- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

Excerpts from a lecture given Saturday by David F. Stevens at Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, in the District.

Mary Baker Eddy found that the laws of God are practical in daily life. She said it was crucial to have the right premise, and hers was fairly radical: God is Infinite, All Good, Spirit, Divine Love, and we are children of God. "To begin rightly is to end rightly," she says.

My learning about practical spirituality came after college on a trip to Alaska. I would conquer the great frozen North with my self-created good. Soon enough, my car broke down. So I began to hitchhike the 1,500-mile Alcan Highway, a gravel road. The July temperature fell to 35 degrees and it rained. I sat in my little tent thinking, "What am I doing here?" All my bravado was gone.

Happily, I had brought the Bible and "Science and Health." I prayed, "God where are you in this." My reading reminded me that God is "Our Father." Mary Baker Eddy expands on this by saying, "Our Father-Mother God." In my situation, God as Father gave me guidance and God as Mother gave encouragement. The gloom faded away.

My ride dropped me at a wide place in the road, miles from anywhere, and night was falling. I had begun washing in a stream when a truck suddenly pulled up. Two people got out, and they were dark against the headlights. Then I heard, "Hey, Stevens, is that you?" Two friends I was to meet in a month had stopped at the same obscure place. Well, that was humbling. I learned about relying on the real source of good.

I recently asked a group of high school students to define spirituality. How is it practical? One student, he was cool, a football player, got animated. His words were wonderfully concise. "Spirituality is what God gives me to express every day. To solve my problems. To do what I have to do."

Mary Baker Eddy describes practicality this way: "Our proportionate admission of the claims of good or of evil determines the harmony of our existence, our health, our longevity and our Christianity." Each day it's not so obvious that good is in charge, but remember: Our data about evil is crunched by the physical senses. How reliable are they? We used our eyes to walk here, and it is helpful to hear the phone ring. Yet here is how the author of "The Universe and Mr. Einstein" concludes: "In trying to distinguish appearance from reality … scientists have to transcend the rabble of the senses."

We are children of God, but consider all that this relates us to. The Great I Am. The All Knowing, All Seeing, All Acting, All Wise, All Loving. Mind. Soul. Spirit. Life. Truth. Love. All Substance. Intelligence. This is our incredible inheritance.

Mary Baker Eddy … says, "Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the glorious liberty of the children of God and be free. This is your divine right." She understood the right of freedom at age 10. The doctrine of Calvinism had said many were predestined to hell, and she became ill worrying about people. Her father said her sickness was a punishment. Repentance was the cure. But her mother said, "Lean on love." And her fever broke.

For the next 20 years, she studied the Bible and all forms of healing. What she calls her "falling apple" came in 1866 after a serious injury. Her Bible study led to a "glimpse of life in spirit" and the injury was gone. She knew it was God, but she spent three more years in Bible study to find the laws.

Her ideas became very practical. There were physical healings, and healings of character problems. Doctors sought her out. Once, a Dr. Scott demanded, "How did you do that?" She said it was God. "Well," he said, "don't you have this written down?" So she began writing "Science and Health." She dedicates it to, "Honest seekers of Truth." That's true today, isn't it? There is no barrier to seeking God's laws.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Roderick D. McKee at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beltsville.

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