This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and during that same time, the National Bible Association is celebrating its 67th National Bible Week, a time when people everywhere are encouraged to read the Bible. For many people, the Bible's message of healing and peace is in itself a cause for gratitude, and it seems especially appropriate to have the celebration of the Bible and Thanksgiving at the same time.
Also, the Society for Biblical Literature, founded in 1880 to foster biblical scholarship, held its annual meeting this week in Boston. These gatherings briefly create an international university of biblical scholars and also bring together Bible publishers.
Gaining an intellectual understanding of its contents is valuable for anyone who wants to understand the Bible, but to really get the blessings this book holds, readers will find that they need not only to believe it is true, but to live accordingly. In fact, the Bible's claim to the truth has been proved over the centuries as people have put it to the test. Its words had to be useful to survive for so long and still be widely read and seriously believed.
Each faith tradition has its particular emphasis on how to understand and put the Bible into practice. In many houses of prayer, its ancient insights still shape and sustain entire communities. In times of financial disaster, moral chaos, grief, and illness, people read the Bible for solace, guidance, instruction, and healing. This book also speaks to each reader, developing the conscience, forming character, bestowing the grace of forgiveness and salvation. It has been a constant source of inspiration for Western civilization.
The first tenet of Christian Science grew from Mary Baker Eddy's continual, thoughtful reliance on Scripture: "…we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 497). Her rational explanation of the healings and miracles of the prophets and of Jesus Christ, given in the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," has been proved to be true by people from many countries. They have been healed of serious physical illnesses, business problems, family disruptions, and may other issues. On Thanksgiving Day, many Christian Scientists will gather in their churches to specifically express their gratitude for God's gift of healing.
One such healing took place after a Christian Scientist injured her hand and wrist in a sports accident, and it felt as if several bones were out of place. With the help of other Christian Scientists, she began to pray by thinking of this statement in Exodus: "I AM WHO I AM" (3:14, Revised Standard Version). These words were spoken to Moses by God as part of the revealed meaning of the name of God. Her understanding of the spiritual meaning of "I AM WHO I AM" was that the name "I Am" describes the One who always exists and who therefore can always say "I am." Thinking along those lines, it became clear to her that because one good God constitutes all true being, no evil could ever enter being at all. And that meant no evil could enter her being or diminish her life in any way.
It was just days before Christmas, and she felt very little pain during this whole time, even though she had to use her hand to get things done. As she continued to pray, her hand was completely healed. She found that because God is the only Being, her being was held in God's perfect order. This healing sign of Emmanuel, or God with us, as the Gospel of Matthew explained the term, was a very special Christmas gift, making the light and life of Christ Jesus very near and dear and real.
The Apostle Paul declared, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Rom. 11:33). The Bible is the treasure chest that holds these riches. And those who turn to it for comfort and hope will find renewal and restoration for their lives.