Atonement Revisited

Growing up, although I was familiar with “atone” as a verb, it didn’t occur to me to consider it in any theological/religious context.  To me it simply meant making amends for mistakes or misdeeds, owning up to them, straightening things out.  The implications were somewhat grim and foreboding.

I suppose that this view remained somewhere in the back of thought as I came into Christian Science.  The Bible Lessons on “Doctrine of Atonement” did not seem of great import or relevance to me for some time, although Mrs. Eddy’s hyphenation of the word into at-one-ment began to give a fresh, clearer sense to the term.

The fourth tenet of Christian Science begins “We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love…”.  What followed was for me like the pre-digital days when any presentation with visual images likely included transparencies projected onto a screen.  As each slide came up, there was a brief interval before the light and heat of the projection bulb touches it, when the image was blurred and unclear.  Then suddenly it snapped into perfect focus and remained crisp and distinct to the viewers.

Similarly the word “evidence” stood out and called for attention.  I knew you can’t have evidence of something that doesn’t exist.  So Jesus didn’t, couldn’t have, originated atonement; he was demonstrating something already in existence.  Genesis 1 tells us God created man in His image and likeness.  As long as God and man have been (that is, since the beginning of creation) there must have been at-one-ment.  Like that slide popping into focus, what this made obvious to me is that atonement is not a process – it is and has always been an established fact.  We have to acknowledge and bear witness to it, but we can’t make it happen, because it already has.

The effect of this realization has been to replace the old, dire, somewhat off-putting view of atonement with a warm, joyous, uplifting sense of it.  Familiar terms take on wider, richer meaning – unity, oneness, coexistence, indissoluble connection (some terms Mrs. Eddy uses in Science and Health).  Atonement has become comforting and encouraging, it has warmth.  No longer an item on the “to do” list, it is a cause for gratitude and rejoicing, opening wonderful new dimensions to the idea of “togetherness”.

Beth Sanborn, Member

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A Lesson in Healing Grief

A few days ago, we got news that a dear friend was in the hospital. As we were driving there, it came to me that God is Life and there is nothing else. That God is All and there is nothing else. That time didn’t matter. That matter had no life. All of these thoughts flooded my consciousness and I felt very strong in my stand that Christian Science is true. It was indeed a glimpse – as Mrs. Eddy says in Mis. 24:14-24:18 “That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence”.

Our friend had stood on the understanding of God and man as Christian Science reveals to us from the Bible.  She had made it clear that she was relying on these Truths – that she was made by God, that she was spiritual and not material and that she would trust God with her life.  She apparently was in the hospital because her family thought it would be the best place for her and that is how they could care and love her.  After our visit, I continued to work with the clear, strong knowledge that God was her life and no matter what was happening all around her, God was in control.

Later that night we received the call that she had passed on.  In church the next day, we sang #298 in the Christian Science Hymnal, Mrs. Eddy’s Communion hymn, “Saw Ye My Saviour”.  As I heard the words read, the second verse popped out as if I had not heard those words before – “Mourner it calls you, come to my bosom, Love wipes your tears all away, and will lift the shade of gloom, and for you make radiant room midst the glories of one endless day”.  I reread verse one – about the Christ and the glad sound and the power of the Word.  It was a comforting message and one I could lean on and become free of grief for this dear friend.  She had gone on and was doing well.  I could cherish who she was and what she had done for all of us.  I was grateful that she took such a stand for herself in believing and understanding the Christ.  I could remember her laugh and her joy and care for us all and her many testimonies given at church.  It is a lesson I am learning and will continue to learn with God’s dear grace.

Jane Lang, Member

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Challenge Overcome by Listening to God

One Sunday the disposal at the kitchen sink stopped working.  The dishwasher was also hooked into this disposal which meant I could neither wash dishes at the sink nor run the dishwasher.  Though I had a list of handy men, I knew I would not be able to get one of them to work on the weekend.  So I decided I would install a new disposal myself.  After all, how difficult can that be?  So I purchased a new disposal at Home Depot, brought it home and studied the directions for installation thoroughly.  Removing the old, “not working disposal” was easy, as it released easily, and simply dropped into my hands.  The directions for installation said simply that I must hold the new disposal up to the sink with my left hand and connect it with my right hand.  I was lying on my back on the floor of the cabinet, holding the disposal above my head.  However, no matter how many times I tried, I simply seemed to lack the strength needed.  So I quit for awhile, and decided to work metaphysically on the problem.  Again and again I affirmed that omnipotent God supplies whatever strength is needed, but it took me till the next day to recognize that mortal mind had convinced me that because I am a woman, I would not have sufficient strength.  I finally realized that I had not been listening, and I asked God to please tell me whatever I needed to know.  Almost immediately I knew to go to the garage and get the Tire Jack!!!  In no time at all the dishwasher installation was complete.  Surely God loves me!

Charlotte Petry

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Gratitude to God for Care, Protection and Love Which Surrounds Me

Desert View, a Christian Science Nursing Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, is a wonderful place.  They take wonderful care of their patients and the support for Christian Science treatment is solid.  Within three days I was well.  My son flew in from California and stayed at a nearby motel and visited each day.  At one point, I did experience a relapse, but soon received a firm healing.

If I were in Green Valley, I would be testifying at church about the wonderful healing experience at Desert View.  We Arizonans have a gem in our midst.  If you would like to testify for me that would be okay.

A number of members at the Green Valley church have sent cards and notes which have been forwarded to me.  What a delight to receive them.  I hope to answer them all soon.

Bet you are surprised at the return address on this letter.  My daughter lives about twenty minutes from here and wanted me close by.  This way we can see each other quite frequently.  As you know Wide Horizon, a Christian Science Nursing and Assisted Living  Facility in Colorado, is an exquisitely beautiful place.  Wonderful views – trees of all sorts, a little creek and plantings.  My daughter, Marsha, flew to Desert View and then we flew together to Denver for the move.

I have not words to express my deep sense of gratitude to God for the care, protection, and love that surrounds me.

Charlotte Petry, Member

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Innocence

Recently I found myself becoming annoyed with several people I knew.  In praying about the situation and knowing it wasn’t right to feel that way, the thought came to me that when our little cat does something not quite right, I usually say “Oh, you’re a good boy – you didn’t mean it”.  The same when a small child doesn’t do something right, it’s easy to say to the child, “You didn’t mean that – you’re good”.  I began to think about why it is so easy to show grace and forgiveness to small children or animals.  It’s because I think of them as innocent – harmless and needing cherishing and protecting.  Somehow I had accepted the belief that as we grow older we lose our innocence and childlikeness.

But what is the difference between children and older people?  There is none.  There is no time when we lose our innocence.  It is God-given – the same yesterday, and today and forever.  It cannot diminish or be taken away or hidden.  Innocence must be affirmed and cherished and protected in all of God’s children around the world.  Think what good would become apparent it I began every day affirming innocence in everyone I encountered or thought about.

Mary Lou, Member

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The Way it’s “Supposed to be”? Good!

Several years ago, after much prayer, I was inspired to place my house on the market to sell, with the brave intent of moving clear across the country.  However, months went by and there was no sale.  I lowered the price twice, and made some minor cosmetic changes to make the property more appealing.  Still there was no sale.  Then I wondered if maybe this failure to sell was a “sign” from God that I wasn’t supposed to move after all.  But then I thought more deeply about it.

If a student of mathematics has trouble solving an equation, that wouldn’t be a “sign” that the problem isn’t solvable.  The student knows that because the principles of mathematics are already established, the solution has already been established.  She also knows that she is fully capable of understanding and applying those principles correctly in order to find the right answer.

It was my deep and earnest desire to understand the principles of divine Science at work in my life.  I wasn’t seeking a specific human outcome to my housing situation, but an understanding of my true, spiritual home.  As I listened for divine Principle’s – God’s – guidance, I gained a wonderful calm clarity.  I realized that the fact that my house had failed to sell just meant that my house had not sold, and that believing that circumstance was a “sign” was a superstition.

To conclude that each event in our human experience – both good and bad – must have divine authority, is a misguided belief.  It is as unscientific as believing that the roll of the dice or the numbers on a lottery ticket are sanctioned by heaven, God, the all-knowing Mind, does not play games with His beloved creation.  Nor is “fate” another name for omnipotent God.

There is an exact, dependable, invariable, and loving divine Principle governing our lives, including housing decisions.  And that divine Principle is God.  Turning away from human speculation about what was “supposed to be”, I focused on gaining an understanding of what is.  I began to see that it actually didn’t so much matter where in the world I lived.  My true sense of home is not a geographical spot on Earth, because I am always at home in the all-inclusiveness of God’s love.  Restlessness or mere thrill-seeking adventurism also had no place in this settled spiritual home.

Such peace followed these realizations!  All confusion and uncertainty vanished as spiritual reasoning based on divine Principle overcame human reasoning in my thought.  Within a month, the house sold, I moved and settled into a new place.  My peaceful understanding of my spiritual “home” stayed with me, much like a snail has its shell everywhere it goes.

What truly is “supposed to be” already is and ever was.  It requires no anxious waiting for tea leaves to reveal a pattern or for unseen mysterious forces to come into play and coalesce a plan.  The fact is that God, good, is the only cause.  Harmony and order are the effects.  Speculation about what is humanly “supposed to be” must give place to these divine facts.

We may become sidetracked by imagining scenarios of chance or failure, but when we look out from the mountaintop of spiritual understanding and keep this higher view, we find no need to join the game of guessing and weighing outcomes.  This higher view is based on the allness of God, good.  And we can surely expect God’s goodness in our lives.  This is not watching with sheer optimism, to see how the wind blows, and equating that with God’s will.

This “whatever happens is supposed to happen” or “everything happens for a reason” thinking entertains the possibility that bad outcomes and uncertainty are God’s will.  We may start to ask God multiple choice questions like “Will I find my right home, or not”? or “Will I be healed, or not”?  God’s will has no either/or when it comes to our care.  God’s will is invariable good, and can have no other conclusion but good in our lives.

Mary Bakes Eddy writes:  “Immortal Mind is God, immortal good; in whom the Scripture saith ‘we live, and move, and have out being’.  This Mind…is the divine intelligence, or Principle, of all real being; holding man forever in the rhythmic round of unfolding bliss, as a living witness to and perpetual idea of inexhaustible good”.  (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, pp. 82-83)  Understanding this true condition of our existence gives us a foundation upon which to build our expectations of the right resolution to any questions we face.

Earlene Cox

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Computer Problem Fixed Through Prayer

The annual audit was immanent for the financial records for which I was responsible.  I also had an annual Treasurer’s Report due.  The problem was the records did not balance.  I had imputed all the expense and income information correctly as I had reconciled with the bank statement for each month.  I had taken a lot of time going over the records and could not find the problem.  The software program I use is good except it has its own way of doing things and I couldn’t find out what needed to be done.  I walked around the yard and said to myself that there is a solution.  There is a solution and it comes from listening to God.  I knew that God as Principle had everything under control.  Mrs. Eddy’s definition of God on Page 587 of the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures states “God.  The great I AM; the all-knowing, all- seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal;…”  That was my solution and it was to center my thoughts on God.  As I did this I was led to open the program again and read the headings and found the discrepancy.  I spent a few hours going back and redoing the reconciliation which the program let me do.  It was also a comfort to me that the software had made an entry which I was unaware of and even though it seemed my error, there was an answer.  The problem was corrected and the records were correct.  All was well.  I am so grateful to know that God is ever with me to guide my thoughts and actions.

Jane, Member

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A new student of Christian Science healed of severe back pain

Account of Testimony

This is a message of gratitude to Mary Baker Eddy, and her students and followers; who are diligent to understand their path of spirituality, and in helping others. Although I am not a member of this church I do believe the principles and messages of Truth professed. It parallels the path that I do follow. The fact in this relation is the response of Christian Scientists to an outside believer. You responded to me. You are set to deal with circumstances which arise abruptly in peoples’ lives, whereas no one else I contacted was able to respond or understand.

I left home on a car trip to a family reunion in another state, which had been planned a few years in advance. A friend of mine had passed on just a few days before I left, making the departure a bit of a dilemma. My husband had passed on only a year before.

The trip was basically good. There was a lot of forest fire smoke through every state I passed through. I met up with my sister and nephew and we caravanned in two cars to our destination, meeting there other close relatives with whom we shared a lake cabin. We enjoyed being together with each other and getting reacquainted with forty or so other relatives at the reunion. I lingered a couple weeks longer after most had left, and then proceeded to drive home by a different route, and continue to stop here and there to visit other relatives and friends as part of my trip home. I allowed three or four weeks for the whole vacation.

Entering a big city, I stayed with friends a few days and then checked into a nice downtown hotel where I had stayed previously, after my husband’s death. A day after checking in, something happened. I had planned to stay in this hotel just a few days, and continue on with the trip. But everything changed…

I was sitting down in my hotel room; and as I stood up from where I was seated, I felt such a sudden very sharp pain in my back, hip and leg that I almost fell to the floor. That pain got worse and worse and lingered and finally just stayed in my body and became unbearable. I had to lie down in bed and find a position of stillness to get relief. This continued day and night for many days, and I was stuck, suffering extremely in the hotel room, unable to dress, walk, or barely move. I could get up for only about a minute or two at a time to try to accomplish anything, and make it back to the bed to squirm around trying to find a position in which I could relax my body from the intense pain, and just be as still as possible until I gathered enough strength to get up again to make phone calls, order food, eat the meal, wash, use the bathroom, anything. I thought it would go away because I had never gone through this before. Even to use the phone or look up a phone number was a complicated and painful chore.

I called the desk and got a reference for a massage person to come to the room; and she came three days in a row; but it wasn’t helping, and she couldn’t come a fourth time because it was by then Sunday. I was starting to feel exhausted. Friends and relatives whom I had called told me to go to a doctor, get x-rays, and get an MRI. I would have had to go in an ambulance. But I wouldn’t have gone in the first place because after observing my late husband several times in different hospitals, I refused to put myself in any similar vulnerable such place ever, and just continue with alternative approaches to healing, and not be subjected to those drugs and pain killers.

Days were going by and there arose in my mind visions of dying in a hotel room from pain and exhaustion. I was informed there was a clinic one block away. I didn’t know how I would get there. I needed help and support. My thinking was less clear. How could anyone understand this situation? No one did. I called the front desk to bring Excedrin and Tigre balm ointment from the pharmacy. Excedrin had been recalled off the shelf, so the girl brought Advil or something which didn’t work at all. I hadn’t got dressed in all this time, and I couldn’t figure out how to manage dressing or getting out of the room, or walking. I called the clinic and requested an acupuncturist come to my room, which of course didn’t happen – they don’t provide that – I would have to go to their office. I called a friend in my far away home state that belonged to the Christian Science Church to recommend a practitioner where I was.

Edified by the practitioner with reminders and quotes and advice of determination and conviction, I knew this is God. God is omnipotent so it will work. God enfolds me in loving care. God is omnipresent, and if God is everywhere, there is no room for aught else – only God. To me, this I determined to be a choice. Gritting my teeth and screaming, shouting, swearing these affirmations, I forced myself to take a shower, and I forced myself to dress and I decided to get out of the room and just explore the hotel as an experiment without going any further. I pressed my fist against my hip. With anguished expression on my face I took on a personal tour of the elegant old hotel. In the elevator I would force the affirmations under my breath and whimper and cry.

Next day I was determined to make it one block to the acupuncturist on the eighth floor of another building across the street. Would you believe it, I got lost. I crossed the wrong street and ended up on the fifth floor in a culinary institute. I was so dismayed. The patient secretary there computed a map and printed it out. Still in great pain I just couldn’t think clearly. On the map there was a one-inch line showing me how to cross the street again and go one block. I didn’t think I could make it to two places in one day, plus make it back to the hotel.

God enfolds me in His loving care. God enfolds me in His loving care. I’m gritting my teeth crying, pressing my hip and leg, managing carrying my purse; not thinking of this hideous image presenting itself to the public as I somehow make my way, found the entrance, the elevator, the eighth floor, the office number, so desperately, and I break down, shaking, crying uncontrollably as I entered. The poor receptionist, he just didn’t know what to think or do, but the doctor appeared and ignoring the bed table, she just sat me down in the nearest recliner and instead of directly addressing the affected area of pain she put acupuncture needles in my arm and feet.

Next day, knowing which street to cross, I went back again for more acupuncture, hobbling the whole one block again. Pain kept persisting. I called the practitioner again. She encouraged me and supported me again and explained that it was important to allow God to do it all. I tried one more alternative: chiropractic. I confessed afterwards to the practitioner. She again advised me that God is All in All. Rely on that, and drop all else.

I thought about everything deeply that the practitioner had advised. I thought hard, and understood about God. I abandoned all of my long-time use alternative medications and methods named above in exchange for trust and faith in God alone. It’s working still. I read the entire book Science and Health, and I’m reading it a second time to keep my faith and understanding of its message. And I wanted a Christian Science nursing center.

I was also determined to continue my planned route home. It took me another month to accomplish driving home. By the time I arrived home I was able to sleep and move in bed normally, without pain.

I sincerely appreciate my home-town friend, who is herself an amazing, accomplished person of attainment.

— DK

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My Day With God

Awaking to gratitude.  In stillness opening thought to God’s guidance.  Letting in the light of spiritual understanding.  Arising with joy and inspiration and willingness.  Going forth into the fields – tenderly embracing, loving, appreciating, weeding and watering.  Seeing beauty unfolded – work well done.  Resting in peace and assurance of God’s allness.  Gratitude.

Mary Lou, Member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Green Valley, Arizona

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God’s Children

My prayer for you is “Be still”.  Enjoy the sunshine and recognize God’s light all around you.  See that you are the reflection of God, sparkling with beauty and purity, showing your many colors – your never-ending potential, your God-given ability to bring goodness wherever you go.  Enjoy the rain as a symbol of God’s ability to wash clean and away all suggestions of discontent, inferiority, ugliness, aloneness, inability, fear.  See the sweetness of a new fresh view – joy, perfection, beauty, abundance, fulfillment, peace.  Enjoy the stars as the infinite array of angel thoughts from God – no room for destructive and hopeless thoughts.  Enjoy the certainty that spring follows winter – nothing can stop it.  You can bud and blossom no matter how harsh the time past.  Nothing can prevent or slow your progress, your growing and uncovering your natural beauty and innocence.  Rejoice in each day, each moment filled with opportunity and freedom.  There are no other masters or influences.  Rejoice also in evenings, your quiet times.  Await the new day with expectation of good – no violence, abuse, hunger or resentment to disturb you.  God is your Father and Mother – you are a blessed child.  Be still.

Mary Lou

 

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