Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No manner of hurt

No manner of hurt.

When Daniel survived his night in the lions' den, no manner of hurt was found on him. I found myself rereading that sentence. No manner of hurt. How many of us could go through such an experience and come out unscathed?

Daniel was chosen for the number one position 'because an excellent spirit was in him.' One can only assume those who conspired against him did so out of jealousy, not because he was not worthy of being in that role. He was innocent of any wrong doing. And yet he found himself condemned by the King he served so faithfully. His 'crime' was that he worshipped God faithfully, three times a day. So one could hardly blame him if he had come out of that holding a grudge.

But the next morning he greets the king, "O king, live forever."  Who would have blamed him if he had said, "O foolish king, this was all your fault." But all those excellent qualities he expressed included true forgiveness and compassion.

Daniel was not 'hurt' by the acts of others. He did not take it personally, knowing 'the control which Love held over all." His feelings were not hurt by the actions of those presidents and princes. All that happened was that Daniel continues to rely on God, Love, and his clear understanding of God's law of ever present good.

Next time I find myself in what might be a 'hurtful' situation I hope I have the courage and wisdom to stand fast and let the angel 'shut the lions' mouths.' May I see that there is nothing that can hurt me physically or emotionally or any other way. May I turn to my angel and be aware of Love's sweet control.

Mrs. Eddy writes, "The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares." (Science and Health 574)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jesus and the leper

This week's Bible Lesson on Love includes Jesus healing a leper as told in Mark's gospel. It set me to thinking about the act of 'washing someone clean of all the impurities of the flesh.'

So many came to Jesus for healing, even this man who was suffering from the dread, incurable disease of leprosy. In those times it was thought to be a judgment from God, an outward sign of an inward sin. But the leper had faith that Jesus could heal him, if he chose to. And, moved with compassion, Jesus put forth his and touched him. That may have been the first human contact that man had for a very long time. Jesus could do so fearlessly as he knew he could not become 'unclean' by being in contact with the leper. In his eyes, there was no dread disease, only the perfect, healthy, whole image and likeness of God. The man was cleansed of the disease and whatever his sins might have been were wiped away.

We sometimes wish we could help someone we know be free of some outward sign of disease or free them from a recurring sinful behavior. Baptism is a one-time washing away of sin. At another time, when Jesus was passing through Samaria, he encountered a woman by a well. Knowing what was going on in her life, he offered her 'living water'. This was not just a one-time event, but a complete change in her life. She perceives that this man was the Messiah. She had not been seeking healing, as the leper had, but Jesus reached out to her anyway.

When we want to help someone, we need to be sure our own thought of them is as clear as his was. He did not see a man suffering from an awful disease, he did not see a woman living a sinful life style. He only saw what God sees, the perfect man. 'and this perfect view of man heals the sick'.

We should never shy away from offering that cup of cold water. Christian Science is the most precious gift we can give. Presented lovingly, that gesture is never in vain, even if it appears that they do not want to hear it. You were touched with compassion, you reached out to someone you did not know. Love is reflected in  love, in that loving outreach, that lifts thought higher. It is amazing what a little hug can do.

If thou wilt.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Praise for the cedar tree

Today's entry in Streams from the desert, a daily devotional, was very thought-provoking. The writer was describing the cedar trees of Lebanon, long prized for their strength, fragrance, and straight growth. He mentioned how the mightiest of them had withstood much wind and weather. That it offered a refuge for wildlife and sheltering shade for weary pilgrims. It rose majestically to the sky and it seemed that it would do so for many generations.

But along came the woodsman with his axe and soon the great tree has fallen and its many branches were removed. dragged to the river, It was floated downstream and delivered to a lumber yard, there to wait to be chosen. If the tree could think, it might have wondered what had happened to it and why. Along came Nehemiah, on a quest to restore the wall and its gates in Jerusalem. Just such a tree was perfect to cut into boards for the gates, strong gates that kept out evil and welcomed in good.

Do you ever feel like you have spent many years in service to church, serving on all the committees, reading the Lesson faithfully, studying to gain spiritual understanding, and then you are asked to serve on committees you would rather not, or not asked to serve at all, not elected to the Board or as a Reader? It can be frustrating when you have so much to give.

Take heart. All that spiritual growth is never wasted or in vain. God has a plan and purpose for you. You may well find great purpose in the next step, even if it seems unlikely at the time.

God is preparing the place for you that He is preparing you for.

Like the mighty cedar you are prized for your strength, your long years of caring for others, your reaching for light, your sweet personality. There may be a bigger field for you, a new territory where you are needed and where what you have to bring is going to be highly valued. You are not going to be allowed to grow in isolation. You are part of the gate, active in keeping out evil. You are the gate that welcomes a stranger to church, inviting them in for rest and comfort.

You are someone's answered prayer. Not bad, not bad at all.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today I will be valiant

As I read the Bible Lesson on Truth, I was stopped by the word 'valiantly'. The citation is Psalm 108:13, "Through God we shall do valiantly."  It conjures up a picture of the Knights of the Round Table and Prince Valiant. Prince Valiant was known for his courage and bravery. I looked up 'valiant' in the dictionary. Possessing valor. Bravery in battle. Sometimes life can feel like a battlefield when one is struggling with a physical, financial or emotional challenge. This passage in Psalms says that with God's help, we shall do valiantly.

That lead to a search in the concordance to see if Mrs. Eddy used the idea of being valiant in her writings. It was not in Science and Health but appears in her other writings. In Miscellaneous Writings, on page 155, there's this: "While pressing meekly on, be faithful, be valiant in the Christian's warfare, and peace will crown your joy." Another passage in First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, on page 203 made me smile. "A spiritual hero is a mark for gamesters, but he is unutterably valiant, the summary of suffering here and of heaven hereafter. Our thoughts beget our actions; they make us what we are. A deep sincerity is sure of success, for God takes care of it." Let's not forget, as we are being valiant, that 'through God we do valiantly'.

When I checked in the Parallel Bible I found this in the New Living Translation: "With God's help, we will do mighty things." And The Message Bible says, "In God we'll do our very best." So we can start our day with the assurance that today we will be valiant, ready to stand up to any false belief or suggestion that we are less than the perfect idea of God's creating, that we are sick or sad or helpless or lost or alone. We can bravely deny those accusations or insinuations.

We can be valiant.

And if you need a little more inspiration, sing along with hymn 296.
Rouse ye: long the conquest waits for valor's act supreme;
Rouse ye, rest not, do the deeds that break the earthly dream.

You can do it through God's help.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Setting the table

I have walked along the beach on both coasts and along the Gulf of Mexico. Just meandering along the tide line, looking for gifts from the sea. Over the years I have put together little jars filled with sand and shells and driftwood. For one who loves to do this, it is still a surprise to find myself living in Elsah, Illinois, far from salt water and beaches. At this time of year, I often wish I could be back on those sandy shores.

This morning I was reading an entry in Simple Abundance where the author was talking about the ways one can 'set the table' to make it special any day. We love to put together a pretty table for special occasions or guests but how often do we bother to dress up the table most week nights? As it turns out, I love to decorate our house, changing things around each month, bringing out things I've collected. Right now the theme is 'by the sea'. Our dining room table is set with a sand colored table cloth. In the middle of the table is a glass bowl filled with pieces of sea glass and glass bubbles. I've scattered more along the cloth and added a few sea shells. It is simple but pretty and the family loves it. Our own personal tide line.

I like taking a few extra minutes to dress up the table, especially when we are just eating one of our standard meals. These simple settings bring a smile to those sitting down to eat and are conversation starters as we remember searching for those treasures on some family vacation. It is a fun way to express a little bit of beauty and art. I like to involve the 'grands' in some of those table decorations and it is fun to see what they do with the things I put out.

It is a reminder to me to take a moment before each meal to be grateful for all the good being expressed around me, for the beauty in everyday things. Katie Rose recently added a tall glass vase filled with those weeds that look like wheat. She had fun gathering her 'bouquet' and liked adding something to our table. So this activity is fun for all ages.

There is so much to be grateful for. We've had our financial challenges but we have never really gone hungry. I've had my spiritual challenges but I have only grown from those experiences. Today I will take a moment before each meal for silent time with God, time to tell Him how much I love Him and to thank Him for His tender constant care of me and mine.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Paul's work ethic

I noticed something in this week's Bible Lesson on Life. We go along on several of Paul's journeys as he is bringing the good news about the Messiah. Paul has made his share of enemies in his earlier zeal to seek out and destroy these new Christians, followers of Jesus. He made a whole new set of enemies as he not only joined the Christians but became one of their main spokespersons. And he was backing up his teaching and preaching with healings. No wonder God granted special miracles by the hand of Paul.

What a work ethic! It gives one pause when one reflects on one's one work ethic is sharing Christian Science. In the first example Paul is speaking with his disciples before he must continue on his journey. He talks long into the night and is only interrupted when a young man, sunk down with sleep, falls out of the balcony and is taken up dead. Paul reassures them that 'his life is in him' and that man is taken up alive and well. Does Paul rest on this 'miracle' and go take a nap? No. He continues lovingly sharing with them until day break.

On another day, once he has been arrested and is being taken by ship to Rome to stand trial, the ship is wrecked in a storm. Paul and everyone on the ship is saved. Once ashore he helps to gather fire wood and is bitten by a poisonous viper. He just shakes it off into the fire, unharmed. The natives, full aware of what has bitten him, are astounded. He is taken to the village chief's home and lovingly cared for. Does he plop down on the couch and let them wait on him? No. He heals the village chief's father of a great fever. Now does he sit back and relax? No. They bring others from all over the island who need healing...and he heals them.

What an example for us to follow! I will studying this week's Lesson with great interest and attempting to be like this great man in my own daily activities.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My godfather and my God-Father

I grew up on the East coast in a large Italian family with an even larger extended family. And we had a godfather. This man ruled over the whole clan and his word was law. He granted favors and helped those who sought his advice and resources. But it was understood that at some point he might ask a favor in return and you would grant it.

Years later I started studying Christian Science and had moved away from the East coast, visiting infrequently with my family. What I was reading in Science and Health showed me that what I really have is a God-Father, God as my Father and Mother. A loving God who has made me in His own image and likeness, as it is explained in Genesis One. This God-Father is all powerful and wise, He has infinite resources which are freely available to me. I can turn to Him for advice when I am faced with challenges be they financial, physical, or emotional. My God-Father is always accessible. It is His will to keep me happy and healthy and supplied with all I need.

What He asks in return is love for Him and all of His creation and I have been pondering all week a phrase in our Golden Text: bring an offering. The phrase if part of Psalm 96. "Give unto the Lord the glory due to his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts."  How comforting to think that my God-Father is the true Judge and law maker. I can present my case in His courts and get a fair hearing and a positive verdict.

When the challenge is physical, He will find me 'not guilty' and I can rise up innocent and free.
When the challenge is emotional, He will restore my soul, my awareness of His complete care.
When the challenge is financial, He will remind me that 'all that I have is thine'.

So this week I am looking for ways to honor Him with offerings of love, patience, being a peace maker, reaching out to others, seeing His goodness ever present, etc.. As I go through the day, I look for ways to offer up a spiritual response instead of mortal reaction. I offer Him thanks for all the beauty I see. I am grateful for the good being expressed.

My God-Father loves me and I love him right back.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Revive today

This is our second summer attempt at a small garden. Our yard is gently rolling, with few places that are flat. We also back up to a ravine so we get lots of 'visitors' who seemed to view last year's veggies and herbs as a salad bar. But gardening was a part of my 'Camp Grandma' with two 'grands' so we did our best. This year we made the garden as little larger and added more flowers.

It can get pretty warm here and we may go days without any rain. When that happens, some of the plants look pretty wilted. So we give them a nice shower with the hose and they soon perk up. I was reminded of that this morning as I studied the first section of our Bible Lesson on Sacrament. It was in Isaiah's writings where God is speaking about what He does. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isa 57:15) I highlighted 'revive'.

The dictionary has wonderful meanings for revive:
to give renewed well being
to impart new health, vigor or spirit
the restore to use, activity
to restore vitality.

I see so many ways to pray with that idea. This was getting exciting! To my surprise, Mrs. Eddy did not use the word revive in Science and Health, but it is in some of her other writings. In a newspaper clipping included in Pulpit and Press there is this reference: "The power of Christ has been dormant in mankind for ages, " added the speaker, "and it was Mrs. Eddy's mission to revive it." Another reference is in Mrs. Eddy's article entitle 'The Way', found in Miscellaneous Writings on page 355. "Less teaching and good healing is to-day the acme of "well done;" a healing that is not guesswork, - chronic recovery ebbing and flowing, - but instantaneous cure. This demonstration of Science must be revived."

This gives me lot to think about and pray with today. We all have moments when we seem to wilt under the attack of sin, sickness, lack of supply or love, loss of well being. How soothing to know that God, divine Love, is standing by to shower us with grace, to revive our drooping faith, to restore us to health and happiness, to meet every human need. We flourish in His 'garden'.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

What does the man at the pool of Bethesda have in common with the leper who came to Jesus for healing?

As I prayed this morning I was surprised to find that I was thinking about the man at the pool of Bethesda and Jesus healing a man with leprosy. I wondered what they had in common, for both got their healing, one of a problem of 38 years standing, the other of what was considered an incurable disease.

It occurred to me that the man at the pool still had hope. He had been struggling with his physical problem for a long time, Jesus was aware of that when he saw him waiting beside the pool. Despite the many years, the tenacity of that error, he went there day after day, with the hope that today might be the day he would get his healing. In the presence of the Christ, he got his healing.

The leper, shunned by all, forced by law to keep  his distance from others, approached Jesus. He knelt before him and said, 'if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean'. He had not given up hope that even this incurable disease could be healed by the Christ. And he was healed.

In both cases Jesus viewed the men with compassion. I love what Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health about what Jesus saw when he looked at the people who came to him for healing. "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick". (S&H 476)

The kingdom of heaven is within each of us because we are God's children. Truth and Love reign in us, filling all space with good. There is no place for disease or error to take hold. There is only the substance of Spirit so there is no matter to cope with. No matter in the form of disease, no matter in the form of a body to host it, no such thought in divine Mind to even think such a thing is possible or believe in it at all. There is nothing that needs to be removed or corrected. In Science there is just the perfect man, made in the image and likeness of God. God never changes so the reflection always stays the same.

 "I am the Lord, I change not;" (Malachi 3:6). You are My child, you change not.
"The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death." (S&H 140) This is how we see God in Science, this is how we should see ourselves and others.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Excuse me, but Peter's at the door

This week's Bible Lesson includes Peter's escape from prison. He had been arrested and condemned to die. King Herod was to have him brought out and executed the next morning. The disciples had gathered and 'prayer was made without ceasing' by the members of the church.

This story is recorded in Acts, so it is Luke telling it as he must have heard it from Peter himself.

Peter was asleep, bound in chains, with guards on either side of him. They had also fallen asleep. There was no need to stay alert as the prison keepers were also on duty. But God sent an angel to Peter. The angel 'smote him on the side', and raised him up. As Peter stood up his chains fell off. The angel has him get dressed and put on his shoes. Then they leave the prison, passing through several wards to the outer gate. Pete thinks he is dreaming. The gate opens of its own accord and Peter is outside the prison. The angel leads him through several more streets and then departs.

At this point Peter is able to make his way to the house of Mary, mother of John, where many were gathered praying for Peter. The details Luke includes are so wonderful. Although it is not in this Lesson it is worth reading the rest of it. Peter knocks at the door and a damsel named Rhoda answers it. There are few places in the Bible where women are mentioned by  name. How sweet that this young girl is mentioned.

She is so excited to hear Peter's voice that she leaves him standing outside and runs to tell the others. What do the others do? Are they as excited as she is? Do they jump up and go to get Peter? No! They tell her she is mad. She continues to affirm that it was really him. Doesn't that sound authentic, a child insisting something is true to an unbelieving adult? But these people had been praying for Peter's safety and HE WAS OUTSIDE, but they didn't believe their prayers had been answered.

Meanwhile Peter keeps knocking. They open the door and are astonished! He shushes them and explains how the Lord had worked this rescue. He asks them to go tell James and he himself goes somewhere else.

How often do we pray and pray about something and then are not receptive to the answered prayer? If someone says we are healed, we tell them they are mad or mistaken. Or shush them, saying not to bother us, we are praying?  God sends his angels, His messengers, His messages, and answers our prayers.

Are you listening? Be prepared to 'go answer the door'.