Christmas presents – omniscience

December 28, 2016

We’ve been unwrapping the wisemen’s presents — the gold or the indestructible man; the frankincense or the divine atmosphere of the universe of Spirit; and this week, the myrrh or “Science as applied to humanity” (Science and Health, p. 127).  Do you see a connection between the three gifts and the three omnis— the omnipotence, the omnipresence, and the omniscience? Actually, I didn’t see that connection until I started putting this third lesson together, and then I had this epiphany. (That’s some pun humor; the Feast of the Epiphany is also Three Kings Day.)   The spiritual meaning of the three gifts dates back to Origen, an early Christian theologian, who divided them this way: “gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God.”

I love the concept of eternal Science interpreting God to make Him knowable to man. Paul was certainly a Scientist —  making God knowable with his speeches in Athens, and his writings and church-building throughout Asia Minor. Mrs. Eddy made God knowable as well. She admired the search for wisdom of Greek philosopher Socrates (470-399 BCE), and even included his hemlock cup when writing about the sacrifices of approaching the divine Principle (Science and Health, 215:17, 559:28). If Paul could quote Greek philosophers in making God understandable, then Mrs. Eddy could also compare Socrates’ sacrifice to that of later Christians. And how interesting that she combined the sacrifices of the Greeks (hemlock cup) and the Jews (bitter herbs), much as Paul also strived to be a unifier.

Below are Bible Notes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible about Paul’s missionary work in Athens:

Acts 17:18 Babbler, a term of disparagement; the Greek word is literally used in reference to birds to mean “picking up seeds,” of persons “one who makes a living by picking up scraps” (here implied of learning). . . .19. Took him, could either imply arrest or friendly escort, and Areopagus could refer either to arraignment before the Council of the Areopagus (essentially the chief Roman court in Athens) or the Areopagus hill west of the Acropolis. The request “May we know…?” suggests a more relaxed setting for discussion, though allusions to Socrates before the Areopagus court are surely intended. 21: The curiosity of the Athenians was proverbial. . . .27. God created “all nations” to search for God. That God was near to all people was a Stoic belief. 28: Although the first quotation is sometimes attributed to Epimenides, its language is probably to be associated with Posidonius (based on Plato); the second quotation is from Aratus, a Greek poet of Cilicia educated as a Stoic. In Paul’s usage, the original pantheistic sense of both quotations is reinterpreted. . . .34: The conversion of Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, contributes to the theme of rulers attracted to Christianity. The note about Damaris conforms to a pattern found in both the Gospel and Acts of juxtaposing characters of both genders.


Christmas – Gifts

December 7, 2016

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote the following opening in her essay entitled “Christmas” in Miscellaneous Writings:   “This interesting day, crowned with the history of Truth’s idea, — its earthly advent and nativity, — is especially dear to the heart of Christian Scientists; to whom Christ’s appearing in a fuller sense is so precious, and fraught with divine benedictions for mankind” (Mis. 320).  During our Wednesday services leading up to Christmas, we’ll be symbolically lighting the candles of our own advent wreath by learning more about some of the symbols of Christmas. We’re beginning this Wednesday with Christmas gifts of which Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Christmas to me is the reminder of God’s great gift, — His spiritual idea, man and the universe…” (My. 262).

Here are some Bible Notes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible:

Psalm 72 A royal psalm that may have been used at the king’s coronation or anniversary. It views the Israelite king as the instrument of divine justice and protector of the poor, ensuring that the riches of creation are available to all; and he is the icon of God’s universal rule. Nonetheless, he is still a human being in constant need of divine help.

Psalm 72:2 The existence of the poor is contrary to the divine will, so the king is to be an instrument of the more equitable distribution of the world’s goods.  72:8 The River, the Euphrates.

Matthew 17:24 Temple tax, equivalent to half a shekel,..used in Jesus’ day for sacrifices and the upkeep of the Temple. 17:26 Just as a king’s children are tax-exempt, so too are God’s children. 17:27 Give offense, offend the devout people who collect the tax.

Many of you have heard the story of Joshua Bell in the DC Metro Station — a talented violinist ignored by the busy throngs. If you don’t know the story, here is a report and youtube video:

Last week, a similar violin story popped up on my FaceBook feed, but this video included an uplifting spiritual conclusion. The message at the end is such a gift — how someone always sees the beauty in you — and I thought it was just perfect for this holiday season.  It is actually what inspired me to do a series of readings on Christmas gifts!