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Try on the fruits of the Spirit. Forget matter-based solutions and see Spirit as the only real and effective power!

David Price, CS, Denver CO
Posted Monday, July 31st, 2017

[Try-on the fruits of the Spirit. Forget matter-based solutions and see Spirit as the only real and effective power! (4)]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

Spirit”
for July 31- August 6, 2017

by David L. Price, CS, Denver, Colorado
dlawrenceprice@yahoo.com • 720-308-9500

NEEDS OF THE WEEK:

As we all have learned from our earliest Sunday School lessons, Spirit is God. But what does that really mean and how do we learn and experience this way of viewing God? First, Spirit is not, and cannot be, something that we conceive of by using our human brain. Spirit in and of itself is infinite activity going on right now. Spirit is eternal so there was no beginning and there is no ending to God. Spirit is the very thing, the only thing in fact, that creates. This means that we are created by Spirit, spiritually, exclusively.

So this lesson is really about getting to know the active Spirit working to create and renew in our lives. This work is always good and harmonious. One way to see this active work is through the metaphor of “angels”, which is a theme throughout this week’s lesson. I like to think of the idea of angels not as separate from God, and certainly not something that includes a human body with wings, halos and feathers. This lesson gives an expanded sense of the angel visitant that comes to our thought and teaches and uplifts in order to give a better understanding of Spirit, how God is right now guiding you.

The Golden Text (GT) of this week’s lesson begins with the wonderful sense of reception, not the kind of reception that occurs at parties with friends or family or in some kind of formal setting like meeting a sports figure or going to a wedding. Instead, it has to do with the reception of the gift of Spirit. Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, but in essence writing to each one of us, encourages and assures us that we have been given a full sense of God’s presence, the Spirit, guarding, guiding and healing. He also assures us that this gift is not something reserved for a special class of people, or something that you have to earn; it’s simply a gift.

Paul also makes it clear that this gift doesn’t have to do with material things – like the spirit of excitement you get when you receive a new phone or computer; that’s a temporary sense, actually something that is not real, because it is not permanent. What Paul is talking about is the feeling of the presence sense of God, Spirit.

This gift of the Spirit, Paul explains, is not a gift for later on today, or sometime in the future when we are ready to receive it, this is a gift “received”. Each one of you already has this gift, even if you don’t know it.

I remember an experience I had while I was going through Christian Science class instruction. We were asked simply to feel God’s presence. I sat there in my hotel room alone for hours searching for this elusive sense of the presence of Spirit. When I finally went to bed that night I had nothing, I felt so dejected. Turns out I was not the only one who didn’t immediately succeed at the assignment. That afternoon, asked to try again, I found myself in excruciating pain. Neither stretching, lying down, sitting down, or showering gave me relief. As I prayed throughout the day, I was able to find a sense of healing, working with a practitioner, but the minute I called to release him from his work the pain came back.

I realized that this was going to be something I had to handle myself. And finally I was able to succeed through quiet prayerful persistence. As I lay there that night I simply felt a clear voice, an angel message, reassuring me that my identity was intact. In that moment I felt God’s presence, and in that moment I was healed. Here’s the thing, God’s presence wasn’t something foreign, like a brand new tropical fruit I had never tasted. That sense of Spirit was something I had always known and felt, I simply hadn’t put two and two together. I had already and always “received” the Spirit.

Since this eternal sense of reception is true for each one of us, that means we don’t have speak to other people about God in a way that sounds like we are trying to convince them of God’s care and permanence. We can speak to them with knowledge that they have already received the gift of the Spirit, even if they don’t quite know it yet.

The Responsive Reading (RR) expands this concept of the gift of the Spirit and reminds us that God, divine Mind, is infinite in wisdom and intelligence so those gifts must be complex and diverse. I love the sense that each of us receives God’s gift uniquely and even differently. For example some people are good at talking with others about God, some have felt God’s love so acutely they are super compassionate, some are so confident in God’s care they just exude unselfishness.

And Paul makes it clear that even though there are different gifts, there is one Spirit, this means that Godlike qualities like faithfulness, compassion, and goodness must work together harmoniously. I like to think of an orchestra. Accomplished violists don’t play the flute, concert pianists aren’t accomplished in French horn, etc., but the work each musician puts into their specific craft, playing together, results in the flow, rhythm and harmony of a grand symphony.

I love Paul’s urging to the Galatians – It’s almost as if he is saying – “Pick up the fruits of the Spirit and live them in your daily experience”. And what are these fruits of the Spirit? Well, Paul gives a non exhaustive list: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”(NIV Translation, B22) – These are qualities we get to embody, and these are qualities “freely given” to us by God.

So what’s the big deal about these qualities? Paul’s response “Against such, THERE IS NO LAW!” Think about the gravity of such a statement. Embodying God’s love, God’s joy, God’s peace, etc. is impenetrable, immune to persecution or prosecution (see Section 5)! For example, no matter how much someone hates you, your friends, your family, your community, the world, if you are expressing, exuding love, your identity as an expression of Godlike Love is changeless, unaffected.

Try on these qualities, or fruits of the Spirit. God has given them to you free of charge. See how powerful and healing they really are.

The theme of Spirit or God revealed through angels is emphasized throughout week’s lesson, and reminds me of the strength and safety, a presence tangible, palpable care which is Spirit’s goodness.

Section 1: Do you know Spirit, yet? There is an army of ideas (angels) revealing what you need to know about God today.

One main source to find accounts of and learn how to understand Spirit is from the teachings found in the Bible (or Scriptures as many Christians refer to the Bible). Consider the first Tenet of Christian Science – “As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.” What does a guide do? Well, she leads you through your journey and provides you with anything you might need to get to your destination. This is just what the Bible does, it’s your guide to understanding God, Spirit, and this helps you to understand your permanent relationship to Father/Mother Love, a present help in any situation.

As we all already know, we can’t see or hear Spirit with material ears or eyes because it is impossible to conceive of something infinite and eternal in nature and all Love in terms of matter. But Spirit can be understood in symbols/metaphors. As Mrs. Eddy puts it “Spirit is symbolized by strength, presence, and power, and by holy thoughts winged with Love.”(SH5)

Section 1 of this week’s lesson hits home God’s goodness by stating that Spirit is the creator “in wisdom hast thou made them all….” In fact, it is the word of Spirit that is both creative and renewing. I love the idea of renewal. It means regardless of the rut you’re in or the brooding you’re doing over something unfair, God renews goodness in you, allowing you to set aside this false sense and move forward with Him.

It is tempting to think – well, I’m not spiritual enough, or I don’t have a deep enough understanding to really know how to be led by Spirit. But the metaphor of this week’s lesson is to trust that those angel thoughts will lead you, and it’s not just a few angels, it’s “…even thousands of angels”. (B4)

I love the idea that Spirit or Mind “knows all”. Past, present, future are all comprehended by God. In fact nothing is new to Spirit. So, turning to those angel messages allows us to express what God already knows and understands right now.

Section 2: Where do we look for Spirit?

This section answers the above question in a simple way – There is nowhere you can go that God isn’t with you! Psalms 139 is one of my favorite Psalms because it puts it so poetically “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (B6) Of course, God is with you when you feel happy and harmonious (“heaven”), but what about when you feel like you messed up and you’re to blame (“the pit” or “hell”)? Yup, God is even there. How about “taking the wings of the morning and dwelling in the uttermost parts of the sea”?

This Psalm came to me when I found myself on a business trip to Boston. As the plane was taking off, I was praying, communing with Spirit. So as we began to accelerate on the runway I realized that the airplane’s speed, even at 350 mile/hour, didn’t affect God’s presence. We can’t outrun Spirit! Spirit fills all space. So, yup even when you’re traveling “on wings of the morning”, God is right there with you.

Mrs. Eddy is pretty clear that looking for physical or material signs of God’s presence (like looking for “angels” as winged beings whispering in your ears) is simply looking for Spirit in matter. She writes, “Can the material senses, which receive no direct evidence of Sprit, give correct testimony as to spiritual life, truth, and love? The answer…must forever be in the negative.” (SH7)

But, that’s not to say that we discount our angel experiences. Mrs. Eddy gives a wonderful insight to the general view of angels with her definition in her Glossary. She writes, “ANGELS. God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil sensuality, and mortality.” (SH8, 581) Wow, angels actually play a great part in our learning about Spirit; thoughts passing from God to you, intuition, inspiration… all meant to teach you how to grow closer to God and grow further from evil and matter.

Jacob’s experience seeing angels passing between earth and heaven on a ladder served to help him see the uplifting thought from a material sense to a spiritual, to “… climb, with joy, the heights of Mind, To soar o’er time and space;” —and the result?—“I yet shall know as I am known And see Thee face to face…” (See Hymn 136)

Section 3: Spirit strengthens us regardless of the circumstance (Really helpful section for both campers and staff!)

Whether it’s fatigue, pain, weakness… God is right there strengthening you. Sometimes the inclination at camp is to say, “I will push through this”, relying on sheer willpower to get you through the day. Or saying, “I give up, this is too much for me.” Mrs. Eddy is really clear on this point – “It has been demonstrated to me that Life is God and that the might of omnipotent Spirit shares not its strength with matter or with human will.” (SH13) Quit the temptation to think that it is the human mind or human will that is enough or not enough to strengthen. God is providing all the energy, strength, rest, direction needed. Rely on Spirit – “Feel the divine energy of Spirit bringing you into newness of life…” (SH11)

Mrs. Eddy gives the example of Florence Nightingale, a nurse who tirelessly tended to wounded soldiers oftentimes late into the night and for days on end. Mrs. Eddy attributed this energy to the “…support they derived from the divine law, rising above the human.” Really tending to the needs of others, feeling a sense of God’s compassion, forgiveness and care are great motives in overcoming weakness, tiredness or exhaustion.

[Citation B11 is from Isaiah chapter 35, which was given to CedarS Founder, Ruth Huff, as God’s Bible-opening answer to “what is CedarS purpose?”] Working with “confirm the feeble knees,” I spiritualized the concept of feeble knees.

Feeble knees – are you willing to stand up and simply declare your love and reverence for Spirit, or are you afraid that people won't understand or make fun of you? Check your proverbial knees at the door, and realize God is strengthening your resolve to stand up. In fact, be ready to assure someone who doesn't readily believe in God's ability to meet and heal every situation with the assurance – yes, you are safe, cared for and strengthened because that’s what God does.

Isaiah 40 is another greatest hits Bible verse that could be helpful to memorize! “…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” (B12)

Section 4: Stop trusting anything but Spirit [See also PS#1 on CC insights on B15]

This section is really about trusting God and letting go of superstitions. I really appreciated the contrast between Christ Jesus who we read “returned in the power of the Spirit” (B14) and the man who had an infirmity for 38 years. Although not in this week’s lesson, Jesus’ return comes right after the story of his 40 days in the wilderness, which included the three temptations. Jesus’ full reliance on God, his unyielding trust in God’s care, ushered him into a new sense of God. This is when he returned in the power of the Spirit.

In contrast, we find the man at the pool of Bethesda who has been an invalid for 38 years. (B15) At some point having not found healing anywhere else, he has turned to story or superstition regarding the pool of Bethesda. Hoping an angel will heal him if only he is first to the pool, he lays on a bed by the pool every day with his fingers crossed that he will be healed. (Certainly, this is not the type of angel we should be placing our faith in—one that limits healing to one person a year, and picks and chooses based on who wins a race.)

I love the sense that this man, even though his reliance was misplaced, was of course healed by Christ Jesus. The Christ came to him; he didn’t have to move at all. Mrs. Eddy illuminates this Christly sense when she writes, “Christ, Truth, was demonstrated through Jesus to prove the power of the Spirit over the flesh, - to show that Truth is made manifest by its effects upon the human mind and body, healing sickness and destroying sin.” (SH18) The healing Christ is never exclusive, but always inclusive. And this healing activity, which must be placed wholly in Spirit heals both the mind and body.

I find it very helpful to think about what false trusts I’ve been tricked into thinking are helpful, and then destroy or “divest” (SH23) myself of them. Like you, I don’t think I’ve ever believed in the healing power of angels troubling water, but I have been tricked to tacitly take in the power of diet and exercise to affect my body. I’ve been hoodwinked into seeking out a medical diagnosis as a starting point for figuring out how to end an ache or pain. Our job is not to get caught up in whether we’ve been tricked or hoodwinked, it’s to figure out the times when we have, and then turn back to God, forget the matter-based false solution and see that there is only real and effective power with God, Spirit. Mrs. Eddy wrote aptly, “To have one God and avail yourself of the power of Spirit, you must love God supremely.” (SH19)

And this complete trust in Spirit allows us to claim our right to healing through Spirit. Another greatest hits quote for me comes in the final citation of this section and illumines this sense. “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.” (SH24)

Section 5: Being led by Spirit unshackles the chains of matter. [B19 and CC PS#2]

Early on in my former career as an attorney I had a difficult challenge that helped me really rely on God even when a legal judge seemed to have the final say in a court case. I was representing a client, as a defense attorney. This client had received a citation for driving with a invalid driver’s license. The penalty for a first time offense in Colorado had the potential of 30 to 60 days in jail. In most instances, because the penalty was so unfair and harsh, the prosecutor would come up with a plea agreement, a joint concession, for an alternative lighter sentence. In this case I had already spoken with the prosecutor and we had worked out a deal that included the minimum sentence to be served at his own home. This client had a spotless record. And his family situation of having a newborn baby at home was helpful.

But when I came into court that day there were a lot of challenges that appeared. First, my dog had wandered off just before I had to go to court that morning, and he was nowhere to be found. Because of my time constraints I couldn’t spend more time looking for him. Needless to say I was heartbroken.

To make matters worse, the judge I was in front of was known to be a very harsh judge in terms of sentencing defendants. That reputation rang true, for that morning the judge sentenced my client to 60 days of straight jail time, despite the plea agreement that was made by the prosecuting attorney, as well as his recommendation for leniency.

I left court with the defendant’s crying wife and baby behind me only to get in my car and wonder what would become of my lost pup. It was a pretty bad day, when I finally walked into my office. But I began to pray, and this story in Section 5, which has been a favorite of mine since I was young, came to mind. (B19) In this story we read that Peter was thrown into jail simply because Herod the king didn’t like Christians. Yet, Peter, shackled and between two soldiers, was led through his imprisonment to freedom by an angel.

That afternoon a dear friend called me and told me she had found my dog, Arthur, imprisoned at the pound, but she had already paid the fine and he was safe in her care. Right after that call, the judge’s clerk from that morning called and said that the judge had reconsidered his sentence and had decided to withdraw his order and instate the original agreement that had been made.

It is so easy to view what seems to be really shocking material circumstances and give in and go along with what seems like the inevitable effects. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that in those situations, this is when we should trust Spirit the most. She writes, “Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger. The more difficult seems the material condition to be overcome by Spirit, the stronger should be our faith and the purer our Love.” She goes on to respond to the claim of fear in the face of what seems to be an insurmountable challenge. “The Apostle John says: ‘There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casteth out fear….. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love.’ Here is a definite and inspired proclamation of Christian Science… Christian Scientific practice begins with Christ’s keynote of harmony, ‘Be not afraid!” (SH26).
[Download photos in the upper right corner our Met webpage of "infinity, freedom, harmony and boundless bliss" -- the elements of "God's being" (S29. 481)-- that it is our goal to express (p. 470:23)—spelled out in 12” high letters—at CedarS Mediterranean Cable Ski launch platform.]

Section 6: What is our responsibility to Spirit? Love!

What are some of our responsibilities? Well, the easiest one is simply to Love (Express God’s Love), and do it consistently. Love our fellow campers, our brothers and sisters, love those who seem most difficult to love, and love the stranger (someone who appears foreign or different).

A number of years ago I was at a two-week intensive seminar for attorneys. I didn’t know anyone there and we were asked to meet up for dinner at a venue about 20 miles away. Everyone broke up into groups, and there I was sort of on the outskirts, no one had chosen me. Now, I could have gone up to one of those groups and invited myself, and quit frankly that was what I generally would have done. But I noticed a “stranger” on the outskirts of the group looking a little awkward. He had slicked back hair and a pronounced beard. He was wearing funky colored clothing and he looked older than everyone else. Instantly, an angel message impelled me to walk over and introduce myself. The greeting was cordial but warm. He offered to drive. It didn’t take longer than driving to the end of the hotel exit that we became instant friends. An inspired conversation ten minutes into the drive connected us both to a mutual friend who actually was a Christian Scientist. This new friend was fascinated to learn this and wanted to know more about my religion.

Leading with Love, being willing to open yourself up to meet new and seeming strangers, allows you to be open to entertaining an angel without even being aware of it. This friend, Arturo, was in the most sappy of ways, the angel that I needed at that difficult conference where I felt out of place. And over the years I have been that inspiration for good that has helped him in difficult times. And even though he lives in Atlanta, Georgia and I live in Denver, we have a lifelong friendship.

Citation B22 is a repeat from the Responsive Reading, but thinking about all we have learned in the preceding Bible Lesson isn’t this passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians enhanced? Really taking in these qualities of Spirit, which includes love, and joy, and peace, etc., isn’t this the way to consistently be a transparency for the Spirit that is Love, God?

Ultimately, it is Love, that helps us best understand and be guided and cared for by Spirit. “Love will finally mark the hour of harmony, and spiritualization will follow, for Love is Spirit.” (SH 22)


TOP NEEDS OF THE WEEK:

  • "Maintenance Musts" Matching Funds! This hugely helpful matching grant offer has been renewed by dear supporters to match up to $25,000 through December 31, 2017!
  • By September 30, 2017 we need "just" $1,100 to complete our $50,000 Adopt the Herd matching challenge grant to help feed and care for our herd of horses. See the CedarS photo album for great riding pictures: www.cedarscamps.org/album/2017/70323/activities/ (password: CedarS)

We are profoundly grateful for ongoing outpourings of love and support that have met many of our afore-listed needs, including a new chain saw last week!

Especially helpful are your much-needed MONTHLY gifts, past and ongoing, that can be started and adjusted at: www.cedarscamps.org/giving ]


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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 big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs 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) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/

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