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Feel God's Grace and Respond!
Kathy Fitzer, C.S., St. Louis, MO
Posted Monday, January 7th, 2013
Feel God’s Grace and Respond!
Metaphysical Application Ideas from CedarS Camps
for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for January 7-13, 2013
on the subject: Sacrament
Prepared by: Kathy Fitzer, CS, St. Louis, MO
314-323-4083 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Until now I had never thought about grace when I thought about Sacrament. But, the Golden Text speaks of the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost.” And a similar message is echoed in the last citation of the Bible which promises that God is able to make all grace abound (be well supplied) in us so that we will have all sufficiency in all things (have enough) that we may abound to (be rich in) “every good work.” (B-19) As I explored general definitions or explanations of sacrament, I consistently found ideas echoing this definition from dictionary.com: “a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace.” Mrs. Eddy speaks of grace as “the effect of God understood.” (Pan. 10: 22) In Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, which Mrs. Eddy would have used, I found 20 definitions of the word grace. We’ll see how some of these apply as we go through the Lesson. Maybe you’ll enjoy (as I did) exploring the Lesson from the standpoint of seeing how God’s grace enables us to bear witness to the Christ, follow Jesus’ example, do the works that he commanded us to do, and partake of the blessings God bestows on all of us.
Responsive Reading (RR): One of the definitions Webster gives of grace is: “favor, mercy, pardon.” What’s required of us in order to receive this divine favor and respond? Although we read accounts in the Old Testament of a blood offering being made to God in order to find mercy and have sins pardoned, it was never the only form of showing one’s sincerity in asking forgiveness. And the prophets Micah and Jeremiah are clear as to what God really requires: “to do justly” (think and act honestly, according to truth or fact); “love mercy” (express compassion); “and walk humbly with thy God” (meekly, with repentance… recognizing our inseparability from God.) **[Micah 6:8] The requirement doesn’t involve something outside of us, but demands that we graciously follow God’s gentle, but consistent, commands. God enables us to do what we need to do. We just need to respond to that ever-present divine influence and not let pride, arrogance, or indifference side-track us. **[Micah 6:8 (RR) not only is incorporated into the closing of the 6th Tenet of Christian Science (S&H 497:27), but also spells out the 3 parts of Ground School training at CedarS for “Ruth’s Time-Travelers Zipline” to get to and from Bible Lands Park where: 1) Doing justly requires getting a just right fit for all gear; 2) Loving mercy requires showing you can brake safely instead of mowing down support staff; and, 3) Walking humbly requires showing you can move yourself hand-over-hand in case you come up short.]
Section 1: Baptism includes leaving the old and embracing the new
Baptism is one of the sacraments generally recognized by Christians. Although the Christian Science church does not ceremoniously baptize as other Christian churches do, does that mean baptism is any less significant for a student of Christian Science? Absolutely not. Mrs. Eddy defines baptism in the glossary of Science and Health as “purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit.” (S-1) One of the definitions of grace in the 1838 dictionary reads, “the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.” For a deeper understanding of baptism, I’ve found Mrs. Eddy’s article “Pond and Purpose” helpful. (Misc. Writings, p. 203-207) Three “stages” of baptism are considered. Check it out! Jesus allowed himself to be baptized by John “with water unto repentance.” Can we skip this step? Think about the refining of gold and silver. The impurities must be purged before the beauty of the metal can be seen. So it is with us. (B-1) Repentance includes a 180-degree change of thought. It often results from some sort of challenge, and opens the way to feel the cleansing effect of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit… through which our spotless heritage is revealed. As Jesus emerged from the water, all heard God’s pronouncement that is as true for us as it was for Jesus ... “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (B-2) Starting with our true relationship to God (submerging self in Spirit) enables us to respond to the divine influence (the grace) which renews (purifies) the heart, and which naturally restrains… holds back… sin. When you’re swimming, and a horse fly buzzes, all you have to do is go under water. As long as you stay submerged, you’re safe from the threat of a buzz or a bite. Similarly, submerged in Spirit, you’re safe from the buzz or bite of the mortal suggestion of separation from God (i.e. sin.) If you’re just learning to swim, putting your head under water, submerging yourself, can be scary. Same thing when you’re learning what it means to be submerged in Spirit, to be truly pure in heart. It can be scary to leave the familiarity of matter. But, leaving “the old for the new” (S-5) -- being baptized by the Holy Spirit -- enables us to truly “see God” and that is worth the effort!
Section 2: Seek God - Love Him - and Keep His Commandments .... Be Whole!
The purification discussed in the first section doesn’t come without focusing attention in the right direction. It requires seeking God. (B-3) It seems all too easy to get caught up in what we need to do in our everyday lives (as many felt during the Christmas season, as students may feel when schoolwork seems overwhelming, as professionals may feel as work piles up, and as parents may feel trying to balance everything in their “worlds.”) We could call it the “Martha syndrome.” But, as Jesus reminded Martha who was worried and upset, distracted with care (or cumbered) about all the “stuff” that needed to be done... only one thing is necessary. And Mary chose that. (B-5) What are we choosing? Are we remembering to sit mentally still enough to pay close attention to the ever-present Christ (the Son-light) that is constantly voicing good and steering us along a path of efficiency that makes everything else we do fall into place? Mrs. Eddy writes that “to understand God is the work of eternity, and demands absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire.” (S-6) Let’s think of eternity as “a state to which time has no application; timelessness” (dictionary.com) and consecration as “devotion to God.” (Webster, 1828) So, understanding God (understanding Life) doesn’t take a long period of time, it simply takes listening to God, responding to God (and giving God the praise) moment by moment in all we do, rather than reacting to, getting absorbed in, and feeling responsible for physical circumstances. Like a successful artist, we have to keep our eye on the model, in this case, the one presented by Christ Jesus. If we want stability in our lives (which doesn’t equate to a dull life) we can’t bounce back and forth between matter and Spirit. (S-8) Even if we sometimes find ourselves leaning on matter more heavily than we’d like, or getting caught up in the cares of the world, if we are clear as to what our model is, we’ll be led by the grace of God. Mrs. Eddy makes a strong statement when she says, “We are not Christian Scientists until we leave all for Christ.” (S-9)** The more we are willing to leave the old for the new, the more we consciously love God, and sincerely keep His commandments, the more we realize our wholeness as the image of God. (S-10) **As students of Christian Science, we do the best we can do each moment. Our Father-Mother Love has never known us as anything less than whole, and we naturally respond to what God is knowing of us. Before starting any project... and in the middle... sit at the feet of Christ! You’ll have all you need in all things as you first yield to God’s tender guiding. **[CedarS 2013 Metaphysical Theme is to “Put your whole self in!”, or “leave all for Christ” (S&H 192:5)]
Section 3: Active Communion Expressed in Active Love
Most Christian religions acknowledge the partaking of the bread and wine of the “Last (or Lord’s) Supper” as a sacrament ... “an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace” (Webster, 1828) Jesus truly left “all for Christ.” He was willing to give up a human sense of personality in order to demonstrate that his life had never been in matter, in order that his disciples, and ultimately the world, might learn from, and follow his example. One definition of grace from Webster’s 1828 dictionary is, “spiritual instruction, improvement, and edification.” Jesus did two things after eating the Passover meal with his disciples... he gave them bread to eat and wine to drink, and he taught them to wash feet. (B-8 & B-9) How do these actions relate to inward and spiritual improvement? Mrs. Eddy said that sacrament should not be “confined to the use of bread and wine.” It is vital to understand what is behind the rite or ceremony, to truly learn from it. Jesus said the bread was his body. Although “body” may mean the physical structure of a person, the Greek is translated as a “sound whole” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Mrs. Eddy often links Christ and Truth. Jesus embodied the “truth of being” more than any other human being. So, wasn’t Jesus asking his disciples (us included) to fully digest the “truth of spiritual being” that constituted the whole of his being... to make it part of them, and of us? The truth that had comforted them (and us) in the past would also give them (and us) the authority to heal as he healed. (S-11) What about the cup? He said it represented his blood. Blood is often associated with sacrifice. In Jesus’ case, his blood was “sacrificed” on the cross. Mrs. Eddy says that our cup is the cross, the challenges that come our way. But, the wine is “the inspiration of Love.” (S-12) Every cross, every problem we face, no matter how severe, is already filled with the inspiration that enables us to triumph as Jesus did. As we thought-by-thought partake of the “body”, the substance, of Christ, Truth, and daily drink the wine of inspiration, we are able to courageously face the challenges of the cup, and celebrate, or receive, the Eucharist. After dinner, Jesus washed the disciples feet. Was he thus demonstrating the true sense of humble love, flowing naturally from divine Love? Jesus was unconcerned with status or position. By caring, by doing a little thing that may seem like a “big thing” to the recipient, we are edifying each other... building each other up. That is grace. It is this unselfed love that Jesus demonstrated and demanded of his disciples, that Mrs. Eddy says “receives directly the divine power.” (S-13) The Christianity that Jesus taught demands that we actively express God’s active love. Love heals! If we are truly eating the bread and drinking the wine, active love and healing will follow.
Section 4: Turn to Your Daddy God in Time of Need ["it's Never Too Late" as shared in an Audio Chat with Marion English on Tues., Jan. 8 at 2pm EST by clicking on http://sentinel.christianscience.com/audio/audio-chats]
Jesus was having a really hard time in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what was coming and may have actually been feeling fear as he faced the possibility of crucifixion. The Bible says he was “amazed and heavy.” According to the Greek, amazed is confounded (dismayed.) Webster (1828) defines amazed as confounded with fear. The Greek word translated as heavy can also be thought of as “being in distress.” (Strong’s) I wonder if his disciples really understood what he was going through. He had asked them to watch with him, but they just couldn’t stay awake. Jesus turned directly to his Father (his Daddy) for help. Although he didn’t want to go through the ordeal that he was about to face, he trusted God’s will for him and yielded to it. I’m thinking he was more concerned that his disciples (especially Peter) stay awake for their own sakes than for his. He knew they would also be facing trials and would need to “watch” in order to be strengthened sufficiently by God to endure their own challenges. Yet, he let them sleep on... trusting them to God. (B-11) Jesus felt the effect of the grace, or lovingkindness, of God toward him and reflected it in his patience with Peter. We can’t work things out for another, as much as we’d like to. But, we can do our best to stay awake ourselves!!! Each one has to drink his own cup, face her own challenges. Jesus knew that the world would hate his followers as it had hated him. (S-19) But, we ALL have Jesus’ example to follow and be strengthened by. The wine of inspiration fills everyone’s cup. God will always sustain His children. (S-18) And, “step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’” (S-17) We don’t need to run from any challenge, no matter how large it seems to loom. Even when overcome by fear, we can turn to our “Daddy” and Father-Mother Love WILL bring us through.
Section 5: Be Willing to Respond to Christ
Jesus had shared the bread and wine, he had courageously faced the cross, and he had risen from the grave and showed his disciples that he was still very much alive. But, they needed more. And, so Jesus continued to patiently and lovingly teach them. Jesus came to the disciples where they were, just as the Christ continues to come to us where we are! At this point, the disciples still understood fishing for fish better than they understood fishing for men. But, it wasn’t working for them! Do we ever resist a change in approach.... continue doing things in a way we’re comfortable with.... even though we’ve seen evidence of the efficacy of following another direction? Sometimes it takes “failure” to make us willing to respond to a “better way.” Jesus had appeared to his disciples after he was risen twice before. But, from the water they didn’t recognize him there on the shore. They were willing, though, to try the suggestion offered to them. And John, perhaps the most receptive disciple at that time, did recognize that the catch of fish wasn’t just coincidental. He recognized the activity of the Christ! (B-14) Do you ever have a thought, a Son-light moment (see Chet Manchester’s Daily Lift from Dec. 20, 2012), that seems counterintuitive? The living Christ surely comes to us as it did to the disciples of old, teaching us and feeding us. One of the differences I see between this sharing and the sharing at the “last supper” is that the disciples were asked to participate. They had to first cast the net and bring the fish to shore. And then, though not included in this week’s lesson, Peter was commanded to “feed [the] sheep”, in other words, to demonstrate his true love of Christ by exercising the authority given to him. The disciples were now ready to continue the Christ-mission of bringing salvation to the world. When the personality of Jesus disappeared to human sight, the healing work of the disciples (then and now) confirms the ever-presence of Christ, Truth. (B-15) We celebrate the change of thought that took place in the disciples at the “morning meal.” We celebrate (and seek to emulate) the turning away from matter (material personality and comfortable material ways) to receive the “newness of life as Spirit.” And we recognize that the experience of human life is just a temporary, limited view, from which Jesus ascended. (S-21) One of the definitions of grace from Webster’s (1823) is “spiritual instruction, improvement, and edification.” Surely, it is this grace that enables us to learn from Jesus’ example of humanity (always meeting the human need) and continue to demonstrate the divinity of Christ which heals. (S-22)
Section 6: We are all Healers
After the ascension, the disciples really did get it. The book of Acts is full of reports of the apostles’ healing work. To me, Peter’s healing of the man who had suffered from palsy for eight years represents a demonstration of the activity of Christ, demanding proper movement of thought and body. (B-17) It’s natural for us to move freely, unencumbered by the limitations of matter. The first definition of grace given on dictionary.com is “simple elegance or refinement of movement” and describes this movement as appearing “effortless.” God is always the healer! It’s all about God, and God’s grace (“the influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life" - Strong’s) which gives us all we need to respond to the opportunities for healing that come to us. (B-19) Mrs. Eddy says that divine Love “demands that all men should follow the example of our Master...” (S-23) A demand is very different from a “suggestion”, and would not be made if it couldn’t be achieved. Jesus’ mission was to save everyone, not just those who happened to live in the same time and place as he did. He demonstrated “his divine Principle”, his Causation. (S-25) His Causation is our Causation. As Paul told the Corinthians, God makes grace abound to us so that we may abound in good works. And, Mrs. Eddy assures us that if we’re willing to “put our whole selves in” (though she doesn’t use those words... think the Hokey-Pokey), we can drink the wine of Christ’s cup and be endued with the power of (given the ability of) Christian healing. (S-27) Spiritual healing is not a mystery; and it’s not something reserved for a select few. It is a JOY to heal! Healing happens, one thought at a time, exchanging mortal error for spiritual Truth, and beholding the Christ presence!
[The application ideas above are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. They are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of study and application of 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.]
[THANKS TO YOUR SUPPORT CedarS "Emerge ‘n See" NEEDS were met by year-end! We were able to buy needed hay and get timely funding for building and equipment repairs!
With Early Enrollment expiring at the end of January, our main funding goals for early 2013 are raising funds for camperships and for operations support. If you'd rather not give online, thank you for mailing your checks to:
CedarS Camps Office,
1314 Parkview Valley Dr.,
Manchester, MO 63011
Or for calling us at
636-394-6162 to give a monthly pledge or a single, Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card gift.]
[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 Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio. A voluntary French translation by Pascal or Denise cannot be guaranteed due to their busy schedules. An "official" version of the weekly Portuguese translation is now available for CedarS Mets, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil. You can signup at http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to signup for the Portuguese version.
This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 12-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 subsequent emails.) 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 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 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-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-30). 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.]