Halloween: Removing the Mask of ghosts, superstitions, and all unreal beliefs

October 28, 2015

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

     My household loves Halloween, and so our readings today are quite seasonal. There were lots of superstitions in the Bible, especially surrounding the ark of the covenant which was used to symbolize the Lord’s presence in battle against Israel’s enemies.  I didn’t know the Bible story of Ichabod, but of course he is included in our readings since he has such a Halloween-sounding name.  There was a great blog on Ichabod, which is available on the research and readings page, but here is my favorite part:
During the holiday season last year I was feeling discouraged and unhappy. I reached out in a simple prayer to God for an answer that would “lift the shade of gloom” (Mary Baker Eddy,Christian Science Hymnal, No. 298) that had fallen over me. A few minutes later, as I was walking by the TV, I felt led to turn it on. It was a religious program, and the first thing I heard was a man asking, “Are you feeling dejected, unhappy, discouraged?” Of course that caught my attention, and then he answered it with “Well, you have the Ichabod thinking.”
Now, that really enticed me to continue to listen, as the only Ichabod I knew was from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I was sure he was not talking about that Halloween story. The man went on to explain that in the fourth chapter of First Samuel in the Bible there’s the story of a battle between the Philistines and the Israelites. A woman, who was about to give birth, had lost her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law in this battle—but the most devastating part to her was that the Philistines had stolen the ark of the covenant, which the Israelites believed was where God resided. When her son was born, she named him Ichabod, which means “the glory is departed from Israel” (I Samuel 4:21). She felt the glory had departed from Israel because the ark had been taken away.
This speaker went on to compare this woman to another woman and the birth of her son. Of course it was Mary and the birth of Jesus, which fulfilled the prophecy, “They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And this birth was filled with the glory of God as the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). What a contrast between the two births and their subsequent purposes—and how wonderful to know that God is always with us as we hold to the Emmanuel thought and not to the Ichabod thought.
     Now, doesn’t going from Ichabod to Emmanuel nicely transition us from one holiday season to the next!
Later comment
     There is a wonderful article on “Removing the Mask of Error: Trick or Treatment” written by Barry Huff of CedarS Camps. It was his chapel address to the Principia Lower School during Halloween week, so I think Sunday School teachers, parents, and everyone else would really appreciate reading it.  Here’s a link to the article:

It never occurred to me to look on the CedarS website for metaphysical ideas to add to the Wednesday readings and research list, but this afternoon, a Christian Scientist from Monroe shared this article with me.  She is on our Wednesday readings list, and I love this fellowship and how we are all learning together!

 

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The Skillful Surgeon

October 14, 2015

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

     ”Christian Science is always the most skillful surgeon, but surgery is the branch of its healing which will be last acknowledged” wrote Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health. (SH 402)  In Miscellany, when Mrs. Eddy was asked about surgery, she responded, “The work done by the surgeon is the last healing that will be vouchsafed to us, or rather attained by us, as we near a state of spiritual perfection.” (My. 345) In a short poem entitled “Treasure” by R. Charles Long in The Christian Science Journal, we read:
Go beneath the surface.
Expose every root of error.
Remove loose stones of regret—
Sands of the past,
Forget.
Dig deep into knowing
That being, found in Christ,
Is the treasure—
Open to all,
Without measure.
     This week’s Wednesday readings are about this high class of physicians and the role of Christian Science. The topic is “The Skillful Surgeon.”
     You’ll notice in the readings that the 12 gems that the high priest wore on his breastplate in Exodus also appear as the foundational stones of the Holy City in Revelation.  George Denninger, one of the Bible Seminar speakers on Mark Mohlenbrock’s CSDirectory.com, wrote the following commentary in his book Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man:
     Each of the stones represents the testimony of God with us as the way out of every type and condition of mortal mentality.  Proofs of our fidelity are the foundation stones that ultimately allow us to stand on holy ground in the Promised Land — New Jerusalem.
     The stones in the high priest’s breastplate are prophetic of the gems that the twelve tribes of Israel become as they ascend the scale from bickering depravity to glorified sons and daughters. It is said that the last stone,  Jasper, represented the house of Benjamin, Jacob’s last son; yet it is the first foundation stone of the city of God: ”The first shall be last; and the last first” (Mark 10:31). . . .
     Each of Jacob’s 12 sons had flawed personalities as varied as those of all mankind. We overcome our earthly connection by peeling away what human birth and mortal history has done to us, thus revealing the pearl of great price right there within. . . .” (p. 231-32)
     It is interesting that today there are advertised diseases associated with these same gem colors.  It is a comforting thought that each of these disease-illusions can be brought into God’s presence for the illumination of healing.  Since I have been seeing lots of pink this month, I have included selections in tonight’s readings dealing with women’s health issues. I love this healing thought that the “Christ dwelt forever an idea in the bosom of God.” (SH 29)
     There are also many articles and poems about the Urim (lights) and Thummim (perfections), stones in Aaron’s breastplate. You’ll find these references on the readings link.
Later comment from George Denninger
     Thank you so much for writing.  It is a joy to hear about your resourceful and dedicated work for your congregation and the world.  I have never seen anyone post their reading with additional references online.  I also appreciate you telling me about including a passage from my book on Revelation.  It is always good to hear that it is being read and understood.

Judges – Jephthah – Watch Your Words

October 7, 2015

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

     Have you ever wondered why the New Testament was so emphatic that you “swear not”? The story of Jephthah’s oath which went tragically awry gives you new appreciation for listening to God’s direction instead of making rash promises. Scholars are conflicted about the meaning of the sacrifice in Jephthah, so here is a link to some online Bible commentaries:
     I’ve also included some Journal and Sentinel articles about the need for change and flexibility instead of holding rigidly to a misguided belief.
     Jephthah will be our last judge for awhile, but I hope you have enjoyed our time in this book of the Bible. Each week these judges taught me something new and unexpected, and it was fun to find correlations between the Old and New Testament stories (such as Jephthah, then Herod’s fatal oath).