O blessings infinite! O glad New Year! Sweet sign and substance Of God’s presence here.
—MARY BAKER EDDY
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 354
The Apostle Peter, who faced his share of struggles, must have understood this concern when he wrote, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (I Pet. 3:15).
There are bedrock spiritual reasons for hope, even in troubled times, and the teachings of Christian Science show the way to plant our hopes for the present and the future on stable ground. I feel that the best hope, the brightest opportunity available to humanity, resides in our understanding of God. Of His nature and constant care. I’m finding, for instance, that getting to know God as the divine Principle, the source of the spiritual laws of life, gives me reasonable grounds to expect only good. These laws—all of which stem from the First Commandment to have one God and love Him unconditionally—govern His creation in a supremely harmonious fashion.
Newness is actually an attribute of God; as such, it is divine inspiration revealing insights perfectly timed and appropriate to meet pressing needs of both individuals and society. Part of the appeal of spiritual ideas from God is that they point out higher, practical ways to bring improvement and solutions. Jesus promised, “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8).the teachings of Christian Science show the way to plant our hopes for the present and the future on stable ground.
The adoption of a spiritual model of life naturally begins with individual thought and spreads out to the collective thinking, in what is sometimes called a ripple effect. Liberating ideas may have modest beginnings, but allowed to flow out in wider and more expansive ways, they eventually touch a larger and larger body of thought.
What strikes me about that passage is how different it sounds from what are commonly called “New Year’s resolutions.” Each year many resolve to make changes for good in their lives. These resolutions are always well intended, but people so often find it hard to make permanent their desire for improvement. What Mrs. Eddy suggested is an entirely new approach to resolutions—moments of dedicating one’s self to a holy purpose. In other words, being God-centered, rather than self-oriented. I believe that part of the change we’re seeing in the world is a growing awareness of the advantage, and importance, of serving a higher purpose rather than promoting oneself. Bringing greater recognition that such resolutions naturally manifest the spiritual nature of newness, could have a powerful effect for the benefit of all, promoting the kind of change citizens around the world are yearning for.
Answers to problems don’t always come in the form of gandiose plans, or in all-at-once changes. Turning the world’s economy around, or improving a family’s financial footing, could very well start with a “baby idea” and ripple out moment by moment over the course of years. Central to Christian Science is the view of God as the Creator of the universe and as its governing Principle. It’s acknowledged that there is a holy purpose to His creation, and that at this very moment “God is working His purpose out” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 82). As a result, we can begin to understand that all the good that goes on in our lives and our world is “renewable,” and traces back to a divine plan.
As we focus our attention on finding fresh approaches to solving the global financial crisis, armed conflicts, rising unemployment, AIDS, environmental concerns, it’s important to fix our sights on spiritual reality. Stable answers can’t be measured in the stock market or home values, in voting demographics, pollutant levels, barrels of oil, or by any other material factor.
Viewing the state of humanity in this manner reminds me of the time Jesus, the master Christian, rebuked a group of Pharisees and Sadducees who were demanding that he “shew them a sign from heaven.” He pointed out that they were pretty adept at reading “the face of the sky,” but woefully lacking when it came to discerning “the signs of the times” (see Matt. 16:1-3). Jesus went on to warn his followers about the dangers of listening to those who only looked at the outward appearance of things, and not at spiritual things.
While there are some benefits in studying statistical data, people intuitively understand that all the so-called “leading indicators” are seldom an accurate reflection of what they themselves are most concerned about. It’s true that people throughout the world gather around their kitchen tables and wonder how they’ll be able to care for their families, provide for their futures, and keep them safe and healthy—all of which are very legitimate concerns. Still, might these only mirror “the face of the sky”?
Whether it’s articulated this way or not, I think in their heart of hearts, what people most yearn for is a renewed sense of calm and peace of mind. And there’s a secret place within us all—that place of the Christ’s dawning—where we can discover Mind’s reassurance and feel Love’s amazing and fulfilling grace. God’s grace provides us with the intelligence and strength needed to meet life’s immediate and long-term challenges.
According to the Psalmist, God gives His angels charge over your life, “to keep thee in all thy ways” (Ps. 91:11). It’s truly comforting to know that our Father will always send His messages to help us and watch over us. In describing how God’s angels meet our needs, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies.” And she added these reassuring words: “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 307).
God’s plan is completely separate from any worldly approach to finding answers to complex problems. His plan is made up of ideas that are spiritual and reflect divine wisdom and mercy, patience and power. God has created us all to understand these ideas and to know how best to implement them in our own lives—for the betterment of all. Each one of us expresses, in unique ways, the spiritual qualities that inspire new thinking and compel us to change.
God’s grace provides us with the intelligence and strength needed to meet life’s immediate and long-term challenges.
This new year does offer a reason for hope, renewal, opportunity. Everyone has a God-given right to live a life that increasingly expresses the infinite resources of Soul. As we better discern the spiritual “signs of the times,” we’ll see beyond forecasts that may focus on fear, and begin to see more of the modest reappearing of the Christ-idea and its wonderful promise of blessing. css