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As much as this season is about the brightness of Jesus’ birth, for many it is a dark and lonely time, filled with stress and sorrow, want and woe.  The appearance of God’s “only begotten son” (John 3:16) centuries ago, was a gift of the highest love for all mankind, and it continues to give to hungering hearts today.  The good Jesus did then, still shines across time and space to meet the needs of all, here and now.

Mary Baker Eddy, Christian theologian and author, once 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.”  (Science and Health, p. 494)  That powerful good is available to each one of us so that we can reflect the light of the world into the darkest of places.

Our neighbors, our family, even the strangers amongst us, need the deep affection that comes from the great heart of God.  Let us strive to set aside our own troubles and use the power of the season – the power of Love – to lift one another.  An outstretched hand of kindness, a sweet smile, gentleness instead of anger, gratitude, crumble walls of fear, prejudice, loneliness, and sorrow.  Whatever would say “there is no Christmas” is wiped away by the very spirit of Christmas that imbues us all.

Isaiah prophesied, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (9:2)  This promise of life and joy and salvation is ours to delight in and prove today.  We can bless and be blessed.  We can love and be loved.  We can be about our Father’s business.

The title comes from a spiritual insight Mary Baker Eddy had about this line of the Lord’s Prayer: give us this day our daily bread.  She wrote: give us grace for today; feed the famished affections. (Science and Health, p. 17)

Grace, light, affection.  For everyone.

Who do you know that could use a little light?

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.

Rejoice!

November 26, 2014

Today and everyday, let your heart be filled with gratitude for the power and presence of God “who daily loadeth us with benefits.”  (Ps 68:19)  For “this is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Ps 118:24)  Indeed!

Enjoy this poem by Ethel Wasgatt Dennis

A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.

A grateful heart a fortress is,
A staunch and rugged tower,
Where God’s omnipotence, revealed,
Girds man with mighty power.

A grateful heart a temple is,
A shrine so pure and white,
Where angels of His presence keep
Calm watch by day or night.

Grant then, dear Father-Mother, God,
Whatever else befall,
This largess of a grateful heart
That loves and blesses all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my dear followers and friends.  May your day be filled with rejoicing.  Here are some other wonderful articles too:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141124173621-14383197-nurture-a-gratitude-attitude-say-entrepreneur

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-peschke/gratitudechallenge-from-t_b_6185256.html

http://gettingbalance.com/does-gratitude-impact-our-health-and-happiness/

http://www.healthycal.org/archives/17068

http://toledofavs.com/2014/11/25/lincolns-thanksgiving-day-proclamation-gratitude-in-hardship/

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.

But.

November 6, 2014

It’s a little word and it has a huge meaning.  For example, “I love God with all my heart, but…”  “I trust God to provide everything for me, but…”  “I know that God is my life, but…” Unfortunately, everything we say before that little word, is wiped away by whatever we say after it.  It’s as if we’re saying, I know God is all powerful.  I know He’s ever present.  I know He can do all things.  But…I’ve got this covered.

What better example do we have than Jesus Christ, who said, “I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (John 5:30)  The “but” in this case points to the whole power behind everything he did: his Father’s will.

You and I have the same Father, and His will is as clear and as love-impelled for us as it was for His beloved Son.  We can lose nothing except fear, by trusting God completely.

The two Great Commandments that Jesus made plain to his followers – to love God with all the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself – have no caveats, no buts.  (Luke 10:27)  Consistency in living these spiritual laws as Jesus taught will conform us to receive the blessings he bestowed on the faithful.

This is not too much to ask.  Especially when you remember that God has no buts in His love for us.  It’s simply eternal and unconditional.  (Matt 5:45)

So, let’s say it together: I love God with all my heart.  Period.  I trust God to provide everything for me. Period.  I know that God is my life.  Period.  And then let’s go about our day as if it’s true.  No buts.

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.

Whack-a-mole

September 5, 2014

You know the arcade game, where mechanical moles pop their heads out of a number of different openings.  The object of the game is to whack as many of them as you can before they disappear back into their holes.  The bobbing insectivores increase their tempo as the game proceeds, all but making it impossible to succeed.

Does it sometimes feel like you’re playing Whack-a-mole with all the problems in your life, and there’s just no way to keep up?  No matter how many you whack, there are more and more waiting right behind?

I don’t think Jesus played Whack-a-mole.  And it’s not because he didn’t have a lot going on.  There was always a need to be met: healing, saving, feeding, raising the dead, teaching, preaching.  Day in and day out.  But he was the epitome of grace and truth.  He even said to his followers to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matt. 11:28)  How was he able to be so productive, so compassionate, so effective under all that pressure?

Jesus explained it this way: “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)  He knew that his heavenly Father was the do-er.

Do you have that view of your relationship with God?  Is He the chief do-er and you are His obedient and humble servant?  Do you do only as He does?

In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told that God created His children in His image, as His likeness.  Jesus knew that, and he mirrored forth God’s power and presence in all ways.  He was so convinced that he could only do what His heavenly Father did, that he said “I and my Father are one.”  (John 10:30)

This revolutionary view of his relationship with God was not just for his own benefit however.  He proclaimed, “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)  Jesus knew that his followers were one with God, just as he was.  And he told them so: “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”  (John 17:21)

That oneness is right at hand, already operating.  Your relationship with God is intact, and He is ready and willing to do what needs to be done, no matter how long the list is.  As soon as you give up the false responsibility of having to do it yourself, that list begins to evaporate.  God’s will is done, His kingdom come, as Jesus promised.  (Matt. 6:10)  This is what Immanuel is – God with us, here and now.

So, no more Whack-a-mole.  You and your Father are one.

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.

Harmless as Doves

June 13, 2013

That is the attitude of thought Jesus commanded his disciples to put on as they went into the towns and villages ahead of him.  He prefaced that by acknowledging they would be as sheep among wolves, but he constrained them from being wolves themselves.  (Matt 10:16)  Instead, he told them to be wiser than serpents.

What a combination!  The Master was asking them to face intense opposition, possibly even physical danger, with wisdom and harmlessness.  Jesus’ own life was the epitome of those two qualities, so he knew it to be possible.  And he had thoroughly prepared his students to preach and heal in his name and nature.

He said to them, “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.”  (v. 40)  In other words, God Himself is compelling and blessing this work.  Therefore, you can expect it to be successful, even under such daunting odds.

There is a corollary here.  When God directs you – when you are about your Father’s business – wisdom and harmlessness are sufficient to sustain and protect you.  That seems to run counter to how it works in the world.  And even Jesus’ crucifixion would seem to say otherwise.

Yet, what really was the outcome of that horrific event at Golgotha?  Resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, and Christianity.  Ultimately, had Jesus avoided his captors, or if he and his disciples had fought back, possibly injuring or even killing them, what would have happened to his ministry?  You and I probably wouldn’t have a clue about it today.

None of us will ever have to go through all that, but his example of wisdom and harmlessness can, nonetheless, serve as an effective and useful armor under all circumstances.

Joy and patience are natural dove-like qualities along with being inoffensive, and likewise not taking offense.  Wisdom is thoughtful consideration and right reasoning, knowing when to hold your ground, or when to shake the dust off your feet and move on!  Mary Baker Eddy adds, “The serpent of God’s creating is neither subtle nor poisonous, but is a wise idea, charming in its adroitness…”  (Science and Health, p. 515)  Good qualities to embrace!

Jesus’ disciples finally understood this directive and went on to forward his word and works “into all the world,” overcoming countless obstacles. The book of Acts is full of evidence of this.

Surely, you and I in our day-to-day activities can put on the attitudes of wisdom and harmlessness and bring about a revolution of peace, affection – and progress!  Don’t you think that will lead to better productivity and usefulness?

Here’s a verse from a great poem by Mary Baker Eddy called Love: “If thou the bending reed wouldst break by thought or word unkind, pray that his spirit you partake, who loved and healed mankind: Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain, that make men one in love remain.”  You can read the rest of it here.

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 read today, considering clicking the “add me” button.

Whirlwind

May 23, 2013

For the most part, you and I can’t just drop everything and go to Moore, OK to help comfort, clear, and rebuild.   But we can sure pray.  We can see the power of God made manifest in the first and continuous responders, the loving hands and hearts reaching out, the strength growing out of sorrow.  Good is more powerful than evil because it always ultimately prevails.

The Psalmist writes, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”  (Ps 139:7-10)

Let us hold fast to that vision of God as ever ready, ever willing, and ever present to save, so that we may bless our brothers and sisters whose lives have been disrupted and dismantled.

But more than that, let us take responsibility for our own part in the bluster and hot air that leads to destruction.  Hosea puts it this way, referring to the incorrigible ways of his people: “Look at them! Planting wind seeds, they’ll harvest tornadoes.”  (The Message Hos 8:7)  Make no mistake: this is not a condemnation of the dear people who live in Tornado Alley.  It’s a recognition that we all contribute to the atmosphere of thought which surrounds us.

For you Trekkies out there, you may remember The Day of the Dove, an episode pitting the Klingons against the Enterprise.  Spock realized that the anger and hatred expressed between the two factions was feeding the violence.  As an antidote, he suggested they began to laugh and enjoy one another’s company. They did so, and the evil dissipated releasing everyone from harm.

Monsters Inc. tells a similar story, about the discovery that joy and affection are a more powerful, safer, and easier to obtain, fuel than fear and anger.

The swirling maelstrom of human emotions like anger, hate, fear, willfulness, etc, leads to more of the same.  And as it billows and expands it seems to envelop us in its churning.  We must temper that tempest.

The Bible has a number of great solutions, not the least of which is the Golden Rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  (Matt 7:12)  Or this from Proverbs: “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” (15:1)

The fact is, it really makes a difference.  You surely can recall times where a sense of calm interrupted and offset a harmful situation.  If it works on a smaller scale, don’t you think it can work on a grander scale as well, if we all pitch in?

When Jesus said “peace, be still,” he could have been speaking as readily to the agitated disciples as to the storm.  Either way, the result was the same.  (Mark 4:39)  The wind ceased.

Let us take to heart our own part in the solution: prayer and goodwill towards all.  It certainly can’t hurt and will more likely do a very great good!

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