December 26, 2002
Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.
After allowing that we do enjoy giving and receiving presents, we pretty much dispensed with a personal sense of gifts. There was an interesting point about "presents" and "presence": a present is presented to someone to convey the thought and feeling — in other words the presence — of the giver to the receiver.
With Christmas in the air, we moved to a deeper appreciation of gifts. First we saw them as human language for the allness of good. Then it was on to "God's unspeakable gift", or His presence in our lives and the lives of all mankind in various spiritual practices, such as Christian Science.
One member described his Christmas day alone — the way he likes it — reading and listening to music. He re-read The Other Wiseman by Henry Van Dyke. The book details this Wiseman's thwarted attempts to give precious jewels to the baby Jesus. He has to cash them in along the way in order to help others in tragic circumstances. After many years he finally reaches Jesus as he's being crucified, but finds his journey of compassionate giving fully endorsed by God.
Another member talked of some recent revelations that had come to him regarding the archangel Gabriel. As our readings from Luke show, Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. He was also at Muhammad's side when the revelations of Islam came to him.
Many people draw comfort that Abraham was the common ancestor of Judeo-Christianity and Islam, but we can also look to Gabriel as a full-fledged participant in the three religions, and present at the very birth of two of them. Mary Baker Eddy takes the angel visitant further, discerning the thought represented by Gabriel as "...imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love." (See Readings, Science and Health, p. 566: 29-13 for the full statement). Human thought has thus evolved from the belief in actual angelic beings announcing miracle births (Christianity), through religious revelations (Islam) to a symbolic representation of divine Love (Christian Science). As the thought becomes more ethereal it also becomes more universal and thus powerful. "Kind of like homeopathy," added one member.
Another member, who has had so-called age-related problems, including voice difficulties, said he was getting help and inspiration from the story of Zacharias (see Readings from Luke). The awe and disbelief Zacharias experiences at Gabriel's announcement of the upcoming birth of his son leaves him without speech. He recovers his voice and delivers quite an oration only after first Elizabeth and then he agree to God's name, John, for the son. Our member feels he must be much more ardent in his practice of God's presence in his life, not just resting on good genes or willpower.
One member, noting that Christian Scientists do not celebrate Christmas religiously, said he'd had some insight this year into a statement he'd mouthed for years to the effect that in Christian Science every day is Christmas. He said we can observe the reality of Heaven borne to earth every moment, as we surrender consensus beliefs for what's real. With all the talk of Gabriel, John and Jesus earlier in the meeting he ventured to frame a recent Christian Science healing in terms of the Christmas story.
He'd been walking for almost an hour when one of his leg muscles seized up, leaving him practically immobile. He was overwhelmed with consensus thoughts about causes and effects. We might call this "world thought" or dualism. He turned his mental back on these and sought God. He thus became a kind of Virgin Mary. Gabriel arrived in the form of scientific prayer, announcing the omnipresence of man as God's idea, his divine substance and omni-action. There was an immediate healing — i.e., the Christ, or God with us, was made manifest in a fully functioning leg. It was not Christ only but Jesus — the highest human corporeal concept — as well. He said, "Christmas happened right there on Seventh Avenue!" Some of course objected to making the Christmas story so mundane. But he persisted, ending up with something like, "Just what do you think the Christ Jesus phenomenon is all about if it's not to make God mundane — that is in the world everyday, everywhere?"
Another member expressed gratitude to God for recent breakthroughs in his ability to live his life rather than just think about it. He has been seeking spiritual help through a number of groups meeting at the LGBT Center. He's finding his writing talents are now coming into expression.
Near the end of the meeting a member shyly reported a sexual adjustment he worked through this week with his sexual partner. There had been discomfort. He recalled reading or hearing a testimony of a cross-sex couple who, having similar difficulties, studied the second verse of Hymn 51 in the Christian Science Hymnal and were healed. They focused — as did he — on the phrase "...Love's work and Love must fit." As he prayed with this idea, he and his partner were able to discover just the right angle, rhythm and duration to constellate feelings of oneness.
For the upcoming week, we'll look at our Motives and Acts. Here's what Mrs. Eddy had to say on the subject: "A Rule for Motives and Acts. SECTION 1. Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man; and a Christian Scientist reflects the sweet amenities of Love, in rebuking sin, in true brotherliness, charitableness, and forgiveness. The members of this Church should daily watch and pray to be delivered from all evil, from prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously." (The Manual of The Mother Church, p. 40: 4-15)
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Mind-science teaches that mortals need "not be weary in well doing." It dissipates fatigue in doing good. Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us. We have strength in proportion to our apprehension of the truth, and our strength is not lessened by giving utterance to truth.
Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies, nor a special gift from a ritualistic Jehovah; but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick, not merely in the name of Christ, or Truth, but in demonstration of Truth, as must be the case in the cycles of divine light.
In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science. God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.
Whence came to me this heavenly conviction,—a conviction antagonistic to the testimony of the physical senses? According to St. Paul, it was "the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power." It was the divine law of Life and Love, unfolding to me the demonstrable fact that matter possesses neither sensation nor life; that human experiences show the falsity of all material things; and that immortal cravings, "the price of learning love," establish the truism that the only sufferer is mortal mind, for the divine Mind cannot suffer.
The Old Testament assigns to the angels, God's divine messages, different offices. Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength. He leads the hosts of heaven against the power of sin, Satan, and fights the holy wars. Gabriel has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love. These angels deliver us from the depths. Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God. The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death. Against Love, the dragon warreth not long, for he is killed by the divine Principle. Truth and Love prevail against the dragon because the dragon cannot war with them. Thus endeth the conflict between the flesh and Spirit.
When Christ changes a belief of sin or of sickness into a better belief, then belief melts into spiritual understanding, and sin, disease, and death disappear. Christ, Truth, gives mortals temporary food and clothing until the material, transformed with the ideal, disappears, and man is clothed and fed spiritually. St. Paul says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:" Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." This truth is Christian Science.
Is man's spiritual sonship a personal gift to man, or is it the reality of his being, in divine Science? Man's knowledge of this grand verity gives him power to demonstrate his divine Principle, which in turn is requisite in order to understand his sonship, or unity with God, good. A personal requirement of blind obedience to the law of being, would tend to obscure the order of Science, unless that requirement should express the claims of the divine Principle. Infinite Principle and infinite Spirit must be one. What avail, then, to quarrel over what is the person of Spirit,—if we recognize infinitude as personality,—for who can tell what is the form of infinity? When we understand man's true birthright, that he is "born, not . . . of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," we shall understand that man is the offspring of Spirit, and not of the flesh; recognize him through spiritual, and not material laws; and regard him as spiritual, and not material. His sonship, referred to in the text, is his spiritual relation to Deity: it is not, then, a personal gift, but is the order of divine Science. The apostle urges upon our acceptance this great fact: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." Mortals will lose their sense of mortality—disease, sickness, sin, and death—in the proportion that they gain the sense of man's spiritual preexistence as God's child; as the offspring of good, and not of God's opposite,—evil, or a fallen man.