During a lecture tour to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia and New Zealand, I learned how important it is to play by the rules of my church. I was thrilled to take this tour. I’d always wanted to visit these countries and now I would have the opportunity to share with others the subject dearest to my heart – Christian Science. I felt really prepared and things were going along just fine as I went from city to city. People were really interested and glad to have an opportunity to have their questions answered. Some misunderstandings came to light and were corrected.
I was feeling pretty good about everything except for one thing. Many of my hosts would invite me for refreshments and mingling after the lectures concluded. As kind as they were to want to offer a reception for me in appreciation for my coming so far, I really felt compelled to go back to my hotel and be quiet, to ponder the ideas shared in the lecture and to pray for all those who came. But I didn’t feel comfortable excusing myself from the company of my hosts. So I stayed for the social part of the events.
I reached out to God, knowing He was the real power underlying and upholding this lecture work. I was really grateful the pains never occurred while I was speaking, but they continued, off and on, making traveling difficult.
I asked a Christian Science practitioner I had met along the way to help me in prayer to resolve this issue with pain. She prayed for me and also suggested that I look over the church rules relating to public lectures in the Church Manual - a rule book for members of the Christian Science church written by Mary Baker Eddy. This amazing little book contains rules that support the practice of healing prayer in the church and without.
As I checked out the section pertaining to lecturing, I found a rule relating to the issue that had been troubling me about the lectures. I read this by-law : “Receptions. Sect. 4. As a rule there should be no receptions nor festivities after a lecture on Christian Science, but there may occur exceptions. If there be an individual who goes to hear and deride truth, he should go away contemplating truth; and he who goes to seek truth should have the opportunity to depart in quiet thought on that subject.” (Church Manual, p. 94)
The reason for this rule made perfect sense to me. After hearing the sometimes startling, sometimes new ideas of Christian Science, people would naturally want and need space to think about it all. As the lecturer, I needed that space for thinking and praying, too! I felt a wave of relief. It wasn’t necessary for me to attend these get-togethers. I could politely and kindly decline, out of simple obedience to the rule.
And that’s what I did. After the next event, I stayed long enough to answer questions and then I returned to my hotel to pray about the lecture. And that was the end of the pains.
Sometimes healing happens as simply as that. A little thought adjustment, a small life adjustment, and boom. Mrs. Eddy describes this phenomenon in her Miscellaneous Writings. "A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God." (p.354)
When one hears the Word, the message of God's goodness and healing love, it is natural to want to contemplate and begin to put the ideas into immediate practice. The rule about receptions protects everyone from losing the full impact of the lecture by tending unnecessarily to the speaker. And it allows the speaker to follow through with the work of praying for the message and the audience, a very important part of his/her work.
For the rest of the trip, I freely and easily declined the invitations to receptions following my lectures. And other opportunities to experience the wonderful, gracious hospitality of my hosts arose at more appropriate times. Everyone was blessed.
These words of the Psalmist express the benefits of following rules designed expressly to bless and that leave no one out.
Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven…
Unless thy law had been my delights,
I should then have perished in mine affliction.
I will never forget thy precepts:
for with them thou hast quickened me…
Great peace have they which love thy law:
and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119: 89, 92, 165
Playing by the rules in sports, you’ll play fair. Playing by the rules of the road, you’ll be safe. Playing by the house rules, you won’t get in trouble. I played by the rules of my church, and I was healed!
You can find Christian Science practitioner and teacher Kay Olson CSB at her home in Pennsylvania, by leaving a comment or question below, or by direct email contact @ firstname.lastname@example.org.