David and Absalom – Finding the Comfort and the Christ in Crisis

September 21, 2016

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During our Wednesday services, we’ve been studying the shepherd-king David in all his glory, but now there are challenging times in his kingdom, which began with his own household. David has been forced out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and so he has retreated to mourn at Mount Olivet, known in the New Testament as the Mount of Olives. These readings include how David responded to his betrayal, including his own words from the psalms he wrote during this experience.

Are you spotting more similarities between David and Jesus?  David’s son betrayed him; an enemy cursed him and threw stones at him; and lame Mephibosheth, whom David had taken into his own home, appeared disloyal. Throughout this ordeal, David continued to express mercy, a quality so clear in Jesus that he was called “the son of David.”

Another similarity which is not as obvious is that one of David’s priests was called Zadok.  Melchizedek, king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem) brought bread and wine to Abraham, since Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18). Then in Hebrews, Jesus is described as being “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17).  (We actually did a Wednesday service on “Melchizedek? Melchisedec Who?”, and I like thinking of Daniel’s Zadok as providing a holy connection between the Old and New Testament priesthood.)

Both Jesus and David had gloomy nights on Mount Olive, but Jesus’ disciples slept. David’s household was awake and weeping with him, and different friends nourished David  and his mighty men.  In our Time for Thinkers Book Club, we’ve asked:  If Jesus’ disciples had been awake and supporting him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, with all they had learned, would they have brought in the millennium? (Science and Health, p. 34)  David taught us mercy, but Jesus’ lessons were so much more!!

In our next readings, we will find out if Ziba was lying about Mephibosheth, if the cursing stone thrower reforms, and if David regains his kingdom. My husband thinks this is all quite the soap opera, so you will have to stay tuned in!

If you are wondering why I am spending so much time on David, here is an interesting article by William McCrackan from the December 1916 Christian Science Journal where he wrote, “Metaphysically considered, Christian Scientists are entitled to consider themselves direct descendants in the royal line of David. . .” and then he compared the “key of David” to our own “key to the Scriptures.” (Science and Health, p. 499, which has Revelation’s quote about the key of David). I’ve learned so many lessons from studying David which have opened up the Scriptures for me, and I’d love to hear your inspiration as well!

David and Absalom – Train up a child

September 14, 2016

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We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, but what happened afterwards? Did David use his own moral failure as a teaching moment for his own sons and daughters, or was this a case of “sour grapes, setting his own children’s teeth on edge?” Here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that saying:

God’s Message to me: “What do you people mean by going around the country repeating the saying,

The parents ate green apples,

The children got the stomachache?

“As sure as I’m the living God, you’re not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another’s. Ezekiel 18:1-4 The Message

Here are some Bible notes on the story of Amnon and Tamar:

13.1 Tamar was Absalom’s full sister, Amnon’s half-sister. Amnon was David’s oldest son and the crown prince. The next oldest had apparently died (perhaps as a child), leaving Absalom as second in line of succession to the throne.

13.12 “Such a thing” may refer to incest or rape or both.

13.13 “He will not withhold me from you,” Tamar suggests that David would allow their marriage despite its incestuous nature. Perhaps she is just trying to buy time.

13:16 Ex. 22:16 and Deut. 22:28-29 required marriage in such cases. Tamar may have such laws in mind when she says that in sending her away Amnon is committing a greater wrong that the rape itself.

13:17 “This woman,” a contemptuous reference. The word “woman” is not in the Hebrew, so that it might be translated “this thing.” Having robbed Tamar of her virginity, Amnon takes her identity as well.

13:18 “A long robe with sleeves,” used also for Joseph’s garment in Gen. 37:3. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 462-463)

In the King James Version, Tamar is wearing a “garment of divers colours” as the king’s daughter, which of course made me think of Joseph’s coat of many colors from his father.

Should David have trained up his son to express morality to women, especially since David had experienced that lesson himself?  And after the rape of Tamar occurred, why didn’t David at least follow the Old Testament rules and discipline his son Amnon?

In the story of David and Bathsheba, Nathan tells David a story to uncover his sin; and in today’s readings, Joab uses a widow to tell David a story about a blood feud which started when one of her sons killed his brother. David knew it was Joab’s words, perhaps because Joab had learned this revenge lesson himself when he killed Abner for killing his brother (last week’s readings).

The Bible readings end with a psalm written by David when he fled from his son Absalom for stealing the kingdom. David sang:

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. (Psalm 3:7,8)

In other words, “God striking the enemies on the mouth for their words is poetic justice, punishment fitting the crime. The psalmist, however, leaves the actual punishment to God.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, page 777)

The third tenet is so helpful in understanding that this “belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.” (Science and Health, page 497)

David – Using Wisdom or Playing the Fool

September 7, 2016

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We’ve all been warned about “playing the fool,” and one of the Bible’s most famous examples of an apparent lack of common sense is an Old Testament character named Abner who died “as a fool dieth” according to King David. Abner foolishly took a fatal misstep, so our service this Wednesday is on “using wisdom” as our parents warned us, or in the words of Jesus, “wisdom is justified of her children” (Luke 7:35).  In other words,

“CS stands for Common Sense,” Bessie McLoon

 

“Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  Eugene Peterson, The Message

 

“Time tells all stories true,” Allison Phinney, Jr., The Christian Science Sentinel

 

“Wisdom is known by its fruits. Look at the results to see if you made the right decision.” Colleen Moore’s paraphrase from reading the wise words above!

Abner made some foolish decisions, and here are some Bible notes to help you understand his story:

2 Samuel 3:7-8 “To sleep with a member of the royal harem was to claim the throne. Hence, Ishbaal’s question is tantamount to an accusation of treason. A dog’s head, used only here in the Bible, this expression is obviously reproachful, but its origin is unknown, although comparison to a dog or a dead dog is a frequent form of self-depreciation. Abner does not deny Ishbaal’s accusation but is contemptuous. Although the power is his, he has been loyal to Ishbaal.” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 449)

Hebron is one of the seven cities of refuge in Joshua 20:7.

“The towns of asylum provided the right of asylum for someone who committed involuntary manslaughter until the case was adjudicated. . . .The right of asylum helped to limit the social damage of unrestrained blood vengeance or feuding, especially  important in a tribal context. . . .The avenger of blood was the deceased’s nearest relative. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 348)

There were dozens of sermons online about Abner playing the fool, and there is a correlated story in Miscellaneous Writings about a New England worker who was played a fool. Mrs. Eddy’s anecdote is included at the end of the readings, but in summary, a practical joker at her brother’s mill had asked a new hire to “tend the regulator” by unnecessarily pouring a bucket of water every ten minutes on the regulator which controlled the machinery. Mrs. Eddy commented,

“Some people try to tend folks, as if they should steer the regulator of mankind. God makes us pay for tending the action that He adjusts.” (“Fallibility of Human Concepts,” Mis. p. 353)

So, not only did Abner foolishly start a game with enemies which resulted in a brawl, killing Joab’s brother; then foolishly stepped outside of the sanctuary city with Joab; but he also foolishly tried to meddle with arranging David’s kingdom when God already had everything under control! There is certainly wisdom in unity, but this story warns us that it should be directed by God (as David was patiently learning) instead of outlined by man (Abner’s foolish mistake).

In this same article, Mrs. Eddy lists six attitudes which many have found wise to follow in their lives:

“A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God.” (Mis. p. 354)

Have you noticed the symbolism of David becoming king over a unified Israel at age 30? Was David the first “lion and the lamb,” because he symbolized the lion of the southern tribe of Judah, and lovingly shepherded the northern tribes to unite and become one flock? Did you spot the symbolism of the two witnesses, the Christ from Judah; and the Comforter from the northern tribes of Israel (such as the tribes of Benjamin and Gad, and Joseph’s tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh)?

 

David – Meeting the human need

August 31, 2016

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The readings today overlap with last week’s time period because the first Bible story occurs in the chapter before King Saul’s death, and the next Bible story is about Jonathan’s son.

The story about David’s pursuit and smiting of the Amalekites reminded me of a recent discussion we had in our Time for Thinkers Book Club. One of the participants was asking about the use of military force, and our Book Club moderator told the story of “Joseph Campbell’s Samurai Tale,” the issue being whether you were fighting to fulfill a duty to your king and country or to fulfill a personal act of anger or revenge. In David’s story, the wives and children of David’s village have been captured, but David still asks God first whether he should pursue the enemy.  It wasn’t David’s personal emotions that were controlling his actions, but a perceived higher direction.

Another reason why I really like this story about David and the Amalekites is that it reminds me of the best rules of youth sports. In the Bible story, some of David’s men became so fatigued that they had to wait with the supplies. The more agile warriors who went into battle and were victorious didn’t want to share the resulting bounty, but David ruled that all his men were to have part in the victory just the same. Yes, everybody on the team gets a trophy, even if you’re sitting on the bench!

David took care of his lambs, whether it was the women and children captured by enemies or the lame son of his friend Jonathan. Inviting Mephibosheth to the king’s table was a first inclusive step until the Christ’s healing power became more evident in the New Testament.

There is a baffling paragraph in Science and Health about the short lives of spiritual thinkers (p. 387:13). To help with my understanding, I appreciated this paraphrase from an article about “Prayer that covers the bases”:

It seems the world has an inclination to sort of throw people off a cliff when they’re doing the thinking that could actually help the world. This suffering of good people is not some kind of command from God. On the contrary, it is mortal belief in the power of error or evil that would cause sensitive thinkers to suffer. The troubles of the world would particularly shake up those who are not necessarily playing along with those troubles. And so, spiritual thinkers would do well to pay attention. We free ourselves from evil or error as we pray to deny it any place in life. And God empowers us to do just that. (“Prayer that covers the bases,” Curtis Wahlberg, Christian Science Sentinel, November 15, 2010)

David – Eternal Friendship

August 24, 2016

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Jonathan, the son of Saul, Israel’s king, considered David a friend, as did Israel’s enemy, Achish, the Philistine king.  How did David become a friend without borders — a friend to all kinds of people, including those with different backgrounds, different religions, and different nationalities?

It is a timely lesson during this season of Olympic friendships and rivalries, so I’ve included a link to a story provided by the World War II Museum about the friendship between a German track star and Jessie Owen. I admit that I didn’t know about Luz Long congratulating an African-American in front of Hitler in the 1936 Olympics, and Long’s final letter before being killed in World War II is truly inspirational.  Yes, we do have our contemporary “Jonathans” who remain friends despite politics and governments.

I am backtracking this week so we can read the whole story of David’s friendship with Jonathan which begins after David kills Goliath. In I Samuel 17, King Saul doesn’t recognize David although in the preceding chapter, David tries on Saul’s armor and gets Saul’s permission to battle Goliath. According to the notes in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, two versions of the David and Goliath story have been combined. On another level, Saul is becoming blind with jealousy toward David, beginning with David’s slaying of Goliath.

Earlier this week a church member mentioned to me how some Bible scholars and archeologists question the existence of the Bible characters and history we love so well.  Mrs. Eddy gave a succinct response to a similar question asked of her about the existence of Christ Jesus:

“I do not find my authority for Christian Science in history, but in revelation. If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God’s spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness.” (Miscellany, p. 318-319)

In today’s readings, Mrs. Eddy questions the existence of Virgil, one of our classic figures whom she may have considered a spiritual friend and guide.

“Chaucer wrote centuries ago, yet we still read his thought in his verse. What is classic study, but discernment of the minds of Homer and Virgil, of whose personal existence we may be in doubt?” (Science and Health, p. 82)

There is some background on this question in the podcast, “Mary Baker Eddy Mentioned Chaucer, Homer, and Virgil,” which discusses literature’s mixture of fact and fiction (such as putting an historical figure such as Virgil into a fictional story), and which you can hear in the final minutes of a link included on the readings and resource page.  (I happened to see a new movie trailer with Tom Hanks based on Dante’s Inferno; I think poor Tom is acting like Dante’s Virgil, so that’s a great example of muddling facts-and-fiction, or actually fiction-and-fiction in the movies!)

When I was preparing these readings, it occurred to me that Mrs. Eddy had spent so much time with her Bible, reading and pondering it, that the Bible heroes became her friends. “We think of an absent friend as easily as we do of one present” (Science and Health, p. 82). It is wonderful to know the Bible so well — its contents and its characters — that it becomes your Friend.  When the inspired Word guides us to eternal Life, then that is a real “past, present, and future” transfiguration moment for us!

David – God as My Refuge

August 10, 2016

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I love finding similarities between the events in the lives of Jesus and David.  Jesus could pass through an angry mob ready to stone him, and David was hidden from King Saul although others could easily find him.  It was as if David was wearing an invisibility cloak protecting him from Saul, or “clad in the panoply of Love” as described by another female author (Science and Health, p. 571). Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “panoply” as “complete armor or defense,” and the psalms this week speak of God as a refuge and fortress, enclosing you in safety.

You might also spot some similarities between Saul and John the Baptist.  Included on the readings page is a link with photos of the rugged terrain beyond Jordan where John baptized and Jesus escaped (John 10:40).

What about the questions asked by David (Are you pursuing a dead dog, a flea?) and Jesus (Were you expecting to see John, a reed shaken by the wind?) These questions highlighted that the missions of David and John were not insignificant. Mrs. Eddy repeated this question:

“What went ye out for to see?” A person, or a Principle? Whichever it be, determines the right or the wrong of this following” (My. 117:3).

Here are some Bible notes to help with the stories:

I Samuel 23:28 – The name of this place means either “Rock of Escape” or “Rock of Division.”

I Samuel 24:3 – Saul went in to relieve himself, literally “to cover his feet,” a denigrating portrayal of a king.

I Samuel 24:7 – David’s cutting off Saul’s hem is symbolic for emasculation or usurpation of Saul’s kingdom, which is why David’s conscience bothers him. To attack the Lord’s anointed (Saul) was to attack the Lord.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version, p. 435)

I had some evidence of the One Mind last Wednesday when I came home from our church service. I was skimming through my FaceBook posts and saw a youtube video shared by Alex Cook, a musician who has performed at our church — both in person and frequently on Sunday’s CDs. Alex was posting a link about a Boys Club in Detroit called the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy, and our readings last Wednesday included the time David spent in Israel’s Cave of Adullam. I always like to read how people apply Bible stories to their own lives, so here’s the link on how this inner city Boys Club has made the Cave of Adullam a contemporary tale:

http://thecaveofadullam.org/about/

David and the shewbread – One Divine Life

August 3, 2016

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Republicans vs. Democrats, the employed vs. the unemployed, migrants vs. residents, Christians, Jews,  Muslims, strangers. We seem to live in a world of personal opinions and divisiveness, so what better time than now to learn about what makes a good ruler and what makes sound government and laws.

David in the Bible was called the shepherd-king, and his reign provides insights about bringing a divided country together. He united the kingdoms of Israel in the North and Judah in the South, and ruled for 40 years from 1010-970 BCE.  David wrote many of our psalms, the prayer-book of our Old Testament. You can feel his constant dependence on the guidance of God, his shepherd, when you read his psalms in correlation with the turbulent history of his life. You’ll notice in our readings that the psalms with superscriptions are interspersed with those events in his life from I and II Samuel.  Can you spot some of the qualities which made David a good leader?

Our readings begin with David’s escape from the envious King Saul. During this period, David spent a lot of his time hiding in caves which isn’t how I pictured the heroic David who ran toward the enemy Goliath. But after preparing these readings, I realized that these caves represented closet prayer times for David, who did not want to kill King Saul, the Lord’s anointed. These caves provided a sanctuary for David to compose many of his psalms.  Here is a favorite quote about prayer times:

“We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord.” (Devotional Classics of C. H. Spurgeon)

In today’s readings, when David was hungry, he ate the shewbread, thus identifying himself with the divine. No one could take away his victory, so he reclaimed Goliath’s sword. It seemed that his actions were irreverent toward God and country, but David’s holiness and reverence was toward Life, not toward a symbol.  That word “reverent” reminded me of the Scout Law:  “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Being reverent in the wilderness was definitely a quality that David had to practice!

Recently I had a FaceBook posting: “Forgiveness is the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.” That is what came to mind today when I read this line of the Lord’s Prayer with Mrs. Eddy’s interpretation: “Give us this day our daily bread; Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections” (Science and Health, p. 17). Certainly David’s psalms show how he was feeling crushed, yet beyond the broken bread/body symbol lies the grace. David had the Life and the Truth (the bread), and the Love (grace).

I’ve noticed that artists sometimes use femininity and youth to show the Comforter in Bible figures, so I’ve included a link to an interesting sculpture out of many in Florence, Italy, where David has Goliath’s head under his foot. Those sculptures remind me of the first verses of that enigmatic Psalm 110:

The word of God to my Lord:

“Sit alongside me here on my throne

until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.”

You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;

now rule, though surrounded by enemies! (The Message Ps. 110:1, 2)

Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth. (New King James Version Ps. 110:3)

 

Church of the Laodiceans: be warmly passionate or coolly inspired by Truth; just don’t be lukewarm!

July 27, 2016

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In the summer of 2014, we were armchair travelers with our Pastor on the rivers of Eden (Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates), which were defined in the Glossary of Science and Health. The next summer, we traveled along with the Apostle Paul by reading his letters to the Romans (Italy), the Colossians (Turkey), and the Philippians (Greece). This summer we have been reading about John’s vision of the seven churches written while on the Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Today we are concluding this study of the seven churches with the last congregation, the Laodiceans. That congregation received this message: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.”  (Rev. 3:15 NRSV) What a statement! It seems that our air-conditioning is frequently too cold or too hot, but in the Book of Revelation, the church angel tells the Laodiceans that he wishes they were either cold or hot.  Think of that!  Our air-conditioning has been blessed by an angel, and we didn’t even know it!

Seriously though, this statement was not written about modern air-conditioning, but according to the Bible commentators, it described the apathetic, indifferent, and self-satisfied attitude of the “lukewarm” Laodicean congregation.

Here is a testimony I’d like to share about being hot or cold.  When I first started reading, I thought it was always too cold in the church auditorium, so I bought lots of matching sweaters.  As First Reader, I spent much time in the word, reading the word, researching the word, and about two years into this position, I noticed that I had never caught cold, never had a sore throat, etc. I was very grateful that it was not part of my experience while reading!  Meanwhile, one of my Second Readers had a baby, and it brought back memories about breastfeeding and its benefits according to human eyes, such as bonding with the mother and having the mother’s immunities passed on to the baby. Then I started thinking about the “milk of the Word,” and wasn’t spending all this time in the Scriptures also bonding with my Mother (God), and thus benefiting from Her natural defenses? Mrs. Eddy also wrote about how “sensitiveness is sometimes selfishness,” which has been a great help to me in how to respond to temperatures. (Message to The Mother Church 1900, p. 8)

As in the earlier blogs, here are some comments and paraphrases about Revelation that I found enlightening:

Rev. 3:14 – John has his own little methods of emphasis.  You and I would put the “beginning” at the beginning, and the “Amen” at the end. But John reverses the order, to indicate without beginning or ending, in other words, infinite (Edyth Hoyt, Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, p. 38).

Rev. 3:20 – No door can be opened until there has been evidence of the desire to enter in, and then the one within must open the door. Thus, the reward is true oneness with the Christ,. . .  (Hoyt, p. 39).

 

Rev. 3:15-18 – In the beginning, ‘I’ coddled you with milk, healing you and telling you parables because you were too immature to swallow the truth. Now it is time to eat the meat. Remember when ‘I’ said, “Word was made flesh”? (John 1:14). ‘I’ have tried to give you the meat before, and I repeated it in my Philadelphia message. Why are you not chewing on it? You have not even tried to digest what ‘I’ said (George Denninger, The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man, p. 33).

Rev. 3:21 – Sitting with me on the throne is your ultimate inheritance (Denninger, p. 34).

Rev. 3:22 – These messages are delivered and written in Spirit language, and you have the ability to receive them. Are you listening with spiritual ears? (Denniger, p. 34)

 

Church of Philadelphia: brotherly love opens doors

July 13, 2016

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Did you ever notice that the “Key to the Scriptures” section of Science and Health (Genesis, The Apocalypse, and Glossary) begins with its keynote from Revelation 3:7-8?  It is the message to the church of Philadelphia, which is identified with “the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem”  (Rev. 3:12).  Philadelphia means “brotherly love,” and of the seven churches, Philadelphia received the strongest commendation; and it was given no rebuke.  This church was also described as having an open door which no man could shut. What opens the door of a church or heals a community? Isn’t an open door, an open heart, an expression of love?

Edyth Hoyt gave a wonderful explanation of the keys of hell and death and of the key of David. She explained that having the keys of death is having dominion over death, and having the key of David is the dominion of Love. “Is not possessing the dominion of Love really possessing dominion over death?” (Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, p. 37). Hoyt also commented that “the open door is an indication of complete communion” (Hoyt, p. 37).  Obviously, you’re not afraid when you leave your door open!

I also like The Message’s translation of the timeless key of David:  “David here designates the Messiah ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?” Mark 12:35-36 David saw that “he coexists with God and the universe” (Science and Health, p. 266).

Here is some more commentary on Revelation from George Denninger’s Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man:

Rev. 3:8 – Sweet Philadelphia, you know the essence of Me. I presented the key to you, and with it you have unlocked my treasure. Indeed, Love is the simplest and most profound of Me and is the true way to all that is (p. 31).

 

Rev. 3:12 – Those who love their way past their fears will find that as they ascend, inspired fleeting moments increase in frequency until spiritual living is realized permanently.  You will recognize your true identity in this way:

  • Standing in the firmament of heaven, you will discover your identity to be God consciousness.
  • New Jerusalem will be found to be here and everywhere, encompassing the all of your being.
  • Divine Love will explain itself — “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5) (p. 32).

James and John were surnamed “the sons of thunder” by Jesus, and he later rebuked them for wanting to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” a Samaritan village that wasn’t receptive to Jesus (Luke 9:54). What a transformation in John’s character to later be able to preach and write to “love one another” and “God is love” (I John 4:7,8).

Mrs. Eddy made a reference to the “legend of the shield, which led to a quarrel between two knights because each could see but one face of it. . . .” (SH p. 457). (I suppose in contemporary language, it could have a black side and a blue side.  Or perhaps a Fox side and a CNN side.)  Mirrors were placed beside each knight, so each could see the view from the other side’s mirror. That stopped their quarreling, and I love thinking of us as being those mirrors, those reflections, instead of the one-sided dueling knights.  Here are two different interpretations of that legend from our periodicals from years ago:

Mrs. Eddy was a true patriot, as is manifest by her life and her writings. One of her signal achievements in behalf of the good of all nations was the establishment of The Christian Science Monitor, a paper that is replete with true patriotism. Although published in the United States of America, its sense of patriotism is by no means limited to the boundaries of this nation. In the legend of the two knights who engaged in combat over a shield, one side of which was silver, and the other gold, each knight could see only one side of the shield—hence the strife. A mirror would have saved the situation! Nations are composed of men who, like these knights, seeing but one side of a situation, plunge headlong into battle. The Christian Science Monitor, by furnishing a mirror which truthfully reflects all sides of every important question, is thereby lessening the liability of war. (Julia Salome Kinney, “True Patriotism,”  from the March 6, 1926 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

 

To illustrate this dual appearing of the human and the divine, we may refer to the old legend of the shield which was of gold on one side and silver on the other. The different appearance which the shield presented to two friends who chanced to view it from opposite sides, led to a quarrel between them. Not until the knight upon the silver side crossed over and saw the shield from his friend’s position, did he learn the valuable lesson that much depends, in every case, upon the point of view from which one looks. So it was that the world, looking from the view-point of the five physical senses, and ignorant of the purely spiritual nature of man as God’s image and likeness, saw the Christ in fleshly form as a marvelously perfect, pure, tender, loving, and strong human being, walking among men, and they called their view of the redeemer, Jesus.

 

But God could not look from a mortal, imperfect, material, and unreal standpoint. He could never know aught unlike His own deathless being, and so God’s idea, the Christ, was never subject to the flesh, was never scourged, spit upon, crucified, or buried. These brutalities mortal man heaped upon his own highest human concept, which was an ever-present rebuke to the lower sense. Through the meeting and blending of human need and divine supply, as manifested in Christ Jesus, humanity found a mediator between God and man, learned the true idea of Life as God, and how to overcome the false concept with all its woes. (Elizabeth Earl Jones, “Immaculate Origin and Being,” from the February 1909 issue of The Christian Science Journal)

When I began marking my books for these readings, I didn’t include all of Mark, chapter 3, but when I read the whole chapter, it resolved some of the confusion I’ve had about some of these separate stories.  Jesus calls his 12 disciples, with the last named:

Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.” (Mark 3:19-21)

Other translations describe Jesus as being “mad” (Phillips) or “out of his mind” (NRSV, GW, NIV).  Then the scribes think Jesus has Beelzebub (Satan) and is casting out Satan with Satan, so Jesus gives them the parables about how a divided kingdom or house cannot stand and about how it is necessary to bind the strongman in order to plunder his house.

Did you ever notice that Jesus went “out of his mind” after including Judas Iscariot as a disciple, and did you ever think that the parables which followed had to do with Judas as well as the destructive crowd — that Jesus’ love had to bind the strongman (hate) in order to clean out his house (consciousness)?  Perhaps it is all the Martin Luther King quotes I have heard over the last few days that are causing me to read the parable in this way, but here is one quote that really fits: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Here is another paraphrase of Mark 3:27:

Every time Jesus released the sick and demon-possessed from their bondage, Jesus entered Satan’s house and spoiled his goods. . . Mary Jane Chapin, “Insiders and outsiders Mark 3:7-35,” from the October 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal).

Then after a lesson in crumbling hate with love, it appears that Jesus is leaving out his mother and brothers who are calling to him. Was Jesus rejecting his human family or expanding it spiritually? Here is one commentary:

In redefining the scope of his family, he announced that his kinsmen were no longer limited to blood relatives. His definition embraced all the people sitting around him. His new and expanded family included all those who did the will of God. His inclusion of sister with brother and mother is, among other things, a delightful recognition that women were always among his followers and disciples. Even though Mark does not mention women until the very end, it is heartening to know that they were there all along.  (Chapin)

“God had been graciously preparing” Jesus with the events  in Mark 3 that there are not many stressful, demanding, prejudiced, fearful, or hateful mortal minds, but only One Mind and One Love (Science and Health, p. 107). Thus he was well equipped to heal incidents further along in his mission, such as the man with an unclean spirit named Legion (Mark 5).

 

Church of Sardis: “Be watchful,. . . and hold fast”

July 6, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Did you notice that the name of our first hymn is “Sardis”? Its composer is Beethoven, and according to the Christian Science Hymnal Notes, it speaks to “the twofold quality of his music, in its power and tenderness” (p. 254).

Sardis is a great hymn to accompany the story of Elijah, and this week’s readings have the “backstory” of this prophet and the “still small voice.” Elijah had proven the power of God with his altar of 12 stones (representing the 12 tribes of Israel), baptized with the 12 barrels of water (4 barrels three times), and aflame with the Holy Spirit, but he apparently forgot that God’s tenderness and mercy extended beyond these 12 tribes of Israel.  Without following God’s direction, Elijah took it upon himself to slay the 850 prophets of the false god Baal, which caused Queen Jezebel to threatened his life. Here is a Christian Science Sentinel explanation:

Undoubtedly, Elijah realized that he had committed an error in slaying the priests of Baal; for, while on his flight, he gave vent to discouragement, requesting that he die, because, he declared, “I am not better than my fathers;” and, later, the lesson was made clearer. . . . Finally, came a “still small voice,” typical of divine Love; and Elijah felt the presence of God. How different was it from the great wind, the earthquake, and the fire, which were destructive! Did not these typify the mortal qualities to which Elijah yielded when he ordered the destruction of the priests of Baal, and which threatened him when Jezebel declared that she would effect his destruction? Was not the “still small voice” representative of the God who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” and who is ever waiting for the prodigal to arise from his husks of materiality and return to the father—ever ready to go to meet such a one rather than destroy him? (Charles C. Sandelin, “Let there be no strife,” from the September 2, 1922 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

Not only did Elijah need to be shaken up out of his sleeping and waking dream, but he also needed to “see” better because God had never left him alone — Obadiah, Elisha, and 7,000 others had not followed Baal.

Much like Elijah, the Church of Sardis needed to be awakened and presented with “the full spectrum of God (all seven Spirits radiating Us) so that you will know that you and ‘I’ are not separate” (George Denninger, Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man, p. 29).

Caroline Getty became the first teacher of Christian Science in France with a career spanning two world wars. She was also a profound student of the Bible, and in her insightful article, “The Seven Churches,” she wrote:

In Sardis we come to stagnation, —”Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” How needful, then, to watch against this error, to rouse one’s self when the suggestion comes that one has borne the heat and burden of the day and may now rest; that one has attained the place where one may withdraw from the organization. This state of stagnation is the offspring of mortal personality, of self-importance; and with the example of our Leader before us, we are indeed inexcusable, nay even despicable, if we yield to it. With her the name of Christian Scientist meant the living in ever increasing measure of the life of a Christian Scientist; and it must be so with every one who apprehends in the least what the Christian Science movement stands for. Obedience to the Church Manual, membership in The Mother Church, and generally in a branch church, with obedience to its by-laws, activity in the work of the organization without self-seeking or self-will, keep us on a safe road through the wilderness that stretches from sense to Soul (Caroline Getty, “The Seven Churches,” from the October 1917 issue of The Christian Science Journal).