Choose Ye: a Dying Church or the Living Christ

May 27, 2015
     According to a May 12, 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing. (http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/)
     I thought it would be helpful to address this issue of what we are choosing to see — a dying church or the living Christ.  I think this is a timely topic, especially since last Sunday was celebrated as the birth of the Christian Church in many denominations (Pentecost Sunday), and the week after next is our own Mother Church’s Annual Meeting (June 8th).
     As many of you are aware, we have been holding our Wednesday and Sunday services outside since the end of April with a few exceptions.  We have been very creative with our live music — a saxophone offertory one week, and a casio keyboard most other weeks. And Justin’s solos on the guitar have been perfect for our current intimate informal setting.  I am very grateful that we have had visitors at every Sunday service — even from England.
     Last week a visitor from Houston (who attended 4th Church regularly when he lived in New Orleans) commented, “This must have been what it was like when Jesus was speaking outside.” I was very grateful for that comment because he expressed appreciation for the living Christ — the unadorned attraction of the eternal Word — invisible to the senses. How interesting that Mrs. Eddy’s first paragraph about Church in the Glossary was also purely spiritual.
     The purpose of these readings is to reflect on the purpose and mission of the church of Christ during these times of social change, competing activities, and new technologies.  I’ve also included a link to the “Circle of Faith Blog” from The Mother Church Committee on Ecumenical Affairs.
     Also, the term “son of man” appears in several places in our readings, and I like the explanation of this term given in Hoyt’s Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos (p. 122):
Jesus thinks of himself directly as the Son of Man, living and moving in heaven, completeness. This should remove all doubt from an impartial reader that the preexistence of the Christ was his preexistence as the Son of Man. That the real man existed from eternity in God is the truth that he grasped, and to which he gave concrete intellectual form.
On Sunday, Justin’s solo was “More than Bones,” which of course made me think of the valley of bones in Ezekiel. Justin writes and performs these solos for us, and he also records them so that you can listen on your own. Here is the link to Sunday’s solo:
Comment from a reader – What an excellent theme! Thanks!
Comment from another reader – Your church and the people have contributed so much to my life.
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Choose Ye: Irritation or Inspiration (Strife or Persistent Patient Prayer)

May 20, 2015

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/ArchiveWedReadings2015.html

     In Preparation for the Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors of The Mother Church has invited us to again study Mrs. Eddy’s article “Choose Ye” from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany.  “Choose Ye” is included in Prose Works, and I also included a pdf of this specific article on our Wednesday Readings page.

     Between now and the Annual Meeting (June 8th), our Wednesday services will be considering this topic of “Choose Ye,” beginning with this Wednesday’s topic, “Choose Ye: Irritation or Inspiration,” alternately titled “Choose Ye: Strife or Persistent Patient Prayer.”

     (I think my current study of the Book of Job is affecting my title choices. Thomas Edison’s quote about invention or genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration sums up Job’s forty chapters of arguments for me!)

     Much of the story of Isaac will seem familiar to you. A few months ago our readings included the Bible story of Isaac’s father Abraham who told Abimelech that Sarah (Abraham’s wife) was his sister.  Abraham’s prayers resulted in a healing of barrenness for both Abimelech’s family and Abraham’s family.  (Genesis 20-21) There was also a struggle over the same wells, but look at how Isaac’s persistent digging blessed both nations during a famine.

Here’s the names/meanings for those four wells:

Esek – Strife

Sitnah – Hatred

Rehoboth – Room

Shebah – Oath

“To be patient is to love without irritation. As we endeavor to better express love, love grows. So it is with patience.” (from “Expanding our patience,” a 1980 Sentinel article which is linked on the readings page.)

Healing: Banishing Pain – A Call to Instant Action

May 13, 2015

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/ArchiveWedReadings2015.html

     The topic for this Wednesday is “Healing: Banishing Pain — A Call to Instant Action.” There are many Christian Science articles and radio programs on this subject, so I’ve included a few on the readings page. (Let me know if you don’t have a jsh-online subscription, and I will email you a free copy.)
     In organizing this topic, I was thinking about physical pain, but yesterday, I was very impressed when I heard the comments given by the Pelicans Coach to his surprise firing.  If you did not hear the complete interview, here is the video from my Facebook feed:
Coach Williams quoted Romans 8:28 (which happens to be in this Wednesday’s readings), and he showed much grace and composure under the circumstances.

The King’s daughter glorious within

May 6, 2015

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/ArchiveWedReadings2015.html

This week’s topic was selected before the birth of England’s Princess Charlotte, but it does make a timely subject — especially with Mother’s Day approaching!

     The Bible stories this week address different aspects of womanhood — from the good advice given by Abigail to King David (women in their role as wives); to the nurturing and support by the women disciples of Jesus (women in their role as mothers); to the helpful works and good deeds of the women in the early Christian church (women in their role as “daughters” of God). There is the famous quote from Genesis 2 about woman being an “help meet” for man, but in these stories, women aren’t subservient — they are the ones who comfort and uplift man. (And yes, the gender roles are reversed in the last story!)
     Now, I will put on my Librarian’s hat, and ask if you are familiar with the Bible translations that are available for free on the internet. For example, I was perplexed by one of the Bible verses from Jeremiah 31:22 — “…the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.”  Was this a reference to Israel (woman) and her citizens (man)? A sexual metaphor? The Virgin Birth?  According to Bible Gateway, the meaning of the word “compass” in Hebrew is uncertain, so different translations and paraphrases used different words, such as:
“A woman will protect a man.” International Standard Version
“A woman will surround a man.” The Voice
Here is the link to Bible Gateway if you wish to look up more versions:
However, I love how Mrs. Eddy describes this concept of coincidence, “divinity embracing humanity.” Science and Health, p. 561:17.
I hope you enjoy these readings celebrating the womanhood and motherhood in all of us!
We’ve had some beautiful outdoor services in this glorious weather.  During Sunday’s service, a skywriter wrote TRUST above our heads.  Tonight, we’ll provide the lawn chairs and music, so I hope you can join us!

Comments from a reader – Thought provoking notes you sent …

Just off the cuff from reading your email –  get the sense that “compass” a man could possibly give the sense of “having their back.”

Most men are strong, powerful, surging forth in their world meeting challenges on a daily basis.

Of course now women do the same.

But most men don’t have that “soft” side – the motherly, comforting side women provide which to me is one reason men seek/need women in their lives to “soften” their day, comfort their hearts, soothe their mind (thoughts/concerns) and bodies.

This is just me off the cuff from what I read below.

Definitions for “compass” on the internet use words such as: An instrument determining direction; Moderate bounds; Something about direction

Maybe that is some of what of women do for men – help them focus, feel nurtured while they are fighting daily battles in their work environment. But what I get is that it has a lot to do with nurturing and comforting.

Thanks for the notes about tonight’s readings.

Comments from another reader –

Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him. 

for he is such a son of Belial,    LOL   I know what that meant. Ha ha!

Other good choices regarding coincidence:

Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power.

 Reviewing this brief experience, I cannot fail to discern the coincidence of the spiritual idea of man with the divine Mind. 

The woman in the Apocalypse symbolizes generic man, the spiritual idea of God; she illustrates the coincidence of God and man as the divine Principle and divine idea.

Very good! Thank you. Enjoyed your reading selections!