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.