he did this, expecting to recieve something from them. But Peter is offering him something of lasting value, the ability to make his own way. Now I am assuming that this man must have heard all about Jesus; his life, his healing (including making the lame walk). Peter, by referring to Jesus Christ by name, is giving this man a frame of reference for the type of healing that was done in his name. Peter wants this man to 'rise up', not just physically but mentally, to lift his thought and see himself as Jesus would have seen him. To, in effect, be reborn and freed from the belief of birth defect or accident. To make his point, Peter takes him by the hand and lifts him up. The words are immediated followed by action. It's clear what Peter's expectation was. He must have seen Jesus do this many times. And the results were immediate. No need to learn how to get his balance, no physical therapy needed for those muscles, no time to build up strength to support his weight. His feet and ankles were perfect and he stood. Now it was important to move out of that place and he walked and then he leaped and then, for the first time in his life, he went into church. What a scene it must have been. All those who had seen this man grow up in the shadow of the temple, now saw him praising God inside it. They were filled with wonder.

Such healing is possible today. We need to look at the Christ, the Comforter who has come to show us our true identity as the child of God. We need to reach out for the healing, and when we feel the change we need to take a stand. We need to see that our life is in perfect balance, no lack of time or money or health. Stable on a solid foundation. We need to accept our strength, our full ability to understand Truth and demonstrate it. We need to move forward, and as we do so, to joyously thank God. It starts with admitting what is possible, in fact, inevitable. Truth is powerful and undeniable. What an awesome healing to dwell on today.

Go in peace in full awareness.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sarah's fault

As I studied this week's Bible lesson, I was a bit surprised to see the story of Abraham and Sarah. I read the passages about Abraham and Sarah, 85 & 75 years old, on their way to the Promised Land. Abraham does not seem to have had second thoughts about obeying God's direction to do so. But he is not as confident that they would have any children. Have you ever had to wait a long time for something you believe God will grant you to show up? Has it ever seemed like that window of opportunity had closed? Surely Sarah's ability to have children seemed unfruitful. One way was possible. If Sarah held her servant while she bore the Master a child, Sarah could claim it as her own. She presents this idea to her husband, they promote Hagar to second wife and the desired child, Ishmael, is born. But their lack of faith in God's promise led to very unhappy consequences. Has that ever been the case for you?

We pray and pray, asking God for something, feeling like He is going to grant it, and then run out of patience waiting for it. We have outlined how this thing will happen, what avenue, what person, what event. When it doesn't appear in that form, we take matters into our own hands. The result rarely satisfies.

In this story the real issue is in a false sense of man as the creator. The expected child is God's idea, already formed in Mind, perfect and complete, with a unique place in the divine plan. 13 years after Ishmael's birth, God reminds Abraham of the original promise and a child comes to them who is Isaac. The promise was kept in God's own time and way.

I often use the definiton of patience - expecting good calmly - when giving Christian Science treatments. The process of refining gold is also mentioned in this section of the lesson. Great heat is applied to the raw gold causing the dross to rise to the surface and disappear. It can be quite a show of sparks. You may have encountered something like that when you are working out a problem. Right in the midst of prayer, the situation seems to accelerate, get worse. But it could just be this process of seeing the impurities and worthless or trivial thoughts being removed to leave behind the pure gold, precious metal. Mrs. Eddy tells us the result of this is 'enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace'. Good rewards. Worthy of a little patience.

Go in peace.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I just finished reading The Copper Scroll by Joel Rosenberg. It is the fourth in a series of books about the Dead Sea Scrolls and this one focuses on the famous copper scroll found in the same area but entirely different from the Scriptural fragments found. The copper scroll is a mysterious listing of the treasures from the first and second Temple built in Jerusalem. Among the things sought is the Ark of the Covenant. This book is about following the clues and what is in the Scriptures. It was a good read. I had seen a special on the history channel about that scroll and how archeologists are working to decipher its meaning. I've long felt that if only we could find a way for peace in the Middle East so that those ancient sites could be excavated, there are probably many things that might come to light.

I do not have to see the Ark to believe that it existed, and probably still does, somewhere in the world. I do not have to see the original tablets to believe in the Ten Commandments. I don't have to see God to believe that He is very real and that He cares deeply about me. I know this and have known it all my life. But my study of Christian Science has opened up so much of the Scriptures and shown me how to make their teachings practical in my day to day life.

I am a different person than I was in my twenties, thirties and so on. Everyone once in a while something comes up to show me how far I have advanced in my spiritual journey. Everyone once in a while I see how far I have yet to go. But it is a wonderful passage.

go in peace

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's not how many talents you have

Jesus told a parable about three men entrusted with talents by their common master. Later they were called to account for what they did with those talents. The first two went right to work and doubled their master's investment. But the third, given one talent, buried it because he was afraid he might lose it. The point of the story is not to worry about the talent you've been given. Instead, focus on making the most of what you have got. Mrs. Eddy wrote "In order to apprehend more, we must put into practice what we already know....If faithful over a few things we shall be made rulers over many.

Are you wishing you were taller or wealthier or smarter, that you had more responsibility, that your talents were recognized by others? Don't be made to overlook your unique gifts and talents. Comparing yourself to others, feeling we don't measure up to other's achievements or successes, leads down the wrong path of thinking. In fact, it can become a dead end.

Being faithful over what you do have and have to give helps silence negative thinking and discouragement. We must deal with this or it leads to envy, jealousy, and general unhappiness. Remind yourself of just who you are trying to please, and it should be God. Accepting the suggestion that you are inadequate is criticizing God's creation. It is accepting an imperfect image and likeness. If you want to move forward, be sure your steps are upward.

God is not comparing you to anyone else. He is very satisfied with His work and He loves you just the way you are. Return the favor and learn to love yourself for His name's sake.

Go in peace

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Never take 'no' for an answer

A woman once came to Jesus to ask for healing. She was a Canaanite. Now there was a history here, two races that hated one another. The children of Israel had attempted to wipe out her people when they arrived to settle the Holy Lands. A thousand years later that enmity was as strong as ever. So it says something about her that she believed in this man and his ability to heal enough to leave her comfort zone and go to him. But when she finds him, she asks him to have mercy on her for her daughter is grieviously vexed with a devil. I can sympathize. I raised three kids and am currently caring for my 4-month-old 'grand' during the day. Maybe she was asking for the patience and love to deal with the situation. Whatever her motive, Jesus does not answer her. That seems so unlike him. Yet, surely he knew the need. His disciples didn't show either compassion or patience. Their recommendation was for him to tell her to go away. He doesn't do that either but reminds them that he had come to save those lost sheep of the Children of Israel. She must have heard that but still she did not give up and go away. She comes closer and worships him, addressing him as Lord. He says that it would not be right to take what is meant for the Jews and give it to those who do not believe. But her answer to that is given in true humility. He has just compared her to a dog and yet she is willing to take whatever crumbs of comfrot he will give her. At last, her persistence is rewarded because her faith was so great. Rewarded beyond what she may have envisioned, for instead of granting her fortitude to deal with a possessed child, he healed the child and removed the source of the problem altogether.

In the same section of this week's Bible lesson there is a quote from II Corinthians: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new". That is one of the things I love about Christian Science. All those old habits and long held ideas can be changed, they can just drop away. That woman's child was healed in that very hour of something that must have been there for a long time. I am always alert to any place in the Scriptures where 'behold' is used. It is a call to really pay attention, because what is going to be said next is of major importance. Behold. See this. Turning to the Christ, choosing to see ourselves as God sees, makes things new.

This time of the year, many trees drop their leaves. An article I read explained that it happens because the new bud that will develop into a new leaf, is now formed and it pushes the old one out of the way. The old one drops off and the new one is established in its place, ready to come to full bloom at the right time. Things become new.

Don't take 'no' for an answer, persist with your prayers, God hears you and He keeps His promises.

Go in peace.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Japhet - and an enlarged sense of home

An article from this month's Journal gave me much food for thought today. I especially liked it because it focused on a Bible character I knew little about. Japhet is one of Noah's two elder sons. He was with him in the Ark and later, with his brother, covered their father's nakedness out of respect and love as he lay asleep. As a result, Japhet recieved a special blessing - the promise of an enlarged dwelling place. Mrs. Eddy included Japeth in her glossary and defines him as a type of spiritual peace, flowing from the understanding that God is the divine Principle of all existence, and man is His idea, the child of His care.

The writer of the article worked with this definition at a time when he needed to enlarge his concept of home, having an urgent need to find a new place. He had made this kind of demonstration in the past and was confident he could again but weeks passed and he was becoming discouraged. Our family moved often when the kids were small and we always found just the right place to meet our needs. I credit my study of Christian Science with making those many moves (24 in 33 years) smooth and harmonious. God's provision for us was unfailing and it may have helped the kids when they later went to Principia for high school. They knew how to fit in with new friends in a new place. A sense of home has always been important to me and I work on my spiritual concept of what qualities it should include.

The need was met for the author in an unexpected way when a small furnished flat became available. He had restricted his search to unfurnished places but the prospective landlord like him so much that he agreed to store the furniture.

I've studied many aspects of the story of Noah and the ark, but never really thought about what it must have been like to settle in a new place and set up a new home. I look forward to the holidays in this new home and have enjoyed setting out my holiday decorations for all to enjoy. In this last move I actually have an enlarged bedroom/office, an enlarged bathroom (all to myself!), and an enlarged closet/storage area. God is good. There is even an enlarged yard, although it presents challenges of its own. Houses are being completed and slowly neighbors are moving it. It feels very much like home already.

I have no idea at this point what further moves lie ahead for me, or where that might lead, but as I continue to cherish a right idea of home and all it contains I know there are no backward steps and Love will keep me dwelling in the house of Lord. Like Japhet, we are promised the blessing of an enlarged place. And that can apply to relationships, family, career, finances, and church as well.

Go in peace, child of His care.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Our boundless basis

This week's Bible lesson includes this sentence from Science and Health: "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis". That really stood out to me this morning and I'd like to share how I might work with this statement as I pray with others today.

For example, if the challenge were a financial one, using this idea let's see what God is doing for us today. God, good, is expressing in (insert your name here) the infinite idea of supply. God is the source of all good and there is no way we could ever use up all of something that originates with Him. This idea of supply and abundance is forever developing itself, that means it isn't something we have to do or be responsible for. That's God's job. One definition of develop is to bring from latency to fulfillment. Another one is to aid in the growth of. God is forever developing this idea of supply and expressing it for us, to us and through us. It broadens, spreads out, increases. The concept of income is not limited to one source, such as a regular paycheck. Divine Love supplies our needs in an endless, exciting and amazing number of ways. Broaden your thought of that income stream. Lift your idea higher. We'd all like to see our check book balance higher, our savings account higher, our return on investments higher. Just what is it you are investing in? God is investing in you. I love Lego's. I loved watching my kids and now my 'grands' build intricate structures. They could make them as big as they wanted by simply adding more Legos to the foundation. They understand that they are building on a boundless basis. Think of your source of supply that way.

Now this whole concept can be applied to health, relationships, abilities, understanding, confidence, patience. Whatever it is you are dealing with right now. Recognize that God, who loves you more than you could ever imagine, is doing this for you today. He is expressing Himself by pouring out endless blessings on you. Do you think divine Mind will ever run out of ideas? No, because there is an infinite number of them available and they will continue to develop forever. And you are the beneficiary. You are the beloved heir. You are the cherished child.

Remember to say thank you.

Go in peace.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking

In working our way through a problem using prayer and expecting healing we are learning something about God and our relationship to Him, coming to understand His great love, care and tenderness. I read once that in taking shelter from the storm under a tree, one may find on its branches unexpected fruit. Fruit one had not even been looking for. In seeking shelter under the shadow of God's wing we find more about God than we knew before, revelations of what had been true all along. Sometimes this prayerful wrestling allows us to see Him face to face.

This week's Bible lesson is about Adam and Fallen Man, the second account of creation given in Genesis. In that version, after God creates Adam from the dust, He puts him into a deep sleep. We are never told that he awakens. In Christian Science pray using the first account of creation where God saw everything that He had made and it was very good. Each of us has to decide which version we accept as the real one. It has a direct bearing on what we believe to be true about the Creator and His creation.

When someone calls me as a Christian Science practitioner to pray with them and for them about a problem, we are praying to understand just what it means to be the image and likeness of God and to know that He sees us as He created us, not just good but very good. We have not somehow fallen out of this state and need to be returned to it, but pray for the revelation that we have never been less than the child He created. Taking a lesson from that second version we might wonder just who or what is it that is telling us something different. That 'serpent' thought that whispers and argues for the presence of something God did not create, the opposite of good.

Just how did that temptation overpower Eve? Three suggestions. It tempted her by saying that if she believed the lie it would make her better, that this was a good idea to take into her thought and her body. Are you dealing with suggestions along those lines? A second suggestion was that this was pleasant to the eyes. Wouldn't we all want something that looks really delicious, even if we don't know what it is? Most of the diets I hear about promise you wonderful tasting shakes or meals as part of their plan. It might be in a new form or certain portion but they strive to make it look really good. It went on to promise some new knowledge that would make her smarter than she had been, inform her of something she did not already know about. As the true image and likeness of divine Mind we already include all right ideas. Why would we ever choose to become familiar with something coming from another source? But, faced with all that clever advertising, Eve gave in...and took Adam with her.

Remember, interesting as their history is, we are not part of the Adam dream. We stay in the first account of creation. No whisperers there, no false temptations, no promises of something not having its source in good. We have never fallen from grace so there is no reason to pray to be returned to that state. We're already there! We don't pray for all diet methods to disappear, we just pray to see that they cannot falsely tempt us to rely on them for happiness or wholeness or health.

You have never been put to sleep, so to speak. There's a good beginning for your prayers.

Go in peace.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pray without ceasing - and then what?

Yesterday I spent the day 'praying without ceasing'. It was an amazing day. This morning I remembered an incident in the Bible that seems the perfect follow up and answers the above question.

In Chapter 12 of the Book of Acts things had been heating up and Herod began persecuting members of this fledgling church. He arrested Peter, their leader, and put him in prison. He assigned many soldiers to keep him there, intending to have him put to death the next day. While this was going on 'prayers were made without ceasing' on his behalf.

Peter, bless his heart, had fallen asleep. He was chained between two soldiers and several more were on guard duty. An angel comes to him, bringing light into the prison. Light chases away darkness and fear. But, bright as it was, it did not awaken Peter. The angel had to poke him in his side, telling him to arise quickly. Lift up your thought as well as your body. And as he did so, the chains fell off. Wouldn't you love that! Here is another result of prayers made for you without ceasing. Whatever it is that is binding you, holding you captive in thought or body, falls away. The angel has more instructions, as Peter must have been just standing there. He is to put on his shoes and his clothes. This prepares thought for action, get ready to move! Expect to be lead forward. Dressed and ready, Peter is told to follow the angel, but he seems to have thought it was all a dream.

They left the prison and came to the gate of the city. Prayer without ceasing lets you leave that which seems to confine you. When Peter was awake and aware, the angel left him. Peter can see clearly that he has been freed from Herod's threats and from those who wished him harm.

What happened next is actually pretty funny, but continues the lesson about praying without ceasing. Peter arrives at Mark's house and knocks on the locked door. A little girl, actually named, which is unusual in the Bible, recognizes his voice. But she doesn't open the door! She runs to tell those who are busy praying. Do they rejoice in this evidence of healing? No. They tell her she is mad. Meanwhile Peter continues pounding on the door until they go to who it is. And they were astonished. Astonished? Why? Isn't this what they had spent all day and night praying for? There must come a time in your prayers that you expect results, and rejoice in the evidence of your healing.

Mrs. Eddy writes that prayer is the constant, conscious capacity to understand God. So praying without ceasing isn't really that difficult. If fear has gotten the better of you, call for some support. A Christian Science practitioner is committed to answering those calls 24/7/365. With a little practice, you will find yourself aware of God's presence. You will see that Principle's laws are always operating on your behalf. Mind is constantly knowing you as whole and happy. Soul keeps all your faculties working perfectly. Spirit is your true substance so you can never lack anything. Life is ever active and you reflect all right activity. Truth instantly cancels any error that tries to insist you are separated from God. Love is cherishing you, protecting you, and comforting you at all times and under all circumstances.

Go in peace.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Talking with God

Yesterday, I spent much of the day in communication with God. It was a concerted effort to keep my thought uplifted and at one with the presence of divine good. I thanked Love often for the many evidences I saw around me of Love's provision. I was grateful for the evidence of divine Mind where I saw intelligence, wisdom, a knowing of good. There were moments of pure delight in the little things and deep appreciation for the big things as well.

It reminded me of two articles I read long ago. One was about a woman's ability to pray without ceasing. That comes from one of Paul's letters where that is the instruction he gives to one of the fledgling churches. This woman turned every simple act of her day into a prayer. When she awoke, she thanked God for life; when she brushed her teeth, she prayed for a clean mouth without angry or judgemental words utterly all day and sweetness going forth. When she put on her makeup, she affirmed that the 'lines were fallen unto her in pleasant places'. As she got dressed, she knew she was putting on the 'whole armor of God' from another of Paul's messages. She went through the whole day aware of Love's presence in all she did.

The other article described how to be in Our Father's presence all day, even if we cannot stop and be quiet in prayer. The writer said, "It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right".

What is important is to be conscious that every thing I do is touched by divine Love and that I have Love's blessing and approval. God loves me just as I am. And He should. He made everything wonderful. God made me. So that makes me (and you) wonderful too.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Parable of the Lost Coin

I just love this one. It comes from luke 15:8,9. "What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found that piece which I had lost."

So much to work with here. First of all, the woman had not really lost the money, she had just lost sight of it. It was there in her house all the time. In Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of the 23rd Psalm she defines house as consciousness. So sometimes we are praying about something we feel we have lost; an article, a friendship, a loved one, car keys, a memory, our purity or innocence. We may think we lost something by making a poor choice, or by circumstances beyond our control. No matter, it appears to be gone. But through prayer we can see that we never really lost whatever it was, we just lost sight of it.

In Bible times women were given coins when they married. These were not to spend but were usually sewn onto a scarf. This was no ordinary penny that had disappeared, but something of great value to this woman. So much so that she went to great lengths to find it. First she lights a candle. Perhaps it will be easier to spot if the shadows are illuminated. When we pray we are bringing the light of Truth to a situation, the truth about God as good and filling all space. God as Mind always knowing where His ideas are. Light dispells darkness, prayer lightens our thought. But she still hasn't spotted the coin. Next she sweeps the house. Thinking of house as consciousness we can see this as clearing away all the cobwebs or old thinking that have been allowed to remain untended. Sweep it all out, bring a sense of order and purity in its place. Still no coin. Does she give up having taken a few steps? Do we? She now searches diligently, she perseveres, takes the time to continue searching. I think this shows an expectation of finding it. Admitting that it is still possible to get it back. And she does. Phew!

But that is not the end of the parable, nor should it be the end of our work. She shares this good news with her friends and neighbors. We do this when we give a testimony at our Wednesday service or send it to the periodicals for publication. We are expressing our gratitude. That should be to God first, and then with others. You never know when what you share is exactly what someone else needs to hear. Right then or some time later. The light she used enabled her to see more clearly. Prayer enables us to see ourselves as God sees us. Never dealing with loss or grief or lack. Complete. Whole. Joyous.

When she found that coin it had lost none of its value. It had not been tainted or flawed. It remained perfect and had its full value. So do we, as we discover our true identity as God's very image and likeness.

Go in peace.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Have you met the Tate family?

I was cleaning out some files and came across this article. I wish I had made a note of its origin but I didn't.

You may have heard of the Tate family. They're in every organization. There is Dic Tate, who wants to run everything. Ro Tate is always trying to change things; Agi Tate stirs up trouble whenever possible - with the help of Irri Tate, who is always there to lend a hand. Every time new ideas are suggested, Hesi Tate and Vege Tate are there to say they can't possibly work. Imi Tate justs wants to copy other organizations and never try anything new. Devas Tate loves to be disruptive and Poten Tate wants to be a big shot. But it's Facili Tate, Cogi Tate and Medi Tate who always savet the day and get everyone pulling together.

Had fun searching for information about a Bible character that shows up in this week's lesson. The name Ephraim is mentioned twice in the Responsive Reading. Turns out that Ephriam is the younger of Joseph's two sons, born to him during his time in Egypt. Once his brothers learn this he is alive and well, Joseph tells them to break this news to their father and bring Jacob to Egypt for the remaining years of the famine. Before he dies, Jacob or Israel, blesses the two boys, but he gives the birthright to Ephraim, not to Manesseh who is actually the first born. The descendents of Ephriam are known by that tribal name and they settle in the northern part of the Promised Land many years later, after Moses leads the people there. They have a hard time of it and sometimes choose to go their own way, but God never deserts them, but shows them mercy.

I am praying with the definition of the word mercy as it appears all through this lesson about Everlasting Punishment. It means compassionate treatment, clemency; alleviation of distress. I like to think of Our Father showing us that kind of tenderness. Mercy.

Go in peace.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Time apart to pray

"He went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when evening was come, he was there alone." (Matt 14:23)

There are times when we would all love to be able to just get away from everyone and every thing and be alone and quiet. One can only imagine what it must have been like during the three year ministry, when word of his healing ability had spread and he was besieged by the multitudes from dawn to dusk.

When we are confronted with a multitude of problems or a flood of negative thoughts we crave the mountaintop attitude, the lifting up of thought that brings us closer to God, divine Love, where we can find comfort and answers and healing. I have climbed few actual mountains in my life but have had an increasing number of mountaintop moments. I imagine that the air is very clear up that high, that one has a panoramic view, that it is quiet. When I pray, take the time to be closer to my Father, I gradually get to that place. I truely commune with Him, as Moses did, and listening quietly, the answers come, the direction is clear, the sense of peace is absolute.

The text of this verse implies that Jesus used those times to be alone, apart from the others. It is difficult to have this undivided experience with others around to distract you. Yet, as a practitioner, the most urgent calls often come right when I am in the middle of fixing dinner, on my way to a meeting, surrounded by others. Multitudes. The healing work cannot wait until I can get back to my 'office', pull out the books, and gather my thoughts. The need is immediate and fortunately, the spiritual inspiration is just as immediate.

Balance is important in every aspect of my life. Especially the spiritual. I do my best to protect my early morning hours and spend that time with Love, tuning my violin, if you will. When called upon I am ready. But responding to the needs of others is what I do and in doing so, am greatly blessed myself. When I can tell someone to 'go in peace', I am at peace myself. I love Christian Science and all it has brought to my experience.

Go in peace yourself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument

That is found in Isa 41:15. Several years ago a friend shared with me what this passage had come to mean to her. Dixie was a very independant gal and a life-long Christian Scientist. She often amazed me with her deep insights.

Threshing was the process of separating the grain from the straw, what was of value from what was useless. Done on a threshing floor area, preferably where there was a breeze, the sheaves were loosened. The grain could then be tossed high in the air with a shovel or fork, the chaff would blow away and the clean grain fall to the ground.

The Bible passager could be interpreted as God's promise to provide us with the insights or materials we need to winnow out wrong thoughts or ideas. But Dixie had a second way to use this. She saw it as God's promise to make THEE a new sharp threshing instrument. We ourselves become the means of doing away with illness, lack, unhappiness, discord, etc..

The passage continues: Thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. We all have times when problems loom as big as mountains, and as seemingly immovable. Too big to climb over, not enough strenght to even try, set in stone. But here is the promise that we can have that mustard seed amount of faith that allows us to toss that mountain right into the sea. It reminds me of another promise in the Bible found one chapter earlier, "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain". (Isa 40:2) I pray with this one all the time.

So it is comforting to know that WE are the threshing instrument, backed by the power of divine Love to handle whatever comes up. We can separate the good from the bad, the grain from the chaff, and know that useless stuff will just blow away on the wind.

Go inpeace

Monday, October 22, 2007

Washing our hands

In this week's Bible lesson there is a reference to washing of hands. "I will wash my hands in innocency." (Ps 26: 6) In the Old Testament this was symbolic of washing away any impurities before one entered the Temple. In the New Testament it was symbolic of washing one's hands in innocency, not being contaminated by participating in some act or thought. This usage carries through to today when people say they are "washing their hands" of something. They are done with itm want no further part of it, not evenbeing associated with it.

We can pray with both of these ideas. We can refuse to be associated with the 'dust' version of creation. We can "wash our hands" in purity and innocence, unafraid of any claims of contamination. I recently had quite a healing when I came in contact with aubstance that had caused my hand to swell, causing great pain. I was able to see that hand, and my being as God's child, as untouched by this claim. It was never touched by something God could not and would not create. And I could know and understand that so clearly that it disappeared.

I love Mrs. Eddy's poem about the Sheperd. In it she writes, "Shepherd, wash me clean". We are clean and need to claim that and rejoice in it.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dealing with dragons

I am a reader. I love to read and often have several books going at once. My favorite genre is fantasy and I've encountered many dragons over the years. As a student of metaphysics I have also spent a fair amount of time reading and studying the Bible. There are dragons in the Bible. Here is a poem that I saved when it appeared in one of the Christian Science periodicals. It was written by Lona Ingwerwson.

That serpent was so little,
so suble, I hardly noticed it,
but now it's a virtual dragon!

Dragons aren't real,
only easier to see than serpents,
easier to see through,
ready for destruction!
(Not my destruction -

The idea is to deal with problems when they are small. If you ignore it, or wait for it to go away on its own, it's feeds on your apathy. It gets bigger and seems more real and formidable. But, we can refuse to be impressed by its size or power. After all, it is still unreal. If you dreamed you were being chased by a dragon you wouldn't pray for the dragon to disappear, you would pray to awaken so that you could see that it had only been a dream. That dragon was never present, you were never really in danger.

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said something to the effect that it is not wise to ignore dragons if there is one living in your neighborhood. The world would be a little less colorful without dragons but the important thing is to know the difference between the real and the unreal. And not to let your unhealed problems drag-on.

Go in peace.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tithes and windows

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10)

There is so much to work with in this Bible passage. I love to spend time thinking about this wonderful promise, what is required of me, and what I can expect in return.

Bible scholars believe that Malachi is not a proper name but a possessive pronoun signifying 'My messenger'. It is the final book of the Old Testament. Malachi does not look for a Messiah upon the throne of David to deliver Israel, but for the restoration of that communion with God which existed when He led His people in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.

A tithe represented one 10th part of one's income to be used as tribute to God. It was not a tax but a gift for sacred purposes. So to comply with the spirit of this scripture, I ask myself several things. What exactly is it that I want to 'tithe' to God? Where do I think the storehouse is? Am I truly expecting the 'windows' of heaven' to open for me? Incidently, I love the idea that windows is plural. I already tithe anything that comes in from my practice as my donation to church. But I also try to tithe my activities by devoting time each day to prayer and personal study.

So where is this storehouse? As someone wisely asks in one of the Star Trek movies, 'Why does God need a star ship?" Why would God need a storehouse for my tithes? Everything I have comes from Him in the first place. Remember Cain and Abel? Abel knew that the increase in his flocks came from God and he gave back what had been God's. Cain seems to have resented giving up the best part of the crop he worked hard to produce. I think the storehouse is my own thinking and the way I am living Christian Science in my own life.

When God opens up the windows of heaven, He is pouring out on me an unlimited supply of blessings, given freely from His inexhaustible source. The fact that there are many windows shows the infinite number of ways this supply can come to me. And it is often from unexpected sources. Sometimes we think we know how somthing is going to be resolved or how some need is going to be met and we focus our prayers on seeing things work out that way. Perhaps it is better to leave the details to Him. He can open any window He wants to.

Mrs. Eddy defines 'tithe' as gratitude. Do I find 10 things a day to be grateful for? Have I thanked divine Love 10 times for things big and small that occured today? Sometimes we need to be truly grateful for what we already have before we are ready to be given more.

Tithe in peace.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

handling serpents

As I study this week's Bible lesson it is clear that when we decide to apply Christian Science to our challenges one of the first things we need to do is to deal with fear. Fear is at the base of every problem. How often Jesus would begin his 'treatments' by calming the fear of those around him. Fear not. Do not be afraid.

One example of this happened to Moses. Raised for 40 years as a prince in Egypt, he kills someone and must run for his life. He ends up in the desert, serving as a humble shepherd for the next 40 years. Then God gives him a mission. He is to go back to Egypt and speak with the Pharoah to let the children of Israel go free. Moses listens to this assignment and begins to tell God all the reasons this is not a good idea. He considers himself 'slow of speech'. He fears that the people will not understand what was being revealed to him. These are common fears for those who wish to be practitioners, to devote their time and energy to helping people through prayer, spiriual healing.

One arguement that presents itself would be fear that we would not know just what to say if someone asked us for help. That we would be 'slow of speech'. It is God who is bringing the person in need together with one who will provide the answers. Your practice is not the people who call you for help. People call you for help because of your practice of Christian Science. Many times, when I am studying or working with a metaphysical idea, someone will call who needs exactly what I have been reading. "Before you call, I will answer". I don't need to look something up, it is right there in front of me. Or I made the effort to get to the mid-week service, which includes time for testimonies of healing. I may have heard exactly the phrase I would need for the next call. So if this is the work God is preparing me for, how can I ever accept the idea that I would be slow of speech. I am the image and likeness of Mind and already include all right ideas, and the willingness and desire to share them.

Moses was afraid that the people would not understand what was being revealed to him. Mrs. Eddy explains that all intercommunication is directly from God to His ideas. Each of us understands what Mind is telling us. At all times and under all circumstances.

To illustrate His point God has Moses drop his shepherd's rod on the ground. In an earlier post I talked about how this rod was his symbol of authority, his means of protecting his flock. Moses sees it turn into a dangerous serpent and he runs away from it. God tells him to pick it up by the tail. You've got to be kidding, Lord! But Moses obeys, he turns around and faces his fear. And when he grasps it, it turns back to the rod it had been all along. Moses was no longer fooled by the illusion that danger was present. This is another part of what the practitioner does. There is nothing to fear, nothing present that can harm, no danger. That illusion has no power to frighten us.

I'll be thinking about those ideas today as I am called upon to handle serpents.

Go in peace.

Monday, October 8, 2007

tears and tear bottles

There is an accont in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is a guest at a feast. It was the custom at such feasts for the guests to recline on couches with their feet away from the table. Held in Simon's house, the public were allowed to circulate around the fringes. This gives a woman access to the Master. She proceeded to wash his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with expensive ointment. How could a woman shed enough tears to wash a person's feet?

It is possible that she brought her bottle of tears to Jesus. These tears, saved during her lifetime, were the symbol of her sorrow. She washed Jesus' feet with her tears, an act which was meaningful to the woman and also to Jesus. She gave her most precious items - her tears and the box of costly ointment - to the Christ. Instead of keeping these treasures until she died, this woman poured them out on him as tokens of her love and gratitude for his mercy. Her life had completely turned around due to some change that had taken place as she listened to him preach or felt his healing touch.

In Persia and Egypt tears were wiped from the cheeks and the eyes of mourners and were stored in a tear bottle, where they were carefully preserved. The custom was probably based on the belief that their tears would prove to God that the person had been righteous during their lieftime. An individual's tear bottle was buried with him at death. Tear bottles have been found in many of the ancient tombs throughout the Easts. These bottles were made of alabaster, since glass was not yet in use.

What a precious gift she gave in gratitude. What a precious gift she had been given. The Bible says in Revelation that the time is coming when "God shall wipe away all tears" from our eyes. There will be no cause for crying and no more pain. We do not use tear bottles today but many of us have shed our share of tears. As I've studied Christian Science over the years, one of the many benefits has been a greater sense of joy and fewer times of sadness or sorrow. In a way, I have given all those tears I would have shed to God. And been greatly rewarded.

Go in peace.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"it came to pass that the brook dried up."

This is from I Kings where we are introduced to the prophet Elijah. God has sent him to warn the people of a severe drought. Having delivered his message Elijah is told to go to the brook Cherith. He will have water and he will be fed by ravens. Elijah obeys. He sits beside this source of water and is indeed provided with food in the morning and the evening. But it comes to pass that, as the drought stretches on, this little brook dried up. One wonders what he must have been thinking as he sees this source slowly dwindle away. He was doing what God had told him to do. We can identify with that. And yet the situation seemed to be deteriorating.

Perhaps what he was learning was the difference between trusting the gift and trusting the Giver. The gift may seem good for a while but the Giver is eternal Love, the source of all good that never runs dry. When the time was right, God spoke to him again and sent him on to Zarephath. He is told a widow will take over his needs. Had Elijah been sent directly to Zarephath he might have missed something. That had been a time of spiritual growth that was preparing him for what lay ahead. He had strenthened his faith there and now would be able to bless another in turning to God as the source of all good.

When he arrives she is busy gathering a few sticks to build a small fire. The first thing he asks of her is a drink of water. After three years of drought, no small request. But she heads off without complaint. As she goes, he calls after her for something to eat. Now she responds gently that this is more than she can do as she is about to prepare the last of the meal and oil for one little cake to share with her son. Then she fully expects to starve to death. Elijah encourages her to do her baking but to bring him a little bit of it first, and then she can prepare food for them. She is not to fear because God has promised that her barrel of flour and cruise of oil will not run out before the drought ends. She does as he has told her and all three of them had food from then on.

Was this part of what Elijah was learning at Cherith? His food was brought to him twice a day by ravens. Dummelow's Bible Commentary says the original may possibly mean merchants or Arabians. Perhaps God had commanded them as He would later command the widow to care for the prophet. Where the food came from is not the issue, the fact is that he was provided for twice a day in a way arranged by God.

Elijah was able to communicate directly with God. So was this widow, who had heard God tell her to care for Elijah. Both were given their daily bread, grace for that day. Jesus knew about this woman and her story because he referred to it saying that there were many widows during Elijah's day but the prophet was sent to this woman of Zarephath. The prophet had not been accepted in his own country. Has that ever happened to you? At any rate, something set her apart and she was sustained. Perhaps total trust in God's laws is more than water or bread. The miracle wasn't in her kitchen, it was in her trust and obedience. It did not fail in her heart and so did not fail in the barrel or cruise. What an example for us to ponder!

Go in peace today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Babel and babble

Our Bible lesson this week includes the account of the Tower of Babel. Babylon is represented as the original center of human civilization following the flood. The magnificent buildings were repugnant to the Jews who associated them with idolatry, a rebellion against God. The people were choosing not to learn from and be guided by God, but to follow their own ideas. This was the pursuit of false knowledge and human reasoning. As a result they began to disagree and they 'did not understood one another's speech'. Sounds like some church business meetings. Babble. Instead of being all of one accord they spoke many different languages and this apparently lead to them dispersing in groups. It shows that rebellion against God is the original source of discord. It also shows the early misconception of an anthropomorphic sense of God who would be concerned that men would become so powerful that they would be His opponents.

We read about the exact opposite happening in the New Testament when the early Christians were all in one place and were of one accord. In that instance, they were suddenly able to understand each other, even when the spoke different languages. As believers, we should be on a spiriutal journey, not away from God, but drawing closer to Him through faith.

Another interesting fact is that the buildings in Babylon were made of bricks composed of dust and slime. There was no stone available in the alluvial plains. So they were actually building their 'house' on sand and not on rock, much less bedrock. No wonder it could not stand. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, "Spiritual ideas lead u pto their divine origin, God, and to the spiritual sense of being". That is a much higher sense of building our understanding of God and our relationship with Him.

Go in peace.

Let's be sure be are speaking the pure language of Spirit concerning any situation.

Friday, September 28, 2007


More thoughts inspired by my love of the sea. Growing up in New Jersey, I spent most of the summers down by the Jersey shore. I loved to find shells and pieces of sea glass. Rarely, I could find a barnacle washed ashore. Their shape appealed to me and it was only years later that I learned the barnacle produces one of the most powerful natural glues on earth. In their mature stage they attach themselves to a rock or submerged surface. Don't bother trying to pry them loose.

I read a wonderful article in a Christian Science periodical about how boat owners can deal with barnacles crusting the bottom of their vessels. This kind of growth slows the boat down and it does not respond well to its captain. You could take the boat out of the water and use heavy duty machinery to clean the hull but this causes damage. A better solution is to sail your boat into fresh water. Barnacles need salt water. Expose them to fresh water and they will eventually die and drop off on their own.

We occasionally become aware of something that has lodged in our thought or on our bodies that we would like removed. We can try medical means, and might even get some temporary relief, but sometimes the side effects are worse than the original problem. And that does not remove whatever caused it in the first place. It can, and often does, return. The whole process can be damaging. How much better to 'sail our boat' into fresh water, purify our thinking. Our real identity as an idea of God remains untouched. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health that 'Christian Science presents unfoldment, not accretion". Accretion is something that is added from without vs. that unfoldment which comes from within. The only growth we ever want to encouarge is spiritual. Why allow barnaclelike, stubborn opinions or habits accumulate until they seriously impede your progress, your ability to move forward.

Go in peace, free from baranacle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Do you know how pearls are made? A little grain of sand gets into the shell and literally under the oyster's skin. Unable to dislodge it, the oyster produces a substance that coats the tiny irritant. Now the intruder is not so prickly, but it is still there. So the oyster continues to add layers to it and over time a lustrous pearl is the result.

Anything managed to get 'under your skin' lately? If you have been unable to dislodge it immediately, you have two choices. You can continue to be irritated...or you can create a pearl. A pearl of wisdom if you approach this metaphysically. This is an opportunity to take the very thing that is causing you pain and turn it into a glowing life lesson.

So many things can creep into thought if we are not careful. Rudeness. Inconsiderate drivers. Making a special trip to a store for an item only to find they don't carry it any more. Having to use the last of your cash to fill up the gas tank...again. A remark that rankled from a friend or family member. The list goes on and on. It's not what comes up in our daily experience that matters, it's how we choose to deal with it. There are actually those who choose to hang on to some irritant, mulling it over and over, replaying what happened for fresh resentment. Sometimes it can seem the hardest thing in the world to just forgive someone, much less forget it ever happened. Especially if you feel you were in the right.

Peter must have had more than one upsetting moment with his brother. He asks Jesus "how many times am I expected to forgive him? Will seven times do it?" I'm sure Jesus looked on Peter with affection as he said, "Try seventy times seven". That would be some pearl!

On the other hand, wouldn't it be something to know you were building a beautiful strand of perfect pearls, even if no one else can see them? Actually, I think they do. They see a change in you and your reactions to things. It becomes more of a healing response because there is love behind it. Next time you find yourself struggling with that grain of sand, consider turning it into pearl instead. Think of God as Love, not just a loving God, but Love itself. Try to imagine Love filling all space, even those spaces in your heart and mind that hold on to old hurts and injustices.

The dictionary also says a pearl is someone who is highly regarded for one's beauty and values. When you see someone with a genuine smile on their face, they look beautiful. So try letting that Light shine right through you today.

Glow in peace.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shepherd's thoughts - Part Seven

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of Lord forever.

Here is the Good Shepherd's promise and provision for those 'bad' days. In the drought times, during emergencies, in the darkness, in time of need. No matter what the future promises or predicts, we can assured of God's good provision for today. And His kindness in providing it.

To dwell is to stay permenantly in one place. After all the changes and journeyings how comforting to find this abiding place. And it is not just any place, it is the house of the Lord. Mrs. Eddy defines 'house' when interpreting Psalm 23 as 'consciousness'. So we are abiding in the consciousness of God, within perfect Mind. That makes us an idea of God. Always held as that perfect idea without variableness. This is where we stay.

In this House there is no want, no sadness or depression, no illness, no separation. No forced rests. No polluted 'water'. No predators, no valleys, no search for food, no need for rod or staff, and most important, no need for healing. How long will this be? For all the days of my life.

Go peacefully.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shepherd's thoughts - Part Six

Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.

The shepherd has brought the sheep safely back to the village. As they pass through the gate to their pen he carefully and tenderly examines each one. Only their face and ankle area are exposed, so he checks to be sure there are no little scrapes or stings from brambles or flies, using oil to gently soothe affected places. Mrs. Eddy defines 'oil' in the glossary of Science and Health as consecration, charity, gentleness, prayer, and heavenly inspiration. Did you notice how the pronouns changed from the early part of the psalm? Now it is personal. From talking about the shepherd, now the sheep is talking directly to him, speaking intimately to their beloved keeper. Once the oil has been applied a transformation takes place in behavior. Gone is aggravation and irritability. The sheep can lie down peacefully for the night. Taking a moment to be with our Shepherd as we settle in for the night can remove any of the stings and irritations from our day, allowing us to be soothed for a night of peaceful rest.

In the Bible anointing is not limited to sheep. People are anointed with oil prior to spiritual service. Anointing is not about pouring a solution over someone's head, it suggests a moment when the power of divine Love comes into play to control the 'pests' that bother us, causing pain or the discomforting sting of criticism. Only Spirit can quiet the irritations of life and create contentment and an awareness of God's presence.

The shepherd then gives each sheep a cup of cool water, filled to the brim. As followers of the Shepherd we should be seen as the most contented people on earth. We know that the Good Shepherd is able to cope with all our human needs, good or bad. Our cup, our lot in life, is a happy one that overflows with benefits.

The next entry will finish up this Psalm and our visit with the Shepherd.

Go in peace.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Five

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mind enemies

Before one eats, the table needs to be set. The shepherd scouts out the best grass for grazing, checking for poisonous weeds and predators. Sheep will not eat when they are fearful. The shepherd removes whatever is harmful and guides them to what is most beneficial.

Who sets the table at your house? What do they use? Does it depend on who will be sharing the meal? Place mats or table cloth? Paper plates or china? Paper cups or glasses? Notice who is 'setting the table' in this Psalm. The Good shepherd, God, is fixing dinner for you and me. We must be pretty special to Him. Angels could do this, and in some instances in the Bible they do, but in this Psalm it is God Himself. And He sits down and joins us. One of the ultimate marks of friendship in the Bible is eating together. If you share food and salt you cannot be enemies. Zacchaeus prepared a meal for Jesus after he was forgiven his past actions. Lazarus prepared a feast for the Lord after his resurrection. Our Lord is doing this for us and we are the honored guests.

So what about the 'enemies' part? Right where evil is threatening us or predicting something bad, right there the shepherd is taking care of us. One of the best ways to pray about this type of situation is with Psalm 91. It describes the safety of those who trust in God, especially when faced with calamity. It covers snares, words that would try to trap us into believing in a presence or power other than God, good. That 'noisome pestilence' is malicious speech aimed to cause hurt or resentment. We never need to be afraid, day or night, of any form of error. We are immune from disease, even when it claims through the media to be afffected mulitiudes. No evil can come upon us, no plague of thoughts or symptoms. Look up what Mrs. Eddy has to say about enemies, especially in Miscellaneous Writings. She asks; "Can you see an enemy, except thou first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception?"

In the presence of the Shepherd we are guests at His table, protected from anything unlike Himself. Mrs. Eddy also said the Truth removes properly whatever is offensive. Removes it from where? Your own thought.

The shepherd and the sheep are coming to the end of their day. We are coming to the end of this remarkable Psalm. Some of my favorite verses lie just ahead.

Go sit at His table in peace.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Four

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Everyone has 'valley' experiences. Those times when we feel trapped in a dark or depressing place or state of thought. Those problems just loom above us like threatening mountains. As the shepherd is bringing the flock back down to the village, he passes through such places. It is at this point in Psalm 23 that the personal pronouns I and Thou appear and it becomes a very intimate conversation. The good shepherd never takes his flock where he had not already gone himself to look things over with care. Nothing takes him by surprise. So those sheep do not have to feel uneasy or afraid. And neither do we. This verse shows up that we walk right through this phase. To walk through the valley is to take the gentler grade as one winds one's way back. We might find that these valley experiences are the ones we remember as times we were closest to God. The Shepherd was with us all the way.

The shepherd carries a minimum of equipment. In the Middle East he carries only a rod and staff. This has been carefully chosen, suited to his size and strength. It fits the owner's hand. It could be used like a javelin to drive away preditors or even as a club, an extension of the shepherd's arm. It stood for his power and authority. When necessary it could be used for discipline, herding the sheep to a safer place, controlling his flock in every situation. Moses used his rod to part the Red Sea, showing the intention of divine Love to lead His children to safety. In the Old Testament the rod was used to examine and count the sheep. This was referred to as passing 'under the rod', being subjected to firsthand examination. We'll get back to that later in the Psalm.

No one else carries a shepherd's staff, a long slender stick with a crook or hook on one end. On long trips up the mountainside the shepherd can lean on it himself as a support. The shepherd will use the staff to bring a newborn lamb to its mother if they become separated. He does not wish her to reject it if it has the scent of a human hand. He can use it reach out and draw a sheep to him, especially if it is caught in thick brambles. It is used for guidance but never for punishment. Both rod and staff bring comfort.

As an interesting side note, I did some research for a Bible talk I will be giving on the Ten Commandments and discovered that there was more stored in the Ark of the Covenant than those two tablets of stone. It is also supposed to contain a golden bowl of manna and Aaron's rod. That reminded me of a time when I was struggling with finances, worried about how work would appear, be completed and the amount paid in time to meet pressing bills. I worked with Numbers 17:8. This describes how Aaron's rod, placed within the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept at that time, budded, blossomed and bore fruit in one night. Time is not an issue with God, who is the source of all good. Divine Love is able to meet every human need.

We can take comfort from the rod and staff when we find ourselves passing through a valley experience.

Go through it in peace.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Three

He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of rightousness for His name's sake.

One of the sweetest benefits of being a student of Christian Science is having those moments when divine Love restores my soul. Times when I feel the presence of my Father right here with me, the tender embrace of the Comforter, the deep peace of understanding I am truly His cherished child. At those times I understand our unbreakable relationship. I feel like the lamb the Shepherd holds close to his heart. The shepherd and the flock spend all day up on the mountain. There are hours when he sits among them, playing a flute. Always alert for any danger in the form of thieves or predators, he sits among them and they feel cared for.

As the sun goes down, it is time to head back to the village. He gathers them up and leads them back. The word 'righteousness' appears all through the Scriptures. For me it means right-thinking or Truth-knowing. The shepherd is a leader, an authority figure worthy of trust and respect. He leads and they willingly follow. Our Shepherd leads us along the path of right-thinking. When faced with a problem I often ask myself, just what am I thinking about this situation? Then, what is God thinking about this?That leads to a change of thought, a clearer 'knowing of the Truth' and it is this that leads to healing. Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. Left to themselves they would follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes. Poor management. Sheep need guidance and they need to move. How often we choose to stubbornly cling to something when being willing to move leads us to a better situation. Being willing to listen to Him and then to follow takes courage and humility. Those who decide to take those paths move onto fresh ground.

Mrs. Eddy wrote a poem we sing often as a hymn. It begins, "Shepherd show me how to go o'er the hillside steep...and continues "I will listen for Thy voice, lest my footsteps stray. I will follow and rejoice, all the rugged way."

Go along the path in peace.