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Keeping the missionary spirit

From the March 1989 issue of The Christian Science Journal

A new member of The Mother Church who is also an active member of a Christian Science Society wrote the following article. The freshness and enthusiasm convey an important message, one that we think our longtime readers will enjoy and find helpful in their continuing branch church work.

As members of a group of Christian Scientists that was fast on its way to becoming a Christian Science Society, we occasionally had out-of-town visitors who would comment that the unity and love expressed by our group came out so clearly in our services. They would often express a desire to take back the inspiration they felt to their own churches; they wanted to regain what seemed to be a lost sense of the missionary spirit that built the branch churches.

As students of Christian Science, we really do know that this spirit has never been lost. The Christ is just as much alive in our daily lives and in our churches as it was when Mrs. Eddy first founded The Mother Church in Boston. What we sometimes need to regain individually is that steadfastness and purpose that were so much a part of our early studies of Christian Science.

Once, when I was a fairly new student, I visited a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, one Wednesday evening and gave a testimony with all the enthusiasm and joy of new discoveries. Afterward, talking with some of the members, I heard the comment "Christian Science is so wonderful the first year." This statement gave me pause for a moment, but the friend I had attended church with lovingly assured me later that we don't have to lose our joy and enthusiasm as we progress spiritually. And the same thing holds true in our branch church work.

In the Glossary of Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy we find this definition: "Church. The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.

"The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is 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 devils, or error, and healing the sick."Science and Health, p. 583

We need to take this very seriously and each day prayerfully rouse "the dormant understanding" and rid ourselves of any thoughts that would prevent us from expressing Truth and Love in our lives and in our churches. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can for our churches, both by our spiritual, prayerful work and our active living of our prayer.

As we began practicing some hymns on our little
portable piano, a young man walked in. He told us
he had seen the word Christian in our sign on the
door and had come in instead of going drinking
with his buddies.

In Mrs. Eddy's Communion message of 1899 she urges, "Ofttimes examine yourselves, and see if there be found anywhere a deterrent of Truth and Love, and 'hold fast that which is good.'"The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 128-129 We might apply this examination directly to our demonstration of Church. Are we critical of our Readers and other officers? Do we complain that the local Christian Science Reading Room hours are inconvenient? Do we wonder why more people aren't in church? Are we too tired, too busy, too this, or too that to go to the Reading Room or to services? Do we think we're not qualified for this post or that post? Do we think someone else can vote at that meeting? Is there nothing we can testify about on Wednesday night?

The excuses are endless because they come from mortal mind. The silencing of the questions comes with spiritual answers from God, divine Mind. And these answers begin to come clearly when we start actively expressing unconditional love toward our fellow church members. We can prayerfully support our Readers, for example, and express gratitude for their unselfish work. We can suggest, if need be, that the Reading Room hours be made more convenient and then offer to help staff it. We can find out if anyone needs transportation to services and offer to provide it, even if this takes us a little out of our way. If we are the individual needing the transportation, we can get rid of false pride or a feeling of not wanting to bother anyone and ask for that ride.

It is our right and privilege to share the joy and inspiration we glean from our daily study of Christian Science. We can bring to church meetings the spirit of openness and fairness that comes from knowing that there is one Mind governing and directing all. And what about that testimony? Can't we at least get up on Wednesday night and express gratitude for having a branch church, society, or group, where we can come to meet and share our love? We can say very humbly, "Thy will be done" and open our thought to serve our church as God directs, in whatever capacity is needed.

As we do this and express more unselfishness, helpfulness, and love toward each other, inspiration returns and fresh, new ideas surface. Changes and activities that were once thought impossible become natural. Maybe inspirational meetings are called for on some subject vital to the community. Perhaps a change in Reading Room location is required, or a fresh coat of paint would make the Sunday School rooms more inviting. Whatever is required can be done with a spirit of cooperation and unity.

This was demonstrated clearly one evening when several of our group's members went back to our downtown storefront that doubled as a study room and a place to hold services. It had at first been planned that just one of us would change the window display. Then I decided to go along, and at the last minute another member joined us. The three of us worked very harmoniously, exchanging ideas and choosing Bible passages, posters, and other items to make an appropriate display.

Each of us had been praying for some time about the right sense of church and about reaching out to the community. As we finished the window and began practicing some hymns on our little portable piano, a young man walked in. He told us he had seen the word Christian in our sign on the door and had come in instead of going drinking with his buddies. He was from another state and had come to our town to be inducted into the Army the next day. He told us he was from another religion that believed in healing, and he asked us to pray for him.

He had signed up for the Army some time ago, but now his young wife was going to have a baby and he had a good job and wanted to get out of being inducted. We explained to him that we could not pray specifically for him to get out of the Army, but we could pray to know that God was governing and that he could never be put in a situation that was not right for him. One member with us had been in the Army, and another had spent many years as an officer's wife, and as we talked with the young man, he began to calm down. We spent a couple of hours with him, talking and singing hymns. He left feeling very relieved and confident that, whatever happened, all would be well. And as we left, we knew why each of us had been led to be there, and we also realized the spiritual needs that are being met through Christian Science churches and Reading Rooms all over the world.

With the spirit of Truth and Love growing daily in our lives and being reflected in our branch churches, societies, and groups, we are expressing the qualities of God. We read in Jeremiah: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."Jer. 31:3 And as we express this lovingkindness unconditionally, the love within our churches will stay constant. And all the hungering, thirsting hearts attracted to this love cannot help being blessed and healed by it.

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