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Forever hold your banner high — Make everyday an Easter!

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Monday, March 21st, 2016

[Forever hold your banner high — Make everyday an Easter!]

Metaphysical Application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Reality”

for March 21-27, 2016

Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, C.S. of Lake St. Louis, MO and Park City, UT

314-323-4083 kathyfitzer@gmail.com

[Click for PDF & larger-type options in CedarS online Met with these features on top.]

Easter is being celebrated this week by Christians around the world. It is a glorious time to be reminded of how to look deep into realism, and gain deeper insights into the life and love of Christ Jesus! This lesson helps us understand how we can better follow Jesus’ marvelous example — blessing, freeing, uplifting and healing — to reveal the eternal Godlike nature of each one of us present here and now. The hymn best known as “Let us Sing of Easter Gladness” is actually titled, Alleluiah (171) and Easter (413). To me, the words of this hymn embody the essence of the Lesson. And they should be lived every day throughout the year!

Golden Text: “….lift up a standard for the people.” (Isa. 62: 10)

The Hebrew word translated here as “standard” means a sign, a flag, a signal or banner — something that will make something conspicuous, or easily seen. It is important for God to be seen — and for the people who know God to let their light shine so brightly that their example is seen by others. Thus the instruction: “… hoist a flag, a signal to all peoples.” (The Message) Jesus was the best “flag” — the best example — there ever was, letting God’s nature completely shine through him. But, we, too, need to heed this command and let the light of Christ shine in everything we do — so that it may be seen by all!

Responsive Reading: God lifting up a standard against the enemy

Now we have a different sense of the word “standard.” “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” As used here, lifting up a standard is to “put to flight” or cause to flee and vanish away.” The lie of evil vanishes before the truth of God. God is the power that causes evil to flee. Our job is to reach out to (or acknowledge) God’s presence. “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” As we continue with Isaiah 62, we see that our job is to bear witness to what God does so that all may see and seek after God and be blessed by Him. Jesus’ life was all about revealing his Father and demonstrating the power of his Father — in healing sin and disease and overcoming the belief of death. As disciples of Christ Jesus, it is our privilege to follow his example and continue sharing the good news and demonstrating the works of liberation! Remember … it is God that is the power that heals. We don’t need to prove Christian Science to anyone. It proves itself! The teachings of Christ Jesus, and the Science of the Christ, reveal reality!! We just need to throw the weight of our thoughts and acts on the side of Truth — the side of reality — “to be found in the scale with our creator.” (See Misc. 46: 16-19)

Section 1: Understanding our divine origin — as Jesus did

The Lesson has a lot of examples of how prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah paved the way. They assured the Jews (who were in exile at the time) that they had not been forsaken by God, and the same teachings later served to validate that Jesus was the Messiah. Isaiah spoke of a virgin bearing a son to be called Immanuel. (B2) Ahaz was the king of Judah at that time and was a non-believer, worshipping pagan gods. But, the prophet assured the people that no matter how bad things got, God would give them a Savior. I was interested to discover that the Hebrew word for virgin, as used in Isa. 7:14, conveys a sense of veiled or private — something kept out of sight — as well as simply a young maiden. The Messiah would be revealed to the receptive heart. Jesus grew up as a “normal” little boy until he was 12. His birth was not hailed as something special except by a very few. And, then, when Jesus was 12, he knew it was time to get started in his “Father’s business.” The religious leaders with whom he communed were mightily impressed with his knowledge, although they didn’t recognize him as the Messiah for whom they had been waiting. (B5**) It must have been very difficult for Mary to understand what would become of her son. We are told that Jesus continued to be obedient to his parents, while “his mother kept all these saying in her heart.” (v. 51) She was willing to listen and respond to God’s direction. So, this was the first example of Jesus fulfilling prophecy. His mother was a virgin, and he never acknowledged anyone but God to be his Father. How important for us to understand that God is truly the Father of us ALL — the only creator! (S3) This is the basis of Christian Science — revealing man as the child of God, immortal and “forever unlimited by the mortal senses.” (S6) Do we sometimes forget to start with that most basic principle? There is only ONE Creator and it is God. So, whatever mortal sense would try to say about our limitations (especially those based on heredity or the processes of birth, maturity and decay) has no basis in fact. (S6) We can — and must — reject each and every one of those suggestions. Then, we discover our “divine nature, the godliness which animates” us — as it did Jesus. (S4) And we find our freedom!

Section 2: Jesus healed and gave his disciples the power to heal

An expanded version of the Golden Text is repeated here. (B6) The gates of Babylon will be thrown open and every obstruction removed so that the Jews can return to Israel. Every stumbling stone is to be removed so that the path is clear. And a banner is to be raised to let all the people know that the way has been prepared to pass out of bondage. When Jesus saw the multitudes held captive to disease, and without a shepherd to guide them, he led them out of the bondage of darkness into light, health, and salvation. (B7) And, he gave his disciples power to do the same. (B8) The people gave God the glory! Jesus’ taught and practiced “the divine Principle of all real being.” (S7) Principle can be thought of as “the cause, source, or origin of any thing; that from which a thing proceeds.” (Webster 1828) So, healing as Jesus taught and demonstrated it resulted from understanding the origin and cause of all things real to be divine. Jesus proved the Science of Christianity to be based on divine law (another definition of principle.) This law consists of a perfect Principle (origin) and perfect idea — perfect God and perfect man. (S8 & S9) Because the way Jesus healed was based on a divine Principle, it can be practiced by anyone. Jesus didn’t give his disciples special powers. But, all who acknowledge “the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter” can lay off mortality (for themselves and others) and “find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator.” (S11) This idea of being linked to God has appeared in several recent lessons. I just love this concept. There is no wandering off — no falling, no loss, no failure — when we realize that we are linked to God. Where God is, we are. And as Spirit soars above mortal belief, we are lifted right up and out of the darkness, too. Truly accepting man’s oneness with God is the key to fulfilling the commands of our Master — to preach the good news and heal the sick! God is the source of every good work, and healing comes from bearing witness to God’s perfection — and thus, to man’s perfection. You are perfect — complete and fully formed and informed, not defective [or in the dark] — because God is perfect and made you to be like Him!

Section 3: Jesus did what he was called to do without fear!

Another example of Jesus fulfilling prophecy appears in this section. Jesus knew that he would be crucified and he told his disciples what steps had to be taken in preparation. To me, the inspiring part of this story is how confident Jesus was that no matter what awaited him, he could proceed in line with the Psalmist’s message, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” (B10) Jesus might have been able to avoid the entire crucifixion ordeal if he had simply stayed away from Jerusalem. Instead, he instructed his disciples to go ahead of him and find a donkey that he knew would be waiting for him (because it had been written of by the prophets.) He rode into Jerusalem on this donkey, knowing that he was facing an inevitable series of events culminating in his crucifixion and ultimately in his resurrection and ascension. Lining the streets were the “multitudes” of people showing him their respect and acknowledging him as the promised Messiah. (B12) In modern times, this journey is celebrated on what is known as Palm Sunday. Although many came out to show their support of Jesus as he fearlessly faced this difficult time, only a very few were still with him at the cross. (S14) Jesus trusted God always — regardless of the physical evidence. He was able to do that because he truly understood the nature of God to be always loving, and that he was inseparable from that Love. This was the message he worked so faithfully to convey to all mankind. So, what is our response? Can anything make us stop trusting in God’s great love? Not if we hold on to the “true idea of good” — “the true idea of being” — as taught and demonstrated by Jesus. (S15 & S16) No matter what human circumstances we find ourselves in, we never need to desert the Christ, revealing who we are in relation to God — His beloved, holy immortal idea!

Section 4: Resist the temptation to lose sight of God and reality

Through all that Jesus endured, he never lost sight of his relationship to God. He knew God! And he was confident that those closest to him understood that he had been sent by God to make clear to the world the unbreakable relationship of God and man! (B13) Jesus sought refuge in a quiet garden where he could pray. He was human he didn’t relish the idea of being crucified. But, at the same time, he was willing confident that God would get him through whatever challenge faced him. He urged his disciples to also stay awake and pray — for themselves! He knew that they would be facing many trials of their own. Apparently they had not yet learned how to defend their thought, and they yielded to the temptation to just fall asleep. As Jesus was trying to rouse them, Judas came and betrayed him to his captors. The disciples reacted to the arrest in a very human way they struck out! Jesus responded in the way that was natural to him he breathed out love and healed the servant whose ear had been severed! (B15) Jesus willingly yielded to what he knew he must do. He again referred to the fact that prophecy must be fulfilled, and his crucifixion was necessary in order for mankind to gain their salvation from all evil (including the belief of death) through a recognition of the Christ. (B16 & S17) Jesus wasn’t afraid of death. But, he also didn’t welcome it (asking to have this ordeal pass from him, but willing to endure the cross if necessary.) We, too, will be confronted by challenges. Will we sleep in the face of them (like the inexperienced disciples) or will we rise to face them with an understanding that the divine will (which is always good) is stronger than the human — and the immortal superior to the mortal? We have to give up the belief that death is either something to be welcomed or to be feared. Choosing to hold tight to our understanding of Life eternal in this way allows us to maintain our faith in God’s consistent goodness, trust His care, and lift up the “banner of Christianity.” (S19) In other words we can stick to the fact that God will never desert us — any more than he ever deserted Jesus — because God made all things good and nothing can change that creation. The “only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise.” (S20) God is in the business of stripping off disguises and revealing Truth to all mankind! Jesus’ mission was to destroy all that was unlike God. It is our privilege to continue in his footsteps — fully supported by God!

Section 5: Anchor your hope beyond the veil of matter

Mrs. Eddy’s definition of “veil” is very helpful in understanding the significance of the temple’s veil being torn (from top to bottom) when Jesus was crucified. This veil symbolized the separation of God from His people. It separated the holy place (where God was presumed to dwell) from the rest of the temple. And only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies — and that was allowed only once a year. Jesus presented God as ever-present with all mankind. Additionally, as the centurion and others witnessed the earthquake and dramatic events surrounding the crucifixion, it solidified for them that Jesus was the Messiah. (B18) Some see this as a precursor to the many Gentiles who later would be converted and follow Jesus’ teachings. But, what does it mean for us? Mrs. Eddy defines veil as “a cover; concealment; hiding; hypocrisy.” (S21) So, these are the sorts of things that would try to separate us from God. But they were no part of Jesus’ example. Hypocrisy was rampant amongst the Pharisees. How about in modern times? Might we sometimes get so caught up in defending what we perceive as the letter of Christian Science that we lose sight of practicing the unconditional love that constitutes the essence of the spirit of Christianity? Does the emphasis on matter in our daily lives or fear of material evidence try to hide, cover up, or conceal “the absolute spiritual Truth of being”? We can’t fall into the trap of thinking that it is possible to be separated from the fullness of God’s love — whether by something we think we are doing wrong or by fear of the material evidence that would try to overwhelm us. It is true that “to enter into the kingdom the anchor of hope must be cast beyond the veil of matter into the Shekinah” (the glory — or light — of the divine presence) “into which Jesus has passed before us …” (S24) That glory of the divine presence is a state of consciousness rather than a place. Jesus dwelt perpetually in that consciousness of Spirit. Never did he place his hope or his faith or his understanding in a report of matter. He was anchored in Spirit — understanding his spiritual relationship with God. And, anchoring our thoughts in the presence of God — in the reality of Spirit — will enable us to weather any storm and to not get fooled or side-tracked by the “veil of matter.”

Section 6: Our response to Jesus’ victory over the grave

I wonder how many of us would have believed Mary Magdalene’s report of Jesus having risen from the grave. He had told his disciples that it would happen, but …..! Easter is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. But, it seems reasonable that Jesus would have preferred that Christians celebrate on an ongoing basis by following his command to his disciples …. “Go into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And he promised that “signs” would “follow them that believe.” Safety from evil and healing would result from adhering to Jesus’ teachings. (B19) What better way to “lift up the standard” than to preach the gospel (the good news of the relationship between Father and Son) and to bring healing to mankind. Paul later encouraged the Hebrews to run the race that was set before them — as Jesus had run his. And, to walk the straight path, healing whatever crossed the path — rather than skirting unpleasant or scary issues. (B20) Today we would do well to act as if Jesus were speaking directly to us! Mrs. Eddy defines resurrection, in part, as “material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.” (S25 and Daily Lift on "Resurrection" by Marian English, CSB) In his resurrection, Jesus showed that mortality does not represent the real man. And in his ascension, Jesus showed how this mortal sense of man entirely disappears in reality. (S26) The key for us is to focus every thought on reality. (S28) Matter forms no basis for man. Rather, God is expressing in us “the infinite idea.” This idea is forever developing rising higher and higher from a foundation that knows no bounds — no limits — no starting and stopping …. a boundless basis! (S29) Easter is really the celebration of real Life without limits as demonstrated by Christ Jesus. And, we should be striving to see more of this reality everyday and to demonstrate more of it, following the example of our Master and raising the banner so that all may see the glory of God! There is one reality and it is “spiritual, immutable, immortal, divine, eternal.” (S30) On page 60 of the Manual of the Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy gives direction for Easter Observances. Clearly, Easter is not something to be celebrated once a year — but we should be striving to exemplify the life of “our risen Lord” in all that we do — looking through the mist of matter to behold reality! Happy Easter — today and every day!


[** See Online version of this Met (upper right) for Cobbey Crisler commentary Downloads on several Bible citations for this easter Sunday Bible Lesson.]

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