Living remembrance— thoughts on life
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington with all the names of the more than 58,000 fallen United States soldiers engraved in shiny black marble. The arc de Triomphe in Paris with its countless memorial plaques and the eternal flame burning for an unknown soldier. The New Guard in Berlin, as Germany's site of observance and remembrance with the oversized Pietà by Käthe Kollwitz. These three structures commemorate famous as well as unknown people who are no longer with us. Hardly any visitor to these memorials can remain unaffected by the atmosphere of these places. Many people are silent; some openly express sadness or grief.
Especially in these November days of special remembrance, it is well worth reexamining what life really is. God is Life, and this Life is not limited by either birth or death. It is eternally manifested in man, the pure expression of God.
If thoughts of loss and grief would force themselves upon us, we do not have to yield to these feelings. Instead, we can find consolation and encouragement through affirming the presence of God's love and realizing man's true nature. Man's existence is purely spiritual; it has nothing in common with a material, mortal concept of being. It cannot be injured or destroyed by war, disease, or crime, for the man created by God is perfect, complete, and eternal. The first chapter of Genesis states that God created man in His image and likeness. This man perfectly expresses divine Life; he reflects the divine individuality of his creator.
God being good and the source of life, man—His creation —can experience only what proceeds from this good cause: joy of living, health, strength, and holiness. Despair, grief, pain, and loss do not come from this source. Such feelings do not belong to the perfect man created by God. Through Christian Science, through study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, we come to understand that such discords are shadows that indicate a mortal way of viewing things. They have no true origin whatsoever. By turning away from these sometimes impressive but always false images, and cherishing man's true, immortal being, we honor those who are near and dear to us.
In Paul's letter to the Philippians in the New Testament, we can see how to pay tribute to people's achievements. He writes, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (1:3). Doesn't this encourage us to see every person as God's idea, always to acknowledge each one as in truth the expression of perfection, and in this way respect and value the God-given qualities of all individuals, whether or not they are currently with us?
By upholding man's unity with God in our consciousness, we overcome false thoughts of separation and loss, and we avoid accepting death as something inevitable. Christ Jesus instructed us not to preoccupy ourselves with death or to tolerate it by yielding to grief, but to overcome it. Because he saw himself as one with God, his Father, he was able to say with complete conviction: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Matt. 10:7, 8).
There is no conceivable commemorative structure made of stone, marble, or steel that could do full justice to the works of Christ Jesus, or that could bear witness to his example of healing, perfection, and reconciliation. As much as such a monument might mean to many Christians, it would not represent his true greatness, which lives in our hearts and minds.
Through the revelation of the laws of life and perfection, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, pointed out to mankind anew the immortality and deathlessness of being. And she showed us how to commemorate Christ Jesus' life by ever new gratitude for his works and by expressing this gratitude through our own actions. Each of the books she wrote carries the Cross and Crown seal with the instruction "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons" (see Matt. 10:8). We do justice to this instruction by acknowledging Jesus as our Exemplar, and striving to emulate his example through healing and redemption in our daily lives. Each healing, each victory over sin, disease, lack, and fear, magnifies and honors the life of Jesus Christ.
Mrs. Eddy created an appropriate framework for this by founding her Church. Regarding this, she writes in the Manual of The Mother Church, "At a meeting of the Christian Scientist Association, April 12, 1879, on motion of Mrs. Eddy, it was voted,—To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (p. 17).
This Church is no conventional monument seeking to impress others by its outward splendor or architectural ostentation, but a Church whose foundation is the life of Christ Jesus and whose substance is the dedication and humility of its members.
Striving for healing and redemption—a vital element of the Church of Christ, Scientist—leads to spiritual unfoldment and progress for every individual. He who accepts Christ Jesus as the Way-shower and follows his directives gains dominion over the claims of materiality that so often would manifest themselves as lack and emptiness. The joy of life and gratitude for experiences shared with others can fill consciousness and become reliable sources of strength, even in moments of somber reflection.
In one section of the Church Manual, Mrs. Eddy specifies that there shall be no special observances at the Easter season by members of The Mother Church in the United States in remembrance of Jesus' resurrection. She points us in the direction of what a God-inspired remembrance should consist of: "Those sacred words of our beloved Master, 'Let the dead bury their dead,' and 'Follow thou me,' appeal to daily Christian endeavors for the living whereby to exemplify our risen Lord" (Art. XVII, Sect. 2).
What a glorious light shines forth when days of remembrance impel us to see every person as the eternal, spiritual idea of God, reflecting that Life which knows no death!
Michael A. Seek
Associate Editor for Der Herold der Christlichen Wissenschaft
Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. ... Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalms 16:1, 11