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Thy Light Is Come!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Saturday, December 18th, 2004

(Editor's Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the C.S. Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director's Note at the end. The citations referenced in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These two books are the ordained pastor of The Christian Science Church. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Thy Light Is Come!
Application ideas for CS Bible Lesson: "Christian Science" for Dec. 20-26, 2004
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois

Golden Text
We begin this Lesson with the voice of God "bidding Jerusalem arise and shine in the reflected light of his glory" (Abingdon). The rest of the world is in darkness and all nations are to be gathered to the true light of Zion. According to Dummelow, "This prophecy received its highest fulfillment at the coming of Christ, the true Light of the world...." In the context of this particular Lesson, the light of the Christ as expressed by Jesus, is paralleled to that of Christian Science in modern times.

Responsive Reading
These verses from Isaiah foretell the long awaited end of the exile. Abingdon's notes, "The eloquence of these chapters is wholly without parallel in the entire literature of the ancient Oriental world." After enduring years of suffering, the Lord will come and bring his people back and recompense them for their hardships. It is a time of hope and expectation. "All the essential elements of the prophet's message are here-his confidence in the presence and power of God to save, his recognition of the dependence of man on God and the justice of the judgment which has fallen on God's people, his vision of the declaration of God's victory to all the world" (Interpreter's). The above description of these verses could also be said of the message of Christian Science. This is a time for joy and singing. God's power is to be seen by all nations.

Section I
Truth Now Is Dawning
The first verse (B1) is a continuation of the Golden Text. Like a city gleaming in the morning sunlight while the rest of the earth is in darkness, so shall the splendor of the light of truth appear to the waiting world.

The prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (B2), declares the birth of a son named Immanuel. Although in the context of the prophecy, the word translated "virgin" meant merely one of "marriagable age" (Dummelow), and that the prophet probably expected the event to impact his immediate situation, most commentaries feel that the prophecy points to the birth of Jesus, which occurred more than seven hundred years later. In many theological circles the exact literal meaning of the author is quite important. But some commentators feel that more important than the determination of what was meant by "a virgin", was the fact that the child would bear the name "Immanuel" or "God with us."

Citation B3 describes the annunciation of the birth of Jesus. Even among Christian theologians, there are varying degrees of interpretation for this event. In Luke, the story is told from Mary's perspective. Although Hebrew thought did not require a supernatural occurrence accompany the coming of the Messiah, for the Hellenistic thought addressed by Luke, kings and heroes often came into the world through miraculous methods. This fact leads to questions as to why Mary seemed surprised. As a betrothed maiden, she would expect to have a child. Her reaction may have been because the child would be called the Son of God. But Luke seems to emphasize the spiritual nature of the event by showing the parallel of Elisabeth bearing John. It proves that all things are possible with God (see Interpreter's).

Although Dummelow takes a rather traditional view of the narrative, he points out that the whole story "moves within the circle of Old Testament ideas, and this is proof of its truth, for an invented story would certainly show marks of a Christian origin. The grace, modest reticence, and inimitable simplicity of the narrative are in marked contrast to the vulgar details of the Apocryphal Gospels." He also notes that "Highly favored" meant "endued with grace" not "full of grace." So Mary is not the mother of grace, but the daughter of it. (Ed. note: To apply this idea, how can you be a better daughter of grace or son of grace in your daily interactions today?) It is sure though, that Mary certainly had a spiritual insight and purity enabling her to perceive the Christ idea as Science and Health declares.  (Ed. note: To apply this idea, how can you be a better daughter of spiritual insight or son of purity in your daily walk and talk today?)

There is doubt as to the historical truth of a census at the time (B4), but Luke seems to be more concerned with the theological rather than the historical accuracy. He showed the connection of the Messiah being of the lineage of David. He also wanted to underscore the humble beginnings of Jesus as foreshadowing of his future rejection by men.

The location of Jesus' birth was not in a stable as we think of it. Rather, there was an entryway to the house where the animals were kept in bad weather and a manger-a room or pit below the living quarters-for feeding. The birth could have been in either the room or the passageway leading to it.

Science and Health begins with the recognition of Jesus as the Son of God (S&H 1). But the text goes on to acknowledge God as the only author of all men. Mary conceived this spiritual concept to a degree that allowed her to demonstrate it. The Christ idea has always been with God, and Mary's understanding of that truth, brought it to fruition. One might say that her spiritual readiness allowed her to discover this eternal fact about man as the child of God.  (Ed. note: To apply this idea, do your preparations for Christmas give highest priority to letting "every heart prepare him room," that is to focusing on spiritual readiness, vs. on a prevalent focus on commercialism with its merely material gifting, wrappings and trappings?)

Mrs. Eddy foretells that a time will come when everyone will understand and demonstrate this spiritual origin of man (S&H 2). In reality, all men are the offspring of Spirit. Our lineage is only the good (S&H 3). We have our origin and destination in God.

As Mary, the mother of Jesus was prepared for reception of the divine idea, so Mrs. Eddy had been prepared for her reception of Christian Science (S&H 4). She describes her discovery as a revelation from God. She saw the discovery as another fulfillment of the messianic prophecy (S&H 5).

Section II
The Shepherds Get the Message.
In Luke's gospel (B5), an angel announces Jesus' arrival to shepherds in the field. Apparently, the flocks they kept were to be used in the temple. Therefore, these shepherds had a higher status than others. The angels declare Jesus to be the Saviour.

In Matthew's version (B6), the child is visited by three wise men. These men were astrologers and expected that the showing of the great star signaled a great event-the birth of a king. Some feel that they could not have guessed the destiny of Jesus, but traditionally the gifts symbolize the following: gold, Jesus' royalty; frankincense, divinity; myrrh, the passion (Dummelow). Whatever their purpose, the coming of the wise men symbolized the power of the Christ to attract all nations. 

In Science and Health, we find that both the humble and the great are drawn to the signs of the appearing of a new age (S&H 6). Both the shepherds and the wise men worked through the night awaiting the coming dawn. Note that both the shepherds and the wise men were actively at work. The shepherds were going about their regular duties but were approached by the angel due to their receptivity. The wise men had incorporated their expectancy into their work. So today, those who are watchful are witnesses to the light of truth. Whether going about regular daily activities or professionally engaged in healing, one can be equally receptive to the Christ message. The truth is not always generally accepted, but those who are looking for it can see it (S&H 8). Our refined lives indicate our readiness and ability to perceive the spiritual idea (S&H 9).

Section III
The Sign of Healing 
Like his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus grew strong in spirit. But he also grew in grace. Abingdon's says the word meant, "charm" (B7). Although Matt. 4:23 (B8), is so common to our Lessons, it is significant in that it states the scope of Jesus' mission. He used the synagogues. He taught, he preached, and he healed. This meant that he tried to work within the framework of the institution of Judaism (Interpreter's).

The healing of the leper (B9) showed that Jesus was also willing to advance beyond the strictures of Judaism. Normally, a leper needed to be given a wide birth. It was considered unlawful to even speak to them. But here, Jesus actually touches him. Instead of becoming unclean himself, Jesus demonstrated his power to cleanse others. He then told the man to show himself to the priest and offer a gift, in order to be officially allowed back into society. So Jesus was not completely dismissing the Law of Moses, but rather, advancing it to practical demonstration.

John the Baptist after hearing of Jesus works (B10) questioned Jesus' messiahship because he was expecting a more traditional, judgmental messianic approach. Jesus instead proved his role by healing.

Although most scholars believe the ending of Mark (B11) to be a later addition to the original manuscript, the message here is a point well taken. The followers of Jesus are expected to be healers.

Mrs. Eddy states (S&H 10), without hesitation, that. "Christian Science and Christianity are one." The healing power Jesus exercised was that of Christian Science (S&H 11). Each citation in this section underscores that Christian Science was Jesus' method of healing. Also, as Jesus proved his position as Messiah through healing, so Christian Science proves through healing that it is the same method taught by Jesus (S&H 13,14).

Section IV
The Comforter
Most scholars feel that these verses about the relationship of the Son to the Father (B12) were not Jesus' words. They bear the theology of later in the 1st century. Even so, as Christian Scientists, we have come to recognize these verses as an explanation of reflection. The Son can only do what the Father is doing. The creation cannot express anything the Creator does not. Just so, the creation fully reflects all that the Creator is.

Those who believe in Jesus (understand him), are expected to equal Jesus' demonstration (B13). This would be possible because Jesus was to return to the Father. He promises a Comforter to teach us all things and to bring all that he said to remembrance. The Comforter, the Spirit of truth, reveals those things the disciples could not understand. But the Comforter would be subordinate to the Christ, and do all to his glory.

In our textbook, Mrs. Eddy's words again, correlate Jesus' mission with Christian Science (S&H 15, 16). The citations continue to develop Mrs. Eddy's understanding that the science of Jesus' demonstration though not being fully comprehended by the disciples, is revealed through her writings. On page 150 (S&H 17), Mrs. Eddy mentions that though healing is a necessary part of demonstration, the higher purpose of "the Christ-power [is] to take away the sins of the world." Perhaps this is what Jesus meant by "greater works than these."

On page 55 of Science and Health (S&H 18), we are bidden to take heart knowing that the "promises will be fulfilled." Our Leader promises that if we put ourselves fully into the work, we will achieve great results. Then she states unequivocally, that she understands the Comforter "to be Divine Science." This is really a remarkable declaration. It certainly cannot be made or taken lightly. As Jesus' claim to be the "Son of God" was considered blasphemous in his time, so Mrs. Eddy's claim of Christian Science as the "promised Comforter" in our time is a terrific shock to traditional theology. The only way to back up that statement is with healing proof. Our Leader could make the statement because of her healing record. We need to support the statement through our own demonstration.

Section V
Scriptural Authority
In I Corinthians 2 (B15), Paul is addressing the folly of following popular, intellectual wisdom verses the wisdom of God as manifested through Jesus' demonstration. "The faith that was evoked depended on no human cleverness but on the power of God" (Abingdon). Paul made no attempt to connect the message of Jesus with the popular thought. The spirit alone moves Paul and the power of the spirit is what is convincing to his hearers. Without apology, the next citation establishes Jesus Christ as the only foundation (B16). In Romans (B17) we are reminded that everything in the scriptures was not written for their time only, but was written for our use today, to give us hope and courage in our struggles.

In I Peter (B18), the author defends the purity of the gospel message. The influence of pagan religions could not pollute the pure message of those who were eyewitnesses. The scriptural prophecies had a spiritual origin. "The same Spirit who inspired men of old to write also inspired persons within the church to understand the meaning. This is a protection against false teaching" (Interpreter's). The phrase, "until the day dawn" is indicative of the second coming.

In Science and Health we find Mrs. Eddy likewise, relying on tangible proof as evidence of the veracity of Christian Science (S&H 19). She has given Christian Science and its rules to the world as she discovered them (S&H 20). Like the apostles staking their claims on scriptural authority and first hand experience, so Mrs. Eddy has founded her system on the teachings of the Bible. In order to be understood, her works need to be studied (S&H 21). This is so important. The only place to really learn about Christian Science is in the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. Mrs. Eddy once noted that we were fortunate to have the original versions of her writings. She took great pains to preserve the purity of her teaching because she understood it to be directly from God. She did not make up Christian Science any more than the apostles made up Jesus. As students today, we can fully expect to get the "straight scoop" from her writings. We don't need anything else. Mrs. Eddy invites her readers to put her system to the test in their own experience (S&H 22). Thus each individual will be able to discern for himself whether or not Christian Science is "the correct interpretation of scripture."

Section VI
The Unspeakable Gift
Abingdon's states that, "there is nothing to match" the beauty of the citations from Isaiah (B19). They speak of the coming of the ideal king who will rule perfectly forever. The prophet speaks of future events as if they already happened. Dummelow calls this tense the "prophetic perfect." It claims a future result as having already been. That approach is very much like a Christian Science treatment. The book of James (B20) bids us keep our thoughts and acts within the "perfect law of liberty." This phrase is connected to the Jewish teaching of the time that "obedience to the law is true freedom" (Interpreter's).  Abingdon, noting that this "perfect law" is that which is given in the Sermon on the Mount, adds "It is the perfect law, i.e. attaining its end in enabling man to be righteous; which the old law could not do." Like the previous section, we have instruction urging us to stay within the rules in order to be successful in practice. And faithful practice is an essential rule!

In Matthew (B21) we have Jesus' command to his followers to get to work. Another translation of that demand encircles the cross and crown as the trademark of authentic Christian Science literature. Jesus expected us to do what he did. So did Mrs. Eddy. A teaching is not much good unless it's practiced and carried on.

In II Corinthians (B22), Paul tells us all to give ourselves to this holy work freely and cheerfully. We will be blessed in proportion to our giving. God provides us with all we need to accomplish this work. The final verse, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift," is often thought of as referring to the appearing of the Christ, the gospel message, and the resulting healing power. Dummelow puts the phrase in the context of the whole letter and explains it like this: "The establishment of these happy relations between the Churches, each giving thanks for the others and praying for their growth in all goodness, was a blessing from God beyond the power of words to express." This sentiment shows a movement in which the whole church is working together in harmonious fellowship. As we focus today on demonstrating the healing power of truth, supporting every healing effort in every quarter, without being distracted from that primary purpose, our movement will advance to Paul's realization of the "unspeakable gift."

Science and Health explains that the healing power of Christian Science resides in Spirit (S&H 23). This Science is a revelation beyond human beliefs and creeds. It stands for all time (S&H 24). Anyone who sticks to the rules and is filled with the spirit can demonstrate the power of Christian Science to heal (S&H 25). Eventually, everyone will seek these truths (S&H 26).

If anyone has any doubts about their ability to practice Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy's words in this section should help to eliminate them. The healing of Christian Science is the operation of Principle not of the human mind. As the revelation of truth to this age, it is beyond all human doctrines or creeds; and she promises that slow or fast, if we stick to the rules, we will succeed. As we do, the light of truth will dawn over every nation.

The reference books used in this met were:
The Abingdon Bible Commentary
The One Volume Bible Commentary edited by J.R. Dummelow, M.A.
The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible

Key to Abbreviations:  In CedarS weekly Bible Lesson "Mets" (B#3) stands for the 3rd citation in the Biblewhich unless otherwise noted, refers to the King James version. Other versions of the Bible when used are cited in parenthesis.  Abbreviations for books of the Bible are standard as found in the Christian Science Quarterly, i.e. Ps. 23:1 stands for The Book of Psalms, 23rd chapter, 1st verse. 

S&H stands for Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S&H#3) stands for the 3rd Science and Health citation in the lesson. (S&H 497:24) refers to Science and Health page 497, line 24.

Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST 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 and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)  

*
P.S.  If you don't have the textbooks at hand, you can read this week's Bible lesson (and surrounding text too) online by clicking here.

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