Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just who was unable to see

This week's Bible Lesson includes an incident in John's gospel where Jesus heals a man born blind. It illustrates how Jesus came as a 'light to the world'. It happened on the Sabbath Day, further inflaming the wrath of the rulers, who saw his actions as defying their laws.

It began when the disciples saw the blind man begging on the street. It was commonly accepted that such a punishment came upon someone who had committed a great sin. Their question seems silly to us but when they questioned who was responsible, the unborn child or his parents, there are those who ask such questions today. They might see some defect, physical or emotional, that they believe was either hereditary or caused in the womb. In the case of the disciples, they thought the man might have sinned in a previous state of existence in accordance with the transmigration of souls or as a child before birth. The Jews attributed intelligence to unborn children. Jesus was quick to rebuke either thought because both were based on the wrong premise. He saw the man's true sinless nature.

At this point in his ministry Jesus knew his death was near. He had to do his work and show mercy while there was still time to do so. He creates clay using his own saliva, saliva being a recognized remedy for eye diseases. This might have helped the man be receptive to the healing power. He then sends him to wash it off, much as Naaman was sent to dip himself in the river to be healed of leprosy.
The man is healed and can see.

However, what was more incredible than this wonderful healing, was the stubborn blindness of the Pharisees who would only see what they considered a breach of the sabbath laws. It was forbidden to render medical aid on the sabbath, unless there was imminent danger of death. There was a special prohibition against applying saliva on the sabbath day. The Pharisses assumed the man was born blind as a punishment for exceptional wickedness. They refused to focus on the healing, just choosing to be upset with the breaking of the sabbath laws, laws put into effect by man, not by God. They would not 'see' their ignorance. They thought themselves wise and refused to learn a new way of life.

Christian Science teaches that God is not the author of sin or sickness. He does not cause His beloved childrent to sin or be sick. It is not God's law that is being broken, only silly false laws man has put into place regarding disease. The remedy is large doses of Truth, the truth about God's ever present goodness and His tender care of each of His ideas. Sickness and sin are illusions, a dream state from which we can awaken to the radiant reality of our spiritual identity. God, Principle, is the only law and it is a law of ever present good being expressed to and by man. This powerful truth can 'unclasp the hold' of any lie of sickness or sin.

Let's open our eyes to the goodness of God and to our own perfection in His eyes. Let's see what God is 'seeing' about us as the only truth. Let's not cling stubbornly to an outgrown false belief. Let's not think ourselves wise but look to God, divine Mind, for wisdom. Defy those material laws. Let in the light!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Today I am following a line of thought sparked by references in the last section of this week's Bible Lesson. Many years ago, when I was first beginning my study of Christian Science, I attended a Wednesday evening testimony meeting. One of the men stood during the time for sharing healings and remarks and he gave gratitude for how practical Christian Science is in his life. I was impressed by his words and the incidents he shared where applying Christian Science had brought healings.

The final section of our Lesson has the word 'practical' in two citations from Science and Health. Luke was writing in his book of Acts about the first book he had written, the Gospel of Luke. It is a collection of eye witness accounts of the teachings of Jesus, including many healings he performed. Now Luke is following up with a second book that tells what happened after the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus returned to teaching his disciples for an additional 40 days. He had 'shown himself alive...by many infallible proofs'. Assembling them together he commanded them not to disperse but to stay in Jerusalem for the 'promise of the Father'. Then he left them, ascending out of their sight.

Mrs. Eddy gives us some direction where she writes: "But the human self must be evangelized. This task God demands us to accept lovingly to-day, and to abandon so fast as practical the material, and to work out the spiritual which determines the outward and actual". There's that word 'practical'. The dictionary defines it as acquired by practice or action rather than by theory, involving practice. So we are to study Christian Science, accepting this directive lovingly, so that it a deeply satisfying search for Truth, the truth about God and His beloved image and likeness. We are to abandon - so fast as practical - the material. In Science and Health, in the chapter Footsteps of Truth she says: "God requires perfection, but not until the battle between Spirit and flesh is fought and the victory won." That is in the Lesson but the next sentence reads: "To stop eating, drinking, or being clothed materially before the spiritual facts of existence are gained step by step is not legitimate. When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path".  That is sound practical advice. This is how we work out the outward and actual.

The second reference to 'practical' says: "May the Christians of today take up the  more practical import of that career!"  We are to be Christlike. But Jesus did not just know that God supplies all human needs, he fed the hungry multitudes. He healed the withered hand so that man could earn his living. He opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and cast out disease.  Our practice of Christian Science should also be practical, meeting and healing every challenge that comes along during our day.

That testifier impressed me with the simple way he turned to God, expecting an answer, finding solutions to every day things. That was what I was looking for, that was what proved to me that I had found it. You might enjoy using a concordance and looking up all the places 'practical' is used in Mrs. Eddy's writings. And putting them to use.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Am I?

Two very arresting questions appear in the 4th section of this week's Bible Lesson. I am looking at them this morning and asking myself.....Am I living the life that approaches the supreme good?....and Am I demonstrating the healing power of Truth and Love? I should be asking myself those question every day.

Am I living the life that approaches the supreme good? As I go about my daily routine am I living a life that affirms that divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need? That is a part of my daily work for myself, praying to know that I am God's beloved child, made in His image and likeness, and expressing good in my every thought and action. And if I catch myself not doing that, I immediately correct the wrong thought or action to be in accord with goodness. I love being good and doing good. That part is easy. What I have to watch is the 'thinking good'. Something happens and I have a negative reaction or I hear something on the news and agree with it a false presentation of God's perfect creation. This is why it is so important to take 'prayer breaks' during the course of the day to be sure I am keeping my thoughts 'good'. Good because God is good and good is always present and operating.

Am I demonstrating the healing power of Truth and Love? How actively am I demonstrating healing? Mrs. Eddy reminds us that the healing power is always available ' to all mankind and in every hour'. Divine Love is supplying all good and healing is constantly going on. Do I affirm that regularly during my prayer breaks?

How can we keep to this high standard? Mrs. Eddy gives us the answer...."Hold perpetually this thought, - that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being".

So in my prayer breaks today I will see how I'm doing, how closely I am complying with that high standard.  At the end of the day, in my prayers just before going to sleep, I'd like to be able to see how well I did, with God's help, and be looking forward to doing even better tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Don't end up wearing the 'cone of shame'

This morning I have been thinking about the story in our Bible Lesson concerning the woman taken in adultery. It is clear that the scribes and Pharisees had been watching her activities and waited until the right moment to 'arrest' her. Although the law about commiting adultery said both parties should be stoned, they did not bring the man when they took her to Jesus. They were clearly trying to put him in a situation where he would be forced to say something incriminating. Then they could accuse him of a crime and they could discredit him before his followers.

Jesus was not so easily trapped. He just stoops down and doodles in the dust. We'd love to know what he wrote but that is not recorded. They continued to badger him for an answer, Moses says we should stone her but what do you say? I love the fact that he 'lifted up himself' before answering them. That is the response we all would like when we are faced with those who would attempt to trap us, badgering us about something. He lifted himself up above the material picture and gave an inspired answer. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Brilliant. Brillaint because it shifted the attention away from the woman's sin to their own actions. And faced with this simple invitation, 'being convicted by their own conscience' they left the scene.

Jesus was left alone. They left him alone, they stopped badgering him. Their plot had failed and their own sin had been exposed. Jesus was innocent and they couldn't succeed in their attempt to humiliate him. Error never succeeds. We can and should always turn away from the confrontations that it tries to cause. God, good, is the only cause, and good is the only effect. Jesus brought healing to that event, healing not only the woman who had been committing sin when he said, "neither do I accuse thee", but causing those men to see the sin they were committing and to change their thought, to cease that action.

He tells her to go and sin no more and hopefully those men got the same message. We cannot just sin and be sorry. When we come to see that we have sinned, chosen to believe that we can be seperate from God, we must not just apologize to Him, we must be sure we do not repeat the offense. This is being un-self-ish, not just unselfish. We need to understand our true selfhood and claim it and demonstrate it. Every day. That is practical repentance. And every time we make this conscious choice, it gets easier. Our efforts are crowned with success.

I love the movie "Up". In it, the dogs are occasionally punished by having to wear the 'cone of shame', a cone around their head. I also love "Despicable Me" where the little girls, punished by the woman who runs the orphanage, are made to spend time in the 'box of shame'. When one makes a mistake, that is a very uncomfortable way to atone. Much better to tell God we are sorry and to not repeat the offense. Mrs. Eddy says we 'need only to turn from sin and lost sight of selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship'. Our true divine nature.

Choose today, should you become aware of some sinful suggestions about yourself or someone else, not to end up wearing the cone of shame (can't you just imagine that for those men) or in the box of shame. Repent, change your thinking and actions to be in accord with your true divine nature.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The favorite child

My children have a friendly rivalry, each claiming to be the favorite child. It started with a funny Valentine from one of them years ago but they keep it going to this day. When I read the story of the Prodigal Son, which is in this week's Bible Lesson (Luke 15:10-24) I see a bit of that same rivalry.

There is so much to the story. As I continue my search for paintings that show Biblical themes, I remembered that I have a book, The Return of the Prodigal, A Story of Homecoming, on my shelf. It is written by Henry Nouwen and was prompted by his encounter with a reproduction of Rembrant's The Return of the Prodigal, a tremendously moving work of art. It lead him on a journey of deeply personal spiritual learning. I love the way he describes the events leading to the homecoming, the Father's affirmation and welcome, and the reconciliation. It is a powerful reminder that all of us are the children of our heavenly Father and we never lose that status, even when we think we have wandered far from it.

I tucked a note into the book of some thoughts it prompted.
The compassionate Father showed unconditional love, no condemnation.
He lovingly waited for the child to come home, maybe it was that love that drew him there.
He sought only to heal and bless.
The love the child searched for had been always present.
The child was always worth looking for.
His original goodness was intact.

                                         All of God's children are His favorites.

You can look up the painting on-line.

Is sin real? No. It is only the false belief that we are separated from God, from good. No matter where we find ourselves, when we come to ourselves and wake up from the dream or illusion, we have the ability to choose good, to go home. In truth, no dream of evil or error can remove us from the kingdom of God or take away our status as His beloved favorite child.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A new week, a new Bible Lesson, fresh ideas

Monday morning again, a new week beginning, a new Bible Lesson to read and study. "Grands" scurrying around to make the school bus on time, parents thinking about the week ahead, our weekly grocery shopping list and menus to be decided. But first and foremost, I am taking time this morning to pray for myself. This is in obedience to Mrs. Eddy's request: "One thing I have greatly desired, and again earnestly request, namely, that Christian Scientists, here and elsewhere, pray daily for themselves; not verbally, nor on bended knee, but mentally, meekly, and importunately."  (Miscellaneous Writings, p.127)

I found some wonderful ways to do that in one of the articles in this month's Christian Science Journal. The article, Prayer that renews church, seems an unlikely place to find ideas for praying for yourself, but there they were. And I wrote them down to carry with me today, to apply over the course of the day.

God is governing right now. (that was helpful with the 'grands')
God's structure is always secure (that got the parents on their way)
God's structure will always be in place (a good one for me)
God's structure cannot be disrupted (that helps with all the errands)
I am spiritual.
I am deeply valued by God.
I am held in God's care always.

I look forward to digging deeper into the three Bible stories in the Lesson; the Prodigal Son, the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda, and Eutychus surviving what appeared to be a fatal fall. Those three help answer the question, Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?, and promote a clearer understanding of God and our relationship to Him.

The week is off to a good start!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Are you ready? Water or wine?

I make it a part of  my morning routine to read an article from The Christian Science Sentinel and an aricle from The Christian Science Journal. Not surprisingly, they usually contain exactly the thought I will need that day. This morning I was challenged by a Journal article, 'And the third day...', by Penny Witney. She wrote about some of the experiences Bible characters had on the 'third day', Abraham learns he is not required to sacrifice his son Isaac, Moses is called up to the mountain to recieve the Ten Commandments, Saul is healed of his blindness on the road to Damascus. She points out that this is not a message about waiting for something to happen but shows a present response to the goodness of God.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy's definition of 'Day' includes the thought that '...Mind measures time accordintg to the good that is unfolded. This unfolding is God's day....'.  I have always loved that sense of my day being the unfolding of good from my Father Mother God. Much as I would plan a day for my children or 'grands' in which their day would be filled with good things, so is God doing that for each of us.

What startled me was another thought from that articlel. It is a question I will be pondering today. The question is posed, in reference to Jesus' first recorded miracle when he turned the water into wine at a wedding feast, "Would I have been able to turn water into wine that day? Is my thought always at the level of "third day thinking" - which is really an immediate acknowledgment of the Christ consciousness at work and practical?"  Wow! Am I praying daily to see that I am always capable of 'third day' thinking because God is the only Mind and I am His reflection?  Am I ready and willing to turn 'water' into 'wine'?

The glossary in Science and Health defines 'wine' as inspiration, understanding. Am I always ready to turn the 'water of human experience' into the wine of spiritual understanding? It's a tall order but one well worth cultivating. Yesterday I got an early start and was pretty confident that I knew how my day was going to unfold. It didn't go that way at all!  I found myself doing some things around the house, changing some decorations and cleaning an unused room. I had thought about those things but figured I'd get to them eventually. God had other plans. I just suddenly knew it was right to do them and they got done quickly and easily. Not only that, but I felt very inspired while I was doing them and very at peace.

A lot of good unfolded yesterday and I fully expect more will unfold today as God turns the 'water' of my day into 'wine'.  Are you up for the challenge?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Lesson from The Pool Of Siloam

I've started on a new quest. Many years ago I was visiting an art museum and came upon a huge painting with a Biblical theme. I do not now remember the actual painting but I can still feel how awestruck I was by the rich color and detail. I lost track of time standing before it. Over the years I have looked for a book that would be a collection of paintings like that, Biblical events and characters painted by the great masters. I never found one until last month. Friends introduced me to the Musuem of Art in Saint Louis andin  that gift shop I found a series of books that come very close. So as I read and study our Bible Lessons each week I am also researching works of art that go with the stories. I print them out or buy the print to include in a binder. This morning I was looking for a picture of Jesus anointing the eyes of the blind man and then telling him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. One of the images I found caught my fancy as it showed Jesus and the man in the center, the disciples (who had questioned who had sinned, this man or his parents) off to one side, and the man washing the clay away in a fountain. Then I looked a little farther and found another picture that thrilled me. It is byJames Tissot and it shows the man beside the Pool of Siloam in the act of washing away the clay.

What is so powerful about this one is the flight of stairs leading down to the Pool. Imagine what courage it took for that blinded man to make his way down them to the wate, for he appears to have made his way there on his own. There he is, kneeling beside the Pool, with his hand to his eyes. You can just glimpse his reflection in the ripples. And the viewer gets a sense of what a wonder it will be when this man, who has never been able to see, gets this first look at the world and sees his own reflection, whole and free. There are women on the other side of the Pool and it looks like they might be washing clothing or linens. From the account given in the Gospel of John it seems this man was familiar to the inhabitants of the area. These women were about to witness his healing.

Why did Jesus spit on the ground and make clay? He certainly did not need to do that for the healing as he had healed others of blindness with his word only. But then, those others had asked for the healing. This man had been brought to Jesus attention by his students who wondered about his punishment. Jesus knew only his innocence. This was not the man of Genesis Two, made when God supposedly made man of clay. This was the image and likeness of God described in Genesis One where we are all the children of one Father. The clay might have been a help to the man's faith. Once it is done, he commands him to go and wash it off. That was more than a test of obedience. John saw some significance to that particular Pool, which means Sent. Jesus has just told them he had been sent by God to do the works of God. The man, unlike Naaman, does not dispute the choice of water, he at once goes there. When he returns to thank him, Jesus has moved on, so the man goes home.

There is more to the story but today I will hold that picture of the man kneeling beside the Pool very close to my heart and rejoice in the power of God, the power of good, to bring healing. I will strive not to ask the wrong questions when faced with a challenge, but to look for and listen to the Christ. When my angel message comes, I will 'follow and rejoice', expecting the healing. Grateful in advance. Understanding God's love is the difference between physical and moral blindness and clear vision and reflection. I want to see my reflection too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Overcoming temptaton with trust

The third section in this week's Bible Lesson on Unreality has the story of Jesus going into the wilderness and being tempted by the devil. He had just heard directly from God that ' this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased'. He was a grown man now and ready to begin the mission God had been preparing him for. We know little about his growing up years but even as a young man he was found in the Temple talking with and questioning the elders. He must have been quite the Bible scholar and spiritual thinker. He had many years to read about the Messiah, he may have heard from his mother the details of his birth, he, like other Jews, was waiting for this great Leader to appear. And now it was pretty clear that he was the one.

No wonder he went into the wilderness to be alone and pray. It was only near the end of that time, when he was hungry and thirsty ( for answers as well as food and water) that the temptations came. Isn't that how it happens for us sometimes? We begin to see what may be ahead for us but we are not sure exactly what we are to do about it. Those temptations may have been part of what he was trying to understand about himself and his role as the Messiah. He must have known that it would not be what the people were expecting. He would not be the great warrior King leading a religous battle. He would be fighting much greating enemies.

There is a great scene on an Indiana Jones movie where he is faced with a test of faith. He must step out over what appears to be a very deep canyon and trust that he will make it across to the other side. He takes that step and finds that there is a transparent bridge, hidden from a normal perspective. When he throws some sand on it, he can see how wide it is and just where to step to get to the other side. The bridge was there all along, he only needed to trust and take that first step.

What is the 'tempter' trying to use to entice you? This week's Lesson is all about choices and choosing. Those temptations start with an 'if', they are designed to sow doubt. Be alert to that with the suggestions that come to you. Jesus was not fooled or mislead, he simply responded with a Bible verse that came to him right when he needed it. Shows how valuable it is to read the Lesson regularly and really study the citations. They come to you just when you need that thought.

So he knew the right answers when he required them. But when the test was over and the devil left him, there is more to the story. It says that angels came and ministered to him. He had his doubts cleared now and those angel messages brought comfort and affirmation. He was faced with choices and he chose wisely. God doesn't lead us into temptation, the suggestions are not coming from Him. So we don't have to prove anything, we don't have to impress anyone, and we don't have to worship any other so-called power. Blessed are those who face temptation and are stronger for the experience.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Choose wisely

There is a great scene in one of the Indiana Jones movies where the 'bad' guy is faced with a choice. He has found the water of life and is faced with an array of cups and chalices, one of which is the Holy Grail. He must choose one and dip it into the fountain and drink. He is evil and chooses an ornate chalice. When he drinks from it, he dies. The knight who has guarded the treasure for centuries says simply, "He chose poorly".  Our Bible lesson this week on Unreality is all about making choices.

Who do we choose to obey and serve as God? We are faced with this decision all day long as error presents itself in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We listen to the morning news. What do we choose to take in as truth? What do we choose to pray about and see as unreal because not originating with God who is good? We look at our day and choose what our activities will be. Will I start out with the lesson or will I wait and fit it in later in the day? Do I pray for myself first thing so my thought is clear and in line with divine Mind or do I just get going on that long to-do list? I get a phone call and listen to a friend pour out a grievance. Do I nod my head in agreement or do I mentally pray to only see what is true about the situation? Do I think I have my day all planned out and suddenly, along comes Goliath?

Goliath made a choice. He chose to invade a small people and bully them into submission, defying their God and their beliefs. Usuallly when I read this story I am thinking about the choices David has made. This young man chooses to stand up against the gigantic professinal warrior. David chooses to meet him without benefit of armour or sword. David chooses to understand that he is fullly supported by his God who will protect him, as He has already done while David defended his family's flock of sheep from predators and bandits. This is just a bigger lie, suggesting a power other than God is present and a threat. David chooses not only to not believe that, but to stand up for what is real and good. How often am I faced with Goliaths in the form of illness or lack or inharmony or fear? They may seem to loom large and threaten my well being, my supply, my peace, my security, even my faith. But they are still lies without any authority or power to do as they claim.

We live in a wonderful age with amazing technological advances that seem to connect us all in new and faster ways. Many limits are being ovecome, many problems are being solved, old ways of thinking are changing. But still the 'Goliaths' appear. Do we choose to bow down and obey them, do we wait for someone else to step forward, or do we run to meet the challenge with confidence in God?

When you find yourself facing a decision, stop and listen for God's answer....He is always present and ready to help....and then....choose wisely. And see that 'Goliath' fall.