Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lie with me ... the temptation to do something wrong and then lie about it

Our Golden Text in this week's Bible Lesson is from a letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. In it he prays that God will preserve them blameless. I love that. Imagine being preserved blameless, our honesty and integrity pure. There is nothing we need to feel guilty about, no reason for anyone to try to blame us for something, and we would not feel the need to blame anyone else. Blameless all the way around. In the Phillip's translation of the Bible this phrase is 'spotless integrity'.

In another letter, this one to the Corinthians, Paul worries that, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so this young church might be 'corrupted' from the simple Christian life. Corrupt means marked by immorality, dishonest. One who lies.

Reading the account of Joseph being sold into slavery, taken to Egypt, sold again to be a servant in the household of wealthy Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officers, I saw something I had not picked up on before. Joseph is the beloved son of Jacob, who through his own spiritual growth, wrestled with error and took on the new name of Israel. He leads his people with a deep conviction that there is one God. Joseph, a favored son, sat at his feet learning about the Scriptures. Now he is far from his father and his home but those teachings give him courage and strength. Everything he does prospers. Potiphar is no fool. He can see the hand of God is on Joseph. He puts him in charge of his entire estate and household. He is now free to indulge in gluttony and neglect all else, including his wife. This woman 'cast her eyes' on Joseph and she finds a man who chooses to resist what is being freely offered and stick with his principles.

Here is the part that stood out to me. She says, "Lie with me".  She entices him to do that which she knows is wrong and then just lie about it. How often does life hand us the opportunity to do that very thing. Come misbehave and then we'll lie about it. It will be good. You'll see. No one will know, no one will find out. Don't believe that for a moment! Error loves to tempt us to some mischief and it often starts with small things. You might think some little indiscretion is harmless but it just makes it that much harder to resist next time. And there will be a next time, and soon you are caught. Then comes the lies.

Joseph refused. And continued to refuse day after day. He knew in his heart he could not commit this sin with her because he would not betray Potiphar's trust, but more importantly, he would  not dishonor God. To do this thing would be to sin against God. That's a pretty good thing to keep in mind when tempted to do wrong. This is a sin against God.

Infuriated by his stand for good, she plots to discredit him and those accusations cannot be ignored. But Potiphar sends him to Pharaoh's prison and the rest of the story is well known. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Christian Science reveals Truth and Love as the motive-powers of man. Will - blind, stubborn, and headlong - cooperates with appetite and passion. From this cooperation arises its evil. From this also comes its powerlessness, since all power belongs to God, good" (S&H 490)  Don't cooperate with evil!

Today I will be alert to the many little ways error would try to say, 'lie with me'. I certainly do not want to dishonor God and being aware of where these suggestions are coming from gives me the power to resist and denounce them. No, error, I will not 'lie with you'. I will not choose to do anything with you but see that you are a liar. You have no power, no authority, no way to enforce your threats. You are nothing. I will listen for what God is saying, 'be truthful with Me', and follow and rejoice in the freedom and blessings that brings. God preserves me blameless.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hey Candace

Have your ever been in a crowded place and heard someone call your name? Didn't you look to see who it was? One thing I would love to improve on is remembering people's names. It is such a nice touch to address someone by their name in a conversation.

In this week's Bible Lesson, Soul and Body, God says, "I have called thee by thy name, thou art Mine". I love the idea that God speaks to me and He calls me by my name. I have seen the smiles that light up the 'grands' faces when they get off the school bus and I call out, "Ian! Katie Rose!" That seems to complete that long bus ride with the assurance that they are home and someone is so happy to see them.

On the other hand, I attended many conferences during the years I was involved with children's literature. Walking the crowded exhibition halls, people would read your name tag and call out to get your attention. So much for proper introductions. One has to be alert to this kind of familiarity that does not have your best interests at heart. As Jesus puts it in Luke 21:8, "Take heed that ye be not deceived:"  You need to know who is speaking to you and what it is they are saying.

In the Lesson Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was taken to Egypt where a wealthy man, Potiphar, purchased him to serve in his household. Potiphar quickly saw that the Lord was with Joseph for all that he did prospered. He put him in charge of his vast household. Potiphar's wife was attracted to Joseph and pestered him day after day to lie with her.  But he refused her advances. He did not listen to or act upon her suggestions. She falsely accused him and Potiphar had him sent to the Pharaoh's prison where his good and pure behavior won him many friends. He eventually advises Pharaoh, is given a new position of even greater responsibility and saves the people from seven years of famine. Including his own family. Potiphar's wife may have called him by name but Joseph was always listening for what God was saying to him. And I'm sure God called him by name.

I recently misplaced my phone and turned the house upside down trying to find it. My 'grands' watched me getting more and more flustered, but they also saw me stop and sit down. "I'm going to be still and listen and God will tell me where my phone is", I announced. Within one minute it was as though a voice spoke to me, "Candace, its in the pocket of your bathrobe".  And it was. It was the first morning it was cold enough to use a robe and once I got dressed I hung it back in the closet where I could not hear it when we tried calling the number. God 'spoke' to me through that angel message and addressed me by name. It got my attention and assured me of His constant presence and care. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me". God spoke to Joseph, God spoke to me, and if you listen, He is speaking to you, and addressing you by name.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanks giving

Growing up in a different religion our family celebrated Thanksgiving differently. I grew up in what sometimes seems like a quieter, safer time. We did not have the technology that is everywhere now. Our family had one tv, no computers, no internet, no cel phones, no IPads, no texting, no twitter. We got together at my Aunt Juanita's house because she had the biggest dining room. It could seat 20 and we still ate in shifts and all day long. It was a time for generations to mix and we often met relatives we did not know we had. There was no church service, no grace before the meal. The Aunties all cooked for days and the kitchens were overflowing with dishes we did not have the rest of the year. This feast meant something to us because our usual fare was much simpler. The 'big' kids were expected to help with the 'little' kids and we all gathered at the end of the day to watch old home movies.

Christian Science has a been a blessing to me from the beginning. I found a religion that presents God the way I always thought He was, the Good Shepherd, a loving Father Mother, comforting, guarding and guiding His flock. I did not really understand much of what I read in our textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. But I loved what I could understand, began to learn the spiritual interpretation of The Lord's Prayer, and had some healings. It was the people I meet at church who impressed me with their friendliness, their inclusiveness, their willingness to let me progress at my own pace. I also fell in love with the hymnal and sang out during the services, more than once with tears streaming down my face.

That first Thanksgiving celebrated among my new friends began with attending a church service where time was set aside to express gratitude, audibly or silently. Then we gathered at someone's house and I remember sitting with my infant son watching a brand new show called Sesame Street.
The meal was delicious and it began with a grace and a moment for silent thanksgiving. I felt so peaceful and happy.

This year will be a bit different as some of my household travel to visit with relatives in Texas. I will be staying here where two of my 'grands' are attending Principia College. One is not able to fly home for the Thanksgiving break so she will join me here and we will have so much fun in our fluffy pajamas watching tv specials, listening to holiday music and preparing a very traditional feast. The other 'grand' has invited several friends, who also could not fly home, to join us and it should be lots of fun. His girl friend and her Mom from Saint Louis will be busy helping prepare all our favorite foods. Her Mom is Jewish and this year Hannukah begins on our Thanksgiving Day. I look forward to blending traditions.

So much good in my life. Such richness. Great blessings. But right at the top of my list is finding Christian Science and the spiritual growth I have experienced the past 40+ years.
I can only echo the Golden Text from our Thanksgiving Bible Lesson:
O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh, I see... THAT man.

In this week's Bible Lesson we have the gospel account of the woman taken in adultery. The Pharisees and scribes were convinced that Jesus could not be the true Messiah and they were setting a trap for him, hoping to discredit him in front of his followers. They dragged a woman into the place where Jesus was sitting, teaching the people. They set her right in the middle and demanded that he decide her fate. Was she to be stoned as the Mosaic law decreed or not? Jesus took a few minutes, stooping down and doodling in the dust. I imagine he was given the whole situation a treatment, praying to see the powerlessness of hatred and animosity, turning to God for direction. As he remained silent, waiting for his answer, they continued to badger him. He stands up and tells them that 'he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her'. One by one, convicted in their own conscience, they slunk away, leaving the woman in the midst of Jesus' disciples. The gospel says 'Jesus was left alone'. I read that two ways. They had departed, but also that they left off badgering him. He was left alone.

What stood out to me today as I worked with this section of the Lesson were the corresponding citations from Science and Health and the references to 'man'. Jesus has asked her, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?". She replies, "No man, Lord." He tells her that neither does he condemn her and that she should go and sin no more.

No man. What man are we talking about here? The man that is God's idea, made in His image and likeness. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Man is the family name for all ideas, - the sons and daughters of God". This defines that 'man' or woman who does not condemn but sees his fellow man or woman as God's beloved sinless child. How does this help her? Again Mrs. Eddy points out, "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lost sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relationship to God, and to recognize the divine sonship". This is what the Christ helped her to see. Her ability to turn away from sinful choices by understanding her pure nature as God's child.

That is what I want to be doing in my every day encounters with those around me at home, at the college, around town. See as Jesus saw. Help others see their true identity. Let me never be the one that condemns. Let me only see each one, myself included, as His divine image and likeness. Let me be that 'man'.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Living water or troubled water? Your choice.

This week's Bible Lesson offers us a very clear choice. Will we choose living water or be mesmerized by trouble waters?

The man Jesus saw, waiting for his healing beside a pool of water, watched helplessly as others got to that troubled water before he did. He spent his time watching for the motion so he must have had some receptivity and expectation of good. But when Jesus asked him if he would be healed, he had a list of excuses he believed were in the way. Troubles. Troubles of all kinds, within himself, being physically challenged. Troubled, without, by being left there with no one to help him get to the pool. When we are faced with a problem, we must be alert not to accept the limitations our human experience would insist are getting in our way. The Christ is just a freely available to us as it was to that man. And when he opened his eyes, his healing of a 38-year-long problem was instantly and completely healed.

The woman fetching water at Jacob's well was surprised when Jesus spoke with her. Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies. He asks her for a drink of water and tells her she could have asked him for a drink and he would have given her 'living water'. Like the man beside the pool, she sees limits and restrictions. She comments that the well is deep...the water appears to be out of reach...and he has nothing to bring it up. But Jesus knew the immediacy of supply and the infinite goodness of God, who is always prepared to meet the need for His children. Wouldn't we prefer to choose 'living water', a constant fresh supply of whatever is needed in our experience?

The Golden Text from Deuteronomy says, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:".  God is always present, good is always present. No 'enemy' can triumph over you. You need never feel trapped in some net. God redeems us. The dictionary defines 'redeem' as to pay off a note. Pay it off completely. Debt gone. His mercy is everlasting. We just need to do our part.