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.