Some thoughts on the Sabbath

sabbath-rest

Sabbath – to cease from work, to rest.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” Exodus 20:8

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Gen 1:31, Gen 2:1-3)

“Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 32).

“The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 218).

“God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work” (Eddy, Science and Health, p. 25)

Modern theologian Walter Brueggemann explains the Sabbath as the “resistance to anxiety” and “the refusal to be identified by productivity”

Brueggemann argues that the acceptance of the Israelites of the Ten Commandment was an acceptance of a regime change. It was a change from the rule of Pharaoh to the rule of YHWH. This new regime was not based on anxiety, cruelty and fear but rest, love and confidence in God to supply all good.

The 4th Commandment in song

Brueggemann Sabbath justice, beyond Pharaoh. (this video starts at the 24-minute mark)

Advertisements

Our Thinking and Pain Relief

 

dreamstime_m_14296347

In support of the upcoming National Pain Week, 21-27th July, Chronic Pain Australia provides user-friendly research-based information and support for sufferers of chronic pain. However, one of their least discussed hints explains that helpful thinking patterns can improve our mood, which helps our body to produce feel-good chemicals thus resulting in pain relief.

Long before the many recent neurological studies into the mental nature of pain, an American woman undertook an in-depth study in this area. Following a lifetime of illness and pain, a slip on the ice proved a turning point for Mary Baker Eddy. In desperation Eddy turned to her Bible and read an account of one of Jesus’ healings. She recovered almost immediately and spent the next nine years searching for the answer to how she was healed.

What she discovered about compassion, forgiveness and her spiritual divine nature and resulting self-worth not only resulted in the healing of her own chronic illness and pain, but she also found she was able to heal others. Later she successfully taught others how to apply these principles to bring healing. Her major work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures details and explains her discovery, which she named Christian Science.

Eddy placed importance on watching our thoughts. Her directive was to, “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” She saw that fear, anger, stress and resentment had a direct effect on health but she also emphasised the importance of the Divine Mind in healing. She did not see this Mind as unknowable or of little help in illness but understood that it was this Divine Mind which heals and that enables us to master our thinking.

A publication by the NSW Health, Hunter New England District, also outlines the importance of watching our thinking. It gives some useful strategies for recognising those thoughts that are helpful or unhelpful in controlling pain. It reminds patients that their thoughts are under their control and they can challenge unhelpful thoughts such as “what if” scenarios, feelings of lack of control, fear and panic.

In my own personal experience I have found that detecting and challenging unhelpful thoughts is most effective when I weigh up my thinking according to what I know a loving and all good God has planned for me. If it’s pain, fear, worry or resentment then it’s not helpful thinking and I can replace it with the knowledge that a loving and good God cares for and strengthens me —  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) — When I  focus on filling my consciousness with God’s love I no longer see myself as a victim of illness or circumstance but feel empowered to challenge these injustices and overcome them. You can read examples of how others have found healing by challenging thought here.

For almost 150 years people from different faiths and all walks of life in many countries have   applied the principles explained in Science and Health to challenge and change unhelpful thinking resulting in effective healing and relieve of chronic illness and pain.

 

Spiritual dimensions and the treatment of alcohol and drug problems.

Chain of addiction

My calendar of community events notes this week as Drug Action Week. Drug Action Week, an initiative of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia which was a national peak body representing the alcohol and drug treatment sector, aimed to highlight the issues accompanying drug and alcohol use and those that work to reduce it’s harm. For over 50 years they provided frank evidence-based advice to governments and organisations. In February funding to this organisation was cut by the Abbott Government forcing it’s closure and the end of Drug Awareness Week.

Biomedical research tells us that substance abuse holds us back from recognising our inherent intelligence and abilities, and facing our fears. Research by Hodges 2011 published in Social Work USA, which examined the use of spiritually modified Cognitive— Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of a mental illnesses such as stress, depression and bipolar disorder. It was found that the results of using spiritually modified CBT was similar to or superior to traditional CBT. Although spiritual modified CBT have not been used to treat substance abuse Hodges suggests that incorporating spirituality into the treatment for substance abuse may speed recovery, enhance treatment compliance, prevent relapse, and reduce treatment disparities by providing more culturally congruent services.

Many patients undergoing treatment, work with self-statements (Ellis as cited in Hodges 2011). This helps them deal with the depression or anxiety that may precede substance use. It is thought that these statements, rephrased by patients according to their metaphysical framework have greater relevance. These statements then become more than affirmations of self-worth dependant on human agency (which has failed many) for now they have the weight of the patient’s spiritual concept of their identity.

The role of prayer and meditation has also been found to be effective in recovery from substance abuse (Elsheikh, 2008; Bowen et al., 2006; Lau & Segal, 2007;Taub et al, 1994 cited in Hodges 2011). In my own experience I have found prayer effective in overcoming anxiety and depression particularly when it goes beyond a request for God to intervene and change something in my life. When my prayer starts with a silencing of human argument and suggestion and moves to an affirmation of God’s all power and an understanding of myself as created spiritually, as state in the first chapter of Genesis, in the image and likeness of God — a God who is loving and all good, then I see results.

When speaking of mankind’s understanding of the Divine and of man’s own spiritual nature Mary Baker Eddy, a writer and early researcher into the connection of spirituality and health, states in her major work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that this understanding “is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, — strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind…” and that it is “impartial and universal in it adaptation and bestowals.” available to all anytime, anywhere.