Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lazarus was intact

The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from his tomb is familiar to students of the Bible. So it is always such a joy to find something new in it. Today I am thinking about how thoroughly Jesus prayed before he called Lazarus forth.

Lazarus had been sick and died. He was tended by his two sisters, Mary and Martha. They had sent word to Jesus telling him of this serious condition. Jesus did not immediately rush to Bethany. He saw that this illness could not take Lazarus' life. Perhaps he even realized that raising him up again would foreshadow his own approaching crucifixion and resurrection. He had already raised a young girl from death and halted a funeral procession to restore a young man to his widowed mother. He knew this event was for the glory of God. So he tarried for two days before journeying to Bethany. His disciples questioned his delay and he tells them "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.  They think sleep might be just what he needs to recover, but he then tells them plainly that Lazarus is dead. He continues, "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that you may believe; nevertheless, let us go to him."

When he arrives he tells Martha, who had said that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died, that her brother will rise again. He assures her that he is the resurrection and the life. Those that believe in him, though they seem dead, yet shall live.

Sister Mary is prostrate with grief. He is deeply moved by her distress and asks where they have lain him. I wrote an article about that very question years ago. You can find it on the Journal, Sentinel, Herald site. It is a question to be considered. But what I saw this morning is something else.

Lazarus had been in the grave four days and Martha was concerned that he had already begun to decompose. Along with seeing that disease could not take man's life, Jesus had to handle the belief that man is material and the matter can spoil and rot.

When he calls Lazarus forth, wrapped head to toe in cloth, Lazarus comes forth whole and complete. There is no sign of any illness or any lasting effect from being buried for four days. Jesus will make this demonstration himself following his own ordeal and supposed death. He will walk forth from his resting place with no ill effects from the 39 lashes, the spear wound in his side or the nail punctures on his hands and feet. He will not have suffocated from lack of air or become faint without food or water.

Lazarus was intact when he came forth. That is something well worth pondering as we pray and work our way through our own challenges. If it was not part of God's creating, not caused by divine Love, it was never real and there could be not effects from any other cause. Only good being expressed.

Lazarus was intact and so are we. The same Christ is present today. Where have you lain, placed yourself? Rise up whole and free! Your relationship to God as His very own child, His image and likeness is undisturbed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

If it wasn' for Hanukkah there would be no Christmas

As we support all our Jewish friends who are celebrating Hanukkah, it might be interesting to ponder that fact that if it wasn't for Hanukkah, there might not be a Christmas.

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes about this in her wonderful devotional, Simple Abundance.

Originally known as the "Festival of Lights," Hanukkah commemorates a miracle that occurred in 165 B.C., after Judas Maccabaeus and his followers reclaimed Jerusalem from a Greek emperor who considered Israel a Greek province. In an attempt to assimilate conquered nations into a cohesive and controllable society, the Greek empire prohibited any other religion; Jews were forced to abandon their faith and ordered to worship Greek gods. The Temple of Jerusalem was turned into a Greek shrine. Many Jews disobeyed this edict  and died for their beliefs. After a three-year campaign, the Maccabees were victorious and the temple was restored to Jewish worship. As part of their rededication ceremony they began an eight-day purification rite, only to discover there was barely enough sacred oil to keep the temple menorah lit for one day.  Miraculously, the temple lamp burned continuously for eight days. Even since Jewish people have observed Hanukkah in remembrance of their struggle for religious freedom and their restoration, symbolized by the abundance of oil.

Had the Maccabees  not rebelled against the Greeks, the Jewish faith would have faded into Greek culture. There would have been no Jewish community for Jesus to be born into a century and a half later. No one would have remembered the messianic promises he claimed to fulfill. Without Hanukah, there would have been no Christmas.

The Maccabees refused to surrender what made them who they were. There are many parallels to that courage happening in our own day and age.  There are those who face challenges to their chosen religion every day as well.

The Hanukkah miracle was also about abundance. It appeared there was only enough oil for one night but the faithful saw that God provided all they needed in abundance.  Jesus would demonstrate that  on a mountainside when he fed thousands of people with a few loaves and fishes.

Let's pause a moment today to acknowledge the power of the Hanukkah story and rejoice that God's provision for each and every one of His beloved children is shown in a shower of blessings. It is moments like this the give us our own personal 'Festival of Lights".

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Be open to loving a Grinch this year.

Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated a Christmas story that is much beloved. Our family watches it every year. It is How the Grinch stole Christmas and the main character, the Grinch, just hates Christmas. He is most annoyed by the people living in the village below his mountain top retreat. Unable to go through another holiday of cheer and good will he decides to sneak down the mountain on Christmas Eve and steal every bit of their holiday decorations, food and presents.

Dr. Seuss writes that no one quite knows the reason the Grinch has withdrawn from society. Maybe his shoes are too tight or his head isn't screwed on just right. But most likely it was because his heart was two sizes too small. Whatever the reason there must be some spark of goodness within because his companion is his faithful dog, Max.

The Grinch is successful in loading all of their Christmas onto his sleigh and pauses, before he is going to dump off the mountain top, to listen to them waking up and finding it all gone. He is waiting for crying and misery. What he hears instead is singing. They have joined, hand and hand, and welcomed Christmas with gratitude and joy.

Slowly it dawns on him that Christmas is not about those material things at all. It is all about love. His shriveled heart grows several sizes and he returns everything. In fact, he joins them in their feast. It is a wonderful story of redemption.

This story has touched so many people over the years that the Grinch has become a symbol of someone who pooh poohs Christmas, going around with a frown and trying to spoil it for everyone else. We've all heard Grinch-like people bemoaning the commercialization of the holiday, the endless shopping, baking, parties. Most of those people are basically unhappy and instead of changing their thought, they want to bring everyone down to their level of misery.

If there is a Grinch is your work place, in your family, driving near you on the road, in line at the store...be more like those who gathered to welcome Christmas. We do not know what unhappiness has made them the way they are but a little warmth may just melt some of that frost. A kind word or a smile goes a long way.

As you pray during this holiday season, be sure to include everyone. Affirm that no one is left out of God's love and care. Everyone is loved, loving and lovable. Bestow the joy of the season. Let it beam out of your face. Revel in the knowledge that you are the beloved child of God, a God who loves you so much He sent His own son to bless and heal mankind.

Beware of Grinch-like behavior and conversation.
If you encounter a Grinch, share your love of the season.
Remember that we are all one family.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gathering at the manger

How are you gathering at the manger this Christmas?

Wise men saw a star whose light guided them to the child. They came prepared with gifts to celebrate with great joy and to worship him.

Shepherds tending their flock in a field that night were visited by an angel with news of the newborn Savior, the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. They came to the manger to marvel and with expectation.

How are we approaching the manger? The invitation has been issued. How will we respond? Reverently, with wonder?

This child was the greatest gift ever given.

Are we looking upward to the stars and appreciating the light of Truth?

Are we listening for angel messages from angel messengers?

Amid all the holiday preparations, the shopping, the wrapping, decorating the tree and the house, watching Christmas specials and playing Christmas music, have we set aside time for quiet reflection? Stepped outside on a frosty evening to look up in wonder? Are we listening for angels?

One way to honor Christmas is to thoughtfully read the account of the Nativity in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Those were real people, real places, real events.

Picture yourself drawn to and standing beside that manger. How does it feel to be in the presence of the Christ? Divine Love is radiating and encompassing us all the time.  Be quiet, calm, respectful.

Stand beside the manger in thought.

Praise God and let heaven and nature sing. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

THIS day

As I have been studying this week's Bible Lesson on Adam and Fallen Man I have noticed all the ways one can apply the command of the Golden Text:

                                 ...choose ye this day whom ye will serve.

We are to choose life, to choose the blessing of Genesis One over the cursing of Genesis Two, choose whom we will serve, God or matter.  But as the week has gone along I also noticed something in the Golden Text that carried over to the Responsive Reading. This day. We are make our choice THIS day.

That is brought out beautifully in the story of Jesus and the man beside the Pool of Bethesda. The man was discouraged and frustrated because he could not walk and had no one to help him be the first to the pool for healing. Jesus gives him a choice. Does he want to be healed? Good. Get up and walk THIS day. Right now. We do not have to wait for healing, it is ours THIS day, should we make that choice.

What are we choosing?

To obey the Commandments and keep them. Obey them willingly and joyfully THIS day.

Choose life and good. Affirm often that life is good, your life is good. everyone's life is good.

Choose whom ye will serve. How are you serving God THIS day? Did you make the effort to get to church last night? Are you pondering the citations read from the desk? Are you sending out mental thank you notes to those who testified?

Choose the man and woman from Genesis One, made in the image and likeness of God, the God who is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting and all-wise. Deny the existence of any other concept of God as punishing, vindictive, apathetic, etc..

Choose to believe in Jesus over Adam. Which one was real?

Choose to understand that the serpent, even swollen to the size of a great red dragon, has already been defeated and cast out. It cannot return to frighten or threaten you.

Imagine my delight when I turned to the Thanksgiving Lesson and found this:

                      ...who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?

We all  must be, and we must do it THIS day, and every day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A prayer with many applications

I have been gaining so much inspiration from a poem published in our periodical entitled
Prayer for a Congregation by John Daniels. At first I printed it out, had it laminated, and tucked it into my Quarterly so I could refer to it during the silent prayer portion of our Sunday service. I quickly changed my mind and put it in my purse as I could also see referring to it on Wednesday night. Wednesday I served in the practitioner's office on the Principia College campus and it was a good prayer starter for my morning there. Yesterday I used it again while serving in the reading room. Here it is and I hope it is helpful to you as well

Prayer for a congregation

This grace-filled sanctuary, Love's domain,
rejects aggressive dreams of mortal sense,
its doors forever closed to what would veil
the cleansing presence of Truth's clear light.

Bathed in this light no dream of sickness reigns,
no sin nor suffering sense nor fear can claim to be.
No dark phantoms of crippled lives, or arguments
that Life lacks joy, supply, or health,
can enter here, be heard, remembered.

All error's shadows melt in this pure truth
of Life's unchanging fullness
as Love itself removes all inward tears,
and God's children sing with newly wakened joy.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Which superstructure are you claiming?

Our Bible Lesson this week, Soul and Body, has much to say about the temple of the living God, that's us. I noticed the word 'superstructure' is used twice in the first section so I looked it up in the dictionary. A superstructure rises from a firm foundation. Mrs. Eddy expands that to be a firm foundation of Truth. Putting that together with the idea of each of us being the temple of the living God I see wonderful applications.

Since we are standing on a firm foundation of Truth, the truth about the allness and goodness of God and His creation, that handles any claim of foot problems or inability to stand on one's own two feet, physically or metaphorically. In essence, error doesn't have a leg to stand on!

The temple has not only a firm foundation but a strong and perfect inner structure, similar to the way a skeleton supports the physical body. This support removes any suggestions of spinal problems or weak bones. Man is upright, pure and free.

Now I am going back over the rest of the Lesson for other references to temple. This week's Christian Science Sentinel includes the Bible Lens, a pull-out section explaining Bible verses. I found this particularly relevant to this morning's search. It says that the people of Paul's world believed that for the gods to be with them the temples dedicated to those gods had to be kept clean and polished. So viewing myself as the temple of God I should be sure my thoughts are clean and pure. You polish a surface if dust has been allowed to settle on, or it has gotten tarnished in some way and you use a soft cloth. That is a hint that I should not allow my 'temple' to get dusty or tarnished with  neglect. When I 'clean up my act' I can do so with a gentle clearing away of old thinking but I should work at it until the beautiful shine is restored.

This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Don't be afraid of giants

Today I am thinking about the story of Caleb. After leaving the slavery of Egypt behind, Moses and his followers reached the border of the Promised Land. Moses sends scouts ahead to spy out the land and its citizens. Among those sent were Joshua and Caleb. They found a place brimming with milk and honey and mighty citizens. Only Joshua and Caleb advised Moses that they should trust God and move forward. They were outvoted and spent the next forty years wandering around in the desert.

Remember after hundreds of years of slavery they are now suddenly free to worship God but they must put aside and outgrow the gods of Egypt and that life style. They are given the 10 Commandments and time to make them the basis for their new life. Joshua and Caleb made the most of that time and 40 years later were strong and healthy.

What I am pondering today is Caleb's reaction during that first mission. He was not afraid of 'giants'. His people were barely out of slavery and certainly not trained in the art of war. They had no army to protect or defend the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. How could they expect to defeat the people of the Promised Land who were healthy, strong, and well trained in warfare? But he did not doubt God's direction. He was undeterred by what appeared to be a superior force awaiting him.'
I'd like to always have that kind of courage and conviction. I'd like to understand God to be the source of my strength, as I face challenges. Like the garden area of this house we recently moved into. It was neglected for years and the weeds are formidable. Giants, in fact. It seemed like more than I could handle. But as I prayed on how to move forward, I found that I could work on one section at a time and clear it. And the next day I suffered no ill effects for that effort. My strength came from God. And I rejoiced in the time spent outdoors, anticipating what I will be able to plant, and how beautiful this back garden is going to be.

"God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis". (S&H 258)  I can see this passage in a whole new light as I move forward with this garden project.

Thanks Caleb. I find I am not so afraid of 'giants' either.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Have you opened your gift today?

I love to give gifts. I love to receive gifts. It is such fun to not only find the right present for someone, but also to wrap it in pretty or funny paper and add a big bow. I love to savor opening a gift. The 'grands' are content to leave it in the bag the store provided and that's fine too.

Are you aware, and anticipating, your gift from God today? What a wonderful way to start your morning, knowing that God has thoughtfully provided you with a gift, and usually more than one! How do I know that?

It's in the Bible.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind".
(II Timothy 1:7)  There's three gifts right there.

Are you thirsty, thirsting for more spiritual understanding?

"...every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is a gift of God".
(Ecclesiastes 3:13)

"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
(John 4:10)

Do you need saving?
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God".
Ephesians 2:8)

How about supply?
"A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: withersoever it turneth, it prospereth".
(Proverbs 17:8)

From this week's Bible Lesson.
"The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace".
(Psalms 29:11)

And in our hymnal:
"Thou hast the gift of God - dominion over all" (Hymn 382)

There are many more. Look for them in the Bible and be sure and open your gifts today.

The thank you card

When one receives a gift it is customary to send a thank you note. How can we thank our dear Father Mother God for all these amazing gifts? All He asks is for us to be aware that those gifts are ready and waiting to be opened and enjoyed. But I always make sure to pause a moment and tell Him.

Wow! I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened Your gift!
Your gift put a big smile on my face.
I appreciate You  more than words can say, my special friend.
Your gift exceeding my expectations!

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift". (II Corinthians 9:15)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jonah thinking

Jonah. Jonah. Seems he has a few things to  learn.

First, he gets a personnel message from God with an assignment. Jonah doesn't want to go to Nineveh. Those people are bad and don't deserve redemption in his opinion. So Jonah books passage on a ship headed in the other direction and heads for Tarshish. So at this point Jonah seems to think he can get away, be out of God's presence, go somewhere where God is not. Mistake number one.

Things don't turn out very well. He ends up getting tossed overboard when his shipmates cast lots and Jonah admits he was running away from God. But not only is God present, He has sent a whale to the rescue. They were too far from land for Jonah to have swum to shore, there was nothing for him to cling on to for a long float to safety. Instead, he ends up in the belly of the whale. But he is safe and now has some time to rethink his decision.

Now he turns to God and prays for forgiveness. He realizes, and fully expects, that God will hear him, even in the fishes belly. God does. Jonah is vomited up onto dry land, given the same assignment, and this time he goes to Nineveh. That great city would have taken Jonah three days to cross so off he goes. A day into his walk, he proclaims to all the citizens that God is going to overthrow them in 40 days. Word gets to the king, who believes this prophecy. He immediately calls for a fast for all the people and animals, a time for them to cry unto God and change their ways. God hears them and they are saved.

Our Bible Lesson does not go any further but there is more to the story. Jonah is greatly annoyed at their redemption and goes out of town to pout. He tells God he'd rather die now. God speaks to him there. God provides a vine with a gourd to give Jonah shade. Then He puts in a worm and the gourd withers. Jonah is angrier than ever. God reasons with him. Jonah felt badly for the gourd and wished it spared, could he not feel that same pity for the sixcore thousand people in Nineveh that had been spared?

What I am thinking about is Jonah's original false belief that there was a place he could hide from God. When we know we should be doing something and chose not to do the right thing, do we sometimes wish we could do the same? But there is no spot where God is not present, where good is not constantly blessing us. God is so much bigger than that.

Have we ever judged someone we know or someone we see on the news and refuse to handle that wrong thought? Maybe we even condemn them and feel they don't deserve to be spared or pardoned, that there is no way they would change their behavior? Jonah-like thinking. Not good.

If that happens, it is wise to recognize our error and change our thinking. I'd rather think of myself as safely floating in an ark than inside the belly of a whale, but no matter how my thoughts might stray into error, God will not let me drown. I do love whales.

Error must always yield to Truth in our thinking or anyone else's. Our own spiritual growth and progress depends on understanding that and mending our ways. Jonah needed the lesson as much as those Ninevites.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

He did it for the Mother

Mother's Day is this weekend. On the radio this morning they were talking about the top 5 gifts to give and the top 5 gifts not to give. Jesus wins hand's down.

This week's Bible Lesson includes the story of Jesus encountering a funeral procession as he and a crowd of followers approached the city of Nain. Earlier Jesus had raised a little girl from death. Her father had travelled to find Jesus and beg him to come to them. That child had loving, concerned parents. As a large party of professional mourners were already busy moaning and wailing when they got there, one can assume that family was well off. Later, Jesus would raise Lazarus from his tomb. This was a young man he knew and loved, as he also loved the sisters. They were surrounded by family and friends.

But this funeral procession, though made up of a crowd, was different. The mother was widowed so there was no husband. This had been her only son, so she was going to be alone and unprotected, with no income. The other instances where Jesus raised someone from the dead did not leave the mother, already in deep mourning, in such dire straits.

One wonders if he was so moved with compassion because he knew what his own mother would soon face. She was not alone, he had brothers although Joseph had died, and a circle of friends, many of them disciples, there is no denying the agony she would endure when he was arrested, beaten, and crucified. The unspeakable experience of seeing him on the cross. She had other sons but this was not only her first born, but one born in extraordinary circumstances.

That may or may not have been on his mind, but he stopped the procession, restored the boy to life, and presented him to his mother. There must have been a great comfort in doing that.

So how timely that it is in our Lesson this week. A gift to Mother's everywhere.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's about choices

Choices. Think how many times a day we make choices. This week's Bible Lesson on Everlasting Punishment has some fine examples from the Scriptures about choices and consequences.

Is God tempting us with choices? No. God, good, is the only cause and creator. What He creates is good. No exceptions. So there is nothing 'out there' that can be suggesting that we listen to another voice, follow the wrong path, make a false move. Mrs. Eddy asks: "Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?"  The answer is no. So where does the wrong doing, the poor choice, come in?  Mrs. Eddy says: "It is the opposite of good - that is, evil - which seems to make men capable of wrong-doing. Hence, evil is but an illusion, and it has no real basis. Evil is a false belief. God is not its author". The real man, God's very image and likeness cannot depart from holiness.

Do you choose to include in your daily prayer for yourself your holiness?

The parable of the Prodigal son seems to be a series of choices. The young man chooses to be discontent with the rules his father has set. He asks for his inheritance early, before his father has passed on, and his father chooses to give it to him.  A few days later the boy chooses to leave home and go far away, where there appear to be no rules. He chooses to spend his inheritance unwisely and soon it is all gone. He could have chosen to go home at that point but he chooses to stay in that place and a citizen sends him into the field to feed the pigs. And no one offers to help him. At this low point he suddenly realizes that he can make a different choice. He can choose to leave that place and go home. He can choose to  apologize for his behavior and ask to be hired on as a servant.

By listening to and understanding Jesus' teachings and demonstrations we can choose to  live a more spiritual life. We can choose to escape from evil and evil's influences. We can choose to stop identifying ourselves with behavior that is the opposite of good. We can choose to recognize our relation to God, our divine sonship. We can choose to leave the old way for the new. We can choose to be glad that we are making that choice.

His father was watching and waiting for him, ready to welcome him home with kisses and open arms. He was glad to have him back. He did not refer to what had passed. He treated him as the son he had always been. What has been forsaken has been forgiven. There was no punishment, no condemnation. Well, the older brother was put out but that was another choice and another part of the parable.

In another section of the Lesson we read about blind Bartimaeus. He had been sitting by the wayside, a road leading into Jericho, begging.  A great number of people were passing by and he must have asked what was going on. He was told that it was Jesus of Nazareth. He immediately begins to call out referring to Jesus as the son of David. Others told him to hold his peace but he chooses to cry out more persistently. Jesus stops and asks to have him called over. Now others encourage him to rise up and go to the Master. This is the cool part. As he does so, he casts away his garment, a ragged cloak that was meant to call attention to his blindness so others would feel badly for him and give him money. This identity he willingly drops. When Jesus asks what he wants, he asks for his sight and is healed. How often do we pray for healing but cling to our raggedy old view of ourselves, accept the claim as real? Are we as willing as Bartimaeus to cast off that shade of gloom and illness and go to the Master?

Choices. Where should we look?

"Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?" (Science and Health 264)

Friday, April 17, 2015

How is your life-practice coming along?

Practice life. What a wonderful way to go through your day.

Our Bible Lesson this week includes this sentence from Science and Health.

"The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done." (S&H 202)

That sentence just lit up for me this morning and I am going to go through today being aware of how I am practicing Life. Life is a synonym for God. God is my Life and I live as Life expressing itself in countless wonderful ways. Vitality. Freedom of movement. Joy.

How could one not be joy-filled when they are aware and grateful for their unity with God, good! That is a unity which cannot be severed. Our privilege is to express this in our life-practice. I look out  my window this morning and the trees that were absolutely bare and devoid of life a few days ago are now leafed out in a lovely shade of green. Life being practiced. By trees. How much more can I practice my highest sense of Life in all I do today?

The sentence also declares that God's will must be universally done. And His will is to pour out blessings and grace upon all of His creation, each one of His ideas. That includes me. That includes you. That makes it possible, even necessary, that I have a strong life-practice.

So as I move through the day I will be practicing Life and seeing evidence of Life being practiced all around me.

I hope you are planning on doing the same. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Is that a designer sack cloth?

Our Bible Lesson asks 'Are sin, disease and death real?"  Not a question to be answered lightly. It includes several examples from the Scriptures of people dealing with those three claims and it shows how they were healed.

But this morning I am spending time on a different idea that popped out at me from the Responsive Reading. It was in Psalms 30:11. "Thou has turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;".

Sackcloth is a very heavy, coarse, dark colored cloth of goat's hair. It is worn as a sign of mourning, next to the skin. The putting off of sackcloth was a symbol of joy, of thanksgiving for deliverance from an intolerable position or condition; it celebrated a changing of affliction by one's enemies to the casting off of the yoke of bondage.

How do we use this information today? Well, should you be dealing with a rash or skin condition you might consider if there is something in your thought that is causing you to mourn or to be irritated. It may be the loss of a loved one but it might also be the loss of other things. Whatever it seems to be, it has affected you in a way that would take away your joy; your joy in yourself, your life, your spouse, your family, your friends, your church, your work. And dealing with it has caused you to show the world in your face and your attitude that you are mourning that loss.

You put on the sackcloth. You can take it off, with the help and support of divine Love.

Our Bible Lesson offers many ways to be alert and watchful of what is creeping into thought. Are those ideas and suggestions from God, the source of all good, who loves you unconditionally and is constantly pouring our grace and blessings? If they are negative thoughts, absolutely not.

Naturally, there is a time to express grief but one has to be careful not to don that hairy shirt with resentment or anxiety or stubborn will. There may be a need for forgiveness. Divine Love forgives, Jesus forgave, can we not also forgive? Who is hurt when we harbor those feelings? We get stuck with sackcloth and is of our own designing.

God is 'girding' you with joy. He is anointing you with the oil of gladness. Not at all like a sackcloth. More like being clothed with righteousness, right-thinking, Truth-knowing.

A much nicer outfit by far!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bloom or blight?

I just love Jesus' parables. There is always something new to think about. Today I am looking at the Sower's response to the news that tares have sprung up among the newly planted wheat. Isn't that just like error to see that some new ideas have found a place in a receptive thought and it must sneak in there to disrupt the progress.

But the Sower did not allow this news to upset him, just as we should always be alert should some symptoms appear or some challenge arise in our 'field'. When questioned about 'who' was responsible, the Sower calmly answered 'an enemy has done this'. When we catch ourselves wondering the same thing, or if a family member or co-worker notices a problem, we can answer just as calmly. He did not blame himself and we certainly should not blame ourselves either.

The Sower knew he had planted good seeds. Just as we know we have studied our Lesson, read periodical articles, paid attention is church, listened to a lecture, etc.. If we stay alert to what the world is suggesting, we don't allow 'bad seeds' to creep into our thinking. Watch out for those messages on tv, on line, being discussed around the water cooler. Do you really want that growing in your mind?

No frantic attempt - no witch hunt - just the confidence that those ideas or symptoms don't belong. If it can't be true for God, it can't be true for us either. Those lies cannot disguise their true nature. Be assured that they will be dealt with and destroyed by Truth and you will be set free.

God is good and only gives good.
Don't focus on the 'bad seed' or where it came from.
Gather the good thoughts into your mind.

The workers looked to the Sower to solve the problem. We do the same thing. We look to divine Life, Truth and Love and we are never disappointed. If things do not seem to clear up immediately, be not dismayed, trust in the good outcome.

A great cause, God's new Messiah,
Show to each the bloom or blight,
So can choice be made by all men
Twixt the darkness and the light.
(hymn 258)

Monday, March 23, 2015

The little maid's gift

This past Sunday I served as substitute teacher for the high school kids. All of them are Principia students and very well versed in Bible study and Christian Science. Two of them just returned from a 10 day trip to Israel and had lots of interesting things to share about that. As I prepared for the class during the week, I was wondering what I could bring to it for these bright students. The answer came from the Bible Lesson and it was a show-stopper.

The Lesson included the story of Elisha healing the mighty captain of Syria, Naaman, of leprosy. A familiar story, I prayed to see something in there I hadn't thought about before. And I found it in the little maid who had been taken captive and given to Naaman's wife as servant. The words used to describe her imply she was maybe 12 years old or younger. She was a captive and a slave but she still was able to  love her mistress and master. So much so, that she tells her mistress that there is a prophet in Israel who could heal Naaman of his leprosy. They believe her and Naaman goes to Elisha and is healed.

What stood out to me was her youth and her all-inclusive love. It prompted me to ask the students: "Have you ever been around someone who is suffering with a physical challenge, maybe a pretty serious one, and stepped forward to offer them Christian Science"?  Think about how she, a child and a slave, gave freely of this very special gift, an understanding of God's goodness and power and ability to heal even something considered incurable.

"You have been students of Christian Science, some of you all of your lives. You regularly attend Sunday school and testimony meetings. You know about the documented healings printed in our periodicals. You know Christian Science heals and have had healings of your own. How willing are you to step up and offer that when you become aware of a need?"

There was a long moment of silence as I let that question hang out there. And I assured them that I had been thinking about it myself all week long.

We should be open and receptive to sharing this 'cup of cold water' to the world and 'never fear the consequences'. We have to be willing to give our consent to reaching out where the need is great. Like this little maid, we have to love enough to include everyone in God's protection.

Mrs. Eddy writes: "A spiritual idea has not a single element of error and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive". (S&H 463)

Share it joyfully.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A truer sense of self-love

"Today I am looking closely at the story of Naaman, captain in the King of Syria's army, and his healing of leprosy.

Naaman expressed many good qualities. He was respected by the King for his military successes and his honorable conduct. Naaman delivered Syria and among the captives brought back was a little maiden. There must have been something special about this child that stood out to him because Naaman gave her into his wife's care as her maid. She may have been a child of Israel because she knew about Elisha, their prophet, and his healing ability.

Naaman was a leper, but it was of slow development. The Syrians did not observe the same rules of the Israelites where a leper was forbidden to come in contact with others. He was beloved of his men and even this little maid cared about him for she told her mistress that he could be healed by Elisha. This information was shared with Naaman.

Not included in our Bible Lesson is what happened next. The King of Syria sends a letter to the King of Israel saying that he is sending Naaman there to be healed of his leprosy. When the King read the letter he rent his clothes as he was upset that he would be expected to use his influence with Elisha for Naaman's benefit. He fears this is a ploy to give Syria a reason to go to war against him. But Elisha hears about this and tells his King to allow the visit so that Naaman can know there is a true prophet in Israel.

So Naaman comes to Elisha in great pomp and circumstance with his horses and chariot and servants. This is a clue to what would need to be changed in Naaman's thinking. He expected to be treated with great respect for his position. Instead, Elisha doesn't even come out of his house, but sends his servant with instructions for what Naaman is to do to get this healing. That must have come as a surprise to him and he throws a temper tantrum. But once again we see how his servants truly cared about him for they dare to approach him and even question his reaction. Wouldn't he have willingly done any great thing asked of him? How then could he deny this simple request to go wash himself in the Jordan river.

How beautifully Mrs. Eddy's words blend with this story.  "Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patience obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, - self-will, self-justification, and self-love, - which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death."  Naaman needed a lesson in humility and when he was willing to do as Elisah asked, he got his healing.

Reading on, we learn that he returned to Elisha and acknowledged "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel", and he offers to pay Elisha. But Elisha refuses the money. Naaman did well to show his gratitude, but Elisha showed that imparting the blessing which he was empowered from on high to bestow, he could receive no personal gain.

What I will take away from this is being careful of how I look for healing. If there is a lesson to be learned, I want to be receptive and obedient.  It is not just about overcoming a physical challenge, it is about examining thought and being willing to change. I want to be 'pure in heart' so that I can see God; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love all around me and love my neighbor as myself. That's the truer sense of self-love.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The salt covenant

Years ago my daughter and I did a year-long study on references to salt in the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. What we discovered was fun and fascinating and had many metaphysical applications. This week's Bible on Substance includes the story of Elisha using salt to purify the waters in Jericho. I pulled out that notebook to look for deeper clues to the value of this incident and how it relates to true substance.

In our research we went back to Numbers where Moses' brother, Aaron, a high priest stipulates: "It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord unto thee and to thy seed with thee." Salt was considered symbolic of the binding nature of a covenant. We also looked in the New Testament and found this in the ninth chapter of Mark: "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt unto yourselves, and have peace with one another."

In his article, The salt of the covenant, Charles F. Southworth writes: "Right thinking, prudence in speech and action, a sense of kindliness and of the joy of life, constitute the salt that heals the troubled waters of dissension and strife. If we lack a desire to preserve peace and harmony in our covenants with men, then our salt has lost its saltness, and the opposite disturbing quality is worth only to cast out."

Salt is defined as a preservative, a symbol of incorruption. If one sat at table and ate salt as part of desert hospitality, one became more than a guest and must be treated with all consideration and peace.

So how does that relate to the story in II Kings? Elisha had just taken up Elijah's mantle to be the prophet of the people. This may have been the first test of his new role. It took place in Jericho where the women were unable to carry full term and the fields would not produce a crop. The people felt it was because the water was contaminated. Bad water. Impure. This might have been an indication of the mental atmosphere. They certainly were not teaching their children to be respectful of their elders. There is a surprising end to this healing, should you continue to read past II Kings 2:22, and what happens when Elisha leaves town.

But to return to the healing itself. Elisha calls for a new cruse and fills it with salt. The men would have been familiar with the reference to salt as the covenant with God from Numbers. Elisha goes to the place where the spring begins and cast in the salt. Metaphysically we can think of that as the place where they were in their thinking. They needed to be in accord with the covenant and be sure they were practicing right thinking. He tells them he has now purified the waters and there will be no more death or barrenness in the land.

If we think of salt as a preservative and a symbol of wholesomeness and purity we can see how important it is to be clear about our covenant with God as outlined in the Old Testament and with Jesus' new command in the New Testament. One God who is good, one creation, man made in His image and likeness. We are to honor and love Him with all our heart and actions. He will be our God, our good shepherd, our Father-Mother, cherishing and protecting us. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

If you seem to be stuck in a barren place with your job, your church, your relationships, maybe it is a good time to renew your covenant with God, to examine your right thinking and Truth knowing about Him, about our relationship with Him, and our love for our neighbors. Time to season one's life with the purifying salt of divine Love.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

They stayed in the furnace!

As I am studying this week's Bible Lesson on Man, I am looking for fresh insights into the familiar story of the three Hebrew men thrown into the fiery furnace.  Today I was wondering why they stayed in there?

The Bible account tells how the king saw them walking around free. All that had burned were the bonds that had been holding them. And they were not alone. A fourth figure was with them, one the king described as 'like the Son of God'. The four of them were walking right in the midst of that furnace. So it must have been huge. And it was heated seven times hotter than usual.

But they stayed in there. Why?

Perhaps they were deep in discussion with the Son of God. Pretty special since Jesus did not appear in the flesh until many years after that experience. One can only guess what they must have been talking about.

Another consideration is that they had dominion over this situation that appeared so fatal. We have all found ourselves in challenging circumstances we would rather not have experienced. Many have made a demonstration over the conditions. These men were innocent of any wrong doing, in fact, they had refused to worship any other god and were willing to trust in the one true God for their deliverance. Maybe they were tiding up any loose ends, such as resentment against those who put them there. Maybe it was important for the healing to be complete that they did NOT come out of there until all could see its powerlessness to harm them.

They did not leave the furnace until the king called them forth. And all those who had conspired to put them in there could see they were totally unharmed in their body, their clothes, their hair. Why, not even the smell of smoke lingered to say they had ever been touched by the flames.

Wouldn't we all like to 'come out' of some 'furnace' experience so confident of the blessing that nothing remained to suggest we had ever been in any such place.

That section of the Lesson ends with this from Colossians: "...your life is hid with Christ in God." There's certainly had been. The Christ was present, right there to prove they were not alone or separated from Love at any time, in any place, under any circumstances. Their reward for their faithfulness was a one-on-one visit with the Christ.

Lots to ponder today.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Christ cannot be stopped!

I was settling in for the evening a few minutes ago. The February Journal has an article I wanted to reread, No healing yet? Silence the antichrist! by Nathan Talbot. It was as I read it that I had a startling insight. The Christ cannot be stopped.

The article points out how the Christ appeared to some of the Old Testament characters. Then it went on to mention Jesus' promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world'.  It says that the Christ has always been coming - always coming to light in human consciousness.

I saw a New Testament story in a whole new light. It was when Jesus had sent his disciples on ahead in a boat and stayed behind to pray. He had been preaching and teaching but when he fed the multitudes they wanted to make him a king. He took time apart to pray and then he went to his students.

The Christ came to them, walking right through the storm as sea. The Christ came to calm their fears about just who and what Jesus was. Nothing could stop him from being with them in their hour of need. No storm of human or nature. The Christ came to them.

And I see that the Christ will always come to me, right in my own stormy moments. Nothing can stop his appearing. That sweet message directly from my Father Mother God assuring me of Love's care and protection, and my status as God's own beloved child, made in His image and likeness. I cannot be anywhere apart from Him. Nothing can come between us.

The Christ meets us right where we are and casts out error, calming storms.

There have been times when I have prayed long and hard, studied for hours and days. I am inspired...and yet no healing happens. I must work for a balance between my expectancy of good and a strong conviction of the nothingness of the antichrist that would do its best to interfere. There is no real condition, no disease, no lack, no hurt feelings or misunderstandings. There isn't even the thought that such a thing could have happened. The Christ, my answer is always right at hand.

The Christ comes to me and 'tenderly, divinely talks' and I hear and understand.  Nothing can stop it. The human need is met and I have glimpsed the allness of God, good.

That's something to sing about!

Friday, January 23, 2015

With a love for the chambered nautilus

We're preparing to move again. When we arrived here in Elsah, almost three years ago, we were offered campus housing in a beautiful Colonial house that even included a section of finished basement that was perfect for me. But there is no flat surface to this property, no place for the kids to play, very little room for a small garden. My area does not have a bathroom so I must go up a flight of stairs to use the powder room and up another to take a shower. the biggest challenge for all of us is the very steep driveway, very difficult to drive up with the least bit of ice or snow. We were actually housebound several times.  So when another house became available up the street we walked through it and decided we would move into it. It also has a finished basement for me, and this time there is a full bath. The driveway is flat and I think I may be able to do some gardening this summer. So we are busy going through everything and packing up. And wondering how so much accumulated in so short a time. Sigh.

It is an opportunity to really look at what we have, some boxes which never did get opened, and decided what we should donate or give away. That brings me to one of my favorite animals, the chambered nautilus. We actually got to see one in an aquarium in Hawaii. They even had a 'baby nursery' with little nautiluses swimming around.

You are probably familiar with the beautiful spiral within their shell. As the nautilus grows, it adds sections on. Before it seals off each section, it carefully disposes of any 'rubbish' left inside and then it adds a bit of gas. This adds to the buoyancy of the shell. The rubbish would only slow it down. I love the concept of clearing out the rubbish as I continue my spiritual growth. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health on page 324: "Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, - this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony."

We sometimes find ourselves at a place where we know we have caught a glimpse of Truth and understand more about God and our special relationship to Him as His beloved child, made in His image and likeness. For me, this often happens when I have had a physical healing or seen some discordant situation resolved with blessing on both sides.

I think it a brilliant idea to stop once in a while and assess how much we have allowed to accumulate in thought. To be willing to clear out any false thinking, to feel joyous to see those things disappear. What freedom as one moves on. What joy to feel light and buoyant. It adds to my growing understanding of what home really is. I am grateful for all the things I have and I am looking forward to placing them in my new 'lovely basement'.

Love has provided and continues to provide so much good in my life. His arm truly encircles me and mine and all.