Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lending pots

I am working on an Address, Loving your neighbor and yourself, and have been delighted to see how often this has been appearing in our Bible Lessons and in our periodical articles. There is another one in this week's Lesson on Life.

It is in the familiar story of Elisha and the woman who comes to him in a panic because her husband has died, leaving her and her two sons with a large unpaid debt. I have always loved the way Elisha responds. He does not offer her money. He does not say he will go to her creditor and plead on her behalf. He asks her a question: "What hast thou in the house"?  In Christian Science we think of 'house' as 'spiritual consciousness', so he was redirecting her thought from material lack to spiritual supply and substance.  She tells him all she has is a pot of oil. He doesn't commiserate, he gives her direction. "Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few".  She obeys and is able to fill all the vessels from her one pot of oil, sell enough to pay off the debt, and still have what she and her sons need to live on.

What I was thinking about this morning were those neighbors. It may have taken much courage on her part to go to them and ask for the loan of pots. Surely they were aware of her circumstances. She might even have asked them for help before. They might have chosen to refuse her the use of the pots as there was a good chance they would be confiscated to pay her debt and they would lose them. But it appears that those neighbors lent her pots and not a few.

What I am taking away from this today is the response of those neighbors in the face of the woman's situation. I would hope I would be gracious should any of my neighbors ask for help. We all willingly lend that 'cup of sugar' but what if the need is not material?

Suppose you are aware that your neighbor can't get to the store. Do you remember to ask if you can pick something up for them on your next trip into town?

What if one of your neighbors suffers the loss of a loved one? Do you make time to drop by with flowers or a casserole and stay to bring them comfort?

If a neighbor has shown even the slightest interest in your study of Christian Science have you shared a Sentinel article, introduced them to the reading room, invited them to a Wednesday evening meeting or a lecture?

I must do a better job of 'lending pots' right here in my own neighborhood.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

About your tear bottle

This week's Bible Lesson includes the story of Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet. It says she washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. That's a lot of tears.

I got to thinking about that and did a little research. While tears are mentioned frequently in the Bible, the tear bottle is mentioned only once. In Psalm 56 David prays, "Put thou my tears into thy bottle" (v.8). This was a prayer of David's when he was a fugitive fleeing from King Saul and had been captured by his nation's worst enemy, the Philistines. His tears were numerous.

Tears are the result of sorrow or suffering. In Persia and Egypt, tears were wiped from the cheeks and the eyes of mourners and carefully preserved based on the belief that these tears would prove to God that the person had been righteous during his lifetime and God would reward him mercifully. The tear bottles were buried with them at death.

It is possible Mary Magdalene brought her bottle of tears to Jesus. She washed his feet, a very meaningful act to both of them. She gave her most precious items - her tears and an alabaster box of ointment - to the Christ. She poured them out as a token of her love and gratitude for his mercy.

All this made me wonder if I was keeping a mental tear bottle, filling it with tears shed in sorrow or pain. Actually, I find that I am more likely to shed tears of joy from moments of happiness. But I can see how easy it would be to let such a mental tear bottle collect memories of unhappy times. To 'bottle' up those moments and hold on to them, maybe even expect God to bring justice to an unfair situation, forgiveness to harsh words or acts (my own or someone else's). See Lord, see how many tears I have shed over this!

Should you be so inclined you can purchase a tear bottle on for under $30.00. But I think I will be treasuring up moments of joy, blessing and healing instead. There have been plenty of those. How much better to go through the day expecting the unfoldment of good, a feeling of peace and happiness secure in God's love for me, His very own image and likeness. My divine Parent sees me as His beloved child with all the rights that includes.

Mary Magdalene gave Jesus the things that mattered most in her life. She repented of her past choices and received his benediction to 'go in peace'. That might mean she could go forward without any painful feelings about her past, no guilt, no self-condemnation.

And no further need for a tear bottle.

As we commune daily with the Christ, as we strive for right thinking and Truth knowing, as we move forward expressing a more spiritual outlook and understanding, we can leave behind any 'tear bottle' thinking as well. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Keep those 'spiritual wipes' handy

Like many parents and grandparents I keep a small packet of wet wipes in my purse and in the car. You never know when you  might be called upon to use them.  Do you keep some 'spiritual wipes' handy in thought? Are you ready and willing to wipe away evidence of accident or 'dirt', the claim of mortality? Are you willing to look beyond the material picture and see the man of God's creating?

This week's Bible Lesson on Sacrament includes two examples of this spiritual 'wiping away'. Today I am taking time to think about how those people prepared themselves to do that.

Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to be his honored guest at a feast. Mary Magdalene, a notorious sinner, came uninvited to the same feast. Simon sought to honor Jesus as his personal guest. Mary sought only to honor him with her repentance and devotion.
1. She willingly and bravely came to him, knowing full well what people would think and say about her.
2. She brought with her costly oil.
3. She showed her respect for him by doing the job of a slave and washing his feet, kissing them, and drying them with her own hair.
4. Her actions were proof of her repentance and her sins were forgiven, washed clean.

Jesus and the disciples were keeping the Passover in what has been called The Last Supper. Jesus knew what was about to happen to him and he chose this act to demonstrate his love for them and as an example of the love they were to show one another.
1. He rose up from dinner. He didn't wait until the meal was finished but left the table, ready to give the this lesson.
2. He laid aside his garments. and wrapped a towel around his waist. He removed the seamless robe that identified him and kneeled before them unclothed.
3. He washed their feet, much to their astonishment.

Was there ever a more gracious man? I studied 'grace' for a year once and gained much from praying to be more gracious, more graceful, and to see how God has poured grace out on my life. Mrs. Eddy writes: "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds (S&H 4:3-5).

Jesus has given us a commandment, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Mrs. Eddy continues: "Outward worship is not of itself sufficient to express loyal and heartfelt gratitude, sine he has said: If ye love me, keep my commandments (S&H 4:9-11).

Let's work on keeping his commandment. Let's keep those 'spiritual wipes' handy and use them as the opportunity presents itself to show love for our neighbors, washing away the suggestions that man is a sick or a sinner. Let's seek to reveal the perfect child of God, made in His image and likeness, that cannot be covered with 'dirt'. We are not part of the Adam dream, made from the dust. We are pure and whole and undisturbed.

Let's be spiritual foot washers.