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.

a few thoughts on the right kind of “judgment”

Hey there.

You, reading this post.  Yes, you.

The news of the day:
this world is so much deeper than what the eyes see.

Take a second and treat yourself to remembering that.  🙂

God, one, glorious, magnificent, indescribably good GOD… is the deepest identification we have.  You, me, all of us.  That’s the fabric of our being.  Even though eyeballs in eye sockets can’t see it.

Jesus got this.  He told the Pharisee priests in their own temple, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

If God is the actual identity of everything, then there isn’t any need for us to judge by outward appearances—not even innocently, i.e. out of presumed self-preservation or to better understand the ins and outs of life.  It actually isn’t natural for us to do that.

Instead, it’s totally natural for us to judge by what our connection to deep, immaterial good, what the “still, small voice” of God, is whispering to us.

(To give this concept credit where it’s due, it’s basically what I’m left thinking about after having read this line today by Mary Baker Eddy: )

[[ The facts of divine Science should be admitted, — although the evidence as to these facts is not supported by evil, by matter, or by material sense, — because the evidence that God and man coexist is fully sustained by spiritual sense. Man is, and forever has been, God’s reflection. God is infinite, therefore ever present, and there is no other power nor presence. ]]

-in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (in-context here)

It’s part of the practice of scientific Christianity: trusting this spiritual information to be the actual truth in every circumstance, with every person we encounter… regardless of the outward appearances!

I’d like to do this all the time, though it’s easy to forget when faced with situations that feel daunting.  I trust that it’s possible, and that it’ll bring my whole experience closer (little by little) to understanding reality.

I invite you to join me.

Additionally, a whole bunch of us, who are striving to achieve this goal, will be getting together tomorrow morning to pray on/cherish similar ideas together.  (Info below, including a call-in number for attending remotely.)  I invite you to that, too.

-Christa (on behalf of the Christian Science Society of JP)

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.

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.

On praying without ceasing (from M.B. Eddy)

A thought for you to take with you today – words not from me, but from the founder of this church:

The habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer. Its motives are made manifest in the blessings they bring, — blessings which, even if not acknowledged in audible words, attest our worthiness to be partakers of Love. 

Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness.

–Mary Baker Eddy, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Read in context here.

* * * * * *

See you at the park tomorrow!  We’ll be thinking & praying together about our identity.  (The second paragraph of the quote above is part of the service tomorrow.)

To find us, enter “333 Lamartine St., Jamaica Plain, MA” into your GPS, and you’ll see us across the street from there in Johnson Park, sitting on blankets in the grass.  Or call in to listen, at 605-475-4000 x. 636128, starting around 10:30am Eastern time.