I’ve always appreciated learning how our branch churches engage with their neighbors and let the light of Christ-healing shine. For some, it’s such a bright beacon! Others, though, seem to have trouble keeping the torch lit.
Meeting and working with fellow Christian Scientists over the years has sharpened my own view of how vital it is to stay anchored on the true foundation of church—as Mary Baker Eddy describes it in Science and Health: “Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing” (p. 136).
A few comments on earlier blogs in this series have said every member should be actively engaged in practicing Christian Science healing. I agree! Certainly our church services, lectures, Sunday Schools and Reading Rooms support the potential for Christian healing. But that potential can only be realized fully as each member practices what’s preached through active public healing work. As Mrs. Eddy once wrote to a student: “…the greatest need that our Cause has is better healers” (Yvonne Fettweis and Robert Warneck, Mary Baker Eddy-Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, p. 209).
She realized that for members to be better healers, they needed a supporting hand within their churches—an example of what true practice is about, namely. It’s why she required each branch church to have “…one active practitioner whose card is published in the list of practitioners in The Christian Science Journal” (Church Manual, p. 73). “Publish” means, literally, to make public. A practitioner’s ad in the Journal announces a healing practice that embraces the whole world.
Journal listing confirms a practitioner’s full-time devotion to healing through prayer, and also underscores his or her expectation of humanity’s receptivity to the Christ. A Journal-advertising practitioner has accepted the call of Christ-healing, and is in a unique position to help buoy fellow-members who also may be feeling the spiritual imperative to heal—and who are ready to rise to that demand.
But what if your branch just doesn’t have a Journal-advertising practitioner…maybe hasn’t had one for some time? It’s not a new question. William B. Johnson, the first Clerk of The Mother Church, wrote to a struggling branch church: “I notice from your letter that five out of the six members of The Mother Church have received class instruction. Will not these dear sisters apply themselves earnestly to the work for which their class instruction should have prepared them? If this is done…the public will be satisfied that our church represents the healing power of divine Love, and will come to its services for the good they surely will receive.” (http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/1990/7/92-29/church-and-healing)
In reminding the “dear sisters” that their Primary class instruction had prepared them to be healers, Johnson was urging them to step upward into a public practice that would include advertising in the Journal.
That same reminder and readiness are keenly needed in our branch churches today. As present-day “dear sisters” and brothers, you can realize that as your individual commitment to healing grows, your church will grow as well—and that the next Journal-listed practitioner in it could well be…you—and that you’re not going to be alone in that endeavor! God will surely support your desire, and will lead you forward with loving assurance.