We all know it when we see it: parents and children, spouses, friends, even strangers caring for, reaching out to, and helping one another.  This is love in action.  It has many different expressions: tenderness, assistance, listening, protecting, cherishing, comforting, aiding, lifting.  The list is long and we each could add many words to it.

And because we know what it looks like, we know when it’s missing too.

What can be done about that?

Is it really missing?  If God is Love as the Bible says (1st John 4:8), and God fills all space (Deut 4:39), also as the Bible says, how could love really be missing?  What is actually missing is our recognition of it.

If our premise is that Love is everywhere, we will expect to see it, expect to know it, right where it seems to be missing.  When it seems impossible to see love – in a disaster, or a sick room, or a political rally – close your eyes to the picture and open your heart to the reality of Love’s ever presence.  Don’t let go of Love until you are convinced that even right there in the thick of unloveliness, Love is at work.  Quietly.  Safely.  Permanently.

This is what Jesus did.  His conviction of the power and presence of Love enabled him to pass through an angry crowd unharmed (Luke 4:29,30); to raise to life the daughter of parents engulfed in sorrow (Mark 5:42); to feed a multitude too hungry and tired to fend for themselves (Matt 14:20); and the greatest example of Love at work, to resurrect himself from the grave (John 20:17) to prove that even there Love prevails.

These were not just isolated instances.  The Gospels are filled with stories of Love overcoming misery and despair.  And even after Jesus’ ascension, his disciples, and their disciples, and their disciples after that, continued to prove the healing and saving power of love right where love seemed to be missing.

And we can do the same today.

It doesn’t require any special power or even any religious affiliation.  It simply is a matter of holding in thought that love is stronger than hate, that it casts out fear, that it soothes and comforts.  Even in the face of that which is definitely not love.

Doing so introduces a new possibility into the mix, one not so convinced of the ugliness or sadness or terror.  That little glimmer of hope actually begins to reveal how love has been at work, quietly under the surface – but there all along.

When you look for it, you see it.  And rather than being aghast at its absence you will see its curative power gently dissolving every unloveliness.

Yes, it requires effort.  Yes, it requires consistency.  Yes, it even requires faith – faith that one person can make a difference.  But isn’t that better than the alternatives of hopelessness or indifference?

Divine Love is here.  Hold your ground in expectation that you can see it at work.  And then look for evidence of your conviction.

I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.  For Love is loving you too.

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.

…don’t say anything at all.  We all grew up with that directive from parents and teachers.  It’s still practical today.  With all the differing viewpoints on just about everything from politics to celebrity behavior and religion to health and everything in between, it’s become so easy to just put our opinion out there and let the chips fall where they may.  If we offend someone, no big deal.

Jesus had a different idea about that.  He said, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  It’s called the Golden Rule and it’s found in the Sermon on the Mount.  (Matt chapters 5 to 7)  It requires of us, even when we have strong feelings about something, to speak in a way that elevates the conversation and respects the other players – whether you know them or not; to temper our words with kindness.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t say or do the tough things that need to be said and done.  Jesus had some strong words and did some very hard things out of the deepest love for his fellow man.  For example, look how he rebuked Peter who had just confirmed that his Master was the hoped for Christ, when the disciple suggested Jesus shouldn’t allow himself to be crucified.  He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  (Matt 16:23)

And that is precisely where we get into trouble today: by acting from our own human sense of “how it should be” instead of from a more divinely directed outlook.  God has bestowed on man useful qualities such as patience, intelligence, courage, meekness – what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22,23)  And to the extent that we subjugate our own willful tendencies to these higher expressions do we move conversations and relationships forward in a more harmonious way.

Everyone has the capacity to contribute something positive to every event.  Does that mean then, that we just add fluff when the substance is too hard to handle?  Of course not.  Fluff is not in keeping with the Golden Rule any more than crudity or unkindness.  If it’s our place to add substance to the discussion, we should do it – charitably and with brotherly kindness.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “It requires the spirit of our blessed Master to tell a man his faults, and so risk human displeasure for the sake of doing right and benefiting our race.”  (Science and Health p. 571)  This is a useful guideline for determining both our motives and our process.

Every step, every word, every thought – to the extent that we are watchful and prayerful, and especially willing – can be taken in a spirit of love.  Love can sooth, it can lift, it can compel, it can correct.  It can even heal, as Jesus showed.

The Apostle Paul put forth a wonderful sense of the power and requirements of love in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13.  This version is from JB Phillips:   If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.  Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.  Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.  In this life we have three great lasting qualities – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

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.

I have a hand towel hanging right next to my kitchen sink, inches away from the faucet.  It’s unmissable.  At least I thought it was.  But I’ve noticed that sometimes visitors to my kitchen completely by-pass it and walk across the room to the decorative cloths hanging from the handle of the oven door.  That’s because, in their own kitchens, that’s where the dish towel is located.

So the bigger question is, are we doing that in our lives with things that are more important than hand towels?  Like God.

The fact is, God is right in front of us.  No matter what direction we’re facing.  The Apostle Paul said to the Athenians, that God was not unknown, but infinite and ever present, and that “they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”  (Acts 17:27,28)

If we’re looking for happiness and health any place other than God, maybe we’re missing what’s right in front of us.  The Psalmist wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”  (103:2-4)

Jesus understood these ancient texts to be true hundreds of years after they were written.  He relied on God to meet every one of his needs, proving time and time again the verity of those joyful words.  He taught his disciples to trust God for everything.  And he expected us, his followers in this age, to do the same.

Issues seem to arise when we believe we already know what we need to know and have what we need to have.  But like the person who walks across my kitchen – dripping water all the way – they find the towel on the oven door is not very absorbent.  In fact, it’s pretty much just for looks.

Jesus tells of a young man who left home looking for health and happiness, and lost both.  He only found it after he returned home.  His Father said, “all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:11-32) In other words, you don’t have to go searching all over for what was here all along.

That’s the message for us too, in Jesus’ own words: “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt 6:33)

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.

A Great Bumper Sticker

April 25, 2014

I carry a Bible and I know how to use it!

And my ammunition is the 91st Psalm, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, and The Lord’s Prayer.

What’s in your glove box?

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.

So says the Apostle Paul in 1st Timothy.  But he doesn’t just leave it there.  He goes on to add that the example should be found “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  (1 Tim 4:12)  In other words, in every area of life.

Paul knew that the best teacher of the gospel is one who lives it, not just one who speaks about it.  Today we call that walking your talk or practicing what you preach.

Jesus definitely did that: he was the ultimate man of integrity.  Wikipedia says that integrity is “a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes.”   Doesn’t that describe The Master?

Jesus taught his followers through both words and works, how to be living expressions of the Christ he exemplified. He made plain that hypocrisy and self-righteousness were no part of his theology, but loving and healing others were.  He held his disciples accountable for learning, living, and proving his life-message.  And when they would have gone back to fishing, he reminded them of their commitment: that real love is in obedience.

I consider myself both a believer in and a follower of Christ Jesus.  I am striving to have my word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, and purity (to use Paul’s words) reflect – to the best of my ability – what that means: to show my love in obedience. It is often not easy, and I sometimes fail miserably.  But I know that I must keep at it, in word and deed, so that I may be an “example of the believers.”  Who knows?  Someone may be turned to the healing Christ as a result of my life!  There is room for all!

Mary Baker Eddy makes this pungent comment: “Are you willing to leave all for Christ, for Truth, and so be counted among sinners? No! Do you really desire to attain this point? No! Then why make long prayers about it and ask to be Christians, since you do not care to tread in the footsteps of our dear Master? If unwilling to follow his example, why pray with the lips that you may be partakers of his nature? Consistent prayer is the desire to do right. Prayer means that we desire to walk and will walk in the light so far as we receive it, even though with bleeding footsteps, and that waiting patiently on the Lord, we will leave our real desires to be rewarded by Him.”  (Science and Health page 9)

Go and be thou an example of the believers.  Great blessings will follow – not only for you, but for all.

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.

What child is this?

December 19, 2013

No, I’m not thinking of the song, but asking the question literally.  What child are we honoring at this season?  Certainly we all know the story of the birth of Jesus over two millennia ago, recounted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Of him, John writes that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” (see chapter 3, verse 16)

Many children were born at the same time.  But it is this one child, this harbinger of hope and peace, whose birth we celebrate.  We know nothing of the actual delivery of Jesus, only that it called wise men and shepherds and caused angels to announce its glorious promise.

And what is the promise of this child?  Certainly Jesus was not a warrior who came to deliver men then and now from dictators or occupiers.  Yet his power – the godliness which animated him, to quote Mary Baker Eddy – freed all mankind throughout all time from the oppression of sin, disease, and death, today included.  You and me included.  (Science and Health page 26)

Is that the child we are acknowledging?

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.  (2 Cor. 9:16)

Merry Christmas to you all.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.

One God, one set of rules.

September 14, 2013

The Bible is very clear that we are to have only one God.  (see Ex. 20:3 for example)  The Bible is also pretty clear about all the trouble you can get into for thinking – and acting – like there are more gods than one.

We make the mistake of thinking that God inflicts all that trouble on us when we follow other gods.  But that’s not how it works.  God is always God: the same rules always apply under all circumstances.  It’s just that when we look away from God’s oneness, we lose track of the significance of that only-ness.  The consequences stem from divided affections.  And as Jesus makes plain, “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”  (Luke 11:17)

Doesn’t that seem like what we’re doing though, when we say God saves believers but condemns non-believers?  Sounds like two sets of rules.  Or when we say that God can’t really compete with evil on this side of death, but once you go to heaven evil is vanquished.  Sounds like two different Gods.

There’s no wiggle room in Isaiah’s statement:  “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”  (45:5)

So rather than reinterpreting that to make it fit what we can’t explain, let’s readjust our concept of God and His kingdom to accept that very clear statement at its deepest level.  There is only one God, here and forever, for one and all.  No exceptions.

Divine Love – another name for God – is always caring for all of us, all the time.  Infinite Spirit is always ever present all the time.  No one is left out.  Ever.

One God, one set of rules.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.

I am not a Scientologist

September 5, 2013

Sometimes people assume that the Science in Christian Science is the same as the Science in Scientology.  Two completely different systems.  The IRS has agreed that Scientology is a religion, but it’s neither biblically oriented nor Christian.  Christian Science, on the other hand, is completely Bible-based and wholly Christian.  Here’s a great article that really explains the differences.

And here are the Tenets of Christian Science that show just how deeply rooted it is in the Bible (Science and Health, page 498):

  1.  As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
  2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God.  We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.
  3. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal.  But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
  4. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
  5. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
  6. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.

And by the way, I don’t know Tom Cruise or John Travolota, either.  Just sayin’…

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.

Feather Duster

August 25, 2013

Have you ever noticed how a feather duster doesn’t really pick up the dust – it just sort of redistributes it?  Seems to look good short-term, but once the dust settles you either need to do it again right away or give up and live with it.  Real dusting requires some elbow grease.

Prayers can be like that too: either they just sort of move things around a little bit, without really getting at the issue to deal with it. Or they confront it head on and wipe the trouble away.

In the Bible book of Luke, Jesus tell the story of two pray-ers: one a Pharisee and the other a publican.  The Pharisee’s prayer is grandiose, wordy – and made for his fellow-man to hear.  Jesus says that he “prayed to himself.”  The publican, on the other hand, speaks only to God, asking for mercy.  Jesus approves of this latter prayer.  (see Luke 18:10-14)

Does this mean that praying out loud is self-centered while praying silently is more godlike?  No.  Of course not.  But audible prayer can sometimes be more about impressing those around us rather than gaining peace or spiritual insight.

Mary Baker Eddy gave a simple explanation of effective prayer when she wrote, “what we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.”  (see Science and Health page 4)  This kind of prayer, she explained, more accurately follows Jesus’ commandments, one of which is to love each other.

Both Jesus’ and Eddy’s point is that prayer is not just for making us feel good about ourselves – a feather duster prayer – but for the deeper task of healing our own and others’ lives, and improving our communities and the world.

This kind of prayer is practical and possible, right here.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.

I love the Bible.  I love its promise and lessons, its correction and encouragement.  I especially love the expectation of its writers and characters that as I mold my own life – as much as possible – after its redeeming example, I’ll receive the benefits they did.

One of the tenets of my religion is that “as adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 497)  Sufficient guide covers all the bases, doesn’t it?

As long as their hearts were stayed on God (see Is. 26:3), individuals in the Bible were kept from harm.  That’s my story too: loving God with all my heart, all my soul, all my might – and having no other Gods before Him, as the First Commandment says – I can expect to be blessed in untold ways.  And that blessing brings progress: improved health, stronger relationships, spiritual growth, even life eternal.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What’s your story?

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.