Do you think Jesus did what he did just for those who believed in him? At the time of the crucifixion, he had a very small group of followers.  Doesn’t it seem more likely that he taught and healed and rose from the dead for all mankind?  Whether they call themselves Christian or not?

The likelihood that any one of us will ever have to go through what Jesus did in the crucifixion is extremely small.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from him about humility and resolve – and tremendous affection for our fellow man.  It is practical Christianity to live in keeping with the powerful example he set. Yet, those qualities can be found in every corner of the globe, even in those who’ve never heard of Jesus.

Perhaps then, it’s not about the man himself, but the Christ he represented and demonstrated. Jesus was indeed unique, and there will never be another like him.  But it is the Christ, Immanuel – God with us – that is in fact universal and impartial, and is the basis of the relationship between God and His dear creation.  That relationship is as solid and enduring as the Christ is, and has nothing to do with religion.

Jesus’ prayer was so big and so inclusive that it still touches us today. (See John 17: 20,21)  It makes no boundaries as to doctrine or sect but simply yearns that we all be one, one in the biggest idea of all: the Love of God.

Jesus knew that Love intimately and shared it with anyone who would listen.  His healing work – raising the dead, transforming sinners, destroying disease – was a direct result of his understanding of the consistent and truly loving nature of God.  And he taught his followers that they could count on that same nature in their healing work.  And we can count on it in our healing work.

Neither God nor Christ has changed since that time, although the man Jesus has left the scene.  And we certainly can use Jesus as a model for Christian behavior.  But the power of the Christ touches lives everywhere now as before, instilling goodness, lifting from despair, overcoming tragedy, and healing simply as an expression of God’s love for creation – all creation.

That prayer of oneness is still valid today, regardless of any of the conditions that define us – and seem to separate us.  Let’s expect that prayer to soften our hearts, enable us to set aside our differences, find common ground, and a reason to love one another.

You don’t have to be a believer to do that!

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.


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.

Burden? or Blessing!

October 11, 2014

It’s all in the way you look at it.  Sometimes things that seem unbearable are lifted when we expect them to bless us.

In Genesis, in the Bible, (32:24-30) we read of Jacob returning to his home after becoming very wealthy working for his uncle.  He had fled, after wronging his brother many years before and was in terror of Esau’s revenge.  During the night prior to their encounter, “there wrestled a man with him.”  But actually, Jacob was wrestling with himself: with guilt, with shame, but mostly with fear.  Did he deserve to perish at the hands of his brother?  Was depriving Esau of not only his birthright but of his father’s blessing reason to die?

These questions were not easily answered.  Jacob had put off even considering them all the years he worked for his wife’s father.  But God told him to return to the land of his family, and he was being obedient.  He hoped that counted for something.

He struggled.  With rocks as pillows and stars as witnesses, he finally refused to ignore it any longer.  If this was his last night on earth, at least he would face up to the wrongs he had done.  He would take responsibility for his actions.

But something happened.  In coming to terms with his deceit and cowardice, he saw an aspect of himself previously unknown.  This recognition transformed him and he felt blessed.  As morning light dawned, Jacob was a new man.  No longer afraid of his brother, he wished to share his good fortune with him.

And so it was.  Jacob embraced Esau and said “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.”  They parted as friends – and equals.

When we see ourselves and others in that light, our burdens become blessings.

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.

Sometimes we do things.  They’re not us – at least we don’t want them to be us.  But we do them, we regret them, we don’t mean for them to be who or what we are.  Yet, there they are for all to see and remember.  And in remembering those sometimes awful things, we forget about all that really is good and pure and hopeful.  We – and those who remember with us – think we are those awful things, and the truth of our being and nature becomes opaque.

But those moments of unkindness or uncertainty or insensitivity or (fill in the blank) are just snapshots and not the whole movie – even if the snapshot feels feature-length (or someone else tells you it is)!

Jesus said, in what has become known as The Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  (Matt 6:12)  I don’t think he was talking about financial transactions.  He knew that the human tendency is to focus on the problem.  But a good solution never comes from that.  The best results happen by looking away from the issue.  This enables thought to be more expansive and fresh.

And so it is with our life snapshots.  As with any photo, it never tells the whole story, even if it records a moment – or moments – in time.  The whole story is told by God.  And learning more about what God is saying helps to redeem those moments that seem ungodlike.   The Bible says that “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”  (Gen 1:31)  If we look away from our snapshots or even greater spans of time, into that view God holds of “very goodness,” aren’t we bound to see ourselves and others differently?  And isn’t that new, higher view a wonderful standpoint from which to forgive?

Back to Jesus’ prayer: you’ll note that he didn’t just ask his Father to forgive us, but required us to have some skin in the game too.  He said as we forgive our debtors.   That means that we must participate in the process by relinquishing the negative snapshots we hold of ourselves and others, removing them one by one from our mental photo albums.  Doing so lets in a whole lot of divine light which wipes away the hurt and fear and resentment.  And aren’t we ourselves better people when we’re not filled with such darkness?

We can – we must – do this for each other.  Even if it seems hard, or impossible.  Because it’s the only way to move forward into real life, real happiness.

Mary Baker Eddy adds a little postscript to that line about forgiveness from The Lord’s Prayer: she says that to her it means that Love [another name for God] is reflected in love.  (Science and Health p. 17)  Sweet and simple.

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.

Bandaid or Cure?

July 27, 2013

I’m talking about prayer here.  Ask yourself: do you see it as a bandaid, something that may or may not make any difference?  Or do you see prayer as an actual cure, removing the problem?  Your view of prayer likely determines not only how you pray, but what you expect as a result of your prayers.

Jesus’ prayers were cures.  He knew exactly what to expect when he prayed: healing!  He didn’t wonder whether those he prayed for deserved to be well, and he certainly didn’t wonder whether God would approve.  He didn’t wonder whether there were mitigating circumstances, or whether other things had to happen first.  He went right to the bottom of the issue and healed it.

We can learn a lot from The Master’s example.

Prayer is neither wishful thinking nor guesswork, nor is it human will.  Jesus never doubted what the outcome would be when he prayed.  (See John 11:42 for example)

Expect thought and circumstances to shift as a result of prayer.  Jesus knew it wasn’t man’s outlook but God’s viewpoint that healed.    (See Matt 19:26 for example)

Use your prayers to confirm God’s omnipotence.  Jesus always trusted that God could and would heal, redeem, and save.  (See Luke 17:6 for example)

Every prayer, even the briefest one, is useful.  You always have time to pray.  Jesus, even when the multitudes were crowding him, and his disciples bickering, and the Pharisees hounding, found a way to pray.  (See Mark 6:46 for example)

Let your prayers be cures.  Accept nothing less.  Jesus didn’t.

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.


October 9, 2012

It seems to be a part of human nature to fret about things in the past that didn’t go well, or that you wish you’d (or they’d) done differently.  Even though we know that fretting doesn’t accomplish anything (in fact, absolutely nothing), but because it appears to be too late to fix it we get caught up in a swirl of what ifs and yeah, buts.

What if it’s not too late to fix it?  I mean, really.  What if there were a way to resolve all of those large and small events from our past that keep niggling at thought?  We could give up the distraction of wondering and instead have the contentment of resolution.  I’m here to tell you that there is a way!

In fact, Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth, the life.”  (see John 14:6)  How does that help you and me?  It puts every detail of our existence into perspective.  If we hold our history up to the light of the Master Christian’s example, we see that both his words and his deeds offer an exact solution to any and every situation.  That’s right.  ANY and EVERY.

When the woman taken in adultery was forcibly brought to him (see John 8) did he say to her, “they’re right, you know.  Sorry.”  No, he reached out to his Heavenly Father for a resolution that would bless everyone.  But, he didn’t leave it there.  He sent the woman on her way with the inspiration – and requirement – to start fresh.

When he was criticized for dining with Zacchaeus – a sinner – his resolution was to instead, bless the tax collector by confirming that “this day is salvation come to this house.”  (see Luke, chapter 19)  And in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father doesn’t exact of the returning penitent repayment of all that he’d wasted in riotous living.  His message to both sons (yes, even the self-righteous older brother) was “thou art ever with me and all that I have is thine.”  (see Luke chapter 15)

That’s the message the healing Christ is still giving to the world today, right now: all that God has is yours.  All the good, all the salvation, all the joy, all the safety, all the progress are yours.  Don’t get stuck in wishful thinking or self-flaggelation.  Lift up your hearts and hopes and see the REAL way, truth, and life.  See and believe.  Every single event can be rewritten and reformed to bless you and all.

It’s not too late.

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.