Church of the Laodiceans: be warmly passionate or coolly inspired by Truth; just don’t be lukewarm!

July 27, 2016

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

In the summer of 2014, we were armchair travelers with our Pastor on the rivers of Eden (Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates), which were defined in the Glossary of Science and Health. The next summer, we traveled along with the Apostle Paul by reading his letters to the Romans (Italy), the Colossians (Turkey), and the Philippians (Greece). This summer we have been reading about John’s vision of the seven churches written while on the Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Today we are concluding this study of the seven churches with the last congregation, the Laodiceans. That congregation received this message: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.”  (Rev. 3:15 NRSV) What a statement! It seems that our air-conditioning is frequently too cold or too hot, but in the Book of Revelation, the church angel tells the Laodiceans that he wishes they were either cold or hot.  Think of that!  Our air-conditioning has been blessed by an angel, and we didn’t even know it!

Seriously though, this statement was not written about modern air-conditioning, but according to the Bible commentators, it described the apathetic, indifferent, and self-satisfied attitude of the “lukewarm” Laodicean congregation.

Here is a testimony I’d like to share about being hot or cold.  When I first started reading, I thought it was always too cold in the church auditorium, so I bought lots of matching sweaters.  As First Reader, I spent much time in the word, reading the word, researching the word, and about two years into this position, I noticed that I had never caught cold, never had a sore throat, etc. I was very grateful that it was not part of my experience while reading!  Meanwhile, one of my Second Readers had a baby, and it brought back memories about breastfeeding and its benefits according to human eyes, such as bonding with the mother and having the mother’s immunities passed on to the baby. Then I started thinking about the “milk of the Word,” and wasn’t spending all this time in the Scriptures also bonding with my Mother (God), and thus benefiting from Her natural defenses? Mrs. Eddy also wrote about how “sensitiveness is sometimes selfishness,” which has been a great help to me in how to respond to temperatures. (Message to The Mother Church 1900, p. 8)

As in the earlier blogs, here are some comments and paraphrases about Revelation that I found enlightening:

Rev. 3:14 – John has his own little methods of emphasis.  You and I would put the “beginning” at the beginning, and the “Amen” at the end. But John reverses the order, to indicate without beginning or ending, in other words, infinite (Edyth Hoyt, Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, p. 38).

Rev. 3:20 – No door can be opened until there has been evidence of the desire to enter in, and then the one within must open the door. Thus, the reward is true oneness with the Christ,. . .  (Hoyt, p. 39).

 

Rev. 3:15-18 – In the beginning, ‘I’ coddled you with milk, healing you and telling you parables because you were too immature to swallow the truth. Now it is time to eat the meat. Remember when ‘I’ said, “Word was made flesh”? (John 1:14). ‘I’ have tried to give you the meat before, and I repeated it in my Philadelphia message. Why are you not chewing on it? You have not even tried to digest what ‘I’ said (George Denninger, The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man, p. 33).

Rev. 3:21 – Sitting with me on the throne is your ultimate inheritance (Denninger, p. 34).

Rev. 3:22 – These messages are delivered and written in Spirit language, and you have the ability to receive them. Are you listening with spiritual ears? (Denniger, p. 34)

 

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Church of Philadelphia: brotherly love opens doors

July 13, 2016

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

Did you ever notice that the “Key to the Scriptures” section of Science and Health (Genesis, The Apocalypse, and Glossary) begins with its keynote from Revelation 3:7-8?  It is the message to the church of Philadelphia, which is identified with “the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem”  (Rev. 3:12).  Philadelphia means “brotherly love,” and of the seven churches, Philadelphia received the strongest commendation; and it was given no rebuke.  This church was also described as having an open door which no man could shut. What opens the door of a church or heals a community? Isn’t an open door, an open heart, an expression of love?

Edyth Hoyt gave a wonderful explanation of the keys of hell and death and of the key of David. She explained that having the keys of death is having dominion over death, and having the key of David is the dominion of Love. “Is not possessing the dominion of Love really possessing dominion over death?” (Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, p. 37). Hoyt also commented that “the open door is an indication of complete communion” (Hoyt, p. 37).  Obviously, you’re not afraid when you leave your door open!

I also like The Message’s translation of the timeless key of David:  “David here designates the Messiah ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?” Mark 12:35-36 David saw that “he coexists with God and the universe” (Science and Health, p. 266).

Here is some more commentary on Revelation from George Denninger’s Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man:

Rev. 3:8 – Sweet Philadelphia, you know the essence of Me. I presented the key to you, and with it you have unlocked my treasure. Indeed, Love is the simplest and most profound of Me and is the true way to all that is (p. 31).

 

Rev. 3:12 – Those who love their way past their fears will find that as they ascend, inspired fleeting moments increase in frequency until spiritual living is realized permanently.  You will recognize your true identity in this way:

  • Standing in the firmament of heaven, you will discover your identity to be God consciousness.
  • New Jerusalem will be found to be here and everywhere, encompassing the all of your being.
  • Divine Love will explain itself — “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5) (p. 32).

James and John were surnamed “the sons of thunder” by Jesus, and he later rebuked them for wanting to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” a Samaritan village that wasn’t receptive to Jesus (Luke 9:54). What a transformation in John’s character to later be able to preach and write to “love one another” and “God is love” (I John 4:7,8).

Mrs. Eddy made a reference to the “legend of the shield, which led to a quarrel between two knights because each could see but one face of it. . . .” (SH p. 457). (I suppose in contemporary language, it could have a black side and a blue side.  Or perhaps a Fox side and a CNN side.)  Mirrors were placed beside each knight, so each could see the view from the other side’s mirror. That stopped their quarreling, and I love thinking of us as being those mirrors, those reflections, instead of the one-sided dueling knights.  Here are two different interpretations of that legend from our periodicals from years ago:

Mrs. Eddy was a true patriot, as is manifest by her life and her writings. One of her signal achievements in behalf of the good of all nations was the establishment of The Christian Science Monitor, a paper that is replete with true patriotism. Although published in the United States of America, its sense of patriotism is by no means limited to the boundaries of this nation. In the legend of the two knights who engaged in combat over a shield, one side of which was silver, and the other gold, each knight could see only one side of the shield—hence the strife. A mirror would have saved the situation! Nations are composed of men who, like these knights, seeing but one side of a situation, plunge headlong into battle. The Christian Science Monitor, by furnishing a mirror which truthfully reflects all sides of every important question, is thereby lessening the liability of war. (Julia Salome Kinney, “True Patriotism,”  from the March 6, 1926 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

 

To illustrate this dual appearing of the human and the divine, we may refer to the old legend of the shield which was of gold on one side and silver on the other. The different appearance which the shield presented to two friends who chanced to view it from opposite sides, led to a quarrel between them. Not until the knight upon the silver side crossed over and saw the shield from his friend’s position, did he learn the valuable lesson that much depends, in every case, upon the point of view from which one looks. So it was that the world, looking from the view-point of the five physical senses, and ignorant of the purely spiritual nature of man as God’s image and likeness, saw the Christ in fleshly form as a marvelously perfect, pure, tender, loving, and strong human being, walking among men, and they called their view of the redeemer, Jesus.

 

But God could not look from a mortal, imperfect, material, and unreal standpoint. He could never know aught unlike His own deathless being, and so God’s idea, the Christ, was never subject to the flesh, was never scourged, spit upon, crucified, or buried. These brutalities mortal man heaped upon his own highest human concept, which was an ever-present rebuke to the lower sense. Through the meeting and blending of human need and divine supply, as manifested in Christ Jesus, humanity found a mediator between God and man, learned the true idea of Life as God, and how to overcome the false concept with all its woes. (Elizabeth Earl Jones, “Immaculate Origin and Being,” from the February 1909 issue of The Christian Science Journal)

When I began marking my books for these readings, I didn’t include all of Mark, chapter 3, but when I read the whole chapter, it resolved some of the confusion I’ve had about some of these separate stories.  Jesus calls his 12 disciples, with the last named:

Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.” (Mark 3:19-21)

Other translations describe Jesus as being “mad” (Phillips) or “out of his mind” (NRSV, GW, NIV).  Then the scribes think Jesus has Beelzebub (Satan) and is casting out Satan with Satan, so Jesus gives them the parables about how a divided kingdom or house cannot stand and about how it is necessary to bind the strongman in order to plunder his house.

Did you ever notice that Jesus went “out of his mind” after including Judas Iscariot as a disciple, and did you ever think that the parables which followed had to do with Judas as well as the destructive crowd — that Jesus’ love had to bind the strongman (hate) in order to clean out his house (consciousness)?  Perhaps it is all the Martin Luther King quotes I have heard over the last few days that are causing me to read the parable in this way, but here is one quote that really fits: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Here is another paraphrase of Mark 3:27:

Every time Jesus released the sick and demon-possessed from their bondage, Jesus entered Satan’s house and spoiled his goods. . . Mary Jane Chapin, “Insiders and outsiders Mark 3:7-35,” from the October 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal).

Then after a lesson in crumbling hate with love, it appears that Jesus is leaving out his mother and brothers who are calling to him. Was Jesus rejecting his human family or expanding it spiritually? Here is one commentary:

In redefining the scope of his family, he announced that his kinsmen were no longer limited to blood relatives. His definition embraced all the people sitting around him. His new and expanded family included all those who did the will of God. His inclusion of sister with brother and mother is, among other things, a delightful recognition that women were always among his followers and disciples. Even though Mark does not mention women until the very end, it is heartening to know that they were there all along.  (Chapin)

“God had been graciously preparing” Jesus with the events  in Mark 3 that there are not many stressful, demanding, prejudiced, fearful, or hateful mortal minds, but only One Mind and One Love (Science and Health, p. 107). Thus he was well equipped to heal incidents further along in his mission, such as the man with an unclean spirit named Legion (Mark 5).

 

Church of Sardis: “Be watchful,. . . and hold fast”

July 6, 2016

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

Did you notice that the name of our first hymn is “Sardis”? Its composer is Beethoven, and according to the Christian Science Hymnal Notes, it speaks to “the twofold quality of his music, in its power and tenderness” (p. 254).

Sardis is a great hymn to accompany the story of Elijah, and this week’s readings have the “backstory” of this prophet and the “still small voice.” Elijah had proven the power of God with his altar of 12 stones (representing the 12 tribes of Israel), baptized with the 12 barrels of water (4 barrels three times), and aflame with the Holy Spirit, but he apparently forgot that God’s tenderness and mercy extended beyond these 12 tribes of Israel.  Without following God’s direction, Elijah took it upon himself to slay the 850 prophets of the false god Baal, which caused Queen Jezebel to threatened his life. Here is a Christian Science Sentinel explanation:

Undoubtedly, Elijah realized that he had committed an error in slaying the priests of Baal; for, while on his flight, he gave vent to discouragement, requesting that he die, because, he declared, “I am not better than my fathers;” and, later, the lesson was made clearer. . . . Finally, came a “still small voice,” typical of divine Love; and Elijah felt the presence of God. How different was it from the great wind, the earthquake, and the fire, which were destructive! Did not these typify the mortal qualities to which Elijah yielded when he ordered the destruction of the priests of Baal, and which threatened him when Jezebel declared that she would effect his destruction? Was not the “still small voice” representative of the God who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” and who is ever waiting for the prodigal to arise from his husks of materiality and return to the father—ever ready to go to meet such a one rather than destroy him? (Charles C. Sandelin, “Let there be no strife,” from the September 2, 1922 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

Not only did Elijah need to be shaken up out of his sleeping and waking dream, but he also needed to “see” better because God had never left him alone — Obadiah, Elisha, and 7,000 others had not followed Baal.

Much like Elijah, the Church of Sardis needed to be awakened and presented with “the full spectrum of God (all seven Spirits radiating Us) so that you will know that you and ‘I’ are not separate” (George Denninger, Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man, p. 29).

Caroline Getty became the first teacher of Christian Science in France with a career spanning two world wars. She was also a profound student of the Bible, and in her insightful article, “The Seven Churches,” she wrote:

In Sardis we come to stagnation, —”Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” How needful, then, to watch against this error, to rouse one’s self when the suggestion comes that one has borne the heat and burden of the day and may now rest; that one has attained the place where one may withdraw from the organization. This state of stagnation is the offspring of mortal personality, of self-importance; and with the example of our Leader before us, we are indeed inexcusable, nay even despicable, if we yield to it. With her the name of Christian Scientist meant the living in ever increasing measure of the life of a Christian Scientist; and it must be so with every one who apprehends in the least what the Christian Science movement stands for. Obedience to the Church Manual, membership in The Mother Church, and generally in a branch church, with obedience to its by-laws, activity in the work of the organization without self-seeking or self-will, keep us on a safe road through the wilderness that stretches from sense to Soul (Caroline Getty, “The Seven Churches,” from the October 1917 issue of The Christian Science Journal).