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You all know the story of the Good Samaritan found in the 10th chapter of Luke in the Bible. Here’s a quick recap: in response to a question about being a neighbor, Jesus tells this story: a traveler is attacked, injured, and left for dead.  Two church workers see him but don’t stop to help. A Samaritan traveling along the same road does stop, cleans him up, transports him to an inn and pays for his care. The punchline is, he who showed mercy was the neighbor.

For lots of reasons many of us are like the ones who pass by on the other side.  We don’t want to get involved, we don’t know what to do, there is some kind of legal prohibition, we don’t have time, someone else will do it, it’s not our job, we’re afraid, and on and on and on.  We’re good people and we do good things, but we just won’t do that – whatever “that” is.

Jesus knew that tendency of human nature, which is why the story resonates with so many of us.  To be fair, many of us do stop and help – under certain circumstances.

Here’s a way that we can all be more consistent in being a neighbor: you may recall that the Samaritan used oil and wine to clean and dress the wounds of the injured man. Those words – oil and wine – have spiritual definitions, found in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. She defines oil as: consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration; and wine as: inspiration; understanding.

If we mentally bathe ourselves and others in those qualities found in the two definitions we’ll find that all of those reasons for passing by on the other side simply won’t be so compelling. Just like a tough callous responds to a good soaking in oil, a tough situation also responds to expressions of gentleness and understanding. Those mental attributes bring a natural lubrication that smooths the way to solutions perhaps thought impossible.

There isn’t a definition of donkey in the Glossary of Science and Health, but it could represent our willingness and ability to move forward to a useful resolution.  Developing an inclination to help, leaning towards having a heart prepared to give aid, opens our eyes to countless opportunities to pour in oil and wine.

This kind of mental work is not just useful in obvious situations where physical assistance is necessary.  It’s also valuable when we have political disagreements, or family upheavals, or community divisions.  If we take our oil, our wine, and our donkey with us everywhere we go – whether it’s across town or just on to Facebook, we’ll be more ready to be generous.  We’ll be more neighborly.

Jesus said to the questioner after he identified what a neighbor is, “go, and do thou likewise.”  Still good advice, don’t you think?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

You’ve heard the opposite – damned if you do and damned if you don’t. This is it’s remedy. It’s based on the metaphysical premise that what blesses one blesses all. (See Science and Health, page 206)

Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive in a world filled with so much that doesn’t appear to deserve blessing?  That’s the point.  Let me illustrate with a story from the Bible.  At one time, Jesus fed a multitude of more than 5,000 people.  He started with only a little bit of bread and fish. But he was so convinced about God’s power to bless all, that he confidently started to feed that very large crowd with those few morsels. And there was enough to go around, with leftovers. (see Matt 14:15-21)

Did Jesus send his disciples through the crowd first to determine who was worthy and who wasn’t?  Did he ask the criminals and the hypocrites and the liars to excuse themselves ? Did he suggest that those who weren’t Jews should leave? Were the doubters left out?  Was anyone in any condition made to miss the meal? No. Why?

Because divine Love only saw its creation through the lens of Love. God, who is Love, didn’t see good and bad, worthy and unworthy, clean and unclean. He saw His own children, made in His image and likeness.

Does doing terrible things, or feeling terrible cut you off from being blessed?  No, but that terribleness obscures the blessing. Behaving in a way that goes against your spiritual nature, seems to hide that nature from you and others. But that nature hasn’t gone any where.  Your character, as designed by God, is ever present and untarnished. And that goes for your neighbors too, whether they’re on the same street or just the same planet.

How could that be?

If the blessing were left up to us, we’d certainly dish it out judiciously making sure that prospective receivers met certain standards.  And we’d withhold it too, to make a point.  Good thing it’s not left up to us.  Jesus said that God, his Father, poured forth His love just like the sunshine or the rain: on anyone and everyone regardless. (see Matt 5:43-48) Our job is to see that blessing in action.  If we know it’s there, no matter what, we will surely begin to see it, even where we thought it was impossible.

This shift in thought makes all the difference in a difficult situation. And it even improves a wonderful situation.  All because we are expecting, even looking for, blessing instead of cursing.

It takes practice.  It takes consistency.  It takes giving up self-justification. But the great thing is, as we are more diligent in doing it, we’ll more naturally see God’s blessing bestowed in every direction, including our own.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

This is my comandment…

March 4, 2018

…that ye love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). This was the standard which Christ Jesus put before his followers.  The only caveat was that their love must be the same as his love.  That meant it wasn’t just for those who deserved it or loved them back. It wasn’t just for those who were good or kind.  It wasn’t even just for those who thought or acted or looked the same way they did.

It was a love that healed and saved without measure.

What does it take to love that way?

For Jesus, to love that way was to love as his heavenly Father loved. In fact, it was to know God as Love itself, not just loving but the very source of love. This view of God was revolutionary! But it enabled Jesus to express that love in infinite ways: by feeding multitudes; by changing water into wine; by knowing there would be a coin in a fish’s mouth; by healing the sick; by raising the dead; by redeeming the sinner. It was love that met the need when and where it needed to be met.

We can love that way because we have the same heavenly Father that Jesus had. And we have the model that Jesus himself set for us of love in action. He even said that “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12)

And because God is the source of love it can’t be depleted, it can’t be worn out.  God, Love, is infinite and fills all space.

Jesus was very clear that it wasn’t his own love that he was sharing freely.  He said “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)

Human love can be hit or miss.  It can be overwhelmed or under utilized.  And it can just plain wear out.  Divine Love, the source of Jesus’ love, never gave up, never gave out. That’s the source of our love too.

It does seem though, sometimes, that there is a lot of baggage that needs to be set aside in order to prove it.  Jesus gave some pretty clear instructions for doing just that, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 to 7).  For example: take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye; if someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two; do to others as you would have them do to you.  There are many more instructions for purifying and uplifting our love in those three chapters of Matthew’s gospel.

Perhaps the most clear reminder however, comes from 1st John: we love because He first loved us. (4:19) Loving as Jesus loved, expressing the source of love, is simply a natural manifestation of the Love that loved us first.

Let that love be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Season of Gratitude

November 19, 2017

What do you have to be grateful for?  It may appear to be a routine question, but taking the time to make note of and give thanks for blessings large and little is at the heart of this season of gratitude.  Being thankful is life-changing!

Why? For one thing, it expands thought by taking it off of oneself.  When that happens, thought shifts and healing occurs. A new perspective brings progress.

Being grateful also helps us to see people and things in ways that are closer to their true spiritual character.  The more we strive to be thankful for even the smallest of deeds or simplest of stuff, the more we find of value in those near and far.

It’s especially important – and completely natural – to give gratitude to God as the source of those blessings, and of all that is good. He pours forth affection and purpose, provision and health, happiness and holiness to one and all, regardless of faith or no faith.  And none of it returns to Him without accomplishing all that He intends.  The author of Colossians writes, “…cultivate thankfulness…And sing, sing your hearts out to God! ” (3:15.16)

It seems, when we neglect that heart-filled singing step, thought reverts inward. Instead of rejoicing in expansive views, all seems finite and limited. Author, educator, and mentor Mary Baker Eddy put it this way: “While the heart is far from divine Truth and Love, we cannot conceal the ingratitude of barren lives.” (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, bottom of page 3)

But the solution doesn’t need to take a long time.  A simple thank you to divine Truth and Love, another name for God, gets the ball rolling to higher and clearer vistas that reveal the normalcy of goodness, the naturalness of health, and the reliability of harmony. With that new outlook, life is a little lighter, and freedom a little closer.

Try it.  Be grateful.  Start with one thing, and watch your list grow to dozens or even hundreds. You’ll feel better and the world will look sweeter.

Thank God.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the add me button.

Fear Not

November 5, 2017

There’s nothing more comforting than the reassurance you don’t have to be afraid.  Especially in the uncertainty of our everyday lives, having an available reminder to “fear not” is a precious resource. For me, it’s the word and works of Christ Jesus. His tender and persistent message of “be not afraid” was based on an unbreakable relationship with his heavenly Father, divine Love.

He taught his followers that the same relationship with God was theirs as well.  He showed them throughout his ministry that the saving power of God, Love, was ever present and ever responsive.  His Father was their Father.

Even before this passage in First John was written (4:18) – there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear – Jesus was proving it through healing and saving countless individuals from sin, disease, and even death.  And when bad things did occur, that law of Love was still at work comforting and lifting.

Jesus never agreed that there was ever a reason to be frightened.  And he never encouraged his followers to be afraid or to act out of fear.  On the contrary, he steadfastly refused to give any power to any scary situation, even when it appeared to be life threatening.

That same strong trust can be ours today by relying on the same strong Christ which Jesus depended on, giving us all the strength and courage we need to stand up to fear or terror or any horrible situation.  The power of the Christ, which Jesus manifested throughout his career, is at work right here counteracting whatever would frighten us.  It has all the power of God behind it, overthrowing fear through the omnipotence of divine Love.

Love is another name for God.  It’s not just about being loving or loved, although those help when we’re afraid.  It’s about the all-power of God Himself destroying what is unlike Him.  Love can cast out fear because Love is not afraid.

This is what Jesus knew when he fearlessly faced murderous crowds, when he patiently fed multitudes, when he compassionately raised the dead, and when he unselfishly rose from the grave.  He was simply expressing his heavenly Father’s infinite Love.

We can do that too.  We can give the power to Love by taking it away from fear.  Remembering the example Christ Jesus set for us, enables us to follow that example a little more closely, a little more quickly.  Then we see fear cast out too, and healing solutions follow.

Fear not isn’t just wishful thinking.  It’s a proven and reliable standpoint that anyone can practice.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the add me button.

Yes, you can help

October 2, 2017

So many awful things in so many different directions: but yesterday, it was a shooting. What can one person do to help? A lot! Certainly you can volunteer or donate.  But you can also pray.  Even a single prayer, seeking God’s allness and reassurance, lifts your own thought off of the fear and anger.  And more deeply knowing that they who mourn are comforted, brings a bigger blessing. Yearning for the safety of all, no matter the circumstances, and trusting that safety to divine Love is the biggest prayer of all, for it goes out in concentric circles, embracing one after another after another.

Then, commit to living in sincerity with that prayer.  Be kinder.  Be more patient.  Be generous.  Be available. Be how you want others to be, and see others the way you want to be seen.  This kind of living prayer is the best way to overcome – and yes, to prevent – the awful events of yesterday.

Most of all, refuse to be afraid.  Fear keeps you in hiding, when it’s really important right now to come out and let the light of your prayer, your hope, and your willingness, shine into the darkness of fear.  And be persistent.  Not just today or tomorrow.  But everyday.

Love destroys fear.  Truth destroys falsehood.  Light destroys darkness.  You can help.  Be what you want to see.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the add me button.

Supremacy…

August 19, 2017

…has come to mean the subjugation of one people by another for reasons no greater than color or creed.  It doesn’t take into account any kind of character or intellect, but simply places value on specific human origin.

Real supremacy though is about qualities of thought, such as the strength of truth over error, the power of love over hate, and the control of good over evil.  These highest standards of consciousness and behavior, when practiced assiduously and without rancor, lift all mankind regardless of physical and mental characteristics.

The Golden Rule is an example of putting another’s welfare above one’s own as a way of saying “this is how I’d like you to treat me.”  And it consistently improves relations and conversations when regularly applied.

The Prophet Malachi asked, “have we not all one father?” meaning, haven’t we all really come from the same source?  (2:10) Don’t we all really have the same beginning?  And whether you think that beginning is primordial or spiritual, there were not separate “them” and “us” creations way back then.

Uniting together through principles of decency, kindness, hope, and liberty regardless of what one looks like, or where one comes from is the only way to make true progress, blessing one and all.  The Apostle Paul said, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  (Galations 5:22,23)

And Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the  Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates  pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes;  equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves  nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.”  (pg. 340)

Separation due to skin color or hate is not true identity. By striving to overcome all that would pit us against each other, including devious negative mental qualities, we begin to see who we truly are as the image and likeness of God.  And of that God said that it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Let us practice the true supremacy of equality, based on the law of God’s universal and impartial goodness. Then, nothing can keep us apart.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.