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COME TONIGHT TO OUR VIRTUAL HYMN SING!
Sunday, January 7, at 7:00pm Central.

Musicians: The Hanlin Family

Format: The prelude will begin at 6:45pm Central, followed by the hymn sing at 7:00pm Central. The Hanlins will take seven hymn requests from the audience, followed by the Doxology. Afterwards, those who want to stay on the call can hear some brief updates on happenings at camp.

Zoom Link: Join here
See P.S. (below) FOR MORE DETAILS & CALL-IN OPTION!


Met: “GOD HAS GIVEN EACH OF US A GIFT.
USE IT TO HEAL AND SERVE.”
Metaphysical application ideas on the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Sacrament”
for Sunday, January 14, 2024

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


Introduction

Christian Science distinguishes itself from many other Christian religions by having very, very few ritual practices. At the moment I can think of only one, kneeling in church in silent communion twice a year on Sacrament Sunday. This humble, simple act is a beautiful way to honor Jesus’ teachings that healed multitudes and sprang from his deep, personal communion with divine Love. It is hard to do any “grandstanding” while silently communing in church. We can’t make any claims of faith, or declarations of our devotion or love for Christ Jesus. It is all done silently, humbly. We alone (and divine Spirit) know what we are communing about. It is a special and private moment that we only share twice a year simultaneously with others, in one space. In that moment, we have the opportunity to feel more deeply that we are truly a “…whole body fitly joined together…”– none more important than another, each vital to the healing mission of our church. In that moment of silence, we have the opportunity to feel this oneness that is not personality, gender, or status of any kind.

In our shared, yet individual, communion with the divine, we are serving one another at a deep level. The word communion even shares the same stem as the word “community”. And two of Webster’s Dictionary definitions (following the Eucharist — bread and wine–) are: “Intimate fellowship or rapport: Communication.” And: “A body of Christians having a common faith and discipline.”

This Bible lesson explains that we are each given divine gifts that support and serve mankind. Whether mankind as a whole, or in church, this is our calling when we follow the Master. We may experience this deep communion oneness in solitude, but it must bear fruit in service/demonstration if we are truly following Christ.


Golden Text and Responsive Reading
(1Peter 4:10, 1 Cor. 10:16,17;12:27, Eph. 4:11-16)

There are some terrific translations of our Golden Text, which is repeated in the final Bible citation of our lesson this week. The New Living Translation puts it this way: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1Peter 4:10)

Our Responsive Reading draws on Paul’s beautiful teachings about gifts and service. He uses the analogy of the human body to explain not only the necessity of each of our contributions, but also the unity of this service. Different parts of the body don’t work against each other, but in unity, for the benefit of the whole. Again, in the New Living Translation, we have this version from Ephesians 4:16 “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” This service to all, especially as servants of Christ, is the focal point of this week’s Bible Lesson, and a worthy endeavor for anyone who wishes to practice the Science of Christian healing as the Master did.


SECTION 1: Christ’s anointing is universal and
throughout the ages.

The idea of anointing with oil, in Bible days, was another ritual that was practiced when appointing someone for a special religious or leadership role, or to symbolize spiritual purification. In this section we again see how a ritual can be turned into a spiritual demand to practice the qualities that such anointing represents. In this vein, Mary Baker Eddy tells us that “…believers are made “kings and priests unto God.” (citation S3/141:13-21)  Similarly, God asks Moses to place the Urim and Thummim over the heart of Aaron’s priestly robes. These represent, as Mary Baker Eddy puts it, “…holiness and purification of thought and deed…” (cit. S4/595:13)
— a type of spiritual anointing.

In 1st John 2:20/citation B7 it tells us “ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” Unction here refers to the oil used in an anointing ceremony. The International Children’s Bible says it this way: “You have the gift that the Holy One gave you. So you all know the truth.” To me this points to our universal freedom to practice Christ’s healing. It is a gift that we are given, a truth that is within us and, as Jesus told us, sets us free. The final citation in this section puts it this way: “Like the archpriests of yore, man is free “to enter into the holiest,”–the realm of God.” This is especially powerful in light of the ritualistic nature of worship in the Jewish temple where only the priests were allowed to enter the “holiest” portion of the temple, and that only on one special day of the year. It was thought to be where God dwelled, and so, too “holy” for “everyday” man to enter, ever.

Interestingly, on Jesus’ death at the cross, the significant barrier that divided this most holy space from the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom. This symbolized the end of any ritual barrier between God and man, a barrier that Jesus spent his whole career destroying. There is no barrier between man and God. Each of us is divinely anointed to serve God and man.


SECTION 2: Serving versus separation

There are several demands that Jesus makes on us in this section. From citation B8/Matt. 16:24 we are told that if we want to follow him, we must “take up [our] cross”. In citation B9/Matt. 10:8 he directs us to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:”. These demands are followed by a story about James and John asking if they can have special places on either side of Jesus, presumably after death. Jesus responds with the question of whether they are willing to “drink of his cup” and be baptized with his baptism. These, again, are specific symbols that are often ritualized in modern Christian worship. But Jesus tells them that while they will indeed experience the challenges of taking up the cross and his baptism, they will only find their way to unity with Christ (sitting by his side) through ministering and serving mankind and God — through healing.

Mary Baker Eddy opens the second part of this section with this passage: “The pride of priesthood is the prince of this world. It has nothing in Christ. Meekness and charity have divine authority.” (cit. S7/270:22-24)
In other words, if we are looking for a position of power or prominence, that is a worldly desire that will only serve to make us feel separate from God. While if we are looking to know more of Christ and Christ’s love, we are sure to find ourselves feeling that oneness that Jesus preached and demonstrated. This position of perceiving our oneness with Good, comes as we serve in “meekness and charity”, chief qualities of Christ. This humble love is what Jesus was sharing with his disciples when he broke bread with them on the eve of the Passover so many years ago.

Jesus is asking us to put off the false individuality that makes us feel separate from divine Love. Mary Baker Eddy says: “In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.” (cit. S11/242:1-3, 15) These “self” qualities are rooted in a belief that we have a separate ego from the one Ego. The sentence before this says that it is “Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality.” This false sense that we have a separate identity that must choose selfish desires over service-oriented ones is what leads us into deeper enslavement to behaviors that cause us to feel separation from divine, universal Love.


SECTION 3: Demonstration is “God with us”. (cit.S16/35:25)

When Jesus is delivered to the Scribes and Pharisees, it reinforces the belief that there is priestly power that can overcome God’s power, or the power of Christ. Jesus predicts this abuse of power in citation B11/Mark 10:32-34. He then shares the bread and wine with his disciples in an inspired and impromptu act of humility and grace, inviting them to share in the ultimate affirmation of unity, (non-separation), with Christ.

The irony is not lost on me that this ceremony or sacrament is held today in the hands of those deemed specially connected by priesthood (or specific status in church), and governed by specific rules determining who is worthy to receive this communion. It certainly seems antithetical to all that Jesus preached and demonstrated in his ministry. To our human sense, it certainly appears that human power can act in ways that oppose divine Good. But Jesus showed that the power of Christ cannot be defeated when he rose from death.

If we wish to celebrate our oneness with Christ, as symbolized in this Eucharistic sharing, we must celebrate it by living our oneness, not by simply ceremonially partaking. This is the “living Christ” that is referred to in the next section (cit. S21/31:14-17) — it is an actively demonstrated life of service in healing and transforming lives. This demonstration of the Christ is the very outward expression of “God with us”, our unity with Love.


SECTION 4: “Healing primary”

This is the marginal heading for this passage I referred to in the third section: “It is the living Christ, the practical Truth, which makes Jesus “the resurrection and the life” to all who follow him in deed.” (cit. S21/31:14-17) This healing is not restricted to the body. In fact there are a number of citations in the Bible that refer to Jesus’ mission being primarily one of “taking away the sins of the world”, in other words, healing sin.

Sin, I must emphasize again, is the feeling we get of separation from God or Good because we are not thinking or behaving in a way that is God-like. So, healing is a very broad category. It can be practiced anytime and anywhere. It includes the willingness to drop behaviors that are not totally in line with Good. It includes all the efforts we can make to see God, Love, Soul in everything around us. It includes deep gratitude and rejoicing in present abundance. These are all demonstrations of divine healing, pulling us out of mortal states of despair, ingratitude, and illness — mental and physical.

Every day application ideas: Ever since I have expanded my understanding of Christian demonstration or healing, I have found it in abundance multiple times a day. I perceive the need for demonstration more readily when I feel myself getting frustrated, upset, worried, or disappointed in any given moment. I can often quickly recognize that a better perception of Truth in that moment is needed. I can welcome it and wrestle honestly with the suggestions that come to make me feel angry or helpless, or even in pain. I have found this especially helpful in dealing with issues surrounding parenting.

For example, when one of my boys is discovered to be behaving in a way that is not what we agreed upon (in our case, the two older ones have a very expensive hobby that we love to support, but they have a standard of behavior that our full financial support is contingent upon) then, rather than getting angry or disappointed in them, I realize more quickly that there is a healing approach that involves looking to the truth of the situation at hand. My goal is healing, not having them conform to what I want, even if what I want is good. I can’t deprive them of the opportunity to learn whatever they need to learn.

I can certainly discuss the situation and we can work together to reestablish trust or new rules, or whatever might be called for. But I can look at healing as primary, rather than my emotions about the child as primary. What freedom this grants us! And it truly applies to any relationship, not just parent and child. In this way, every conflict is truly an opportunity to experience healing.

Every relationship is a constant call to make “healing primary” rather than our desire to “get what we want” out of that relationship. We can leave our “nets”, those lies that trap us into focusing on material evidence, and practice honesty, unselfishness, and meekness, as our Master did. This is our opportunity to commune with Love.


SECTION 5: Love is our only “priestess”.

This section has a beautiful focus on nursing. The qualities of nursing reflect Jesus’ ministry of service. They are humble and healing. Paul emphasizes these nursing qualities as we serve one another in “one body” as he says in Romans 12:4-13/cit. B17). I particularly enjoyed this version from the International Children’s Bible, but there are many beautiful translations. “Each one of us has a different body, and that body has many parts. These parts all have different uses. In the same way we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. And each part belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace that God gave us. If one has the gift of prophecy, he should use the gift with the faith that he has. If one has the gift of serving, he should serve. If one has the gift of giving to others, he should give freely. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes. Pray at all times. Share with people who need God’s help. Bring strangers in need into your homes.” These clear directives from Christ tell us exactly how we should be putting Jesus’ sacred ministry into action!

There is no barrier, no social or educational ladder that we must climb, only our own humble, daily demonstration of putting God’s gifts to work in our lives for the whole “body of Christ”.  We can approach the “altar of Truth”, where we bring our prayers, and meet with the only “priestess” that there is, divine Love. Our ability to share these gifts is not limited by money or size of home. To “bring strangers into your homes”, can be taken literally. Early Christian Science nurses did exactly that! But our “home” is also our consciousness. We can make these “strangers” into beloved brothers and sisters when we regard those around us as part of one body — our own “body” — in Christ.

We can take the moment or two necessary to acknowledge in prayer that each person we see is worthy, valued, and part of our own identity, since we are all one in Christ. This is the practice that Jesus demanded of us when he offered his bread/body, and wine/blood to the disciples. This is what he repeatedly requested of Peter when he asked him to “Feed my lambs” (cit. B16/John 21:15). And, I think it’s safe to say that he hoped we would all embrace this request.


SECTION 6: Jesus’ “church” heals.

At the outset of these metaphysical application ideas, I mentioned the idea of being “one body”, based on Paul’s teachings through his letters to churches throughout his region. These letters were to churches. This tells us today that one profound way to understand our unity is through church. As with the human body, church work will provide us with ample opportunity to confront the opposite of harmony and oneness. This should inspire, rather than discourage.

Jesus was undiscouraged, and undeterred by opposition to his mission. Like him, we can look to Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of Church in citation S28/583:12-19 whenever we are tempted to feel that church is a hotbed of criticism, or strife. This definition is the absolute truth about Church and quickly reminds us, whenever we turn to it, that anything outside of this definition, does not really belong to Church at all, but is a mortal appearance, and powerless to halt the healing power behind “The structure of Truth and Love;”.

I love that while the Manual of the Mother Church clearly states only three qualifications for becoming a member: loving Christian Science, being at least 12 years old, and belonging to no other denomination, Mary Baker Eddy also gives us another qualification  in Science and Health. She states: “We can unite with this church only as we are new-born of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love — casting out error and healing the sick.” (cit. S30/35:20-25)  Is not this demonstration?

In another reference to “altar,” we are told that “…whosoever layeth his earthly all on the altar of divine Science, drinketh of Christ’s cup now, and is endued with the spirit and power of Christian healing.” (cit. S32/55:21) Jesus certainly laid his earthly all on the altar for us when he allowed himself to be crucified. We are called upon by his sacrifice to do more than celebrate his life through dead rituals. We are called upon to use our God-bestowed gifts to bless, serve, and heal, to fulfill his Christly mission today.


P.S. TONIGHT, You’re invited to our VIRTUAL HYMN SING!
This Sunday, January 7, at 7:00pm Central.

Musicians: The Hanlin Family

Format: The prelude will begin at 6:45pm Central, followed by the hymn sing at 7:00pm Central. The Hanlins will take seven hymn requests from the audience, followed by the Doxology. Afterwards, those who want to stay on the call can hear some brief updates on happenings at camp.

Zoom Link:

  • Join here with one click (password embedded).
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  • Password: 736307
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Please share this invitation with anybody who could be blessed by this healing activity. All are welcome!


GREAT NEWS and PROFOUNDLY HUMBLE GRATITUDE!
Thanks to hundreds of you generous donors, all year-end gifts were fully MATCHED!

We hope you’ll enjoy a 3-minute video that inspired, worldwide donations from “Giving Tuesday” thru year-end to help “love into view” our vision for the JL 50th Project and for CedarS horse programs and operations excellence as a whole.  See more details at these links:

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