The beauty of creation

Today I felt inspired by the Daily Lift, which was all about how beauty is a quality of God’s creation. Right now I’m at an Air Force base for a “drill weekend” where all the Reservists who work here are gathering together for their work weekend this month. People are greeting each other, shaking hands, asking about the past month, and talking about family, friends, and loved ones. Everyone is expressing a lot of love for each other, just as God is pouring out love for all of us! The beauty in this community gathering together and loving one another is not only amazing, but I’m praying to affirm that it is also a permanent quality of creation that can rise above anything that might try to drag it down or tarnish it. And I hope you’ll find some inspirational beauty this weekend as well, perhaps through the Daily Lift, a community of your own, or in recognizing the beauty and love from God that fills all of creation (a macro-community, if you will!).

Please join our joyful community this Sunday!

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
7:35-8:35 PM, EST.
-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, testimony sharing, and pure Love.

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Good works abound!

Have you ever had trouble figuring out what the right thing to do is? Sometimes it can be a struggle to go through the discernment process.

There is a story that sheds light on a certain community’s discernment process that comes from Matthew 12, and it is where Jesus is asked if it is lawful to heal a man on the Sabbath. Sabbath is a time consecrated to God, when the world stops in the midst of all its worldly things and turns to God. But sometimes Sabbath can become more about rules- about what you should do or shouldn’t do. While a group of people were deciding whether or not it was okay to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus gave the answer, “It is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” (Matt 12:12)

Sometimes I will start doing something and part way through I’ll just feel like it’s yucky! It could be what I’m writing, or deciding to watch tv instead of doing that bit of homework I’ve been putting off for a while, or even doing something that I started with good intentions. That sense of yuckiness tells me something’s wrong and it’s time to stop and pray. I return to Jesus’ words- it’s lawful to do good. And I know that when I’m doing what’s right, I’ll have a clear sense of right about it.

I’m so comforted by the idea that the Christ is always present with us, guiding and supporting us. He was proved by his good works, and likewise the good that we do proves us right now as God’s children

See you tomorrow!

 

Details about tomorrow’s church service:

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am-11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

 

Under the law, or under grace? (+ church tonight!)

(In-person church service at the bank tonight!  Location & details @ end of this post.)

Some thoughts on “the law” vs “grace” (Romans 6:14):

In Mary Baker Eddy’s book Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896, she includes a “Questions and Answers” section, including all kinds of Q&A about Christian Science.  One of the very first questions she answers deals not with ethereal spiritual concepts, but with a down-to-earth, almost nit-picky concerninternal to just her student base, so it seems at first:

How shall we demean ourselves towards the students of disloyal students?

Interesting, I think, that she found this specific question important enough to address right up front.  My guess at why, or at least partially why, she might’ve done this: she felt the response was actually very broadly universal:

“From this question, I infer that some of my students seem not to know in what manner they should act towards the students of false teachers…. In Mark, ninth chapter, commencing at the thirty-third verse, you will find my views on this subject; love alone is admissible towards friend and foe.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 32)

Philip Yancey, the author of What’s So Amazing About Grace, poses a related question in his book.  Essentially, he’s explained throughout the whole book why he sees grace, i.e. the unearned love and acceptance from God, as “Christianity’s best gift to the world” (p. 30).

Then he asks: “How can Christians uphold moral values in a secular society while at the same time conveying a spirit of grace and love?” (p. 230)

It’s sort of what Mrs. Eddy’s students were asking her, right?  Behind their question—and, I think, for lots of Christians, students of Christian Science included—there may be a concern like this: “We know there’s something deeply special about the system that is Christianity.  We love what its guidelines have shown us about life & existence, so we’re doing our best to be faithful to them as we know how.  So what about when other people aren’t doing it the same way, or aren’t even trying?  How should we deal?  Is there a balance between judgment and love?”

Yancey makes the point in his book—and I feel Eddy does in her writings, too—that the balance… is actually just to love.  Without stopping to check whether particular rules of behavior are being applied.

(I should add, both of these Christian authors modeled this idea after Christ Jesus, rather than claiming to have come up with it themselves.  Jesus practices this point himself throughout the Gospels.)

It’s interesting that this feels humanly counter-intuitive.  After all, we should be standing up personally for things we feel are right!  Right?

Maybe… the idea works because God is Love itself.  And, also, is actually the one in charge (even if it seems like we are).  So, as we consciously reflect His grace & love, and let that be the overwhelming guide in our relations with people, we’ll see that He totally takes care of the details one-on-one with each person, as needed.  And that it’s not up to us to do that.  Maybe?

In any case, it seems worth a try to me.

There’s a lot of implied trust here, too, that God actually is all-powerful… enough to affect the lives of each of Her children without help from Her other children.  Which is pretty cool, and requires humility and faith on our part.

Sooo… that’s pretty darn great.

(This idea has been some good food for thought for me recently, so I wanted to share it where others can enjoy.  Still working on living these ideas, myself.)  🙂

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” -Paul (Galatians 5:14)

-Christa

• • • • • • •

On a separate, but very important note: today is Wednesday.  We’re all growing in our practice of this understanding-eternal-Life business, and Wednesday means we get some consecrated time to come share our findings.  🙂  You can share, or just listen, this evening.  Details (+ our call-in number) below.

Love,

the C.S. Society of JP


Details about tonight’s service:

@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
7:35-8:35 PM, EST.
-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, testimony sharing, and pure Love.

In person or call-in, you’re invited just the same

Tonight, we’re in our usual spot!  Details below.  Come join in for a Love-filled, peaceful, un-pressured time.  Those attending will learn together about how Christian Science has been working for us in our lives, and we’ll be able to listen to each other – and share our own experiences, if so moved – as well as listen to readings from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and sing a few hymns together.

If you’re familiar with this church & blog, you may know that we’ve got a call-in line.  Like our services, this is super low-key.  (Some people call in and just listen; there’s no pressure to participate.  We always love knowing who’s joining us from around the country & world, though, so it’s always fun when people say who they are & where they’re from.   We love for you to know who we are, too.)

Calling in can be a great way to get a feel for what our services are like, and it’s the way that some of our callers always attend church.  Like our in-person services, all are welcome.

You are loooooooved!

the Christian Science Society of JP


Details about tonight’s service:

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

Tonight: “that higher selfhood which we all must prove”

As we get pumped for 2015 and say adios to 2014, we’ll be having a church service this evening that gives us a chance to think about identity: our own pure identity, and the pure identity of our neighbors.

In getting ready for that, here are a few thoughts, taken from the Christian Science Hymnal, that do a great job of summarizing what we’ll be hearing about tonight:

O dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking,
O captive, rise and sing, for thou art free;
The Christ is here, all dreams of error breaking,
Unloosing bonds of all captivity.

O perfect Mind, reveal Thy likeness true,
That higher selfhood which we all must prove,
Joy and dominion, love reflecting Love.

And as a mirror shows us
A likeness clear and bright,
So God forever sees His child
Revealed in radiant light.

(These verses are from hymns 412, 66, and 15 – the hymns we’ll be singing tonight.)

This New Year’s, whether you’re at home or away from home/in search of home… with friends, family, loved ones, or by yourself… reflecting on a beautiful year of uplifting experiences, or just ready to leave behind a year that wasn’t so great (or a bit of both)…

…may a fuller awareness of your completeness, of unconditional love, and of inviolable peace be yours.

All love,

Christa (da clerk), Sarah (tonight’s Reader), and the C.S. Society of JP


Details about tonight’s service:

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

Today’s service: on Christ’s Christianity

Hi friends,

Another quick post!  We’re having our service this morning – same time, same usual place, same call-in number.  Check below for those details.

The topic of today’s lesson-sermon?  Christian Science.  Among other ideas, we’ll hear about the interconnectivity of Christian Science to all of Christianity.  Here’s one thought on that (from the sermon):

Christ’s Christianity is the chain of scientific being reappearing in all ages, maintaining its obvious correspondence with the Scriptures and uniting all periods in the design of God.

-from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy

You are more than welcome to join in to hear more, and to pray (silently, but also audibly and through song) with those in attendance, either in person or by calling in/listening on the phone line.

And – even if you don’t end up doing that – you are good, important, and loved by Love.  I hope you know that.

-the JP Church clerk


Details about today’s church service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am-11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

Darwin at the feet of Jesus?

Hi, sweet reader.

(If you’re here in search of the service location/time/phone#, please check the end of this post.)

Tomorrow, we’re delving into a mighty question in church (and Christian Scientists & others around the world have been sitting with this question all week in prayer): Is the universe, including man, evolved by atomic force?

Sooo for any who may happen across this blog post and think that the sermon topic is a challenge to Darwinism… well, it ultimately is, but it also sort of isn’t.  To cover the “sort of isn’t,” Christian Science doesn’t teach young earth creationism, though it does teach a God that is the creator of all.  Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, actually gives Darwin a couple of nods in her writing, including the place where she writes that “…Darwin’s theory of evolution from a material basis is more consistent than most theories” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

However, it still is a challenge to Darwinism, in that Christian Science explains thought, not matter, as the building-block of the reality that God derived.  In other words, there is a challenge posed to any theory that’s based around a material idea of the development of life—evolutionism and the various forms of creationism included.

Above, where I mentioned that God is the creator of all… really, this is a question of what “all” is.  And, really, of what “God” is.

The following paragraphs do a pretty great job of speaking to a Christian Science view of these concepts, much better than I could.  This is Eddy again, from an article “Science and Philosophy” in her collection Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896. (To help with thinking about the text, here’s a definition of “mortal mind” as she uses it below.)

From “Science and Philosophy”:

[[ When mortal mind is silenced by the “still, small voice” of Truth that regenerates philosophy and logic; and Jesus, as the true idea of Him, is heard as of yore saying to sensitive ears and dark disciples, “I came from the Father,” “Before Abraham was, I am,” coexistent and coeternal with God, — and this idea is understood, —  then will the earth be filled with the true knowledge of Christ. No advancing modes of human mind made Jesus; rather was it their subjugation, and the pure heart that sees God.

When the belief in material origin, mortal mind, sensual conception, dissolves through self-imposed suffering, and its substances are found substanceless, — then its miscalled life ends in death, and death itself is swallowed up in Life, — spiritual Life, whose myriad forms are neither material nor mortal.

When every form and mode of evil disappear to human thought, and mollusk and radiate are spiritual concepts testifying to one creator, — then, earth is full of His glory, and Christian Science has overshadowed all human philosophy, and being is understood in startling contradiction of human hypotheses; and Socrates, Plato, Kant, Locke, Berkeley, Tyndall, Darwin, and Spencer sit at the feet of Jesus. ]]

Obviously, these are huuuuuuge concepts.  And not one that a single blog post can do justice to.  Those of us who call this little church their home are delving into them as best we can and trying to understand them, and the nature of life itself (one way we do this is by putting Jesus’ teachings into practice as best as we understand them).  And any and all are welcome to join us in this quest, whether with us in a service, or just in your own individual prayers, consideration, and good works/love.

And if a church service is what you’re after, you can check below for more info, including a phone number that lets you dial in remotely to a service.

All love as the Christmas season continues.  Wishing you, me, and everyone: a clearer understanding than before of the knock-you-over-the-head power of Christ’s love.

Christa (on behalf of the C.S. Society of JP)


Details about today’s church service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am-11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

SOUL subverting body.

–> Details of the service location/time/call-in number are at the bottom of this post. <–

In a conversation I had with a friend the other day, we found ourselves thinking about the value of art.  It began with curiosity: namely, of what makes the world value art less than, say, the work of a mechanic or an accountant.  Why does our culture know the stereotype of the “starving artist” so well?  Why does it happen, not too infrequently, that an artist will be asked to share their work for free, while that would very rarely be expected of someone who fixes a leaky shower faucet or does your taxes?

There are a lot of variables at play… but, breaking it down, the most basic answer I saw was that people find something more tangible in those things.  In response, my friend pointed out that art and its value can be sort of mysterious—for instance, explaining why a piece of art is worth something can be more complex than explaining why a fixed faucet is worth something.  (And never mind trying to understand the piece of art itself, or trying to know what caused it to exist in the first place!  There’s a lot of mystery in general that surrounds art.)

It then occurred to me that one big answer would naturally be found by looking at people’s view of life and vitality.  Simply put: if you’re seeing the (material) body as the principal part of your identity, then of course, it’s only natural that the things that go towards the preservation of the body—feeding it, giving it shelter, setting it up with reliable resources – are going to have the most obvious value.

If, on the other hand, you feel the less “tangible” element of soul as being a core part of your identity—i.e. if you feel a strong connection to the parts of you that the five senses can’t locate—then you’re probably very able to identify with the value of art.  Mainly because art is, by its nature, an excavation of deep identity—of soul… or Soul, if we’re to consider this essential quality as God-like, as holy.

The thing is, we all love art, and we innately feel connected to the art we like.  I do believe that’s because this holy Soulfulness is really the fabric of who we are.  We’re just not always entirely clear how it compares to the needs of the body.

My personal takeaway from the conversation was this: every time we awe at something that art does, every time we celebrate the (supposedly) intangible beauty that lies beyond material existence, we’re actually taking a stand for Soul.  We’re putting our arms around our deep spiritual identity.

And, at the same time, we’re taking a powerful whack at mortality… at the idea that our lives are stuck inside the breaths & heartbeats of a bodily lifespan.  We’re learning that we are actually endless.

So embrace Soul!  Let yourself feel connected to it, through beauty, art, what have you.  Consciously notice that you do this.  It’ll help you see more of your immortal nature.  It’ll point you away from the body and towards health—really, towards immortality.

(And to clarify the first part of this blog post, none of this is really about what people choose to lay down cash for.  Every situation is different, after all; there’s no judgment of those decisions.  🙂  More than this, I’m interested in how that concept helps us explore our definition of identity.)

* * * * * * *

In a fine example of good timing, we’ll be considering the topic “Soul and Body” during our church service tomorrow.  We’ll hear how every blade of grass and every star is “distinct and eternal.” (Mary Baker Eddy)  You’re invited to come and pray about this with everyone in attendance, or to defend this idea in your thought from wherever you are.

Christa & JP Church


Details about tomorrow’s service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000  x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am – 11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

A “marinade” for today. (Subtitle: Church at Eastern Bank)

—>We’re back at the Eastern Bank community room!  Details, call-in #, etc. below.<—

Been chewing on this paragraph for a little while now:

I am Spirit. Man, whose senses are spiritual, is my likeness. He reflects the infinite understanding, for I am Infinity. The beauty of holiness, the perfection of being, imperishable glory, — all are Mine, for I am God. I give immortality to man, for I am Truth. I include and impart all bliss, for I am Love. I give life, without beginning and without end, for I am Life. I am supreme and give all, for I am Mind. I am the substance of all, because I AM THAT I AM.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 252-253

There’s a lot of good stuff in this passage that speaks for itself; I don’t need to try to articulate it for you.  But for me, I’ve found it inspiring to just marinate in these ideas a bit, and feel what they mean for me.

(In Science and Health, there are a couple of places where Mary Baker Eddy gives a succinct definition of God.  Here’s one of them, found in the spiritual Glossary she gives in the back of the book.  The passage above is slightly more fleshed-out.)

And I hope that wherever you are, you can feel those identifying characteristics of God, lifting you to experience new ideas and guiding you to learn what you need.

Tomorrow, those of us in this society are holding our Sunday prayer meeting—”holding watch,” as it were.  Any and all are free to come and listen, participate, pray, or just take it all in.

NOTE: We’ll open up the bank room tomorrow 15 min. before the service, for any who’d like to come and partake of some quiet prayer time first.  (Phone folks, we’ll be sticking to our usual call-in time, a few minutes before the start of the service.)

Warmly,

Christa and the C.S. Society of JP


Details about tomorrow’s service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000  x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am – 11:35am-ish, EST
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure Love.

“As soon as we change course, sin is destroyed”

–> Details of the church location, time, call-in number are at the bottom of this post. <–

**Also, for those in Daylight Savings land, here’s a reminder to turn your clocks back 1 hour tonight!**

[From tomorrow’s First Reader: some thoughts on the week’s Lesson-Sermon]

I love this week’s Bible Lesson. The subject sounds a little intimidating [Everlasting Punishment], but I’ve come to realize that its purpose is to explicitly set us straight on the topic of sin. This is quite an important topic among Christians, and raises several questions. If we sin, do we go to “hell” for eternity? Did God create us as sinners? Are we to expect punishment for sin to be everlasting???

I find great comfort in knowing that God does not punish us for our sins, but rather removes our sins from us, because we are not sinners in the first place. This week’s lesson really helps me see that.

So what about sin then, practically speaking? Can we just do whatever we want and get away with it? As Mary Baker Eddy says in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on page 497:11, “…the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.” In other words, sin is just a belief. If we think and act according to sinful beliefs, that will punish itself through the suffering that sinful thoughts and actions bring. However, sin has nothing to do with God, and God certainly did not create sin. Most importantly, God did not create us as sinners! Here is a passage from this week’s lesson that illustrates this beautifully:

Psalms 103 (New King James Version)

“6. The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11. For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12. As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
17. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him.”

Beautiful!
Now comes the question, what if we find ourselves entrenched in sinful beliefs and suffering the consequences? Mary Baker Eddy says, encouragingly, “If you believe in and practice wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right.” (Science and Health, 253:18-19)

As soon as we change course, sin is destroyed and that’s the end of it. We then enter the consciousness of (become aware of) heaven on earth, our eternal home.

With love,

Laurie and JP Church


Details about tomorrow’s service:
@ Eastern Bank Community Room. 687 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (map).
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote attendees
10:35am – 11:35am-ish, EDT
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure love.