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Be prepared to receive the perfect gift of “God with us”
Metaphysical Application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Christian Science”
for December 24-30, 2018

Prepared by: Christie C. Hanzlik, CS
ccern@mac.com

INTRODUCTION

The Bible Lesson on “Christian Science” during Christmas week is a perfect gift, timeless and universal. It is a reminder of the open secret that Christ is here with us, to comfort, guard and guide. This week’s lesson describes how we can all prepare ourselves to receive Christ truth. Christ is our awareness of our connection to divine Love. Divine Love exists. We exist. But without Christ we would be unaware of our innate connection to divine Love. Christ is what makes us aware of Love. Without Christ, we would lack the awareness of Love and would lack the impulse to be love-ing. Christ comforts us with an awareness of our purpose to be love-ing. Christ did not begin at the moment Jesus was born. Christ has always existed. But Jesus’ arrival was a perfect gift, a sign of the dawning of the Christ consciousness in its fullest expression. Likewise, the Science (full knowledge and understanding) of the Christ did not start in 1866…it has always existed. But its arrival in 1866 was a perfect gift, the full revelation of Christ to this modern age.

The textbook of Christian Science connects the birth of Christ Jesus, the Bethlehem babe, with the revelation of divine Science on the first paragraph of the first page of its preface, ”The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day. So shone the pale star to the prophet-shepherds; yet it traversed the night, and came where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe, the human herald of Christ, Truth, who would make plain to benighted understanding the way of salvation through Christ Jesus, till across a night of error should dawn the morning beams and shine the guiding star of being. The Wisemen were led to behold and to follow this daystar of divine Science, lighting the way to eternal harmony.” (S9, SH vii:2)

Like this first paragraph of from the first page of Science and Health, this week’s Bible Lesson celebrates Christ Jesus and the “daystar of divine Science” that comforts and guides each one of us toward the gift of eternal harmony. Christ Jesus was born as the world was prepared to receive the manifestation of Christ. Likewise, Christian Science was discovered as the world was prepared to receive the knowledge of how Christ-truth operates. Each of us can prepare to receive the perfect gift of Christ-comfort each moment of every day.

Golden Text (GT) and Responsive Reading (RR) [W's PS#1 and #2]

Right away in the Golden Text, we read that we are the Lord’s witnesses. We are here to witness Love’s goodness. What good would Love be without witnesses? And, here, we’re told that we can witness a “new thing” that is going to “spring forth.” This “new thing” is the Christ-promise that we are all at-one with Love, now and forever, demonstrated in the life of Christ Jesus.

For generations and generations, Jewish families fixated on patriarchal lineage, the birth order from father to son to grandson and so on. Patriarchal lineage established one’s position and worth. But here, with the prophecy in Jeremiah and Isaiah, God is promising a “new covenant” or a new deal, and challenges limited human traditions. These prophecies tell Jewish people about the messiah, conceived by a virgin. Not to diminish the singular nature of the virgin birth, but perhaps it is just as significant that Jesus’ birth was out of sync with the Jewish tradition of patriarchal lineage. Arguably, he descended from the House of David through his mother’s side, not his father’s side, since he did not have a biological father. Even with the prophecy of his birth, Christ Jesus was already overturning generations of tradition. His birth demonstrated that Divine Love is our true Parent, and it is from Love that we inherit all that we need, and Love, not human lineage, that gives us purpose and worth. Our divine Father-Mother is our lineage, and this fact is clearly demonstrated by Christ Jesus and the virgin birth.

The promised prophet is called “Immanuel”— God with us, or Love with us. In other words, Christ Jesus was to reveal that God is not far off, but is right at hand. The birth of Christ Jesus was for everyone prepared to understand its significance: “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them…” and we can all “see [understand] the salvation [health] of our God.” (RR)

Section 1: A gift “without beginning of years or end of days”

Jesus had many names…”his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” and elsewhere Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us. Perhaps the plethora of names for Jesus is best understood by the fact that a new idea is difficult to describe. Christ Jesus wasn’t just a person…Christ Jesus brought new thought and overturned limited human traditions. So, of course, he was difficult to name with a simple name. Even modern-day inventions rotate through many different names. The velocipede was amazing when became popular in around 1817, and people called it various names before they settled on its now-common name…the bicycle. Christ Jesus brought to the world even more changes than the bicycle (understatement) so it makes sense that it takes several names to even start to get at what his arrival meant for the world. There simply isn’t one word that can summarize all that Christ Jesus means to the world.

The first section continues the theme of the RR, and celebrates the birth of a “new spiritual idea…borne to earth.” (S1) This section highlights the fact that Chirst is “without beginning of years or end of days,” and has always appeared “with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth.” (S3)

This idea that the Christ appears to those who are “prepared,” can make us ponder for ourselves…what does it mean to be prepared to receive Christ? How can we best prepare ourselves? Perhaps we can strive to develop the qualities of stillness, purity, receptivity, humility, and trust…these qualities certainly would be a great starting point to preparing to accept the perfect gift of Christ.

The Science of Christ, like Christ itself, has always existed–without beginning or end–but needed to be discovered, revealed, born for the world to see. Mary Baker Eddy explains that she “discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science.” (S4) She explains that God had been “graciously preparing” her during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.” (S4) We can all be prepared to receive insight and inspiration, the perfect gift of Christ.

Section 2: A double gift…the “dual appearing" [W's PS#3, #4]

The second section tells how Mary conceived Jesus and Joseph came to welcome the news that they would have a son. It is amazing that Joseph accepted that “that which is conceived in [Mary] is of the Holy Ghost.” Mary was prepared to receive the gift of Christ in the form of a baby, with stillness, purity, receptivity, humility, and trust. And so was Joseph. What love and trust Joseph had in the angels, God’s message. His willingness to yield to God’s law above the limited human law is remarkable. Both Mary and Joseph were prepared to receive clear messages, comforting and guiding them each step of the way, from conception to birth. They even had specific direction on naming their child: “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus means “to deliver; to rescue” and he came to deliver and rescue his people, which he extended to include Jews and gentiles alike, from the belief that they were separate from God. (B3)

The meaning of the names Jesus and Immanuel complement each other well. The name Jesus emphasized the Messiah’s purpose to deliver and rescue us from the false idea that we are separate from God, from the belief of sin. The name Immanuel, or God with us, assures us that God is always with us, that we can never be separate from God. From both perspectives, the names Christ Jesus and Immanuel help us understand the perfect gift of Christmas–the “birth of a new-old idea” for all mankind, that we are innately connected to and inseparable from divine Love. (S8)

Jesus could never be separate from Christ, and Christ could never be separate from Jesus, and yet the two words exist to give meaning to two distinct concepts. Jesus was born as the world was prepared to receive the manifestation of Christ. Likewise, Christian Science was discovered as the world was prepared to receive the knowledge of how Christ-truth operates. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man. He was inseparable from Christ, the Messiah, — the divine idea of God outside the flesh.” She continues, “Angels announced to the Wisemen of old this dual appearing, and angels whisper it, through faith, to the hungering heart in every age.” (S10) The phrase “dual appearing” is interesting…it refers to the dual appearing of Christ and Jesus…two distinct concepts that are forever united, and yet have distinct roles in our experience.

An article that aptly describes the distinction between the terms Christ and Jesus and God is “Christ Jesus and true sonship” by Nathan A. Talbot, from the December 1978 issue of The Christian Science Journal https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/2fdxc4citc0?s=e

Section 3: The perfect gift is “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” [W's PS#5]

From the beginning—as we learn from the story of Simeon in Section 3—some people seem to be especially able to appreciate Christ’s message. Simeon was an elderly Jew who received a prophecy that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ. When Simeon held baby Jesus, he realized he was holding the promised Messiah, and proclaimed, “now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Simeon was prepared. He could sense Christ Jesus’ role already, the prophecy that he would see the Lord’s Christ had come true, and Simeon even saw that Jesus would bring “a light to lighten the gentiles” not just to his fellow Jews. It is wonderful to try to imagine the Holy Spirit present in that moment that would have made it so clear to Simeon. For us to feel even a glimpse of that moment in the temple would certainly bring a feeling of the Christ presence–an awareness of our connection to Love–and it is the Christ presence that heals. Maybe each of us could take a moment during this Christmas week…even if its just for one minutes…to close our eyes and picture the moment of Simeon taking baby Jesus into his arms and realizing who he was.

Perhaps the description Mary Baker Eddy gives, under the marginal heading “light shining in darkness,” describes, in Scientific terms, what Simeon felt as he held the infant Jesus, “When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, — called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.” (S14) The full revelation of the Science of the Christ wouldn’t come for almost two thousand more years, but Simeon surely felt a full dose of the Christ-presence and promise of eternal life as he held that sweet baby in the temple.

Section 4: The perfect gift is universal [W's PS#6, #7]

The perfect gift of Christ-truth is for all mankind, and is universal. It is not merely for a particular group of people in particular time. It is true for all of us, everywhere. As Jesus explained so clearly, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (B8) We are all capable of believing and and practicing what Christ Jesus taught.

Mary Baker Eddy explains the universality of the Christ gift. She writes, “Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special [limited] gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick, not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth, as must be the case in the cycles of divine light.” (S16) In other words, the truth of Christ-love is true for everyone, not for a certain sect of people. And the gift of Christ is true throughout the “cycles of divine light.” (S16) The phrase “cycles of divine light” hints at eternality that extends way beyond what modern day physicists can quantify, and way beyond any limited view of light in the universe.

The Science that Mary Baker Eddy discovered and then revealed to us in her writings, is universal. This Science breaks through the limits of human understanding, to reach the Christ-awareness of our unlimited being. The results of this Science—peace and health and satisfaction–are not “supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or "God with us," — a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime,
To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense],
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised.” (S17)

We can all experience the universal gift of healing through the Science, the knowledge, of our at-one-ment with divine Love. (S18-S21) We can all feel the perfect gift, the comforting presence of Immanuel, God with us.

Section 5: The gift that keeps on giving, never gets old, and even comes with operating instructions [W's PS#8, #9]

The perfect gift of Christmas–the dawning of the Christ idea made manifest in the life of Christ Jesus–was not for a specific time and it has not ended. We can continue to experience it, in growing measure, day after day.

Along these lines, Christ Jesus promised us another comforter. He knew that the message of salvation that he brought could not end, and he promised that he would not leave us “comfortless.” (B10, B11) He gave us the gift that keeps on giving.

Mary Baker Eddy described her hope that we would all discover the comforter, the perfect gift, of “Truth’s immortal idea.” (S22) The comforter, as she explains, is the full explanation and revelation of the Christ message–that we are already safe in the arms of divine Love, we are all at one with infinite Mind, and all under the protection of absolute Truth. This universal truth, Divine Science, is here for us now, to comfort, guard, and guide. (S22)

This perfect gift never gets old…”the eternal Science” appearing to this modern age “is the coming anew of the gospel of ‘on earth peace, good-will toward men.” (S23) Whether we fully understand it or not, this perfect gift heals. How comforting it is to know that, “Truth has a healing effect, even when not fully understood.” (S25)

This gift even comes with operating instructions. These instructions are clearly laid out in the textbook, Science and Health, with statements like this: ”Systematic teaching and the student's spiritual growth and experience in practice are requisite for a thorough comprehension of Christian Science. Some individuals assimilate truth more readily than others, but any student, who adheres to the divine rules of Christian Science and imbibes the spirit of Christ, can demonstrate Christian Science, cast out error, heal the sick, and add continually to his store of spiritual understanding, potency, enlightenment, and success.” (S26)

Section 6 The perfect gift is unconditional.

The perfect gift is in God’s message, “I have loved you” (B12). This gift is unconditional, meaning that we do not have to achieve x, or y, or z before God loves us. God already loves us because this is the only nature of God, to love. In fact, God is love.

“Universal Love is the divine way in Christian Science.” (S29)

When we’re in doubt as to whether or not we are “getting it,” and we’re questioning whether we truly prepared to receive and use this precious gift, we can follow Mary Baker Eddy’s counsel to “Hold perpetually this thought, — that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being.” (S30)

Ultimately, as we’re striving to understand the gift of Christ, we will find perfect peace. (S31). When we are prepared—with stillness, purity, receptivity, humility, and trust—to receive Christ’s special message for each of us this holiday season, we are sure to sense the comforting promise of peace that Simeon felt in the temple while holding the Bethlehem babe.

BONUS
You may enjoy a couple of excerpts that Mary Baker Eddy wrote about Christmas in Miscellany:

[The Ladies' Home Journal ]What Christmas Means to Me

To me Christmas involves an open secret, understood by few — or by none — and unutterable except in Christian Science. Christ was not born of the flesh. Christ is the Truth and Life born of God — born of Spirit and not of matter. Jesus, the Galilean Prophet, was born of the Virgin Mary's spiritual thoughts of Life and its manifestation.

God creates man perfect and eternal in His own image. Hence man is the image, idea, or likeness of perfection — an ideal which cannot fall from its inherent unity with divine Love, from its spotless purity and original perfection.

Observed by material sense, Christmas commemorates the birth of a human, material, mortal babe — a babe born in a manger amidst the flocks and herds of a Jewish village.

This homely origin of the babe Jesus falls far short of my sense of the eternal Christ, Truth, never born and never dying. I celebrate Christmas with my soul, my spiritual sense, and so commemorate the entrance into human understanding of the Christ conceived of Spirit, of God and not of a woman — as the birth of Truth, the dawn of divine Love breaking upon the gloom of matter and evil with the glory of infinite being.

Human doctrines or hypotheses or vague human philosophy afford little divine effulgence, deific presence or power. Christmas to me is the reminder of God's great gift, — His spiritual idea, man and the universe, — a gift which so transcends mortal, material, sensual giving that the merriment, mad ambition, rivalry, and ritual of our common Christmas seem a human mockery in mimicry of the real worship in commemoration of Christ's coming.

I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity, letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth's appearing.

The splendor of this nativity of Christ reveals infinite meanings and gives manifold blessings. Material gifts and pastimes tend to obliterate the spiritual idea in consciousness, leaving one alone and without His glory.

Mrs. Eddy's Christmas Message

Beloved: — A word to the wise is sufficient. Mother wishes you all a happy Christmas, a feast of Soul and a famine of sense.

Lovingly thine, Mary Baker Eddy Box G, Brookline, Mass., December 25, 1909

(My. 261:21–263:11)


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We met our goal to raise $25,000 by December 31 for our "Maintenance Musts" Match! You can still double your donation though by helping CedarS earn our Adopt the Herd $75,000 Match for the horses and riding program. (~$55k to go by Sept. 30, 2019.)

So, if you have been blessed by receiving this inspiration weekly and haven't given lately, or are blessed to be able to give more, we still have many needs, big and small, that you can help meet by clicking on https://www.cedarscamps.org/give/.

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CedarS 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. The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp! YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/meta

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