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ALLOW THE INSPIRATION OF ALL WORSHIP INTO YOUR HEART THAT IT MAY SINCERELY BLESS YOU!
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

 

“Sacrament”
for Sunday, July 11, 2021

 

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

(Click this link for audio for the July 4th Freedom Talk and scroll down for “Prac Talks” for today (7-5) and for earlier this summer.)

INTRODUCTION

Most of us can sniff out insincerity. We usually can sense when someone doesn’t really mean it when they say something pleasant or encouraging. You cannot always put your finger on why it sounds insincere, but it usually has to do with whether they are saying something or writing something in a way that sounds like they are just doing their job, or as if they have many, many people to deal with in a day, and you are just one of those. I’ve felt this from others at times, it doesn’t feel great, although I can understand why it happens. But how great does it feel when someone smiles at you all the way to their eyes, looks straight at you, and tells you how much they appreciate something you did, or admires the way you performed something, or loved how much effort it took for you to run as fast as you did, or what it took to pick up the mess that someone left behind without being asked?! This week we learn in our Bible lesson a little bit about how to worship divine Love and Love’s Christ with that same genuine sincerity that fills us with confidence that we are called to heal and bless.

 

God is not a person that needs us to sincerely pray to “Him”. We are always God’s expressions of intelligence, joy, love, affection, humor. We best understand this about ourselves when our prayers are actions that express these qualities each day in a genuine and honest way. When we are sincerely acting out of our central, spiritual being, we naturally radiate this kind of sincerity and truth in our actions. We are like the “unleavened bread” that is referred to many times in this week’s lesson and especially in our Golden Text/1 Cor. 5:8. The “feast” referred to is the Passover celebration that commemorates the hurried meal that the Children of Israel ate before escaping their slavery in Egypt. The final night before they left, they were saved from, or “passed over” by, a terrible illness that killed all the firstborn of Egypt.

Each year this Passover feast has been commemorated, in part, by the eating of unleavened bread—unleavened because they did not have time to let their bread rise before escaping from the Egyptians into the wilderness. Symbolically, leaven here represents the complexity of mortal thought and conditions, fear, hatred, and so on. The bread that is unleavened represents the childlike purity and simplicity that is free from such complexities. The celebration of the Sacrament should, likewise, be one of deep, sincere communion with God. In fact, Mary Baker Eddy is quoted as saying this about Sacrament: “Our sacrament is a silent communion with our dear Lord and Christ.” (p.22 of Mary Baker Eddy Christian Healer by Robert Townsend Warneck and Yvonne Caché Von Fettweiss.) This is distinct from the way that the sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated in other Christian churches as “Communion”, the ritual sharing of bread and wine that has been sanctified. The word “communion” when not specifically referring to religious rituals, is a kind of intimate communication. Think about communicating in this way with divine Love!

 

Our lesson this week gives us some healing ideas about how we can live our lives more deeply and sincerely through Christ healing. As expressions of God’s very being, we are each capable of this kind of simple, sincere worship that heals and blesses all around us. This is how we partake in the communion that Christ Jesus shared with his disciples in the form of bread and wine the night before his crucifixion. He did this again after his resurrection, as bread (with fish) on the shores of the sea where he fed his disciples and encouraged them to sincerely devote themselves to the cause of Christian healing, rather than the occupation of fishing.

No matter our work, whether we are campers, counselors, students, or occupied in any one of the multitudes of adult careers and jobs, or in our retirement, we can “cast our nets on the right side” as Jesus encouraged, and bring in a harvest of blessing for ourselves and those around us. Our “catch” might be simply offering an encouraging word (with sincerity!), or it may be a healing prayer to support someone in need. Our childlike reliance on the Truth that is at the center of Christ healing is what does the healing. So, we need not have fear that we can “fail” in our endeavors.

 

Our Responsive Reading this week introduces the idea that Jesus himself best represents that “bread from heaven”, the healing truth that fed, and continues eternally, to feed mankind. This “bread” is eternal, it did not begin with Jesus. He was just the best man to express what Christ healing means and how it is done! It is interesting that the people ask him in this passage (Matt. 9:35; John 6:2, 28-35, 38 I came) to give them a “sign”, since this takes place after he fed the multitudes. But I think this just shows how mortal thought is so resistant to things that aren’t materially obvious to it. I also love that they are looking for a list of things that they need to do to follow him, and he answers simply: “…believe on him whom he hath sent.” I have enjoyed thinking about what it means to “believe on” Jesus, and on God’s Christ. It is worth contemplating!

  

Section 1: Prepare our hearts to receive the “bread” of Christ.

 

The story in this section is not often included in our Bible lessons but is an awesome way to illustrate the theme that runs throughout, of feeding the hungry heart with the “bread” of Christ, Truth. The story is found in 2nd Chron. 30:1,13,17 there (to:), 18-21 But (to:),27. This takes place some 200 years after the kingdom of Israel was divided into Judah and Israel, separate kingdoms. Hezekiah, king of Judah, is inspired to invite all of Israel and Judah to worship and celebrate the Passover together.  His desire is to worship truly, to bless as many as possible.

Hezekiah dispenses with the traditional periods of ritual purity, and holds the feast days a month late in order to accommodate travel – all of which shows a willingness to put the spirit of the law above the letter. And the spirit of worship is central to our lesson on Sacrament this week! I love to look at this story in the context of the citations from Science and Health, because it allows the idea that Hezekiah’s prayer for this event was one of preparing the hearts of the people far and wide, to allow the inspiration of this feast into their hearts, to sincerely bless them. 

 

We too can “prepare” our hearts each day to receive the message of “unleavened bread”. This bread is one of the simplest of foods and represents the childlike acceptance of purity, faith, goodness. Mary Baker Eddy tells us that Christ takes away the “ceremonies and doctrines of men” (citation S1/131:22). Sincere worship is founded on healing, blessing, and childlike readiness to “…leave the old for the new…” (cit. S6/323:32). We can examine ourselves each day to learn “…what is the affection and purpose of the heart…” This is how we find out “…what we honestly are.” (both from cit. S3/8:28-30)

 

On a day when I feel overwhelmed by family responsibilities, layered onto professional ones, I try to ask myself this question about “the affection and purpose” of my heart. My heart’s desire is to draw on the infinitude of divine Love who supplies all my ability to care, cherish, love, those who appear to need me. The affection and purpose of my heart is to wholeheartedly trust and rely on the infinite Mind to supply inspiration and understanding, on divine Life to infuse my day with energy, joy, and radiant being. This is my purpose, and it is not seated in a limited mortal, but ever rests in infinite, divine Love, Mind, Life!

 

Section 2: The bread of Christ heals and feeds the hungry heart.

 

Healing is the expression of the true worship of God and of Christ Jesus. Jesus makes it amply clear that we are to follow him by doing the works that he did. He gave us the “bread of Truth” in his teaching and example. His statements and parables he told to the simplest of the multitudes, fishermen, farmers; and his statements about the value of children and childlikeness, indicate the accessibility of the power to heal. There is simplicity in healing. But just like giving up a bad habit is simple in concept, but difficult to carry out, so following Jesus’ example can sometimes present a challenge to the human will that tends to want to turn simple commands into complex ritual practice. This is what makes obedience to Christ become empty, when we turn sincere worship that blesses, into merely the regular following of ritual “law”. This is not to say that those who take the Eucharist, for example, are only worshiping ritually, but that this can be a danger of celebrating something in a ritual way. It no longer becomes the process of “…[leaving] the old for the new…”, it can lose its central freshness and inspiration. This can happen to us when we read the Bible lesson in a ritualistic way! Much of church work can lose its freshness when it is not rooted deeply in Christ healing!

After Jesus heals the man of dropsy in this section (Luke 14:1-4,12-15/cit. B9), he encourages those gathered not to invite their friends and family, or rich neighbors, to a feast or dinner, but to invite the “…poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:”. This reminds me of a passage in Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Healer where she reminds one of her followers that we can never work (pray and heal) just for ourselves, that this is too selfish, but we must work for others. It is implied that we lose our ability to heal if it is constantly, inwardly focused. It’s a great reminder to not get too distracted by all the things that shout for our attention in our own lives. The world is wide! We want to bless “…the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ’s table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty.” (cit. S7/234:4).

 

Section 3: True worship is following Jesus/keeping his commandments.

 

I love the juxtaposition of the feast of unleavened bread and Jesus’ simple sharing of bread and wine with his disciples, with those scribes who were plotting to take him by “craft” and trickery, to put him to death by crucifixion. The nature of mortal thought is to complicate and distort the good that is around us, and claim that evil has precedence and power over Good, or divine Love. There are plenty of examples of the ugliness of human, seeming, power. The way to overcome and annihilate these suggestions of material power, is through obedience to the entire Gospel of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is a goldmine of inspiration with which to meet, and heal, the daily suggestions of a power opposed to Good. Later in this Bible Lesson we read that “Our cup is the cross. Our wine, the inspiration of Love, the draft our Master drank and commended to his followers.” (cit. S22/35:20)

 

It is so powerful to remember that the cup, which is the cross, is filled, every single time, with “the inspiration of Love.  We are not left only with the pain, the hardship, the trials. Every single challenge is filled with the inspiration of Love if we willingly accept the challenge (drink the cup) presented and don’t spend our time resisting it or leaning away from it. A sort of strange analogy is, perhaps, helpful here. When we stretch our body, after a workout, we are told that we should not “resist”, or pull away from the stretch that we feel, rather we should relax into it. This is very clear when you try it out.

 

Sometimes it is so tempting to pull away from discomfort, whatever kind it is, to just want the challenge to disappear! Not relishing pain is, of course, natural. But accepting that any kind of pain is an opportunity to love God more deeply, to understand Life more clearly, and to be left only with deeper joy and inspiration, is a platform for progress. While trying to “get rid of” a problem, is a recipe for defeat because it is built on a false foundation of the “reality” of matter and material circumstances.

 

Jesus never shied away from the challenges with which he was presented. He willingly put his hand in God’s. “Obeying his precious precepts, – following his demonstration so far as we apprehend it, – we drink of his cup, partake of his bread, are baptized with his purity; and at last we shall rest, sit down with him, in a full understanding of the divine Principle which triumphs over death.” (cit. S15/31:17-22) This rest is a present one. We are not waiting until after something…death, a final exam, the “resurrection of Jesus”/the second coming, or anything else in order to experience the peace of the understanding of the source (divine Principle) of our being. This triumph is to be experienced now, in the present. The kingdom of God is within us, Jesus told us. We aren’t “going” somewhere to find it or experience it. We can find it through obedience to God and His Christ.

 

Section 4: Converting unbelief to belief.

 

Remember the question earlier, in the Responsive Reading, that Jesus answered with the fact that we need only to “believe on him” and on God? What happens when everything that you devoted your life to, all that seemed revealed and deeply held, suddenly seems empty and gone? This is how the disciples felt when Jesus was crucified. They couldn’t imagine that his mission could end that way. And it couldn’t. But they just didn’t understand this, even after Jesus came to them twice to show that he had risen! They thought his mission had failed because it didn’t look the way they were expecting. This might be the case with a healing that we are working to see revealed in our own lives. Do we have an outcome, a timeline, or a comparison with someone else’s experience in mind? It is hard from the perspective that we have on Jesus today, to imagine that they could see his crucifixion as a “failure”. But that is how they saw it– as the end of his healing mission!

 

Jesus’ disciples went back (some of them) to the only work they knew, fishing. We should never “turn back”, never give up. We don’t want to find ourselves confining our thought to death, to the “end of Christ’s mission”, which is for all time! Instead, “In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin (a belief in our separation from Love) and plead God’s allness.” (parentheses added to cit. S19/15:14-18).

 

The denial of the belief that we have a separate self from God, is crucial! Love and Life is our source of being. In the final breakfast where Jesus met his fishermen disciples on the shore and commanded them to “cast the net on the right side” (done once before when he originally called them to follow him), he was calling them to follow him permanently, beyond his human presence. This command holds true for each of us today as we endeavor to follow the Master and heal the sick and sinning. It is encouraging that we are told in citation S20 that we can have “A bright outlook”, (marginal heading), because it is God that does this work. It is the constant work of converting unbelief into belief in Christ’s mission. We must continue to share the “bread” of Christ!

 

Section 5: Christian healing is the foundation of church.

 

Nowhere in her Manual of the Mother Church does Mary Baker Eddy give “the ability to heal” as a prerequisite for membership in her church. It was mentioned in an early draft, but removed. When you read her writings, however, you find this requirement is implied. And in this Bible Lesson, it is clear that a follower of Christ who is sincere in their worship, will engage in obeying his command to heal. I think, maybe, she didn’t state it explicitly in the requirements for membership because it could then become a litmus test by which we might erroneously judge one another.

 

Mary Baker Eddy was all about sincere, non-ritualistic worship. What if we started to judge our fellow members by what qualifies as “healing”, or how “big” or “little” a healing might seem? Here is a statement from this section that spells out her understanding of what uniting with this church of Christ, Scientist means: “We can unite with this church only as we are new-born of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and the Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love, – casting out error and healing the sick.” (cit. S22/35:22) Maybe too, the idea of “uniting” is more akin to the idea of “communing” with God … an even deeper connection to church and to our Father-Mother?

 

We could be a “member” of a church, but not feel like we are “united” with church. Perhaps that feeling of being united is connected to the sincere devotion to following Jesus’ command to heal?  Jesus’ message to us today that he shared more than two thousand years ago with his disciples at the seashore, is a message of sacred communication to continue sharing that “bread” with all mankind, and never to “go back” to a lackluster worship that is more word than deed. The words of Mary Baker Eddy’s “Communion Hymn“, (Poems 75:1-22/Hymn 298/568) here seem so profound:

 

“Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the

glad sound?

Felt ye the power of the Word?

‘Twas the Truth that made us free,

And was found by you and me

In the life and the love of our Lord.

 

“Mourner it calls you, – “Come to my

bosom,

Love wipes your tears all away,

And will lift the shade of gloom,

And for you make radiant room

Midst the glories of one endless day.”

 

“Sinner, it calls you, – “Come to this fountain,

Cleanse the foul senses within;

‘Tis the Spirit that makes pure,

That exalts thee, and will cure

All thy sorrow and sickness and sin.”

 

“Strongest deliverer, friend of the friendless,

Life of all being divine:

Thou the Christ, and not the creed;

Thou the Truth in thought and deed;

Thou the water, the bread, and the wine.”


Click on the link below for  sacramental GEMS!  SING A NEW Sacrament SONG, all in one accord; “cast your net on the RIGHT side” & get ready for a BIG catch!  Gems from Cobbey Crisler & others – CedarS Camps


 


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