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Come through Heaven's Open Door, Never Slammed Shut!

Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany
Posted Monday, October 20th, 2014

Come through Heaven's Open Door, Never Slammed Shut!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for

October 26, 2014

Subject: Probation After Death

Prepared by:  Rick Stewart, C.S., Dresden, Germany

rickstewartcs@aol.com            +49 351 312 4736

[Bracketed italics by CedarS Director Warren Huff, who’s letting needs be known for support:  our Matching Funds need gifts to complete upgrades before year-end snows fly. Click here to donate now!]

My family and I live in a building with five floors.  We live on the "ersten Etage," what would be known as the second floor in the US, or first floor in the UK. One day about ten years ago I stepped into the hallway for just a second to grab something outside the door, along came a breeze and slammed the door behind me. Oops, guess what, I didn't have my key, and like in some kind of bad dream, I was in my underwear!  Oh, no. But I knew a neighbor across the courtyard had our spare key. Rather than try to somehow run across the courtyard hiding behind different bushes, I rang the door bell of the neighbors across the hallway and borrowed their telephone to call the neighbor with the key. With a little embarrassment on my part, everything worked out fine, and everyone had a few laughs.

Wow, that experience sure made me glad for open doors, or at least the key to open a closed door! And this week's Christian Science Bible Lesson has reminded me once again of that joy.

Mary Baker Eddy established many years ago the weekly subjects for our Bible Lessons. She realized that many topics in church doctrine and popular discussion had to be addressed for us all to understand our relationship to God better. One of the topics she chose as deserving our attention was "Probation After Death." Rather than bowing to current discussions or orthodox church doctrines, Mrs. Eddy encouraged us to discover what the Bible teaches on this subject.  Through this week's Bible Lesson we can discover a clear unfoldment of how the Bible shows that we all stand before and enter "an open door to heaven," that is never slammed shut, and that comes through Life not death.  Let's learn together how we find that open door to heaven.

Here is how heaven is defined in the Glossary of Science and Health, * SH 587:25-587:27  “HEAVEN. Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul.”

Come on, let's find and enter by that door that can never be slammed shut—and live!

Golden Text: Revelation 4:1 "...behold a door was opened in heaven."
Our Golden Text comes from the last book of the Bible, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine."  The author of Revelation describes himself in this way, "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 1:9)  It seems that John had been exiled by the Roman authorities to the island, Patmos.  Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea.  Tradition has it that John lived in a cave on that island.  And it was from this location that John saw a vision that Mrs. Eddy describes as follows, "… St. John’s corporeal sense of the heavens and earth had vanished, and in place of this false sense was the spiritual sense, the subjective state by which he could see the new heaven and new earth, which involve the spiritual idea and consciousness of reality. This is Scriptural authority for concluding that such a recognition of being is, and has been, possible to men in this present state of existence, — that we can become conscious, here and now, of a cessation of death, sorrow, and pain." [573: 19-27]

Here are some other translations that I found really interesting because of the sense they give of the door to heaven being always open!

J.B. Phillips, Rev. 4:1 "...and before my eyes a door stood open in Heaven."

Good News Translation, "At this point I had another vision and saw an open door in Heaven."

Amplified Bible, "After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!"

Responsive Reading
The Responsive Reading from Psalm 84 and Psalm 119 gives me the feeling of someone wishing, or actually praying their hopes to serve, live, and be in the presence of the Lord.  It’s a hope that perhaps we all share.  This is the way the "Voice" translation puts it, Psalms 84, "How lovely is Your temple, Your dwelling place on earth, O Eternal One, Commander of heavens armies.  How I long to be there—my soul is spent, wanting, waiting to walk in the courts of the Eternal.  My whole being sings joyfully to the living God.  How blessed are those who make Your house their home, who live with You; they are constantly praising You.  Just one day in the courts of Your temple is greater than a thousand anywhere else.  I would rather serve as a porter at my God's doorstep than live in luxury in the house of the wicked."

But for many nowadays it has become the common belief that death, in one form or another, is what opens the door to heaven.  That leads to the belief that living in heaven, or we might say finding this "open door" to heaven, is something for an afterlife.  The last verses of the Responsive Reading begin to introduce the idea that it is through life and living that we find the kingdom of heaven, with a wide open door!

Psalm 119: 137, 144 "Righteous are thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgements. ...give me understanding and I shall live."

Section 1: Living, not dying leads to the "open door."!
This section points us toward understanding and successful living as the key to living in the presence of God.  You might say learning how to live is what opens the door to harmonious living, or living in the kingdom of heaven!  And the Bible and Science and Health can give us some great tips!  Tips can be invaluable.  For example, these ideas from Proverbs and Psalms.

(B-1) "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.  For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord."

(B-2) "The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.  I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.  Open to me the gates of righteous:" [of right thinking and right acting]

The Science and Health citations give us some further tips.  Citation S-2 encourages us to, "Work out your own salvation... for it is God which worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure." Citation S-5 tells us how to move forward, "Progress is born of experience."  Practice, practice, practice.  Nothing beats experience.  But also remember how helpful understanding can be, a wise tip often moves us forward.

Here is a little example to learn from.  Many of you reading this know two of CedarS' best friends, Tom and Mark Evans.  Both Tom and Mark have been campers, counselors, and directors at CedarS.  I knew them years ago when one of their great passions was a particular video game.  They were really good at this particular game, but they always reached a point where they would run out of lives and the game would end.  But they kept playing, having fun, until the point of failure, game over, lives gone!  Then one day my nephew, Scott, came with me for a visit to Tom and Mark.  Scott was younger, but he knew a secret.  As Scott was playing the game with them he showed them a little tip or secret and guess what—the limitations just lifted. A brand new level of success opened to them.  No more dying, now unlimited progress born of experience and understanding.

Isn't that what this section of the Lesson is encouraging us to see? "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord"!

Section 2: Tip from a parable: Unselfishness keeps the "door" open.
In the Gospel of Luke, a parable is attributed to Jesus that tells of a poor beggar and a rich man. (B-7, Luke 16)  The rich man had refused to help the poor man in life, and then according to the parable both died.  The poor man was in "Abraham's bosom," and the rich man in "hell."  Some translations refer to the bosom of Abraham simply as "with Abraham or by Abraham."  And the rich man's hell is translated in the New Living Translation simply as, "place of the dead."  J.B. Phillips simply has it as "from among the dead."

Phillips takes the parable as a comment on social injustice.  And we could see where qualities of thought might very well lead to different circumstances for each character in the parable.

Citation S-8 shares these thoughts from our textbook, "If the soft palm, upturned to a lordly salary, and architectural skill, making dome and spire tremulous with beauty, turn the poor and the stranger from the gate, they at the same time shut the door on progress." (142:11-15)

If there are those begging for help, and we refuse to give what we have, are we a little like the rich man in the parable?  We may not be rich in money but if we know the Science of Love and its healing power, can we withhold our prayers, our treatment, our love and our care?  Remember when Peter and John were about to enter the temple at the time of prayer and and a man asked for some money?  Peter told him he had no money, but he was ready to give what he had, prayer, love, treatment, the Gospel.  The man was healed. [And, “all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.” Acts 3:1-11]

Citation S-10 states “Every day makes it demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them.  This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil."  What we can certainly fulfill!  To quote one of the favorite songs in the Stewart household these days, "Love is an open door." (From Disney's "Frozen".)

Section 3: [Another tip at the gate of Nain:] “Death closes no doors.”
In Luke's Gospel, chapter 7 we are told that Jesus entered into Capernaum and then the day after went into the city called Nain.  Crowds had begun to follow the Master.  As he approached the city gate there was as very small funeral procession, a widow woman with her only son being carried to the burial sites along the entrance to the city.  And with that burial the woman would have lost all; her beloved son, her source of income to live, and also her reason to exist.  This was the very first example of Jesus raising the dead and began to establish his place in the line of prophets.  Remember Elisha and Elijah had raised the dead.  Jesus did four things.  He told her, "Weep not."  He touched the funeral bier.  He said to the young man, "Young man I say unto thee arise."  And the Master delivered him to his mother.

What a wonderful event!  How comforting, healing, compassionate.  And to think that it actually occurred.  Did that door close?

A couple thousand years after this event my mom was introducing a Christian Science lecturer, Inman H. Douglass, C.S.B.  Mom had already thoroughly embarrassed herself when she asked Mr. Douglass, are you related to Frederick Douglas?  So, Mr. Douglass simply said, "No dear, I am not. But, we are indeed brothers." (Mom did not realize that the famous abolitionist and author was a black man.)

The lecture began and as Mr. Douglass lectured at one point there was a stir in the audience.  Someone was at first in great distress and then appeared to have passed on.  Mr. Douglass stopped his lecture and firmly declared, "The Comforter is here."  My mom said that at the moment she felt as if a warm, tender, but powerful presence had passed through her body. And the individual that had seemed lifeless completely awoke and the lecture proceeded.  Since mom had given the introduction she stood by Mr. Douglass' side as the people came down to thank him.  One after another testified to being healed in the lecture.  My mom was thrilled and asked, "Mr. Douglass, does this often happen at your lectures?"  He replied, "My dear, I have given this lecture hundreds of times and I have never had an experience such as this!"

As our Leader encourages us in citation S-5 "Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof." (246)

Another open door just waiting for further thought and prayer awaits those who can click on the link to the text of this lecture my mother had the privilege of introducing, (Douglass, Inman H., C.S.B. Christian Science: Its Message of God-Given Freedom). [Or cut & paste http://www.cslectures.org/Douglass/CS-Its%20Message%20of%20God%20Given%20Freedom-Douglass.htm ]

Section 4: [Other tips about] The door of the Sheep
Our Master lovingly tells us, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  I am come that they might have life; and that they may have it more abundantly."  (B-15, John 10)

And in citation B-16 just one chapter later he identifies, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" (John 11:25)

There are wonderful insights to be found as we understand various things about the style of shepherding in the East.  Much different than western shepherding where the sheep might actually be herded and driven, the Eastern Shepherd goes before the sheep.  Our Executive Director at CedarS, Warren Huff has a favorite illustration from the Bible Scholar and Lecturer, Cobbey Crisler that he offered to insert below.

[“Jesus says that he is the Shepherd and he also says he is the door.  It may look like he is confused.  Let me give you an example of how he isn’t.  When my wife and I were in Israel, we stopped in a place between Jerusalem and Bethany.  I saw what I thought was a flock of unattended sheep.  There was also a rock wall with one door or gate.  It was an almost complete square.  As I wandered around, I was suddenly surprised by the shepherd whom I had disturbed.  He rose up.  He was stretched across that entry way, getting a few winks. 
Right there I had illustrated for me what Jesus meant in John 10: 2, 11, 14, “I am the shepherd” and in John 10: 7, 9, “I am the door.”  Now there was no confusion at all.  With the sheep inside an enclosure and the only possible entrance of wild animals or thieves being that door, you had to get through the shepherd in order to get to the sheep.  The shepherd was also the door.
In Mary Baker Edddy’s poem, “Feed My Sheep”, there is the statement, “I will listen for Thy voice.” [Hymn 304]  While we were down in that area of Beersheba, we saw many sheep all mixed together.  I said to Janet, ‘I wonder how the shepherd is ever going to sort out his sheep.  They’re all just mingled together.’  I had the answer to the question very readily.  It wasn’t very long before our shepherd separated himself from the crowd, walked away never  looked over his shoulder at the mixed up sheep, but made some kind of identifying click or clack of his tongue or voice. 
“Do you know that every one of his sheep separated themselves from that flock and followed him?  He never doubted.  He never looked back.  The sheep did their job.. The sheep knew his voice.  “I will listen for Thy voice.”  These lessons are things that in the busy moments of our own twentieth century we need to contemplate.  They’re not just symbols.  They’re not done just as ancient history.  They’re attitudes.  They’re states of mind and thought.  This is something we often need to consider.”

Book of John, A Walk with the Beloved Disciple, B. Cobbey Crisler, p.56, 57] 

Section 5:  [Tip to enter Life’s Open door:] practice "a higher and more practical Christianity…"
Please enjoy the entire short, but powerfully sweet, last section.  It brings this wonderful lesson to the perfect open-door conclusion.

There are great needs at this moment in the entire world.  Are we expecting and practicing the "higher and more practical Christianity" Mrs. Eddy speaks of in (S-23, 224:22) to meet the needs of the day?  Are we prepared, receptive, and open to allow God to meet the human need?  Our Father is ready, willing, and able to knock at the door [of thought] and practically meet the needs of all, from great to small.

I have never forgotten a sweet, powerful testimony I heard in The Mother Church many years ago.  And somewhat later I had the opportunity to speak directly with the testifier and confirm what had happened.  Her name was Virginia Skarie, C.S.B. from Baltimore, Maryland.

Virginia told of being a young newlywed hosting her first, large family gathering.  She had prepared a delicious meal.  As everyone was enjoying the meal, Virginia could see that she was about to run out of rolls.  It seemed like a complete disaster.  Perhaps in later years it would not have seemed so awful, but at that time when Virginia wanted everything to be just perfect, she was heartbroken.  She turned humbly to her Father and simply asked, "What should I do Father?"  At that exact moment there was a knock at her back door.  This door led to an alley behind her house.  Virginia answered the door and found a stranger standing there, he explained that he hoped to offer a delivery service of bread and rolls to the houses in that area, and that he had some free samples he would like to offer her.  In complete disbelief Virginia accepted the free samples and immediately took them to her guests.  She never saw the man again after that afternoon. 

Such a small thing—hot rolls at the back door.  But should it be thought a thing incredible that God should provide for His creation?  Whether hot rolls, or manna, quail, water in the desert?  “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”  (Acts 26:8)   “What cannot God do?” [S&H 135:19]

Every time I think of Virginia's wonderful, wonderful true story I think of the first time I heard a lovely song about God's loving provision.  A friend of my brother, Gary, Lew Newkirk, was playing the song, "Scarlet Ribbons."  I had never heard it before.   But I have never forgotten its tender message. Here is a special version by Doris Day.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvWi0oajiIo

God will provide.  God has opened the door to heaven, harmony, life eternal and nothing shall ever slam that door shut! 

[As a familiar hymn echoes: “I reach Mind’s open door, and at its portal I know that where I stand is holy ground; I feel the calm and joy of things immortal, The loveliness of Love is all around.
“The way leads upward and its goal draws nearer, Thought soars enraptured, fetterless and free; The vision infinite to me grows clearer, I touch the fringes of eternity.” (Hymn 64: 2, 3)]


[The 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.  Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/ for more about how you can provide even monthly support online.  Or you can always call the Huffs at 636-394-6162 get information or discuss privately how to transfer securities or other assets to help support and perpetuate CedarS work.]


 [You can also MAIL your tax-deductible support to our 501C3 organization (#440-66-3883):

The CedarS Camps, Inc.  
19772 Sugar Drive 
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THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

LETTING 2 SPECIAL NEEDS BE KNOWN - Funding is still needed to help underwrite these special opportunities:
1        "Maintenance Musts" Matching Opportunity! 
Generous donors who are aware of the ongoing maintenance need to have CedarS facilities measure up to its mission will MATCH donations for “Maintenance Musts” given by year-end! (up to our needed $25,000 goal)
2    “Adopt the Herd: Matching Opportunity! Generous donors, aware of the ongoing need to care for CedarS herd, will match donations for our horse program! (up to a $50k goal)


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/ ]


[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 Manfred and Jeanette; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed in the past.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 14-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 emails to follow.) 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 serve as 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 and in a variety of useful formats 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-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). 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.]

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