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Services that heal: inspired reading and listening

Having inspired and inspiring services—healing services—is a subject close to the heart of Karl “Sandy” Sandberg and Marian English, the First and Second Readers of The Mother Church. In a talk at the recent Boston Church Alive Summit, they reflected on this subject. Here are a few excerpts.

From the September 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Sandy Sandberg: A long time ago I was elected to read in my branch church. . . . I had the privilege of having an interview with the First Reader here at The Mother Church who had just been elected as well. If I had any one piece of counsel to share with someone who’s embarking on reading, it’s this, he said, “They hear the words, but they feel the thoughts. . . . There will be times when you get those tongue twisters, you get tangled up, you might make a mistake in the reading, but if your thought is focused on the ideas behind those words, if you’re maintaining in yourself that simple pure desire to understand them yourself for the purpose of sharing them, that’s what people will go away with. They will feel that thought, and you have done your work.” 

We practice good and hard to make sure that we get the words right. But it’s not practicing just the words, it’s practicing what’s behind those words. And that practice is life. . . . So when we stand up here on Sunday, it’s not the practice of merely the words that is coming forth, it’s the practice of our lives. 

Sandy: One of the things that I think you wouldn’t think we face here at The Mother Church, but we do, is a large auditorium, and often, not very many people. And we know this is an issue for so many branch churches these days: The Reader prepares a Wednesday reading, and then maybe just a couple of people show up—that’s a challenge.

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