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Church Alive

The following was written in support of Church Alive, a focus of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, that explores the meaning and possibilities of awakening to the spiritual basis and impact of Church.

Rise up in thought and heart

From the April 23, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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So many churches, teachings, religions, interpretations . . .
So many things done in the name of God . . .
So many hearts seeking, longing, hungering for truth . . . 

Sometimes I am tempted to feel saddened by the disparity of what church/religion/spirituality should or could be versus what it sometimes looks like on the surface. Or I am tempted to feel impatient with what sometimes may seem like the glacial pace of spiritual progress in myself or others. When this occurs, I am prompted to reflect on transformative, transcendent glimpses of grace—to rise up in thought and heart to feel the actuality and presence of God here, everywhere; to move past dormant, dark, dreary thoughts of life to catch the impelling, illumining light of Christ.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy defines Temple as “. . . the superstructure of Truth; the shrine of Love; . . .” (p. 595).

I love how Eddy also speaks of “the temple of the Holy Ghost” as “the patient’s spiritual power to resuscitate himself” (Science and Health, p. 365).

I have felt that power on a mountain at Christmas in Zimbabwe. Time, space, distance, loneliness, fled as I glimpsed the presence, the spirit, the family of God: a tangible spiritual discernment, quenching longing, extravagant in love.

I am prompted to move past dormant, dark, dreary thoughts of life to catch the impelling, illumining light of Christ.

I have felt it in church, when the Second Reader couldn’t contain the word Alleluia, and it sang from her mouth in praise and song, and when the congregation sang the last hymn, it was as if we were one, and there was no ceiling, no space between us: the world full of the light of the children of God.

I have felt it in the hair salon, when a discussion about travel led to a conversation about packing/living with prayer, and an unspoken acknowledgment of the presence of God.

Eddy’s words capture these moments: “ ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ If He be with us, the wayside is a sanctuary, and the desert a resting-place peopled with living witnesses of the fact that ‘God is Love’ ” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 150).

So now, when tempted to despair over great divides, injustices, hatred, fear, or greed, I see that what I’m really being called to do is to swim ever so lightly past all of it, into the wellspring—the currents of Life, spilling over, rising up within us—to discover all of us standing in the light of God. God is Love overflowing around us, on us, through us. Each of us living confirmation of Christ’s divine comfort; each of us resuscitated, alive, unspeakably pure, untainted and whole.


Joni Overton-Jung is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science who lives in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada.

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