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“Even in darkness light dawns…” Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Unreality”
for September 27th to October 3rd, 2021

by Christie C. Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO ccern@mac.com • 720-331-9356 • christiecs.com

INTRODUCTION

As I see it, this week’s Bible Lesson on “Unreality,” addresses the perennial question, “Where is God when bad things happen?” Fortunately for us, we have both this week’s Lesson as well as a new series of four audio podcasts published by the Christian Science Sentinel to inspire answers to this question. You can find the four free podcasts that address the question “Where is God when bad things happen?” on this page: https://jsh.christianscience.com/collections/2020s/where-is-god-when-bad-things-happen

For me, a short answer to the question “Where is God when bad things happen?” is that a paramount reason for our search to understand God better is so that we can see the presence of God even in the midst of what seems like great evil. When we have a blurry or ill-defined understanding of God, we seem to be caught off balance when challenging situations arise. But it’s never too late to discover the peace and presence of God, Love, even in the midst of an emergency. Being clear on what God/Love is helps us to feel the presence of God in difficult moments. Divine Love is ever present and when we tune into this fact and strive to understand it with more and more clarity, we can feel the presence of divine Love in every single experience we have, no matter how dire it seems.

We each find ourselves at some point in our experience facing “evil” or walking through “the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23) I have found it crucial to arm myself before these occurrences with at least one core truth that nothing and no one could ever, ever, ever take away from me. Arming ourselves in this way is a protection so that no matter how dark things seem to get and how much we feel like we’re falling into a deep well of darkness, we always have something to grab onto, an idea that stops the “fall” and enables us to climb out. So, perhaps, as you are reading the Bible Lesson this week, you could ask yourself, “What is one thing that I know to be good and true and real no matter what?” In other words, “What is one shining light that I can hold on to no matter how dark things seems to get?” For me, this “one thing” cannot be a quote or something someone else has said. For me, it has needed to be an idea that no matter how much darkness seems to circle around me and no matter how grim the news, I can hold onto it as a metaphorical candle in the dark, or, as this week’s lesson reminds us, as the light that dawns in the darkness. I’m going to wait a bit before sharing an example of a “core truth” because I believe it is important for each of us to arrive at our “core truths” on our own.

GOLDEN TEXT AND RESPONSIVE READING

The Golden Text describes the dawn light breaking up the darkness:

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. . . .

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalms 112:4, 7)

We could be tempted to read this promise and think that the dawn light only shines for a particular group of people—”the upright”—and that others are left out. But here are two hopeful ways to think about our concern that some people are left out of the light. First, if even one person sees the dawn light, we know that the light is present and true for everyone. When you turn on a light in the room, for example, everyone in the room experiences that light even if they were not the one to find the light switch. Second, light is not inert; it is active. Light shines. Light seeks us out. So, even if we are not at first paying attention to light, it will grab our attention and find us in what seems to be utter darkness. A simple prayer is to ponder the activity of light…the light of good is right now seeking out even those who seem to be lost in shadows.

The Responsive Reading explains that God is at hand, present, now… God is not separate from us or far away. The ever-presence of divine Love is something we can hold on to amid what seems like calamity. Many of us have found ourselves in an emergency and felt the stillness, calm and comfort of good. This stillness is real. At a Wednesday night testimony service years ago at CedarS Camps, a counselor shared that she had just returned from attending a wedding ceremony in Mexico City. While she was there, a large earthquake shook the whole area. She described feeling a sense of settled calm and assurance even during the emergency. She felt safe and knew her family was safe too. Her explanation of this stillness in the midst of calamity—feeling that “God is at hand”—has stuck with me ever since, and I feel as if I can tune into the calm she felt whenever I ponder her experience.

For most of us with access to news media, we have days in which we feel bombarded with bad news or “bad prophecy.” Sometimes, we may even find ourselves trying to decipher which pieces of bad news we think are true and which pieces of news we think are false. Of course, we each think we’re correct in our perception of which pieces of bad news are most accurate because we tend to be ignorant of our own biases. We may even consume more and more news in an effort to feel “informed.” And then, compounding the problem, we hear people in social media and news media on all sides of politics accusing one another of not understanding the bad news all around us, thus seeming to reify (make real) our own biases about the information we’re getting. The current trend seems to be videos that show how ridiculous or malicious the “other side” is, which seems to further exacerbate the division.

We seem to become part of the “news cycle” when we see the news, talk and post about the news, hear others talk about the news, and hear others talking about others talking about the news, etc. Debates about the “news” may seem like a new phenomenon, but it is an age-old issue. The Responsive Reading describes the whirlwind of bad news and opinions, including false prophets who “prophesy false dreams.” In Bible times, false prophets clamored for attention and shouted shocking and divisive news not too unlike today. And the solution is still the same… as we feel confused by (or even certain about) the darkness of false prophecies, we can tune in to the Word of good, for the Lord “will speak peace unto his people.” (Jeremiah 23 and Psalms 85)

Here’s a simple prayer to break free from the news cycle: any time we find ourselves tempted to see someone else as ridiculous for not agreeing with our opinion of the news, we could use this as our reminder to turn away from the earthquake of human opinion and instead take a moment to tune into the stillness of the dawn light … God’s Word of peace and stillness. One infinite Truth actively unites us.

SECTION 1: IF GOD DIDN’T SAY IT, DON’T REPEAT IT.

The first section of the Lesson opens with the command, “Thou shalt not raise a false report…” (citation B1, Exodus 23:1) To follow this command, we first need to know how to determine what is a “false report.” When we want to determine whether something is worth saying out loud, and that it is not a “false report,” we can mentally add the phrase “thus saith divine Love.” For example, we may not want to speak the words, “today is going to be an awful day [thus saith divine Love].” But it would make sense to say, “Look at the beautiful sunset [thus saith divine Love].” Imagine the universal harmony we would feel if every single one of us only voiced ideas from divine Love. Even more, imagine the universal harmony we would feel if we only spoke to ourselves with ideas from divine Love. (Please note that Love can be humorous, spontaneous, and creative so a world in which only Love-based ideas are spoken or thought would still be fun and entertaining.)

As a simple form of prayer, we could challenge ourselves to speak (and think) only those ideas onto which we could mentally add the phrase [thus saith divine Love]. If it seems an unachievable goal, perhaps try it doing this in two-minute bursts.

We can determine the kinds of things that divine Love would say because we know that Love is good, everlasting, righteous, and full of peace. (cit. B2, Psalms 100:5, cit. B3, Isaiah 45:18-19, cit. B4, Jeremiah 29:8-11)

Sometimes, even a two-minute dominion over our thoughts and speech can seem insurmountable. But as we strive to do this more and more we will find that “spiritual sense lifts human consciousness into eternal Truth.” (cit. S1, 95:28-32) Divine Truth acts as a “rushing, mighty Spirit” to blow away lies and untruths. (Acts 2:2, Hymn 601). When we seem to feel mixed-up and confused, we can turn to Truth as our “fan in hand” to separate “fable from fact.” (Matthew 3:12, SH 586:7) Exercising our God-given dominion in this way, we will find it more and more effortless to separate the untrue thoughts from the true thoughts—the fable from the fact, the chaff from the wheat—and it will make us all better physically, morally, and spiritually. (cit. S5, 466: 26)

SECTION 2: HOW CAN WE TRUST WHAT WE SEE?

The second section helps us to figure out how to know truth when we see it. In other words, how do we know what is true and real? Hint: seeing truth is not about eyeballs. As we read in John, when we’re looking for truth, we should “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (cit. B6, John 7: 24)

In this section we find the story of Moses sending ahead representatives from the twelve tribes to determine if they had found the Promised Land. Their limited and fearful view prevented all of them (except for Joshua and Caleb) from seeing that they had indeed reached the Promised Land and none listened to Joshua and Caleb. (cit. B8, Numbers 13: 1-33) Most of the scouts could not see or hear the reality that they had reached the Promised Land because their senses were limited by fear and a lack of trust. Because no one listened to Joshua and Caleb, all of the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for another four decades before they returned to the site that had been there for them all along. As examples of prophets who could see beyond the outward appearance of things, Joshua and Caleb possessed a faith that enabled them to see beyond the limited view that the others seemed to see.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy warns us about accepting a limited view of reality. She writes, “What is termed [limited] sense can report only a mortal temporary sense of things, whereas [unlimited] sense can bear witness only to Truth. To [limited] sense, the unreal is the real until this sense is corrected by Christian Science…. [Unlimited and undistorted] sense, contradicting the [limited and distorted] senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality. [Limited] sense expresses the belief that mind is [limited]. This human belief, alternating between a sense of pleasure and pain, hope and fear, life and death, never reaches beyond the boundary of the mortal or the unreal.” (cit. S7, 278:8-18, words in brackets are changed)

Here is a simple prayer to see in a more unlimited way: “Lord, open my eyes that I may see Your presence everywhere…” (Christian Science Hymnal, 527)

SECTION 3: LOOK BEYOND THE LIMITED VIEW.

The third section of the Lesson helps us to see that divine Love always provides for us, and when we feel limited in any way, we can pray—use our unlimited and undistorted view of good—to see beyond this limitation and discover what we need to overcome limitation. In Mary Baker Eddy’s words, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (cit. S13, 494:10-11)

Section 3 illustrates this concept of divine Love’s constant provision with the Bible story about Elisha and the woman who seemed to have lost everything and could no longer provide for herself and her two sons. To limited sense, all she had was a “pot of oil.” But Elisha looked beyond the limited view and sensed divine Love’s constant care for this woman despite the outward appearance of things. As Elisha, the prophet, saw the vision of Love’s full provision, he asked the woman to borrow from her neighbors as many empty vessels as she could. She obeyed. And then he asked her to pour oil from the pot into the vessels she had borrowed. She obeyed. The oil flowed and filled all of the vessels, which Elisha told the woman she should now take and sell so that she could provide for her and her sons. (cit. B12, II Kings 4: 1-7) To limited sense, there was not enough oil. But to Elisha’s prophet sense, the oil flowed and flowed as a demonstration of divine Love’s care for the woman.

It could be tempting to see Elisha as possessing a mystical power that enabled him to make oil appear out of thin air. But the Science of the Christ is understanding the metaphysical principles that overturn the belief in the mystical or supernatural. What happened with Elisha and the woman was supremely natural. Elisha knew that it was right for this woman to receive her full blessing from divine Love, and that divine Love supplies all needs. His clear view of the relationship between divine Love and this woman enabled him to witness this event. Seeing more correct views of our relationship with God enables us to receive more and more blessings. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible.” (cit. S14, 264: 13-15)

The story of Elisha helping the woman and her two sons was especially meaningful to me during a dark time in which I felt overwhelmed with what felt like unsurmountable pressures facing my two sons and me. My simple prayer was to know that if Elisha’s prophet-vision could see beyond the woman’s dire situation, then I too could “open my eyes” and see good flowing into my experience even when it didn’t seem apparent. This change of thought gave me hope, and then, bit by bit, good came into our experience until I felt effortlessly filled up full and more. I always remember the overflowing “oil of gratitude” I felt during this healing of provision for my family when I read the story of Elisha and the woman’s pot of oil. We can all practice the simple prayer of being grateful in advance and becoming sure divine Love is providing for us even when our situation looks bleak.

SECTION 4: “TRUTH IS REAL…”

To me, the fourth section reads as a call to arms, reminding each of us that it is our duty (and privilege) to stand up to the constant pressure to buy into tyrannical and oppressive forces. Standing up to these so-called forces does not mean that we take them on ourselves. It means that we constantly affirm the omnipotence of Truth to overturn these errors. “…Truth is real and error is unreal.” (cit. S15, 367: 31-4) As the Psalmist said about divine Truth, “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.” (cit. B16, Psalms 10: 17, 18, NLT)

Sometimes we might feel a false responsibility that we have to be the ones to correct the injustices in the world, but, in fact, we are most effective to the degree that we let Truth uncover error. An article that is helpful for reminding us not to take on false responsibility is “Let Truth uncover error” by Paul Stark Seeley from the January 22, 1944 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. Note that Paul Stark Seeley published this article right at the tail end of World War II, a poignant time to affirm that Truth does indeed uncover error of every kind. (https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/a17o9mdv30?s=e)

One way in which we can immediately begin standing up to tyrannical and oppressive forces is to stop giving them voice. We can recognize that “a false witness will utter lies,” and we can stop repeating those lies. (cit. B18, Proverbs 14:5) In other words, we can be alert to talking about and sharing shocking information. “Every word of God is pure…” and we can let Love “remove far from [us] vanity and lies,” which will keep us from sharing bad news. Recall that we can always test if an idea is worth repeating out loud by mentally adding “thus saith divine Love” to the end of the statement.

Instead of focusing on what appear to be evil forces and analyzing them, we can turn to focus once again on light. We can stop rehearsing evil events and know that light is an active force. We can let the light of Truth flood our consciousness. As we let our consciousness be flooded by the light of Truth, it becomes easier and easier to speak and think in a peace-loving way.

As we check our thoughts and speech and move away from negativity and aggravation, we are taking a stand against evil. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “The Christian Scientist has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death; and he will overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good.” (cit. S16, 450: 19-22)

Thinking and speaking in an upright way may not always make us popular. When we don’t go along with mainstream thought, we may sometimes feel like we’re on our own. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christian Scientists must live under the constant pressure of the apostolic command to come out from the material world and be separate. They must renounce aggression, oppression and the pride of power. Christianity, with the crown of Love upon her brow, must be their queen of life.” (cit. S17, 207: 9-13)

We can all strive for the courage to take a stand against evil and “come out from the material world and be separate.” We may sometimes feel like we’re on our own as the only ones taking a stand against evil thoughts, but we’re not. We’re not alone. We’re standing with Truth. As we take a stand for Truth, we find peace, affection, and virtue in our communities and families. (cit. S20, 102: 31-2)

As a simple prayer, when we encounter bad news or something that seems disturbing, we can use this as our reminder to mentally affirm that Truth is omnipotent and active, and overturns error of every kind.

SECTION 5: TRUTH IS GOD’S REMEDY FOR ERROR OF EVERY KIND.

In the introduction of this Met, I mentioned four new podcasts that address the question, “Where is God when bad things happen?” In the first of the podcasts, Scott Preller sheds new light on the question of what he considers the most destructive force in the universe. He states that Christ is the most destructive force because Christ destroys all evil. What a startling way to think about Christ! And indeed, Christ-light effortlessly eliminates all shadow and darkness. “Christ,” Mary Baker Eddy explains, “is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” (cit. S22, 332: 9-11) We can all hear the Christ-voice and see the Christ-light and feel the Christ-comfort as we hear the “true idea voicing good.” As we tune into this “true idea voicing good,” we can witness the activity of Truth, correcting injustice and overturning mistakes. As we hear, see, and feel Christ-Truth, we are becoming more and more aware of divine Truth’s corrective power. “Truth is God’s remedy for error of every kind, and Truth destroys only what is untrue.” (cit. S21, 142: 31)

And Christ Jesus is the man, who more than anyone else felt a constant capacity to know and feel Christ-Truth. Christ Jesus is our wayshower, who demonstrated what it looks like as we yield completely to the Christ-consciousness. Christ Jesus was so in-tune with “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” that he earned the title Christ Jesus. And his constant awareness of divine Truth’s corrective power enabled him to see beyond the distortion of unreality, evil and inharmony and demonstrate the power of Truth to overturn, overturn, overturn. No matter what evil he was presented with—oppression, sin, disease, death—he was undisturbed because he maintained a constant awareness of Truth’s omnipotence in destroying error.

The fifth section uses the account of Christ Jesus healing a man with leprosy to illustrate the power of Christ-Truth to heal physical issues. In the account, Christ Jesus touches the man while he was still leprous, an act that was taboo in those days because leprosy was believed to be highly contagious. This tender touch demonstrated that Christ Jesus was willing to overturn the “common knowledge” of his day, and look beyond the outward appearance of things. With this tender touch, he took a stand against the medical theories of his day. The man appeared leprous to everyone else, but Christ Jesus was only conscious of the man’s purity. He saw the man as clean, not leprous, and thus the man was healed. (cit. B21, Mark 1: 9. 39-42)

The healing power of Truth is just as potent today. Truth corrects error naturally and effortlessly just like light dispels darkness. “Truth handles the most malignant contagion with perfect assurance.” (cit. S24, 176:31) No matter what the outward appearances seem to be, we can turn to Christ-Truth—the word of God—for real answers. A simple prayer for when we’re facing physical challenges is to turn to divine Truth and ask, “What do you see about me?” And then we must remember to be quiet and listen to “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to [us] speaking to the human consciousness.” (cit. S22, 332: 9-11) “When one’s false belief is corrected [by Christ], Truth sends a report of health over the body.” (cit S28, p194:8 the brackets indicate my addition] SECTION 6: TRUTH PUBLISHES THE GOOD NEWS. Throughout this Bible Lesson are ways in which to affirm the presence of God/Truth even in the midst of what seems like turmoil. We make progress toward feeling God’s presence in difficult times as we 1) stop repeating “bad news,” 2) learn to question the outward appearance of things, 3) look beyond a limited view, 4) know that truth is real, 5) know that truth is God’s remedy for error of every kind, and 6) rejoice in the good news. So much of what we read in mainstream media tends to disturb thought. We should consider only taking in as much “news” as we can pray about effectively. Instead of taking in media news, we can be informed by the truth in Isaiah, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (cit. B22, Isaiah 52:7 NLT) The good news is that in the midst of darkness, the Christ-light is always present. And as we acknowledge the presence of Christ-light, we can watch it destroy any darkness. As we are reminded in 2nd Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” (cit. B23, II Corinthians 4:6) The light of Christ outshines any darkness. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, “God is All-in-all,” and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe.” (cit. S31, 503:12-15) And now I’m ready to share the “core truth” that I mentioned in the introduction of this Met. Recall that I described a “core truth” as an idea to arm ourselves with in advance, so that when we face dark moments, we have something we know to be true to hold onto. For me, when things seem at first dark and hopeless, I remember that there never has been and never will be a moment in which light does not exist. There never was a moment in which all was dark and then *poof* light appeared. There never has been a single moment in the universe in which there was no light. Nothing can ever change this fact. Light has no beginning. Light is eternal. Pondering the eternality of light is a simple way to pray. We always have the promise and comfort of eternal light. Amen.


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Click for more on CedarS New Virtual, Deep-Dive Bible Study! Our in-person Bible Study will continue this October at CedarS, and we will now offer a virtual Bible Study option by Zoom as well, designed to fit your timing and desire to expand your Bible-based spiritual growth! FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE from The Campership Fund is available as needed for you, your family, and your Bible Study group.

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Also, check-out Ken Cooper’s “Poetic Prelude” for “UNREALITY,” the Christian Science Bible Lesson for 10-3-2021

  • The poem “When the Oil Flows”, shares the story of a newly widowed woman … whose material picture looked hopeless when she turned to Elisha.
  • In the story of “The Leper Cleansed” Jesus knew its unreality of the claim of leprosy despite its aggressive appearance…

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