Do right, fear not

Gather with us this evening as we consider a few Beatitudes and hear from one another on how we’ve been putting our faith into practice this week. #Allarewelcome

(location and call-in info below)

“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

-Matthew 5:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

@ 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#

Break EVERY yoke. (Plus, church in the *bank!*)

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

The Christian Science lesson-sermon for this week on the topic of unreality contains a particular central message: freedom.  It includes this passage from the book of Isaiah:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?”

-chapter 58, verse 6.  (Whole chapter here.)

That is:  The fasting, i.e. form of worship, that Love, Spirit, Mind, Truth has in mind for humankind is “to loose the chains of injustice” (as the NIV puts it) … to undo burdens… to let the oppressed go free.  Noteworthy that this isn’t just about individually finding freedom, either, but also helping others see their freedom.

Freedom from what?

Freedom from everything and anything not like God… every yoke!

The idea that this is possible is really just a profoundly wonderful thing.  I mean, think of all the varieties of “yokes” that seem to keep humanity in bondage: fear, selfishness, sensuality, lack, materialism, apathy, pain, limitation, incapability, bad history, mortality, etc. etc.

Think of actually being able to overcome all of those things, and helping other people to overcome them.  Every single one, and more.

No, seriously… wrap your mind around that for a sec.

If this doesn’t fill you with happiness, I don’t know what would.

(And, technically, all of those “varieties” are just variants on the same one evil… though that’s a topic for another post.  Or, better yet, you can read a bit about it here: Science and Health p.16)

Because of the nature of spiritual existence and of God, this one evil is truly and finally “defeatable.”  It’s what can’t help but happen.

Okay.  If you’d like a song that’ll get you thinking about freedom today, here’s a classic gospel song from around the Civil Rights era in the US.  This version of the song, “Oh Freedom,” is sung by the Golden Gospel Singers.

(note: this recording & video are not made by/copyrighted by JP Church!  For info about the video, click the YouTube icon in the bottom right of the screen.)

Details about today’s service:
Eastern Bank community room, 687 Centre St, JP
(605) 475-4000 x.636128 – for remote callers
10:35am to 11:35am-ish, EDT
-An hour of singing, contemplative prayer, readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and pure love.

<3, jpchurch

Real talk: Comfort for dark holiday times

We’ve all heard the story a million times:  The Jews were following the letter of God’s law as best they understand, but things weren’t getting better: they were subject to a growing empire that delegates power to a corrupt king; abuse, tragedy, and sickness were commonplace.  Into this scene entered a beautiful new idea, the highest representation of Christ Truth come to man, and would bring man’s salvation not from the Romans but from mortality itself.

Yeah, yeah, right?  In the right mood, this story can seem beautiful to us, but if you’re suffering from loneliness, disease, unemployment, depression, discrimination, loss, violence, poverty, injury… Christmas carols can seem trite, cliche, impotent.  Right?

Well, we know better: God makes all things new.  Jesus asked us over an over to turn ourselves around and hear good news.  If you’re willing to do that, to stop giving any power to the apparent circumstances and listen to God’s love, it’s there in exactly the new, fresh way you need.  Right now.  Yesterday.  Tomorrow.

And if that seems out of reach right now, that’s okay.  The fact is that God loves you.  Right now.

In her work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote:

When the ocean is stirred by a storm, then the clouds lower, the wind shrieks through the tightened shrouds, and the waves lift themselves into mountains.  We ask the helmsman: “Do you know your course?  Can you steer safely amid the storm?”  He answers bravely, yet even the dauntless seeman is not sure of his safety…  Yet, acting up to his highest understanding, firm at the post of duty, the mariner works on and awaits the issue.  Thus should we deport ourselves on the seething ocean of sorrow.  Hoping and working, one should stick to the wreck, until an irresistible propulsion precipitates his doom or sunshine gladdens the troubled sea.

Not the happiest note to end on; and indeed, judging by human circumstance, we often can’t see whether storms will end in doom or sunshine.

Thankfully, Jesus demonstrated that “The waters will be pacified, and Christ will command the wave,” (ibid., p. 570; cf. Mark 6:45-51).

Can I walk on the water?  Not yet, no.  But I have experienced that Christ can bring healing love to me even when I think I’m in a dark storm of fear and confusion.

Was a time several years ago, when I was succeeding in my career, but nowhere else: I hated myself for who I was; I was lonely with no prospects of changing that; I had a physical disease that scared me; work was highly competitive and therefore stressful.  I’m sure many of you can “top” this list; it’s not a competition — it just sucks when life seems like it sucks.  What made it all dangerous was that, having been raised Christian Scientist, I wasn’t seeking “conventional” help for these things, but being a skeptical young academic man, I wasn’t embracing Christian Science for treatment, either.

The turning point wasn’t particularly hallmark-y: it’s not that Jesus came in a beam of light and healed me one day.  No, one day, the aforementioned disease advanced to a stage where I felt threatened, and treatment appeared necessary.  Given that it had gone untreated for years, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give C. S. a try first.  So I called my old Sunday School teacher, who was also a practitioner (healer).  I pointed out what I saw as a tension in using C. S. to treat me: that I couldn’t convince myself to believe in God.  She reassured me that it wasn’t my burden: God, Love, would prove Himself to me.  She’d give me prayerful treatment.

The disease went away promptly.  I didn’t even notice the change; it was just gone.

Over the ensuing years, my trust in God and this Science grew (and for awhile, very slowly).  And the challenges listed above dropped away one by one.  I’ve been a stably happy and healthy guy for awhile now, and I hope I’m blessing others.  Of course, I still have challenges I’m working on, but I look forward to sharing success stories about those too, because I know this Science of universal Love works.  And I rejoice because now I know that I can turn to Science, rather than suffering, to teach me the unreality of these claims.

All this is to say: no matter what oppression you’re going through right now, God’s love will be made clear to you as soon as you’re open to it.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light. -Paul, Romans.

The holidays can be the hardest time of the year to those who suffer.  But the message of Christmas, the dawn of the idea of Truth coming to man to heal, is irresistible.

And if this whole message missed you because you’re a pretty happy person, great.  Let your cup run over, blessing others.  It feels great.  Just make sure you do it with tenderness, aflame with love, rather than by spewing holy writ.

May you experience the love pouring down on you this season, and may this dawn of the Christ reach you every day, and never be dulled by any claim of being “cliche”.  Although it’s been said many times, many ways, merry Christmas to you.

…and enjoy some cocoa, generosity,  and bright lights while you’re at it.

From Grant & the rest of jpchurch