Association 2015: The Church Triumphant
2015 post association letter
Praying about the abridgments made to the address yesterday, it came to me that we should “Quench not the Spirit, Despise not prophesyings, …hold fast that which is good.” (I Thess 5:19-21)
In that spirit, I have attached below the excerpt from the 1931 Journal article on The Church Triumphant that we did not have time to read, the quote from Mrs. Eddy which closed the section on the imperatives, as well as files with the original, unabridged texts for Sections 5 and 6. This material provides further support to our unfolding understanding of the Church Triumphant and what Mrs. Eddy intended for our Mother Church and our role as its “living stones”.
This material has also been posted on the website. Please be respectful of the long-standing Board of Directors’ admonition against copying or circulating Association writings. What we shared was provided by Mind just for this group and just for this day.
with much love,
Mrs. Eddy’s letter, summing up our section on imperatives:
We will end this section on the imperatives of Christian Science with a few more of Mrs. Eddy’s words. These are excerpts from her letters, found in chapter 16 of Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Healer, amplified edition, titled, “The Cause needs healers”.
“I retain my conviction that the greatest need that our Cause has is better healers. Those of experience, Christian character, and ability are more needed, much more, to fill this appointment in proof of Christian Science than to build up churches… I started this great work and woke the people by demonstration, not words, but works. Our periodicals must have more Testimonials in them… Healing is the best sermon, healing is the best lecture, and the entire demonstration of Christian Science. The sinner and sick healed are our best witnesses.”
“The sick need you and you can do great good by healing. The Cause needs healers a million times more than teachers. The best healer is the best Scientist and will take the place that God has for all to take.”
October 1931 issue of Christian Science Journal, from an article on the Church Triumphant:
“Being a spiritual idea, Church exists in Mind, and hence is permanent, indivisible, universal. In this Church the one God alone is worshiped and adored; His will alone is done; His law is supreme; His Word, the teacher and preacher. In this Church health and harmony reign; peace and love abide; the purity and perfection of being are expressed; divine wisdom, spiritual substance, and heavenly order operate without interruption or resistance. The door of this Church is Christly humility, gratitude, and praise. It is filled with God's ideas, coöperating in eternal, celestial perfection.
Christ Jesus lived and labored to bring something of this true idea of Church into human consciousness and experience. He understood that God is Spirit and must be worshiped spiritually. His spiritual comprehension enabled him to discern the gulf between material ways and means and the genuine worship which is acceptable to God. With this spiritual understanding he purged the temple and "overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves." He taught no creed, but relied for guidance on the Word of God. His baptism was a spiritual cleansing from all worldliness; his spiritual communion a heart-searching desire for more at-onement with God through better reflection of the divine nature.
Throughout the Christian era this Church never has been wholly lost to human experience, but the world has sadly missed its healing power. The complete mission of the church, as established by our Master, must be revived. It must again be made available to humanity for its emancipation from disease and sin.
Section 5: Our Mother Church (unabridged)
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight! Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall: His habitation high is here, and nigh, His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain! Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.
Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way, Seeking and finding, with the angels sing: "Lo, I am with you alway," — watch and pray.
No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast, When heaven's aftersmile earth's tear-drops gain, And mother finds her home and heav'nly rest.
That hymn, so beloved, so often used in our prayer, and so often cited in testimonies of healing brings us home to our Mother God and our Mother Church. The Mother Church, our Church Triumphant is not a beautifully arranged collection of stones in the Boston Back Bay. Nor is it the manifestation of the changing wills of a collection of people called The Christian Science Board of Directors - that institution, like the institution of Church itself only has existence, authority, and meaning to the degree that it affords proof of its utility; acting as God’s treatment and expressing the mind of Christ. It is not the number of a congregation or the personalities found therein - rather it is found in the healing work of its members, members awake and alive to their identity as children of God and heirs of Christ, as Mrs. Eddy insisted. The human institution is the visible objectification of these ideas.
The Mother Church was designed so that healing would permeate all its activities. Healing is not performed by an institution. Healing is the mission of the Christ and is therefore brought about in proportion to the Christliness within the individual members of the church. All of us can evoke the Science of the Christ in proportion to that measure of the Christ within us. As surely as consciousness constructs a better body for us individually, so we find that the human composition of our branch churches illustrates the states of consciousness of the individual members. This is from a letter Mrs. Eddy wrote to a student in 1895:
“Conduct your meetings by repeating and demonstrating practical Christian Science. Tell what this Science does for yourself and will
￼do for others... Be meek, let your mottoes for this meeting be, Who shall be least and servant and ‘Little children love one another.”
Meekness was a quality Mrs. Eddy especially valued. She taught that it is essential in the healing practice and it essential in our approach to church. Consistently evident in her own healing work, you could say that it is one of the Mrs. Eddy’s defining qualities. Combined with purity, fearlessness, honesty, wisdom, unselfed love, and absolute faith in God as her foundation stones, she built a Church that offers mankind the Science, or divine laws, of Christian healing.
Our branch churches must have the same composition and structure. Spiritual church is a divine idea which man, God’s reflection includes. It is not so much a matter of man being in church, as it is that church is in man. So when you are thinking of the states of consciousness in your branch church, begin and end with your own and return it to its rightful home with divine Mind!
Church building begins with you and remains between you and God, good. The demonstration of Church begins with you and remains between you and God. In the Narnia novels, C.S. Lewis often had Aslan, the Christ character, make the admonition that people should mind their own business - echoing Jesus’ “What is that to thee, follow thou me”.
It is important that we gain the correct sense of the relationship between the purely spiritual idea and the human manifestation. Actually, relationship is not the right term in this regard, there are not two churches - there is only one. As surely as there were not two men, Jesus and Christ, one spiritual and one mortal, neither are there two churches, one spiritual and one mortal.
This is from the July 4, 1925 Sentinel:
A Christian Science church does not consist merely of a body of men and women; rather is it the demonstration of the truth they know.
Some such expression as this is sometimes heard, voiced by one who has had little or no experience in Christian Science work: “It will be such a help to me if I join a church; I shall feel more a part of the movement.” This is an admirable sentiment up to a point; but such an applicant needs to be shown that at least some experience in the work of the movement, including the healing, is essential before he can expect to be a constructive church member. ... As we ponder these points, we shall find many more ways whereby we may each do more to help The Mother Church, of which every loyal student of Christian Science is “a living stone."
As Mrs. Eddy writes on page 206 of Science and Health: "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all." Therefore, can the branch churches progress without The Mother Church benefiting? Or can we strive to do our duty better to The Mother Church without the branch churches also benefiting? ...What a privilege to recognize this, and daily to do more to demonstrate the fact!
With our focus on our own demonstrations including those that take place within the human institution of church, the Church Triumphant unfolds and expands.
This student account reflects the natural way that the thought we cherish builds Church:
When praying about Church over the past several months, I've been thinking about this year's Association theme, "The Church Triumphant". However the phrase that has kept coming to me is "The Church Abundant". The abundance of church; church as an abundant, infinite idea of God; has been something I keep thinking about. Church, the universal structure of Truth and Love is a limitless idea, eternal in its expression, scope and reach. Moreover, I've been thinking about how church is abundantly felt and known by all of God's ideas. I've been able to put this into practice in how I've recently shared Christian Science with a friend:
A close friend of mine that I've met in the past two years has known from the very beginning of our friendship that I am a Christian Scientist and that I attend church every Sunday and Wednesday. From the moment we met, she struck me as "a Christian Scientist who didn't know it yet", as she is incredibly spiritually minded, she loves God, she sees and values spirituality in all things, she loves to help and to heal, and she approaches her own spiritual growth with a sense of discipline and scholarship. A few months into our friendship she casually expressed an interest in coming to church with me. Though nothing came of it for over a year and a half, we had some nice chats about spirituality, healing, faith, and religion.
And then, a few months ago, she attended several church services and testimony meetings with me. Prior to each service and meeting, I prayed specifically about the abundance of Church as an idea; to know that it wasn't limited to a physical building, a membership of persons, or a material timeframe, but widespread and accessible everywhere. And I also prayed to know that man, as God's idea, could know and feel the spiritual idea of Church in an abundance of ways, unconditional of human circumstances. Like how Mary Baker Eddy describes spiritual sense, I prayed with the idea that man had a 'conscious, constant capacity for Church.' After attending the church services with me, my friend has remarked on several occasions how much the ideas resonated with her on a deep level. She loves Christian Science and believes it is the best religion for her which she has ever come across. She has since shared Christian Science with her friends and would like them to come to church as well. She commented to me that when she sat in church listening to the Lesson, she felt a profound sense of peace, felt indulgent enjoying it to herself, and she wished she could share Christian Science with the whole city of London. "Why don't more people know about this?", she has asked in wonderment.
Never personal, but always Christlike - an expression of divine Love, the effort that builds, maintains and prospers Church is God-based and in human terms involves transparency to divine Life, Truth, and Love.
It wasn’t the personalities, it was the student’s prayer that made Church available to her friend. It’s always there, but we have to recognize it and respond to it. It’s even there when things at church don’t seem to be as they should be...
Not long after we joined our new church, I signed up as a substitute Sunday School teacher. On my first Sunday on the job I was shocked to find that the exercises provided by Mrs. Eddy in the Manual were not used. They did sing a hymn. But as the younger members of the Sunday School were given sticks, to bang on large and loud percussion instruments, (and they mostly tried to use these on each other) they singing got lost in the banging and cries of protest. Then there was a “gratitude circle” where the children expressed gratitude for toys and food and went off on tangents about video games. Then there was a video on an iPad which gave a somewhat bizarre rendering of the story of the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. Then there was snack!
At last, with six minutes left, my class of thirteen year old boys was turned over to me. They asked if we could sit outside in a little enclosed courtyard off the Sunday School room and since it was so chaotic inside, I agreed. They bolted out the door and into the courtyard tree.
In the five or so minutes left, I managed to get them out of the tree and into a very good discussion about how to pray when accidents happen (there had been talk earlier of falls they’d all had). But, as you can imagine, I left church that day dismayed. After the next Wednesday noon meeting, one of the other teachers explained to me why it was necessary to run the Sunday School in this way (the children like it) and that her teacher had assured her ￼that the Sunday School exercises in the Manual were one of those things that were not required.
Well, that felt lousy for the rest of the afternoon. And then, after attending the evening testimony meeting I got back into my right mind. I went back to the spiritual truth of church and church members. I kept going over what God was doing with His church until I got that “ping” of recognition and the power behind the spiritual sense of things and the tension and disappointment dissolved. A few days later, it came to me to respond to something the Superintendent had said about the incomprehensibility of the King James Bible as the reason for abandoning the reading part of the exercises. I offered to create a print out just for the Sunday School - something that could double as a teaching tool to introduce the children to the valuable ideas in that week’s Lesson and connect them with the rest of the church in the contemplation of that Lesson.
My offer was well received. I am delighted to report that we are now doing the hymn, Golden Text, Responsive Reading, and having 40 minute class periods. And thanks to one of the children in my class piping up, we now have the Scientific Statement of Being at
￼the end of the Sunday School. The superintendent has written to me thanking me for my contribution (she actually let me re-organize the Sunday School activities after I’d made some inspired suggestions) and asking if I would serve full-time. She said she was amazed by how the children behaved and how engaged they have been with the new system.
I never had to say a word about what was wrong. I only shared some ideas that felt like Love’s leading. And all the resistance and the theories and the arguments that had been running the place fell away. It was a lot like that fresh breeze we talked about.
I share this account because the experience illustrated for me that if we want church to work, we need to work in the way Church works - starting from God’s creation and acting in pure Love. Mrs. Eddy believed that the 91st Psalm and Sermon on the Mount were at the heart of Christian Science practice. Our membership in the Church she envisioned is inseparable from our practice of these fundamental expositions of divine Love and the demands of Spirit. We can’t do church work any other way.
Our Leader established her Church to awaken human consciousness to the understanding of man’s inseparable
￼relationship with God; the natural result of that understanding is healing. This was the thought behind every call to membership.
In the June 1893 Journal, this notice was posted:
"Our dear Leader and Teacher has invited the Scientists everywhere to unite with the Mother church. Standing on the Horeb heights of
her clear spiritual vision, she has surveyed the field of Christian Science work, and has seen that the time has come when the growth of each individual Scientist, and the progress of the work at large, will be promoted by joining the Mother church. Accepting this invitation promptly and cheerfully is, therefore, a proof that we are learning the lesson of obedience. To obey, and obey cheerfully and promptly every call of the Christ-Truth, marks a growth in Science. It lifts us at once to a higher plane of thought, and will be speedily followed by an increase of spiritual power. It puts us more nearly in the attitude in which Spirit can use us to do its blessed work.”
The call for membership in The Mother Church was a call not to swell the ranks or increase the pro-rata contributions. It was for progress in the structure, the unfolding of Jesus’ church, founded on the revelation of Christ. It was a call to drop materialism and cast our nets on the right side, living and working as Christ Jesus and Christian Science teach us. Our Leader wasn’t interested in counting souls, she was interested in the expanding awareness of Soul, God’s provision to all mankind.
We must lose the false sense of church with its conflicting personalities, its temporal struggles with public relations and the maintenance of edifices and come home to the heart of church and its real structure, found in our individual and collective practice and our heartfelt desire to share divine good with each other.
Mrs. Eddy consistently worked to point us in this direction by her teaching and actions. Consider for a moment our institutions history. This is from an 1889 letter written by her, found in Christian Healer:
“Dear Brethren: -
The Church of Christ (Scientist) in Boston was my patient seven years. When I would think she was well nigh healed, a relapse came and a large portion of her flock would forsake the better portion, and betake themselves to the world’s various hospitals for the cure of moral maladies. These straying sheep would either set up claims of improvements on Christian Science and oppose The Mother Church, or sink out of sight in religious history. This state of the Church has lasted ten years. It even grew rapidly worse when, about three years ago, I, for lack of time to adjust her continual difficulties, and a conscientious purpose to labor in higher fields and broader ways for the advancement of the glorious hope of Christian Science, put students in my pulpit... Some of them were true Christians and tolerable expositors of Christian Science, but all of them were ruled out.
This and much more a severe nature caused me as the Mother of this Church to ask earnestly, “What shall she do to be saved?” and I think God has answered me and bidden her to disorganize, saying, “I will try her and prove her on the pure basis of spiritual bonds, loving the brethren, keeping peace and pursuing it. I will test her love which seeketh not its own but another’s good, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, envieth not, doth not behave herself unseemly, beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, and if she is saved as a Church, it will be on this basis alone.
...”Now quit your material props and leave all for Christ, spiritual power, and you will recover,” so I admonish this Church after ten years of sad experience in material bonds to cast them off and cast her net on the spiritual side of Christianity. To drop all material rules whereby to regulate Christ, Christianity, and adopt the Golden Rule for unification, progress, and a better example as The Mother Church.
In the March 1892 issue of the Journal, Mrs. Eddy wrote of church organization in the same terms she used to describe marriage:
“If our Church is organized, it is to meet the demand, ’suffer it to be so now.’ The real Christian compact is love for another. This bond is wholly spiritual and inviolate.”
Clearly, our Leader believed that the prosperity and progress of the organization rests on the love felt and expressed by its members for each other. Not personal approbation or merely human affection, the love she expected us to bear toward each other was the love that came directly from Love - that Soul outpouring of unconditional goodness.
In order to best support this concept, Mrs. Eddy was inspired to have her reorganized church governed by rules which she wrote - rules based on the law of God. If the members obeyed these rules, their human opinions would have no place and consequently could not inhibit their love for one another...Each of these rules, or By-Laws, was divinely inspired to meet the need not only of the moment, but of the future as well.
“My task the past summer, to breast the storm of blind guides, and deliver the people and establish Christ’s Church in Boston, has been beyond description. But I was enabled to accomplish it. This new form of Church government is a light set upon a hill.”
This “light” is produced by the flame of divine Love, the power and grace that exist for the healing of mankind, individually and collectively - the same power and grace that underlay all of Mary Baker Eddy’s healing works.
She wrote to the By-Law Committee: “Let the Manual be brief and gotten out soon. There is a great call for it so that the By-Laws shall be read by all its members.” Mrs. Eddy expected her Church members to be healers. A number of years after the Manual was first published, she wrote: “This Church is impartial, its rules apply not to one member only, but to one and all equally. Of this I am sure, that each Rule and By-Law in this Manual will increase the spirituality of him who obeys it, invigorate his capacity to heal the sick, to comfort such as mourn, and to awaken the sinner.” (My 230:10)
When you understand that Mrs. Eddy’s Church was not another human organization representing yet another variety of Protestantism, but a divine unfoldment of the Christ mission, then you will grasp that her Manual was not a rule book for a group of people, but rather a well-designed map leading anyone using it into Christ’s Church Triumphant and God’s kingdom come, as in heaven, so on earth.
￼For this reason, the idea that the little book is outdated or needs re-tooling, expresses not just ignorance as to the origin of its directions, it a kind of profanity in its disrespect of that Source. In Miscellany, Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Nothwithstanding the sacrilegious moth of time, eternity awaits our Church Manual, which will maintain its rank as in the past, amid ministries aggressive and active, and will stand when those have passed to rest.” (My 230:1-4)
Instead of trying to figure out which bits are only for dues- paying, card-carrying members of TMC, or musing about re-forming as Societies to take advantage of the By-law which makes the organization of services less formally delineated, we should be hurrying to obey every and all of the By-laws, imperatives, and suggestions for discipleship found in The Manual.
I would be happy, if we had another hour or two to share my experiences in the first Society I belonged to, and the way that every step we took to come into accord with the Manual provisions brought growth to our congregation and growth in grace to the members; more healing, more understanding, more love to the individuals involved. And that the moment the group decided to go along with ways that stepped away from the Manual, the Society diminished, lost members, and was the root cause of a loss of Science for the remaining members.
That little book is a powerful thing. It’s the distilled version of the match and dynamite when they are put together. It is Christianity and Science co-joined. We can light the world if we unite with it.
Christian Healer authors noted:
“Without the Manual, instead of one authorized set of rules governing the whole movement, many diverse opinions would creep in, thus breaking the unity upon which Christian Science is founded. The church must be protected not only from opponents who would divide it, but also from the conscious or unconscious mistakes made by students of Christian Science.”
And Mrs. Eddy wrote of her Manual:
“The Rules and By-laws in the Manual of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, originated not in solemn conclave
as in ancient Sanhedrim. They were not arbitrary opinions nor dictatorial demands, such as one person might impose on
another. They were impelled by a power not one’s own, were written at different dates, and as the occasion required. They sprang from necessity, the logic of events, — from the immediate demand for them as a help that must be supplied to maintain the dignity and defense of our Cause; hence their simple, scientific basis, and detail so requisite to demonstrate genuine Christian Science, and which will do for the race what absolute doctrines destined for future generations might not accomplish. (Mis 148:8)
And she wrote in The Manual itself:
“Law constitutes government, and disobedience to the laws of The Mother Church must ultimate in annulling its Tenets and By-Laws.
￼Without a proper system of government and form of action, nations individuals, and religion are unprotected; hence the necessity of the By-Law and the warnings of Holy Writ: “That servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Man Art. I, Section 9)
Those words are built on a subtext of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and all those imperatives we studied. These aren’t optional activities being described. This is the baseline demand on us as followers of Christ Jesus, students of Christian healing; Christian Scientists. This is the design of the Rock leading us to “the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death; thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant.”
Make no mistake, the Church Triumphant is indeed with us, making demands upon us, embracing us in its communion of saints every time we make the smallest demonstration of divine Truth, urging us forward to higher demonstrations through the love of God. It is our part to live in more conscious and consistent relation to that spiritual reality.
Brood o'er us with Thy shelt'ring wing, 'Neath which our spirits blend
Like brother birds, that soar and sing, And on the same branch bend.
The arrow that doth wound the dove
Darts not from those who watch and love.
If thou the bending reed wouldst break By thought or word unkind,
Pray that his spirit you partake,
Who loved and healed mankind:
Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain, That make men one in love remain.
Learn, too, that wisdom's rod is given
For faith to kiss, and know;
That greetings glorious from high heaven, Whence joys supernal flow,
Come from that Love, divinely near,
Which chastens pride and earth-born fear,
Through God, who gave that word of might Which swelled creation's lay:
"Let there be light, and there was light." What chased the clouds away?
'Twas Love whose finger traced aloud A bow of promise on the cloud.
Thou to whose power our hope we give, Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart Speaks kindly when we meet and part.
Section 6: Taking a case (unabridged)
Gracious Spirit, dwell with me:
I myself would gracious be,
And with words that help and heal Would Thy life in mine reveal;
And with actions bold and meek Christ's own gracious spirit speak.
Truthful Spirit, dwell with me:
I myself would truthful be,
And with wisdom kind and clear Let Thy life in mine appear;
And with actions brotherly Follow Christ's sincerity.
Mighty Spirit, dwell with me:
I myself would mighty be, Mighty, that I may prevail Where unaided man must fail; Ever by triumphant hope Pressing on and bearing up.
This section is titled, “Taking a case”. It’s what Mrs. Eddy expected us all to be doing. It helps to be willing, but as it turns out, you can even be like C. Lulu Blackman, heading home to her boarding house after the third day of class and inwardly rejoicing that she would not be called upon because she was a stranger in Boston. You all remember how that turned out!
￼Perhaps it is more accurate then to say, that when you are called upon, you must willingly make the choice that accords with divine good
This last bit of fruitage is a beautiful illustration of willingness.
Last September, I split up with my boyfriend of a year and a half. From the start of the relationship, I made a point of being very transparent about my practice of Christian Science. He grew up in a large Jewish household, and though he considered himself a spiritual seeker, he was not at all religious. We openly discussed Christian Science and spirituality quite frequently, which we both enjoyed. I made a concerted effort of never wanting him to feel closed off or excluded from my faith and practice, though I was also very clear to him that I had no intention to evangelize or convert him to Christian Science. He was inquisitive, receptive, but extremely dubious of the whole matter. I keenly felt that, beneath of his curiosity, there was a bitter, stubborn resistance that seemed utterly impenetrable. This was something I never liked confronting and often prayed about.
Once when he was very ill with intense stomach pain, I offered to pray for him, which he accepted. While he spent the morning resting at his home, I was able to take a good two hours of the morning at the office to pray. I was determined to 'take up the case' officially as a Christian Science practitioner. I worked through the aspects of treatment, as taught in Class Instruction, starting with God and not stopping to move on until I felt I had thoroughly understood and argued each point. At lunchtime, he texted me that he was feeling completely perfect. When we spoke on the phone, he expressed his astonishment at how immediately the pain went away. He was thankful for my prayers and rather incredulous, but it was very clear to both him and to me that a Christian Science healing had occurred.
After we broke up and were no longer in regular communication, I received a panicked call from him in the middle of my workday. He admitted to suffering from many panic attacks since our split and ￼feared another was imminent. Exasperated, he asked for my immediate prayerful support. I prayed to see myself in that moment as 'the humble servant of the restful Mind', and to dissolve any sense of person or ego. I spent a good ten minutes or so speaking healing truths to him and he listened intently as he had never done before; with humility, receptivity, and meekness. At one point on the call he said, to my astonishment, "You know, Hilary, after all the times you spoke about Aggressive Mental Suggestion, now I finally understand what it means." We discussed at length the carnal mind, the nature of God, Animal Magnetism, and how to pray. When we ended the call, he seemed pacified and assured, and I offered to put him in touch with a Christian Science Practitioner and Teacher, for which he thanked me.
Whenever he comes into my thought now, I work prayerfully to keep out personality, to see only God's man who is divinely known and loved, and to know that God informs and governs true manhood.
As we noted earlier, not all our cases come to us as a formal request for Christian Science treatment. Every day presents us with cases - some small and mundane, others more profound, but each one an opportunity to make sure the salt does not lose its savor and we don’t hide the candle of Christ healing under a bushel. As noted in the Journal Q&A, people were often healed in Mrs. Eddy’s wake - it was her altitude of thought that did the work. We do well to imitate her in cultivating a more consistent spiritual sense of life.
Someone asked me during a practice call recently, “How do you work?” Briefly, this was my reply: I begin with some spiritual truth. Sometimes it’s just me thinking through something in ￼spiritual terms ,insisting on a spiritual sense of the situation. Sometimes I’ll go right to our Pastor and look for God’s word about whatever the situation is. Sometimes the thought I need comes in like an angel message and takes me by surprise. In any case, I actively look for “God and His idea”.
Sometimes what I come up with brings an immediate “ping” (like the radar pings when something shows up on the radar screen). In that moment, love, and joy and possibility becomes vibrantly and vitally real. It’s like walking through a door into the space filled with brightness of God’s gifts - there’s life eternal, there is the warmth of divine Love, there’s the continuity of Spirit that connects you to your own spiritual history and all the good that ever was or will be. Accompanying this is a sense of relief - the problem, whatever it seemed to be, now seems like a mistake, long past that never really had any power to do anything.
Sometimes though, there’s no ping. You know there’s good somewhere, but you just can’t feel it, it’s abstract, intellectual, distant. And with that thought, mortal mind can get rolling: “Why are you feeling disconnected?” “It must be the problem - it’s too real” “It must be you, you think it’s too real: you’re too frightened, caught up in anger, overwhelmed with sorrow...” “Maybe you don’t really know how to pray.” “Maybe you’re not good enough to do this work.” I’m sure you all have additions you could make to this list. So what do you do then? Because it seems as if until you sort out and meet all those objections to your oneness with divine good, you can’t go forward and actually do the work of Christian Science treatment.
That thought is utter garbage and we have a very specific name for it, related to water fowl: it is quackery. You have reached a point in your work where you need to: “Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious — as Life eternally is — can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not.” (S&H 495:14)
The short-circuiting thought comes from the father of lies - ignorant or malicious animal magnetism that has no interest in actual Christian Science treatment or the spiritual sense it uncovers. It’s appearance may very likely be evidence that you have made a good start and your work is actually progressing well.
Should you find yourself confronted by such thoughts, you want to recognize that they are like the tempter in the wilderness.
￼“Turn these stones to bread,” in other words, start with matter. The implication is that we must begin by dealing with material conditions, finding the source and nature of the problem, humanly overcoming it with our intellect, our personal goodness, using our putative connection to God to adjust the material picture. Jesus provided us with the answer to that suggestion and his answer stands through all time: man does not live by bread (matter, material conditions) alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Interestingly, the original Greek for “proceedeth,” translates as “fetched out”. As in: we live by every word fetched out of the mouth of God. It is a nice image - God’s Word pouring forth, and we making the effort to catch hold of of some portion of this fountain of divine Life.
So in that moment of temptation and spiritual poverty, our recourse is to God. We need to fetch His Word which is already there with us, bring it before thought and hang on to it. Rather than getting into the ring and going nine rounds with the Accuser (get Greek) we must turn completely away from the false demand and meet the actual one: obeying the First Commandment, magnifying the Lord.
￼This is something that is natural and normal to us all, however unlikely that may at times seem. Christian Science is there to support our understanding of being - there always was, is, and always will be more going on than material sense presents to the eye.
I recall one of the first Association assignments I had in the Phinney Association was to write down every healing and demonstration of God’s care that I’d every had. It seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard a thing to do. But when I sat down with my pen and yellow legal pad, I couldn’t think of one.
Now this was absurd. I was sitting there because a healing had brought me back to Science a couple of years prior. And that healing had happened because even when I’d left the church, I couldn’t deny or explain away the many healings I’d had as a child - those experiences had disposed me to be a seeker of Truth.
But there I sat, blank as the paper in front of me.
At which point I shifted my focus from my own experience to the nature of God. I went back to the definition of God in Recapitulation, with the four magnifiers, and started considering infinite Principle, incorporeal Mind, supreme Love, divine Truth. And suddenly, I remembered the first healing I’d ever had.
I was 3 or 4 years old and I was too sick to go out and play in the snow with my friends. My mother had come in and shared some thoughts about God and when she left I lay there in bed thinking more about what God was doing. And then it was as if the room was filled with a warmth and light unusual for a winter’s day, but so natural that it seemed as if everything in the house and beyond the walls was bathed in that warm light. And I thought: Oh! This is God!
It was recognition, familiarity, relief, and the kind of joy you might association with coming out of a dark place into the light, or out from under a burden you hadn’t even known was there, but now was off of you. And in a little while I realized that I didn’t feel sick anymore and I could go out with my sled.
I wrote that down and as I wrote the words I remembered other occasions with similar feelings and thoughts. It really was like walking into a treasure house and knowing every precious thing inside intimately.
￼The recollections rushed out like an avalanche and didn’t stop for several hours.
It is natural to see the spiritual good that is present, that’s always been present, that is always there to be seen. You actually can’t separate yourself from the love of God, just as Paul says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35,37-39)
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine, Whate'er betide.
And of these stones, or tyrants' thrones, God able is
To raise up seed — in thought and deed — To faithful His.
Aye, darkling sense, arise, go hence!
Our God is good.
False fears are foes — truth tatters those,
Love looseth thee, and lifteth me, Ayont hate's thrall:
There Life is light, and wisdom might, And God is All.
The centuries break, the earth-bound wake,
Who doth His will — His likeness still —Is satisfied.
Our two cases (both from A Century of Christian Science Healing
A man calls you and says he’s been having trouble with movement - it’s getting harder to use his limbs. You treat him and though there is definitely inspiration on both sides, the condition worsens. He lets you go and a year later calls again. He has lost his civil service job and is bedridden. In the process of trying to save his job, he received a medical diagnosis of a rare form of paralysis which has no medical cure. You pray with him again, again there is much inspiration, but no physical healing. He calls you on and off over the space of ten years for support. It is now eleven years since his first call and he phones for more help. What do you say, how do you pray?
A woman in your church calls and asks you if you would come and give her husband a Christian Science treatment. He is bedridden with back pain. He is not a Christian Scientist, in fact, you have heard from others and from his wife that he is a committed and well-read atheist - he has put all his intellectual energy into maintaining a case against the existence of God for years. His wife tells you that he is willing to receive Christian Science treatment - presumably because he is in intense pain and at her instigation. What do you do?
The chief points in our collective answers to these challenges involved the importance of not being taken in by the carnal mind’s false trails. We said that every claim includes the suggestion of some insurmountable intransigence: if it’s not how long the case has gone on, then it’s a gaping wound, or a direful medical diagnosis, or evidence of hereditary, or, or, or.... The need is to not get caught up and bogged down in so-called reasons why error is real, why the illusion has substance, but rather to by-pass these mental ruminations and fly straight home to the heart and mind of Christ, remembering the infinite reach of divine Love and the powerful purity of divine creation which includes not the slightest particle of sin, disease, or death.
The Doxology gives words to our awe and love of God - the foundation and source of all healing.
Be Thou, O God, exalted high;
And as Thy glory fills the sky,
So let it be on earth displayed,
Till Thou art here and now obeyed.
May 21, 2015
Perhaps more than any previous Association Address, this one depends on the participation of the Association. I have taken to heart members’ requests for more interactive meetings. This implies, of course, that you will be contributing to the discussion.
This year, almost an entire section is devoted to the assignment regarding your investigation of Mrs. Eddy’s imperatives.
Ideally, you began researching the pages you were assigned months ago when the assignment was given. This would have given you time to consider and respond to the ideas you found and then to put them into action in your daily practice, thus producing fruitage.
We will be discussing the imperatives that the students found and it would be helpful to have, at a bare minimum, a list of the ones you came across in your reading.
Ideally, you would also attach a brief description of your response to what you read, then, if/how it changed your practice and finally the result of that change.
I will be flying back to Madison next Wednesday, so it would be helpful to have your contribution by Monday at the very latest. That will give me time to respond to them within the address.
Spring 2015 letter
April 1, 2015
The floral apostles are appearing, reminding us that Association is around the corner.
Of course, Association has been going on all year. The ideas and inspirations that came to light last May have been lifting and leavening thought and bearing fruit in your daily walk. The cherishing and application of what God gives us at each year’s meeting demonstrates the purpose and utility of a Christian Science Association.
One of our Mother Church Manual’s By-laws says that teachers are “morally obligated to promote their [pupils’] progress in the understanding of divine Principle, not only during the class term but after it, and to watch well that they prove sound in sentiment and practical in Christian Science.” One of the ways that this provision is fulfilled is through our Association meetings and the transforming of thought and practice that they impel.
I am always surprised by students of Christian Science who, for various reasons, miss their Association meetings. The specific name for those “various reasons” is animal magnetism - the worldly thought that would reduce an Association to a collection of human personalities and the dissemination of more or less interesting metaphysical speculation that might be gained anywhere at any time.
The antidote to such a bland denial of truth is to recognize and respond to the fact that a Christian Science Association is God’s own provision to bring us into “conformity with His unerring law," to inspire our practice, to guide us in proving our utility and enable us to do what we, as Christian Scientists have enlisted to do: “to lessen evil, disease, and death; and… overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good.” (S&H 450:19) These spiritual certainties help us to appreciate Association, make the most of both our meetings and what comes after them. Please join me in prayer for all Christian Science Associations and treat, with spiritual truth that affirms the value of God’s provision, the thought that attendance is “too inconvenient,” “too difficult,” or “not essential,” for a student of Christian Science.
So far, our preparation for this year’s gathering has involved research into those “imperative” statements in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (see the assignment letter sent Dec. 9, 2014, and posted on the website). We’ve been studying just what it was Mrs. Eddy thought we should be doing - the things we must do as Christian Scientists in order to put the revelation into practice. Our address this year, on the subject of The Church Triumphant, will build on her instruction and connect it to the demonstration of Church as Mrs. Eddy understood it.
During the nearly two months before we meet in Madison, go over those statements again, write to let us know what you’ve learned and what fruitage they have borne as you have applied them. We will be discussing them at the meeting and, as usual, the address will include the accounts you send to me. These proofs of our practical understanding of God show what we are gaining and serve to exhort and inspire each other.
To support that assignment, please read the “Advice to Healers” chapters in Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Healer (Amplified Edition). It is available in Reading Rooms.
Don’t hesitate to call or write with any questions regarding the upcoming meeting and assignment.
p.s. We will be increasing Association dues this year to accommodate increases in expenses (the CSO, where we meet has become more expensive as have other related Association expenditures). Dues will be $40 per student. You can send your dues ahead of time or pay at the meeting on May 30, at 9 a.m.
December 9, 2014
Pause with me during this Christmas season and consider the church that Christ Jesus founded. Not based on personality or comprised of persons, Jesus church is built on the “God-power” behind Christ that the disciple Peter grasped and impetuously confessed. And that building goes on in our lives and our practice of Christian Science.
In the definition of Church in the Glossary of Science and Health, we read that church is, “the structure of Truth and Love”. It is helpful to know that Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines structure first as the “act of building,” second as a “manner of building,” and third as a “manner of organization”. The image of structure as a building or particular arrangement of parts does not appear until the fourth and fifth definitions. This sense of structure as a verb, a work in progress, reflects the Science in Mrs. Eddy’s understanding of church as the unfolding acts of divine Truth and Love in human experience.
Certainly our institutional church should, “afford proof of its utility,” should be “found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out evils, or error, and healing the sick.” Without those active elements an institution is not a church at all but merely a more-or-less well-meaning social club.
Mrs. Eddy demanded proofs from her students. With Paul, she insisted that “the letter killeth” - “Words are not always the auxiliaries of Truth. The spirit, and not the letter, performs the vital functions of Truth and Love.” Mis 260:26-28) She did not envision a church of talkers, but of thinkers, pray-ers, demonstrators: doers. The doing that is required of us as Christian Scientists begins with self-treatment and naturally expands into healing and blessing mankind. Each time we “take a case,” we are establishing our church and demonstrating its divine essence and substance.
The subject of our Association meeting next May is, The Church Triumphat. Below you will find some relevant citations and the first part of the Association assignment.
In closing, I share with you this letter from Mrs. Eddy that is as surely written to us as it was to her own students:
Beloved Students: — My heart has many rooms: one of these is sacred to the memory of my students. Into this upper chamber, where all things are pure and of good report, — into this sanctuary of love, — I often retreat, sit silently, and ponder. In this chamber is
memory's wardrobe, where I deposit certain recollections and rare grand collections once in each year. This is my Christmas storehouse. Its goods commemorate, — not so much the Bethlehem babe, as the man of God, the risen Christ, and the adult Jesus.
Here I deposit the gifts that my dear students offer at the shrine of
Christian Science, and to their lone Leader. Here I talk once a year, — and this is a bit of what I said in 1890: "O glorious Truth! O Mother Love! how has the sense of Thy children grown to behold Thee! and how have many weary wings sprung upward! and how has our Model, Christ, been unveiled to us, and to the age!"
I look at the rich devices in embroidery, silver, gold, and jewels, — all gifts of Christian Scientists from all parts of our nation, and some from abroad, — then almost marvel at the power and permanence of affection under the régime of Christian Science!
Never did gratitude and love unite more honestly in uttering the word thanks, than ours at this season. But a mother's love behind words has no language; it may give no material token, but lives steadily on, through time and circumstance, as part and paramount portion of her being.
Thus may our lives flow on in the same sweet rhythm of head and heart, till they meet and mingle in bliss supernal. There is a special joy in knowing that one is gaining constantly in the knowledge of Truth and divine Love.
Your progress, the past year, has been marked. It satisies my present hope. Of this we rest assured, that every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger and firmer in understanding and obedience.
Mary Baker G. Eddy]
The Church Triumphant
THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, IN Boston , MASS., is designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death; thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant.
The question then as now was, How did Jesus heal the sick? His answer to this question the world rejected. He appealed to his students: "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" That is: Who or what is it that is thus identified with casting out evils and healing the sick? They replied, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."
The disciples apprehended their Master better than did others; but they did not comprehend all that he said and did, or they would not have questioned him so often. Jesus patiently persisted in teaching and demonstrating the truth of being. His students saw this power of Truth heal the sick, cast out evil, raise the dead; but the ultimate of this wonderful work was not spiritually discerned, even by them, until after the crucifixion, when their immaculate Teacher stood before them, the victor over sickness, sin, disease, death, and the grave.
Yearning to be understood, the Master repeated, "But whom say ye that I am?" This renewed inquiry meant: Who or what is it that is able to do the work, so mysterious to the popular mind? In his rejection of the answer already given and his renewal of the question, it is plain that Jesus completely eschewed the narrow opinion implied in their citation of the common report about him.
With his usual impetuosity, Simon replied for his brethren, and his reply set forth a great fact: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" That is: The Messiah is what thou hast declared, — Christ, the spirit of God, of Truth, Life, and Love, which heals mentally. This assertion elicited from Jesus the benediction, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven;" that is, Love hath shown thee the way of Life!
Before this the impetuous disciple had been called only by his common names, Simon Bar-jona, or son of Jona; but now the Master gave him a spiritual name in these words: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock [the meaning of the Greek word petros, or stone] I will build my church; and the gates of hell [hades, the under-world, or the grave] shall not prevail against it." In other words, Jesus purposed founding his society, not on the personal Peter as a mortal, but on the God-power which lay behind Peter's confession of the true Messiah.
It was now evident to Peter that divine Life, Truth, and Love, and not a human personality, was the healer of the sick and a rock, a firm foundation in the realm of harmony. On this spiritually scientific basis Jesus explained his cures, which appeared miraculous to outsiders. He showed that diseases were cast out neither by corporeality, by materia medica, nor by hygiene, but by the divine Spirit, casting out the errors of mortal mind. The supremacy of Spirit was the foundation on which Jesus built. His sublime summary points to the religion of Love.
Jesus established in the Christian era the precedent for all Christianity, theology, and healing. Christians are under as direct orders now, as they were then, to be Christlike, to possess the Christ-spirit, to follow the Christ-example, and to heal the sick as well as the sinning.
Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing. He taught his followers that his religion had a divine Principle, which would cast out error and heal both the sick and the sinning.
The Christian Scientist knows that spiritual faith and understanding pass through the waters of Meribah here — bitter waters; but he also knows they embark for infinity and anchor in omnipotence.
As a material, theoretical life-basis is found to be a misapprehension of existence, the spiritual and divine Principle of man dawns upon human thought, and leads it to "where the young child was," — even to the birth of a new-old idea, to the spiritual sense of being and of what Life includes. Thus the whole earth will be transformed by Truth on its pinions of light, chasing away the darkness of error.
Material light and shade are temporal, not eternal. Turning the attention from sublunary views, however enchanting, think for a moment with me of the house wherewith "they shall be abundantly satisfied," — even the "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
The real house in which "we live, and move, and have our being" is Spirit, God, the eternal harmony of infinite Soul. The enemy we confront would overthrow this sublime fortress, and it behooves us to defend our heritage.
How can we do this Christianly scientific work? By intrenching ourselves in the knowledge that our true temple is no human fabrication, but the superstructure of Truth, reared on the foundation of Love, and pinnacled in Life. Such being its nature, how can our godly temple possibly be demolished, or even disturbed? Can eternity end? Can Life die? Can Truth be uncertain? Can Love be less than boundless? Referring to this temple, our Master said: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He also said: "The kingdom of God is within you." Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer? Our surety is in our confidence that we are indeed dwellers in Truth and Love, man's eternal mansion. Such a heavenly assurance ends all warfare, and bids tumult cease, for the good fight we have waged is over, and divine Love gives us the true sense of victory. "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures." No longer are we of the church militant, but of the church triumphant; and with Job of old we exclaim, "Yet in my flesh shall I see God." The river of His pleasures is a tributary of divine Love, whose living waters have their source in God, and flow into everlasting Life. We drink of this river when all human desires are quenched, satisfied with what is pleasing to the divine Mind.
Press on, press on, ye sons of light,
Untiring in your holy fight,
Still treading each temptation down,
And battling for a brighter crown.
Press on, press on, and fear no foe,
With calm resolve to triumph go;
Victorious over every ill,
Press on to higher glory still.
Press on, press on, still look in faith
To Him who conquers sin and death;
Then shall ye hear His word, Well done!
True to the last, press on, press on.
Perchance some one of you may say, "The evidence of spiritual verity in me is so small that I am afraid. I feel so far from victory over the flesh that to reach out for a present realization of my hope savors of temerity. Because of my own unfitness for such a spiritual animus my strength is naught and my faith fails." O thou "weak and infirm of purpose." Jesus said, "Be not afraid"!
"What if the little rain should say, 'So small a drop as I Can ne'er refresh a drooping earth, I'll tarry in the sky.'"
Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ's little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer's declaration true, that "one on God's side is a majority.”
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., is designed to be built on the rock of Christ — Truth and Life — and to reflect the Church Triumphant.
One who is not a member of any church, excepting a branch church of Christ, Scientist, who loves Christian Science, and reads understandingly the Bible, and SCIENCE AND HEALTH WITH KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES, by Reverend Mary Baker Eddy, and other works by this author, and who is Christianly qualified and can enter into full fellowship with the Tenets and Rules of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., is eligible to membership.
1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness.
3. We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
4. We acknowledge Jesus' atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man's unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
5. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
6. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.
To-day my soul can only sing and soar. An increasing sense of God's love, omnipresence, and omnipotence enfolds me. Each day I know Him nearer, love Him more, and humbly pray to serve Him better. Thus seeking and finding (though feebly), finally may we not together rejoice in the church triumphant?
ASSOCIATION ASSIGNMENT, PART 1:
Mrs. Eddy used imperatives (such as: “to reach the heights of Christian Science, man must live in obedience to its divine Principle. To develop the full might of this Science, the discords of corporeal sense must yield to the harmony of spiritual sense, even as the science of music corrects false tones and gives sweet concord to sound. (S&H viii:3). She uses the imperative term, “must” 433 times in Science and Health alone. Other imperatives include the words: “demands,” “requires,” “should,” and “need(s),” or involve sentences beginning with “We,” followed by a verb (such as “We solemnly promise to watch and pray…”).
Using a Concordance or the Concord program available at Reading Rooms, please find and study our Leader’s use of these imperatives in the chapters you have been assigned (feel free to expand your search to her other writings if you are so motivated!)
On Association day you will share your findings with us, as well as any revelations and demonstrations that have accompanied your study. This isn’t academic homework, rather a focusing of your practice that will remind you of what you are designed by God to be daily doing and how that work is done - not through your own abilities, but through the God-power we acknowledge and obey.
Find, record, study and apply each reference in your pages to the words: must, demands, requires, should, need(s), and we (each instance where a sentence begins with the word We, followed by a verb).
Ellen: pgs. 46-95
Janet: pgs. 96-145
Louise: pgs. 146-195
Nancy: pgs. 196-245
Margie: pgs. 246-295
Will: pgs. 296-345
Tom: pgs. 346-395
Ramona: pgs. 396-445
Laurie: pgs. 446-495
Hilary: pgs. 496-545
Please share with us your thoughts and experiences with this assignment in writing between now and May and be prepared to talk about them at our meeting.