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Put On the Heavenly Garments and Feel the Light of His Countenance!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

for February 12—18, 2018

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

Have you ever felt like good was beyond your reach and perhaps nowhere to be found?

In the Golden Text, the psalmist is speaking for “many” who are searching for something better in their experience. Theologian John Wesley (1703-1791) says the “many” refers to those who are weary of waiting upon God, those who seek an end to their troubles, who long for tranquility, and an assurance of God’s love. To my sense, this plea has a slight air of desperation about it. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) refers to this as “the general anxiety of mankind.” He elaborates, “Who will show us good? Where shall happiness be found? In what does it consist? How is it obtained? What will contribute to it?” Although many look in vain for good in material circumstances, the psalmist knows where to look for fulfillment of his desires. He asks to feel the light of God’s face. Quite different from the sour, complaining faces of those who are asking somewhat sardonically, “Who will show us any good?”—we can visualize the “light of thy [His] countenance” as the face of God shining with hope and love.

Responsive Reading [W: Downloadable poem "Elijah and the Still Small Voice"]

Even the best of us have bad days. Though the “hand of the Lord” was on Elijah, and he had just had what seemed to be a spectacular victory over the prophets of Baal, he was fleeing for his life as Jezebel sought revenge. Elijah, appearing to be overtaken with despondency, just falls asleep under a tree. But God didn’t allow him to succumb. One of the things I’ve always found helpful in the story of the angel feeding Elijah is that Elijah was being supplied even before he knew he needed it. The inspiration and sustenance he required was enough to carry him throughout his journey. Even though Elijah was a prophet, he was susceptible, as we all are, to being impressed with the human circumstances.

Actually, Elijah was mistaken in his assessment. Unbeknownst to him, Obadiah had safely hidden one hundred prophets, and later we find that there were seven thousand still loyal to God. But Elijah is still so impressed with his enemies pursuing him that he is basically willing to give up and die. He lays his complaint before the Lord and is then bidden to take another look. He witnesses a spectacular display of material forces—wind, earthquake, and fire—but God wasn’t in spectacular demonstrations of force. The power of God was in the still, small voice. Barnes writes that the literal translation would be, “a sound of soft stillness.” Elijah was rejuvenated when he tapped into Soul—the true harmonious and perfect identity of man.

In this Lesson, we too, will see several ways we can find, and feel our unbroken relationship with Soul.

Section 1: Pay Attention to Those Angels

While the general population is often looking for satisfaction and fulfillment in worldly pursuits, the spiritually minded are crying out for a more profound sense of fulfillment that can only be found in a deeper understanding of God. Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832) notes that the children of Israel often exhibited more piety and devotion to God when they were bearing afflictions, than when they were in the comfort of their own land. Such is the case of the psalmist who, when overwhelmed, seeks refuge on the rock (B1). The word “overwhelmed” means “to be covered as with a garment.” Have you ever felt completely engulfed in your difficulties? The psalmist doesn’t sink under the weight of his troubles. God answers his prayer by strengthening his soul, enabling him to meet his challenges with courage (B2).

As the angel of the Lord provided Elijah with sustenance for his journey, so the angel appears to Moses in the desert (B3). Commentators estimate that Moses was eighty years old when he came upon the burning bush. One might think that after forty years away from Egypt he might have been already resigned to shepherd life. But when the angel appeared to him his life trajectory changed radically. Moses is an object lesson for us—that, no matter how long it may seem to take, we should always pay attention and “turn aside to see” when our angels speak to us. We may not expect them, but we have to be ready to follow.

In addition to the angel speaking to Moses out of the burning bush as an example of God meeting our needs when unexpected, some commentators feel that the burning bush not only represents our own challenges, but the fire of affliction felt by both the children of Israel, and the Christian church. The fire doesn’t consume the bush, and neither can we be consumed by our challenges. [PS#2 “Principle operates unspent.”]

Citation B4 comes from the lips of Stephen as he defends his Christian faith. He points out that Moses had been refused by the people, yet God still chose him to lead the children of Israel. John Calvin (1509-1564) suggests that this implies that the children of Israel would have accepted him had he been appointed by a tyrant. But being appointed of God, they turned against him. We might say Moses didn’t take a traditional career path. But God paved a way for Moses, even as He does for each of us. [PS#3 Accept your God as an “I Am God”—not an “I Was God” or “I Will Be God.”]

We have to remember too, that God doesn’t purposely make it hard for us to find Him. Jeremiah assures us that God rejoices over us (B5). Clarke puts it well: “Nothing can please God better than our coming to him to receive the good which, with his whole heart and his whole soul, he is ready to impart.”

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science found human means and methods to be insufficient to meet the demands of true fulfillment. She learned that God, Soul, is the only intelligence of the universe (S1). She acknowledges that when inspired by Soul it is perfectly natural to talk with God consciously as we do with each other (S2). These “conversations” take place as we listen to the angel thoughts, or spiritual ideas that lead us out of the bondage of material sense (S3).

Every biblical story and character provides us with examples of what we could meet on our spiritual journeys, and gives us lessons on how to conduct ourselves along the way (S4). We need never despair that we won’t have the “right stuff” to reach our goal. God, Soul, has infinite resources at our disposal (S5). We just need to know where to look. True fulfillment can’t be found in merely material pursuits. However, we can, and will, attain—and keep—happiness when we look to Soul.

Section 2: Let It Shine

When the psalmist is looking to Soul, he isn’t simply giving lip service. He glorifies God with his whole soul—his entire being—acknowledging the possibility of complete healing, and salvation in every circumstance (B6). Albert Barnes sees this heartfelt praise of God to be an utterly natural activity. He writes, “The soul of man was “made” to praise and bless God; to enjoy his friendship; to delight in his favor; to contemplate his perfections. It can never be employed in a more appropriate or a more elevated act than when engaged in his praise.” The benefits for which the psalmist is grateful include: forgiving of iniquities (overcoming sin), healing of disease, and redemption from destruction (vanquishing death) (B6, W’s PS#4).

The prophet calls us to waken from the dreary outlook of material thinking to the glorious light of God—everlasting, all encompassing, and sufficient to meet our every need (B7). The everlasting light of Soul scatters the darkness of ignorance and fear. Christ Jesus teaches his followers to allow this light of Soul to shine uninhibited in our lives (B8). Again Barnes puts it well: “Always, in all societies, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, let it be seen that you are real Christians.” Barnes also tells us this passage shows that we can’t conceal our religion if we live it faithfully and sincerely. Living like the rest of the world offers no evidence of our Christianity, and any attempt to hide our Christianity “renders our lives useless.” Living our Christianity brings others to God, and no matter how modest our careers, or stations in life, we are always capable of doing good things. Such a life is never in vain.

Mrs. Eddy saw the sun as a metaphor for Soul (S6). As the sun reaches throughout the solar system, the light of truth extinguishes all darkness in our thought. As always, it’s good to remember that as light is a presence that fills all space, and darkness is no more than an absence of light, so Soul, is the only source of truth, and it’s very presence chases away the lies that claim to contradict it (S7).

As the sunlight is outside of us, Soul is completely separate from any sense of mortality or corporeality (S8). As we’ve mentioned so many times before, Soul is never confined in a material form. Our Leader says the belief that Soul can be confined in a body is the source of a limited sense of our abilities (S9). Mrs. Eddy writes, “Human codes, scholastic theology, material medicine and hygiene,” are the beliefs that hinder our faith, and chain us to material thinking (S10). She longed to show mankind a way out of these fetters, through the understanding of divine Science. She knew the path to freedom would appear daunting, but when we know that what seems to be a physical world filled with limitations is really no more than a mental belief, the light of Truth can help us see through that darkness (S11). A key belief to overcome is that God, or Soul, lives in matter as man, or that God is somehow within us. Scholastic theology has always promoted this. But just the opposite is true: “Man is not a material habitation for Soul; he is himself spiritual” (S12). Understanding this will change the way we see everything.

Section 3: Soul Is Love

God is always at one with His creation. Citation B9 in Leviticus imparts this idea through the metaphor of God being present in the tabernacle, wherever the children of Israel were. This can be misunderstood to mean that God is present in a human condition, but that is not the case. Metaphysically speaking, God is never in anything; we are always in Him. Therefore we are always at one with Him, and forever embraced in His love (B10).

God’s love for man is expressed through our love for each other (B11). The ancient way of thinking held that a man should love his friends, but hate his enemies. In fact, for some, revenge was the rule, and it was dishonorable to forgive. Christ Jesus changes that. His God is everlasting Love that embraces all without discrimination. This is often difficult for us. It seems that human nature tends to seek retribution for wrongs, both real and imagined. But as Jesus pointed out, it’s easy to love people who love you. To truly love, we must rise above the earthly tendency for revenge. Paul added that we should, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another” (B12). Barnes tells us, “Love is a debt which ‘can’ never be discharged. We should feel that we ‘owe’ this to all people, and though by acts of kindness we may be constantly discharging it, yet we should feel that it can ‘never’ be fully met while there is opportunity to do good.”

Understanding that God is Love, and recognizing that God is the source of all the good we could ever wish for helps us to love our neighbor. It’s also a key point in our prayer, and spiritual growth (S13). The “Science of Soul” has two commands: Have one God; and love our neighbor as ourselves (S14). Truly loving our neighbor doesn’t originate in human thought. It’s a divine compulsion (S15).

Human reasoning is always backwards. It’s always trying to put the divine into the human. The Israelites thought of God as inhabiting the tabernacle, and modern theology thinks of Soul as in the body. But Christian Science corrects this belief by explaining that God is the only Soul, which is never confined in a finite form (S16). Material reasoning is incapable of grasping the realities of God. We can only understand Soul through spiritual sense (S17). The “heart and soul” of a man is the essence of his true character. Mrs. Eddy writes, “The heart and soul of Christian Science is Love” (S18). Therefore, Love is the essence of the true character of Christian Science. If we are to honestly embrace Christian Science we must learn to love. [See CedarS 2018 Metaphysical theme… ]

Section 4: Soul Stirs Things Up

What does it take to serve God? The Scriptures say it takes both “clean hands,” and “a pure heart” (B13). Jesus cautioned his followers that outer cleanliness is no indicator of inward purity. Serving God requires purity inside and out. So in lifting up his soul to God, the psalmist is promising to purify his innermost aims, motives, and feelings (B14). To do anything less would be futile, because “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (B15). This indicates that nothing can be hidden from God. While in Christian Science we understand that God never knows evil, the meaning is that no evil can escape destruction by the word of God. Barnes says the dividing of the “soul and spirit” signifies the difference between the animal nature and the immortal nature—soul meaning the animal, and spirit meaning the immortal.

Christ Jesus knew how to make that distinction by separating God’s man from all maladies. In several instances Jesus cast out evil spirits. In citation B17 after the disciples attempted to heal the child with the unclean spirit, the symptoms became more aggressive. This discouraged the disciples, but Jesus was unimpressed. Jesus called the disciples’ inability to distinguish the real child from the evil spirit, “faithless and perverse.” According to Barnes, “perverse” means, “that which is twisted or turned from the proper direction…” This word appropriately describes the carnal mind as it attempts to reverse the reality of things—tempting us to work the wrong end of the problem. But Jesus swiftly rebuked the evil spirit thereby separating it from the child.

Jesus cast out evil spirits because he knew they were no part of the man God made, and that only the attributes of Soul were real (S19). Earlier we considered the sun as a metaphor for Soul. Here again our textbook speaks of Christian Science bringing “the sunlight of Truth” to the body to “invigorate and purify” it [even to “dissolve tumors” as in the 2012 PS about Warren Huff’s 2009 healing application of page 162,] (S20). Just as the word of God pierces through, and divides the real from the unreal, the sunlight of Truth has an alterative effect on every facet of our thinking. To sense, it appears that the physical conditions are corrected, but it’s all going on in thought. As the textbook says, it’s stirring the human mind to “a change of base.”

Mrs. Eddy calls this stirring of thought “chemicalization” (S21). As with the healing of the child with the unclean spirit, occasionally when we’re praying things seem to get worse before they get better. Like Jesus, Mrs. Eddy was unfazed by these occurrences because she knew they were the result of pouring truth into error. Page 401, line 7 of Science and Health likens this to the upheaval that occurs when mixing an acid and a base. Once I had leftover acid from filling a battery, and before disposing of it, I neutralized it with baking soda. The mixture foamed a great deal before subsiding. But just as the foaming is temporary, so is the upheaval of chemicalization.

Mrs. Eddy recognizes that some might doubt our ability to emulate the healing power of Soul (S22). But we can do it. Gaining any new spiritual idea changes our standpoint (S23). Anyone who has experienced healing in Christian Science knows this to be true. It’s like the whole world takes on a different hue. We just have to turn to God, and let that sword of Truth do its work. Realizing that we aren’t sinning souls encased in a body, but that our Soul is God, liberates us, and gives us a sense of dominion that can’t be found anywhere else (S24).

Section 5: Dressed to Live!

The psalmist illustrates God’s omnipotence and omnipresence by describing God adorned “with light as with a garment,” and “the heavens like a curtain” (B18). In Revelation we see the “new Jerusalem” coming down from heaven as a “bride adorned for her husband” (B19). Most commentators see this as the emergence of the new church forever wedded to the Christ. The seven angels with the seven last plagues are a sharp contrast to the beauty of the New Jerusalem, but they bring the seer to a high vantage point enabling him to observe the beautiful city. [W’s PS on Revelation 21 (B19)]

As God is clothed with light, Isaiah describes the man whose soul rejoices in God as clothed with salvation and righteousness (B20), complemented by wedding finery. Commentators also liken this metaphor to a magnificently arrayed church. The burning bush symbolizes the church surviving the flames, and here the budding earth represents the awakening of the church after a winter of apparent dormancy. God is the power that impels and sustains not only the church, but creation itself. In the Golden Text the people pled for any good they could find; and now they are heartened to the point of bearing “the flag of hope and peace unfurled.” The prophet completes the image with children safely perched on strong shoulders (B21).

Throughout Judeo-Christian history the faithful have relied on God’s unchangeable nature (S25). Soul’s unchangeableness is reflected in man’s eternal relationship to God. In the beginning of the Lesson, there were many crying out in desperation for good, and Elijah was laboring under depression. In Section 1 the psalmist was overwhelmed by difficulties as if wrapped in a cloak of troubles. But now the garments are those of joy and festivity. The Bride and Bridegroom in the Apocalypse, as defined by Mrs. Eddy, are clothed in purity, innocence, a sense of Soul, spiritual bliss, spiritual understanding, and a pure consciousness that God creates man as His spiritual idea (S26).

Our Leader notes that John saw these higher views of reality while on our “plane of existence” (S27). In this case, the “bride” and “lamb” are the divine Principle and idea—“God and His Christ, bringing harmony to earth” (S28). As hinted at above, Mrs. Eddy felt it was significant that what appeared to be the worst challenges led to the greatest spiritual advancement (S29). Once we see the unbroken relationship of God and man we no longer need to cry out for good. We find that we are forever clothed with “eternal bliss” (S30). When we realize that we are Soul’s expression, we drop all complaint, and wrap ourselves in the magnificent garments of Soul.

In an email later today look for Warren Huff’s additions of insights and healing application ideas from Cobbey Crisler on some citations in the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Soul” for February 18, 2018. Click here for a partial, online version now.

We are VERY grateful to report. . .

Maintenance Musts Progress! (More info)

Adopt the Herd Matching Fund (Match not yet met)

In the time since Giving Tuesday you helped raise over $50k for the Riding Program, which will be doubled through the Adopt the Herd Matching Fund, for a total of over $100k to help feed and care for CedarS wonderful horses. We still have a little less than $15k to raise to take advantage of the $65k Adopt the Herd match. (More info )

Many other Blessings:

Thank you for helping to raise camperships, replenish needed items, pray for today's youth, and launch our fundraising for summer 2018. Especially helpful are your much-needed MONTHLY gifts, past and ongoing, that can be started and adjusted as you wish at: www.cedarscamps.org/giving ] All of your gifts add up to big blessings in the lives of today's Sunday School students!

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[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a huge proof of your ongoing LOVE made visible and are greatly appreciated!! They not only defray the costs of running this service but also provide greatly needed camperships and essential program and operations support.

[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) athttp://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

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