“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” said Christ Jesus (Matt. 18:20). The Christ is at the heart of Church. It’s the love for God and the love for one another expressed in daily living. Jesus himself walked the countryside teaching and healing people. His “church” happened on a mountainside, a marketplace, or in someone’s home. “When people talk of church today, it’s often in reference to a physical structure,” writes Ethel Baker in this Sentinel’s cover story. “But to Jesus,” she adds, “church hinged on one thing: the ever-present Christ, the truth and spirit of God and His creation” (p. 22).
Emergence International welcomes Richard Davenport as the upcoming 2014 Keynote Speaker in Sacramento, California. Dick is a former teacher at the Principia Upper School, and former Dean of Men at Principia College. He has two decades of training and experience on three continents where he represented The Mother Church as a Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force.
Richard Davenport, Founder and Director
Rooms: Rooms are $99 per night (must be booked before 9-1)
Reservations can be made at 1-916-568-5400
In the Christian Science Bible Lesson
Unconditional Love is our refuge
For the lesson titled “Love” from January 24-30, 2011
From the January 17, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
This week’s Bible Lesson, titled “Love,” provides plentiful evidence of God’s steadfast care and provision for all of His children, along with the blessings that flow from our gratitude to Him and from our expression of His love.
The Lesson begins with the assurance of God’s ever-presence and tender care, and the Psalmist’s prayerful affirmation that “the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Ps. 42:8, Golden Text).
This “God of my life” shines forth as “unfailing love,” as The New English Bible puts it. Our prayers in affirmation of our oneness with divine Love, and our awareness of Love’s constant presence, comfort us day and night. We see much of this tender relationship in the verses in the Responsive Reading, and especially in the psalmist’s declaration “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19).
Our conscious awareness that “God is love” (I John 4:16, citation 1) is expanded upon in related passages in Science and Health: “God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more?” (p. 2, cit.1); and, “Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love” (p. 340, cit.2).
This confirms that divine Love, the one infinite consciousness, is our true home, our dwelling place. Nothing exists beyond illimitable, all-inclusive Love, not even when negative thoughts would argue that we are lost, ignorant, in trouble, or seemingly unaware of God’s presence—not even when we “dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea” (Ps. 139:9, cit. 3). And this is explained in a statement from Science and Health toward the end of Section I: “Human theories are helpless to make man harmonious or immortal, since he is so already, according to Christian Science. Our only need is to know this and reduce to practice the real man’s divine Principle, Love” (p. 490, cit. 5).
The Bible story of Ruth in Sections II, III, and IV helps illustrate how, through our spiritual understanding of God’s unconditional love, we are fed, inspired, redeemed, protected, comforted, and healed. Love constantly provides for every possible aspect of our being, including home, family, marriage, children, career, relationships, sources of income.
Love constantly provides for every aspect of our being.
The story of Ruth begins with Elimelech and Naomi and their two sons leaving Judah to sojourn in Moab because of a famine. With the passing of Elimelech, Naomi is left a widow among “strangers” in a Gentile land. Her sons have married women of Moab, named Orpah and Ruth. When both sons pass away, there are three widows (see Ruth, chap. 1, cit. 7).
Widows often suffered a state of abandonment in ancient cultures. If there was no son or brother-in-law to provide for her care, the widow could be subject to neglect or harsh treatment. In several places, the Bible reminds us to care for the widow and the fatherless (see, for example, Jer. 7:6), and in this Lesson a good example is provided by Jesus’ compassionate raising of the son of the widow of Nain from the dead, assuring proper care and security for her in that society (Luke 7:12–16, cit. 20).
After the passing of her sons, Naomi decides to return to Judah, and Ruth refuses to leave her mother-in-law to face the unknown consequences of widowhood: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee” (Ruth 1:16, cit. 7). This loving relationship was a refuge and blessing for them both. When Ruth went to the fields to obtain food for Naomi and herself, she met Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi. His respect for Ruth, and her kindness to her widowed mother-in-law, resulted in their eventual marriage (Ruth 4:13–15, cit. 17).
How well the story of Ruth confirms that “every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger. The more difficult seems the material condition to be overcome by Spirit, the stronger should be our faith and the purer our love” (Science and Health, p. 410, cit. 8).
And this Lesson carries further assurances, including “God setteth the solitary in families” (Ps. 68:6, cit. 14), and “Thy Maker is thine husband” (Isa. 54:5, cit. 15). They remind us that divine Love is the source of all love. Science and Health adds that “. . . divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; . . .” (p. 304, cit. 29), confirming that infinite Love continues to express itself through us, here and now, today and forever.