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Humility is the doorway to the communion with Christ that heals.
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible lesson on

Sacrament
for Sunday, January 8, 2023

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO
kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041


INTRODUCTION

In the United States, individuality, and a sense of being “self-made”, or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” are admired, defining qualities of our culture. These qualities express a common view of power, strength, and dedication. This Bible Lesson turns these concepts of power on their head and points us in the direction of genuine humility, in which power is not found through the individual, but through wholehearted reliance on God. This reliance means that we turn to God not only for those tough decisions, but also for understanding and direction throughout our days. This takes a certain amount of meekness, of acknowledgement of a true, guiding force for good in the universe that does not reside in a fleshly self, separate from the divine. In the original Greek of the Bible, ‘meek’ did not have any implications of weakness. Rather, it was a way to describe the power of gentleness. It is the gentle power of this acknowledgement of God’s power, and of Christ’s activity in our lives, that is illuminated for us in this lesson on Sacrament.

Simply put, sacraments are Christian rites or rituals that are designed to bring us closer to God and to His Christ. One such sacrament is the Eucharist, which is featured in this week’s lesson. In the Christian Science Church we celebrate this Eucharist spiritually on an ongoing, hopefully constant, basis. But, twice a year we kneel in holy communion with God during the two Sacrament services that we hold. These precious moments of communion are distinct from silent prayer in which we may ask God for something or for qualities to be better expressed, or for understanding.

In communion we are simply listening for that holy presence. We may hear a voice—more likely not—but our opportunity in this silence is to kneel in humble stillness for the constant presence of divine Consciousness. I love to think back on the numerous prophets, and on Jesus himself, who would spend as much as forty days and nights in communion with the Divine. These numbers may not be literally accurate, or maybe they are. The point is, they represent a deep desire to understand and hear the influence of the Divine in their experience.

These solo periods of contemplative prayer represent a commitment to set aside the material, daily existence, and our constant “to-do lists”, for quiet, prioritized communion with what is the true power and governing force in the universe. What I love about our weekly Bible Lessons is the opportunity they afford us to commit to this same daily devotion and discovery. Even if we don’t have forty days and nights available to us to commune with divine Life, we can take a moment to pause as we get out of our car before we enter the grocery store, or go into our workplace, and humbly acknowledge the power and presence of Love. We can pause before we start a load of laundry, wash a dish, vacuum the floor, teach a lesson, get into or out of bed. The opportunities are endless and profound. These pauses can be our celebration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine, the truth, and the holy inspiration that fill even our cross-like experiences.


“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” This is our Golden Text this week and I love how Eugene Peterson words this in The Message: “Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” Jesus modeled humility when he washed his disciplesfeet, a job that, in those days, was most often relegated to slaves. What I love about this wording is the second half of that passage, where he tells us that the only way to “get on your feet” is to be on your knees first.

When we are truly aware that we are not personally capable of real accomplishment—that all that is truly good and accomplished proceeds from God—then we can stand on our feet and rejoice in this goodness. Then we can recognize that this success of accomplishment is available to all through infinite Love. The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].” Our greatness comes through our reflection of the divine. Our true job is humbly allowing that greatness to shine through our living.


The Responsive Reading expands on this theme of humility and meekness. As we “wait” on God “all the day” we are setting aside personal agendas, and personal, human desires. We are waiting for God to direct our path, rather than forging ahead to “get the most done”. Coming to a day with service in mind we find fewer obstacles to our productivity, and especially to our happiness. This is what we are called to do. (Ps. 25:4-6,8-10, 1st Peter 5:2 (to 1st;), 4,5 and, 6,10 the, 11 (to 1st.)


SECTION 1: FOLLOW JESUS IN MEEKNESS.

Sometimes it is hard to feel like we are following someone else, “copying” someone, rather than doing something original. I am not much of an artist but have always enjoyed aspects of drawing, painting, and creating. Recently I’ve been doing a bit more of it alongside Charlie, my youngest son. With the advent of YouTube tutorials, we can actually get a pretty good lesson and learn techniques that help us build skills for more original work.

I well remember as a kid, thinking that I didn’t want to ever copy someone else’s art, I had to come up with my own. But I am learning that this process of following someone else’s directions gives me better skills from which I can eventually do more original work. The funny thing is, none of my artwork comes out identically to the original artist, nor does Charlie’s. His and mine are also unique from one another, other than sharing a similar color palette and subject! We have both found that the results are more pleasing and the skills more helpful, if we go ahead, (at this point in our experience), and try to follow the teacher’s suggestions. (I don’t have any trouble with resisting this need any more, but I smile when I watch Charlie add original elements and try his own techniques each time we try a new class).

The point here, is that following in meekness means not asserting a personal desire for “originality”, a personal sense of self. The uniqueness that we want to feel doesn’t really come from human originality. As we follow in Jesus’ footsteps we find a universe that is full of infinite Love, creativity, joy, courage, and true originality that springs from Infinite Life/Soul.
Mary Baker Eddy tells us in citation S4/30:30-1 that “We cannot choose for ourselves, but must work out our salvation in the way Jesus taught. In meekness and might he was found preaching the gospel to the poor.” We cannot choose for ourselves…”. There really is only one route. Does this route look the same for each idea of God? Certainly not!

If you look at Jesus’ Beatitudes and his Sermon on the Mount you find a path that can be followed by all, but will be expressed in infinite variety by God’s ideas. Still, each idea will be expressing Love, tenderness, meekness, compassion. It is as if each command of the Master comes with a distinct color palette from which we all choose, but the life that we lead from that palette may look totally unique, one from the next. It is fun to notice, as well, that meekness and might are linked in this passage! (cit. S4/30:30-1)


SECTION 2: RECEIVE THE CHRISTLY GIFT OF HEALING THROUGH HUMILITY.

Over the years, the story of the Canaanite woman asking Jesus to heal her daughter has become less troubling to me. (citation B5/Matthew 15:21-28) This healing foreshadows the marked broadening of the Christ message to a wider world of Christianity that later on follows Jesus’ resurrection.  He is travelling through a foreign land, so of course he is encountering non-Jews. This woman’s deep humility and thirst for the Christ are undaunted by what seems like harsh rejection. I must say that today, in my experience, many instances of Christly healing have come to me through what might be considered “harsh rejection”.

Have you ever faced a Church member that has harshly rejected an idea that you have cherished?  What about a workplace circumstance? Have you been forced to put Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount into action, turning the other cheek and truly digging deep for genuine love and appreciation for such a person? Isn’t that a calling for humility? We are all being called on to recognize our oneness in the Divine. This Canaanite woman was not separate, even though she was not a Jew.
The “…living Christ, the practical Truth…” (cit. S11/31:14-17) call on each of us to sink to our knees in recognition of the Christ in each of us. This doesn’t mean we are a doormat for evil. It means we exercise the power of meekness that Jesus practiced that allowed him to endure the crucifixion and to experience the ensuing resurrection. This woman did not hold on to a single scrap of ego that was separate from her Father-Mother. Nothing could turn her away from the blessing of Christ healing, because she refused to cherish an identity separate from God that could be “bruised”. And so, she was blessed with healing for her daughter.


SECTION 3: WHAT IS OUR “FOOT WASHING” OF TODAY?

I wonder if the answer to that question changes from day to day? The important thing might be in asking that question regularly if we are desirous of living a life that follows Jesus. This section contains the stories of the Passover feast in which Jesus exchanges bread and wine with his disciples, and then washes their feet after the meal. (citations B8/Luke 22:14,19,20,26 and B9/John 13:3-5,12-14,34).

The foot washing represents deepest humility because of its role in Bible times. Sandal wearing makes for some pretty dirty and disgusting feet. As I mentioned, foot washing was a job generally relegated to slaves if one owned them. But here, rather than Jesus calling on a disciple to wash his feet, he, the Master, insists on washing each of his disciples’ feet. He follows this act with the command to do this to each other, figuratively, and to love one another. This indicates that loving one another includes this kind of humble act of service.

How are we serving one another today, this very day? Are we taking an opportunity to bring healing to someone we see—to behold them in the light of Christ? Are we finding a way to bless or serve, perhaps in an act as simple as picking up a piece of trash that we see at our feet?

Opportunities to serve are not restricted to those who are mobile, young, old, retired, or employed.  There are infinite ways to serve mankind. Service can be found in a mundane act that we already do each day, but can simply be regarded in a new light of Christly service! This new awareness, consciousness of our purpose, can bring light and joy to such tasks, making them acts of healing. Such an elevation blesses not only us, but also those whom we serve.

Each act of service can be an acknowledgment that we are sharing in the heavenly “bread”, the “…great truth of spiritual being”. (cit. S14/33:3-17) And even mundane acts can be lifted into the realm of the inspired when we accept the challenge that comes with the “cup” that is the cross and is filled with the “inspiration of Love”—which lifts from us any sense of burden, responsibility, or resentment that we might be tempted to carry to our life of service.


SECTION 4: CHRISTLY HUMILITY ALLOWS THE “…HUMAN ELEMENT…” TO YIELD TO THE DIVINE.  (cit. S16/33:18)

Every day we all struggle to let our human desires either yield, or at least be exalted to something more spiritual. This struggle will never disappear until we fully recognize that reality is completely spiritual. Don’t let that be discouraging though. It is a worthy and uplifting struggle, even if it is challenging. This is a divine demand, and it’s a journey that belongs to all of us, so we have plenty of company!

Every moment of every day we are faced with the demand to choose the divine over the flesh. That “sorrowful effort” continues until we are redeemed by divine Love. (cit. S18/26:1) Here we see that redemption is available every moment. It is not a lifetime of “sorrowful effort” followed by death and redemption. It is moments of the death of fleshly pursuits followed by moments of redemption as we elevate those pursuits—followed by another “death” “even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship” – and another redemption, and so on. (SH p. 9:19) Each opportunity brings with it the joy of healing, and the inspiration of new and grander views of Life. Our humble willingness to continue to allow our human desires to die or to be transformed is the springboard to finding the joy and inspiration contained in this redemptive work.


SECTION 5: HOW MEEKNESS OVERCOMES MATTER.

In Jesus’ crucifixion he experienced the deepest humiliation. Crucifixion itself was considered the lowest and cruelest way to bring about death, but more than that, there was the rejection by the multitudes that he once healed, and abandonment by most who loved him, that probably struck deepest in his final hours. Yet Jesus knew, more than any before or since, that he was truly one with our divine Father. This knowledge, and his practice of it throughout life, allowed him to raise even his human body from death, because he knew that he wasn’t personally responsible for any of the greatness that he demonstrated.

Jesus is known to have stated “I and my Father are one”. We can claim this oneness too. In claiming this unity with Love, we find the “power” of even “rock ribbed tombs” are not strong enough to contain our lives of service and our attitudes of joyful inspiration. Without any personal effort, we find the angel inspirations of the divine removing the obstacles. Even obstacles of giant, stone-like weight and hardness, are rolled away, not through personal effort, but through angels of Love’s presence. Again, we see that little “deaths” lead us to resurrection to spiritual life. “It is only when the so-called pleasures and pains of sense pass away in our lives, that we find the unquestionable signs of the burial of error and the resurrection to spiritual life.” (cit. S22/232:16-19, 27).


SECTION 6: THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST IS
THE ULTIMATE GIFT OF MEEKNESS.

A traditional, theological understanding of grace tells us that it is the bestowal of good when good is unmerited. This grace is constantly bestowed, not here and there, or once in a life-time. Seeing and receiving that good does not depend on our “performance” so much, but on what we are looking for in life. Are we hungry and thirsty for what is right? (cit. B6/Matthew 5:5,6).

If our eyes are on the path that Jesus laid for us, our eyes are likely open to the limitless outpouring of Love’s goodness toward us. It isn’t a path of flowers. No great Bible prophet, king, or character led a life without challenges. But it is a path of joy, inspiration and deep satisfaction.

We can each take up the life work of setting aside our ego (our sense of identity separate from God), and receive the ultimate gift that frees us from enslavement to material lack. “The miracle of grace is no miracle to Love.” (cit. S27/494:15) Perhaps this is the greatest gift of meekness, the so-called “miracle” of Love, present and infinitely active in our lives each day.


Solitary GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas from COBBEY CRISLER & others will be POSTED and EMAILED throughout the week, so check your email (or junk mail) for them.  You can always check for the latest string of GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you’ve  SUBSCRIBED here to receive these free offerings.


Also later in the week, look for Ken Cooper’s “POETIC POSTLUDE”
contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


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