Response below is to my blog post on 12-30-2016 – Forgiving my branch church by Rob Scott, CS – Permission granted to post from author with name withheld.
Comments can be vigorous, but respectful!
Rob, I’ve been thinking about the issue of community help. There is a reason why the CS church does not have homeless shelters or soup kitchens. It’s because the message of the service is of most help. God, Truth, does the work — not human will. And He does it alone. He does not require human helpers to do it for Him. Think of the story of Martha and Mary — Martha was busy in the kitchen serving her guests, while Mary sat and listened. Jesus rebuked Martha for this and suggested she come and listen, too. Jesus’ healings were not of his own power or will, but divine will, through him.
But that’s not to say the church discourages individuals from serving the community. Mrs. Eddy herself paid to have the roads in Concord paved, and often donated to charitable organizations, including medical ones.
The quality of Christian Science should not be measured by the number of congregants in its churches. In the parable of the sower, there are 3 ways the seed gets ripped away from human minds, and only 1 way it remains to bear fruit. This suggests the true Church of Christ is a small one. In one of Mrs. Eddy’s classes — of about 20 people — she said they were enough to change the world if they were of one mind.
I don’t know if this addresses how churches should be, but we’re not in a bad place. Yes, the concern about not having enough people or money is persistent, but that’s only animal magnetism — the suggestion that God & His resources are not enough. There are many JSH articles that cover that.
We have to remember that God is All-in-all, and is continually governing everything and everyone. To say that CS is dying because there aren’t enough people in church is “thrusting in the laws of erring, human concepts” (SH 62:22). Church is a place for individuals to come together and share, learn from each other, and celebrate God’s goodness. And God is responsible for this.
“If the soft palm, upturned to a lordly salary, and architectural skill, making spire tremulous with beauty, turn the poor and the stranger from the gate, they at the same-time shut the door on progress.”
Mary Baker Eddy
(Science and Health, 142)
“Our cause demands a wider circle of means for the ends of philanthropy and charity, and better qualifications for practical purposes. The latter lack in students of Christian Science is a great hindrance to our cause and it must be met and mastered.” This letter embodies the thought that Christian Science does not say about Christly human activity, “Yes, BUT…” It says, “Yes, and…..”
Letter from MBE to Mary Longyear – Jan. 15, 1906
I appreciate your thoughts. The story of Mary and Martha is one of my favorite and closest to my heart. I “get it”. Thank you for sharing it.
To say that our churches should not do the charitable work that other churches do is a strange approach. I don’t see Mrs. Eddy saying that.
Perhaps my experience is one of the reasons why some of our branch churches are emptying out? My experience is an example of a lack of honesty, mercy and love shown by my local branch church during my most desperate hour of need.
If church is suppose to be the structure of Truth and Love and if either is lacking by the members to the human sense would that be reflected in the attendance or lack thereof in that congregation? The Christian Science Church should not be a country club.
You gave the perfect Sunday school answer. I understand as that is where you are in your understanding. I feel we can be candid with each other so I feel comfortable being direct.
For example, in a recent article on suicide prevention on JSH online, “He didn’t jump”, the author states she was on her way to church when she saw a man ready to jump off a bridge but she just couldn’t stop but prayed. We don’t know why she couldn’t stop (time constrains, physical danger of stopping, etc.).
We know she read the next day in the paper that an “off duty police officer talked with him for a while, and the man changed his mind, moved away from the edge of the bridge, and climbed back over the railing to safety.” Perhaps the police officer was the real angel entertained unaware. So who really helped here? I don’t doubt the power of prayer but so many do not take any action and as a result the CS healing is a fraction of what it was in Mrs. Eddy’s day. Could this be an example of the religious person passing by while the good Samaritan stopped and got his hands dirty?
A different article from JSH Online compares a healing of acne to healing the massacre in Orlando by just saying No. This happened after the author screamed in terror looking in the mirror at the acne on her face. There were CS practitioners who said that analogy and article only embarrassed the movement.
Also you have a CS lecturer addressing a lecture on the Heroin addiction by comparing it to his healing of excessive sleppiness. There are Christian Science teachers that would say do not speak beyond your ability and demonstration.
Perhaps some readings below could shed further light on prayer being active not passive including sometimes the person doing the prayer. Let’s start with what out Leader (Mary Baker Eddy) had to say followed by the parable of the Good Samaritan which should offer guidance on this issue.
“Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth” .
Mary Baker Edddy
(Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 250)
What would the Good Samaritan do?
(see excerpt below)
30th Oct 2016
by virginia Harris, C.S.B.
The unconditional selflessness and compassion and immediacy of the Good Samaritan has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Jesus shares the parable with his followers in the Gospel of Luke in response to a question, “Who is my neighbor?” (Evidently, the divine law “Love thy neighbor as thyself” wasn’t specific enough for the disciples.)
A traveler is attacked and left to suffer and die on a perilous road. Two religious leaders cross the road to avoid the wounded traveler in need. But a Samaritan without hesitation stops to bind the wounds and take him to a safe place to recover, saving his life. However long it takes, the Samaritan tells the innkeeper, he will pay for it.
Think about this for a moment: The two religious leaders are more concerned with “What will happen to me if I stop?,” while the Good Samaritan is compelled by “What will happen to him if I don’t stop?” The ideal neighbor, the God-inspired neighbor, is now obvious to the disciples: He that showed mercy to the stranger…without measure.
So what would the Good Samaritan do today?
Perhaps the better question is, What can you do to be a Good Samaritan? The most obvious point of the parable is that whenever you have an opportunity to help someone in need, never be guided by fear or lack, anger or hatred – or even strangeness! That is selfish, me-only emotional thinking. It is not spiritually-divine reasoning. And Christ Jesus was crystal clear: That is not the ideal neighbor.
Only the spirit of divine Love should motivate and compel you – Love supplies you with abundance of practical and healing ideas (no lack!), Love fills you with good intentions (no fear or hatred!), and Love directs positive actions (no harm!) that benefit and bless your friends, community, world.
When one’s motive begins with being a good neighbor, a contributing citizen, selflessly desiring only good for the community, the state, and the nation, this is abiding by the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is an effective prayer that leads and sustains good thoughts and deeds, through the election and on to expectation of good governance.
Finally, some more reasons why the branch churches are closing were also addressed at the last CS annual meeting in Boston and cited in my previous post. For the record, I never said Christian Science is dying (your words).
Is my branch church welcoming the Prodigal Home?
People are looking for a community that will support them in their journey.
Some people are leaving and going to other denominations because they not finding support when facing a personal challenge.
Suzanne Riedel – Clerk of The Mother Church
(Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, 2016)
Perhaps our branch churches could be doing more or at least practice what they preach. If you don’t know where to start how about oneself and your own branch church by not turning away the stranger. Perhaps learn from the good Samaritan who was from a lowly and disrespected tribe of the day. But he was the one who stopped and helped the person who was in their most desperate hour of need because he understood.
Perhaps if you are the branch church usher then look a person in the eye and say “welcome” rather than looking down at your shoes and saying “nothing” when people enter the church.
For the record I was no stranger. I always gave testimonies and attended regularly before the person giving me a ride passed onward and upward. I participated in strategy meetings to drive reading room attendance and even attended a meeting by the COP of Illinois and currently support and promote his blog to this day.
A church attendee who lived just a few blocks from me never once even offered me a ride in his car after the passing of the member who had driven me to church. Yet I took several phone calls from him in the middle of the night to help him through his desperate hour of need.
So where was the Truth and Love in that structure? Perhaps it was there on the nights when I slept there clandestinely and stood under the dome in my underwear in awe with one of the most profound feelings of unconditional love from God that I have ever felt.
Perhaps they had their own angel entertained unaware while they all slept and then I was betrayed not by a kiss but by the pampered hypocrite and a voicemail saying leave without any offer from the congregation of approximately 7 people on a cold, dark night.
Mrs. Eddy was also thrown out in a thunderstorm with just her trunk and chair which was left on the front porch and they didn’t even leave the light on for her after they shut the door.
Love you Mrs. Eddy and I’ll look for you in your writings.
You can’t separate the discoverer from Christian Science.
I’ll keep the light on for you and the door open to my heart.
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind.