Monday, December 29, 2014

The most popular Bible verse

I was interested to see a story on the internet today about the most popular Bible verse downloaded this past year. Bible App claims it was accessed over 162 million times in 2014. What was the most popular verse? What might you have chosen?

Romans 12:2.  "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

The New Living Translation says, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you  into a new person by changing the way you think."

Renew your mind. Take time to examine what you are thinking, what you are accepting as true. The subject of our Bible Lesson this week is God and each section of the Lesson expands on the Lord's Prayer and its spiritual interpretation given in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

I remember the first time I attended a Christian Science Sunday service. Almost nothing made any sense to me. They even said the Lord's Prayer differently! The congregation spoke a line together and then one of the readers at the podium gave an interpretation of that line. I was put off at first but then interested in that idea. I had been searching for a religion that honored God as I believed Him to be and this version of that prayer called Him Father-Mother. Now that was a new idea for me. And thinking of myself as His beloved offspring would require some 'renewing' of my mind.

By the way, the second most popular verse was also among Paul's letters to the recently formed Christian churches.

Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

This would also have caused me to reconsider how I was thinking about God, about myself and the world around me. It seems like the media would compete for our attention by focusing it on the sensational, the disastrous, the violent, the dishonest, the impure. Paul is turning worshippers to a new way to honor God, a Christian life that focuses on what Jesus taught and lived and asked his followers to express.

As we approach the new year, it might be revealing to take an honest look at where our mind is these days. How much have we conformed to worldly thinking and how often have we turned instead to prayer, connecting with God, the divine Mind? What do we have to gain? We can prove what God's will is for us. We can tune in to truth, justice, purity, loveliness and be grateful for good reports of healing and acts of kindness.

Renew your mind and your commitment to seeing and expressing good. I imagine there is an App for that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Have a Mary Christmas

Who wrapped the first Christmas present? The answer is in the Bible and this week's Bible Lesson. "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes..." (Luke 2:7) That Mary was the mother of Jesus. What an amazing event, witnessed by just a few people. Mary and Joseph had taken refuge in a cave or stable, the only place available in crowded Bethlehem where so many had gathered to register and pay taxes to Caesar Augustus. It may be that no one was present when this 'gift' arrived but Joseph and Mary. But in a  nearby field, a group of shepherds were keeping watch over the flock that night and an angel comes to them with this momentous news, telling them about the birth of the holy child and where they might find him. So off they go, the first party of Christmas visitors. Later the Wise Men, following the star, would travel far to present this child with gifts worthy of a king.

Years later, grown to  manhood, Jesus travelled around teaching, preaching and healing. He was often a guest at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Wherever the Master went, crowds followed and that house would fill to overflowing. Martha, a conscientious hostess, would scurry around providing hospitality for them all. She was upset with her sister, Mary, who did not help her. But Jesus points out that Mary has chosen to sit at his feet and listen.

Don't miss the excellent testimony in this week's Sentinel about 'A Christmas Full of Peace'. So many of us get caught up in the hustle bustle of the holiday season and forget to spend quiet time thinking about the Nativity. Did you know that was the one thing Mrs. Eddy has asked us to memorize? "It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize the nativity of Jesus'. (Misc 374: 17-18)  The writer of the testimony mentioned, wishing to gain a more spiritual apprehension of the nativity, studied everything Mrs. Eddy wrote about Christmas and the story of the nativity in Matthew and Luke. She stopped worrying about holiday preparations and had a healing of a physical problem.

So this year I am striving to have a 'Mary' Christmas. There is so much to appreciate in the Gospel accounts of the nativity. I want to be like those shepherds and hear the angels singing. I want to be wise and follow the light of the star. I want to present a gift of gratitude. I want to choose to stop bustling around and sit at his feet.

So I wish you all a 'Mary' Christmas and a merry Christmas.

God bless us, everyone one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It IS a wonderful Life!

Our family really gets into the holidays. We are baking cookies, wrapping presents, trimming the tree, hanging up the stockings. And we're watching all our favorite Christmas specials. We save Polar Express for Christmas Eve, pausing the movie at the appropriate place to go fix hot chocolates with lots of whipped cream or marshmallows. But there is one special I haven't watched for years. Due to some personal challenges I just can't watch George Bailey go through all the injustices and challenges that lead him to consider taking his own life. I know it ends well when an angel shows him how many lives he touched and blessed. Despite appearances, George Bailey is the richest man in town and he has had a wonderful life.

George was allowed to step back and see how he blessed so many others. We could all benefit by taking something nice to sip and a few cookies and sitting quietly to reflect on our own lives. So much good has unfolded in my life. I love living in a three-generation household and watching several of the 'grands' growing up. They are a big part of my life. And now two more of them are at Principia College, where we live, and I get to experience rugby and chemistry through their eyes.
All three of my children are living good lives and encourage me to be with them as often as possible. An added bonus has been James helping me with the power point presentations of several Association addresses.

After a twenty five year career with children's books in 2002 transitioned to the full time Christian Science practice and that is a daily - sometimes hourly - challenge and blessing. I can' t imagine what the last 40 years would have been like without Christian Science and my participation in branch church work. No matter where we moved we found an instant church family.

One of the things that spoke to me when I first started reading Science and Health was the definition Mrs. Eddy gives for God, especially the seven synonyms. I love getting to know God better as Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love. I can never thank her enough for her devotion in writing our textbook, establishing our churches, setting up the Manual, starting the periodicals and our wonderful Christian Science Monitor.

It has indeed been a wonderful Life and given me a wonderful life and I will rejoice all through the holiday season, taking moments to be grateful. His arm truly encircles me, and mine, and all.

Step; outside on Christmas Eve and hear the angels sing.