Romans – Unity of God and Man under Grace

June 24, 2015

     The Mother Church has an “observer status” with the National Council of Churches which has posted the following on their website:  “All of us together through the National Council of Churches (NCC) provide a network of prayer around Emanuel Church and all in the AME family as they weep and mourn those who have been lost.”
     I had changed my scriptural selections last Saturday night to reflect the events in Charleston, not knowing that the NCC was requesting our prayers. I am in awe that God had communicated a way in which our branch church could honor the Emanuel Church through its scriptural selections while still following the Order of Service in the Church Manual.  We might be a little branch church, but on Sunday morning, we were doing our part in this larger body of Christ!
     This Wednesday, we are continuing on in our travels with Paul, and now we will spend some time in Rome.  The Letter to the Romans has been called the “premier document of Christian theology,” and Mrs. Eddy quotes from Romans almost 100 times in her published writings. In discussing the condemnation of evil in Romans 3:8, Mrs. Eddy wrote the following in Miscellaneous Writings (335:16-7):
    In my public works I lay bare the ability, in belief, of
evil to break the Decalogue, — to murder, steal, commit
adultery, and so on. Those who deny my wisdom or
right to expose error, are either willing participants in
wrong, afraid of its supposed power, or ignorant of it.
    The notion that one is covering iniquity by asserting
its nothingness, is a fault of zealots, who, like Peter,
sleep when the Watcher bids them watch, and when the
hour of trial comes would cut off somebody’s ears. Such
people say, “Would you have me get out of a burning
house, or stay in it?“
    I would have you already out, and know that you are
out; also, to remember the Scripture concerning those
who do evil that good may come, — “whose damnation
is just;” and that whoso departeth from divine Science,
seeking power or good aside from God, has done himself
    Mind is supreme: Love is the master of hate; Truth,
the victor over a lie. Hath not Science voiced this les‐
son to you, — that evil is powerless, that a lie is never
true? It is your province to wrestle with error, to handle
the serpent and bruise its head; but you cannot, as a
Christian Scientist, resort to stones and clubs, — yea, to
matter, — to kill the serpent of a material mind.
That was a very pertinent reading for me to ponder last week. When Jesus healed the soldier’s ear, he stopped the retaliation and removed Peter from the hate (the burning house). The Charleston Church has provided such an example for us that the closer we are to Christ, the greater the ability to forgive.
     On selecting Romans, I did not realize that Paul was also dealing with society’s divisions, but according to my Oxford Annotated Bible Notes, he also wished to shape a life of respectful mutuality between Jews and Gentiles in Rome.  Romans is very dense theologically, so I’ve included some Bible Notes.  We will be reading the first 4 chapters in Romans, and then we will read Mrs. Eddy’s references from those chapters.



Philippians – Paul’s Recipe for Joyful Abundance

June 17, 2015

     I was listening to an online Bible seminar by Madelon Maupin (a Christian Scientist with a graduate degree in Bible studies) who encouraged everyone to read Paul’s epistles. She said that people who took her seminars would tell her how fortunate she was to have attended seminary, but she would reply that studying Paul’s epistles was like having a year in seminary.  So, I thought we would travel along with Paul this summer by reading some of his letters to the early churches in Turkey, Greece, and Rome.
     I decided to start with Philippians because I had read a Sentinel article about how studying Philippians reveals Paul’s recipe for happiness. Another article mentioned that 10% of the “joy” references in the King James Bible appear in Philippians’ four short chapters. Here is how Eugene Peterson of The Message described Philippians:
“This is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves — the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us. . . .
Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this “spilling out” quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.”
     The citations from Science and Health include Mrs. Eddy’s quotes from Philippians. At the end of the readings, there is a question from Miscellaneous Writings about Paul’s meaning of “to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Mrs. Eddy gives a very loving response to the eternal blessings of those who have gone on, our “battle worn and Christian heroes.”

Forgiving and Forgetting with Grace

June 10, 2015

In the Bible readings today, there is some genealogy with Noah’s sons:
Shem – the oldest son who is an ancestor of Abraham, and eventually Jesus
Ham – the younger son who is an ancestor of the Canaanites who were enemies of Israel
Japheth – the youngest son whose descendants were “the isles of the Gentiles.” (Genesis 10:5)  According to The New Oxford Annotated Bible, the descendants of Japheth had their center in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey.) The readings include Paul’s success with Gentile converts in Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor as well as Mrs. Eddy’s insightful definitions for Noah’s three sons.
There is also a link to a Sentinel article, “Forgiving and forgetting,” by Harriet Schupp who was a beloved Christian Science practitioner in New Orleans several years ago.
Comment from reader – I learn something each day. I did not know Shem was in the lineage of Jesus.
Thanks for the article on Forgiving and Forgetting. 
And thank for your loving, self-sacrificing work you continue to do for many others.
Japhet sounds  more like the one to be in the lineage for Jesus than Shem.

My Reply – Shem – Christ; Japhet – Comforter


Choose Ye: Envy or Receptivity

June 3, 2015

     The title for this week’s readings came about as I was thinking about the different offerings of Cain and Abel. Yes, sheep do listen to their shepherd’s voice (receptivity).  In a Christian Science periodical from 1919, “Cain and Abel,” the author wrote, “Abel is a primitive type of the Christ; his acceptable offering prefigures the living sacrifice,” and then he quotes Mrs. Eddy’s definition of Abel as ‘watchfulness, self-offering; surrendering to the creator the early fruits of experience.” (SH p. 579)
     I was just thinking…When a testimony is given in church or shared through the media, is that also the testifier’s watchfulness and self-offering and surrendering to God of the fruits of his or her own experience? Are we being ABLE/ABEL? (Pun intended.)
     The same article compares Cain/Abel and Judas/Jesus, pointing out that Jesus knew how to deal with the problem of evil. One of the citations in our readings is from Hebrews 12:24 which is paraphrased in The Message as:
The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.
Isn’t Jesus’ forgiveness a wonderful explanation for his own resurrection?  I think I will have to follow up these readings with forgiving and forgetting next week!