Christian Science practitioner for a day
Last summer I took a service trip to Peru with my National Leadership Council class, a group of young Christian Scientists learning about servant leadership together. We were there to help plaster and paint a school in a village near the city of Cusco, and we would also teach English, art, sports, dance, and music to the students for several days. In order to spiritually support the trip, a Christian Science practitioner prayed from her home in the US—and each of us took turns being practitioners for a day as well. Everyone was assigned a buddy so we could pray together for the class throughout the day.
The night before it was going to be my turn to be the practitioner, I prepared readings from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, for the testimony meeting we would be having the next day. I chose passages that talk about how God loves His children, and how He is in constant communication with us and never leaves us alone. I fell asleep with those ideas fresh in my mind, knowing that the next day I could hold strongly to them and use them to pray for the class.
The next morning I woke up quite early, for what seemed to be no reason. Moments later my roommate rushed to the bathroom, feeling ill. After I reassured her that everything was OK, we both went back to sleep. Half an hour later I woke up again, moments before my roommate ran once more to the bathroom. That time one of our class leaders came in and we prayed together with the answer to the question in Science and Health, “What is man?” (p. 475). We knew that man (a term Mrs. Eddy uses to refer to all men and women) is nothing that can be tampered with; man is the image and likeness of God. We affirmed together that my roommate reflected God perfectly and completely, and once she was feeling better we went back to sleep.
Half an hour later I was woken up again—this time by my alarm clock. I thought back to what had happened during the night, and was reminded of the story of Samuel in the Bible. When Samuel was just a boy he was woken in the night by a voice. Samuel was a student under the prophet Eli, so he went to him, thinking he had been called. But Eli said he hadn’t called Samuel, so Samuel went back to sleep. It wasn’t until the third time Samuel came into his room that Eli realized God was communicating with Samuel, and told him to reply, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (see I Samuel 3:1–10). I felt that, in a way, the two times I had woken up to help my roommate were a kind of call from God, a reminder that I needed to listen to His direction. So I stayed awake, before the rest of the class got up, praying and preparing my thinking to be receptive to God’s messages.
I stayed awake, before the rest of the class got up, praying and preparing my thinking.
Our class started off the day by reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson together and sharing gratitude for what we were learning. Gratitude is so important—it helps us realize that God supplies us with everything we have and need. Gratitude helps us to better understand the feelings of others, and love them. I think the gratitude sharing that day helped our class to feel love and joy no matter what we were individually feeling or thinking. My roommate was feeling much better by the end of the day as a result of all the prayers being offered and ideas shared.
Before we ate breakfast, I read aloud to the group the passage from Science and Health that my roommate and I had prayed with earlier, which answers the question “What is man?”: “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. ...” (p. 475). I hoped that starting our day with this would help us all to affirm that we are spiritual reflections of God, not made of matter and prone to being sick.
When it was time to hike up to our location of service, I helped the class to all stay together. Some students were able to walk extremely quickly up and down the hill to the work site, while others needed to take more time. I felt it was important that our whole class spend that time together, hiking as one team. Unity is a way of expressing divine Love. When the faster hikers slowed down and spent that time with the kids who walked more slowly, it was a wonderful feeling for everyone. No one was left hiking alone; as a group we were able to talk and share love and support.
I loved serving as our group’s Christian Science practitioner that day. Throughout the day, as we worked and taught, my classmates came to me, no matter where I was, to ask for prayerful help if they needed it. We would sit down and pray or read together, and everyone found a snippet or spiritual concept that really helped them. Serving my class in this way was one of the best feelings ever—I was able to completely let go of a personal sense of myself, and focus solely on praying for and with our group.
This experience taught me that God’s love is unconditionally given to everyone. It taught me that keeping spiritual ideas uppermost in my thinking—no matter if it’s in the form of gratitude, hymns, or simply being together with a group—will always help me. And I learned that looking away from yourself to help others is the most freeing experience in the world!