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Turn and live! Stop fearing or welcoming death by turning to and choosing Life!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

“Probation After Death”
for April 20-26, 2020

Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS
[See Kathy's and other recent Met contributors' short, video message "Prac Talks."]

The airwaves are full of news about death these days. These reports could breed fear — if we allow it! This week’s Lesson helps us shift our view away from a mortal to an immortal perspective. Jesus’ teaching and example demonstrate how to overcome death by seeing man’s inseparable unity with God — LIFE — incapable of dying. Several recent Lessons have brought out the fact that death is unreal (though certainly seeming very real) — an illusion of the senses. But this week’s Lesson gets very specific, and teaches us how to “turn and live.” It shows us how we can find freedom — and free the world — from both the fear of death, as well as the desire to die, by seeing ourselves (and all) as incapable of being separated from inexhaustible Life. It’s also important to expand our sense of death to include the stoppage of any right activity. We’ll have no part of any of it, but behold Life actively expressing itself in all!

I wanted to share another thought I’ve been considering about the subject of this week’s Lesson. This is just something that has come to me and I’ve had some fun with. In investigating the meaning of the word “probation” I found that the first definition in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is “the act of proving; proof.” Then it gives the definition of proof (in a trial) as “any effort, process or operation that ascertains truth or fact.” Two other definitions of proof were also helpful, from dictionary.com (1) as a verb, “to test, examine for flaws, errors, etc.” — like when we proofread something; (2) in cookery, “to cause (especially bread dough) to rise due to the addition of baker’s yeast or other leavening.”

So … what came to me is that when we get a report of death (or stoppage of any kind of good) we need to examine the report to see how it lines up with GOD’s report of uninterrupted good, eternal Life, undisturbed peace, in order to ascertain the facts. And then we need to add the leaven of Truth to raise consciousness in order to see through the imposition of death (as Jesus did) and demonstrate the undisturbed sense of grace that is given to us every day, feeding “the famished affections.”

Golden Text: The Lesson starts by establishing the fact that death is not God’s will (or desire) for anyone. There are some who would disagree with that, but here we’re told that He has “no pleasure in the death of one who dies.” God asks the people to “turn and live.” As used here, turn is translated from the Hebrew, shuwb. In part, it means to return to the starting point and consider again. So, could it mean to look at things from the starting point of God having made all and having seen all that he made to be very good? Could it mean to consider things from the perspective of God’s design being only good for His creation? That being the case, all that is real and lasting is the good.

Just as we are free to turn our gaze from darkness to light in order to experience the light, we are free to turn from death to Life in order to experience the fullness and freedom of living! Taking this a step farther, we see that God’s design doesn’t include the destruction (or end) of anything good … including happiness, companionship, income, opportunity, and so much more! God delights in giving Life to all of His creation!

Responsive Reading: The Responsive Reading reinforces that fear is what needs to be brought under control — and the sooner the better. Job, who had previously felt so righteous and been so sure of God’s care, finds himself spiraling down into despair as he looks at his situation from a physical perspective. He appears to have about given up and has no desire to go on living. (v. 20) It has been suggested that the fear mentioned in v. 25 was simply a sense of turmoil — the quietness and trust that Job had always felt having being shattered. (New Interpreter’s Bible) If not careful, some could feel that way today. We’ve never faced anything quite like what is going on these days. The question remains, though … how will we respond to the challenges and “uncertainty”? Job eventually comes around and re-establishes his intimate relationship with God — and finds his freedom.

These verses offer guidelines for how to stay on top — or get back on top, if we’ve slipped. Job’s friend, Eliphaz, tells Job that he needs to “acquaint” himself with God in order to be at peace and find good. Acquaint comes from the Hebrew cakan and means to be familiar with, to know intimately, and also to be used by or be of service to. As this intimate relationship with God is nurtured, a trust is established similar to that which allows individuals to look each other directly in the eye. Eliphaz assures Job that as he prays to God, God will respond, and Job will feel God’s presence and care. And, having successfully emerged from this trial, Job will be able to help others — as he later did help his friends, including Eliphaz.

To me, one of the lessons to be learned here is to be alert to any complacency in thought. All good comes from God and is ever-available. So, there is nothing to fear! But it’s important to consistently acknowledge God as the constant source of good that cannot be lost. The allness of Love wipes away fear — and Love meets individual needs, coming to us where we are and lifting us up so that, not only are we benefitted, but our uplifted thought comforts and helps others, as well. Thought shifts from despair over the testimony of the physical senses to joy and gratitude for what Love is revealing. Giving up is a form of death, and we will have no part of it!

Section 1: Living a life aligned with Life allows us to give up a belief in death

In considering the first citation (Prov. 12: 28), I found it helpful to think of it as saying, “When a right relationship with God has been established, death loses the ability to impress.” The Voice translates the verse this way: “Life springs up along the path of integrity, and death has no place along its course.” (B1) Integrity includes the ideas of wholeness and “the entire, unimpaired state of anything, particularly of the mind.” So, when thought is completely aligned with the fact that we, as the expression of Life, can’t be separated from God, any more than a ray of light can be separated from the sun, there is no room for the concept of death to take hold. That doesn’t mean we won’t be faced with evidence of death. But, it helps us move through that mortal sense of things and see our (and everyone’s) eternal oneness with God. (B7) What we call death can seem very final. Yet there are many reports of people who can testify to the fact that they were conscious of their life continuing, even after the body appeared to have died. This is evidence (even if only from a limited, temporal standpoint) of the truth of Mary Baker Eddy’s statement, “If you or I should appear to die, we should not be dead.” (S1) Later in the Lesson we’ll see how Jesus demonstrated this fact.

The rest of this section tells us that we need to give up (1) “every belief of life where Life is not” and (2) “our belief in death” in order to see through the illusion of death and “advance more rapidly towards God, Life, and Love.” (S3&5) Step by step we need to watch thought to determine whether it is aligned with what Life, Spirit, God, Good is expressing. As described in the Glossary of Science and Health, death isn’t a thing as much as it is a way of thinking … “that which frets itself free from one belief only to be fettered by another.” (S3) So, it seems to me that if we are to “emerge gently from matter into Spirit” we have to confront every limited thought (every thought that would communicate evil — whether it is disease, accident, hate, envy, sorrow, on and on) that comes our way and replace it with the unlimited counter-fact (health, harmony, love, satisfaction, joy, and so forth). At this human level, we won’t be successful at doing this 100% — probably far from it. But, maybe if we realize that this is the way to overcome death — for ourselves and others — we will be more diligent in our efforts.

How important it is to understand that we are inseparable from the goodness and fullness of Life — and fully supported by this indissoluble relationship! This understanding “makes man immortal”. (S4) Our immortality is intact now. There is nothing about what we call death that has a thing to do with it! Thus, death is not something to be feared, desired, or even acknowledged as a possibility — but rather overcome, thought by thought.

Section 2: Let bad situations turn you to the arms of Love and find Life

Elijah had tried his best to convince the people that worshipping the one God of Israel was better than worshipping Baal. But, it seemed like a losing battle. And when Queen Jezebel threatened to have him killed — as she had killed so many before him — he was ready to give up, figuring he was no better than those who had come before him. He was ready to just lay down and die. But God had other plans for him, providing him food in the wilderness and encouraging him to go on to “Horeb the mount of God.” (B5) The story stops there in this Lesson, but you’ll remember that once Elijah got to Horeb he needed more encouragement. He hid in a cave until God called him out with the “still small voice” and assured him that there were still receptive hearts out there and that Elijah had more work to do. Fortunately, Elijah did respond, gave up his death-wish and continued forward — doing much more good.

God loves each and every one of His children as much as he loved Elijah. Each one of us has purpose — and the ability to carry on that purpose. That ability is God-given. And, just as God provided food and encouragement to Elijah, He is also showing each of us “the path of life”, as the Psalmist describes it, giving us what we need and speaking to each one in a voice and language that can be understood. (B6)

No matter how desperate things seem, there are blessings to be had. “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” (S6) Love is constantly sending His angels (divine messages). Their presence is irresistible! It’s like God takes us by the shoulders and turns us to the light — showing us that there are answers, there is hope and a way out! Death isn’t the way to find a better life.

To experience a full life. we need to embrace Life itself— the source of all life and all good — from which we can never be separated. (S8) Challenges often force us to stop trying to figure things out on our own and lean on this bigger Life. For that reason, we don’t need to be afraid of hard times, but look for the good that is ever-present. It will become evident. Imagine an unhappy child kicking and screaming — fighting mom or dad’s embrace — until he’s exhausted. Then, he (or she) crumples into those loving arms and finds peace. We can do the same and fall into the outstretched arms of our Father-Mother Love. (S11) Leave the mortal sense of the darkness of death. Walk in the light of Love, illumined by God’s ever-present angels! (S10)

Section 3: Follow Jesus’ example to demonstrate the spiritual continuity of Life

Jesus understood so clearly that life is eternal — incapable of interruption — that he was unfazed by the report that his dear friend Lazarus had died. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he didn’t frantically rush to him, so that he could personally save him. Death wasn’t a scary option in Jesus’ mind. It was just all part of the false report of material sense. He understood the SCIENCE of Being — the reality of things, despite what appears to be. He understood what Mary Baker Eddy later articulated: “In Science, all being is eternal, spiritual, perfect, harmonious in every action.” (S15)

Jesus knew that Lazarus simply needed to wake up from the false sense that there was anything mortal (having a beginning and an ending) about him. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, Jesus “understood man, whose Life is God, to be immortal, and knew that man has not two lives, one to be destroyed and the other to be made indestructible.” (S14) That seems to be the tricky part. We admit that we have an “immortal soul” (as some put it), but it also seems like we have this mortal body. The fact is that our identity is entirely spiritual! We are idea — the image of Mind. And, as we “depart from material sense into the spiritual sense of being” and “let the perfect model be present in our thoughts,” we can demonstrate the “eternal, spiritual, perfect, harmonious in every action” selfhood that is the indestructible nature of each and every one of God’s ideas. (S16 & S17)

My experience has been that when faced with threatening circumstances and reports — like the one Jesus received about Lazarus — I have witnessed healing when I have let go of all personal responsibility and leaned heavily on the Science of being — the truth of spiritual sense versus the false report of the material senses. Cherishing the comforting message that is in so many of our hymns has often broken the mesmerism for me.

I distinctly remember one time where I just turned from the scary evidence and started singing “O Gentle Presence” (Mother’s Evening Prayer by Mary Baker Eddy). In part it says, “O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour. . .” And then talks about how completely Love is holding and lifting up each precious idea of God’s creation. I became so immersed in that message that the material sense testimony yielded and the crisis passed. I would love to say that this has always been my experience. It hasn’t been. But, I’m convinced that as we do the best we can to view things from the perspective of the Science of being we will see the continuity of Life which “is, like Christ, ‘the same yesterday, and today and forever.” We must follow Jesus’ example and not be taken in by false reports — no matter how scary or impressive they seem to be. The Christ surely is coming to each one … as Jesus went to Lazarus … bringing salvation!

Section 4: Reject blame in order to set mankind free from focusing on death

We’re told in Science and Health that it is our privilege “to prove the words of our Master: ‘If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.’” (S22) In this case, the Greek word translated as see is theoreo. It means “to be a spectator of; discern, acknowledge, consider, perceive.”
I don’t think it’s saying we will never have to confront death — that it will never cross our path. It crossed Jesus’ path. But, what can we learn by examining Jesus’ response. Both Mary and Martha’s initial response was to blame Jesus for the death of their brother. If Jesus had come right away, surely, he could have healed him and he wouldn’t have died. But, Jesus was unimpressed by the evidence that said Lazarus was dead.

Jesus’ tears demonstrated his great love for Lazarus — and for the sisters. He wasn’t approaching the situation in a callous or cavalier manner. But, he also wasn’t being fooled by what appeared to be! He knew that life — not death — is God’s will for His children. And so, he “lifted up his eyes”, addressed God as Father, and thanked God for hearing him, affirming that God always heard his prayers. At least one commentator makes the point that it was important to give God the glory for what was about to happen.

Jesus understood that all he demonstrated was a result of the understanding he had of his (and our) intimate, indivisible relationship with God — with Life! (New Interpreters Bible) And, so Jesus called Lazarus — awakening him as we would awaken someone from a sleeping dream. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Word (the Logos or eternal principle and order of the universe) and the action of Lazarus “coming forth” was the natural and immediate response to the command of the Word. Jesus then instructed the people to “loose him and let him go.” (B9) Wasn’t this a command to release Lazarus from the history of having been sick and died — freeing him to express the freedom that comes from being the spiritual idea of infinite Life?

The Science and Health portion of this section explains how Jesus restored Lazarus — by understanding that he had never died. (S18) It explains why we must learn that disease can’t destroy life and why death isn’t the way to salvation from sin or sickness. We can be free of either a fear of death or a desire to die. (S19)

We will face trials — as our world is facing right now. The question is how we respond. When someone pushes against you, don’t you have to push harder in order to stay upright? The same thing here … the more challenging the trial, the stronger our faith needs to be — and the purer our love — in order to stay standing. No matter how real and scary it may puff itself up to be, we can deflate the fear of death by understanding that God, Life, Mind, truly is ever-present and man, as idea, can never be separated for an instant from its divine source. But, we can’t wait for what we traditionally think of as death to demonstrate that! Every time some suggestion of “inaction, diseased action, overaction, [or] reaction” presents itself in any form, we must counter it with the fact that Life is all and Mind governs — without interruption! (S22)

It occurs to me that we can learn something at this time about the importance of not responding to the current pandemic with blame (such as, we wouldn’t be in this position if something had been done sooner), or fear, but with the confidence that God is in control. As we lift our eyes to HIM, and acknowledge only what is true, and see the life-giving power of Truth as able to defeat the reported power of a virus to produce sickness and death — we can be sure that we (and the whole world) will emerge victorious! It is a privilege to turn consistently to the law of Life in order to see health and harmony restored to view!

Section 5: The ever-present risen Christ reveals man’s coexistence with God, Life

This section begins as the last one ended — with the assurance that “if a man keep my saying (or word), he shall never see death.” (B10) This is similar to Jesus’ statement, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 31) To me, Jesus is encouraging those who hear him to follow his teachings and imitate his thoughts and example, assuring them that what he has done is not unique to him. The authority comes from the Father — from God — and is available to all! Jesus’ followers (that’s US) can expect to see and do what Jesus saw and did.

The Jews were still thinking linearly and from a mortal viewpoint. Abraham had lived and died long ago. How could Jesus say that he existed before Abraham or that death would not come to those who “kept his word”? But, Jesus was speaking from a purely spiritual perspective — identifying both Abraham and himself as eternal, spiritual ideas of Mind — filling their niche in time and eternity. (see Ret. 70: 18)

When Jesus says, ‘Before Abraham was, I am,’ he is pointing to his pre-existence with God beyond the bounds of time.” (New Interpreter’s Bible) The Jews threw stones at Jesus for this. Yet he walked through the mob, untouched. (B10) Theories based on physical evidence and following the medical model would say that it is impossible to stop this virus without taking a long time and without a vaccine. But, do we have to accept that mortal model? We are still respectful of and loving towards others. We are law-abiding. But, through constantly turning thought to be aligned with God’s Truth, we can expect to demonstrate the ability for all to walk through the violent threats of a virus, untouched.

Through the transfiguration, Jesus demonstrated the immortal status of man — visiting with Elijah and Moses in forms visible to the disciples. But the message also came through that Jesus was not just “another” prophet. Prophets had played an essential part in preparing the way, but Jesus’ role was unique. He alone is identified as God’s “beloved Son” and they were to “hear ye him.” (B11)

Jesus was the “tabernacle” (skene) — the reality of God’s abiding presence with us. So, no need for Peter to build tabernacles. As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Christ illustrates (makes clear) that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth.” (S23) So, if we’re tempted to feel overwhelmed by circumstances facing us, our answer is at hand. The need is to turn thought more whole-heartedly to seek and perceive the message of Truth (the risen Christ) that is forever present and can be heard, felt, and experienced. Just as we turn on a light when we can’t find something in the dark, “Divine Science (think Word of God) rolls back the clouds of error with the light of Truth, and lifts the curtain on man as never born and as never dying, but as coexistent with his creator.” (S27) Being co-existent, we are exempt from anything unlike God!

Section 6: Choose life!

We make a choice with every thought we think … with every suggestion we give our consent to or reject. Do we choose to live or to die? (B13) God is choosing life for His children and we must respond to that choice. To “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” is, to me, to strive to make every thought and every action correspond to what God knows and is doing. (B14) We are assured that knowing — “even in a small degree” — that “being is holiness, harmony, immortality … will uplift the physical and moral standard of mortals, will increase longevity, will purify and elevate character.” And “progress will finally destroy all error, and bring immortality to light.” (S31) When we glimpse that immortality truly is the law of being, we take away the threat of a virus (or any other cause) as able to make us sick or cause us to die.

To me, accomplishing the spiritual ultimate can seem daunting if I look at how far I have to go to keep every thought in line with the truth of God’s being. So, I have to approach it thought by thought, action by action, moment by moment, day by day. And I have found that I need to forgive my many slip-ups and get back on the horse, so to speak — refusing to focus on how much better I should be doing, and being grateful for whatever bit of receptivity I am demonstrating as I strive to "walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth.” (B14, NLT) God loves each of us — ALL — sooooo much. As we “turn and live” (GT), Love will give us all we need!

[Warren:] CedarS 2020 #BestSummerYet! and #BestStaffYet! are being hourly planned and loved into 2020 vision. We are working to demonstrate that "Of two things fate cannot rob us, namely, of choosing the best [summer yet and best fall yet!], and of helping others thus to choose." (Miscellany, 165:2)

Enjoy 14 minutes of pure joy! CedarS new inspirational and program videos are hope-filled visions of divine deloght designed to help you choose the best thoughts and best programs for you and yours! Have fun choosing as you pick and click at www.cedarscamps.org/videos/

CedarS 2020 wise, preventative practices and adjustments being made as needed:
In fun, uplifting style — typical at CedarS — we will practice proven protocols for regular, deep-cleaning handwashing "baptisms." Out of a deep desire to be compassionate to everyone's comfort level, ahead of camp we are following social distancing and masking etiquette. And to be obedient to the laws of the land, we are following self-quarantine and non-gathering guidelines to bless all for the longterm.

CedarS team is prayerfully and practically supporting a spiritual sense of a moment-by-moment closeness, and even oneness with, God. This will be loved and thanked into view with a thought-by-thought sanitizing and testing process of mental inoculation as well as by extensive surface and hand sanitizing.

FYI: As needed, CedarS can guarantee full tuition refunds, and even travel refunds!

FYI, as more CedarS families are able to go back to work and enrollments pick up in coming weeks, we plan to forward CedarS phone line 636-394-6162 so you can reach us at nearly any time to discuss your interests or to share your ideas and support.

or you also can MAIL your tax-deductible support to our St. Louis area office address:
The CedarS Camps, Inc.
410 Sovereign Court #8
Ballwin, MO 63011

CedarS is a not-for-profit, 501-C-3 organization with Federal ID # 44-0663883.

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