Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stay in the shade or come into the light, the Bethesda experience

I have always loved the story of the man beside the pool of Bethesda. It appears again in this week's Bible Lesson about Christ Jesus.

The man had some kind of physical ailment that had plagued him for 38 years. So he was not a young person. He was not able to get about on his own so others had brought him to that place where he rested all day and waited for the healing opportunity. The porches were shaded and he must have been comfortable. By his words we can see that he blames his lack of healing on others who did not get him into the pool first. He wanted someone else to do the work. His family might have been very happy to get him out of the house! So there he sits and waits, making no effort to change his thinking.

Then Jesus appears. He must have sensed something in this man for of all those who were around the pool, this is the one he singled out. He asks him if he wants to be healed. A fair question and the man doesn't really answer it, he just blames everyone else. Jesus isn't buying it. He tells him to rise, take up his bed, and walk. There would have been no denying the Master. Because immediately the man was made whole. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to find oneself completely well and restored after such a long term challenge? He stands up, fully capable of doing so without any rehabilitation. He takes up that bed and carries it himself. And he leaves that place.

But he did not go home. He went into the temple, where he had been unable to go before, to give thanks to God. This tells us something about his character. And it is a gentle reminder of what we should do following our healings. Jesus finds him there and cautions him not to return to his old ways. Perhaps he will rededicate himself to the study of and obedience to the laws of God. Perhaps we will as well.

This will be such a rich week, studying about Jesus the Christ. Seeing how through him we are made free from the laws of matter, which have neither power not jurisdiction over us. Today I will be watching my own thinking. I do not want to baby along some longterm challenge, thinking that it is only by the efforts of others (my family, my friends, my church family, my practitioner, my teacher) that I would get healing. The healing comes with my change of thought and the Christ is present right here and right now to help me do that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Be preserved blameless - part two

I am still thinking about being 'preserved blameless'. That can be a two-parter. First, we can be preserved, kept in our original innocency, blameless - free from being blamedfalsely by anyone for anything. Even ourselves. We can understand and express being innocent, not guilty of any fault or failing.  Are you unhappy with your appearance? You can pray to see your connectedness is God, your oneness with the Father, as Jesus saw it. As God is pure and holy, so is His image and likeness. Pure, good, holy as the original. No one or nothing can attach blame to us. We cannot be made to accept blame. That is not the truth of our spiritual identity, the perfect idea of divine Mind, the beloved child of our Father, what is true about Truth, the pure uprightness of Principle.

Part Two is to see that we are not ever doing the blaming. Every day I pray with the daily duties Mrs. Eddy outlined for us. One of them, found in our Manual on page 40, is The Rule for Motives and Acts. Don't be a 'blamer'. We must watch our thoughts and actions to see that we are not judging or condemning. Do you blame yourself or your parents or your surroundings for some flaw, physical or otherwise? Instead, pray to see that you cannot accept anything but what God has created and caused. If He didn't make it, He didn't cause it, it cannot be real. And He never created or caused evil. So you cannot be made to believe that you have to place blame. Except to see that the source of that suggestion is nothing claiming to be something, a mind seperate from divine Mind. That's not possible as God fills all space. Don't wrestle with the claim, see it as powerless.

The Hebrew boys were blameless, they had done nothing wrong in choosing to honor and worship God alone. Mrs. Eddy writes that Love has no sense of hatred. They did not blame the king or those who had 'turned them in'. They did not blame a silly law. They chose only to put their faith in God and leave the rest to Him. And they were preserved. And the king saw that protection in a way that could not be denied and he changed his law.

The woman with 'the spirit of infirmity' appeared to be so bowed down by some 'blame' that she could 'in no wise lift up herself'. Jesus saw her, called her to him, and healed her by lifting that blame. He told her she was loosed from that infirmity. Whatever had been crushing her spirit and body for 18 years was removed. She was made straight. Preserved blameless. He did this in front of a crowd and all saw it and if there had been any blame attached to her in their thought, that too was lifted.

The Rule for Motives and Acts is provided for a daily reminder that we must watch our thoughts and actions, preserve them blameless. We must not judge or condemn ourselves or anyone else. It is a sacred responsibility that may take some pratice but the rewards are great. We can witness and experience awesome protection and healing. That is worth the effort.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Be preserved blameless

How often we seem to be challenged with the need to be 'preserved blameless'. At times we might be feeling like we have been unjustly accused of something which we did not do. Or it might seem like we are being persecuted for something we are choosing not to do.

In this week's Bible Lesson on Spirit we revisit the story of the three Hebrew boys tossed into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to Nebuchanezzar's golden idol and worship other gods. That king felt he had the right to make such a demand. But he was not the ulimate authority and those boys knew where their love and alliegence lay. It is that very devotion to God, good, that lead to resentment and animosity from some of those around them. Those people actively worked against them to bring them into disfavor with the king. They were accused and condemned and punished.

Have you ever felt like you were having a 'fiery furnace' experience with a family member, or a co-worker, or even a fellow church member? It might be a physical challenge condemning you for your choice to rely on God for healing. Those boys were not swayed by the accusations or the threat against them. They responded fearlessly, knowing God would protect them. They refused to 'bow down' to other gods. And they were 'preserved blameless'.

I think that is what we all want, to be 'preserved blameless', for any accusations or malice directed toward us to be proved harmless. Not a hair on their head was singed, so the flames did not affect their body.They felt no pain. Their clothing was not burned, so the fabric around them was not destroyed. When they came through that trial not even the smell of smoke could cling to them. No scars. Untouched at all.

The only thing that burned away were the ropes that had been used to bind them. Those represent the lies told and the murderous intent. How could anyone continue to persecute them in the face of that amazing protection? As Christian Scientists we understand that evil is never a person, place or thing. It is unreal because it has not been created by God, who is Love. It has no foundation, no power to enforce its threats. It cannot cause pain.

Let's go through our day today with that same confidence that God is with us and we are always 'preserved blameless' from the fiery darts and arrows evil sends. Let them bounce off harmlessly, not ignored but destroyed because they do not have any truth to them. Our indestructible identity as the child of God is always perfectly intact. Preserved blameless. See it for yourself and for everyone around you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An old friend and Psalm 91

The Lord's Prayer teaches us that God will give us daily 'bread', grace for today, all the inspiration and understanding and healing we need. And that has just proven itself to me again. Each morning, as part of my daily work, I read one article from the current Sentinel and Journal. This morning I was so very touched by one in the Sentinel, Under the shadow of the Almighty. The mom told of how she used Psalm 91 when praying for various challenges to her sons.

What stood out was something she discovered that I had not noticed before, how beautifully that Psalm mirrors Mrs. Eddy's poem, our hymn 207. As soon as I finished reading the article I turned to Psalm 91 and fell in love with it all over again. And it reminded me of the old friend who introduced it to me.

Many years ago, we moved to New England and settled in a little seacoast town north of Boston. I was not a student of Christian Science at that time but we were expecting our first child and both felt it was important to be attending church regularly. I was open to the idea of visiting the Christian Science church and when we went met a young woman, about my own age, who had two small children. I was very impressed with how she expressed so much love and patience with them. Those were qualities I very much wanted to have myself. We became friends and she was so patient with me as I showered her with questions about Christian Science and the things I was reading in Science and Health. Her husband was a Christian Science practitioner and I also became good friends with him. Especially after he helped me deal with the death of a young child we both knew.

We would take long walks around the harbor and I asked him for treatment on several occasions. Once when I wanted to know how to go about studying the Bible, he suggested regular use of our Bible lessons and an indepth study of Psalm 91.  My deep love and appreciation for the Bible has just grown and grown over the years. And I never forgot how it felt to walk with him and talk about God.

So as I read that article this morning I remembered my friend and how happy he was when years later I was able to list my name as a practitioner in our Journal. Today I will keep my Bible open to Psalm 91 and visit with it all day. I will also work and pray with our hymns 99 and 100 which are adapted from that psalm. My friend passed on years ago but in the words of hymn 99....My Gd, in Him I will confide.  What a blessing to know I can continue to take those walks with God at my side.