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Cherish this pre-Valentine “Love letter” to you!
Feel enveloped every hour by His tender mercies!
Application ideas for the Christian Science Bible lesson on “Love” for Feb. 4, 2007
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois

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 (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! EACH WEDNESDAY: CHECK  FOR A FREE FRENCH TRANSLATION of this weekly “met” offered by Pascal Bujard of Switzerland.

When life is challenging and affections seem famished, everyone yearns to feel the tender hug of God’s all-embracing, precious love. In our hour of need we might call out for God and wonder whether God will help us, as in many of the passages from this week’s Lesson, including the Golden Text. In context, this passage is not meant to be a desperate plea or a reminder to God to remember to love us, for God needs no reminders. Instead, it indicates the Psalmist’s expectancy that God will continue to bless as He always has. He knows God will not break from His divine Character. His tender mercies have been and will continue to be unfailing.
Hopefully, this Lesson will bring us all closer to understanding the fullness of God’s Love for us. More than something that can be communicated through words, it is a feeling — a consciousness of the presence of Love. This consciousness brings with it an assurance that in every hour we are surrounded and divinely fed by God’s tender mercies.
The passages in the Responsive Reading are portions of a heartfelt prayer for deliverance. The Psalmist believes that he has proven his sincerity by a life well lived. He intuitively counts on God to uphold the weak and save those who call on Him and who abide in His law. No matter how severe his situation may be, there is a level of pure hope and honest expectancy that transcends verbal description. He just knows that God is and that He will continue to help as He has throughout all generations. Most of us would love to have this type of expectancy. If you find yourself in severe circumstances, try following the Psalmist’s example. Take time to ponder the depths of Love’s tender mercies for you and soak them up.
Section I: God’s Tender Mercies Are Unfailing
Sing, be glad, and rejoice! God is in your midst. (B1) God is rejoicing over you, too. Even if you think you don’t deserve it, divine Love is cherishing you. The phrase, “he will rest in his love” is translated like this in The Amplified Bible: “He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them].” In citation B2 God’s merciful character is reinforced “by the insistence that His compassion is as wide as the world He created.” (The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible(Editor: Watch for signs of compassion around you and in the world. How about the free, new home given to the Missouri family whose son was kidnapped 4 years ago and recently found alive?! Act on ways to make your own compassion more outreaching and all-inclusive today!) “Though each generation will successively praise God for His works, it never will reach adequate expression, because the character and acts of Jehovah are beyond human comprehension.” (The Abingdon Bible Commentary) God’s “tender mercies are over all his works.” According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, tender mercies means not just compassion, but a love that surrounds, nurtures, and protects us as the womb provides a safe, nurturing environment for the child inside. This gives us the image that we are actually enveloped by God who is Love. Every need is supplied and the environment in which we exist is itself Love.  In the New English Bible Jeremiah 31:3 (B4) is translated, “I have dearly loved you from of old, and still I maintain my unfailing care for you.” The Bible tells us that if we dwell in love we dwell in God and God dwells in us. (B5) Think about that. Do you dwell in love? (Editor: Like David in the 23rd Psalm, pledge to “dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] forever” (S&H 578:17) — every hour — and you’ll feel a much deeper sense of spiritual power and constant confidence.)
“All substance, intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause and effect belong to God.” (S1)  Divine Love is manifested through these attributes. Divine Love is the only power and presence. (S2) Awareness of this fact underlies many of the statements and “Love stories” in this Lesson. Throughout there is a sense of the unfailing power of Love. This divine Love has no limited human form. On its own, the human consciousness cannot really comprehend the fullness of God’s love. We use images to try to explain it like “Father-Mother,” but they are not really adequate to give us the magnitude of what divine Love really is. As Mrs. Eddy points out, it is truly a “sublime” (lofty) question. (S3) That’s an understatement! As in the Bible passages above, Mrs. Eddy concludes that creation must reflect the Creator. But to understand God is “the work of eternity.” (S5) What else can really be said other than our Leader’s statement in citation 6, “More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.”
Section II: The Perfect Work of Patience
All of the stories and lessons in the Scriptures were not solely for the ancient times. (B6) They were intended for use in all generations. “We should read to learn lessons of endurance and to receive encouragement which will help us confidently to look for future glory.” (Dummelow) In Psalm 69 (B7) the writer feels his life is in danger. Yet he wholeheartedly turns to God for help. The prayer in Nehemiah (B8) is meant to be an encouraging recitation to workmen on the huge wall-reconstruction project to remind them of all God’s mighty acts to guide and support His people. God’s guiding, protecting and providing power is seen and praised: in creation; in Abra(ha)m’s journey from Ur; in the Israelites’ escape from Egyptian slavery; in their wilderness wanderings; and, in their conquest of Canaan.   Nehemiah’s prayer first acknowledges God’s mercies and the nation’s rebellion.  (“And you, a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, incredibly patient, with tons of love — you didn’t dump them.” Neh. 9:17 The Message) Next, it acknowledges the justice of their punishment and the value of God’s chastisement. Although not in this Lesson, it finishes with a promise to be better in the future. James (B9) counsels that we must be enduring and steadfast in our work that we may be “perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”  (Amplified) This goes along well with the image of God’s tender mercies as a protective womb. In the womb, the child grows into readiness to be born. As we grow spiritually, each step is made under God’s law. “Perfect” means to be fully mature — full-grown. So divine Love patiently provides the perfect environment — at home, work, school and camp — for us to grow into an awareness of our true being.
“Love inspires [breathes into, infuses with life and ideas], illumines [enlightens, causes to understand], designates [marks out the path, indicates the right direction], and leads the way” [guides by the hand, goes before us.] (S7) (Student’s Reference Dictionary — SRD) God doesn’t put obstacles in our path. He opens the way for us. He guides “all right desires” and everyone in the path “from sense to Soul.” (S8) No matter how frightening or impenetrably hard (adamant) our situation might appear, Love is leading us all the way and dissolving all obstacles. If Love leads the way, self-love blocks it. (S9) Self-interest blinds us to the selfless Love of God that is always at hand to heal and to bless. If we wish to feel the ever-presence of Love, we cannot avoid crossing swords with “self-will, self-justification, and self-love.”(S9) (Editor: Pick a battle with some form of your own selfishness today and win it with Love.  You — and those around you — will be much happier. See S&H 57:18-19) The way may be slow or fast, but if we patiently persist, we will be successful. (S10) Mrs. Eddy says we need the prayer of “fervent desire” and that we should habitually struggle to be good. (S11) But how can we be patient and fervent at the same time? On the surface it may seem like these are opposites. To be fervent means to be earnest and eager, but not impatient. We can be wholly devoted to a cause and yet patiently await the course of events. (Editor: “… Deeply in earnest, and at the same time spiritually light-hearted” is the way Mary Kimball Morgan describes to be “master of your work” in Education at The Principia, 222.) It is like the prayers of the Psalmist. He is fully engaged in his relationship with God. He knows he needs help, but he expresses a steady confidence that is calm, constant, light-hearted, and free of fear.
Section III: Love’s Tender Protection
The third section begins again with the counsel to “forget not” what God has done for us. (B10) In this Psalm, gratitude is being given to God for redeeming the people from “certain annihilation.” (Abingdon) Daniel was certainly one who expressed that quiet confidence in God’s protection despite the circumstances. He was habitual in his devotions. He had no compunctions about maintaining his spiritual practice in spite of laws that forbade it. (B11) In fact, his devotion to God, which no doubt gave him the ability to be trusted by the King, also caused his peers to be jealous of him.   Sometimes our best intentions appear to get us into trouble. But if our motives are out of love for God and man, we can trust that the love of God will see us through. God’s love for man is so comprehensive that our needs are known and supplied before we even call for help. (B12)   Like a mother who is always there to assist when needed, God is right there for us no matter what the threat seems to be. (B13)
The “tender relationship” between God and man (S13) is a most beautiful thing to ponder. Have you ever really thought about it? We are always provided and cared for. This isn’t the false sense of parenting that smothers a child and won’t ever let the child make decisions in order to avoid potential problems; but that pure love that’s present no matter what the circumstance — patiently guiding when mistakes are made and always protecting. “Tenderness accompanies all the might imparted by Spirit.” (S14) Tenderness — “kind attention, cautious care to preserve” (SRD) — is a key quality to be expressed by camp counselors, caregivers and all of us. Tender stretching and strengthening takes place each time that we (like Daniel) know  that every creature — not just camp horses, but even feared critters and perceived enemies — “moving in the harmony of Science are harmless, useful and indestructible.” (S14)  What a comforting thought.  Every time we have the opportunity to prove God’s love for us, we get stronger. (S15)   The tougher the situation, the stronger the love needs to be.  Then we gain more confidence and recognize God as a “very present help in trouble.” (S16)  There isn’t a single situation that can place us beyond God’s love.  Our needs have always been met and they always will be met. (S18)
Section IV: Love’s Healing Power
As in earlier citations, taken in context, the Psalmist is asking for a renewal of God’s mercy (B14) after recalling all that God has done in the past. (Interpreter’s)  The Christian’s awareness that God is Love must be brought out in healing activity. (B15)  Jesus’ healing of the leper (B17) exemplifies the healing power of divine Love.  Our texts say that Jesus had “compassion” on the man.  Scholars note that the original read: “being angry.”  (Ibid.)  Perhaps the whole scene stirred Jesus to spontaneously oppose what he was seeing.  This leper was an outcast — an untouchable.  He was supposed to stay a minimum of 6 feet away from everyone and up 150 feet away from those downwind.  The severity of this could easily have aroused passion in Jesus.  Jesus was moved to touch the untouchable.  I get the sense that when the man came to him, Jesus couldn’t help but meet his need.  (Editor: Try to express more of your natural Christianity this week by feeling that spontaneous welling up of Love for those in need.)
In almost every Bible Lesson on Love, we can find the passage on page 365 in Science and Health regarding the power of Love to heal instantly (S20).  We often point out that if the patient is reached through divine Love (through God) the healing will be accomplished in one visit.  The paragraph preceding this passage explains that the “unselfish affections” cannot be “lacking” if we expect to “evoke healing.”  This might sound as if it’s the love of the metaphysician that does the healing.  But as the passage beginning on page 454 brings out (S21), the metaphysician’s efforts are “human auxiliaries” that help one get in accord with “the spirit of Truth and Love, which heals the sick and the sinner.”  This indicates that it is the presence of divine Love itself that heals.  Our human efforts help us to get in line with Love. This brings the serene, confident, expectancy that was mentioned earlier in the Psalms.  It’s a conscious sense of the ever-presence of Love.  Love is found right where the problem seems to be.  It is working a change in our consciousness and making us whole.  When one is aware of that presence, that one cannot help but express the tenderness, encouragement, and patience “aflame with divine Love.” (S22)  It was our Leader’s “hope” — her “Love letter” to us — that we realize “the healing power of divine Love.” (S23)
Section V: “Think on These Things” (last section this week)
“The word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (B18)  “This word of God is no mere collection of written documents.  It is God’s message of salvation declared for all men.” (Interpreter’s) God is Love.  If we don’t know love, we don’t know God. (B19)   (Editor: As a new camp song puts it: “If you don’t love your neighbor, then you don’t love God.”)  It is only natural to demonstrate that love in unselfish service to others.  Dummelow writes, “Love is not merely and attribute of God, it is His very Being.  Hence to be without love is to be without God.”  Psalm 42:8 (B20) again expresses the calm, expectant prayer of one who knows God.  Yet as Interpreter’s points out, this passage is sandwiched between verses full of turmoil: “Lonely and isolated among his enemies he feels his homesickness beat in his ears like the noise of the chaotic underworld ocean rushing to overwhelm him and carry him down to the realm of death … he seems forsaken by God….”  Yet he finds within confidence that God will save him.  Would you have that sense of God’s love under such extreme conditions?  God’s love is magnificent.  In Philippians (B22) Paul points out what to think about to keep actively aware of God’s love (which heals all sense of homesickness).  The church was under intense scrutiny and Christians often felt much like the author of the Psalm above.  It was hard to keep on expressing love in the face of ongoing persecution.  So Paul stressed the need for gentleness, honor, integrity, morality, grace, and virtue.  These virtues weren’t peculiar to Christians but they’re sound, ethical principles that apply to everyone.  “The Christian man must prize every fragment of human worth, claiming it for God.”  (Dummelow)  We face worldly pressures today, too.  They don’t always appear to be life threatening, but their intent is to stop us from demonstrating the healing power of Love.
Science and Health further expounds on the power of Love.  Echoing John, Mrs. Eddy writes that Love is more than a mere attribute of God. (S24) (Editor: She also says that: “Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. … it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; …. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results.” Misc. 250:16)  Love is the impetus behind everything beautiful. (S25)  Sometimes it may seem that we lose sight of Love, but Love never loses sight of us. (S26)  Knowing this has a healing effect.  Nothing exists that Love has not initiated.  There is no other wisdom, truth, love, life, or good but what “God bestows.” (S27)  Mrs. Eddy asks: “Can we ask Him to be more?” (S28)  When we really begin to apprehend the unlimited power of understanding God as Love, we will have no more doubt.  We will everywhere see and feel His tender mercies — as precious Love letters to us and to all who our thoughts rest upon!

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 citations referenced (i.e. B1 and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. 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.)  Spirituality is your innate estate that connects you moment by moment with God.  (See S&H 258:30) Christ is the gift of light that Jesus gave.  This Christ light of spiritual understanding comes with and reveals infinite blessings. So, have fun unwrapping and cherishing your very special, spiritual gift(s)!  Then, wherever you are, share them with all as big blessings that make the Infinite difference!

Warren Huff, Editor & Camp Director     (636) 394-6162

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The weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it.  However, current and planned giving contributions are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support. Click for more about how you can provide support online or to get information or discuss privately how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CedarS work.
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Another new, visually-oriented and very helpful resource for study of the weekly Bible Lesson is being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society and can be found at:  What a great auxiliary to lesson study– maybe from a handsome set of new student books now sold in Reading Rooms! MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use.  Why not check out this effort to help bring to life each beloved Bible lesson in order to bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all!

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