February 10, 2016

The subject of this Wednesday’s service is repentance, and in keeping with the season, I searched the scriptures for the most Mardi Gras-like Bible story I could find. If you haven’t already guessed, we’ll be reading about Moses and Aaron and the graven calf, which created a scene in the wilderness somewhat like an Old Testament le boeuf gras.  For those unfamiliar with our foodie and festival-oriented city, I’ve included a photo of some stuffed le boeuf gras grazing on carnival beads on my dining room table. Now, I hope I haven’t offended anyone in the Rex organization with this attempt at Biblical humor, but you have to admit it is a most timely connection!


Put on the Wedding Garments

February 3, 2016
     We will be serving wedding cake after the service due to the subject, and also because February 3rd is my engagement anniversary. What a coincidence!
     Last week, our topic was marriage, and this week we are taking the symbol of a wedding to a whole new level. Specifically, we are taking off our old, dirty discouraging clothes and putting on our new, best beautiful clothes — our wedding garments. Mrs. Eddy loved that change of outfits, and here is how she described it at a student association meeting:
“One of the best cures I ever performed was, apparently, under the most adverse circumstances. I had spent one year of incessant toil upon the [manuscript] of my book, Science and Health, and put it into the hands of a printer for publication, who, I found, had allowed it to be taken from his possession, and I was thus obliged to return, in the sackcloth of disappointment, without it. A student soon called desiring me to assist in a case that was dying. I put on the wedding garments at once and healed the case in twenty minutes.”  — Christian Scientists Association, January 17, 1883, Church History. See also Clifford R Smith, Historical Sketches (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1992), p. 166
     I love the parable of the wedding garment in the readings because when I was elected reader, the first thing I did was buy some new clothes and fancy shoes. But if I was all dressed up, but internally discouraged over empty pews, raccoons, whatever, then I might have arrived at the wedding feast, but I still wasn’t wearing my wedding garments! In other words, I have to be prepared with beauty on the outside AND the inside! Of course, putting on the wedding garment is not physical, but a joyful anticipation of seeing man’s unity with God.
     There is a related you-tube video which Dick Davenport (former US Military chaplain and Bible Seminar director) shared on his Facebook page this week. Dick said that his pen name is the “Dancing Disciple,” and one of my sons had the pleasure of taking ballroom dance lessons from him at Principia. Dick had heard this song at his Sunday service, and I want to share it with you here:
     This week’s readings do include a pertinent testimony from Fruitage. It is the first time I’ve included anything from Fruitage, but I really think it fits. (In case there is concern about the protocol for this, I’ve included on the research page a 2013 Journal article about using Fruitage in the Wednesday readings.) I love that the testifier thought that the Wednesday service was a wedding!
     Also, here is something that struck me while putting these readings together. It was how frequently Jesus asked rhetorical questions, whether in a parable (“How come you’re dressed like that?”), to a blindman (“What can I do for you?”), to his own disciples in a crowd (“Who touched me?”), or alone on the cross (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”). It is interesting how Mrs. Eddy also sprinkled questions throughout her textbook, and also dedicated her book to “honest seekers for Truth.” Have you ever wondered if the purpose for these questions from our pastor is for the “dematerialization and spiritualization of thought,” so that we are prepared and not “speechless”?
     I really enjoyed this topic of putting on your wedding garment. I hope you’ll be joining our Wednesday fellowship feast!