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Deep Study with Our Pastor—Its Promise and Fulfillment

(Given at a meeting of the employees of The Mother Church in observance of the centennial of Science and Health.)

From the December 1975 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Is there any more meaningful promise in all the Bible than Christ Jesus' call, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"?

With understanding and love he shows us what we need to do. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt 11:28–30;

Doesn't this imply we shouldn't be afraid to be a deeply involved Christian?

Even when anticipating his great ordeal, Jesus prayed to the Father to keep his loved followers close—"that they may be one, as we are. . . . And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." John 17:11, 22;

Mary Baker Eddy took the yoke upon her and learned of Christ Jesus and the healing Science of Christ. And in her own words, "The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing." Science and Health, p. 109;

Christ Jesus fulfilled scriptural prophecy.  Science and Health is the key to the Scriptures enabling us to understand the meaning of this fulfillment. The Scriptures and Science and Health are not separate— they're one in source. They are our impersonal pastor. Pastor means shepherd. These books represent the Shepherd, God. They embody His Word. We can ask guidance of our pastor and then seek and find our answers there. All of them. Even answers to questions we haven't thought to ask yet.

What does deep study with our pastor mean? It means that study which brings the fulfillment of joy. Mrs. Eddy, guiding us, says, "Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit." ibid., p. 495; Success at this depends on a number of things—what you do before you study, what you intend to do afterward, and what you actually do afterward. Your motive is a key factor.

The time of day and your location can be considerations, but above all else is the urgency of your demand for spiritual light.

Basically, deep study is getting beyond the letter and a mere personal sense of understanding into the spirit of the Word. Paul writes, "The spirit giveth life." II Cor. 3:6;

Three factors help determine how long it takes to absorb and assimilate the spirit of what we study:

1. How often we study in depth

2. How much earth baggage we are willing to leave behind

3. How deeply we are willing to let spirituality penetrate our experience.

Now, how often do we need to do this deep study with our pastor?

When our family moved into Mrs. Eddy's home at 385 Commonwealth Avenue (where the First Reader of The Mother Church lives), we found that a number of stories about the early residents went with the house. One of the most instructive is about Judge Septimus J. Hanna. When he lived there not only did he have the job of First Reader; he also was Editor of the one periodical existing at that time, The Christian Science Journal. In addition, he was President of The Mother Church.

Well, for some reason he began to feel a bit burdened! And he began to suffer from a physical problem, and he wasn't meeting it. So he wrote a letter to Mrs. Eddy asking if he could be relieved for a time of some of his responsibilities. Mrs. Eddy compassionately granted the request. She also told him—and here's the point of the story—she had something else she wanted him to do. Mrs. Eddy asked him to take certain hours every day for prayer and study in his own behalf. And she specified he was not to be interrupted by anyone, for any purpose. She told him that if she had not adopted such a course she never could have accomplished her work.

So for several hours every day he would go to what he called the "upper chamber," just below the tower room, at 385 Commonwealth and would study and pray. He worked in part with Chapters 53 and 54 of Isaiah. And these deserve every student's deep study.

The first verse of Chapter 53 reads: "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" You may remember Mrs. Eddy's related statement from Science and Health: "He to whom 'the arm of the Lord' is revealed will believe our report, and rise into newness of life with regeneration." Science and Health, p. 24;

Well, Judge Hanna found that "newness of life" and once again carried on his full responsibilities. Aren't we blessed to be able to learn the same lesson Judge Hanna learned from Mrs. Eddy?

Now the second factor: How much earth baggage are we willing to leave behind? This is really a question of how much we love. Deep study is least of all how we study. It has to be why we study. The  why determines many things, including what is important to us and what is not. It determines what we're willing to sacrifice for progress. If the why is love for God and for man, then there's no thought habit, no sensuous attraction, no self-centered activity, that can weigh against our efforts to make spiritual progress or defeat our struggle to cast off whatever impedes us. Nothing really has power of itself to impede our sincere efforts to gain the deep verities of the Scriptures and establish that perfect rapport with Life, with Truth, with Love, that regenerates and heals.

When the "why" of our study is spiritual love, we're impelled to continually reassess our activities, to reevaluate our priorities, to unclutter and simplify our life. And we feel cleansed and free for having done this. A measurable reward of deep study is a growing desire to leave behind our earth baggage.

It's a delight to observe those men and women—and those young people—who are doing this. Their joy and inner peace uplift everyone around them. Their spirituality is evidenced in the way they regard and treat others, in the way they use their time, conduct their business, awaken others to self-correction—in the way they take criticism or disappointment, and in the way they take achievement. They never break faith with Christian Science even for an instant. They don't indulge in selfish interests, but devote their time to their healing mission. They're tender, loving, and buoyant. Above all, they are successful healers. They instantly respond to the call for help. They are prepared.

Now, this is a natural ideal—it's natural for a Christian Scientist to reach this point. Then he's following his Way-shower. Mrs. Eddy says, "He alone ascends the hill of Christian Science who follows the Wayshower, the spiritual presence and idea of God." And she continues: "Whatever obstructs the way,—causing to stumble, fall, or faint, those mortals who are striving to enter the path,—divine Love will remove; and uplift the fallen and strengthen the weak. Therefore, give up thy earthweights; and observe the apostle's admonition, 'Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before.'" Miscellaneous Writings, p. 328;

Third: How deeply are we willing to let spirituality penetrate our experience?

This is what deep study implies: letting spirituality penetrate our experience in depth. And it holds many precious possibilities.

One is that you will never have to wish you could have seen Christ Jesus, or known or talked with him, or felt his healing touch. You become familiar with him in your deep study—not the corporeal Jesus, but Christ, his eternal selfhood. And you know the Christ is there to heal you. And the Christ does heal you. "I will not leave you comfortless," the Master said. "I will come to you." John 14:18; And the Christ does.

Certainly there's no present-day example of the results of study of the Word in depth that begins to equal that of Mrs. Eddy herself. And it's immensely inspiring to think what her individual spiritual growth made possible. Let's recount some of the works that resulted;

The Science of Mind-healing was revealed to her—she discovered the laws of scientific Christian healing.

She wrote and published Science and Health.

She founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, and step by step each of its world-encompassing activities.

Think of it! None of this would have come if it hadn't been for Mrs. Eddy's own individual spiritual development.

And add to the list the healings she has accomplished personally and through her writings. When one gets a glimpse of all this, he begins to realize how little comprehension he must have of what it means to be her follower. We find the Leader of this movement in her writings.

How far have we gone in this? Perhaps Mrs. Eddy tells us how far in her statement, "Scarcely a moiety, compared with the whole of the Scriptures and the Christian Science textbook, is yet assimilated spiritually by the most faithful seekers; yet this assimilation is indispensable to the progress of every Christian Scientist." Mis., p. 317;

Deep study of our pastor's teachings— living what we learn, and healing with it —is the most sacred of earthly experiences. It is close communion with Christ, with Life, Truth, Love. And each time we get into it we can't help but feel a measure of what those two disciples felt who met Jesus on the way to Emmaus, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:32.

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