Monday, December 29, 2008

Thou shalt a promise

This week we begin the first subject in the 26 rotating topics for our Bible lessons. We begin at the beginning with God. This lesson happens to be all about the Ten Commandments. I like the way it shows us that these rules teach just what God is and what we are as His image and likeness. I have found it very helpful to take the phrase 'thou shalt not' and read it as a promise that ' I will not' commit any of those mistakes. Not as if God were shaking His finger at me in anger, but more as if He is reassuring me with a loving hug that I won't do any of those things because I am His beloved child. And because I understand His goodness being poured out on me.

When I see that there is not other god that I think I can rely on, no other source for supply, or happiness, or health, then I am at peace and happy. Trusting Good and goodness to fill my needs. When I keep a 'sabbath' time, I am honoring God as the Creator. When I honor and obey my human parents, I am honoring my divine Father Mother. When I love my children, I am reflecting His love.

Because He is all good and loves me unconditionally, always supplying what I need there is never any temptation to treat any of his other children with hatred, or make hurtful statements to or about them. Because my heart is pure, I do not look with desire on things that are forbidden to me. Because I reflect good I will not take what is not mine, nor will I choose to lie about anyone or anything. I will always speak and know the truth and not be tempted to give a false impression or accept something, be a witness to something, that is not of God. And because I already have and include all that is freely given to me from my Father, I will never have a feeling of resentment against anyone for the things they have. All we have to do is love God, see that He is the only Cause and Creator, and we will not do wrong and that is a promise.

Prayer is more than a means to get God to give you what you want. Prayer teaches you to want what He wants to give you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas present idea

Give everyone you love a spiritual gift this year. Take a quiet moment, fix some hot chocolate and close out all distractions. Make a list of those you care most about. For each one, identify anything you might have been seeing as a personal challenge they are dealing with. Now change your thought about that. They are not stressed, over worked, under appreciated, ill, impatient, depressed or short tempered. Replace that with a mental picture of them smiling and happy. Put them in some beautiful place. Treat them to a carefree moment.

Watch for an opportunity to show that person love with a word, or an action, a guesture...and then mentally say "Merry Christmas".

Be alert for Christmas 'presence' and not so much emphasis on Christmas 'presents'. Look around for a star. Turn off all the other lights and just look at your Christmas tree. Think about the ornaments. Remember Christmas from other years.

God was the source of the great love Jesus gave everyone he met, regardless of their social standing, personal wealth, religious preference, or any other preference for that matter. He just loved everyone he encountered. God is the source of that same love within you.

If you had to make up a naughty and nice list, who would end up on the naughty side? Is there anything you can do about that? Just for the holidays try to see them differently. We never condone wrong behaviour or choices but we also shouldn't be judging and condemning others. It doesn't hurt them, only yourself.

If you are preparing a holiday treat, do it with care and a feeling of giving someone else a treat. I'm off to make Chex Mix myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Babe we are to cherish

This week's Bible lesson asks a question: "Is the Universe, including man, evolved by atomic force?" The lesson develops an answer with many references to light vs. darkness. Everyone knows that no matter how complete and all-encompassing a dark room may seem, the moment you flip on the light switch, it fills with light. And not just for you, for everyone in the room. The darkness is powerless to resist it. Truth is like that, it can replace any darkness in your experience with a blaze of light that lifts you right out of the gloominess of illness or lack.

The lesson opens with a more spiritual view of the Nativity, the words froom John's Gospel. As if to remind us of our true spiritual origin, John uses the same three words that open Genesis One, "In the beginning..." He links Jesus with man made in the image and likeness of God; complete, whole, healthy, perfect. No birth, no death, just coexistence with divine Love. One Creator and one creation.

Gabriel, the archangel, is very busy. He visits with Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth. This pious elderly couple have prayed for many years to have a child but Elizabeth is barren. Gabriel comes to tell both of them that their prayers are about to be answered, despite the claim of barreness and their age. Do you feel that you have an insurmountable problem in your life? Can it be bigger than this one? Take heart, your prayer can also be answered. For Elizabeth, this would erase years and years of others thinking she is being punished by God. Zacharias has also been praying to see the promised Messiah appear in his lifetime. The Christ is available to each of us at all times and under all circumstances.

Gabriel's words seem to be true for Elizabeth appears to be pregnant. She goes into seclusion for five months, perhaps protecting herself from the comments of others who, thinking a pregnancy impossible, would speculate on what is growing inside her. Meanwhile, Gabriel has now visited with young Mary, engaged to Joseph but still a virgin. He tells her Elizabeth's news and that she also is pregnant. Mary goes to see her cousin. Before Elizabeth can say anything, Mary greets her, rejoicing in the baby. It is only then that Elizabeth feels the baby move within her. What a thrill, to know that this is really the child she has prayed for has growing within her. The one old enough to be a grandmother and the teen-aged girl spend the next three months together. I can only imagine their conversations! Mary doesn't stay for the birth of John. She may have begun to 'show' herself and needs to get back home. To Joseph, who is also visited by Gabriel, that he might believe that this is a holy child and Mary innocent of any wrong doing.

Gabriel continues to share the joyous news, next with shepherds, the simple people of Bethlehem who have been waiting and watching for the Messiah. They get to share in the first Christmas morning. Later he will speak with the Magi, a further protection for the holy family.

We can see how the Nativity evolved, like ripples on a pond. Think how that has spread from a tiny city in the Middle East around the globe. Have you gotten an angel messenger recently? Are you expecting one? Would you believe the message? Would all those doubts and fears try to convince you that such things are impossible? No matter what comes into your life in the form of a problem you think just can't be met, remember that nothing is impossible to God, divine Love. That He cherishes each of us.

This is the most wonderful time of the year. Spend a moment thinking about the Nativity. Go look at the stars. Listen for the sound of angels singing. Feel the wonder. Welcome the Babe we are to cherish.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Off to Simon's House

I just finished reading an article in this week's Sentinel. The author is Keith Wommack and if he ever comes to your area to lectue, don't miss it! I just love what he explains about the story of Jesus and the woman who comes to wash his feet.

Think about where that woman's healing really began, on the way to Simon's house, where Jesus had been invited for dinner. She found the humility and grace to make the journey, knowing well what people thought of her, and what she had thought of herself. She gave up that past life, the cost of the expensive ointment she used to anoint his feet, the embarrassment and rejection she felt. All set aside by her deep gratitude to the Master and an irresistable impulse to show him her love. What courage! So deciding to do this thing and then following through began the healing.

Simon saw only a notorious sinner. He accepted the world's view of her. Jesus saw only God's daughter, pure and whole. He must have appreciated her motives and actions. He applauded her progress. If you have ever burned an expensive candle you know how that lovely aroma soon permeates the air. Think how the presence of the Christ must have sweetened the atmosphere wherever he went.

Keith points out that she must have recognized the difference between true humility and the unworthiness she had been accepting about herself. She did not want to carry around a false view any more. Simon failed to see any of that. But then, the Christ was sitting right with him and he failed to see that as well. Do we?

When she bathed Jesus feet she herself was cleansed and her healing was complete, acknowleged by the Master himself. Wouldn't we all love to feel that! If you are searching for healing in your life, think about this woman and her journey. Start your own path 'to Simon's house'. I know I'll be thinnking about this today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Your own nativity

We will be wading through Thanksgiving left-overs for the next few days as we go camping, but our thoughts are already turning to Christmas. In fact, I hope to change our decorations this Sunday.

Early this morning I read a very thought-provoking article in the December issue of the Christian Science Journal. It talks about the two accounts of the Nativity given in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Those are our source for many of the things we celebrate during the holidays; Mary's conception of the holy child, the angel Gabriel visiting her and Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem, the birth in a lowly stable, visits from shepherds and angels, a bright star overhead. I love all the details and once spent a year studying the story. How I wish I had this article then because it introduces something I never thought about before, a third version of this famous nativity and a way to relate that to my own children.

The writer refers to the gospel of John, the most spiritual of the Gospels. Do you know the first three words of the Bible, found in Genesis One? They are 'In the beginning....'. That is how John opens his account of Jesus life, "In the beginning". Perhaps John is encouraging us to see Jesus, and ourselves, from a more spiritual viewpoint connected with that first account of creation given in Genesis One. Man created in the image and likeness of God, the only Parent.

I have three amazing children, all grown now and busy with families of their own. They grew to become exceptional people with many gifts and talents, and each possesses sweet and generous natures. They are so dear to me and show me how they feel about me in countless ways. I hold in my heart precious memories of their nativities, special details only their mother would know. For many years, I loved to tell them the story of their birth when we celebrated that day. My daughter does that with her children now. It would appear that Mary shared some of those precious moments with Luke, a Greek historian and doctor who became a chronicler of Jesus and Christianity. One can almost imagine them sitting together with Luke asking her what it was like when she discovered she was carrying this child and any details she could share about the trip to Bethlehem.

Those are the things most of us believe about Christmas and I cherish them. But I am quite awed this morning to have this article show me a new way to think about the whole story, a way that allows me to lift my concept of myself, my own nativity story, and my children. A way to connect us to Genesis One and our true Parent. That is something very worth celebrating in the coming weeks. It is a gentle reminder of my true identity as God's beloved daughter. Angels also sang for me. And for my children who are really His children. And for you. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tis the be still

Some of the most profound moments come when we are able to just be still and listen for them. It might occur in a favorite piece of music, at an important moment in a play, during a time of study and reflection. But how can one find those moments during the rush of the holiday season? By remembering what the holiday is all about. By taking time alone with God even in the midst of family and friends, work and chores. There is tremendous power in the ability to be still. It takes discipline and practice not to become distracted just when you need the quiet most.

Yet the reward of that sweet peace is worth the effort. What you gain is strength and faith in a power greater than yourself. An awareness of divine Love watching over all of its creation, yourself included. The power to see your day unfold before you with much checked off your 'to do' list.

An article I read recently spoke about creating a 'not-to-do' list. I will not allow myself to stressed out about money or the lack thereof. I will not get so involved in the hustle and bustle that I do not give someone my full attention, forget to smile, or use good manners. I will practice patience if I am stuck in a line, caught in traffic, trying to do several things at once. I will not forget to hum a familiar hymn along with the Christmas carols. I will not avoid people I dislike when we end up at the same event. You can certainly create your own list.

Imagine an enormous wheel, spinning along revolving on its axis. Right in the very center there is no movement at all. In the busiest life there should be a place where we can see ourselves at the hub of the wheel. Be still and know that God, good, is in control and His will is for blessings and grace.

Love every special thing about this holiday season and as you do so, make time to be still and feel your hand in God's hand. God bless us, every one.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Random thoughts about this week's Bible lesson

One of the things I like about studying Soul is the qualities that go with it and the ways that I can see these qualities as my own by reflection. This week's Bible lesson instructs me to 'let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon me'. After years of working with these Bible lessons I do not 'see' God as a man or woman but as divine Love, all-knowing Mind, absolute Truth. Those things are truly beautiful and that is what I am to be expressing as I go about my day. It is a call to stop being self-conscious and become more God-conscious. When one is self-conscious there are usually negative things attached to that. When one is God-conscious there are only positive images.

One of the sections has to do with spiritual problem solving and encourages me to learn new skills, to find new passages in both the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. It is so easy to just turn to old favorites in time of challenge but sometimes what we really need is a new way to look at something or someone.

The lesson includes the story of Jesus' encounter with two blind men. I just love these examples of how he healed, meeting people right where they are and then lifting them up. I study these carefully to see just what he says and does. In this case, these two men had been following him around, calling out to him to have mercy on them. We do not know just how they came to be blind, from an accident or illness, born with that problem, a long-time thing or a recent affliction. We just know that they persisted in asking him for mercy.

They are so determined that they follow him into Peter's house, when most others would have gone home. He asks them a question. Do they believe that he is able to do this thing?Now it had been prophesied that when the Messiah came 'the eyes of the blind shall be opened'. I do not believe that had been happening during the Old Testament years. So in essence Jesus might have been asking them if they believed he was this promised Messiah. They had referred to him as the son of David and that was a name for the Messiah. But their faith could not just rest there. He appears to have ignored their earlier calls for help. He only seemed to yield when they would not go away without healing. They respond to his question with 'Yea, Lord'. How do we respond to this question when are asking God for healing? Do we really believe that whatever it is can be healed? Do we see that nothing is outside of God's ability? Are we persistent in our requests even when it appears that we are being ignored?

In other instances of Jesus healing blindness he helps the person along with a touch, once even with clay made from spit. This time he is asking them to accept this healing by his word alone. "According to your faith be it unto you". This incident concludes simply with their eyes being opened. Opened to their true identity as children of divine Love. That is how most healing happens.

Seeing is a quality of Soul and Soul and its attributes are forever manifested through man, they cannot be lost, damaged, deteriorate or be lost. If you are praying for help, study this passage from Matthew and your eyes will be opened to the wonder of the Christ present right here and right now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

see none but the real child of God

In the story of the woman taken in adultery, Jesus refused to get drawn into making a judgment against her. In fact, he turned the tables on those who tried to trap him. Convicted by their own consciousness, aware of their own past failings, they left the scene one by one until only Jesus, the woman, and his disciples remained. This is the part of the story I love best. He had been stooped down on the ground. When they were all gone it says...when Jesus had lifted himself up...and saw none but the woman... There is something we can all learn to emulate. Before addressing her he lifted himself up. He lifted up his own thoughts, spiritualized his thinking. I think I would have had to clear my thoughts about those others who had tried to trap her. I might have prayed to know that everyone is in reality a child of God, reflecting purity and kindness, and to know that only good could be present. Once his thought was clear, it was only natural that 'he saw none but the woman'. He saw no other woman standing there but the pure and innocent daughter of God.

Now how often, when we are confronted with some gossip about someone in the office or a rumor about someone we know, do we follow this path? Are we not inclined to believe the false picture? What do we think of the person savoring this information? Do we refuse to entertain any such idea about someone, either as a sinner or a spreader of lies? Jesus chose to lift himself up before he dealt with anyone else. When he was ready, all he could see as the reality was someone created in the image and likeness of God, just as it says in Genesis One.

It is interesting that she did not run away once her accusers had left. She remained in the presence of the Christ. Perhaps she was drawn to someone who could be so pure and spiritual, remain unruffled in the midst of conflict. She must have seen something spiritual about him because when he asks her if anyone has condemned her she answers 'No man, Lord'. He is quick to lovingly assure her that he does not condemn her either. She is free to go, but she is to sin no more.

Mrs. Eddy writes, "Truth makes a new creature, in whom old things pass away and 'all things are become new'." That is what prayer can do. Reliance on divine Truth shows us how to let go of all those ways of thinking of behaving that lead to sin or sickness or lack. All things become new and fresh and pure. Good is always on our side.

see none but the real child of

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Double the blessings in November

I love November. Starting this first week I study the weekly Bible lesson as usual, but also start working with the Thanksgiving lesson that goes with our Thanksgiving Day service. This lesson is always filled with good ideas and uplifting thoughts. I get a few extra copies to share any time with those new to Christian Science.

This year's lesson is filled with references to planting and growing as a metaphor for what our Father is doing for us. He turns what seems to be a wilderness experience, a time when 'all material streams are dried' our prayer can help us see God as the source of unlimited supply. There is a Bible verse that refers to changing that 'dry spell' into 'standing water', something like a large lake that constantly remains at capacity. It continues to describe how dry ground, dried up savings or avenues for income, can become 'watersprings', fountains bubbling up with fresh water.

Another verse assures us that the fields we sow and plant will yield fruit. The prayer we do, the mental preparation, will yield the spiritualization of thought that brings results. Have you ever thought of yourself as a shepherd, overseeing you finances? You can do all the things a good shepherd does to guard and guide things. You can treat your income with kindness and tenderness, grateful for each paycheck or cash flow stream. You can work with Psalm 23 in this way and see how God is shepherding you and your needs all day long. In fact, the Golden Text of this lesson is from that Psalm: "My cup overflows with blessings". (New Living Translation of the Bible)

It is God who prepares the way, enriching our lives. He provides the 'corn', His Word. He 'waters the ridges', softening any resistence to it being accepted. He 'settles the furrows', allowing ideas to sink in and take root. He refreshes with 'soft showers'. Blessings just have to spring up under such conditions.

All that in just the Golden Text and Responsive Reading. I can hardly wait to absorb and use the rest of the lesson as well. Our family looks forward to attending the service on Thanksgiving Day. We love the portion of time set aside for those in the congregation to share their gratitude for the blessings of the past year. It keeps us mindful of what this Day is really all about. And the whole house smells so wonderful with that rich turkey aroma when we get home. All are welcome to attend and it is a great time to bring family and friends.

Enjoy the double blessing this month.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

everlasting punishment or everlasting redemption?

This week's lesson, filled with inspiring stories, also includes the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. This was a gathering place for those 'impotent folk' with chronic illnesses. They waited for a disturbance in the water that they attributed to an angel. Whoever got in first was healed. Jesus was walking by there when he noticed a man who had been bothered by an infirmity for 38 years.

Most of us start working in our early twenties and will probably do so until our sixties, a good 40 years. Imagine if you choose some wrong path at the beginning, made some poor choices. It might have involved an ethical decision, some dishonesty or cheating. That might have been part of an educational experience. It might have involved drugs or drinking or smoking Whatever it was, once done it was harder to resist the temptation to repeat it and over the years things just got worse. It eventually ruined your health.

A by-product might have been that it cost you your friends and even your family. That man was alone beside the pool. When Jesus approached him and asked if he wanted to be whole, the man blamed his misfortunes on the fact that he had no one to help him. He felt discouraged because someone else got to the pool before he did. This implies that he had been coming to this pool for healing on other occasions.

What needed to change was his thought that this healing was going to have to come from the efforts of someone else. He needed to change his own thought, about himself, about his past, about what awaited him in the future. With the Christ beside him, he was able to follow Jesus' command to rise, take up his bed, and walk. He needed to arise, stand up, straighten up. He needed to feel his strength. If his problem had been sensual, he even needed to purify his thoughts about that bed. He was to walk, to move forward. Jesus didn't tell him to go home, just to walk.

But this was not the end of their encounter. Like the woman who was healed of a long-standing issue of blood, this man needed to see the real source of that healing. She had been healed by her faith, not by touching Jesus' clothing. Next time she needed help, he might not be available, but her faith was there and that would do it. Jesus sought out the man and found him in the temple. That is encouraging. Maybe he was there to give thanks for his healing, maybe he was making amends for his behaviour. Jesus reminded him that he was whole....but he must not sin again. A healing of something that was the result of wrong thinking or acting did not give someone permission to repeat the offence. We are to recognize the wrong and keep it out of our life.

I beleive that man heeded Jesus. How wonderful it must have felt to be freed after so many years of suffering. It was every bit as dramatic as if he had stepped into the pool and been made whole. He had been face to face with Christ and that must have changed him. We all have the same opportunity. We can stop dragging around, or being dragged around by, something that occured long ago. The change just needs to take place in our thought. And then, we must choose never to go that way again. We need to see the truth about who we are as God's beloved idea. We need to recognize how wonderful divine Love is. Rise. Take up. Walk.

Monday, October 27, 2008


This week's Bible lesson, Everlasting Punishment, is all about redeeming, who is redeemed and how that happens. There are several examples given and today I am working with the story of Naaman. It is found in II Kings 5. He is described as a mighty man of valour, great courage. He is high favor with his master, an honorable man. His prowess as a military man are without question. He was instrumental in conquering Israel for the King of Syria. But he does have one enemy he has been unable to conquer, he is a leper.

There is much to admire about Naaman. He is much beloved by his King, his wife, and his troops. On one of the raids they took away a little Hebrew girl. She was given to Naaman's wife as a servant. This little maid tells her mistress that there is a prophet in Israel who could cure Naaman of leprosy. That is quite a claim, as no one else has done that. Someone overhears this conversation as brings the information to his master. It says something about Naaman that he believes this and acts upon it, heeding the word of a servant.

He goes to Elisha's house, arriving in great state in a chariot pulled by horses and accompanied by his servants. The conqueror shows up and expects to be treated with respect. Elisha doesn't even come out of the house, he sends his servant with a message. This is not what Naaman, a man of action and showy victories was expecting. This is an adversary he has not been able to overcome, so whoever can beat it must do it in a big way. The message is to go to the nearby Jordan river and dip himself in it seven times. Not very dignified. Naaman is outraged and in a fit of temper turns aside to sulk. But he didn't leave. Maybe he was plotting how he might force Elisha to bring about this healing the way Naaman wanted it to happen in front of everyone. He has conquered this land and surely the rivers in his own country must be more powerful, if that was all that was needed. But it wasn't. It was going to take a change of thought.

At this point, his servants approach and try to reason with him. They refer to him as Father, certainly a loving view of this complex man. They care deeply about him. They say that if the Prophet had asked him to do some great thing, it would have done that without question. How little a thing to follow instructions and get his healing. That should be worth any price. He listens and then does what Elisha had directed. The result is that his flesh is restored, but more importantly, his soul is redeemed. He has been washed clean.

Sometimes the answer to our problems is a simple matter of prayer and trust. We would like a much flashier solution, something to amaze our family or friends. Maybe our pride is in the way of the healing. Maybe we feel it is our responsibility to overcome this error and we are not willing to trust God. Maybe we are not willing to listen to someone's suggestions. Maybe even those angel messages that are coming to us.

Redemption is all about a change of thought. It is receptivity to good. It is a purification of mind and body. I look forward to the other stories in this week's lesson

Thursday, October 23, 2008


It was when Gideon and his 300 soldiers broke their pitchers that the hidden light shone forth and led to victory. It was when the widow was willilng to break the seal on her last pot of oil that she was able to fill all the empty pots, multipying instead of dividing her supply. It was when Jesus took break, blessed it, and brake it that a multitude was fed, with 12 baskets left over.

When I find myself hesitant to 'break' that last $20.00 bill, when I am reluctant to break a silence, when I need to break off my time at the computer....these are the times when the action brings the most blessing. I find that the money stretches far and then more comes in. Truth is voiced and healing and blessing follow. When something has engrossed our attentin to the point of keeping one away from prayer and study, that must be broken. Once awakened and aware, the mind fills with right ideas.

Don't be fearful or reluctant to 'break' that which is holding you back.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Cherith experience

In the story of Elijah he warns the people about a coming drought. He himself is directed by God to go to a brook, Cherith, where he will continue to have water when others do not. This story is in I Kings 17. Elijah is given a great gift, a time to experience God's supply when material sources run out. And he will need this lesson because 'it came to pass...that the brook dried up'. Have you had that happen? Other sources of income disappear for one reason or another and you fall back on savings. Or maybe you fall back on friends or relatives when a relationship dries up.

Then there comes a time when that 'brook' no longer is enough. You have learned to trust the gift, now you will have to trust in the Giver. One of our hymns says 'when all material streams are dried Thy fullness is the same'. You might wonder why you go through a 'Cherith' time, a time without right employment, adequate funds, a strong relationship. But maybe this is the gift of discovering the true sense of employment, the true idea of supply, the true source of companionship.

Just when you get comfortable with things, the darn brook dries up! Now what? Elijah was told to go to Zarephath. He needs to go forward, he is to take what he has learned with him. There a widow woman, thinking she is down to her last meal, preparing to starve to death, will discover what Elijah knows about right employment, true supply. One wonders if he would have been as well prepared without his 'Cherith' time. That experience made him a better prophet, what Mrs. Eddy calls a 'spiritual seer', a spiritual see-er. This can be true for each of us.

Profit by your 'Cherith' moments.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cain offering...or Abel offering?

Our Bible lesson this week, on Unreality, includes parts of the two Genesis stories of creation. Christian Science holds with the first account where God created man in His own image and likeness. God sees work is done, He sees all of His creation and pronouces it very good. The second account presents a second version of creation, this one material with a different view of God and His children.

What interested me this morning is the story of Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve. Both of them prepared an offering for the Lord God. Abel, a keeper of sheep, brings him the firstlings of the flock. His gift is accepted and honored. Cain apparently throws together a basket of vegetables. The Lord God is not pleased with this. I don't think it was the offering itself that mattered. After all, they were only giving back what really belonged to Him in the first place. I think it was the spirit in which the offering was prepared and presented, the love behind it, and the gratitude. Cain made little or no effort. When chastized, instead of doing a better job, he seeks out his brother and kills him.

I have to ask myself, just what am I bringing as an offering to God today? How much time and effort am I putting in to make this gift a true 'thank you'. What am I willing to put into that basket? Those who dwell in or on matter cannot please God. Those who dwell in and on things spiritual, do please God. We must listen less to our physical senses and their opinions and complaints and more to the angel messages coming from divine Mind.

What will you offer today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About 'creeping' things

I took Ian and Katie Rose to a thrift shop this morning. We hoped to find Ian a bigger tricycle. Nope. But we did find him a Batman cape and he has been flying around the house all afternoon. He has a habit of knocking Katie Rose over several times a day. Now I could say, 'super heroes don't do that', and it might make an impression. All over the thrift shop we spotted things for Halloween. I also noticed aisles of things at the supermarket. Some of the costumes are downright creepy!

I was reminded of a spiritual lesson about masks. When those little trick-or-treater's come to the door, no matter how gruesome the mask, you know who that is underneath and do not accept the outward appearance as the reality. A good reminder to not be fooled by 'creepy' things.

Today I was reading an article Jack Hubbell, a Christian Science teacher I greatly admire. In it he talks about how Christian Science views time, and aging. The concept of passing time is how we often see ourselves, or those we love, as aging. Without time, there would be no aging. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health about a woman, disappointed in love, who waited every day for her lover to return. Unaware of the passing of time, those who saw her at the window mistook her for someone in their twenties, when in fact she was in her eighties.

Age seems to creep up on us. It is one of those 'creeping things upon the earth' referred to in Genesis. But God has given His child dominion over all the creeping things of the earth. Think what value that has if you apply it to a creeping waist line, a creeping up debt, or a creeping illness. You can know that God has given you dominion over this. You just have to claim it.

I keep this taped to my computer:
Answers to Questions of Inquirers in Regard to Christian Science.
by Mary Baker Eddy.
"Is it possible to change the aged form to one of youth, beauty, and immortality, without the change called death?"
In proportion as the law of Truth is understood and accepted, it obtains in the personality as well as character. The deformities and infirmities said to be the inevitable results of age, under the opposite mental impressions, disappears. You change the physical manifestation in proportion to your changed thoughts of the effects of accumulative years; expecting an increase of usefulness and vigor from advanced years with as much faith as you look for decrepitude and ugliness, a favorable result would be sure to follow. The added wisdom of age and experience is strength, not weakness, and we should understand this, expect it, and know that it is so, then it would appear.

Don't be afraid of 'creeping things', know instead that you have dominion over them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So that's Job's problem...I 'see'

This week's Bible lesson on Reality brings out the importance of how we 'see' or understand what is really going on. We must 'see' through God's eyes. Understand His creation as He made it, including ourselves.

Once, Job was the subject of my year-long study. I was always puzzled by just what it was that he had been doing wrong. It seemed so unfair for him to suffer all those losses and be in such discomfort. It didn't match up with my concept of God as divine Love if Job could have such afflictions just to win a bet with the devil. So, I decided to dig into the Responsive Reading part of our lesson, where first Elihu and then Job are speaking. It has helped me 'see' this story a bit better, reminding me of what I learned in the study years ago.

Elihu, one of Job's friends that has come to commiserate with him in all his distress, has charged Job with saying that there is no advantage to being righteous. Sometimes when we find ourselves in pretty dire straits and can't figure out why this is happening to us, we might be tempted to take that same line of reasoning. "I've been pretty good, I go to church often, I read the lesson during the week, I don't break any of the Commandments. I've even prayed about this situation and yet, nothing changes and here I am in this mess. Why should I be good all the time if I'm going to end up struggling this much?" Elihu responds to that in this speech, maintaining the wisdom of God's rule. God's purpose, according to Elihu, is to improve man and teach him, to purify him. Later in the lesson we will have the Beatitude about the pure in heart 'seeing' God.

Elihu has reminded Job to look up, to raise his thought, and 'see' the wonder of God in all His glory. 'See' His wisdom and strength. That is what we are to behold, not the so-called wisdom and power of evil or error. Right in the midst of our troubles we need to stand still and turn our thought to Him, away from the problem. God is real, the problem is not. He never created it, we did.

What I came to 'see' about Job was that his faults were pride of intellect and pride of his innocence. He studied the Word diligently, but did not express the spirit of it. He believed himself pure and innocent, but he spent his days sacrificing at the temple for the sins he saw in his children. He believcd in God but did not trust in His goodness. We can identify with that. We 'hear' about God, but do we really 'see' what God is, do we get the allness of Good and the nothingness of anything unlike good. If God didn't create it, then it can't be real, it can't have power, it is not the boss of us. God is. And He loves us unconditionally, every moment of every day. He does not turn away from us, we turn away from Him. This lesson is a call to turn back, look up, and 'see'.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Keeping calm watch

Things have changed here on the home front. I have agreed to 'watch' Ian, aged almost-five, and Katie Rose, turned one last July 4th, while Kristen has gone back to work full time. They are good kids and we live together so it wasn't that much of a change for them. Although it is obvious that they both miss their Mommy. The bigger change is for me, adjusting my daily activities so that I am always meeting their needs. The first week has had its ups and downs. My car is still waiting to get the battery recharged so I am using a different, unfamiliar car. This week I had several things already scheduled. This morning we went over to a book store with granddaughter Lauren and this afternoon I will be leaving them with my son, Jim, while I go out to an assisted living facility to give a talk. Every day was pretty full. Today I was feeling a bit off balance with it all and decided to use the time while Katie Rose is napping to pray. What came to me was that what I am doing is 'keeping calm watch'. What an angel message!

All day today I will be 'keeping' my watch. It is an opportunity to use the spiritual qualities I reflect from divine Love. It is seeing the motherhood of God in operation for me and for the kids. Choosing to devote the day to their needs but to also stay on a spiritual wave length is 'keeping' my watch. It means I can take whatever calls for spiritual healing might come, even if I am changing Katie Rose at the time!

The key word is 'calm'. Early in my study of Christian Science I prayed to be more patient. Not a quality I expressed previously. I looked up that word in the dictionary and love this: patience is expecting good calmly. So, no matter what comes up each day, I can deal with it calmly. The kids certainly react better when I stay calm, keep my voice level, and listen for divine guidance before I move forward. It happened all morning. I would just pause and say, "Father, let me feel Your calm around me right now" and I would. It was really neat.

In Hymn #3, the third verse is about a grateful heart being like a temple 'where angels of His presence keep calm watch by day or night'. I will add that to my prayer arsenal. I expect things will settle in a bit more next week when we have to add reading room hours into the mix and a Wednesday service.

I think I'll just stay calm and let divine Mind show the way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the realm of God

Started the day with a little lesson in humility. I had picked up an issue of the Christian Science Sentinel where the focus was on the new school year. Glancing through it, I didn't see anything that jumped out at me for study. Whenever that happens, I know right away what is at work. It is just error's attempt to keep me from something of great value. So I picked it up again and looked for my angel message. I found it in an article I had dismissed earlier. Written by a teacher, it is about some of her experiences with teaching over the years.

What captured my full attention was her description of being assigned to an English class, not her field of expertise, filled with unruly teen agers. She would climb the three floors to that class room with the noise of their behavior getting louder and louder. They actually threw a chair ove the banister as she was coming up the stairs. That is when she stopped and reached out to God as she hadn't before.

We all have 'chair throwing' moments. We find ourselves faced with a situation that has been slowly spiraling out of control. It might be a relationship issue, or finances, a weight gain, or an illness. Some crisis occurs and then we stand still and reach out to divine Love for help. When she did, her fear left. That is always the first thing we have to overcome. It happens when we realize that we are not alone, God is with us, right there. She remembered a line Mrs. Eddy wrote "Like the archpriests of yore, man is free to enter into the holiest, the realm of God". (page 481) She also was able to see that the only child present in that realm was the child of God. She didn't have to impose control over the situation, God did it. The kids all sat down and things turned around.

So that is the angel message for me today. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, I am in the realm of God. Only good is present there. Everyone there is the child of God, me included. God is in absolute control of the situation. I love to learn lessons like this. Now I feel better prepared for whatever this day will bring. Thanks to the author of that article, thanks to the editors of the Sentinel. Thanks to divine Love for showing me this truth.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tares and wheat

This week's Bible lesson on 'Matter' contains a familiar parable, the tares and the wheat. As I prayed with this story today I decided to think of the wheat, the good seed, as truthful thoughts about God and His children. Thoughts based on the creation account given in Genesis One, where God saw all that He had made, including man in His own image and likeness, as very good. I would think of the tares as anything that presents or suggests something unlike God or good.

That puts me in the role of the person who sowed good seed in my field. That field is my own consciousness and includes my body, my home, my family, my friends, my church. So that today I am 'sowing' only good and right thoughts about myself and everyone around me. In the parable it says that something comes along while 'men slept'. To me, that would be like reading the lesson in the morning, and then letting my thoughts drift away from its teaching into a place where I was not alert to wrong ideas or bad thoughts. We need to stay awake and alert during the day. The 'enemy' would try to slip in evil suggestions disguised as our own thoughts or hidden in some tv ad or idle conversation. The 'fruits' of this may not appear at once but pop up days or weeks later.

In the parable, the sower's servants see what has happened and come to him. In my prayers I see this as someone coming to me and wondering how problems seem to have popped up in my life, when I am supposed to be only sowing 'good seed'. This is when others doubt Christian Science and press you to explain just what you are doing wrong. But the sower in the parable doesn't take personal responsibility for error. He knows that this is the work of the 'enemy', not something he himself has done wrong.

When others see us dealing with a problem they sometimes think we need to be taking some visible action. And they are usually full of advice on just what it is they think we should be doing. They are all for charging in and pulling it all out by the roots. But the wise sower knows that the leaven of Truth is already at work, he or she has chosen to rely on God and His allness. Prayer does not return to us void or ineffective. But we need to be willing to trust and be patient. As we continue to grow spiritually, as we continue to pray and listen, Truth becomes clearer to us. We see the Original and are no longer fooled by any impersonations.

As we arrive at this point of understanding we are ready for the harvest, the healing. At that time we see error for the nothingness it is, aware that it does not come from God, and therefore is without power or reality. It is as useless as weeds, and as easily recognizable. On the other hand, we see the value of the 'wheat'. This is our harvest. And at that point the error or problem disappears.

I love praying with the parables. Let me know if you are working with this one and how it is expanding for you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What will you profit by today?

The dictionary defines profit as an advantageous gain or return, a benefit. In this week's Bible lesson on 'Substance' each section begins with a phrase about profit. So I decided to look for just what each person gained or benefited, how they learned more of what true substance is.

To profit from an experience one must also be a prophet or spiritual seer. One must begin with God as all there really is. There is nothing else. The three Hebrew boys knew that and they chose to disobey Nebuchanezzar's law and to only obey God's law. When they were punished by being tossed into the fiery furnace they emerged unharmed. So they profitted by learning that their true life and substance belonged to God and nothing could ever take it from them.

A widow turned to Elisha for help when her husband died and she could not meet her debts. She was about to lose her sons as well to the creditors. Elisha's answer was for her to borrow more, in the form of empty pots, and to then fill these from the only thing she thought she had left, one pot of oil. Her supply was only limited by the number of pots she borrowed as she filled them all and was able to pay her debt. She profitted by learning that her reliance was not on her husband, her sons, or Elisha, but only on God, good, who supplied her needs in abundance.

Solomon contacted a neighboring kingdom to ask for the supplies he needed to build a temple for God. This could not have happened when the land was at war, but now that they were at peace, he moved forward. His offer was to send his own servants to help and to pay fairly the servants of his neighbor. The agreement blessed both sides. Solomon profitted by seeing that his substance was from God and he had all he needed plus enough to be generous to his neighbor.

The man at the Pool of Bethesda thought he was without help to get the healing he needed. He told Jesus he had no man to help him. Yet there was the Messiah, right in front of him. His healing was instantaneous. He profitted by seeing the true source of healing was not in some random act of nature or with the aid of others, nor at the whim of chance. His true substance restored harmony and health.

The story of the tribute money is only given in the book of Matthew, which is not surprising as Matthew had been a tax collector when Jesus invited him to become a disciple. The half-shekel or Temple tribute was a customary tax towards the maintenance of the Temple services. Every male Israelite above the age of twenty was required by law to pay this annually. Jesus knew he was exempt from such a tax but chose to pay it., so that the creditors, who did not know he was the Son of God, would not get the false impression that he dishonored the Temple, thus hindering his ability to convert them. Jesus tells Peter how to get the money, from a fish's mouth, and that coin was enough to pay for both of them. In Jesus' case, a condensation, in Peter's a debt. The result is that the money appeared and the debt was paid. Peter profitted by this demonstration of God's power.

Although these events took place over 2,000 years ago, they are wonderful to read about, inspiring to contemplate, and just as possible for us today...if we choose to profit by them.

What will you profit by today?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Seven synonyms

There are many ways to handle our challenges through prayer. One of the ones that appeals to me is what I call the Jericho approach. The children of Israel had finally made it into the Holy Lands. As they advanced into the country the first big city they came to was Jericho. They were to take possession of this city but they were coming off of 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They were not a trained army. But what they had was faith in their God and His direction. Joshua was a good listener and he followed through with obedience. God's commands sounded a bit odd, but Joshua followed them to the letter. All the people were to march around Jericho with the Ark of the Covenant leading the way. March completely around the city and then return to camp. Six days in a row. One wonders how the people inside the city reacted to that? They were to repeat this on the seventh day with a few additions. Each of them carried a light, covered over. They were to march silently until Joshua gave them the signal and then shout a great shout and uncover the lights. God told them He had given them this city. He told them they already had the victory. When they did this, the walls fell down flat and they were victorious.

When we are faced with something that may seem as difficult to conquer as a mighty fortified city, when we feel like we just don't have what it takes spiritually to deal with it, we can look at this story. Imagine that you chose to become calm and still. Imagine that you worked your way around the problem using each of the seven synonyms for God; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. Taking the time you needed to see just what each of them represent and the qualities they express in direct reference to your challenge. By the time you got to the seventh one the light of Truth is shining strongly. All you have to do is shout with joy for the problem has been handled, God has given you what you needed. Victory is yours. Those impenitrable walls will fall down flat because God is the only power there is and nothing can oppose Him and stand. Your job is to witness this, to use this as an opportunity to see God in action. Strenthen your faith. Learn to claim a present victory when there are no signs of it being accomplished. God's plan is under way, is in operation. It doesn't mean literally seven days to healing. Just seven ways to reinforce that nothing is impossible to God, at all times and under all circumstances.

So get busy and don't forget to shine your light and shout!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Leaving your nets...or seeking a different catch

The first section of this week's lesson about Christ Jesus tells about the beginning of his ministry. In Matthew's gospel, we read about what he said when he invited Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to become his first two students. He had been preaching, telling those who would listen that the kingdom of heaven is right here, right now. Now he was to take a very important step in his own spiritual journey, he was to become a teacher. One wonders if this is not what God had already told him, Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men.

He is out and about one day, walking by the sea of Galilee. He sees two men, fishermen, casting nets into the sea. These men were already disciples of John the Baptist so perhaps this call was not so sudden and unexpected as it appears. I would love to imagine that they were talking about the things John was saying while they fished. John was preaching about 'he who was to come'. These men, then, were moving from disciples to apostles as they were going to be learning from the Messiah himself. So in effect, they did not lay aside their nets, they just changed them, they sought a different catch. He calls them while they were at work, just as he calls Matthew, the writer of this gospel, while he was busy collecting taxes. (an interesting thought for those cherishing the idea of become a fulltime Christian Science practitioner) Another thing that occurs to me is that Peter and his brother and the two sons of Zebedee, who were partners in their fishing ventures and owned many boats, were wealthy. Matthew, the tax collector, was rich. John was known to the high priest and had a house in Jerusalem. All were called to leave that behind, or at least change their focus, to travel with Jesus on his ministry, to learn from him a new trade, as it were. They were referred to as 'unlearned and ignorant' but that simply meant that they were not trained in a school by a rabbi. Even the sons of the wealthy were taught a trade.

So the invitation is issued and accepted. They are to 'follow him'. They are to become fishers of men. These first four are to leave their nets, the others to leave their source of income behind as well. Just what is it we are asked to 'leave' behind when we start on a spiritual journey for answers and healing? Just what is we gain? Mrs. Eddy says what Jesus gave was "the true idea of being, which results in infinite blessings to mortals." With this teaching we come to know about divine Life, Truth and Love. We come to depend only on God, divine Love, who always has met and always meet every human need.

What are you willing to 'leave'? What change of thought is going to be working in you? Only you can answer that. But, if you are willing to do it, you can pick that net back up and use it in a new way, cast it on the right side. Imagine what you can gather in! How do we go about doing this? What steps do we take on a practical level? A good student watches the Teacher. Pay attention to what Jesus says and what he does. Make it your own. Start with the Beatitudes, those right attitudes we can be expressing that lead to blessings and happiness. See how each one applies to your own experience. Understand that you are truly blessed by God. Look for evidence of that around you today. Be grateful. Show by your actions to others that you are not afraid to share the goodness. I'll be writing about that tomorrow...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing on the ground

This week's Bible lesson is about Christ Jesus. All the years that I have been studying the Bible and reading these weekly lessons, if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that there is always more to learn, more to see. So whenever a familiar story or passage appears, I rub my hands together and say, 'Oh boy, this week I am in for a treat because I am going to see something I hadn't before'.

One section relates the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman dragged before him by the scribes and Pharisees. They almost seem to have planned this, just to try and trap him into condemning her to the Mosiac punishment of stoning, or going against the established law. So who were these men? The scribes were writers employed to copy the Scriptures, an arduous and fatiguing work. They simply copied the Word, but could not interpret its meaning. The Pharisees were interested in the holy text and teaching of the law to the minutest details. Neither group was noted for compassion. Both saw religion as being consistent with conformity to the law. Their decisions could be taken as binding. They added to the Word many traditions which Jesus did not consider to be binding as they did not come from God. They obviously percieved him to be a threat and hoped to incite violence against him.

So here they are, surrounding a cowering woman, demanding that Jesus pronounce judgment on her situation. How many times have we felt cornered by family, friends, co-workers, church members to make some decision, even to choose sides in an issue. What's touching me so strongly today is just how the Master dealt with this, a pattern for how I can deal with similar situations for myself or for those who call me for prayerful support.

Jesus must have recognized that it was not their business to accuse and judge the woman. They had neither the legal or moral right to interfere in civil disputes. I'm sure he was praying to react in just the right way. Writing on the ground was a symbolic action well known in antiquity, signifying unwillingness to deal with the matter at hand. Jesus was not taking responsibiliy for something that was not really his concern. He did not engage in an arguement. Things might have turned out differently if Eve had simply knelt down and wrote on the ground instead of getting into a conversation with the snake. But I do not think he was idle. We will never know just what he doodled on the ground. Considering what happened next it might have been names. He might have written out several of the Commandments. He might have listed a few sins. They should have taken the hint.

They continued badgering him. His next move is what interests me most. "...he lifted himself up." For me that means he turned to God in prayer, he elevated thought to see past the ugly picture presenting itself and looked to Divine Principle to see that only God's laws were in operation. To divine Love to bring healing to the situation. To divine Truth to only see the real man present. That is the perfect 'Step Two'.

Only then does he speak, inviting whoever among them was without sin to throw the first stone. THAT stopped them. Jesus again stooped down and continued writing on the ground. They were forced to look within themselves and did not like what they saw. They filed out, one by one, beginning with the eldest. Eventually only Jesus, the woman, and his disciples were left.

How lovely this next part is. Jesus again lifts himself up, again takes thought to a higher level for now he must deal with the woman. The text says, 'he saw none but the woman'. I always applied that to the fact that the angry crowd had dispersed, but it could also be how he continued praying about the situation. He saw no other woman there but the innocent, pure child of God. Wouldn't you love to be able to handle a situation that way! See no other person but the child of God before you. This next is also so important....where are those thine accusers? Where are those who would find you guilty, see you as less than the perfect reflection of Good? In reality, there is only God and His creation. Nowhere in that creation are they those who would find fault or plan some else's downfall or act in a vindictive way. The accuser never really exists for God fills all space.

She must have realized who stood before her because she replies to his question that 'no man' is there to accuse her. But she may have feared that he, being so much more, might. He gently takes that fear away. Neither did he condemn her. And since he had already declared that "I and my father are one" then neither did God condemn her. But for her part, she is to go and sin no more.

The lesson includes the Beatitudes and I will expect to gain something new and wonderful from those this week as well. I hope you will too. Be sure and share. I'd love to hear it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Being still

As I prayed this morning, I turned to an article in this week's Sentinel. The focus of that whole issue is how to pray about the weather and that is very timely with what is going on in Florida. One article mentions two places in the Bible where storms are stilled. That is what I will be thinking about today, how to be still when one seems to be surrounded by turmoil or danger. The first reaction should be to stand beside God as Elijah did in I Kings 19. Running for his life from a vengeful queen, Elijah had taken refuge in a cave deep in the wilderness. God came to him there and asked him, ''what are you doing here?" Then Elijah followed God outside and stood beside Him as he saw first an earthquake, then great wind and a fire. But he could see that God was not in those things. After all the tumult died down God spoke to him with a 'still, small voice'. Isn't that what we want to hear when we are frightened and fearful, a quiet reassurance that in fact we are completely safe.

The second incident is in Mark's gospel. Jesus has had a busy day. He and disciples are in one of Peter's boat, far out on the sea when a sudden storm threatens to capsize them. Jesus was sleeping. The disciples wake him, terrified by the storm. He 'arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm'. Oh, how dearly would we all love to be able to do that! Blown this way and that by circumstances that seem beyond our control, battered by relentless waves of debt or resentment or guilt. And then, with the Christ beside us we feel that wind cease. What would follow would be a great calm. Think about it, do you really think a ship with the Christ aboard could sink?

And then there is that reference in my favorite Psalm, "He leadeth me beside the still waters", the best way to see a perfect reflection. Or Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God". Go on to Psalm 107:29, "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still". There are more! When you feel the need, search in the Bible and find others.

Mrs. Eddy uses the word 'still' over 60 times in Science and Health and twice that many in Prose Works. I also love to turn to the hymnal for inspiration. Just look at the third verse in hymn 49, or both verses in hymn 74...and there are many more.

That's what I'll be doing today and I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where could we possibly get that much bread?

There is a wonderful scene in this week's Bible lesson from Mark's gospel. Many of us have been to a Christian Science lecture. They usually last about an hour or so. Well, Jesus had been teaching a growing multitude of listeners for about three days. At this point, he called his disciples together. He did not want to send the receptive crowd away but they were running out of food. He says something very interesting. He does not want them to head home in this hungry state for 'they will faint by the way'. That echoes something he speaks of in the Sermon on the Mount. There he was describing how the Word of God is recieved in the parable of the Sower and the seed. He says there that sometimes the seed falls 'by the wayside', landing on hard or stony ground. That seed cannot sink down into the soil but remains exposed to the feet of passersby, ground down. You may know some people who give that appearance. Those 'seeds' become prey to the birds and are carried away and devoured. You can follow that train of thought easily and see how it could be applied to these listeners. He wanted them to be able to remain with him longer and get his message to the full.

Those disciples, bless their hearts, seem a bit taken aback. And here comes the big question: Where could we possibly get that much bread? Especially here in the wilderness? Have you ever asked yourself that question when faced with a bill coming due, a mortgage payment you can't meet, an obligation that just seems beyond your means to fulfill? How can I possibly come up with the money to satisfy what seems like thousands of demands? Especially when both the check book and the savings account seem pretty empty.

Jesus simply asked them "How many loaves have ye?" Just what do you see as your available supply? They came up with seven loaves and a few fish. Hmmm.

Jesus first organizes the people into groups, having them sit on the ground. This must have set up some sense of anticipation. Then he takes what they had gathered and gave thanks. Do we sit down at the first of the month and give thanks for what we have? Do we acknowledge that Our Father has an unlimited supply for us? Do we feel confident that He will meet our every human need, even if we don't see just how that will happen? Jesus apparently did. He broke the bread in pieces and gave those first to the disciples. They then repeated this action and the bread and fish just kept appearing. They did eat and all were filled. With seven baskets left over!

Those of you who know me may have heard my own 'loaves and fishes' story but I will repeat it here, breaking this bread for those who may not have heard it. Many years ago I was employed as a librarian at a school. My contract ran from September to June. I also had a short summer school program. One year, as the summer was coming to a close, we were facing the month of August with no income and about $2,000 worth of bills due. I prayed and prayed but could not come up with any ideas for a way to earn what I needed for that month. Who would possibly hire me for just one month and what could I do that would earn that much money? It seemed impossible. But I gave thanks for what we did have and turned whole heartedly to God for an answer. Days and weeks passed. Two days before the end of July I got a call from a friend who was also a librarian. She had been contacted by the principal of another school who had a dire problem. Their librarian had been called away on a family emergency and was not expected back until just before school started. They had recieved their library order for the school year, about 30 boxes of books, that needed to be checked in, catalogued, and put on the shelves. My friend already had a commitment for August so she was calling me to see if I could help out. I told her I would be happy to. The principal called later that day and we arranged to meet on his campus the following day. He was so grateful that I was willing to help. He was leaving town himself but gave me a key to the library and an envelope. He hoped that would be adequate. I put it in my pocket and didn't open it until I got home. Inside was $2,000 in cash.

Don't be tempted to ask the wrong question when you face a hungry multitude. You should know instead exactly where you could find that much 'bread', even in the 'wilderness'. As it says in Matt 6:8, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." Don't forget to say thank you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Meeting at the well

What a clear picture John presents as he describes the meeting at the well. Jesus and the disciples were travelling in Samaria. They came to Sychar. Within it is a famous well named after the Patriarch Jacob. It had been a long walk in a hot, dusty climate. Jesus sits on the edge of the well to rest. This ministry in Samaria is recorded by John to show Christ Jesus as the Saviour, not only of Israel, but of the world. And he seems to have done that one person at a time. What a lesson for those of us who practice Christian Science and want to share it with others. The Samaritans were considered an alien race that boasted of being Israelites. They kept the Sabbath, observed Jewish feasts and other practices. But they held other beliefs about where the temple should be built. Jesus had just heard that John had been cast into prison and he avoided the cities where Herod was powerful.

He arrived around midday, the sixth hour. This was not the time the women normally would gather at the well for the day's water. So this woman may have chosen to come then to avoid them as they would have been rude to her and condemned her lifestyle. Jesus breaks down the barrier and opens the door to a conversation by asking a favor of her, a drink of water. Many times, as we go about our errands and daily tasks, we find ourselves in a situation where we might like to reach out and offer some words of comfort. Many things might hold us back. Not Jesus. The woman is surprised that he has spoken to her. Jesus now can speak to her and lead her to his real message. What he had to offer was the gift of God, just as we do when we share a Sentinel or invite someone to a lecture or a church service. Living water. Refreshment. An unlimited supply of good.

The woman's reply identifies two things that one often hears when someone wants to rely on prayer for healing but has doubts. She considers his offer but does not see how he can deliver as 1. he has nothing to draw with and 2. the well is deep. People want to believe prayer alone can meet the human need but they have to overcome the belief that it can't. That spiritual means alone are not enough to draw upon. That material means and aids are necessary. Just how would he be able to give her 'water' without a bucket or rope or dipper. How can I get this physical healing or meet this demand for supply without some visible source as my answer? Of, this is a huge problem, this well is deep, this is beyond your reach. It is not and never could be beyond the reach of divine Love or outside of the power of divine Truth.

God is our infinite, unlimited, unchanging source of all good. And it is He wish and plan to care for us like the loving Parent He is. What He gives is ours by grace, we don't have to earn it, we can't buy it. We just have to be willing to accept it. And be grateful. And be joyous. If a change of thought is required, we need to be willing to think of things in a new light and not return to old ways of thinking about God and our relationship to Him. What we gain is the understanding of our oneness with the loving Source of all good.

Next time you find yourself 'at the well', don't hesitate to find a way to open that conversation. It is that 'cup of cold water' that someone is desperately needing. It can only bless both of you. This week's Bible lesson shows how we have that same mind that was in Christ Jesus, the only Mind there is. We can walk through our day knowing what he knew. Cheers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Be as a watered garden

This week's Bible lesson on Soul starts off with some wonderful images. The Golden Text from Jeremiah reminds us of one of God's promises: " people shall be satisfied with My goodness, saith the Lord." I looked up 'satisfy' in the dictionary and will be working with some of its meanings this week. It means to fulfill, to free from doubt or question, to discharge an obligation, to meet a need. I see ways to apply that promise to many of the things people call me about when they are asking for prayerful support.

Within the Responsive Reading is an even more vivid image. I love gardening and nothing is more distressing to a gardener than to come upon a garden that has not been watered enough. The plants are dry and dusty, wilted and drooping. The ground is cracked and hard. It just cries out with thirst. Yet, once it is given a refreshing soak it is amazing to see how the picture changes within a short time. The plants are washed free of dust and shining, the stalks are once again upright, the flowers come back and even the ground looks soft and moist. So you can see why I was so excited by this verse also from Jeremiah: "...and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all." Wow! That's just what happens when we turn from the distressing mental or mortal picture we seem to be facing and turn instead to the arms of divine Good.

I often work with the 23rd Psalm and its description of The Good Shepherd. Now I can add these verses as a description of divine Love, Our Father, as The Good Gardener. I can see how He tends to His beloved children. We can find that kind of refreshment and all our needs can be satisfied. One of the hymns says, "who doth His will, His likeness still, is satisfied".

Go about your day today knowing that with God you can feel satisfied, you can satisfy all your debts, you can be as fresh and revitalized as a watered garden. That's what I'll be doing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A New Threshing Instrument

Today I am praying with Isaiah 41: 15, 16. "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel."

I love any passage that begins with the word 'behold'. The dictionary says that word is used in the imperative to call attention. So we are to pay particular attention to what follows. Jesus uses it often in his teachings.

Threshing is th process of separating the grain from the straw. This might be done on a threshing floor designed for the purpose out under the open sky on a hill. First the sheaves were loosened upon the ground and oxen driven in a circle over it. Then when the wind blew, the threshed grain was tossed high in the air with a pitch fork, the threshing instrument, and the chaff was blown away. The clean grain fell to the floor to be harvested.

I look to Isaiah's words for two types of inspiration. One way to work with them is to see that divine love will provide a new 'threshing instrument' to help me separate the tares and the wheat in my experience. Some problem has not yielded to my initial prayers and it is time to take a fresh look at what needs to change in my thought.

A second way to see this, in connection with my work as a practitioner praying for others, is to see that God will make 'me' that instrument. I will get just the inspiration I need to see that unreality of the lie about God and His perfect creation.

Either way the result will be that, with the ideas God provides, at all times and under all circumstances the problem can and will be healed. Some things seem to loom over us like mountains; immovable objects, something just to big for us to climb over or around or through, Goliath-like adversities. Despite their claims to be permanent or unchanging, these can be reduced to a less frightening picture and then even hill-sized problems can be carried away. It might take a simple breeze to do it, or it might require the strength of a whirlwind, but it has no substance of its own and cannot resist being removed.

And when this happens, we must see and understand that it would not have happened on its own, it was divine Truth making us free. We can rejoice in the disappearance of the problem, but even more in having learned something about God's loving care and protection. More about our place in His affections. A clearer glimpse of the right to peace, health and supply.

Thanks, Isaiah.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Preen your wings daily

I was very pleased to get another way to expand my growing understanding of our daily spiritual growth. Mrs. Eddy mentions having 'both wings plumed from flight'. I could see applications for that in not trying to hold one very uplifting thought or truth while still having the 'yes, but' thing keeping the other wing down. You just end up going in circles. You need both wings lifting you upward with no negative beliefs dragging you down.

That thought was clear enough but what really moved it up a notch was to substitute the word "preen" in there. At first I resisted that idea because of my preconcieved idea of what "preen" means. I took it to mean an action that was egotistical, showing off, or self-congratulatory. Fortunately, I looked it up in the dictionary and while that is one of its meanings, it is not the primary one. Here is where real inspiration came.

The primary meaning is to smooth or clean the feathers, to trim with elaborate care. A bird must daily preen its feathers, smoothing any that are rumpled or out of place. If they don't it will hamper their ability to fly. They must also clean their feathers, removing any dirt or accumulations. We can all see the wisdom there and how that applies to our thinking and our life. This process takes time and undivided attention, something we rarely seem to give ourselves, and yet how important, especially early in the day, to do this. With all our 'feathers in a row', any misaligned thoughts straightened out, all the dust and debris removed, our flight is assured. And as you fly you ascend upward. Elevated thought, elevated living.

So that is my suggestion for today and this week. Preen your wings. Sometimes birds have to remove damaged feathers, even a quarter of an inch can affect their flying. But once they have put in this time preening they are free to soar. Soar and sing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Turn the parade around

There is an incident mentioned in this week's Bible lesson about Life that always moves me. Jesus and a throng of followers are about to enter the city of Nain. They are met with a heart-wrenching sight. Leaving the city is a funeral procession. Jews always bury their dead outside of the city walls. Heading for the cemetary is a crowd of mourners clustered around a grieving woman. This was her a mother who has already lost her husband and now must say goodbye to a beloved son. They must have been a respected and loved family for much of the city has come to be with her. This is a tragedy because without husband or son this woman will be alone and unprotected. Such was the way at those times.

Jesus has an interesting reaction and response. The Bible describes it this way: "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her." He did more than feel pity at a distance, shaking his head at her misfortunes. He approached her and spoke to her. Hebrew men did not speak to women in public usually. This is what he said: "Weep not." Now what mother would not weep under these conditions. Whatever could he have been thinking. What he was thinking and knowing was soon apparent to all, who must have been able to hear and see what happened next. He leaves her, no doubt being supported by her friends, and turns to the bier. Those carrying it came to a stand still. With all eyes upon him, he speaks to the dead young man, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." I bet you could have heard a pin drop, or a growing murmur as his words were whispered from person to person. But before anyone could question Jesus, that young man sat up! And Jesus delivered him to his mother. He must have helped him get off that bed of death and handed him into the open arms of his mother.

Can you imagine how that scene changed! From a mourning procession, crying and wailing with grief, the whole party, intermingled with Jesus and his followers reversed direction and headed back into the city with great rejoicing. I'm sure there must have been many questions asked of the disciples as the crowd went back to the woman's house. Jesus completed turned that situation around.

That is what the Christ can do for you today. The active presence of divine Life, Truth and Love can completely turn around some situation you are facing. From the deeply dramatic to the simple everyday things that come up. Whatever it is, we can stop the procession of depressing thoughts, refuse to accept the presence of anything but God's goodness, and find our whole outlook uplifted and joyful. Are you facing a loss of some kind? Does disaster seem inevitable? Stop and wait on the Christ to come to you, this divine Comforter who feels nothing but compassion for you and refuses to leave you in that situation. Jesus restored what seemed gone forever. He had another view of true substance as spiritual and eternal. He understood that Life must express itself without end. Mrs. Eddy writes about it this way in the lesson: "Spiritual man is the image or idea of God, an idea which cannot be lost or separated from its divine Principle." Nothing can separate us from the love of Love.

Try it. Turn that procession around today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To Move...or Not to Move

The second section of this week's Bible lesson struck me funny the first time I read it. It begins with an assurance from God that because we put Him first in our lives, we will not be moved. The very next section is about Abraham and what does God tell him? To pack it all up and move! Seems a bit confusing, but there are more ways to move or be moved than one might think.

Abraham was 75 years old at the time. He had devoted his life to honoring God, he was a good man married to the same woman for over 50 years. He had all the material wealth one could ask for. He had property and possessions. He was living in the ancestral home, surrounded by comfort. Yet, God tells him to move. Maybe Abraham was just a bit set in his ways. Maybe he had stopped making any progress or had given up on his heart's desire. When God tells him his is to move to a Promised Land and have great rewards, Abraham, a little hesitantly points out that he has no heir, no one to inherit all of it but his faithful servant from Damascus. With all the things Abraham had, he was without the one thing that mattered most to him, a son. Maybe he needed to 'move' from where he was so settled in body and mind. God assures him that he will indeed have descendants, as many as the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore. So off Abraham goes, taking his 70ish wife with him.

This promised child does not appear for another 20 years. But they were travelling that whole time. Abraham must have continued to grow spiritually through this process. At last, that son is born to them when he and Sarah are in their 90's. I find this very reassuring. They were at an age when such a thing was considered physically impossible...and yet it happened just as God said it would. Those of us who are in our golden years and may not have set aside a nest egg, may be worried that there is not time or opportunity for this to happen. Here is proof that it is. Our supply comes directly from God and is not limited to our physical abililty to earn it or save it. Those of us who face physical challenges connected with a belief of age can see here that all those limits and false beliefs can be set aside. Our youth is renewed like the eagle's, a beautiful story in itself. I wrote about that in one of my earlier blogs.

Mrs. Eddy was in what was considered at least middle aged in the mid 1800's when she discovered Christian Science. She went on to overcome every obstacle in her path as she wrote our textbook, established a church, lecturred in public, healed incurable diseases, opened a metaphysical college, formed a publishing company, edited the periodicals, and created the Christian Science Monitor. She left a substantial estate when she passed on it 1910. This sentence from the textbook appears in this week's lesson about God as Live: "Having faith in the divine Principle of health and spiritually understanding God, sustains man under all circumstances." She should know, she proved that and left Christian Science well established as her gift to the word.

I will be thinking about the ways I might need to be willing to 'move' my thought this week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Which field are you cultivating?

As I study this week's Bible lesson on Life, I am thinking quite a bit about the above question. It came up at the end of the first section as I read this: "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal 6:8) I need to ask myself, as I go through my day, which 'field' I am spending time on, encouraging to grow. Are my thoughts centered around the scenario I see around me in daily life, or do I take time each day to turn my thoughts to God and see myself as living our His plan for me, a good and wise plan from a loving Father who will meet my every human need? No small thing, as it is obvious which crop will be the result.

The Golden Text this week offers much to pray with. It is from Ps 27:1. "...the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" Who do I fear today? What power am I giving that person or thing to harm me or cause me to be fearful? Someone has written that you can define 'fear' as 'Forgetting Everything About Reality'. That is just what we do when we listen to suggestions that predict doom or pain or lack. We forget what is Real. We forget the Allness of God and that it is His good pleasure to provide for us.

So today I am substituting the things that I am praying about for myself and others in that Golden Text....the Lord is the strength of my (health, happiness, supply, eyesight, hearing, purity, right relationships, home); of whom shall I be afraid? I am thinking about reversing fear and expressing instead its opposite; confidence, trust, faith, expectation of good, etc.

You know, you can trust God, who is divine Love. He loves you every minute of every day. He is a very present help in trouble. His arms are always open. Try cultivating that field and see how the 'crop' changes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Remembering vs. ruminating

As I studied this Bible lesson about God one theme stood out, remember. When we are in the midst of some challenge; physical, emotional, financial or even mental, this is good reminder to turn our thought away from the picture confronting us and to focus instead on what we know to be true about God and our relationship to Him.

My generation is faced with the belief of failing memory. Mrs. Eddy has something very specific to say about that: "If delusion says, 'I have lost my memory' contradict it. No faculty of Mind is ever lost." Mind is never absent so man cannot be absent-minded. There is a wonderful article, Sharpening our Spiritual Senses, and in it I love this sentence: "Tn the proportion that we accept the spiritual truth that we can never be separated from all-knowing Mind, human sense of remembering improves."

Some memories, held on to for the wrong reasons, can cause pain and suffering. Some word or deed keeps recurring to haunt us with something someone said or did. Some action that seems unforgivable. It can rankle to the point where it appears physically on the body. It is like a scar. Those memories need to be faced and healed. Forgiveness is not just in words, it must come from the heart. Mortal mind would argue, why should I be the one to straighten this out when he or she caused it. As long as you believe that, the problem remains. Try separating the action from the person, impersonalize it and deal witht the error instead. See that such qualities cannot be a part of God, divine Love, and therefore, cannot be reflected by His image and likeness. This is not part of His creation and cannot touch any of His children. In Greek, forgive means to let go. Holding on to hurts will only impede spiritual progress. Jesus advised Peter to forgive his brother seventy times seven times. By then, surely the hurt should be gone. When you develop a willingness to forgive, you're the one who will be set free.

Other memories need to stay with us. Memories of times when we saw evidence of Love all around us, or glimpsed the beauty and power of God, good. In Christian Science churches there is a service on Wednesdays with time provided to share testimonies of healing. All kinds of healing. Expressing gratitude is part of healing. Acknowledging a power greater than our own was there on our behalf, guarding, guiding and protecting. Remembering your healings or the healings you have heard or read about can give you just the thought you need to handle a present situation.

I was never very good at memorizing passages. But, since I began my study of Christian Science I have found so many things both in the Bible and in Mrs. Eddy's writings that have helped me when I was in pain or distress. I also love the hymnal. Being familiar with the music, the words seem to come back easily and often there is just the idea I need at that time to change my thoughts and move closer to harmony.

Take a quiet moment today to think back on a time when God was a very present help in trouble. Remember how good that felt. Say 'thank you' again. You can rest assured God, divine Mind, is remembering you always.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Continuing with sentence four

This is giving me so many great ideas and truths to work with. Here are the first three sentences from that paragraph on page 495. I will pray all day today with the third one. "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought. Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious - as Life eternally is - can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not.

Let. My grandmother spoke Italian as her first language. To us grandkids she spoke mostly English, but lapsed into Italian on occasion. She used the word 'let' the way I might use the words 'quit it' in moments of exasperation. As in 'let it be' or 'stop doing that'. But she also used it when she wanted us to calm down. Let. Let is go, be at peace. So I always think of her when I see this sentence. Let. I am not ruled by fear or doubt. They have no place in my character or experience. As I study Christian Science I am gaining a deep understanding and the ability to respond to things with trust and confidence. What Mrs. Eddy goes on to describe here as a clear sense and calm trust. She also handles that idea of 'overshadow'. This is important. It is what error is trying to interject. To overshadow means to darken or obscure, to make insignificant by comparison. How many times does that come up each day? Answers hidden away, a feeling of depression, solutions indistinct or imperceptible. Shadows cannot lessen the sun. The sun is still present and shining brightly. Even shadows have to move eventually.

Life is another synonym for God. Life is all about 'being', what is. Always replace 'what if' with 'what is'. This sentence shows how to do that and it is based sqarely on God and His ever present goodness, and His unchanging love for you. Catch just a glimpse of the that and it destroys any sense of pain, physical or emotional. It shows clearly what is not true. And just as clearly what is. Life is good. Your life is good.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

On to sentence two

Yesterday I prayed with the first line of the paragraph in this week's Bible lesson found on page 495 of Science and Health. Today I will work with the second. Here they are. "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought."

You can choose what you are thinking about. When you find yourself ruminating, going over and over the same thing in your mind, you can decided where your focus will be. This sentence is a reminder to keep your thought on God's likeness. So what is God like? Mrs. Eddy gives several synonyms for God, ways to think about what God is and what we are as His very image. Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. So what we are allowing ourselves to think about God that way. The divine laws that govern the universe in harmony. The divine intelligence that sees everything that it had made and that it is very good. The spiritual senses that give us perfect sight and hearing. The true substance that is spiritual and perfect, without flaws or pain. The vitality and activity of being. The honesty and integrity expressed throughout all of creation. Divine Love that is all-inclusive, nurturing, guiding, protecting, cherishing each of us. As God's likeness, just like the image in the mirror, we can only reflect what is true about the Original. We do not originate anything on our own. So by praying with this sentence we are allowing that likeness to abide in our thought, to see ourselves only as God sees us, to see others only as God sees them, to be seen by others only as God sees us.

This is practical as we can apply it to any situation, any circumstance, and bring about a change in thought that leads to spiritual growth and healing. Try it today and see how easy it is to pray with this idea. Think about how long mankind accepted the idea that the world was flat. It was not flat during that time, but remained whole and round, even though no one understood the truth about it. Once they did, and it could be proved, mankind changed their thought, came in line with what had always been true. The planet did not change, our thought of it had. The planet was never the problem. You were made in God's image and likeness. That is the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not. When you come to understand it, your thought about yourself will come in line with that truth. Wouldn't you rather be the sphere, without beginning or end, than the straight line with a beginning and an end?

Tomorrow we go on to the third sentence. It's pretty powerful. See you then.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If I only had only paragraph to pray with...

This week we beging the cycle of Bible lesson topics again. Starting with 'God' we repeat the 26 topics Mrs. Eddy established through to 'Christian Science'. This has been going on for over 100 years but each of the lessons is unique. Anyone choosing to read and study them, over time, becomes familiar with the main Bible characters and their qualities. I think this is also true of Science and Health. We become familiar with some of the most powerful and practical truths in it. But they are never just 'same old, same old'. Quite the opposite. When a familiar passage comes up in the lesson, either in the Bible or Science and Healath, if I find myself tempted to just zoom over it, I know that what I really need to do is look at it with fresh eyes, know that I will find fresh inspiration from it this week, expect to get new insights.

If I only had one paragraph to pray with I suppose it would be the one on page 495 of the textbook. It is like a mini treatment and includes all the elements of prayer that lead to healing and spiritual growth. So this week I will share some thoughts as I spend time with it, one sentence per day. This is how it begins: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea."

We are tempted all day long with pictures of sickness, suggestions of sin, illusions that claim something is present that God did not create. The Bible begins with His creation complete and perfect, God seeing everything, everything that He had made, as very good. Everything. Every person, place and thing as very good. Anything presenting itself as something other than good is not part of that creation. Since God fills all space, for all time, there is nowhere for such a thing to exist. So it is not real, it is an illusion claiming to be real. It has absolutely no power or reality unless we choose to believe in it. And the minute we recognize it for what it is, it loses even that illusion of power or reality. It just disappears into nothingness. Immediately. And what had been true all along stands revealed, perfect, completely unaffected by the lie. It was never touched or changed, it was never in pain, or lacking, or unhappy, or confused. It was always very good. Only the illusion was experiencing those things. But in reality they were never present at all.

That 'serpent', that wound itself around the tree in the garden of Eden, spoke to Eve. There were no problems until she listened to what it had to say. And argued with it. And then did what it wanted her to do. But God never created a talking serpent, it was just an illusion. It only had the power to suggest, it couldn't make her disobey or believe in it. And it can't do that to anyone else either. You never had to be controlled by the suggestions of evil or error. It has no real power behind it. It can't inforce anything it says.

So how do you deal with it? Ignore it? No! Turning your back on it does not make it less real to you. Face it and see that it is nothing, just an illusion, just the water that appears to be on the road on a sunny day. It 's not really there. No matter how real it appears to be. You can't go over and touch it. Don't be fooled. Cling. Remain attached. Be like the barnacle. Nothing can loose you or dislodge you from your oneness with God, good. No power on earth. Be steadfast in understanding that. Think of God as divine Mind, all-knowing. And what Mind is knowing is the order and perfection of His creation, including you. You are an idea that divine Mind is holding intact and complete. There is nothing within that idea that is harmful, hurtful or lacking.

There's much more to the paragraph. I can hardly wait to share more tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good Samaritan, good neighbor

I was sad to hear several stories covered in the news about people who were hurt and no one stopped to help them. In some cases, this resulted in a fatality. This morning's news, for the first time, was balanced with an act of kindness saving someone's life. A girl was on an overnight bike ride through on a trail in a forest when she was attacked by a bear. A guy came by later and found her. He stopped, held her in his arms, comforted her. She was able to hand him her cell phone and he tried 911 twice before calling the ride superviser. He stayed with her until help arrived. She has a long road to recovery but will survive.

I am reminded of the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a man is travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is jumped by bandits who beat him, robbed him, and left him to die. A rabbi and a priest see the man, but choose to pass by. It is a Samaritan who stops to render aid. First of all, Jerusalem is the religious capital of the Holy Lands in Jesus' time. Jericho was their equivalent of Las Vegas. The man was on his way from one to the other. We can draw some conclusions from that. But he certainly did not deserve what happened along the way. We all know people who are headed down the wrong road when disaster strikes. The circumstances are not the issue. Our response to them is.

The rabbi checks to see if it is someone from his congregation. When it is not, he just leaves him in the road and continues on his way. The priest does the same. Both miss a wonderful opportunity to practice what they preach about loving your neighbor as yourself. It is a Samaratin, a member of a despised race, who stops. He is the one who actually lives up to Jesus' command. Notice how he deals with the situation for it is a pattern for us to follow when faced with this kind of thing.

Compassion. He binds up his wounds. A kind word of encouragement, a pause to listen to someone's troubles, the opportunity to restore someone's self respect. The man poured in oil, to soothe, and wine, to cleanse. Those were costly remedies in the East and he gave generously to a stranger. He could have felt he had done enough at that point. But he does more. He puts the wounded man on his own beast, he now has to walk the rest of the way. He brings him to the inn where he is staying. Surely, he could have dropped him off at the local shelter and have done enough. But the Samaritan does more. He must have been a frequent visitor to this place for the innkeeper knows him and trusts him. He leaves the man in their care, paying up front and pledging whatever else will be needed. He will repay it on his next visit.

This was living the law of Love. This is the true sense of binding up the broken hearted. Think how that man must have felt, lying there wounded and ignored. What value he would put on consolation. The Samaritan walked along beside him. Surely today you can find a moment to 'walk beside someone'. You don't have to take them 'home' as in where you reside, but you can take them 'home' into what you are believing about them, what you are thinking. Judge not but show compassion and someday you may be on the recieving end when you need it most. Take care of that person in the sense of knowing that they cannot be separated from God's Love, no matter how many poor decisions they might make. Never fear being generous to others. God has told you "All that I have it thine".

The young man that stopped to help that girl did not know her. He stopped anyway. He did what he could to bind up her wounds and stay with her until help arrived. Then he went his way. We need to hear more stories like that. So many seem Jericho-bound.