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.

…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.

The Widow’s Mite

May 9, 2014

There’s a great story in the Bible book of Mark about a poor widow who puts a much larger proportion of her income into the church offering basket than those of greater means.  (Mark 12:41-44)  Jesus makes sure to point this out to his disciples.  While it’s important to be as financially generous with one’s faith community or favorite charitable organizations as one can be, that’s not what this post is about.

Giving money away to those who can use it to better this world is a great thing.  But there are powers greater than money for making improvements in how things operate.  Your time is one of them.  Are you an active volunteer for the causes you love?  I’m not suggesting that you spread yourself thin doing something for everyone.  But if you love your church, are you actively serving in it?  If you agree that homelessness or clean water or animal rights or children’s issues (or any other number of pressing social needs) are important, are you actually spending some of your precious and limited time doing something to make a difference?  Are you giving at least a widow’s mite of time to show you care?

Prayer is another way to be actively involved.  Praying about all of these heart-rending concerns can help to open your eyes to the most useful ways to spend your time and money.  But more than that, it can help you to move thought towards the hope and possibility of even eradicating them.  Yes, eradicating.  In a universe where God is supreme and all loving and all wise, doesn’t it follow that we must expect the healing of those things that don’t correspond with His nature?  This kind of contribution is perhaps the most important and necessary.  And the most effective.

How are you spending your widow’s mite of time and prayer?  Jesus’ example showed how natural it was to love so deeply and clearly that issues simply dissolved around him.  Nor did he ever suggest that he was too busy to turn to his Heavenly Father to seek a solution.  This is what he taught his disciples, this is what he taught us.

We can do it.  We can spend at least a widow’s mite loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Join me.

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.

Get over it.

May 9, 2013

You’ve heard that statement before: usually it’s a little bit derisive.  But it’s often also a wakeup call: hey!  It’s time to move on.

Jesus never spoke derisively to any of the people he healed – but his message was pretty clear: withered hand? Get over it.  Issue of blood?  Get over it.  Death?  Get over it.

The Master didn’t get caught up in the details of why that hand was withered, or why that person was dead.  Nor did he suggest any kind of therapy or recovery leading up to healing.  It was just “get over it.” And they did.  Every one of them.

And he taught his disciples that getting over it was a natural expression of God’s love.  In fact, after Jesus ascended, the disciples continued to spread that good news for decades.  The book of Acts is full of accounts of people getting over it at the hands of the followers of Jesus.

But that’s not a phenomenon associated with only that time in history.  Jesus made clear that we too could get over it through the same fundamental Christianity he preached and practiced.

19th century theologian, author, and healer, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”  (see Science and Health, page 494)  All mankind is you and me.  Every hour is here and now.

We can get over whatever “it” is simply by trusting the presence of divine Love – a power that Jesus said is ever present.  (Luke 15:31)  So, let’s get over thinking our problems are too big for God, are too hard for Love, are too long-standing for Spirit.  Let’s get over not trusting Deity to tenderly, safely lift us up and out of fear, sin, and sickness.  Let’s get over looking everywhere else first and turn with our whole hearts to the same heavenly Father that Jesus loved and trusted.

As the Apostle Paul said, “Now is the accepted time…”  (2 Cor 6:2)

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.

Jesus touching words in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but Thine, be done,” indicated his humble willingness to trust that God’s plan was the only possibility.  (see Luke chapter 22)  Yes, that plan included a horrific martyrdom.  But Jesus overcame that awful event and showed his followers that life is eternal and good outweighs and even conquers evil.  His willingness to do that continues to bless all mankind.

It’s not likely that any decision you or I make will ever have that kind of consequence.  But sometimes setting aside our own will in the face of what feels like horrific circumstances, can be pretty darn tough.  Humbly trusting God’s guidance and obeying His direction, being confident that divine Love’s way is always best, sometimes feels like just guesswork.  How do we know that everything will be okay if we don’t control the outcome?  Well, if you’re like me, you can think of a number of times when “doing it my way” was a real disaster!

Okay, so there’s plenty of evidence to prove that we don’t have it all figured out.  But there’s also plenty of evidence that God does.  Can’t you look back through your life and find moments where divine Mind showed you the answer and you believed it – and everything worked out in ways you couldn’t have imagined?  Or where Spirit’s sweet angelic nudges shifted you from one pathway to another and either saved you or delighted you?

Knowing that, and always trusting that however, seem to be two different things.  But they don’t have to be.  What if you prayed that same prayer of Jesus?  What if, moment by moment, you indicated your own willingness to give up “the way it should be” for “how it is, according to God”?  What if you just made a pact with yourself that you wanted to be humbly obedient – and that you also wanted to be regularly reminded of that promise – and then followed through?  There might still be some bumps in the road, but I’m pretty sure there’d be a lot fewer of them, and your progress down that path a lot more satisfying.

Let’s do it together.  Let’s help each other remember that God really does have a plan and it’s design is Love itself.  Let’s agree that we really do trust our Heavenly Father to rightly  guide and direct us.  And then let’s go forward as if we believe it.  I’m in.  Are 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.

In the book of Mark, chapter 10, is told the story of a man who asks Jesus how to have eternal life.  Jesus’ directive to follow the Commandments meets with the affirmation that he has always done so.  The narrative then says that “Jesus beholding him loved him.”  He said to the man, sell all your stuff, give the money to the poor, and follow me.  That didn’t sit well with the fellow (because he was very attached to his stuff) and he walked away.

What if the woman of widow’s mite fame (see Mark 12: 41-44) had come and asked Jesus the same question?  Surely he would not have asked her to sell all that she had and give it to the poor.  No, beholding her and loving her, he would have discerned what one thing she was clinging to that separated her from embracing eternal life.  Maybe he would have told her to let the dead bury their dead.  (see Luke 9:60)

And what about the Centurion?  Would Jesus have asked him to sell everything?  Probably not, but – beholding him and loving him – he might have asked him to worship only one God.  He was a Roman and had many gods.  (see Matt 4:10)

What are you holding onto that is so dear that you wouldn’t give it up even for eternal life?  We make the mistake of thinking that the very thing we are cherishing IS our life.  We ask ourselves, who would we be if we didn’t have that thing or activity or viewpoint? Yet anything that keeps us from loving God with all our hearts, minds, and souls is not life – it’s limitation.  Because it keeps our attention on ourselves.

God, divine Love, doesn’t ever ask us to give up our actual life for Him, just a false sense of life. Beholding you and loving you He gives you everything.  He just asks that you put Him first.

What would you be willing to give up to have everything?

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.

Blind Spots

June 17, 2012

We can see them in others – but seem to be pretty oblivious to them in ourselves.  Hence the name.  To imagine that we’re imune from their influence is pretty naive.  However, knowing that you have one, and knowing what it is, are two different things.

Jesus had a wonderful antidote for blind spots in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew chapters 5 through 7).  For example, if we’re all worked up about something someone else has done, we’ll probably find the same characteristic in ourselves. Gasp! The Master by way of a question explains it this way: “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Or if we’re being generous with strangers but stingy with those we know – regardless of whether it’s justified or not, Jesus has this to say: “first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Or if we know how everyone else should eat or dress, and we’re totally preoccupied with it ourselves, we’re told to “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.”  Oops.

The most precious answer, perhaps the heart of the Sermon on the Mount, and the absolute solution for uncovering every blind spot, is The Lord’s Prayer.  Yep.  Importunately pondering each phrase, looking inward to see if it meets with agreement, and then living sincerely with its message is a guarantee of dissolving our blind spots.  And helping us to dissolve the blind spots of others as well, gracefully.

That’s a good thing.

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 hear that from a lot of people who call me.  They know intellectually that God loves them – the Bible certainly makes that point (see I John 4:16 for example).  But somehow the feelings associated with love seem to be missing.

That’s when I remind them of all the things that Love does and is: like smiles and flowers, and friends and family, and health and healing.  So if they say, but I don’t have any of those, then I know it’s time to wake them up!

I remind them of what they do know and why they know it.  Even if I’ve never met them.  That’s because there are some universal truths about God’s love that everyone has to know, no matter what.

For example, that it IS a universal truth!  And that Jesus came to prove it.  And even that he said we’d prove it too.

And that’s where I get them – the part about us proving it.  Right here, right now.

I tell them to claim that they are loved: completely, deeply, thoroughly.  And that this love is the most powerful power there is, dissolving even the doubt that says it’s impossible.

And then I pray with all my heart for God to open up their hearts to see and know what I see and know: that God is Love.

And then Love itself – the divine omnipotence – simply washes away that which is unlovely, and wraps them (anyone, everyone) in the universal truth that they are loved and they know it.

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.