"O gentle presence." How many times I've thought of those words. They open a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, Mother's Evening Prayer, which begins:
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight. (Poems, 4)
“O gentle presence” are words that affirm that God is with us. Now. Forever.
I experienced this presence in a powerful way last year. It was the evening before a Memorial service for my husband who had passed on the week before. There were last minute decisions to be made. Some of our extended family had decided views that conflicted with mine. Sitting alone in the family room, I was mulling over the issues thinking I didn't need this problem.
I heard my daughter in the next room gathering pictures from photo albums, making plans to frame them. This was one item of minor contention – whether, and which, photos should be displayed. After a short period of ruminating, a tender quietness suddenly settled over me and enveloped the room. I felt a palpable presence that could only be divine. I knew it was God's gentle presence making me calm. Peace reigned in my heart. I felt it. I sat very still in wonder.
Suddenly, all the preparations and decisions were irrelevant to me. All I wanted was to hold onto this divine presence. All that mattered was this feeling of God with me. I encouraged my daughter to go ahead with her plans, assuring her that everything would be fine.
This peace stayed with me throughout the service the next day. And, of course, the display of family pictures was perfect, pleasing and comforting to everyone.
The peace, joy and power of God’s presence is the Christ, God's action of revealing Himself in unmistakeable ways we can understand, giving us just what we need, bringing healing. This divine presence doesn’t come and go. The Christ is always here with us all, all the time bringing peace and joy and power.
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Jesus gave the parable of the prodigal son, as a lesson on the correcting and redeeming power of the divine Father's persistent love for all his children. Who's to say that the younger son in the tale was the only prodigal?
Prodigal has two definitions that could apply to the storyline. "Prodigal [ˈprɒdɪgəl] (adj.)1. Rashly or wastefully extravagant; recklessly wasteful, as in disposing of goods or money 2. Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse; lavish in giving or yielding."
A few weeks ago, I was studying a Bible Lesson that included the parable of the prodigal in the gospel of Luke. We are told that the father welcomed his repentant younger son back into the house and prepared a party to celebrate his return. Seeing the festivities, his eldest son became angry.
The father left the party to seek out his elder son in the field where he was hiding. He entreated him (that is, he earnestly dealt with him, treating his concerns). The son poured out the resentments that had built up over many years: of watching the younger brother fall short and yet seem to be favored. The father discerned his heart and lavished on him the one thing he needed most: To know that he, too, was greatly loved. He said "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." There would be no divided inheritance. All the father's love was available for each son.
Corresponding passages in the Bible Lesson included this statement from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Evil which obtains in the bodily senses, but which the heart condemns, has no foundation..." (448)
This caught my attention because I couldn't see how the elder son had had a change of heart before he received his father's blessing. Had his own heart condemned the evil of anger and envy? Was that a prerequisite to his progress? Apparently, no. It was the father's heart, not the son's, that condemned the envy as having no place. The father showed the son that his suffering was without foundation. The father condemned the lie so his son would not suffer.
The younger son may be generally viewed as the prodigal because of the way he squandered his resources. But I think the other sense of prodigal better points to the father, whose lavish, unstinting, unsparing, bounteous love towards each son spoke to their hearts and met their needs.
Father's Day lets us pause to honor the prodigious fathers who give unsparingly of their hearts to their kids. But every moment of every day, our heavenly Father is reminding each one of us, "Dear, dear child of mine, you are ever with me. All that I have is thine. I will always love you. Open your heart and you will find that all that I have and all that I am is already there."
Happy Father's Day!
Find two blog posts that honor good fathers and good fathering:
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It started out as usual, - lovely turkey and trimmings, and far-flung family sitting around the well-laid table enjoying their first and second courses. Then, during dessert came a snide remark. A glass of water was tossed in someone's face. And suddenly one in-law had her hands around the throat of another in an attempted stangulation. I screamed, "Stop!" and watched as half of our guests slipped guiltily away from the table, retreating to the familyroom to hide from my wrath for the rest of the evening.
I lost my voice that night - from shock and fury - and it took a full week to get it back. But I learned some things from that dinner that have changed the family dynamics ever since.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no