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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.

No regrets

January 8, 2017

Especially at the start of a new year, the tendency can be to look back and feel bad about something that happened – or didn’t happen; something you wished you’d said or done, or perhaps wished you hadn’t said or done.  It’s natural to review one’s decisions and circumstances for the purpose of making them better.  Dwelling on them, however, tends to impede progress.

A desire for improvement can certainly be fueled by not wanting to make the same mistakes, and an examination of “what went wrong” is useful if its purpose is to bring about a better future.  Wishful or wistful thinking and regret, however, often tend to have the opposite effect: keeping one unproductively stuck in the past.

A good example is of Christ Jesus following the resurrection.  He appropriately chastised his disciples for being afraid and doubting what he had told them. But he didn’t rebuke them for not saving his life.  Instead, he encouraged them to come out from hiding and share the good news of life eternal – news he had equipped them to tell. (See Mark 16)

While our own missed opportunities may not be so dramatic, they certainly can be as consuming as they were for the disciples before Jesus opened their eyes to the wonderful possibilities the future held.  And it’s likely that we may have some wrongs to right somewhere in our past.  But the best way to do it is to look forward and upward.

The author of Hebrews writes “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”  (12:1)  In other words, we all have things that would distract or even waylay us, but instead of giving in to them, let us be ready to tackle what lies ahead, knowing that we are capable and willing.  This certainly doesn’t mean we should ignore unresolved difficulties.  But it does mean that we should face them with the expectancy of healing, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Jesus never told any of his followers, “sorry, you’re just stuck with it until you get to heaven.”  What he did say was, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2).  We can expect that our regrets and sorrows, our shames and unfinished business can be made right, right here because the remedy is at hand.  That holier viewpoint of our past is a guarantee that whatever appears to hold us back or down will dissolve as it comes in contact with the light of Christ.

This sweet and tender assurance of hope and health and harmony is the natural consequence of knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God…”  (Rom 8:28)  And though it seems that loving God may be a caveat for this progressive outcome, the fact is, loving God is what you and I are designed to do.  Acknowledging it, giving it more attention than our unhappy past, simply reveals the goodness of the kingdom of heaven that’s already at work on our behalf.

And that’s a pretty good reason for no regrets.

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.

Life goes on.

December 17, 2016

Even though the temperature is 26 degrees, the hummingbirds are coming in twos and threes to the feeder outside my window.  Even though the pond is covered in ice, the red wing blackbirds are eating the cattails that ring its edge. Even though there are 4 inches of snow on the ground, the deer are pawing through it and finding tender shoots beneath.  On the surface, it appears that life has stopped, frozen in its tracks.  But a closer look reveals that life goes on.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  This is not just some future reality; a closer look reveals that this is now and here.

Even though the days are short and darkness dominates, even though the cold brings everything to a standstill, this really is the season of life and of light. The advent of the eternal Christ, made plain in the birth of Jesus, is the assurance of eternal life.  A closer look is required, but it reveals that the promise of light and life is kept.  The yearned for renewal is tenderly revealed, even in the dark and cold.

In a much loved poem, author and theologian Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Life is light, and wisdom might, and God is All.”  (Poems, pg.79)  That Life-light reveals how close, how present are hope and happiness.

Look around.  Look closely.  Don’t let circumstances dictate what you know. Let the light of Life tell you.  It will reveal, Life goes on.

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.

At breakfast recently, a couple came and sat at the table next to ours.  They reviewed their menus, placed their order, and then the husband picked up his smartphone while his wife sat patiently watching him.  After a few minutes she gently tapped him on the arm and said, “don’t forget that I’m here.”  He looked up sheepishly, put the phone down, squeezed her hand, and they proceeded to chat happily about their plans for the day.

This is not a post about smartphones.

This is a post about God.

So often we get so involved in the details of our lives: our problems, our needs, our issues, our agendas, our aches and pains, and yes, our social media, that we forget that God is right here, right with us, ready to help.  We work so hard to try to figure it out ourselves, to fix it ourselves.  Yet divine Love, another name for God, has the perfect solution right at hand.

Worry, anxiety, stress – all names for fear – dissolve when we turn our troubles over to God.  Doing so makes even the good times more free, more happy.

Prayer that starts by affirming God’s ever present Love lifts troubled thought above the dismay.  There, new possibilities for solutions and progress present themselves naturally as inspired ideas, spiritual nudges, and healing.  Your receptivity is guaranteed when you refuse to be bullied by concern.

Personal issues, like your health, finances, or relationships, or more global issues, like politics, climate, or terrorism, all respond positively when you see them through Love’s eyes.  God has the broadest view possible of His beloved creation, and He sees only good, as the first chapter of Genesis explains in verse 31 (God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good).  When we take on this higher and holier view as our own – seeing God’s creation as entirely good – fear’s grasp upon us is loosened.  Conditions which seemed dire are transformed and healing occurs.

Jesus restored health and life to countless individuals in just this way.  Many of those instances are recorded in the Gospels.  When he turned to his heavenly Father in full trust, and full acknowledgement of God’s loving omnipotence, sin, sickness, and even death simply disappeared.  He explained, “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)  He knew that it was always God’s will to do good.

This same understanding of the ever ready power and influence of God is available today.  All we have to do is look up from our problems into the saving truth of divine Love.  There, we are shielded from harm, saved from sin, healed of sickness, and moved forward into joy and satisfaction.

That’s actually a pretty good description of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus said is right here (Matt 10:7)  Which means that we don’t have to wait for all those blessings, we just have to see them more clearly than we see fear. Fear can’t change or diminish good, but it does seem to hide it when we’re preoccupied by it.  But God is always reminding us, “don’t forget that I’m here.”

Don’t forget that Love is here.

Don’t forget that good is here.

You don’t have to be afraid.

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.

Are you dismayed?

August 7, 2016

It seems as though there are so many disconcerting things going on in the world today: terrible violence; political negativity; famine; fire; fear.  And we may feel helpless to do anything about it, let alone make a contribution to any kind of improvement.

But there is something you can do.

If the situation seems hopeless, then bring to bear what you know about hope.

If you’re feeling helpless, then look for someone to be helpful to.

If the conditions are frightening, then introduce love into the mix.

If all seems lost, then share the good that you have found.

If you are only hearing lies, then tell the truth.

Does all of this seem counter-intuitive?  Jesus didn’t think so.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  No situation was too far gone.  Not even his own crucifixion.  He overcame that too.  He told his followers (including us): “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)  And this, he said, is why he could: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  (Matt 19:26)

We can remember that when it seems as though the human circumstances are overwhelming and the human solutions too feeble.  Our own resources may be limited or exhausted; our strength diminished or gone.  But God is infinite good, infinite help, infinite hope.  God’s power doesn’t yield to evil or fear or lack or even death.

Jesus promised that “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  In other words, if Jesus could overcome all of those issues by trusting God, then so can we as we take to heart his teachings; not through human strength but by relying wholly on the divine.

There is something you can do.

This beloved hymn (361 from the Christian Science Hymnal) has a wonderful promise:

Trust all to God, the Father,
Confide thou in none other,
He is thy sole defense;
He cares for thee past measure,
Seek Him who has thy treasure,
Thy helper is omnipotence.

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 believe in a God who is all powerful good, who doesn’t do evil or know evil.  I believe in a God who loves – whose very being IS love.  I believe in a God who comforts and strengthens and uplifts so that we can stand together and overcome evil – and reach out and comfort and strengthen and uplift those who need it.

The Apostle Paul says “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2nd Cor 1:3,4)

I believe this about God.  And I believe what Jesus said, when sharing what he knew about God with the world “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Jesus knew that God is pure good – of “purer eyes than to behold evil” as the prophet Habakkuk said. (Hab 1:13)  He knew that this goodness is provable and active.  He knew we must refuse to accept evil or act evilly or turn a blind eye to evil.  If we were to do that, we would perpetuate the power of evil.

Let us stand together to break the power of evil.  Let us, with all our hearts and minds and souls, resist evil and do good.  Let us rise above evil and bless and comfort and hold dear all who would do evil or suffer from evil.

Let us be better than evil and prove that evil can be overcome and cast down.

We can.  We must.

Let us start by comforting and strengthening and uplifting those who need it.

And let us forgive.

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 said, “if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”  (Luke 6:32)  It may be old fashioned language, but the point is if you only love those who:

  • agree with you;

  • look like you;

  • vote like you;

  • go to your church;

then your world probably feels pretty small and scary.

Jesus said love everyone and yourself.  Love those:

  • with whom you disagree;

  • who look different – maybe very different – than you;

  • who voted for the other person, or other party, or didn’t vote at all;

  • who go to a different church, or a synagogue, or mosque, or no church at all.

The Golden Rule doesn’t dismiss fear, it heals fear.  In fact, it requires its users to give up fear.

That is the best solution of all, where fear doesn’t separate us and love binds us together: brothers and sisters.  Neighbors.  People.

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.