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Gone fishin’

July 9, 2017

That’s the sign the disciples put up after Jesus’ crucifixion.  It was the only way they could think of to cope with the fear, sorrow, and confusion of that awful event. They were soon to learn that Jesus had already equipped them with what they needed to turn those sad feelings around.

They’d fished all night and caught nothing.  Then a stranger on the shore suggested they move their nets to the other side of the boat.  Doing so, there were so many fish their net was in danger of breaking.  Had the fish been there all along and they just weren’t paying attention?

That same “stranger” had, several years earlier, turned several fishes into enough to feed five thousand.  Was that the case now?  They were struggling to remember what they had learned: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” (John 6:27)

Jumping from the boat, they swam to shore to greet the stranger.  It was Jesus, whom they thought was long gone.  But he had earlier said of himself, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (ibid v. 36) They had forgotten his promise.  They had forgotten his commitment to them.

But it all came flooding back that morning on that shore.  Everything he had taught them about God’s infinite Fatherhood and the necessity of worshipping Him in spirit and truth; of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven on earth; of doing to one’s neighbor as one hoped to receive; and of loving each other as he had loved them: it was all fresh and new and finally real.

During Jesus’ brief ministry he had been as a shepherd to all that yearned for salvation.  He had preached and healed and loved.  Now it was the disciples’ turn.  With this brief command, “feed my sheep,” he put his precious followers into their care. They finally understood what that meant.

That historical morning is worth celebrating, 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.

What happened next…

June 14, 2015

Imagine with me, if you will, what happened next after the man left half dead on the road to Jericho, recovered from his injuries.  (Read Luke 10:30-37 for the story)

When he first came to, the good Samaritan was long gone, and the innkeeper was in charge of his care.  But the innkeeper was busy and the man was left alone a lot.  He pieced together what happened from the different threads of conversation he’d overheard.  But mostly he was angry and afraid – and he spent his time ruminating and plotting.

You see, he’d fallen among thieves who’d robbed him and harmed him.  But that wasn’t the whole story.  He was a thief too, and was transporting stolen goods to the Jericho black market.  But he had been betrayed by his fellow travelers, men who disguised themselves as priests and Levites.  Now, he wanted revenge.  He felt helpless just waiting there.  But he wasn’t strong enough to leave the inn.

In this state of mental turmoil, the innkeeper announced that he had a visitor. He knew it was his betrayers come back to finish the job because he could identify them.  Instead, it was the good Samaritan returning to check on him and pay for his care.

This kindly man sat down and gently assured him that he was safe.  He spoke to him of a God who is Spirit.  He said that an eye for an eye was outdated and had been replaced with a higher law: love your enemies.  He talked of consecration and inspiration.  He promised that doing good to others regardless of the treatment received was life-saving.  He suggested that the man remove the anger and revenge from his own outlook so that he could get a holier view of those who had harmed him.  As he got up to leave, he said he’d always be available to help.

The injured man was transformed.  After that brief conversation, he was not only well but he was a new man, no longer conformed to his old life.  He quickly arose and dressed, profusely thanked the innkeeper, and offered to repay him as soon as he could.  The innkeeper said the bill had already been settled, but that perhaps, he could go and do likewise.  He could pay it forward.

What a startling idea!  Of course!

The man headed straight for the den of thieves in Jericho, not to confront them but to forgive them.  His transformation and change of heart overwhelmed his betrayers and they were ashamed of their careless and unkind treatment of him.  He left them to work out their own repentance, confident that they too would pay it forward.

What tenderness and compassion has been shown to you that you can share with others?  What goodness has been instilled in you that you can let shine?  Even if you have been badly wronged, how can you rewrite that story line so that it no longer consumes you and harms others?  We can always choose for what happens next to be good, no matter what.

Here is a sweet statement from Mary Baker Eddy that pulls it all together: “In the order of wisdom, the higher nature of man governs the lower.  This lays the foundations of human affection in line with progress, giving them strength and permanence.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287)

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.

What’s trending…

July 26, 2014

You see that “announcement” frequently on news and social media sites.  It’s about the latest in gossip and current events. Although the intent is to track what’s happening in the world, it’s more about what’s happening in people’s conversations about what’s happening in the world.

This post isn’t really about that though, but about what’s trending in thought.   You see, whatever the trend is in one’s thinking, tends to be the experience of that thinker.  Have you noticed that?  Whatever occupies your thought, whether it’s  fear or joy, hatred or gratitude, illness or health, is what you see in yourself and others.  The author of Proverbs wrote centuries ago, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  (23:7)

It’s called preoccupation and comes from the Latin meaning “to take possession beforehand.”  It was originally what you might call a real-estate term from the middle ages literally meaning to occupy something before it belonged to you – and there’s still an element of that in its current usage, though of a mental nature. Now it is used to describe that quality of thought that is self-absorbed or obsessed with a particular viewpoint, accurate or not.

We don’t always notice it in ourselves, but we do notice it in others.  And in so doing, we recognize that it is neither useful nor productive.  At least when the conditions of our preoccupation are negative.

Because we also notice when someone is always joyful regardless of circumstances.  Or when someone is always healthy, even when those around him or her are struggling with contagion.  Or when someone always reaches out to help even when their own circumstances may be tenuous.

Mary Baker Eddy expected that kind of preoccupation when she wrote, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 261)  She understood the nature of the human mind, especially its tendency to focus on what is frightening or missing.  This simple instruction helps to move the thinker to a higher, broader more spiritual position where solutions can be found and enacted.

Learning to shift thought this way simply comes from doing it.  From catching yourself feeling down or agitated and deliberately choosing a more positive outlook.  And if that outlook is based on a God-like view, it’s not just positive thinking, it’s prayer.  This is how Jesus thought, prayed, healed.  And the Apostle Paul told us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 2:5)  We can do that!

What’s trending in your thought?

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.

Humanitarian

October 18, 2013

Dictionary.com defines humanitarian this way: “having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.” There are many wonderful organizations in the world working hard to do just that: take care of their fellow-man through humanitarian efforts.  Countless volunteers, hundreds of thousands of hours, millions of dollars put forth to meet the needs of those who are struggling.  They reach out here, and around the world.  I am both a participant and a financial contributor to several such organizations and greatly appreciate their selfless work.

But more than the time and the money I put into those programs, I’m striving to gain deeper insight into – and thus better emulate – the Great Humanitarian, Jesus the Christ.  His organization was small, though its impact is now worldwide.  His budget was non-existent, but he and the vast multitudes who followed him, never did without.  His pool of volunteers was scant, but they accomplished a great deal under his leadership, and even more once he was gone.  The amount of time he spent was constant, with no vacation, no break.

Yet, the biggest contribution The Master put into all of this was not so much the doing, but the knowing.  Jesus knew who God was.  And he therefore knew that nothing was impossible to, for, or with his heavenly Father.  (see Mark 10:27 for example)  This enabled him to be absolutely certain that 5 loaves and 2 fishes would feed more than 5000 people – and with leftovers, or to safely assure a ruler of the synagogue that the life of his dead daughter would be fully restored, or to easily lift up a man waiting for swimming angels to walk after 38 years of invalidism.  His “brand” of humanitarian aid was Christianity itself!

Jesus told his followers, essentially, “I’ve done all this as an expression of God’s love.  God loves you too, and expects you to do the same things – and even greater things.”  (see John 14:12)  I can’t explain all that that means, but I’m sure it’s greater than the monthly donations I’m currently making and the regular volunteering I do.

There is a little statement in a little book that gives me some wonderful insights : “A Christian Scientist is a humanitarian; he is benevolent, forgiving, long-suffering, and seeks to overcome evil with good.”  (Manual of The Mother Church page 46)  Just as it was with Jesus whose knowing guided his doing, this directive guides my doing, too.  More than that though, it also guides my knowing!  Because those adjectives aren’t just about my actions but my thoughts!

You see, if I can actually control my thoughts so that they “help to improve the welfare and happiness of people” according to the Dictionary.com definition stated earlier, I’m a lot closer to obeying Jesus’ command to do greater works than he.

Wouldn’t that kind of humanitarian aid revolutionize the world!

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 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.