We are here on behalf of Fern Lodge, where individuals dedicate their lives to offering a haven for those in need, to rekindle their connection with God, to understand that they have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Christian Science nurses, as spiritual witnesses, are faithfully standing with those challenged by sickness, sin, disease—you name it—and endeavoring, through inspiration and prayerful wisdom, to care for human needs. Their work promotes Christ healing, carrying on what our Master and apostles and Mary Baker Eddy taught and practiced.
We have more work to do, because there are individuals who are hungering, questioning, and searching for the answers that Christian Science reveals: that Spirit is present; Christ is present and can be called upon; that all can have access to our Father-Mother, God. There is an awakening going on. While our mission and work are good, we’re continuously being called to greater works: to embrace humanity more, to offer Christian Science nursing more, beyond our current comfort zones. It takes moral courage; it takes answering the call in the face of persecution, of anger, of misunderstanding and fear. It takes telling people what we do instead of what we don’t do as Christian Scientists. Of course demonstrating what we understand makes a more powerful difference.
Let’s dive into the topic of the talk today: “access by one Spirit.” Paul lived among the Ephesians for about three years. As recorded in his words from Acts 20:18, he said, “Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In his farewell a few verses later, Paul says (Acts 20:35) “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He sets the tone for the need to help one another, he does his best to BE the example, just as our Master Christ Jesus did. They already know and love him, so when he writes the letter to them from prison, he’s really just reminding them that they all, Jews and Gentiles, believers and non-believers, have access, through Christ Jesus, by one Spirit, to our Father.
He is sending them a promise, and the Scriptures reach right through the centuries to us today and echo this promise: we, too, have access by one Spirit. We can stop putting up walls of separation in our churches, between religions, in our thoughts, in our lives. Ephesians 2 also tells us that Christ Jesus, “is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.”Our Master removed that partition, that division. He taught us to see one man, one idea of God. This is the man we strive to see in our practice of Christian Science, which includes nursing.
Let’s take a look at a few definitions of access: permission or the right to enter, a leading or bringing into the presence of. In the Bible it may refer to having audience with God. Access is an important component of life these days. People access the news, social media, health care, bank and investment accounts, businesses, and resources like water, energy, solar power. They have access to homes, to friends, churches, safety; access to answers. What does it take to gain access? Keys? Intelligence? A master mind that can break through any code? A security code? Does it require a thumbprint? A blueprint? Or a Holy Spirit imprint!
In Ephesians, Paul promises that through Christ Jesus we have access unto the Father. We know that access is through our Master, Christ Jesus, who told us he IS the door (John 10). We know that the one Spirit determines what passes through that door. All that passes through must be in sync with, must identify with Spirit. Spirit is what makes the Master key turn in the door: “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” We belong. We all belong.
HOW do we gain access? Sure, we talk about it being a key or a code, but when we’re talking about Spirit, it has to have a spiritually inspired answer. A passage in Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings captures several ideas that are like pins in a lock, so that when the key goes into the lock, the key can be turned. These ideas give us access to our Father.
“Honor thy Father and Mother, God. Continue in His love. Bring forth fruit — ’signs following’ — that your prayers be not hindered. Pray without ceasing. Watch diligently; never desert the post of spiritual observation and self-examination. Strive for self-abnegation, justice, meekness, mercy, purity, love. Let your light reflect Light. Have no ambition, affection, nor aim apart from holiness. Forget not for a moment, that God is All-in-all — therefore, that in reality there is but one cause and effect. Forget self in laboring for mankind; then will you woo the weary wanderer to your door, win the pilgrim and stranger to your church, and find access to the heart of humanity” (Mis. 154:23-10).
Let’s address some of the concerns that lurk in human thought. What does it look like when we can’t or don’t gain the access we long for? Sometimes it feels like someone stamped a huge “ACCESS DENIED” stamp on our foreheads, in our hearts, and it feels miserable. Does it look like closed doors, locked doors, no doors at all, blocked roads, discouragement, desperation, doubt? Does it look like sickness, disease, destruction, ill health, ill-temper, ill-behavior, misdirected motives, lack of education, lack of resources? Yes, all of the above, and as metaphysicians we hear these cries from others. Mortal mind presents disturbing thought-patterns that try to keep us running in circles, going nowhere fast. And at this point we long for an understanding of the promise that we indeed DO HAVE ACCESS to our Father and we cannot be kept from Him. How do we get there when we don’t feel it?
Companion with comforters of “Christlike touch” (Ret 95). Begin by acknowledging the truth. Claim the access we’ve been promised. We can do that. It’s our divine right. Mary Baker Eddy designed within the church structure an avenue by which anyone can call on Christian Science practitioners, Christian Science nurses—healers in the Church. Those individuals are dedicated each day to be there when someone is struggling beyond what they feel confident and capable of handling themselves. When we don’t feel it, even after praying diligently, we can call on an experienced Christian Scientist to help us: “If students do not readily heal themselves, they should early call an experienced Christian Scientist to aid them. If they are unwilling to do this for themselves, they need only to know that error cannot produce this unnatural reluctance” (SH 420:4). These Christian Science nurses and practitioners are available to you.
Sometimes individuals need a haven, a tangible “secret place of the most high” place to pray, and to have spiritual witnesses by their side, while they dismiss the access-denied-imposter and claim their innate freedom as loved, strong, capable spiritual ideas of our all loving, Father-Mother, God. Fern Lodge is such a haven: a Christian Science nursing facility where healing takes place. A haven where everyone is striving to do the same thing: “Realize the presence of health and the fact of harmonious being, until the body corresponds with the normal conditions of health and harmony” (SH 412:24). Notice that it’s not about time; it’s UNTIL the body corresponds with the normal conditions.
Sometimes it just feels tough to keep it up. A couple of years ago a colleague of mine, who is an experienced Christian Scientist, was asked, “What do you do if… or when…?” He responded, “Never give up.” It rings in my thought from time to time when a situation appears to be repetitive, confrontational, when someone is tempted to give up. I hear that voice ring clear: Never give up. It’s something to consider in our metaphysical practice, in our ministry of Christian Science nursing. God will never give up on being God. Christ will never give up on being the cornerstone of spiritual building. Spirit will never give up on granting access to our heavenly Father. Therefore we have strength in Spirit, to never give up.
Each one of us has the capability as a student of Christian Science to calm and heal our own thought, and therefore to reach out to others, all others in need. It’s imperative to remind ourselves that Christ Jesus wasn’t healing and teaching those who already understood his message. And early in her work, Mary Baker Eddy wasn’t healing and teaching Christian Scientists. How are we following in these footsteps? It’s worth asking every once in a while.
WE HAVE ACCESS! Paul may have been thinking about gaining access himself. Consider his predicament; he wrote this letter to the people of Ephesus while imprisoned in Rome. And besides that, just think, if mankind were denied access because they had done something immoral, unethical, or sinful, then the very person, Saul—who persecuted Christians—would not have been transformed to Paul, to carry on the works and teachings of Christ Jesus. And yet he WAS transformed and each one of us is given the promise and the possibility to be healed, whole, redeemed, and transformed and to help others along the same lines.
The Master is the key to entering the kingdom, to gaining access to the kingdom of right thinking, right acting, wisdom, justice, purity, consistency, unanimity, whatever answers we need, whatever direction and guidance is requisite. We know when we try our own ways, sometimes the key just doesn’t line up! We have to step back and be patient and let the Master open the Way. “We approach God, or Life, in proportion to our spirituality, our fidelity to Truth and Love; and in that ratio we know all human need and are able to discern the thought of the sick and the sinning for the purpose of healing them…Whoever reaches this point of moral culture and goodness cannot injure others, and must do them good. The greater or lesser ability of a Christian Scientist to discern thought scientifically, depends upon his genuine spirituality. This kind of mind-reading is not clairvoyance, but it is important to success in healing, and is one of the special characteristics thereof” (SH 95:6-18).
Access to the Father doesn’t lie in following statistics or trends. It isn’t about an earth-shattering answer that someone is going to reveal beyond what we have already been given in the sanctity of God’s Word through Scripture and the revelation of Christian Science through the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. The Master key that gives us access to a clearer, higher, purer way of life, is in the teachings of Christian Science.
I have one more concept to share, one that is essential in the building we are doing for humanity. I’ve come to call it “Macedonian generosity.” It has come alive in my thought as a Biblical model for giving. In Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians, he writes to say that they would do well to look more closely at the grace God has bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. What was he pointing out here?
The Macedonian churches were abundant in joy—not merely joyful, but overflowing with joy, even while in affliction and severe trials. Persecution did not take away from their joy. They were generous even when it looked like they were in a state of extreme poverty.They were open-hearted with their possessions. They didn’t give only as much as they were able, they gave beyond. The Bible doesn’t give a sense that they were unwise or reckless in their giving, but they gave in proportion to their understanding. They had their giving priorities in order: first they gave themselves to God and then unto others “by the will of God,” Their giving was inspired of their oneness with and faith in God’s generosity with his children. Also what they gave was entirely on their own. As one commentary put it, “In essence, the Macedonians were not pressured into giving. They gave willingly.” In fact, they urgently pleaded to be involved—it wasn’t a per capita tax or bylaw they were following, or a collection basket, or even an envelope from a Christian Science nursing facility. The Pulpit Commentary says: “So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not allow their economic situation to keep them from being involved in the Lord’s work.”
In essence, Paul is saying, “Friends, I wish to inform you of this grace of God, that no matter what you have or don’t have, give, and give beyond what you think is doable.” Our generosity speaks to our understanding of the abundance of what God is supplying. This Macedonian generosity is a model for our giving to others.
In wrapping up today, let’s carry this promise from Paul with us in our hearts: We have access by one Spirit unto the Father. This access enables us to persevere, to endure and never to give up, to reach out to others, and to share what we love and to tell how our lives have been transformed by Christ Jesus, by Christian Science. Let’s allow ourselves to move beyond our own comfort zone, and into the Comforter zone where all things are possible. Let’s dig deeper to understand Spirit; let’s call upon our Pastor to teach us how to access our Father: how to deny sin and plead God’s allness so that our lives can be examples for others, so that they will be drawn to our Father-Mother, God.
Christian Science Nurse[:]