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Lovingkindness!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Love”
for July 26 to August 1, 2021

by Christie C. Hanzlik, C.S. in Boulder, CO
ccern@mac.com • 720-331-9356 • christiecs.com

INTRODUCTION

As I see it, this week’s Bible Lesson on “Love” explores the connection between lovingkindness and church.  Honestly, I was a bit lost on why this Lesson has eight sections until a friend and I discussed how the Lesson was constructed and we came up with an interesting way to understand it.  The sections do seem to highlight the different elements of the definition for “Church” in Science and Health (cit. S4, 583:12-19) But also, it is interesting to see how each of these last six sections show how lovingkindness is expressed in key ways in the Church of Christ, Scientist as outlined in the Church Manual. I’m going to focus on this second option for this Met.  I’ll probably revise these ideas after reading the Lesson for a whole week, but for now I’m seeing this outline:

Section 1: Foundation – God is Love

Section 2: Definition of Church

Section 3: Christian Science Nursing

Section 4: Christian Science Practitioners

Section 5: Christian Science Reading Rooms and The Christian Science Publishing Society, Christian Science Board of Lectureship

Section 6: Church Discipline, Board of Directors, and Committees on Publication

Section 7: Sunday School, Christian Science Teaching, Class Instruction, and the Board of Education

Section 8: Daily Prayer, Uniting with Church Daily, and the Christian Science Bible Lesson

GOLDEN TEXT AND RESPONSIVE READING

The Golden Text—or main idea—of the Lesson introduces the words “lovingkindness” and “temple.”  It reads, “We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.” (Psalm 48:9)

The word lovingkindness is translated from the original Hebrew word “chesed” or “hesed,” which means giving oneself fully, with love and compassion.  Chesed appears in the Torah over 190 times, and lovingkindness is just the beginning of understanding this word.  Consider researching the word chesed further.

A simple way to think of the compound word “lovingkindness” is that it means attitudes and actions impelled by love.  When we think about it in the context of divine Love, then lovingkindness becomes the actions impelled and governed by divine Love.  Connecting lovingkindness to divine Love strengthens, fortifies, and empowers it, making it a superpower…it heals, transforms, and radiates beyond the limits of time, space.  The lovingkindness of divine Love is without boundaries.  And when we feel God’s lovingkindness…whoa!  What a feeling!  This “feeling” is the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the feeling of Christ, an awareness of Love’s presence.

And now, think of this superpower being “in the midst of the temple,” a community of healers.

To me, the Responsive Reading is framed around what Christ Jesus says about lovingkindness.  Perhaps we could consider looking at what Christ Jesus says about loving and kindness as governing principles of the temple/church.

First, it starts with Christ Jesus’ statement of the two most important commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.   And he tells us “On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.”  What a huge statement!  We can pause and consider the depth of what it means that all the laws and all the beauty and healing and blessings in the universe hinge on these two commandments…it’s all about love!  Consider what it means to see these two commandments as the two most important commandments (guidelines/by-laws) for temple/church.

The Responsive Reading also includes Christ Jesus’ instructions about kindness…showing our love…letting our light shine: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and hide it under a bushel, but instead they put it on a candlestick; and that light gives light to everyone in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. You have heard people say, you should love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 22: 37-40; 5: 14-16, 43-45) Again, we could think of Christ Jesus’ words as instructions for a temple/church.  A temple/church should let its light shine, give light to everyone in the temple, and not hide its light under a bushel.

And after those beautiful statements about lovingkindness, the Responsive Reading concludes with Paul’s blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost (or Comforter), be with you all.” (II Corinthians 13: 11-14)   To me, this is saying that the grace (unconditional love) that Christ Jesus taught is a comfort for all of us. We all have lovingkindness.  We all have chesed “in the midst of the temple.”

SECTION 1: God is LOVE

The first section is direct.  It offers several ways of understanding the foundational premise that God is Love. “God is Love” is the most common statement we see on the walls of Christian Science churches.  For example, the words “God is Love” is etched beautifully into a large foundation stone in the front of my branch church in Boulder, Colorado.  One time, I was talking to a new friend in Boulder who asked me where my church was, and when I told her, she said, “Oh!  I know that one.  That’s the “God is Love” church!”

SECTION 2: The STRUCTURE OF TRUTH AND LOVE

The second section begins with a message to “the churches” from book of “Revelation” that lists functions of church: works, charity, service, faith.  (citation B3, Rev. 2:17-19)

And the second section also contains Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of “church” found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.  She defines church as “the structure of Truth and Love.”  Note that the definition continues with the activity—the action—of church.  Church cannot just be about Love.  It also needs to be active. It needs to be about lovingkindness…action impelled by Love.

So, while “church is built on the divine Principle, Love” it is also “that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from [limiting] beliefs to the apprehension of [unlimited] ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.”  (cit. S4, 583:12-19) [Note that I substituted the word limited for material beliefs and unlimited for spiritual ideas…always feel free to disregard these word substitutions if they aren’t helpful for you]

Church provides the structure to protect and allow for lovingkindness—the actions impelled and governed by divine Love.

SECTION 3: LOVINGKINDNESS—a Mutual Blessing

The third section contains the story of the Shunamite woman who showed lovingkindness to Elisha.  The section opens with a statement of how God does not withhold tender mercies from us, and that we can let God’s lovingkindness continually preserve us.  (cit. B11, Psalm 40:11, 16)

Well, in this section, the Shunamite woman was a wealthy and powerful woman, who opened her home to Elisha, a prophet without much worldly status.  In the Bible we find that the woman provided a space in her house for Elisha so that every time he passed by he could stay there and eat.  The Shunamite woman showed lovingkindness…. actions impelled by divine Love.   Since her actions were impelled by divine Love, Elisha was not only a guest of the Shunamite woman, Elisha—the pilgrim and traveler—was a guest of God.  As Mary Baker Eddy wrote to each of us, “Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God.” (cit. S8, 254:31)  What a blessing when we see churches [and their Reading Rooms] as places of refuge, rest, and drink for “pilgrims,” and welcome everyone as the “guest of God.”

The Shunamite woman saw that Elisha was a holy man, and her lovingkindness was also an expression of her love for God.  She didn’t open her home to Elisha because she wanted to get something from him.  She did it for the love of Love…to be loving.  And the lovingkindness that Elisha received was a blessing.  Although the subsequent part of the story is not in the Lesson, we know that Elisha returned the woman’s lovingkindness by raising the woman’s child from death. (2 Kings 4: 18-37)

In a sense, the Shunamite woman acted as a Christian Science Nurse, tending to Elisha’s immediate needs.  In the Manual of the Mother Church, which provides the guidelines for Christian Science Churches, there is a provision for Christian Science nursing.  There are now many Christian Science Nurses and Christian Science nursing facilities throughout the world.  (journal.christianscience.com/directory)

Christian Science Nurses are active members of the CedarS Camps community each summer.  At CedarS, highly skilled Christian Science Nurses actively tend to the immediate needs of campers and staff, helping these “pilgrims” find healing.  The Care House facility at CedarS, where the CS Nurses and CS Practitioners work shoulder to shoulder as a team, is a bustling center of lovingkindness—action impelled by Love.  CedarS’s team of professional Christian Science Nurses tend to a wide variety of needs including splinter removal, skin care, food, hydration, cleaning and covering wounds, and provide peaceful rest and mobility aids to support campers and staff while they receive prayer-based treatment.  They provide a fear-free atmosphere in which healing is the expectation and the norm.  The Care House team witnesses hundreds of carefully documented healings inside and outside of the Care House facility each summer at camp.  For many campers and staff, summer camp is their first interaction with a Christian Science Nurse, and these interactions are filled with lovingkindness.  Christian Science Nursing is not a mere add-on to the idea of church…it is integral to its healing mission.  And each one of us can strive to practice and grow in our own individual expression of the qualities needed for effective Christian Science Nursing.

 

SECTION 4: lovingkindness and HEALING

In the fourth section, we read about Christ Jesus as the pure exemplar of lovingkindness.  He blessed the world with the lovingkindness of his word and works, which were impelled by divine Love.   Christ Jesus saw the multitudes with compassion and taught them as sheep [not yet knowing that they have a Shepherd]. (cit. B11, Mark 6:34)  His active compassion was proof that the lovingkindness of divine Love cannot be concealed..  (cit. B10, Psalms 40:10)

And Christ Jesus also healed.  His healing—like the healing of the disturbed man in the synagogue—was proof that his actions were impelled by divine Love.  His lovingkindness enabled him to preach and teach and to heal.  All true healing is impelled by divine Love.  All true healing involves lovingkindness.  (cit. B12, Luke 4:16-44)

Christ Jesus demonstrated the lovingkindness of words and deeds.  His words were filled with the Christ—”Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. … Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God — the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth.”  (cit. S10, 332: 9-11, 19)

We could consider the way in which Christ Jesus’ words and works blessed the world as a model for church—”the structure of Truth and Love.”  Churches should preach the good Word with compassion, and heal the sick.  Christ Jesus expected us to follow in the way of lovingkindness, and this expectation is for churches also.  Consider thinking of this statement from Mary Baker Eddy as an instruction to churches: “Our Master said to every [church]: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature! . . . Heal the sick! . . . Love thy neighbor as thyself!”  (cit. S9, 138:27–30)

And of course, this instruction to heal is for each one of us also.  We can all strive to go into the world, preach the gospel (good news) to every creature, heal the sick, and love our neighbors as ourselves.  This is true whether we’re new to Christian Science or whether we are practicing Christian Science full-time.  There is no hierarchy to healing in Christian Science.  We are all capable of the lovingkindness necessary to be healers. Each one of us can daily practice lovingkindness and prayer-based healing…and get better and better at it.  This section highlights the qualities necessary to be a full-time and Journal-listed Christian Science practitioner, and yet each one of us can practice Christian Science healing on a daily basis.

SECTION 5: Divine Science as THE WORD Of LOVE

Section 5 shows how divine Science—the knowledge of how divine Love works in our lives—is a worldwide and universal expression of lovingkindness.   Section 1 set the foundation that “God is Love.”  Section 2 showed how church is the foundational structure of Truth and Love from which Love shows proof of its usefulness.  The third section showed how the Shunamite’s lovingkindness and excellent nursing and nurturing skills blessed Elisha, and set an example for what church can do for “pilgrims on earth.”  And the fourth section showed how Christ Jesus’ words and deeds were a natural expression of lovingkindness that blessed all mankind, and also set an example for the healing work that churches and each one of us can do.  And now, in the fifth section, we see how the fundamental principles—the Science—of Love radiate throughout every place, among all nations, and break limits of any sort.  This section, as I understand it, is about Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of divine Science and the purpose of church to share and expand the reach of this discovery.

Mary Baker Eddy uses the phrase divine Science and the phrase Word of God interchangeably.  Since God is Love, it stands to reason that divine Science is the Word of Love.  The Word of Love is the complete knowledge of Love.  So, one way to understand Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery is to say that she discovered the Scientific principles of Love.

Note that Mary Baker Eddy doesn’t claim to have invented or created divine Science, the Word of Love.  She was not the originator.  It was already there.  It was true before the world was.  Mary Baker Eddy discovered divine Science by first catching a glimpse, then a view, then a vision, and then the full revelation of it.  Her sincere desire and childlike receptivity enabled her to see the Word of Love revealed through the murky clouds of materiality [limitation].  As she states, “Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, ‘God is All-in-all,’ and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe.”  (cit. S19, 503:12–15)

But it was not enough for her to simply discover the Word of Love.  She also needed to write it down and share it with the world.  And thus, she wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.   It may be impossible for any of us to truly understand the obstacles she faced in writing Science and Health.  It was a labor of Love.  It was work impelled by Love.  Writing Science and Health was all about lovingkindness—action impelled by divine Love.

The fifth section makes the point that churches also need to share and publish.  It is not enough that churches have an understanding of the Word of Love.  The church must also share it publicly.  To do this, Christian Science churches each have a Christian Science Reading Room, a place in which people can pray and study the literature published by the Christian Science Publishing Society, also known as CSPS.  CSPS publishes the weekly Christian Science Sentinel, the monthly Christian Science Journal, the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson like this one that we study each week, and the daily and weekly Christian Science Monitor, among other publications.  (See The Manual of the Mother Church page 79-82).  Consider the connection between lovingkindness and the publications that come from church.

These ideas about sharing and publishing the Word of Love connect to what the Psalmist wrote, “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” (cit. B14, Psalm 68:11)  And, “[Love] sent [Love’s] word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (cit. B15, Psalms 107:20, 21)

 

SECTION 6: “Divine Love ALONE Governs MAN”

Section 6, as I am understanding it, is about applying the laws of Love to our daily lives, and allowing Love to correct and govern our every thought and action.  It is not enough only to know about the Word of Love, we must practice it.  We must Love our enemies, do good to them who hate us, bless them who curse us… (cit. B19, Luke 6:26-29)

As Mary Baker Eddy explained, “Rabbi and priest taught the Mosaic law, which said: ‘An eye for an eye,’ and ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’ Not so did Jesus, the new executor for God.”  Instead Christ Jesus presented “the divine law of Love, which blesses even those that curse it…”  (cit. S20, 30:14)  In other words, unlike the limited codes of human law, the divine Law of Love results in a higher and expanded expression of lovingkindness.  True Law must come from Love.  And effective discipline and correction comes as a result of lovingkindness.

As Mary Baker Eddy states, “No power can withstand divine Love.”  In other words, “No power [to irritate, annoy, offend or disappoint] can withstand [the omnipotence of] divine Love [to overturn, overturn, overturn].” (cit. S21, 224: 31)

We are not expected to overturn injustices ourselves or “fix” what we see as wrong with people.  We are not individually responsible for punishing people for their offences.  Instead, we can mentally let go of this false and hand this task to divine Love.  As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Divine Love corrects and governs man.” (Cit. S24, 6:3) In fact, only divine Love corrects and governs man.  We can metaphorically take our hands off the steering wheel and trust Love to right the wrong turns.

The divine Shepherd makes the corrections.  It is divine Love, the Shepherd, that is the actor here…not us.  Mary Baker Eddy makes this clear in Science and Health when she substitutes the word “Love” for “Shepherd” in the 23rd Psalm.  She writes, “[Love] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: [love] anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [love].”  (cit. S25, 578:13–18)

As a framework to help us better understand the lovingkindness inherent in church discipline, Mary Baker Eddy organized the Christian Science Church with a Board of Directors, Committees on Publication, Board of Education, Board of Lectureship, and so forth.  The people who serve on these boards pray constantly to be guided by divine Love alone.  While these Boards are, in effect, the “discipline” arm of the church, the people who serve on them pray daily with the Love-based “A Rule for Motives and Acts,” the first item in the chapter on “Discipline” in The Manual of the Mother Church:

Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientist reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously.”  (Church Manual 40:4)

 

Note the Love-based nature of the “Rule for Motives and Acts”—it is full of lovingkindness.

 

SECTION 7: LOVE Leads the Way

It can be difficult to know the best way to teach others about divine Love. But fortunately, we have the example of the Wayshower, Christ Jesus.  He was the perfect expression of the teacher-Shepherd—the one who leads and draws out our innate understanding of Love.

During the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (cit B23, Matthew 5: 1-8)  He knew we could understand Love.  He knew we could see God…understand God…understand Love.  His model of teaching wasn’t about trying to shove knowledge at us.  He knew that our innate purity and receptivity enables us each to receive a full understanding of Love.

Anytime we’re tempted to think that it is up to us to cause someone to learn something, perhaps we could step back and first acknowledge that divine Love is the educator, and we can pray to see each individual as receptive and fully capable.  As we read in Isaiah, “And all the children will be taught by [Love], and great shall be the peace of thy children.”  (cit. B24, Isaiah 54:13)

It is not up to us to convince or teach people about Love.  Instead, “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.”  (cit. S27, 454:4–9, 10 (only), 17–29)  And fortunately, Mary Baker Eddy gives us instructions on how we make the most rapid progress in our understanding of how Love works in our lives.  She writes, “Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit. Adhere to the divine Principle of Christian Science and follow the behests of God, abiding steadfastly in wisdom, Truth, and Love.” (cit. S29, 495:25–31)

To me, this section of the Lesson relates to the Christian Science church’s provision for Sunday School, Christian Science Teaching, and “Class Instruction.”  (Man. 93-96) Class Instruction is a two-week course framed around the chapter “Recapitulation” in Science and Health.  Christian Science Teachers offer class instruction for up to 30 students each year, and also each year host an “Association” of their current and prior students. Christian Science Teachers are listed in the directory at the back of the monthly Christian Science Journal and in an online directory (journal.christianscience.com/directory) Christian Science Teachers generally appreciate talking with prospective students and those who have questions about taking class instruction.

 

SECTION 8:  Daily prayer

In the final section, we find an example of healing—Peter and John healing the lame man at the gates of the temple.  The man asked them for money, but Peter and John gave him a much more loving gift.  They gave him the gift of healing. What a beautiful moment at the gates of the temple/church!

The church—the structure of Truth and Love—is founded on the basis of healing.  The church is the demonstration of lovingkindness, the activity of Love.  Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing.” (cit. 30, 136:1-2)

Of course, Christ Jesus did not establish a physical brick-and-mortar church.  He didn’t write by-laws, form church committees, build pews, or choose the carpet in the Sunday School.  But his word and works reveal a larger vision for temple, or church. Metaphorically, Christ Jesus established the broadest conception of church—the structure of Truth and Love.

We can all choose to belong to this church.  In this church, we can meet as a community of healers.  Everyone is attracted to the “structure of Truth and Love” that heals.  Those who come to Christ’s church need nurturing, and church can provide this lovingkindness.  As Mary Baker Eddy states, “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.”  (cit. S31, 365:15–19, 31)

It may seem that joining a church happens with a one-time membership application.  And yet to truly unite with church is more of a daily-hourly prayer of lovingkindness — action impelled by Love. The “structure of Truth and Love” is continually accepting applications for membership, and we are all called to join with a higher and more unlimited view of church.  As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “We can unite with this church only as we are new-born of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and the Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love, — casting out error and healing the sick.” (cit. S32, 35:20–25)

Of course, we are all welcomed in “the structure of Truth and Love.” And yet truly uniting with this church means constantly purifying our sense of true church so that we can feel the lovingkindness and healing activity of church.

We are all already new-born of Spirit.  And yet, we are also made new each day.  Just like light coming in the window, each moment that light is new.  Each moment we are new-born of Spirit.  So, we can leave our past in the past, and metaphorically walk anew through the temple gates each day.



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