Be still, and know that I am God

God’s instruction to be still and calm is found in many passages throughout the Bible, including a story found in this week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah tries to impress everyone back into worshipping God by a spectacular miracle involving dueling altars (one to God and one to Baal). Although the miracle does in fact lead many to repentance, its overall effect is mixed and does not shield Elijah from Jezebel’s attack. After Elijah is driven into the wilderness, God shows him that God is not to be found in impressive, powerful demonstrations like fire, wind, and earthquake. God is in the calm…in the still, small voice. This reminds me of some advice I received once before giving my first sermon to a pluralistic audience who had mixed feelings about having me preach. My mentor told me, “You’re there to express the qualities God gave you, not to impress people.” What good advice that I still take to heart!

If you’d like to join us for a service all about God, we will meet tomorrow at 10:35am in Johnson Park, across from Green Street station. OR you can join us by phone (605) 475-4000 x636128#

 

God answers from the whirlwind

In preparation for this Sunday’s church service, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully inspirational!) to share my Scriptural Selection for the week, thinking of the message of the Lesson-Sermon as part of the response. Want to learn more? Join us! Information about place and time, as well as the phone number to call in, is at the bottom of the post.

From Job’s speeches in the New Living Translation:

Then Job spoke

“Is not all human life a struggle?
    Our lives are like that of a hired hand,
 like a worker who longs for the shade,
    like a servant waiting to be paid.
I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.

 Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’
    But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.
5My body is covered with maggots and scabs.
    My skin breaks open, oozing with pus.

“My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle.

    They end without hope.

I cannot keep from speaking.
    I must express my anguish.
    My bitter soul must complain.

my friends laugh at me,
    for I call on God and expect an answer.
I am a just and blameless man,
    yet they laugh at me.
 People who are at ease mock those in trouble.
    They give a push to people who are stumbling.
But robbers are left in peace,
    and those who provoke God live in safety—
    though God keeps them in his power.

“How frail is humanity!
    How short is life, how full of trouble!
We blossom like a flower and then wither.
    Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.”

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map). 10:35-11:35 AM, EST, on Sunday and 7:35-8:35 PM, EST, on Wednesday.
-Or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#

Spiritual Substance

From the New King James Version of the Bible, Psalm 139:13-18:

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

We hope you’ll join us for an inspiring church service all about spiritual substance!

When: 10:35-11:35 AM, EST, on Sunday.

Where: 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map). Or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#

God is Spirit

The topic of our Sunday sermon is “Spirit.” The Bible tells us about God in many ways; (S)he is: Father, Creator, King, Protector, Love, Truth, among many more. Join us as we learn about another biblical understanding of God–as Spirit. We’ll be meeting at the Eastern Bank Community Room. Lots of love to you today.

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map). 10:35-11:35 AM, EST, on Sunday and 7:35-8:35 PM, EST, on Wednesday.
-Or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#

God’s supply is for everyone

The story of Ruth in the Bible is a great example of how turning to God in prayer can bring sustenance and supply from unexpected places. Ruth, in utter unselfishness, vowed to stay with her mother-in-law and continue supporting her after all of the men in their family pass away.

Her commitment is encapsulated in these words:

Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
-Ruth 1:16 NRSV

They were in a challenging situation, yet events came together in a way that met their needs abundantly.

We each have the opportunity to make our own commitment to Christ in similar fashion as Ruth. Inevitably, the value of this humble state of mind will bring forward it’s due fruitage and supply in our lives as well.

We hope you’ll join us this Sunday in Johnson Park (across the street from the Green St. T stop on the Orange Line).

Or by phone at (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#

It will be an hour of prayer, listening to the Lesson-Sermon, singing, and love.

Food for thought

Two of my favorite passages from the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy are:

Ex 20:2-3, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, 129:22, “We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things.”

What is the premise of thought today? What are we accepting, what might we even be worshiping without realizing it? No judgment in this, just some food for productive thought!

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map). 10:35-11:35 AM, EST, on Sunday and 7:35-8:35 PM, EST, on Wednesday.
-In person, or by phone (605) 475-4000, code: 636128#
what: An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

 

Hezekiah’s lesson

Hezekiah was a pretty cool king.  The previous king, having powerful allies, had incorporated the religion of his allies into Jerusalem’s Temple, including idol worship, and eventually closed the Temple.  Upon becoming king, Hezekiah’s first acts included restoring the Temple and cleansing his country of idol worship.

Then he got deathly sick.  And Isaiah, a big-deal man of god for the last four kings, came to check it out and reported, “Sorry pal, get your house in order, ’cause you’re not sticking around.” [Isa. 38:1, heavily paraphrased—I encourage you to go read the real version.]  Hezekiah was, understandably, upset, and now had no recourse but to confront his mortality honestly.  But while open-heartedly bewailing his pain and tragedy, he had two realizations: (1) that God doesn’t sustain sin [Ibid 17], and (2)

“The dead don’t thank you [God],
    and choirs don’t sing praises from the morgue.
Those buried six feet under
    don’t witness to your faithful ways.
It’s the living—live men, live women—who thank you,
    just as I’m doing right now.” [Ibid 18-19]

These realizations: that sin is transitory, and that life is what expresses God’s glory, may have fueled his protest against his death-sentence, knowing what God preserves and what He doesn’t:

“Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours.” [Ibid 3]

Isaiah was already on his way out, but God didn’t even let Isaiah leave the room [II Kings 20:4] before having him turn around and promise recovery, health, and life to Hezekiah!

Now Hezekiah’s inner sense had been keen enough to protest that this apparent story of sickness and death of a righteous life didn’t fit how God ran the show, but at this point, having received conflicting diagnoses, he felt like he could use some assurance, so he asked Isaiah for some.  Isaiah said sure: God can move the time on the sundial by 10 minutes as a sign, a promise.  Hezekiah pointed out that the time on the sundial was always moving forward, so God’d better move it back 10 minutes, just to make it clear it was Him.  And, indeed, so it happened [Ibid 11].

Three days letter, Hezekiah was not dead but well.  He went on to build up Jerusalem, defeat (through reliance on God, without touching a weapon) a huge invading Assyrian army, and oversee great economic growth in his kingdom.

So next time it seems like everything’s (or anything) is going downhill, think of Hezekiah.  His keen sense of God’s truth can be yours, too.  Take a moment to honestly confront your situation.  Know God isn’t behind your fleeting faults, but that God’s glory is (and must be) expressed in your immortal goodness.

And, if need be, ask Him to prove it.

He will.

He loves you.

 

This story, a scientific explanation of it, as well as a few others, make up a Bible sermon on “mortals and immortals” that will be given at our church this Sunday morning, at 10:35 (EDT).  We’ll also sing some praises and pray a bit together.  It may be too damp out, so we’re going to meet inside at 687 Centre St. in JP, but feel free to call in at (605) 475-4000 x636128# if that’s a little far.

yours,

Grant and jpchurch

Freedom sermon this Sunday

“the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus, John 8:32

“Truth brings the elements of liberty.”

Mary Baker EddyScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures p.224

 


Freedom’s pretty important to us.

We’ve fought many wars in its name, written countless books about it, sung songs, and made movies (including the #1 movie right now).  We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got our work cut out for us – there’s a lot of bonds out there to be torn away: sensualism shackles its practitioner to a false master, as well as fueling the horrors of sex slavery; the idea that somebody is not my brother bars me from the natural expression of brotherly love to him, but is also what allows discriminatory (literal) imprisonment of way too many young men in my country and others; selfishness constricts anybody that harbors it, and can motivate leaders to take away the people’s rights.  We can see infringements of freedom in our own lives or in world events on the news.

When tyranny, literal or metaphorical, in our own lives or the world abroad, seems beyond us to rise above… where do we turn?  Well, liberty is also a constant theme in the Bible: from Egypt to Rome, from false idols to plagues, there was always some bondage to be overcome.  And the savior can always throw off that bondage.  In her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy explained that the Christ, this message of Truth come to destroy error, best exemplified by Jesus, is what enabled folks from Moses to Paul, as well as herself, her students, and anyone, to cast off their bonds, by understanding their transience, by understanding the allness of God good.  Indeed, she writes that the person trying to understand Christ

“has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death; and he will overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good.”

Any and all apparent lack of freedom boils down to the simplest lie: that there is another power than God, divine Love.  Uncovering this truth is liberation.  This corrects sin, unshackling the sinner.  It heals disease, unbinding her whom Satan hath bound.  One big tyrannical lie is death, and the always-truth that Life is eternal overcomes that, too.  Truth overcomes these things so efficaciously because they’re not real — they have no claim in our story of harmony and growth.

I say that like it’s easy — I’m still working on it… sure seems like I’m bound with some of these irons right now, in fact.  But the scientific pursuit of this truth has liberated me from physiological and emotional manacles before, and I know that as I continue to grow in grace, more will drop away.  And all the while I can help my brothers and sisters see the truth, and see healing in their lives.  That experience is pretty great, and I highly recommend it.

So, this Sunday morning, we’ll be hearing a sermon from these two books — the Bible and Science and Health — about the unreality of sin, sickness, and death, and the freedom that is the corresponding reality of righteousness, health, life.  There’ll also be a bit of lovely prayer and song accompanying it.  We’ll be meeting at 687 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain @10:35am; won’t you join us?  (We can be joined by phone at (605) 475-4000 x636128#.)

Always love,

grant + jpchurch

 

PS: Here’s a cute little song that talks about how to see this freedom in your life:

Wednesday sharing meeting: fresh thought

If you look back it this blogs’ posts, articles, and blog-friends, you might notice that we really like the Bible and this book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, which helps us understand and apply the Science underpinning the Bible. For an open thought, reading these books begins (or continues) a spiritual and practical journey of uplift, healing, love, and understanding.  For some, just reading Science and Health has resulted in profound healing.  So, we regularly read topically-selected passages from these books at our church services and Wednesday meetings.

But if these books are so great, why do we take time weekly to open up the floor to whoever wants to speak?  Well, the books are great and we do read from them regularly, but it’s so important to keep thought fresh, diverse, and vivid.  The books have all those qualities, but there’s really something special about sharing in person how I, you, we apply these spiritual concepts in our individual walks of life, from pacifying family squabbles, to overcoming cancer or depression, to praying about hurricanes or war, to bicycling, rollerblading, running, or sky-diving safely and beautifully.  It’s touching, useful, beautiful, and affirming.  Combined with a bit of readings, singing, fellowship, and occasional discussion, it can make for a great Wednesday night.

This Wednesday, as most Wednesdays, we are meeting at 7:35pm at the community room on 687 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain, MA, with a phone-in line at (605) 475-4000 x636128.  We’d be thrilled if you joined us!

Much love,
jpchurch

Time for church

 

Time: It’s a drag.  It makes creation stories confusing.  The young haven’t had enough to be wise; the old have had too much to stay sane, healthy, beautiful, acive.  It separates us from happy memories and lost love.  It separates us from Jesus Christ.  It kills us all eventually.  It stifles hope, even faith.  It always wins.

Despite one of those sentences being a Pink Floyd lyric, they’re all lies.  Each one.  Because time isn’t.

Eternity is.

Our pastor will refute each of those red lies directly in our weekly Bible sermon this Sunday at church; this week’s subject is Life.  To come hear the good word (and good singing!), drop by 687 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain, MA, call (605) 475-4000 x636128, or Skype with christian.science.jp.church at 10:35 (EST) Sunday morning.

My life flows on in endless song…
How can I keep from singing?
-Robert Lowry, Christian Science Hymnal Supplement, #449