Time-less Living in the Now

December 30, 2015

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Here is a story that you may have heard before. This version is from an article in The Christian Science Journal by L. Ivimy Gwalter:
A little boy was asked by a skeptical friend where God was. “Is He here?” asked the friend. “Oh, yes,” was the instant reply. “Is He down the street?” “Oh, yes.” “Is He off at the far end of town?” “Yes.” “Well, if you were all by yourself on a desert island, with nobody else there, would God be there?” “Oh, yes,” replied the little boy. “But how do you know?” To which came the quick response, “Because I’d be there, wouldn’t I?”
What a wonderfully comforting thought, that we can never be anywhere where God is not! And if we live in God’s kingdom, then we live in God’s day, never in time. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life, and time is no part of eternity” (SH 468). “Time-less Living in the Now” is the subject of our readings for this Wednesday.
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Angels as Star-Light

December 23, 2015

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     This Wednesday we are completing our series on some of the Bible angels who were part of that heavenly chorus at Jesus’ birth, and we’ll be distinguishing the different gospel stories – how the wisemen in Matthew looked in the night sky and saw a star; how the shepherds in Luke looked into the same night sky and saw angels; and how the very other-worldly John looked into the night sky and saw no darkness at all — only Light. Our subject is Angels as Star-light (sorry, not Star-wars.)
     Since light is used as a symbol throughout the Bible, I’ve included a photograph and physical explanation of why a flame doesn’t cast a shadow.  Symbols like these have really helped me understand Jesus’ statement about being “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and John’s statement about “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). Think how quickly the people in Bible times would have understood that symbol of light since their world was very dark at night, lit up only by starlight, fires, and candlelight.
     According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the word “daystar” means light-bringer; and it may refer to the planet Venus, seen as a morning star, herald of the dawn; but it may also refer to the sun itself. Jesus called himself the “bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16), and that is a wonderful symbol of the dual nature of Jesus Christ since the planets reflect light, and the sun is the source of light. Or as Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Man shines by borrowed light”  (Ret. 57:15).

Angels: the inspiration of purity

December 16, 2015

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     This week’s subject is “Angels: the inspiration of purity countering sensualism” or to use the popular saying, “Keeping Christ in Christmas.”  The readings tell the story of Samson whose childless and aged parents were visited by an angel, somewhat like the parents of John the Baptist, whose pure upbringing prepared the way for the Christ. But of course, in contrast to John the Baptist, we all know that Samson was distracted by all that glitter!
     On a lighter note, the August 22, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel had a corny joke about Samson.  Perhaps you already know it —
A teen had just passed his driving test and asked his father when they could discuss his use of the car.
His father said he’d make a deal with his son: “You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.”
The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.
After about six weeks, his father said, “Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.”
His son said, “You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair—and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.”
His dad replied:
“Did you also notice that they all walked everywhere they went?”
Sorry, this joke is such a classic that I couldn’t resist.
     Christian Science practitioner Evan Mehlenbacher recently blogged the following on his Spiritview website:
Christmas time is fast approaching, and the temptation to overindulge sensually may feel tempting at times.  The temptation to over shop, over buy, over spend, over eat, over amuse, over fret, and over stress top the list for many. But this can change for the better with a clear spiritual view of what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is not about eating and shopping, stressing and worrying. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and living true to the message of divine Love he brought to humanity.
So, if one of the lessons from the virgin birth in the Christmas story is its freedom from sensuality, then you can really compare how Samson went awry! Perhaps you have other Christmas insights to share, which we would love to hear at our Wednesday service.

Angels: Intuitions of Blessings

December 9, 2015

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     We all know how important angels were at the time of Jesus’ birth — directing Joseph, comforting Mary, and providing a heavenly chorus singing “On earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14.) For the next few weeks, our Wednesday readings are on Bible angels who were part of that heavenly chorus, but whose names we don’t know. We may not even know their nature, but we will learn more about them by the guidance they provided in preparing the way for the Messiah – the  Christ.
     This Wednesday, we are beginning with animals and angels, specifically the Balaam angel — the story of the talking donkey, and how animals intuitively see God’s way before we do.  Now gift wrap this thought with our traditional Christmas scene of Jesus’ birth in a manger — under the stars, surrounded by sweet animals, the gifts of diversity— all of God’s creation called to celebrate the Christ!
     That is just one message from this Bible story about pets and peace.  Now, I did find the conversation between God and Balaam confusing, but reading through the periodicals clarified it for me. In “Uninterrupted Progress,” Robert Ellis Key wrote:
Perhaps there was some hesitancy in Balaam’s obedience, maybe a lingering desire for wealth, promotion, and prestige. He had received instructions from God not to go with the princes of Moab, and not to curse Israel, yet he went to God for further direction. He turned to ask for instructions a second time and was permitted to go, because he was obviously not ready to obey.
     We know we are all God’s children who are meant to be blessed. Yet I still find myself being critical of others, and when you are judging others, you are not blessing. If you say, “Yes, but…,” it is like Balak and Balaam trying to find a way to curse the Israelites from a different angle. Eventually, Balaam does see the promise of the Messiah in the Israelites, just as we should see the Christ in each other.  Now that’s another good Christmas message from this story!
     I hope you can join us to hear about these angelic intuitions of blessings. We’d love for you to share your thoughts, experiences, and testimonies.

Balm of Gilead (Gad)

December 2, 2015

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     “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” questions the prophet Jeremiah from the Bible’s Old Testament (Jer. 8:22). There is a beautiful answer to this question in a famous African American spiritual with this chorus:
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
This Wednesday’s readings are about this balm of Gilead, its use as a physical remedy in the Bible, and what it represents spiritually today.
     Gilead was a mountainous part of Palestine, east of the Jordan river, traversing the tribes of Gad and the eastern portion of Manasseh. Gilead is where the balsam tree grew. The medicinal “balm” produced from the tree sap was a rare perfume, and it has come to signify a universal cure in figurative speech (Wikipedia and CS Bible Lesson Notes). Does any of this hint about Mrs. Eddy’s definition of Gad in the Glossary?
     Here is a quote from a letter of Mrs. Eddy’s referenced in Clifford Smith’s Historical Sketches:
“Do not forget to be strong in the clear consciousness that you are able to heal and no counter mind can make you weak for a moment through fear or a lack of confidence in our power or rather understanding. Remember God, Truth, is the healer, the balm in Gilead, and our only Physician, and can never be insufficient for all things.”
     There is also a lovely poem about Science and Health which begins with these lines:
Can a book be Gilead’s balm
healing the hurt of all mankind?
     These references are all on the readings page.
     I hope to see you today, in person or by phone. If not, I hope you enjoy the readings because I love the balm of Gilead. It makes a great Christmas present!