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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the C.S. Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These two books are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Be lifted OUT of the hopelessness of “Everlasting Punishment!”
 
Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for April 25-May 1, 2005
Julie Ward, C.S. (Westwood, Massachusetts).

Some people get so turned off by the title of this lesson that they approach it with dread, or even skip over it altogether. Don’t let yourself be fooled by that! The real motive of this lesson is to lift us OUT of the hopelessness of everlasting punishment and into the realization of everlasting Love. It teaches us that we can’t just gloss over our errors, but that we can and should redeem them, and replace each erroneous suggestion with Truth. We can do this! Let’s begin….


GOLDEN TEXT – What’s really everlasting? The mercy of the Lord, and His righteousness (right thinking and acting). As you read the lesson, watch for other things that are everlasting (including other synonyms for “everlasting”, such as “enduring”).

RESPONSIVE READING – Here’s another “everlasting” – God’s righteous judgments endure forever. This prayer begins with the whole-hearted acknowledgment of God’s merciful kindness. “Thou art good, and doest good;…” is a wonderful way to begin our prayers. It’s that absolute acknowledgement of God’s goodness that makes us ready to listen and yield. “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes” is a perfect prayer for the healing of a broken heart – whether that breakage seems literal or figurative. From there, the Psalmist asks God to order his steps in His word. Do we do that? Do we honestly ask God to order our thoughts, our steps, our words, our actions, with His word, and to “let not any iniquity have dominion over me”? No iniquity – be it addiction, temptation, discouragement, or fear – can have dominion over you, for only Love has dominion over you.

SECTION I – “Justice is the handmaid of mercy.”
The first rule of healing in this section is, “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.” (B1) Do we consciously do this? Do we stretch our sense of God’s greatness constantly? If we do, we won’t be tricked into ascribing greatness to our problems, or to the world’s problems. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” – consumed with grief, fear, addiction, even desire. And it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumers. We are satisfied and safe because “His compassions fail not”. They are new every morning.” (B2) And because His mercies are infinite, there is “plenteous redemption.” (B4) The word “redeem” comes from the Latin “to buy back.” One definition reads, “To turn in (coupons or trading stamps, for example) and receive something in exchange.” When we turn in the false sense of man as lacking and liable to sin, we receive something in exchange – the real sense of who we are as God’s perfect ideas. Here’s another definition: “To set free; to rescue or ransom; to save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences.” As you read the lesson, look out for examples of Love’s “plenteous redemption.”

How can justice be merciful? It’s interesting to note that “justice is the handmaid of mercy,” and not the other way around. Justice serves mercy. It is the love that saves the sinner from his own self-destruction. True justice isn’t just a slap on the wrist that frees the sinner to go back and repeat the sin. True justice comes from God, not man. So true justice involves redemption. “Without punishment, sin would multiply.” (S&H 2) But when we suffer the consequences of sin, we are compelled to “go up higher.” (S&H 4) We progress, because we no longer have a desire to hold on to the things that limit us. We turn “like tired children to the arms of divine Love.” (S&H 5) Watch for the “tired children” in this lesson, and be aware of even small instances in which YOUR thought turns to Divine Love.

SECTION II – By suffering or by Science?
“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.” (B6) God doesn’t punish us, but foolish thoughts punish themselves. Miriam and Aaron experienced this when they became envious of their brother Moses. They were like little kids asking their Father-Mother, “Why does Moses get to be the leader? Why not us?” To me, the answer to this was in verse 3, in a parenthetical phrase that almost seems like a throw-away line: “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”) (B7) Miriam and Aaron were asking for a position that they had not earned through spiritual growth. After this conversation, Miriam appeared to be leprous, but Moses appealed to God to heal her, and He did. However, she spent seven days away from the camp. What do you suppose she was thinking during that time? Here’s another proof of God’s love – that “he will abundantly pardon.” (B8)

Miriam’s healing of leprosy is a vivid illustration of the fact that “Lust, malice, and all sorts of evil are diseased beliefs…”(S&H 9) Did you ever think of them that way?

“The pains of sinful sense are less harmful than its pleasures.” (S&H 8) Why is pleasure in sin harmful? Because we’re more likely to want to linger in pleasure than in pain. If we think we’re doing just fine, we’re less likely to turn to God whole-heartedly. “Belief in material suffering causes mortals to retreat from their error, to flee from body to Spirit, and to appeal to divine sources outside of themselves.” (S&H 8) When we turn to divine Love, we are far more likely to acknowledge, “Divine Love corrects and governs ME.” (S&H 10)

SECTION III – Take “the risk” to benefit the race!
Here’s the story of another “tired child” who was ready to turn to the arms of divine Love. It’s interesting that this story takes place at Jacob’s well, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to Joseph. (Check out the definitions of Jacob and Joseph on page 589 of Science and Health.). It was unusual for a Jewish man to speak to a Samaritan woman, but Jesus must have perceived that this woman was really thirsty for the “living water” that he could give to her. When he told her to call her husband, he already knew that she had had five husbands, and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband. He didn’t condemn her, though. He knew that she was in a process of awakening. She knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. She went into the city, saying, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (B10) The Christ spoke for himself, and the receptive heart responded.

Sometimes it seems so difficult to uncover error. It’s worlds easier to just keep talking about the good stuff. But Jesus didn’t hesitate to uncover error – not to condemn or embarrass the person, but to free him from the error and show him who he really was. “It requires the spirit of our blessed Master to tell a man his faults, and so risk human displeasure for the sake of doing right and benefiting our race.” (S&H 11) Are we willing to take that risk? We must “expose and denounce the claims of evil and disease in all their forms” – however subtle. But here’s the most important part: we must “realize no reality in them.” Here’s another great “recipe” for the healing of sin (S&H 13). To put down the claim of sin, you must:


         Detect it


         Remove the mask


         Point out the illusion


         Get the victory over it


         Prove its unreality

 

SECTION IV – True repentance
What an amazing scene that must have been at the dinner party  at Simon’s house when that “strange woman” appeared. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Anyone who has known the sorrow of repentance knows that there were plenty of tears to wash with. Sometimes it seems like an ocean of tears – a flood of regrets, apologies, lost opportunities. If we keep them inside, they would drown us. But if we pour them out on the feet of Jesus, they become cleansing, purifying elements in our thoughts, inevitably accompanied by the oil of consecration and the perfume of gratitude. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance.”(B 12) When we’re truly sorry, we’re ready to repent, to re-think, to turn “like tired children to the arms of divine Love.”

Simon had done the right things according to the letter of the law, but the woman poured out her heart. She was ready and willing to actually make a change. “She loved much.” And her sins were forgiven.

Why do you think that this story opens the chapter “Christian Science Practice” in our textbook? What were the qualities of the woman’s thought that indicated her repentance and reformation?  How did this healing foreshadow the healing of all sin? “The destruction of sin is the divine method of pardon.” (S&H 18) Not ignoring it or hiding it, not navigating around it and doing the best we can to avoid it. The destruction of sin is its only real pardon.

In (S&H 19) we find “a solemn question, a question indicated by one of the needs of this age.” (What do you think the need is?) In a way, it’s THE BIG QUESTION for you and me: “Do Christian Scientists seek Truth as Simon sought the Saviour, through material conservatism and for personal homage?” Weelllll……DO we? But there’s a brighter side to this question. “On the other hand, do they show their regard for Truth, or Christ, by their genuine repentance, by their broken hearts, expressed by meekness and human affection, as did this woman?” If we do, much is forgiven us, because we LOVE MUCH. And that’s the practice of Christian Science.

SECTION V – Challenge sin AND sickness.
Another tired child – and, oh boy, he must have been really tired of sitting by that pool after thirty-eight years! The problem was that he thought he had no other choice. Sometimes a physical problem feels a lot like everlasting punishment, especially when the passage of time makes it seem incurable. The five porches of Bethesda (which you might relate to the five material senses) were filled with ” a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” (B 14) The operative word here is WAITING. They thought that a circumstance would have to change in order for them to be healed. And what’s more, they believed that it could happen only to the privileged few. Do we ever fall for that sort of thinking? These people were waiting for the moving of the water. What are we waiting for?

Jesus asked the man a most surprising question: “Wilt thou be made whole?” At first blush the answer to this might be obvious, but instead of shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” the crippled man began to explain why he couldn’t be healed. He was waiting for someone to put him in the water. Are we waiting for a practitioner, a boss, a spouse, a parent, or even a child to “put us into the pool”?

Jesus told the man to “Rise, take up thy bed , and walk.” Raise your thinking. Get up off of those old habits you’ve gotten so comfortable with, and go forward! That man wasn’t going back to bed, for there would be no relapse. There’s an interesting little epilog to this story. When Jesus found the man later on in the temple, he told him, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” What sin do you think Jesus was referring to?

“Jesus healed sickness and sin by one and the same metaphysical process.” (S&H 20) Why? Aren’t sin and sickness different costumes for the same lie? There is no necessity for sickness or for sin, for God didn’t make either of them. This section has a number of rules for healing. See how many you can find, and try to be obedient to one each day this week. Here’s an example: “Speak the truth to every form of error.” (S&H 22) That’s a tall order, but we can do it. Don’t let error go unchallenged.

SECTION VI – What’s really everlasting?  
What’s really everlasting is God Himself. And God didn’t create sin, doesn’t allow it, knows nothing of it. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” (B 15) There is none else beside Him, and He created us to be just like Him. He says of His child, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.” (B 17) There’s no opportunity for sin and error there.

“God could never impart an element of evil, and man possesses nothing which he has not derived from God.”(S&H 25) If God didn’t give it to us, we never got it. The real man (the real you and me) cannot depart from holiness. (S&H 28) Where else could we go? So here’s the inevitable conclusion: the tired children (including us) never left the arms of everlasting Love.

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)    

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