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.