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Dust-off your thinking to behold perfect, spiritual reality.
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

 Matter”
for September 13 – 19, 2021

 by Kathy Fitzer of Lake St. Louis, MO
kathyfitzer@gmail.com

Have you ever noticed how dull things look under a layer of dust?  What a difference a simple swipe of a damp cloth makes!  The shine and beauty that was always there is seen again!  More than once I have found myself thinking … why did I wait so long to get out that dust cloth?  Regular cleaning keeps away the build-up that can then make the job seem so much more daunting.  The same thing can be said for staying alert to not let the dust build up in our thinking and thus keep our experience from getting dull and distorted.

We all need pep talks now and then to get on the ball and start doing what we need to do, to get our lives moving in the right direction. The Golden Text this week can be thought of one of those pep talks.  The children of Israel have returned from captivity in Babylon, and it is time to pay attention to what God has in store for them — and what they need to do in order to stay on track.  Most of us probably haven’t physically been held captive, but mentally it seems easy to slip into bad thought patterns that hide our God-given freedom from us.

The command that we find in the Golden Text this week is from Isaiah 52:2. The [Holman Christian Standard Bible] translation used in this Lesson says: “Stand up, shake the dust off yourself!”  What is this dust? To me, it can be summed up as the belief that we are governed by anything but God, Spirit.  We are being urged to shake off the belief that we spring from a material origin, and so need to slog through matter in our efforts to rise about limitations.  The Hebrew could also be translated ashes and debris.  So, part of what we’re shaking off is any sense of mortal history that would try to hold us to the past, drag us down, and make us think that we only have so much potential to move forward or that we’re defined by heredity or past mistakes.  No way!

The Responsive Reading (RR) continues the pep talk by assuring us that we’re not alone.  God is with us, strengthening us, and removing boulders that would try to trip us up.  Based on a material view, the temptation is often to “make a mountain out of a molehill”.   But, God sends “a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth” to turn mountains into less than molehills.  Any obstacles that would stand in the way of a safe return from exile (literal or metaphorical) will be shredded and the fan (“separator of fable from fact”) will blow away the dust, revealing the glory of the Lord. [Definition of fan from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 586:7].  We can be as encouraged today as the people of Zion were thousands of years ago to go forward without fear, knowing that God is giving us whatever we need to move forward, constantly renewing our strength, so that we can soar like eagles.

The key to effectively shaking off the dust is to understand that it has never been part of us — any more than physical dust is part of the table — no matter how thick it appears to be.  Spirit is our origin, and we remain in Spirit.  We need to reject the belief that “the flesh” or matter is ever needed to make us complete (or perfect.) (RR, Galatians 3:3)

SECTION 1: Divine Science EXCLUDES, RESOLVES, & REPLACES MATTER with SPIRIT
Jeremiah accused the people of his time of forgetting the covenant that God had established between Himself and His people.  Had they forgotten all that God had done for them and their ancestors?  Apparently … since they were turning to other gods and seeking help and protection from other nations, rather than depending wholly on God.  God is compared to a fountain … continually springing forth with good.  But, the people have turned from that and instead depend on cisterns for their supply, and broken cisterns at that! (citation B1, Jeremiah 2:1, 2, 5, 11, 13, 31)

A cistern is an underground chamber with limited capacity, designed to hold water.  Obviously, if it gets a crack in it, the water that was there drains out! Sometimes this loss might be gradual and not noticed until too late. Here, it is used as a symbol for “unfaithfulness leading to futility”. (Harper Collins Bible Dictionary). Thinking that material resources (or the flesh) sustain us, rather than recognizing God, Spirit, as the source of everything we need, is like depending on a broken cistern rather than on the “fountain of living waters”.  Everything may seem fine for a while until the finite good has drained away.

Spirit is the only reality, because God (infinite Spirit, Soul, Life, Truth, Love) is omnipresent and omnipotent.  Christian Science teaches that what we call matter is nothing more than the manifestation of “a material mentality” (citation S4, 173:11-12). Basically, a dusty, distorted view that would try to cover up the reality of Spirit.  We give matter the only power it has by either supposing that matter can evolve and govern itself or that Spirit makes matter.  Neither of those options is possible (cit. S5, 119:1).  So, that leaves us with matter being only a distorted view that can be corrected as we turn back to God, Spirit (cit. S6, 322:26-30). Divine Science (or the truth of God) rises above physical theories and “excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas” (cit. S7, 124:12).  As we turn to this fountain of Divine Science we will receive the inspiration we need to see through the dust — shake it off — and see the pure good that God, Spirit, makes and maintains.  Whatever the suggestion … disease, lack, conflict, destruction … see that these have no place in Spirit and that matter (dust) cannot hide from us the health, supply, harmony, and wholeness that is forever springing forth from the “fountain of living water”.  It takes persistence and alertness of thought … but the rewards are huge as we trust the covenant relationship that is forever ours with God!

SECTION 2:  BE FREE FROM SELF-IMPOSED MATERIALITY AND BONDAGE
We read in Science and Health, “The human thought must free itself from self-imposed materiality and bondage” (cit. S10, 191:16-17).   That sounds like a great idea, but how?  I think we can take a lesson from Moses.  His job was to free the Children of Israel from slavery.  He started out making the same mistake we are often tempted to make … thinking success depended on his (our) own abilities.  But God promised Moses (and the same promise is there for us) that God, Spirit, would be with him (with us) and be the power and authority needed to make the change (cit. B3, Exodus 3:11,12). God then demonstrated His power in ways that Moses (and others) could understand.  Moses’ rod became a serpent.  That serpent looked and acted very real — just like all forms of matter.  Fortunately, Moses had the confidence to obediently pick-up the snake and it was found to be harmless.  The lesson?  Instead of letting a material situation handle you, confidently deal with it with the authority given to you by God.  I find it interesting that the first material illusion Moses faced was an external threat.  Then he was faced with a discordant bodily condition.  That can seem more threatening … now we’re talking about our health.  But, the same principle held true.  The only power any report of matter has is the authority we give it.  Moses responded with the same confident obedience, and the leprosy disappeared just as the serpent had turned back into a rod (cit. B4, Exodus 4: 1-4, 6-8).  “Matter was shown to be a belief only” (cit. S8, 321:6-13 19-24).

So, what’s the lesson for us?  The same as for Moses … there is one God, one authority.  That authority is Spirit.  Spirit frees us from bondage, as surely as the wind blows away dry leaves.  Our job is to obey the command, “thou shalt have none other gods before me” (cit. B5, Deuteronomy 5: 6, 7). Doing that enables us to not be afraid, see through the dust, and find freedom.  Moses was encouraged by what he experienced.   God didn’t expect him to just take His word for things … but helped him believe through demonstration.

Every time we see something good happen, we need to give credit to God!  Then, when things seem to go wrong (from a small inconvenience to what appears as a major catastrophe), we can trust the demonstrations we’ve seen of God’s goodness rather than be distracted by “human codes, scholastic theology, material medicine and hygiene [which] fetter faith and spiritual understanding.” We’re told, “Divine Science rends asunder these fetters …” (cit. S12, 226:14). To rend asunder is to separate into parts — or turn into dust, like the chaff in the Responsive Reading.  Let’s not be fooled by the dust of material evidence, and instead see the harmony of Spirit’s complete and permanent creation.

SECTION 3:  EXAMINE THOUGHTS … ARE THEY DIVINE OR HUMAN?
We’re not always aware when thoughts slip in that aren’t productive — those that take us down the dark path of matter-based thinking — rather than thoughts from God that lead us to the light of Spirit.  Which is why we would do well to humbly and sincerely pray as the Psalmist prayed … “cleanse thou me from secret faults”. Quite honestly, mortal mind often doesn’t want to give up some of its matter-based thinking.  But, we can be confident that in the long run we will be way better off as we strive to line up our thoughts with what God knows and thinks about us.

Along with praying for wrong thoughts to be uncovered, we can also pray with the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer” (Amplified Bible) (cit. B8, Psalms 19:7, 8, 12-14).  Even when we mess up, God is there to redeem (correct, or make up for) our mistakes, and set us back on the right path.  The alertness with which we need to watch thought is similar to watching who we allow to enter our home (or room).  If we’re smart we don’t let in those who are going to contaminate the atmosphere or destroy our belongings.  So, why would we let thoughts into consciousness that would do the same?

According to Paul, this thought-watching is a matter of life and death.  He tells the Romans, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (cit. B9, Romans 8:6). We can think of being carnally-minded as having thought focused on the flesh or body, or any material condition.  And death is anything dark or involving limitation and stoppage.  Mary Baker Eddy delivers the same message using different words. “Darkness and doubt encompass thought, so long as it bases creation on materiality” (cit. S13, 551:24-26).  Starting from the basis of our lives (or what we witness in the world) as having sprung from material elements is the dust thinking that we need to detect and shake-off!

Christian Science describes anatomy as “mental self-knowledge”.  It teaches that determining whether thoughts are divine or human is indispensable to the excision (amputation or cutting off) of error.  Indispensable is a strong word.  So, instead of digging around with knowledge about the body, let’s agree to “probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, hate … mad ambition” and replace them with “unselfishness, philanthropy, and spiritual love” (cit. S16, 462:20-30).  Being still and entertaining (throwing a huge party for) the messages of Mind rather than matter, we can bring healing to ourselves, our communities, and our world!!

SECTION 4:  GOD’S WILL FOR MAN IS HEALTH AND WHOLENESS
There are a couple of mentions in this section about the healing effect of maintaining a scientific view of things.  We read, “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals” (cit. S18, 476:32).  Science with a capital S refers to the truth about God’s creation.  Jesus’ view wasn’t fooled by a dusty, material distortion of God’s reality.  Jesus was able to heal Peter’s mother-in-law so quickly because he never bought in on the false picture of a fever — or any other claim (cit. B10, Matthew 8:14, 15).  Although we live in this world with all of its suggestions of discord, disease, and destruction, we must not “conform” to the patterns generally accepted.

The advice Paul gave to the Romans holds as true today as it did way back then.  Here is a paraphrase that has helped clarify the citation for me: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (cit. B11, Romans 12:1,2, The Message).

I looked a little deeper into the idea of what constitutes an offering or sacrifice to God.  One sense of it is presenting “a gift as an expression of gratitude to God and of his allegiance.”  I think it’s also note-worthy that animals sacrificed to God were required to be free from blemish.  So, thinking in those terms, would God, Spirit, find an offering of a material, vulnerable, fragile concept of body (or world) an acceptable offering?  That would be like giving someone a gift of beautiful glassware without taking the time to wash the dust off of it first. The intrinsic value would still be there, but might not be as easily seen under all the dust.  And even if the recipient could see through the dust (as certainly God does), the presentation would indicate a lack of respect.

So … when it comes to presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, we need to start with a correct view that we are the embodiment of perfect and complete qualities of thought, without a single scrap of matter (good or bad) attached.  Any physical evidence to the contrary can be dismissed as a dusty material suggestion that we have the right and responsibility to shake-off.  We are constantly fighting the mental battle between Spirit and flesh — constantly shaking-off the dust.  But, although the human footsteps must be taken to watch thought and pray to see ourselves as God sees us, we can be confident that “it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables [us] to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being” (cit, S19, 496:15).  The same Principle that governed Jesus is governing us!

SECTION 5:  BE THE MASTER OF YOUR BODY.
One of my favorite citations from Science and Health is in this section. It says, “Before deciding that the body, matter, is disordered, one should ask, ‘Who art thou that repliest to Spirit?  Can matter speak for itself, or does it hold the issues of life?’” (cit. S25, 181:2-6).  That citation was in the Bible Lesson the first year I served as a Christian Science practitioner at CedarS almost 25 years ago, and was instrumental in a healing I witnessed, and that I remember, so clearly.  I was working with the Junior Leadership (J.L.) group.  I was not yet Journal-listed, and I was really leaning on God because I wasn’t feeling overly confident in my own “abilities”.

It was the morning of the cave trip which everyone at J.L. had been looking forward to.  One of the girls came to me very early with an upset stomach, having been unable to hold down food during the night.  She was really disappointed that it looked like she was going to have to miss the trip, because it appeared that her body had other plans for her that day.  Together we thought about that statement and recognized the audacity of a so-called material system thinking it could stop a right activity — both the activity of taking in nourishment, as well as the activity of expressing courage and strength and joy in the cave.   I remember saying, can you imagine a little Whippoorwill (the youngest girls’ cabin) going up to Warren (the Executive Director) and telling him how to run the camp?  Now, Warren would have found a diplomatic and loving way to respond, but the message would have been clear that it wasn’t within the purview of the camper to be in charge of running the camp.  We laughed together and saw that it also wasn’t within the purview of matter or a material body to control this JL camper.  We claimed her identity as the perfect spiritual expression of God, Spirit.  The healing was immediate!  The nausea and vomiting stopped, color returned to her face, and the camper ate breakfast and had a full day.  I was sooo grateful, and a little bit in awe of God’s immediate goodness.

This section has a lot in it about food not having power over man.  I love that Jesus teaches us that it’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles (pollutes or spoils) us, but what comes out of the mouth.  So much attention is given to what we eat and drink.  What if we devoted that attention (and more) to what we were thinking instead?  What if, instead of looking to matter to produce the perfect body, we worked to keep thought in line with the Kingdom of Heaven as much as we possibly could? (cit. B14, Matthew 15:10, 11, 18).  Then, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, we would become “masters of the body, dictate its terms, and form and control it with Truth” (cit. S22, 228: 20).

It is an ongoing challenge to rebuke the testimony of the material senses and “correct material belief with spiritual understanding” (cit. 425:15-17, 23-26).  It takes practice, and I find it requires patience with myself so that I don’t get discouraged or down on myself when I slip up.  But, Jesus’ promise stands that as we believe and follow what Jesus taught, serpents (physical or metaphoric) won’t be able to hurt us, poison (of any form, including verbal) won’t disturb us, and we will be healers (cit. B16, Mark 16:17, 18).  Let’s be masters!

SECTION 6:  ACCEPT AND EXERCISE THE DOMINION THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO MAN (TO ALL OF US)
Like the Psalmist, we can be tempted to look out at our universe and feel insignificant.  Or to consider the issues facing us in our personal lives or in the world around us and feel helpless.  But, in Psalm 8, as in the first chapter of Genesis, it is realized that God made man to have dominion over the works of God’s hands — to reign over one’s situation with authority (cit. B17, Psalms 8:1,3,4,6).  In Revelation, the woman clothed with the sun, crowned with the stars, and having the moon under her feet represents generic man (i.e. all people). This man is made in God’s image, is clothed in “the radiance of spiritual Truth, and matter is put under her feet” (cits. B18, Revelation 12: 1,10 and S29, 561:20-27).  It is Christ — the presence and power of God: God’s reflection (expressed thought) — that has forever revealed to us (to all) man’s God-given dominion (cit. S28, 333:19-23).

It is our joy and privilege to accept this dominion, to look “beyond fading finite forms” — look through the dust — in order to see what is true and what is permanent (cit. S30, 264:7-8, 15-20). I’m always amazed by those who have the vision to see what a home will look like when it is remodeled and refurbished.  I look and see a disaster, or figure “it’s not so bad”. They look and see a complete, beautiful, and perfect idea!  We may not all be gifted remodelers. But, when it comes to seeing through the dust of mortal belief, we all have the God-given ability to exercise our dominion and see what IS — see the health, harmony, completeness, safety, and immortality of God’s creation that is the only reality!

In the face of all the dusty appearances facing us, it might be tempting to give up and accept things as they appear to be.  But, we don’t have to do that … and truly can’t afford to do that, either for ourselves or for our world.  As Christian Scientists we have an obligation to see things as they are, rather than as they appear to be. Not only will we be blessed, but “all whom [our] thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.” (See First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany 210: 9). Stand up and shake the dust-off!


New Virtual Bible Study!

Special Discount:  Take $25 off the online course rate through September 20th. 

Our in-person Bible Study will continue this October at CedarS, and we will now offer a virtual Bible Study option by Zoom as well, designed to fit your timing and desire to expand your Bible-based spiritual growth!  

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE from The Campership Fund is available as needed for you, your family, and your Bible Study group. 

CLICK HERE for program details, enrollment links, & more on this special one-week savings window for YOU & yours!


CLICK HERE FOR INSPIRING GEMs of INSIGHTS from COBBEY CRISLER and others!
(This is a work-in-progress, that will likely be sent in two installments.)


Also, check-out Ken Cooper’s “Poetic Prelude” for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Matter” for 9-19-2021
In “The Chaff and the Wheat” see all grime wiped away to reveal your unity and harmony with God.
In Moses, Mosesfind God as your strength, to be “the how!” of freeing you from the limitations of matter.
In “A Parent’s Revelation” feel the impact of the Love that has no consciousness of matter.


CedarS is humbly grateful to God that we completed 12 wonderful weeks of hosting summer campers and staff as well as the last two weekends hosting youth groups! You can enjoy daily spiritual sense insights by scrolling down our Inspiration webpage for “Prac Talks” to start nearly every day (& activity) with a God-centered focus.  The last Prac Talk by David Price, CS, invited everyone to take home the best version of themselves that had been nurtured at CedarS and to expunge as never-true fables of any lesser history. Abundant fruitage will continue to be shared!!

Heartfelt thanks to all you, greatly NEEDED and precious supporters who continue to help CedarS give LIFELONG, DIFFERENCE-MAKING BLESSINGS to hundreds of families and thousands of individuals all across the U.S. and the world. To discuss how to play a vital, ongoing role in our work, feel free to call or text me (Warren Huff) at 314-378-2574 with your pledge or intent to give a planned gift, required IRA distribution or an endowment gift (that will be MATCHED!) to help us “love into view” continued, lasting blessings and legacies each year.

Click here to give to CedarS and support spiritual growth in CS youth. 

 

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