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Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for Jan. 12, 2014

Subject:  Sacrament
 

Prepared by Kathy Fitzer of St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
kathyfitzer@gmail.com           314-323-4083

God – our Father-Mother, infinite Love – is in the blessing business.  God doesn’t know how to do anything less than bless — just as light doesn’t know how to do anything less than enlighten.  Turning away from light, darkness closes in.  But, as soon as we again face the light, the darkness melts and disappears.  The light didn’t change… our “ignorance” of its presence was simply corrected.  Similarly, we read in the first section of this week’s lesson, “It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.” (S-4, Science and Health p. 390)  How do we get that understanding? That question can be a real hang-up until we see that God, Love, gives us the understanding we need.  God wants to be known, and so graciously reveals Herself to us.  Mrs. Eddy follows the previous statement from her textbook with this statement, “Truth will at length compel us all to exchange the pleasures and pains of sense [darkness] for the joys of Soul [light.]” (Words in brackets added.)  To compel is to force or oblige someone to do something.  We will ultimately all know God and be thrilled to honor this divine Principle, Spirit, as the essence of all things and the very heart of our being.  So, why not turn wholeheartedly to that goal now — and experience God’s blessings!

Golden Text: God SHALL bless us!
Notice the use of the word shall. There is no option… nothing can stop God’s blessing!  And, Psalm 67 opens and closes with a celebration that blessing by (as well as a knowledge and reverence of) God will be experienced by “all the ends of the earth.”  No exceptions or exclusions!  It’s important in our prayers to see that Truth is true for ALL! The New Interpreters Bible says that this phrase suggests “that the sovereignty of God is exercised through God’s chosen agent, the king (messiah.)  Even so, it is ultimately God who is to be revered or feared.” (Vol. IV, p. 940)  What does this have to do with the subject of Sacrament?  We’ll see later in the Bible Lesson how the sacraments (outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual divine grace) of Baptism, the Last Supper, and the Morning Meal enable us understand our special relationship to God and His Christ, and renew our obligations to be faithful.

Responsive Reading: Salvation and blessing from God
These verses open with a focus on God.  Man should praise God because it is God that responds to every need of man and causes man to securely dwell with Him.  I was struck by the phrase, “salvation belongeth unto the Lord.”  We may be tempted to think that we can be “saved” by a good job, friends or family, or our own looks, strength, talents and/or intelligence.  But, every blessing that comes our way — every bit of good in the world — comes directly from God!  It is God, and only God, that saves and heals and delivers us from all darkness. The end of the Responsive Reading again points to the necessity of knowing God in order to fully experience the light and blessings of God. Happiness comes as we submit to God’s gift of love, wisdom, and understanding.

Section 1: God forgives, heals, redeems and crowns with salvation
We have in this section the story of Naaman who was a valiant warrior and captain in the Syrian army.  But, he was a leper and could find no relief from this dreadful disease.  Among those the army had captured while battling Israel was a maiden who must have had much love in her heart.  She told Naaman that the prophet, Elisha, could heal him of his leprosy.  Perhaps desperate, Naaman made the trip to Samaria.  But, when Elisha didn’t respond as expected, Naaman was ready to turn his back and storm off.  Healing isn’t about an easy fix.  It’s about redemption – turning from the darkness to the light.  Which river Naaman washed in wasn’t the point… the water wasn’t the healing agent.  Being humble enough to let go of his preconceptions and pride and follow Elisha’s instructions did, however, not only heal Naaman, but enabled him to see (recognize) the God of Israel as the only power and a universal God.  Thus, Naaman was crowned with a salvation that far exceeded mere physical healing. (B-4)  When we seek healing, are we willing to do whatever it takes to receive the larger blessing?  Healing through prayer doesn’t have to take a long time!  Naaman’s healing would have been even quicker if he had completely yielded to God sooner.  What’s most important is to silence the static and panic of fear, pride, personal outlining, etc. in order to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day.” (B-2)  God is on the job, blessing us all non-stop!  But, we can’t find God by looking to matter.  God is Spirit — Life, Truth, Love — that which can’t be seen by the material eyes but can be felt as we are quiet and reach out to a power that is as close as the air around us and is revealing Himself as all good.  God reveals Himself as forcefully as the dawn breaks through the night.  Become conscious of this presence and allness of Spirit — even for a moment — and whatever is claiming to be not good must fade away (like the darkness fades in the presence of light – or noise stops when the power switch is turned off.)  What is the salvation we see when we are still?  The Christian Science textbook defines it as “Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed.” (S-7)  This salvation comes from God and it is available to ALL!

Section 2:  Be baptized and recognize your innocence
In a sense, Naaman’s healing came as he was baptized (completely submerged) in God’s love and truth.  John the Baptist sought to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah by helping them repent to become “better people.”  As the psalmist found assurance in his desire to be innocent and worship God at His altar (B-6) John urged people to turn from their sins and be washed clean.  But, John also preached that when the Messiah came, he would baptize with the Holy Ghost – a much more effective cleansing medium than mere water. (B-8)  It occurs to me that water can wash away the gunk that would hide our purity, but the Holy Ghost – or divine Science – transforms thought to recognize the fact that the “gunk” is truly only an illusion.  It can’t ever have any hold on God’s creation… on reality.  God’s creation of good is the ONLY creation and the only reality!  Jesus came to John to be baptized, but as he came out of the water “the heavens opened” and he was properly identified by God as “my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (B-8)  Shouldn’t we expect to hear that same message as we daily (moment by moment) submit to the baptism of “purification from all error” by Spirit through “submergence in Spirit?” (S-10 & S-11)  Thought-watching is at the heart of this kind of baptism.  But, more than just critiquing mortal, human thoughts, it is the desire to have our thoughts directed by our Father-Mother Mind.  When a child is very young, he or she turns to his parent to know how to do everything.  And, generally speaking a young child wants to please his parents!  Ideally, that’s how we should be living every moment… habitually struggling “to be always good.” (S-14)  But, trying to do that with just human effort will probably not bring success.  We have to start by jumping into Spirit like we do when we jump into cool water on a hot summer day… or drop into a hot tub on a cold, winter night!  The more we seek salvation (safety and deliverance) through immersion in divine Love, perfect Spirit, all-knowing Mind, the more clearly we will hear the message that we, too, are the sons (and daughters) of God, in whom He is well-pleased. [See Warrens P.S. for Cobbey Crisler insights on the baptism of Jesus and its applications to us today.]

Section 3:  Blessed are the pure in heart
This section gives a blueprint, of sorts, for how to experience the blessings that God is perpetually pouring forth.  Psalm 24 talks about ascending the “hill of the Lord.” (B-9)  It is thought this refers to the “temple on Mount Zion” which was symbolic of God’s dwelling place on earth.  What’s really being asked is, “Who will live under God’s sovereignty?  Who will enter the reign of God?”  Let’s all jump up and answer, “I will, I will!  How do I do it?”  The answer coincides with the references to innocence (or cleanness) we’ve had earlier in the Lesson.  An article in the New Interpreters Bible reveals that “cleanness results from nothing less than trusting God completely and unreservedly.”  The reference to purity is thought to apply to how we relate to our neighbors. (Vol. IV, p. 773)  These ideas sum up what Jesus gave as the two great commandments – love God and love our neighbor.  The beatitudes given in this section further support this relationship of trust and pure love.  We have to remember that what we’re really after is SEEING God in our lives every day.  As we see God, we also see the blessings that are constantly being poured out… for all!  Just as we can’t see things through a dirty window nearly as clearly as we can through a clean window, we can best see God and His creation as we keep our thoughts clean and pure.  We can start by understanding that there’s always more to know about God; yearning to more consciously feel our oneness with Her (being poor in Spirit); yielding our will to God’s, longing to follow our Shepherd (expressing meekness); desiring right thoughts even more than we crave our favorite food and drink (hungering and thirsting after righteousness); and thinking more about others than ourselves (being merciful.) (B-12) Following these “guidelines” is a great way to start window-washing our thinking.  I love the reference to leaving the old for the new. (S-17)  Too often we hold on to a stubborn perception of what we or others are like — and can’t imagine ever truly making a successful transformation, no matter what effort is made.  Talk about muddying our view of God – and thus putting on blinders to ever-flowing blessings!!!  Let’s start today being GLAD to leave those “false landmarks” and look for evidence of purification going on.  No one can make us hold on to a murky view — of God, of ourselves, of our family and friends, or even of those we consider enemies.  God sees each one of His children as pure, upright, and innocent.  The more we strive to have that view, the more evidence of God’s true creation will be seen!  Our Wayshower Jesus did it… and so can we!

Section 4:  Weve got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk
One of the biggest things that separated Jesus from the Jewish leaders of his time is that they missed the essence or spirit of what was behind that law they talked about and expected others to obey in the most strict and literal ways.  Jesus freely warned his close disciples as well as the groups of people he talked to, not to mimic the actions of the Pharisees.  In contrast, knowing that he would soon be crucified and leave his disciples, he made a special point of gathering them together for the Passover supper.  There he encouraged them to eat the bread (truth) he had shared with them and to be willing to drink of his cup (go through the tough experiences that might lie ahead of them as they bucked the common trends of thought.  He knew that every cup (or cross) we’re asked to face is filled to the brim with the inspiration (wine) necessary to successfully navigate the “bumps.” (B-13 & B-14) I love that the description of the Last Supper ends with Jesus and his disciples singing a hymn together… drawing close and lifting voices high in praise to God.  Hymns remain my avenue of first resort if I’m starting to really feel overwhelmed.  They are like sending a call out to my heavenly Father-Mother that I know will bounce back in feeling Love’s blessing presence.  When Mrs. Eddy speaks of “all who ever partook of the sacrament” I think she must be talking about really following through when it comes to eating the bread Jesus offered … digesting and making the truth he preached our own, and demonstrating its might to strengthen, revitalize and heal in the face of the most dire circumstances.  Jesus was willing to humanly suffer … feel the hate of the world … so that we could see that that hate was incapable of destroying him. (S-23 & S-24)  We, like Jesus, can feel safe no matter how horrendous the material picture looks.  Why?  Because God knows us and keeps us always safe and complete. We dwell in Him, so the world can’t find us! Our hiding place is secure. (S-25)

Section 5:  Practical Resurrection
In Christian Science church services this Sunday, the congregation will kneel in silent prayer at the end of the service and then repeat together (for a second time) the Lord’s Prayer. How is this silent prayer (on bended knee) different than the silent prayer towards the beginning of the service?  I certainly don’t have a definitive answer, but I enjoyed thinking about it.  We know that the Manual says that “The prayers in Christian Science churches shall be offered for the congregations collectively and exclusively.” (p. 42) But, I was struck by our textbook telling us that Christian Scientists give special commemoration to the morning meal. “They bow before Christ, Truth, to receive more of his reappearing and silently to commune with the divine Principle, Love.” (S-27) So, might this special prayer-on-bended-knee time give us an opportunity to remember to often humbly commune with Love and look for the constant reappearing of Christ in our lives … and the lives of all? Jesus reappeared physically to his disciples that morning that they had gone back to fishing.  They needed to be pointed back in the right direction before Jesus ascended and would have no more physical presence. And, I wondered if part of what he gave them was the confidence to go forward with what they had learned from him and trust that God would meet their needs as they faced difficult times just as he met their need of fish that morning.  As we bow before God, sincerely commune with Him and open our hearts to receive His blessings aren’t we also expecting to be led by the eternal Christ, Truth, to perceive God’s true nature and perpetual care? Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Only by following in Jesus’ footsteps can we improve (employ) the blessings Jesus showed us and that Love is constantly pouring forth! (S-29)  As we know God more and more intimately and respond to Her love, we will see God’s bountiful blessings felt by ALL!


[Warrens P.S.insights on the baptism of Jesus and its applications today: Below are some insights from Cobbey Crisler on how to start the New Year with a new youbaptized into newness in Christs wayfrom the inside out.
Christ
s ultimate DRY-cleaning method of baptism in Mark 1: 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost”… We find John the Baptist removing the focus from physical cleanliness as being the means by which we would enter a heavenly state  You know water cant reach whats within, what is in consciousness, what is mental and really needs cleaning Mark 1, verse 10 the Spirit like a dove descends upon him in this baptism. It shows he is coming out of the watery baptism into the higher sense of baptism of the Spirit.  The spiritual sense of man is what emerges after the carnal sense is washed from consciousness Mark 1:11 Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, shows that sonship and relationship to God is not in a fleshly context It is a very emphatic point of our relationship to God.   (What Mark Recorded, page 13-16. By B. Cobbey Crisler)
Matthew
s version of Jesus baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire can sort out and put an end to every mixed-up mess.  To see Cobbey Crislers helpful comments on this just click the link at the upper right of CedarS online Met.]


[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/metaphysical/ ]

[Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & bracketed, italic additions.]

[GREAT NEWS!  CedarS met its $25k Maintenance Musts Challenge Grant, THANKS to all you dear givers! It also looks like donations will cover the re-building of all the old fences for our horses– with the exception of one $6,000 riding arena.  So, please pray about supporting this and CedarS Matched “Adopt the Herd” fund for year-round horse care; and/or our need to underwrite applications coming in daily for 2014 Campership funding!]

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[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Manfred and Jeanette; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "Mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and in a variety of useful formats as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). 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 the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]


 

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