Preparing for Easter
AT HIS is the time of year when many Christians around the world are beginning the season known as Lent. The period of forty weekdays between Ash Wednesday and Easter provides an opportunity to ponder deeply Christ Jesus' life and his willingness to undergo crucifixion in order to give humanity a new understanding of God and man. To me, this understanding of God is beautifully captured in these lines from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 188):
The world is sad with dreams of
Lo, I am Life, come unto Me.
In our daily lives--the newspapers we read, the conversations we take part in, the television programs we watch--so much seems to be ``sad with dreams of death.'' Yet Christ Jesus' ministry brought to light a totally different view of life and of God. He taught that man is spiritual and is the beloved offspring of a divine Father. Instead of the brokenness and sorrow that seem to be the world's lot, we have a wholly spiritual heritage to rejoice over! Jesus told his listeners, Matthew's Gospel records, ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect'' (5:48). He was saying, ``Lift up your eyes and see that you are spiritual and good. This is who you really are!'' And this is who we really are.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes often of what Christ Jesus has done for us all. She says in one place, ``Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus' teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit,--the law of divine Love'' (p. 19).
Jesus was willing to put his life on the line to prove that the law of Spirit frees us from ``dreams of death''--from the belief that we are material beings, locked into a cycle of sin and sorrow. His certainty of God's love for man and of man's actual perfection enabled him to risk the cross. And through his resurrection, he has proved divine Love's unchanging care for its offspring. This is what we celebrate at Easter.
During this Lenten period, then, we can examine our thoughts and ask: Am I thinking of myself as an aging/frustrated/angry/tired mortal who knows God only as a distant deity? Am I ``sad with dreams of death''? If this is the case, here is an opportunity for change!
Christ Jesus taught us that God is ever-present Love. Challenge mortality by recalling that God is ever-present Love and that you are Love's creation! Turn in prayer to God and ask for His direction in your day and in your work. Obeying God brings incomparable joy to every aspect of our lives, wiping out the dreariness of mortality.
As Love's offspring, your nature is spiritual, not material. You cannot be an aging, declining, frustrated, or angry mortal. These elements apply only to materiality, not to God's creation. In the ``truer sense of Love'' that Christ Jesus gave us, the mortal is seen as a mistaken view of existence. Frustration and anger are part of this mistaken view, and can't exist when you put your understanding of the reality of being Love's creation into practice.
For example, if you deal with customers, express your innate, God-given qualities such as patience, joy, kindness --not just outwardly, but inwardly too. Recognize those who come to you as also being Love's creation and thus spiritual. This doesn't mean being a doormat! But if someone is especially difficult, praying to know the right thing to say will help to keep your day on track.
Doing this isn't just an exercise for the forty days of Lent, however. If we are to give up the ``dreams of death'' that seem sometimes to surround us, we need to understand that we--and everyone--really are Love's offspring and to trust in Love's uninterrupted care for us.
This is the Love that Christ Jesus trusted and that saw him not just through the crucifixion but through three days in the tomb. This is the Love that specifically broke the ``dream of death'' with the glorious joy of resurrection on that first Easter, and whose promise we can rely on right now in our lives.