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Click here and scroll to Listen link to hear Christie read her Met titled:
“Shepherd, wash me clean”
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Spirit”
for August 1 through August 7, 2022

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


This week’s Bible Lesson on Spirit applies the refreshing concept of baptism—understood as purification and renewal—to ourselves, our communities, the earth, and all existence. Before reading this lesson, I hadn’t thought about baptism applying to more than just an individual but this lesson shows us how the concept can apply to mankind, the earth, and to us as individuals as we let go and feel cleansed of a limited and restrictive sense of ourselves, our communities, the whole earth, and all existence.

As you’ll see, the Lesson includes several words defined in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  In many of the words defined in the Glossary, we find both a spiritual (unlimited) way of understanding the word, and also a material (or limited) way of understanding the word. For example, the word “rock,” is defined as both “spiritual foundation,” which would be the spiritual understanding of the word “rock” and “coldness and stubbornness,” which would be a limited or restrictive meaning of rock.  (Science & Health 593:18)

As I’m reading the Lesson, I’m finding it helpful to consider Glossary-style definitions for terms that are not in the Lesson. For example, the Golden Text (main idea) of the Lesson says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” (GT, John 6: 63)  I find it helpful to consider a Glossary-style definition for the word “flesh.” Of course, each of us can come up with our own understanding of this word, but for me, I am defining it as….

FLESH.  A limited, grossly inadequate sense of self and our existence [material]; the meaning and substance of existence [spirit-ual]

“Jesus acknowledged no ties of the flesh.” (Science & Health p. 31)

“The Word was made flesh.” (John 1:14)

“His true flesh and blood were his Life; and they truly eat his flesh and drink his blood, who partake of that divine Life.”

(Science & Health p. 25)

So, we have examples of how the Bible uses the word “flesh” in both material/limited ways, and also in spiritual/unlimited ways.  This definition of “flesh” I suggested includes the material/limited sense of the word, as well as the spiritual/unlimited sense of it. The reference to “flesh” in the Golden Text—”the flesh profits nothing”—is clearly referring to the limited and grossly inadequate sense of self and our existence. So, we could read the Golden Text this way: It is the Spirit who gives life; a limited and grossly inadequate sense of self profiteth nothing. Consider reading the Responsive Reading with a clear Glossary-style definition of “flesh” in mind.

This week’s Lesson contains explanations of how to wash ourselves clean of the flesh—a limited and grossly inadequate sense of self—through submergence of Spirit—baptism. Baptism is the awakening to a renewed and purified awareness of our full existence and true being. Baptism, is, in effect, being washed clean of any material/limited sense of flesh.

In the Lesson we’ll see the following words that are in the Glossary: ARK, BAPTISM, CREATOR, EARTH,

As you’re reading, you might find it useful to create some Glossary definitions of your own like I offered for the word “flesh.” You could come up with Glossary definitions for yourself, your home, your community and so forth.  Here at CedarS, we’re coming up with definitions for our cabins and for the word “camp,” which is a fun word to define in spiritual terms!

As we baptize–clean and renew–the concepts for which we’re giving Glossary-style definitions, we are washing away our limited/material view, and seeing more of the unlimited view.


SECTION 1: CLEAN & RENEW OUR SENSE OF CREATION

The first section of the lesson boldly asks us to baptize–wash clean–our view of creation.  This section establishes Spirit as the Creator—the unfolder—of the universe, including us.  This section includes the definition for “CREATOR,” and the first word in that definition is “Spirit.” (citation S2, 583:20) With this in mind, it makes sense that the concept of Creator and Creation would be in a Bible Lesson on “Spirit.”

Throughout the Bible we see evidence of people searching for an origin to life, an origin to the universe. In fact, there never will be a satisfying physical science explanation to the start point of the universe. This is a timeless question. Even today, physical scientists can learn a lot about what happened a trillion-jillion years ago, but there will always remain the question…what happened a moment before that? In the Bible, various authors attribute the origins to Spirit, or God.  And yet, when we clearly understand what is meant by the term Spirit, or God, we realize that Spirit is a term for that which has no beginning. Spirit always has been, is beginningless and is ever-present.  Spirit is actually about the ever-presence and eternality of all existence, which never had a beginning, start-point, or creation-point, but is constantly unfolding.  Spirit is already complete, and yet is also unfolding to us every moment.

Here is Mary Baker Eddy’s definition for Spirit:  “SPIRIT. Divine substance; Mind; divine Principle; all that is good; God; that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite.” (SH, p. 594:19)

As we understand Spirit/God as ever-present and eternal, it brings new meaning to biblical phrases like “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (citation B1, Job 33:44) Another way of understanding this statement could be that the spirit of God has always known me, and it is the inspiration of Spirit that animates my being, inspires my existence, and gives me substance.

Spirit is inspiration and animation and substance. Without Spirit, life and existence would be inert, unmoving and uninspired. And, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, “God is infinite omnipresent Spirit.”  (cit. S1, 223: 7-8). Along these lines, here’s a way to understand the word spirit-ual.  That which is spiritual is coming from divine Spirit–spiritual means of Spirit. The term “spiritual” is used widely in the world in many different contexts, which means we need to be even more precise when we use the term.

That which Spirit imparts is spiritual.  And, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, “In divine Science, the universe, including man, is spiritual, harmonious, and eternal.” (cit. S3, 114:27-29)

Included in the first section, which covers the concept of CREATOR, is the definition of EARTH from the Glossary. Here’s how Mary Baker Eddy defines EARTH:

“EARTH. A sphere; a type of eternity and immortality, which are likewise without beginning or end.…To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea.” (cit. S5, 585:5-8)

We can find a world of insight in this definition of earth. For example, the word “sphere,” which is mentioned first in the definition, is possibly our best visual representation of infinity. A circle has infinite points on it. We can show this infinity visually as we look at two points on a circle, find the halfway mark between those two points, and then halfway spot between one of those points and the mark. [See the drawing posted as a Download at the bottom of the online version of this Met.] We can then find halfway of halfway, halfway of halfway of halfway, ad infinitum. There will always be one more halfway point between any two marks, thus showing that there are infinite points on a circle. And yet, if we were to remove a single point, we would then have less than a full circle.  So, a circle has infinite points and yet all points must be there to make a complete circle. This is, of course, a metaphor for the infinitude of Spirit expressed by each spirit-ual idea.

Now, take the idea of a sphere. Using the same mathematical logic, we can see that a sphere has infinite circles on it.  To material/limited sense, a sphere is a discrete ball. But to spirit-ual sense, a sphere includes infinite circles that each include infinite points. Thus, a sphere is a compound idea…it has infinite infinity.  Whoa!

Two definitions in the Glossary include this phase “compound idea”–the definition for EARTH and the definition for MAN. “MAN. Man is the compound idea of infinite Spirit.”  (SH 591:5)

As we are willing to baptize–renew and refresh–our concept of earth and the creator, we are washing away a limited/material view and seeing the true and unlimited/spiritual view of all creation.


SECTION 2: CLEAN & RENEW THE WHOLE LAND (UNDERSTANDING)

The second section includes the story of Noah and the Ark. (cit. B6, Genesis 6:9-22) Noah and the Ark is one of the most popular Bible stories for children mostly because of the animals staying safe in the giant boat. And yet, I’ve found it tough to go deep into its spiritual lesson.  Yes, it is a tale about Noah’s monotheistic obedience in a time of polytheism. But, at some point, most of us ask…”but what of the people left behind in the flood?”

When the story of Noah’s Ark is read in the context of a Bible Lesson on Spirit that includes a theme of baptism, we can see the 40-day flood as a metaphorical example of washing and cleansing the whole land of a limited sense of life and revealing a deeper understanding of divine Life. This metaphorical baptism of the whole earth enables us to say, “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad.” (cit. B10, Psalm 96:1, 11) The idea of the 40-day flood as baptism is not new. The author of 1st Peter describes preaching to those who were like those “who refused to obey God long ago in the time of Noah. God was waiting patiently for them while Noah was building the boat. Only a few people—eight in all—were saved by water. And that water is like baptism that now saves you—not the washing of dirt from the body, but the promise made to God from a good conscience.”  (1 Peter 3:19-21, ESV)

The story of Noah and the Ark is about “the triumph* of Spirit, Mind, over matter” as the baptism, or flood, washed away a limited sense of existence. (cit. S7, 139:4-5)  The idea of the 40-day flood as a baptism of thought resonates with Mary Baker Eddy’s definition for ARK:

“ARK. Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter.  … God and man coexistent and eternal; Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever. The ark indicates temptation overcome and followed by exaltation.” (cit. S9, 581:8-14)

The story of Noah’ Ark would have limited significance if we understand it simply as a historical event. In fact, it has debatable validity as a historical event. But when we realize that the ark can symbolize our being and existence, and that the 40-day flood can symbolize the washing away of limiting opinions and beliefs about mortality, then the story unfolds with new depth and dimensionality.
[On a lighter side, go to Gary Larson’s cartoon about Noah’s possible initial misunderstanding of God’s direction. It can be Downloaded at the bottom of the online version of this Met.] 


SECTION 3: CLEAN AND RENEW THE BODY (IDENTITY)

Section 3 includes stories of Christ Jesus healing a man with leprosy as well as a man who was blind, dumb and deaf, and then giving his followers the power to cast out unclean spirits.  Each of these examples shows “the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter,” which is, of course, part of Mary Baker Eddy’s definition for ark.

Through prayer–mental baptism in which we’re purifying ourselves of limited beliefs of mortality–we are able to heal others.  We can, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Maintain the facts of Christian Science, — that Spirit is God, and therefore cannot be sick; that what is termed matter cannot be sick; that all causation is Mind, acting through spiritual law. Then hold your ground with the unshaken understanding of Truth and Love, and you will win.”  (cit. S16, 417:10–16)


SECTION 4: “BE BORN OF WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT”

Section 4 includes the beautiful story of Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, coming to Christ Jesus in the night.  For new insights into this story, consider watching this portrayal of the exchange between Nicodemus and Christ Jesus (it makes me laugh and also cry tears of renewal each time I see it) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p2XIUK9VgA  (an excerpt from “The Chosen”)

When Nicodemus comes to Christ Jesus asking how to perform miracles, Christ Jesus tells him that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Of course, Jesus is not talking about going back into our mother’s womb, but being born again of Spirit…renewed.

In a sense, being born again is like the story of Noah’s Ark in which the floodwaters washed away the limited sense of existence and the ark protected and maintained that which was pure and true and good.  For us, being born again can be like that…our human opinions and limited perceptions can be washed away, cleansed, and we are renewed.

As we read in Galatians, we can “walk in the Spirit” and “not fulfil the lust of the flesh,” the lust of the [limited and grossly inadequate sense of self and our existence].  (cit. B17, Galatians 5:16-25)  Spirit is inspiration and animation, that which makes us new each moment.  Walking in the Spirit is walking in inspiration–a constant sense of being renewed and inspired.  Our source for inspiration is infinite, like the marks on the circle are infinite, and the circles on the sphere are infinite.

Under a heading about “renewed selfhood,” Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine ‘powers that be.’ Such is the true Science of being.” (cit. S20, 249:6–10)

Here is a link to an audio interview Marian English, CSB, on “How to ‘live in the Spirit’” – https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/2l1eg0jsrum?s=e


SECTION 5: TRUE BAPTISM KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES

Section 5 includes the story of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, including the part after which Philip lovingly baptizes the social outcast and then disappears out of sight and is next found at Azotus.  (cit. B19, Acts 8:26–39)

With Philip’s instant transportation or momentary ascension, Philip took “walking in the Spirit” to the next level!  As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The periods of spiritual ascension are the days and seasons of Mind’s creation, in which beauty, sublimity, purity, and holiness — yea, the divine nature — appear in man and the universe never to disappear.” (cit. S25, 509:24)

The baptism of the eunuch doesn’t come up in the Bible Lesson often, and is worth a deeper dive.  Mary Baker Eddy defines Baptism:

BAPTISM. Purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit.

We are “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians v. 8.)  (cit. S21, 581:23–26)

And elsewhere she adds, “Our baptism is a purification from all error. Our church is built on the divine Principle, Love.” (cit. S23, 35:19–20) Reading Mary Baker Eddy’s statements on baptism in the context of Philip the Evangel and the eunuch’s story, I am led to pray about what it takes for us (and our churches) to be as truly loving and spiritually discerning as Philip.

In Bible times, the Eunuch would have been a social and religious outcast, so Phillip’s interaction with him is startling. Philip saw this man as worthy of baptism. The Bible Lens in the Christian Science Sentinel explains,  “Some scholars view this account as fulfilling the prophecy that God would gather “the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 56:8). One notes that in Luke’s record “. . . the promise of full inclusion among God’s people of foreigners and eunuchs finds its fulfillment not in Jerusalem and the temple, . . . but in [the] hearing and receiving of the gospel.””  (https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/82e392m21w?s=copylink)

In a Christian Science Sentinel article, Bible scholar Madelon Maupin comments on the Eunuch’s baptism:

“A second example from Acts tells of another boundary shattered: the low social status and alienation of a eunuch. As one Bible dictionary explains: “In ancient societies that placed a high premium on male virility, the effeminate eunuch embodied shame, impotence, and social deviance” (The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible). Acts 8 relates Philip the Evangelist’s meeting with an Ethiopian eunuch who served his queen as chief financial officer. It’s important to note that even royal court status didn’t overcome the religious ostracism that excluded eunuchs from worship in the Jerusalem Temple.

“Philip was directed by an angel (the Greek, aggelos, means messenger) to approach this spiritual seeker, who sat reading the book of Isaiah in his chariot. Then, “the eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?’ So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus” (Acts 8:34, 35, New Living Translation).

“Philip explains this good news realized in Christ Jesus and his resurrection, that even death cannot stop God’s love for His creation. In a profound moment, the eunuch asked if he could become part of the community of Christ followers by being baptized. We can almost hear his hope that finally the punishing social customs causing exclusion and shame would be replaced with acceptance and love. And so they were as Philip baptizes the man based on his belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

“The man’s encounter with Philip is another example of the Holy Spirit speaking to both, ushering them toward each other. The beauty of Acts is how intentionally Luke captures this pattern of ever-outreaching love.”

(https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/pcspjzqnbg?s=copylink)

In 1909, Sue Harper Mims wrote an article about the significance of Phillip the Evangel in which she includes insights about his instant transportation to Azotus.  “Philip the Evangelist” https://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/1df3h72bu38?s=e

And consider reading Mary Baker Eddy’s full-page answer to the question, “Did the salvation of the eunuch depend merely on his believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God?”
(Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 77)

For one more article about baptism, consider reading or listening to Roger Gordon’s excellent article from the July 2022 CS Journal, “Baptized in the Holy Spirit,”
https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/3wren37zns?s=e

That’s a lot of possible research, and even if we can’t all get to explore these resources, we can be praying about what it would take to “walk in Spirit” in the way that Philip did, and be willing to be baptized like the Eunuch was.


SECTION 6: CREATION IS COMPLETE AND ALWAYS NEW

This whole lesson has shown us many ways in which we can feel renewed, reborn, baptized and refreshed.  And it has also included ideas of creation and the Creator. Creation is infinite–like the circle and sphere–and we can come to see that it is both complete and also unfolding and new every day.  The sixth section is a metaphorical exclamation point on this concept. It proclaims, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works!” (cit. B21, Psalm 104:24)  And then divine Spirit answers with a promise of renewal and rebirth, “behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (cit. B23, Isaiah 65:17, 18)

 

As we understand God–divine Spirit–and Spirit’s infinitude more and more, we will be able to grasp more and more of the substance of creation. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible. When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.

Spirit and its formations are the only realities of being.

When we learn the way in Christian Science and recognize man’s spiritual being, we shall behold and understand God’s creation, — all the glories of earth and heaven and man.” (cit. S​​28, 264:13–20, 28)

Amen!


GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas from COBBEY CRISLER & others are in the works and will HOPEFULLY BE POSTED and SENT on Monday. Check on CedarS INSPIRATION website, or in your email, if you have  SUBSCRIBED FOR IT on this webpage.


Ken Cooper POETIC POSTLUDE contributions related to this Bible Lesson will ARRIVE LATER IN THE WEEK. When they do arrive, the poems will be POSTED on CedarS INSPIRATION website & be EMAILED TO THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE FOR THEM HERE.


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