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"How do you show your love for God?"

Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
Posted Monday, July 6th, 2020

How do you show your love for God?
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

Sacrament”
for the week ending July 12, 2020

By Christie C Hanzlik, CS, of Boulder, Colorado
ccern@mac.com • 720.331.9356 • christiecs.com

Click Here for UPDATED AUDIO VERSION

INTRODUCTION

In this Met for the Bible Lesson on “Sacrament,” I’ll share insights that came to me. I’m sure you’ll also have your own inspirations, and you should feel free to share them with me if you’d like.

Sacrament is often described as “a visible sign of an inward grace.” I define “grace” as feeling love and approval from the divine Parent even when we don’t necessarily think we deserve it. Grace is the opposite of shame. Grace heals. These “visible signs of an inward grace” in the Protestant church include baptism and taking communion. These are ceremonies intended to show dedication to God.

GOLDEN TEXT and RESPONSIVE READING

The Golden Text from this week makes me think of sacraments as a type of journey, like we are using the sacramental acts to advance and explore our love for God. The Golden Text reads, “. . . We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you:” (Numbers 10:29) In other words, we are journeying toward a deeper understanding of divine Love’s nearness.

The Responsive Reading is about the origins and meaning of the term Passover, which is a word with Hebrew roots that describes God’s exemption of the Israelites from the tenth plague God was sending to the Egyptians to punish them [for not releasing the Israelites from slavery]. According to the book of Exodus, God told the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb (“kill the passover”) and use the blood to mark their doors, and then God would know which houses to skip over (pass over) as he was giving the plague.

This Bible story presents God though a narrow and distorted lens. In Exodus, God is often anthropomorphic and a punishing God. But Exodus is at the beginning of a time in which the Israelites are learning about God…they’re just starting to get the concept of monotheism, and they haven’t yet had a full demonstration of Christ (the awareness that God is only good).

This story is really about the Israelites getting a glimpse of God as a protector. Soon, this same God would go “before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way” and show them how not only to escape from their slavery, but also to escape from a limited view of what God is. (RR, Exodus 12, Numbers 10)

SECTION 1: SACRAMENTS REMIND US TO BE GRATEFUL

The first section of this week’s lesson opens with Moses reminding the newly freed Children of Israel to be grateful. Moses says, “Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place” (B1, Exodus 13:3) In the next verse in the Bible, which is not included in the Lesson, Moses asks the people to show their love and obedience to God by only eating unleavened bread. Obedience to this dietary law thus became a sacrament, or a “a visible sign of an inward grace” through which the Jewish people could show their gratitude.

And the first section then continues the story of Moses leading the Children of Israel out of slavery—both the slavery to the Egyptians and the slavery to a false sense of what God is. And the section includes the account of God parting the Red Sea to allow Moses and the Children of Israel to escape.

As Mary Baker Eddy states in Science and Health, “Moses advanced a nation to the worship of God in Spirit instead of [a limited view of the world], and illustrated the grand human capacities of being bestowed by immortal Mind. (S1, 200:4)

She describes the Red Sea as the “dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear.” (S2, 566:3) This “dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear” is what God was parting, cutting a path for them. To me, this is similar to the idea in the 23rd Psalm of the Shepherd protecting us as we walk “through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Mary Baker Eddy offers a definition of “Children of Israel.” I like to think that this definition fits for any of us who have struggled through a tough situation. It reads, "CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. The representatives of [divine] Soul, not [body-based] sense[s]; the offspring of [divine] Spirit, who, having wrestled with [lies], [the feeling of being enslaved by negativity], and [limited] sense, are governed by divine Science; (S3, 583:5-8)

Basically, the story of the Children of Israel shows that escaping slavery and discovering divine Love happen simultaneously. As we’re discovering more and more about divine Love, we are simultaneously finding freedom from limitation.

SECTION 2: DO WHAT IS RIGHT, LOVE MERCY, AND WALK HUMBLY

The second section opens with the book of Micah boldly stating that sacrifices like burnt offerings and sacrificing young calves are not what shows our true love for God. Instead, he says, “this is what [Love] requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (B3, Micah 6:6, 8)

The right kind of sacrifice—sacrificing, or letting go of that which distracts us from good—is a good sacrament—a visible sign of an inward grace. But mere ritualism does not show our love for God/Love/Truth.

What can we do to honor God, to honor divine Truth? It’s comforting to know that even today…thousands of years later…the answer remains the same. We honor God as we do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Mary Baker Eddy describes additional ways of honoring God. She explains that we can, “surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship” and instead strive to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. (S4, 9:17)

The sacrament here is not ritualistic behavior. It’s in daily activity, striving for a deeper and more meaningful love for all good. We can be asking, “How do we show our love for God?”

SECTION 3: BAPTISM IS HUMBLE PURIFICATION

The third section includes the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Baptism by water is a sacrament signifying purification. While Christ Jesus may have known that the water was not what made him pure, he still requested the baptism.

Submitting ourselves to be baptized by someone else is a very humble thing to do. The discussion between John and Christ Jesus shows this. Jesus asks John to baptize him, and John says “no, you should be baptizing me.” This shows that John could already see Jesus’ purity. And Jesus says, basically, “please just do it, to signify purity and grace.” So, John baptizes him with love. Christ Jesus is being humble here. He’s humbling himself before God and man, and showing symbolically his willingness to serve, his willingness to undergo purification. And in that moment, God’s word was felt and heard…”This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (B6, Matthew 3:13-17)

Baptism is purification. Mary Baker Eddy describes the “baptism of Spirit.” (S9, 241:23) I tend to experience a baptism as a renewed faith, a whole-souled shift of perspective, or a new and inspired view. And this baptism very often comes with tears, and a feeling of submitting to God’s goodness and crying out, “Shepherd, wash me clean.” (Hymn 304)

SECTION 4: TRUE COMMUNION

Honestly, I struggled to understand the selections from Corinthians in this section, and needed to look them up in the New Living Translation to understand them. Here are Paul’s words as they read in the NLT: “I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized [renewed and purified] as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ [their understanding of Love’s ever presence].” (B10, I Corinthians 10:1–4, NLT)

In the other citation from Corinthians (I Cor. 11:23-28), Paul is reminding us that Eucharist, a Christian ceremony commemorating the Last Supper, is meaningless unless we do it with selfless and humble love.

As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, ‘which cometh down from heaven,’ is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers.” (S12, 35:25) The Eucharist that Mary Baker Eddy is describing here does not necessitate wafers and a ceremony, but is rather a type of prayer. As she states, “The true sense is spiritually lost, if the sacrament is confined to the use of bread and wine. The disciples had eaten, yet Jesus prayed and gave them bread. This would have been foolish in a literal sense; but in its spiritual signification, it was natural and beautiful. Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the [limited] senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views.” (S13, 32:20)

To the degree that we feel the depth of meaning in sacrament—visible signs of an inward grace—sacraments can be significant, but they have to be truly transformative. Mary Baker Eddy explains, “If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, — the receptive thought, — they will bring in the millennium.” (S15, 34:10)

SECTION 5: THE WAYSHOWER SHOWS THE WAY OF THE PERFECT SACRAMENT

Christ Jesus’ humility and willingness to endure the crucifixion is the ultimate sacrament—the visible sign of an inward grace. Perhaps the part of the crucifixion story from which I get the most inspiration is when Christ Jesus is wrestling with the crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. He doesn’t want to have to do it…I can almost feel him asking, “Isn’t there another way? Do I have to do this?”

He was all alone in the Garden. He asked his disciples to stay up with him. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (B12, Matthew 26:38, NLT) But they fell asleep, and left him alone in his hour of need.

And still he prayed. And ultimately, he humbly let go of any last bit of human will or human comfort and gave himself entirely to divine Love. “Not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“…and they crucified him.” (B13, Mark 15:25)

Mary Baker Eddy describes Jesus’s night in the Garden this way, "During his night of gloom and glory in the garden, Jesus realized the utter error of a belief in any possible material intelligence. The pangs of neglect and the staves of bigoted ignorance smote him sorely. His students slept. He said unto them: ‘Could ye not watch with me one hour?’ Could they not watch with him who, waiting and struggling in voiceless agony, held uncomplaining guard over a world? There was no response to that human yearning, and so Jesus turned forever away from earth to heaven, from sense to Soul.” (S16, 47:31)

“When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done!’ — that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me. This is the new understanding of spiritual Love. It gives all for Christ [our awareness of Love]. It blesses its enemies, heals the sick, casts out error, raises the dead from trespasses and sins [the belief of separation from good], and preaches the gospel to the poor, the meek in heart.” (S17, 33:18)

To the degree we are willing to let go of human will and accept Love’s control over all, we are taking up the cross and ready to “revolutionize the world.” (S15, 34:10)

SECTION 6: YOU CAN EVEN HAVE SACRAMENT FOR BREAKFAST

It is tempting to be saddened by the crucifixion. But the crucifixion is not the end of the story. We must not mentally leave Jesus on the cross. The resurrection happened.

The sixth section explains that Mary Magdalene was first to see the risen Christ. No one believed her. I wonder what quality of thought Mary Magdalene must have had to be able to see the risen Christ first. Soon, though, Christ Jesus appeared to the eleven remaining disciples. (B14, Mark 16:9-11)

And then he met them again at the sea of Tiberias, where they had the morning meal. (B15, John 21:1-12)

Luke records Jesus’ meeting with the disciples in Jerusalem in which he opened their understanding of his fulfilling scriptural prophesies of his resurrection that they had witnessed. Jesus then led them out of town past the Garden of Gethsemane to nearby Bethany—before he departed from them, and, as the Bible says, he was “carried up into heaven.” (B16, Luke 24: 44-50, 51)

As a side note, I see that whoever put this Bible Lesson together chose parts of the resurrection story from Mark, John, and Luke. It may be worth pondering why all three books were used to tell this story, and not just one of them.

Christ Jesus’ demonstration of the crucifixion, the ultimate sacrament, paved the way for the disciples. Most sacraments at first seem like a sacrifice in the sense that we’re going to lose out on something, but really, it’s sacrificing something that isn’t even good for us—like greed, or selfishness or stubborn human will—and discovering something wonderful that is way better than whatever we gave up. This is what Christ Jesus demonstrated for the disciples.

As Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities. They needed this quickening, for soon their dear Master would rise again in the spiritual realm of reality, and ascend far above their apprehension. As the reward for his faithfulness, [Christ Jesus] would disappear to material sense in that change which has since been called the ascension.” (S19, 34:18)

She adds, “What a contrast between our Lord's last supper and his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples in the bright morning hours at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea! His gloom had passed into glory, and his disciples' grief into repentance, — hearts chastened and pride rebuked.” (S19, 34:29) The disciples were humbled and ready to yield to divine will.

We can all have the morning meal with Christ. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “This spiritual meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light is the morning meal which Christian Scientists commemorate. They bow before Christ, Truth, to receive more of his reappearing and silently to commune with the divine Principle, Love.” (S19, 35:10-14)

“Like our Master, we must depart from [limited] sense into the [unlimited] sense of being.” (S20, 41:6) This is the journey. “. . . We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you:” (Golden Text, Numbers 10:29) Our sacraments are our visible signs of an inward grace as we are on that journey.

Amen!


[Warren:] Click for a work-in-progress edition of inspiring Bible Lesson GEMs from Cobbey Crisler, Ken Cooper & others.


Summer Update (as of 7/6):
As we prayed with the motives of loving our neighbor, being law-abiding, acting with wisdom, and offering a camping experience that is consistent with our Christian Science foundation, we were led to cancel not only our June but also our July onsite camper programs and our August Family Camp. We also are being led to make several additional adjustments to our operations for onsite CIT training and staff development in support of new ONLINE program offerings. Here are decisions we have been divinely guided to make thus far:

CedarS Camps Schedule for Summer 2020:

  • Session 1 (June 7-20): Cancelled
  • Session 2 (June 21- July 4): Cancelled for campers--replaced with 14-day Precamp for all staff "in a bubble"
  • Session 3 (July 5 – July 17): onsite camper programs Cancelled, but with CIT program and staff continuing in order to support two weeks of ONLINE, grade-level programs and an international, virtual Musical Theater camp & production!
  • Session 4 (July 19 – July 31): onsite camper programs Cancelled, but with CIT program and staff continuing one last week for a summer wrap-up and finale with inspiration to take home and share!
  • Family Camp (August 2-8): Cancelled because with protocols, not able to be uncompromisingly "family feeling"

Week 1 of our two, one-week ONLINE OFFERINGS in July starts today!
Starting next Monday, Week 2 features fun, Online Specialty Camps -- for which registration will remain open for a few more days. Click HERE for program descriptions. We can’t wait to entertain and uplift over 100 campers ONLINE from 1st grade thru 12th, from coast to coast and from 7 different countries—BUT THERE’S ROOM FOR A FEW MORE! Click to enroll and Apply to The Campership Fund as needed. And, if the lack of a device or bandwidth seems to be an issue, you are hereby invited to join lead donors to help us bridge the so-called “digital divide.”

Thank you for your patience and support of CedarS as plans for Fall programs continue to unfold.

With full-strength gratitude, joy and love to each of you,
Holly, Warren, Gay, Kim, Jennifer, and CedarS Team

  • You can call CedarS office team now at 417-532-6699 or 417-532-6683 (for Gay) to discuss your interests or to share your support.
  • or you also can MAIL your tax-deductible support that is especially needed this reduced income year to our camp address:
    The CedarS Camps, Inc.
    19772 Sugar Drive
    Lebanon, MO 65536
  • CedarS is a not-for-profit, 501-C-3 organization with a
    Federal ID # 44-0663883.

    FOR ANY EDITING NEEDED SINCERE APOLOGIES FROM CEDARS VOLUNTEER EDITORS, CONTRIBUTORS AND TRANSLATORS FOR THIS FREE SERVICE. Thanks for your needed forgiveness and ongoing support!.

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