Defeating Discouragement with Glory!

February 25, 2015

     The original title for this Wednesday’s readings was “Defeating Discouragement,” and I was struggling with my understanding of the readings I had selected from II Corinthians 11 and 12. These are the verses about Paul’s many hardships, yet he would “glory. . in mine infirmities” because when “I am weak, than am I strong.” On Monday, I started hearing the buzz about the Oscar winning song “Glory,” so I watched it on youtube. (No, I did not watch the Oscars!) That song really touched me in understanding some of Paul’s emotions when he wrote those verses in II Corinthians, and that is how I came up with the topic “Defeating Discouragement with GLORY!”
     I also wanted to share an instructive little fable which appears frequently in our Christian Science magazines and which is attributed to William R. Rathvon, a Christian Science teacher and lecturer who had also been a member of Mary Baker Eddy’s household staff.  It is called the ”Devil’s Auction,” and in this fable, the devil was selling his tools, such as malice, envy, hatred, jealousy, sensualism, deceit, and all the other implements of evil. Separate from the rest lay a harmless-looking, wedge-shaped tool which was much worn and priced higher than any of the others. When someone asked the devil what it was, he said, “That’s discouragement.”  Discouragement is more useful to me than any of my other tools  because I can pry open and get inside a man’s thought with it, when I can’t touch him in any other way. It is so worn because I use it with nearly everybody, as very few people yet know that it belongs to me.” The devil was then asked, “Is there anyone on whom you can’t use it?” The devil hesitated a long time, and finally said in a low voice, “I can’t use it in getting into a grateful heart.”  At the sale, the devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold. The fable concludes that he still owns it, and he is still using it!

Christian Martyrdom

February 18, 2015

     Last year my first Wednesday night readings as First Reader occurred on Ash Wednesday, so my subject was “Beauty for Ashes.”  This year we have another solemn topic in “Christian Martyrdom.”
     Mary Baker Eddy wrote quite a bit about this topic, and the readings from Science and Health begin with this quote attributed to Tertullian, a 2nd century author who lived in northern Africa and who is considered one of the fathers of the early Christian church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  (SH 37 next to the marginal note “Martyrs inevitable”)  Mrs. Eddy also references Savonarola, an Italian friar from the late 1400s. (SH 40)  There is a wonderful series called “Mary Baker Eddy Mentions Them,” and so I enjoyed listening to their short and sweet summary of Savonarola’s life. (This link is included on the “Readings and Research” page.)
     In preparing these readings, I was impressed by how much Stephen’s speech influenced Saul/Paul, even to the point of Stephen’s final words “Lay not this sin to their charge,” being repeated by Paul at the end of his life. One of the Christian Science Journal articles about Stephen quotes Augustine, that “the church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen,” and so a Journal article about Stephen is also included on the readings page.
     On the day after the news that another US hostage had been executed, John Yemma, of The Christian Science Monitor, wrote an editorial quoting part of a letter received by the parents:
 “I have come to a place in my experience,” Kayla Mueller wrote, “where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no one else…. + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free.”

The Covenant – Love

February 4, 2015

I hope you have enjoyed our three-part series on the Covenant which we are completing tonight. “The Way” by Mary Baker Eddy provided structure for this concept of the covenant, and we have been following her stages of growth: self-knowledge, humility, and love. We have also been correlating our readings with the “scientific translation of mortal mind” from the physical to the moral to the spiritual (SH 115-116).

The marriage covenant has been a useful symbol to understand these stages from the physical two by two on Noah’s ark to the moral striving after the 10 Commandments where the Israelites were compared to an unfaithful spouse. Today’s readings include the Lamb’s wife in Revelation which Mrs. Eddy defines as “Love wedded to its own spiritual idea. (SH 575). (There is a good article explaining this at-one-ment by John Stark Seeley posted on the readings page.)

You might want some clarification with the word “testament.” In Matthew 26:28, we read about the “blood of the new testament” in the King James version. Other Bible translations use the word covenant instead of testament. Mrs. Eddy also uses the word covenant, as in “Have you shared the blood of the New Covenant…?” (SH 33) I am mentioning this because in today’s readings, we also have the word testament meaning a document of inheritance, as in a “last will and testament.” (Hebrews 9:15)