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.

Thank you and I love you

March 28, 2015

Gratitude and affection are two of the greatest cures for just about anything.  Especially when neither of them is our first choice.  Often we’d rather withhold them and be resentful or self-righteous or unhappy instead!

But those qualities of thought and their ensuing actions, only serve to extend the problem and alienate the participants.

What did Jesus do?  And why is it important to know?

First of all, Jesus was the Way. (John 14:6)  That means that his words and works were a way of redemption and salvation, a way of being one with his Father, just as he was.  (John 17:21)  But he also was a model, an example; a way of behavior for his followers.  (John 14:12)

Did Jesus practice or preach resentment or self-righteousness or any other of the numerous expressions of fear and hate?  No, of course not.  He was the master of love and compassion, under all circumstances.  That deep affection, for both God and man, brought health, calm, sustenance, and safety at all times.

And his gratitude to God for every healing transaction, large and small, determined a more holy outcome.  He never failed to be blessed by his heavenly Father, and to bless those around him as a result.

Think back to when you had a misunderstanding with someone that wasn’t resolved.  It’s easy to replay that event over and over, to imagine saying or doing something different. Often, we picture telling them what we really think.  But the truth is, the only cure is gratitude and affection.  In your mind’s eye, replay the event with you saying thank you and I love you.  And expecting nothing in return.

This is not a gimmick when based on the power of God, as Jesus based it.  It’s the natural outpouring of God’s own love for His creation.  Realizing your spiritual relationship with Him, and its effects, gives your gratitude and affection authenticity.  Then, regardless of the other’s response, you’ve moved the conversation in a new direction, one with a holier basis.

This takes practice and patience.  And in the face of occasional lack of improvement, it takes persistence.  But every effort to give in this way is a shift in the conversation.  And blessings will follow.

I wish to say to you – dear readers, known and unknown – thank you and I love you.

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.

There’s a story in the 7th chapter of Luke in the Bible, in which Jesus is invited to dine at the house of Simon the Pharisee.  At the same time, an uninvited woman joins them, and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, and dry them with her long hair.  Simon the Pharisee is incensed and thinks to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”  (vs. 39)  Simon had identified the woman as a sinner, and assumed that, since Jesus was not responding the way he would have, that Jesus was no prophet.  Simon was right about the whole situation, and he knew it.  And he was troubled that Jesus didn’t know it too.

How often do we do that to ourselves and each other?  How often are we so convinced about what we know and why we know it, that we can’t believe that others don’t agree with us?  Judging from my own experience, a lot!  Simon saw the woman through his pharisaical viewpoint, one which had very clear cut legal and moral regulations.  Then he took what appeared to be the next obvious step to assume that because Jesus missed this egregious violation, he must not be nearly as smart as everyone said he was.

Jesus caused Simon to see his own self-righteousness, with a poignant parable about the power of love.  And then he rebuked him for neglecting the common courtesy of water to wash his feet, showing the difference between Simon’s actions which were nothing more than legal rightness, and the woman’s ministrations which came from a deep and sincere affection.

Instead of seeing only the human picture – the physical circumstances – Jesus saw both Simon and the woman from a spiritual perspective.  And loving them both, he delivered very different cures which their respective situations required.  To Simon, he pointed out both his faulty reasoning and flawed conclusion.  But to the woman, Jesus simply told her that her sins were forgiven.  Undoubtedly, both of them learned something from the encounter: the woman left in peace, perhaps ready for a fresh start.  We hope that Simon also gained a more generous outlook.

Of course there are things that we really want to be right about, but our opinions should not fall into that category.  Like our dear Master, we should view ourselves and others through the eyes of love, not law.  In fact, as much love as possible, since none of us can expect to be mistake-free.  A gracious and affectionate nature will bring about a more ready and willing forgiveness, should there ever be a need.  And it will enable us to extend that same level of compassion to others whose trespasses may confront us.

If we’re going to be right about our views of others, then let’s be sure those views are shaped by God who sees only His own dear image and likeness.  That’s the model Jesus accepted, and the example he set for us.

And isn’t that as right as it gets?

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 may recognize that as the words of the father to his elder child in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son.  (Luke 15:11-32)  And although he didn’t use those words with the younger, his actions said as much: he gave him half his estate without question, and fully restored him with all the family perks when he returned.

It’s pretty commonly accepted that the father in this parable represents God. And between the two sons, many of the negative traits of humanity are clearly put forth: pride, greed, jealousy, sensuality, dishonesty, disrespect, anger, and on and on…  Yet the message is, it doesn’t matter what stupid or unkind things you have done, my kingdom and all its benefits are always yours.  You can’t leave it or be kicked out of it.  You don’t have to earn it or prove your way into it.  You just have to accept it and realize that you are an heir.  And then act like it!

What does that mean?  The elder son actually had some heir characteristics already: he was a good steward of his father’s land and was careful with its assets.  And after the Prodigal “came to himself” he took on the qualities of humility and persistence.  A true heir follows in the footsteps of his father: he emulates the consideration and authority, while also accepting the responsibility and requirements that go along with the job.

The Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”  (Rom 8:16,17) Paul is proclaiming that each one of us is a an heir, even a joint-heir with Christ, of our dear heavenly Father.  That is an amazing position of stature, one which we must claim and then behave accordingly.

One last point: doesn’t this story of the Prodigal Son, in which both wayward children are dearly loved and included regardless of their actions, completely contradict the story of Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden?  Doesn’t the inclusive tenderness of the father in the parable totally reverse the arbitrary insistence of the Lord God in Eden?  Think about it: Jesus knew God so well – so intimately – that he called him Abba, daddy.  Would he have shared this parable with his followers – this story that gives a new view of God, if that new view was wrong?

Jesus presented his Father, your Father, my Father as the only Father, the only God.  The one who says to all of us all the time, “all that I have is thine.”  Isn’t it worth considering what that really means?

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.


May 3, 2012

Do you have to forgive someone for something they never did?  Okay, so you could probably argue that sometimes things should have been done and now you have to forgive someone for not doing them.  What I’m suggesting here though, is if it didn’t happen there’s nothing to forgive.  Seems pretty straight forward, right?

So what if you could get to a place in thought – a spiritual place – that forgave and erased even those things that did occur?  How would that improve your life?  Would that kind of freedom be worth pursuing?  That’s the kind of forgiveness that Jesus preached when he was on the cross (see Luke 23:34).  And a forgiveness he lived both before and after that awful event.  Okay, so you’re saying “but that was Jesus – what about me?”  What about you?  Have you had anything happen to you that even begins to approach the crucifixion?

Every lesson Jesus taught, every work that he worked, he guaranteed that we could (would, should) do the same (see John 14:12).  He didn’t leave forgiveness out.  In fact, Jesus taught that we must be willing to forgive in every instance, no fewer than 490 times.  490 times!  Can you imagine?  (see Matt 18:22)

But I want to get back to my original premise: that there is a spiritual viewpoint that erases the offense so thoroughly that there is nothing left to forgive.  The transformation that would take place in thought as you beheld this new possibility would change you, free you.  And, interestingly enough, it would change and free your perpetrator as well.  I’m not suggesting that it will happen overnight – you would have to work at lifting your thought above the issue to a more Godlike and holy outlook.  But I am saying it is possible.  It is possible to so heal your perspective that you are freed from the anger, the disappointment, the pain, and the fear.

If you want that kind of freedom and the peace that comes with it, there is a solution.  A real and permanent solution.  And you can have it now.

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.