Those of a certain generation will recall the 1960’s and ‘70’s TV ad of a little boy named Anthony dashing through Boston’s North End to get home in time for supper because Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day!
But for Christian Scientists, Wednesdays have a very different significance. It’s the day that Christian Science churches around the world hold their Testimony Meeting—a service in which attendees testify as to how Christian Science has enabled them to overcome diseases, financial and employment problems, emotional and relationship issues, or any other problem that we all encounter in our experiences. It’s a time for healing and inspiration.
This meeting, along with the Sunday Service, is required of all Christian Science churches—and by extension their members.
Yet in many branch churches, a fair number of members do not attend those mid-week meetings.
So when did we get to feel that our attendance at this very important meeting was optional—a meeting established by Mary Baker Eddy?
In her Church Manual, Mrs. Eddy stated:
Testimony in regard to the healing of the sick is highly important. More than a mere rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ, “who healeth all thy diseases” (p. 47)
If our testimonies of healing do indeed fit her description—and they certainly should—then how could we at all feel that this is not a demand on us to be present, publicly praising God and proclaiming what the Science of the Christ has done and is doing for us in our lives?
Don’t we all have healings to relate to others? Haven’t we all been learning things in our study of Christian Science that we can share?
Can we actually be made to believe that it is God who is telling us that our presence and support are not needed? That we shouldn’t have to testify to the good that He/She has given us?
In other words, what whisperings of the “serpent” are gently blowing on the tympanum of your thought to keep you away?
Perhaps you feel you have so much on your plate with work, family, social obligations, etc., that to attend the Wednesday meeting is just too much—that it’s overload. I understand busy schedules, but shouldn’t we be making sure that spiritual requirements are the top priority in our lives? A priority that will bless all of our activities? A priority that, of even greater import, will help bless and heal someone else?
And think about this:
When all men are bidden to the feast, the excuses come. (Science and Health, p. 130)
So here’s a basic question to ask ourselves—one that cuts right to the heart of the matter: Do we believe that Mrs. Eddy knew what she was doing when she instituted these two weekly services or not?
If we’re Christian Scientists, our answer should only be in the affirmative. And if so, then we’d better start coming through and living up to what our Leader requires of us.
And remember, unlike Anthony, the feast we’re partaking of on Wednesdays is truly nourishing.
Wednesday is Christian Science Testimony Day!
Thanks so much. This is very refreshing to read as I’m preparing readings for our Wednesday Testimony Meeting. Thank you Ken, and Joan for telling me about it, and everyone else who commented.
You’re welcome! So glad that you’re finding it useful as you’re preparing your readings! 🙂
Thank you so much! I was beginning to think I was only one of a few of us left. Often on our Wednesday evenings, there are only 2 of us..myself (the organist and soloist) and the first reader.
But that is also untrue. God is there. And that makes all the difference.
When our 1st reader left on vacation, I did the service – all alone. (Well, that’s not true again, as I said…God was there. And my dog was there! And she was looking straight at me the whole time as if she understood every word!) So we did the whole service together – The 3 hymns, the readings and the testimonies.
It was a lonely, but unforgettable time. God was speaking to me so clearly that I had a very remarkable evening.
But, this also makes me realize that we have so much to do about outreach. Not about reaching out to strangers, but to those of us who have formed habits of not coming on Wednesdays, or coming in late for the Sunday service.
What can we do? We love these people. We’re not into scolding or shaming. It has to be about prayer…prayer for our own folks and God will certainly answer us.
In the meanwhile, thank you so much. This is so very much on target!
Thanks so much! And good for you in “holding the fort”! 🙂 Yes, we need to be praying to lift the mesmerism–and it is nothing less than that–from our members who have been seduced into not coming and participating. And we also need to be knowing that the healing truths that we’re demonstrating through healing others will draw the newcomers.
This is not about shaming or scolding as you said, but we may be led through prayer to speak with a fellow member–to help break that mesmeric hold of animal magnetism that would enslave them into keeping away from the very thing that will bless them.
Thank you, Ken. I am sharing this with my constituents too. On Wednesday, we should all rush to church because it is “Christian Science Testimony Day.” Love it.
You’re welcome. And thanks for sharing it–much appreciated! 🙂
Wow! Thank you so much, Ken, for expanding the discussion!!! I’m in!!!
As you say, “The more that we acquiesce to the fables of error that would suggest we don’t need to be testifying at or coming to Testimony meetings, the farther we move away from the ability to be the healers that God has anointed us to be.” I totally agree. We’re not doing anyone a favor for showing up (except maybe ourselves!). It’s an honor to be invited to praise God out loud – and all are invited! We are being called to our holy purpose. (A CS practitioner told me years ago that there’s no such thing as a non-practicing Christian Scientist!)
Also, when I wrote, “It doesn’t matter whether we seem to have much, a little, or even nothing to share but just to ‘be there,’ letting Love come to where we are in our spiritual journey and leading us forward.” … We are incomparable; but, I don’t mean for anyone to choose a comfortable modus operandi that has been superimposed by the expectations or criticisms of others. Strike the same pose or assume a certain position. A testimony meeting is time for Christian Science reports from the field from each of us – our individual areas of influence and interests. (It’s a way we “outreach,” “socialize,” and share in “fellowship.”) After all, we’ve “enlisted” (S&H) to uphold the essence of Love with the purpose of healing! “In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless” (S&H). I’ve heard of and witnessed too many people being challenged or criticized by others at a meeting and then just shutting down from then on, or feeling forced to speak (because they always do!). My understanding is to not let mortal mind in any way keep you from sharing the healing Truths you’re learning or talking just because it’s expected. There have been times when I’ve given more than one testimony at a meeting (I think up to three on “quiet” nights) and other times (less frequently) when I have been silent. All by listening to Love’s leadings and then following through. We’ve got to be “for real.” A testimony meeting is one way for us to practice sharing out loud, as we gain greater understanding about Christian Science, so that we can share more easily and increasingly with others, who may not have our advantage. “For evil to prosper, all it takes is for good men to do nothing.” (old saying). Okay then. I think I’m done for now. 🙂 Again, thank you, for recognizing and challenging that big “elephant in the room.”
Thanks, Ken. Just a little before I saw your article, this question came to mind: Who is the best Christian Scientist in the church? I smiled, knowing that the answer is that we’re incomparable! As with every one of God’s children, all Jesus’ disciples, and each student of Christian Science – there is no contest! It doesn’t matter whether we seem to have much, a little, or even nothing to share but just to “be there,” letting Love come to where we are in our spiritual journey and leading us forward. There’s no judgment of ourselves or each other! The standard of Christian Science is to “let our lives attest our sincerity” (S&H 15) and to keep growing. Whether in-person or on-line, what a privilege it is to praise God out loud, and at the same time to love, encourage, and inspire each other. (Sometimes it seems really hard to go forward!) Decades ago, I had just read Science and Health and was so happy to learn that I could meet and share testimonies with Christian Scientists at “their” church every Wednesday. There I was! My first testimony meeting and a packed church. I was expecting people to be getting up at the same time, smiling, and offering the another to go first. But, no one got up at all. We waited several minutes. Still silence. I remember thinking that maybe I didn’t understand the protocols. But, I had been witnessing God throughout my life so often with no forum in which to share. I just had to share, as I had been inspired by others, who had shared God in their lives with me over the years. (Well, if I’m doing something wrong, they could correct me afterward.) I was the first one to give a testimony, which was simply about my deep gratitude for the opportunity. As I walked the mile back home that evening, I felt somewhat perplexed, thinking, “These people don’t know what they have.” That can’t be true!!! It’s not true. And the world needs us! Christian Science is meant to be shared with all mankind and to heal “every ill that flesh is heir to.” We’re all growing, according to God’s law of progress and we have the right to claim our own and each other’s child-of-God status. Error’s getting more aggressive in the world, especially through its subtlety. We know how to handle animal magnetism! As my Christian Science teacher used to say, “Go forward!” And then, “Go forward!”
Thanks for your comments and sharing your experience of your first Testimony meeting. That idea of a long silence when nobody gets up to testify is one that I think we need to challenge rather than rationalize. Each Christian Scientist should be able to, at the very least, talk about what their study has taught them. If progress is the law of God–and it is–then it’s not passive. And we have a responsibility and need to be demonstrating and proving it. I recall a few years back that a church member said to me that all the silence is just God’s wings rustling through the congregation. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. Where can we find that statement in Mrs. Eddy’s writings? This isn’t about who shall be greatest. It’s about our work as Christian Scientists and the responsibilities that come with it.
And what of newcomers–as you were? What are they to think? They come to be inspired and healed, and instead would hear nothing of the demonstrations that Christian Science provides. Could this possibly be right? Would you want others to go through the confusion that you had to deal with?
Mrs. Eddy wrote:
“It is possible, — yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, — to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness. Christians claim to be his followers, but do they follow him in the way that he commanded? Hear these imperative commands: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!’ ‘Go ye into all the world,and preach the gospel to every creature!’ ‘Heal the sick!'” (Science and Health, p. 37)
The more that we acquiesce to the fables of error–such as those that would suggest we don’t need to be testifying at or coming to Testimony meetings–the farther we move away from the ability to be the healers that God has anointed us to be.
Thank you so much, Ken. I’ll be sharing this one.
Thanks so much! 🙂