Thursday, March 26, 2009

Your 'Pool of Bethesda"

Included in this week's Bible lesson is the story of Jesus' healing of the man by the Pool of Bethesda. I was thinking about that this morning and asking myself, "am I sitting beside my own Pool of Bethesda"? That man had carried around a heavy burden for many years. It seems to me that what he was now doing was hoping to some miracle that would restore him to health. Restore his dignity and self esteem. Allow him to stand unaided. Give him freedom to move around on his own. He believed, as did the many others who came to this Pool, that what caused the healings was the intervention of an angel. Mrs. Eddy defines angels in Science and Health as God's messages and messengers. So this man was waiting for evidence that an angel had appeared and then hoping against hope that he would recieve the blessing.

Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed. An odd question but the answer establishes where the man's thought was at that point. He believes in the power of the angel, he believes healing is possible, but he feels that he is unable to be healed because to do so he must rely upon the help of others to get him to the pool. Do you feel that way? Do you think that you need the intervention of someone to move you ahead of others in the employment process? Does it seem like someone else always gets their blessing, perhaps what should have come to you?

Jesus had asked him if he wanted to be made whole. That man must have been feeling, then, that he was not whole. He was physically handicapped, he was alone, he was a victim of circumstance. Many feel that way with all the challenges around us. Do you feel that there is a hole in your life, in your body, in your relationships, in your career? Does there seem to be something missing? Jesus might well ask you the same question. Do you want to be made whole? Of course we do. But how? What was the Christ offering to do?

Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health that Jesus beheld the perfect man, the perfect idea of divine Mind, right where the rest of the world saw something lacking. Jesus saw everyone as whole, never having lost anything. Always as the perfect reflection of a perfect Original. Complete. Undisturbed. Whole. Healthy. Complete. Able to do all things through God who is our constant support. And he saw it so clearly that, like a light being turned on in a dark room, the man's thought of himself was lifted as well. That light of Truth shined for both of them. And it brought healing and restoration because immediately that man was whole. This was a revelation, not so much a restoration. What had always been true had been revealed. So no physical therapy was needed to strengthen weak muscles, no time was needed to recouperate. No help was needed to balance that man so he could walk on his own. No help was even needed to carry that cot. He could walk right then and there. And he did.

If there seems to be a 'Pool of Bethesda", a person or place or thing that you are looking to for help or healing, why not look instead to see that angel message coming directly to you from your Father in heaven. No pool necessary to prove its presence. Do not accept any limitation that says you can only succeed if others help you. Do not accept the suggestion that you are the victim of circumstance and that someone else gets to good before you do. Good is infinite and cannot ever be used up. There is more than enough to go around. It is God's will that you understand your relationship to Him as His very own beloved child. That comes with divine rights and privleges.

Turn away from the 'Pool' and look for your angel. It is your very own angel and its message cannot be diverted, delayed or erased. When you feel that you are in the presence of the Christ...rise...take up your bed...and walk. Lift thought to cling to perfect God and perfect child. Be made whole.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

That which concerns me

Another favorite Bible passage is in this week's Bible lesson: The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me...) from Psalms 138. I like to pray with this one using it two ways.

First, it is so comforting to know that my Father will perfect the things that are causing me concern. The things that concern me. He will open up what seems to be a blocked way, He will make clear some direction that is confusing me, He will smooth out any relationship challenges, He will provide me with abundance when I am concerned about adequate supply. No matter what it is that is causing me to feel concern, I can trust His care and control.

Secondly, it is so supportive to know that God is also going to straighten out anything that concerns me, things about me in my own thought or in the thought of others. Another name for God is divine Mind, the only Mind, the all-knowing and wise Mind. If we understand this, we see that we are all reflections of the intelligence, that wisdom, that knowing. We are not holding our own opinons, just reflecting His as His image and likeness. There are zillions of individual minds, just an infinite number of ways that Mind is knowing things. So God is fully aware of everything about me.

Our bodies express what governs and occuplies our thought. Are you feeling a sense of heaviness or foreboding and is that expressed in weight issues? Are you feeling unsure about a decision that needs to be made and that is being expressed in stomach problems or dizziness? Whatever you are entertaining in thought is what comes out on the body. I love to envision Jesus walking on the water right in the midst of a storm. What lightness. What confidence. What mastery of the elements. What control. We would all like to move through life like that. The message in that Psalm helps. In another part of the lesson we read this from Science and Health: "...Mind can impart purity instead of impurity, strength instead of weakness, and health instead of disease. Truth is an alterative in the entire system, and can make it every whit whole."

I'll be praying with these passages today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Morning Chapel

When my kids were young, they attended a school where the staff and Administration were all Christian Scientists. Each school day started with a gathering for Chapel and parents were invited to share in it. The classes took turns participating in Chapel, with readings from the Bible or a good thought for the day. A side benefit was giving the children poise and confidence as they spoke before their peers in a safe and supporting environment.

I remember staying for Chapel one day and hearing a verse from the Bible that is in this week's Bible Lesson. The verse is from Psalms 19: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."

The words of my mouth. May everything I say be acceptable to God. That can be a tall order as we go about our day. But, not a bad exercise to stop and think what God would think about what you just said. Keep a closer eye on how positive or negative your reactions are and what it says about you. If what you say is acceptable in God's eyes, then it can't be offensive or hurtful to others, nor can it be misunderstood.

That goes for your inner thoughts as well. We can often stop ourselves before we say something we might later regret, but do we take the time to change what we are thinking, if it a thought that would not be acceptable to God. The things we think about our family members, our fellow workers, the person at the check out line, the other drivers on your commute. Do we allow unpleasant or unkind things to stay in our thinking? If we do, they might just slip out when we speak. Better to keep those things we mediatate on, think about, brood over, reminate upon, be acceptable to God as well.

The simple exercise of this lovely prayer is to keep what you say and think pure and good. It certainly makes for a calmer and happier attitude. But this needs to be based on spiritual law, the Principle that comes from the account of creation in Genesis where God saw everything that He had made and it was very good. Nothing unpleasant, evil, unkind, painful mentioned in that account. Nothing that could cause us to think badly of others or be thought badly of in return. Taking it back to God eliminates those things that would cause us to see any one in the wrong light. Much better to see by the light of Truth.

If you are new to Bible study, you might start with the book of Psalms and read through looking for verses like this one that you can copy out and carry around with you. That verse concludes by recognizing God as our strength and redeemer. What we can rely upon and be supported by. Thw Word of God never fails.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Calm yourself, Iago

When things appear to be getting out of hand, I often pray with this verse, Psalms 46:10. "Be still, and know that I am God".

There is a moment in the Disney version of Aladdin when the evil Sorcerer's parrot is having a fit about what is going on. There is a long stream of complaints until the Sorcerer uses his fingers to close the bird's beak and say, "Calm yourself, Iago". I laugh every time. And when I find that I need to calm thought for myself or someone else, I think about this. It is my response for the first still. It is only in perfectly still water that you get that clear reflection that so exactly matches the original. Be still. Stop fussing, stop fidgeting, stop trying to fix matter, stop complaining. Just be still. Quiet. Noiseless. Soundless. Motionless. It is in this kind of stillness that one can really listen for angel messages. This is when you hear divine Love's answer.

Having found this stillness, the next part is to 'know'. What is it we are to know? Mrs. Eddy assures us "Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free". The truth about God being All in all. Filling all space. Always present. For everyone. In absolute control. Giving His child dominion. God, the source of all power. God as the only cause and Creator. All of God's creation being very good. No illness. No pain. No conflict. No lack. No inharmony. No confusion. No fear. Most of all, no fear. Knowing that God can and will take care of every human need removes any sense of fear. There is nothing to be fearful about. We can trust Him. We can rely on His perfect plan.

When God gave Moses a way to address Him, a way to describe Him to others He said: "I AM THAT I AM". I AM. Present tense. What a tremendous concept to 'get', that God IS. Right here. Right now. I AM in charge. I AM providing all you need. I AM the source of all good. I AM your God and you are My image and likeness, just like Me in every way. Just like the image in the mirror exactly shows the original. If it isn't true about the Original, it can't show up on the reflection, whatever 'it' claims to be.

Be still. Know. I AM.
Calm yourself, Iago

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nazareth or Capernaum response?

In the 3rd section of this week's Bible lesson Jesus meets with two very different responses to his words. He had been traveling and then returned to his home in Nazareth. He went to the synogogue and taught. The people of Nazareth were surprized by his gracious words but they had known him growing up there and all they could see was the son of Joseph the carpenter. Surely, this person could not be the Messiah. They became angry and attempt to harm him, but he passed among them and went his way.

He finds a different response when he visits Capernaum. Again he goes to the synogogue and preaches. But here they feel his power and their response is to bring any that were sick to him for healing. And every one was healed. After a while, he prepares to move on and they follow him, asking him to stay with them. But he knows he must continue his ministry.

Two very different reactions to hearing about our relationship with God. One cold and judgmental, the other receptive and open, drinking in his words and desiring more. This section is about the path we choose to walk and the way we choose to walk in it. It fits beautifully with an article in this week's Sentinel entitled Foot Prints. I will pray with this section of our lesson and ponder the beautiful Sentinal article as I walk my path today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Which law do we choose to obey?

In the second section of this week's Bible lesson on Matter there is the restoring of the man with a withered hand. This is now the third time that the adversaries of our Lord have accused him of breaking the Sabbath laws. Remember, these laws are not any of the Ten Commandments given by God, but traditions put in place by man. Yet, if any of the 613 rules were disobeyed, punishment would follow. There are laws that govern man, but they are the laws of God, spiritual laws. Any laws that condemsn man to suffer are the so-called laws of matter. They are not really laws at all and they have no power behind them to enforce them. God's law is a protection to man and that is a totally different thing.

In this story, Jesus is in the synogogue. He sees a man whose right hand was withered. That detail comes from the gospel of Luke, the physician, who always noticed those things. We do not know if this withering was the result of an accident or some disease that gradually led to its loss of motion. Whatever the cause, the result was probably that his man could no longer work. Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about whether it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He responds with an example that would have made perfect sense to those who were listening in. He asks them who would among them, owning only one sheep, and that sheep fallen into a pit, wouldn't lift it out? How much better then is a man? Disappointed in their hardness of heart, their willingness to let someone suffer rather than break a foolish law, he turns to the man and tells him to stretch forth his hand. Only malice could call healing by a word, without labour or medicine, a breach of the sabbath. Jesus then healed with that simple sentence. The man obeyed his command and his hand was restored

Now before we condemn that hardness of heart, let's be sure we are not doing the same thing. How often do we make a casual remark about someone being exposed to contagion or think that they might have some sickness that God never created. Or, being sick ourselves, believe we have to go through some series of symptoms until we are well again. Are we choosing to listen to and obey false laws not of God's making? God saw all that He had created and it was very good. So nothing that claims to make us sick or hurt originates with divine Love. Or, as Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: "Every law of matter or the body, supposed to govern man, is rendered null and void by the law of Life, God." Don't choose to obey the wrong laws and suffer needlessly. Choose God and His divine law of everpresent good.

Monday, March 16, 2009

choose wisely

There is a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie when the villain chooses from an array of cups, seeking the real holy grail. Drinking from the false one causes him to wither up and die. The guardian of the Grail says, "He choose poorly".

There is a parable in this week's Bible lesson, an example Jesus gave, about choosing wisely. It is the parable of the tares and the wheat. All of his listeners understood how frustrating it can be, and how devastating to a crop, to find intrusive weeds in your field. Especially when you have started with the finest seed and carefully prepared and tended the ground. All of us know how frustrating it can be to start out with the best thoughts, carefully work with a project we hope to bring to fruition, only to find that the problem does not yield, the challenge is not overcome, the job does not appear, no new clients sign on. We are shocked and disappointed. Like the man's servants, we look around to see who is to blame. But that wise man did not react quickly to the presence of the weeds and we should not react quickly to the appearance of error in the form of a false idea. False things have no real basis and they will not last. The wise man was willing to be patient and to trust in the value of the good seed that had been planted, the good work that had been done. The error would be easy to identify in time, as would the wheat, and they would then be separated. The tares are gathered and burned. The good wheat harvested. That right idea was allowed to grow strong and get established, well developed. He couldn't bring that field into perfect condition immediately, but he knew what the final outcome would be if allowed to come to maturity undisturbed. We never need to make a big deal out of problems. That usually just makes things worse. Keep watching the good seed, trust in it.

I look forward to 'digging in' to the rest of the lesson!

Friday, March 13, 2009

notes to self

I have posted several notes to myself. One is on the mirror in the bathroom, where I am sometimes tempted to be unhappy with what I see reflected there. That note is from Psalm 139 and it says: "I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." That one is a reminder to not be critical of God's creation, to appreciate my uniqueness, and be grateful for how God sees me.

Another one is taped on to my check book cover. It is a quote from Mary Baker Eddy and I am reminded of it every time I go to write a check. She wrote: "Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us." When I am tempted to be fearful about seeing the balance in the checkbook go down, when I need to honor a debt, when I want to make a donation, these are all opportunities to see that my true source of supply is unlimited. Supply is a spiritual concept and God has promised me I will have all I need at every moment. All that He has is available to me.

I am thinking about putting a few more of these notes around the house and in the car. It's fun to find just the right quote from the Bible, Mrs. Eddy's writings, or our hymnal to lift thought when that is most needed. Give it a try and let me know what you came up with.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This week's Bible lesson is on Substance. Sub means under. Stance means standing. What are you standing on? What do you stand for? Many of the Bible characters mentioned in the Responsive Reading had to answer those questions. Enoch's understanding of substance allowed him to be 'translated' so that he did not experience death. Abraham had to lean on his faith when God directed him to leave his comfortable home at the age of 75 and set out without even knowing quite where he was going. Abraham had to have a very clear understanding of 'home' to do that, and to take everyone with him. Moses chose to separate himself from the privledged life of an Egyptian prince and return to his roots. Then he did even more than that when he led the people totally away from Egypt and lives of slavery.

We all face questions of just how we are perceiving our life, our family, our job, our church. Just what we understand those to be. When all else seems to fail, what can we rely on not to fail us. When 'all material streams are dry', where can we turn for a stream of income. When we feel very much alone, who can be our best friend and companion? Where do we see ourselves fitting in? Waht do we have to give?

One good place to at the beginning. Genesis One. God is the sole creator and when His work is done, He is pleased. "All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made." Only what God says exists actually exists. Has true substance. And that substance can't ever run out, be used up, delayed.

Oh, I know. Here it comes. But. How many sentences start with that thought! But. But I don't have a job. But I don't have a family. But I don't have good health. As soon as that negativity creeps in, you know you have taken yourself out of the first account of creation and are identifying with Genesis Two. The land of Mist. The land of Missed. Man made of the dust of the ground. Made created to toil for his livelihood. Get out of there! Why would you even want to stay there? Go back to seeing yourself as made in the image and likeness of God. What is true about Him is true about you by reflection. Is God has all He needs, so do you. If God is in perfect health, so are you. If whatever the problem seems to be doesn't appear to be happening to God, it can't touch you either. True substance. True understanding of just who and what you are. Gratitude. Peace. Happiness. Contentment. Opportunities to reach out and help others. Opportunities to be the one helped. Wake up. Get out of that Adam dream and see that you never really left God's, good's, presence.

Mrs. Eddy writes that every function of the real man is governed by God, by the divine Mind that is all-knowing and all-loving. You can trust in that. Just like it says on our coins. In the first account of Genesis all is harmonious and eternal. Sounds pretty good. It is pretty good. See yourself there. Let that be your foundation, the rock you stand on, lifted above life's challenges. Your under-standing. Your true substance.