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First Church of Christ, Scientist • 201 Ravenswood Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025
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Prayer eliminates the need for Caesarean delivery

Susan Norris, member of Menlo Park church since <year>
(Originally published in the April 5, 2004 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I was just starting to study Christian Science. Every month after my checkup at the doctor’s office, I would meet with a Christian Science practitioner. She was supporting this pregnancy with prayer, and shared wonderful spiritual concepts with me.

I learned to think of my baby’s identity as spiritual. I saw her as a child of God—already perfectly formed. As the Mind of all creation, God knows us each as His fully developed ideas. Understanding this has practical, healing effects on our lives. The pregnancy proceeded smoothly, and I didn’t have any unpleasant symptoms.

About five weeks before the baby was due to be born, she spent one entire day moving. At the end of the day, I could tell she had turned around and was no longer in the best position for delivery. My next check up confirmed this—the baby was heads-up, in an impossible position for a normal delivery. The doctor said the baby was now too large to turn around on her own, and that she would have to be delivered by Caesarean section.

I really wanted this baby to be born normally. And I was learning in my study of Christian Science that I could rely on prayer for the birth to proceed harmoniously. This passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy was very meaningful to me as I prayed about the situation: “The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from norreturn to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history” (pp. 470-471).

I also prayed to understand better this statement, also from Science and Health: “The universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He [God] evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them” (p. 295). I prayed to see that this baby—as a spiritual idea—was obedient to the divine Mind that created her, and that therefore, I could expect this to be seen in her correct positioning for a natural, normal birth.

One evening a couple of weeks later, I was marking my favorite citations from the Bible and Science and Health that I’d been praying with over the past months. The practitioner had suggested I do this so that I would have them on hand for the delivery. My husband and mother-in-law were in the baby’s room, putting together the crib. I was really praying for God’s will to be done, and I remember suddenly feeling very peaceful. I just knew that He could and would take care of everything. It was then that the baby moved for about five minutes, and I felt her repositioning. At that moment, I knew that all was well. And it was subsequently confirmed that she had slipped into place for a normal birth.

Our daughter Stephanie was born a couple of weeks later with no need for surgery. The doctor was quite surprised that the baby had been able to turn completely around again that close to delivery. She stated that it must have been our prayers that did it. I was so grateful to the practitioner for her loving prayers during this time. It was an example of something I am learning—that all things are possible to God.

Susan Norris
San Carlos, California

When my friend asked me about my religion

Jacey Williams, member of Menlo Park church

One day I was hanging out with a friend from work, and we were having a great time talking about our lives. I felt the conversation was going super well—that I was really connecting with her emotionally and we were coming to a better understanding of each other’s life experiences. At one point, though, religion came up, and she asked me what my religion was.

I was a little nervous about answering her question, because people tend to have a lot of prejudgment about religion in general. Plus, Christian Science is a religion that most people don’t know much about.

“I’m a Christian Scientist,” I said.

“That’s not Scientology, right?” she asked.

I understood why she might have confused the two, since both of them have some form of the word science in the name. But I told her no, they’re totally different, and that Christian Science is based on the Bible.

“I’ve never heard the words science and Christian in the same sentence,” she commented.

Her comment intrigued me, because since I’ve grown up in Christian Science, putting those two words together has always been normal to me, and I’d never considered that it could be so foreign to others. I realized for the first time that most people never hear science and Christian grouped like that.

I explained to my friend why those two words make sense together. I shared that Christian Science teachings include a system of prayer that is proven to have results, bringing healing to the problems we are facing. I also explained that to me, Christian Science is the science of how to love others the way Jesus taught us to. For example, Christian Scientists follow what Jesus identified as the “first and great commandment,” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” as well as a second commandment that he said was like the first, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39, New King James Version).

I told her that a lot of who I am as a person stems from my beliefs and the values that I hold as a Christian Scientist, such as valuing love and sharing it with the world and the people around me. Christian Science has taught me how to love in a really powerful and healing way, because through reading the Bible as well as Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, I’ve learned that real love means seeing someone in God’s, divine Love’s, image—as loved, loving, and lovable. This means looking past surface appearances and labels and seeing all the good that is truly there in each of us as God’s children.

While I’ve always been very hesitant to talk about Christian Science with my friends because I was afraid of being judged, it turned out that my friend was totally open to what I shared. She even said she could see how the qualities I’d developed from being a Christian Scientist were the ones she admired me for. It was cool that my sharing more about Christian Science helped her understand me better.

This experience was eye-opening for me, because I’d never really asked myself, “What is Christian Science?” Answering this question for a friend helped me clarify the reasons that I believe in Christian Science and reflect on the impact it’s had on my life. I am so grateful for all that Christian Science has taught me about how to love.

What does it mean to live in God’s kingdom?

Tyler Williams

About midway through a two-week service trip to Guatemala, my group took a weekend excursion to Santa Cruz la Laguna. Shortly after we returned, some of the students I was traveling with began to feel unwell. A day or two later, I also began to feel ill. I thought, “Oh, no. This is going to be awful,” because some of my friends had described how they’d felt while they were sick, and I didn’t want that to happen to me.

After breakfast that day, I went to the Christian Science practitioner who had traveled with us and asked for her help in finding a place to begin with my prayers. The idea that she shared with me was that no matter where I am in the world, I am always in the kingdom of God, and there is no sickness in His kingdom. This means that I can never be outside God’s care or protection, or outside His loving all-presence—which excludes sickness—because God governs everything, everywhere. She also shared the idea that I am an expression of divine good, and as that expression, I can’t also embody something bad, like illness. I prayed with these ideas throughout the day, and also read the weekly Bible Lesson found in the Christian Science Quarterly when I needed to feel inspired. I knew that keeping my thought close to God was a way of feeling more tangibly that I really was in God’s kingdom.

Our service projects in Guatemala included assisting in the construction of dining and kitchen areas for a nursing facility in the morning, and teaching English at a local school in the afternoon. Unfortunately, on this particular day, I wasn’t able to do much during the morning construction, although I could do small things to help. During lunch, I didn’t order anything except a bottle of water. That afternoon, I was excused from working in the school so I could rest. I did rest, but I also continued to pray about being in the kingdom of heaven; I really wanted to understand what that idea meant for me in this situation.

While traveling back to our accommodations later that afternoon, I started to feel worse. I knew this was when I most needed to persist with my prayers, because I saw that the discomfort was a distraction from what I’d been understanding about God. So I stayed back in my room while the rest of my class went to dinner. Sticking with this idea about being in the kingdom really helped me overcome the fear I’d been feeling, and when one of my roommates brought back some food after dinner, I was feeling well enough to eat something. By the time I fell asleep that night, I had made a lot of progress and was no longer impressed by what my body was doing, because I was remembering that I was embraced by God.

When I woke up the next day, I didn’t notice any of the symptoms that had bothered me the day before. At breakfast, I was able to eat a full meal. Later that morning, I contributed to the construction work. And I went on to have an excellent afternoon of teaching, and to enjoy my time with my friends throughout the day. I was so grateful for everyone’s support and for the new understanding of my identity as spiritual and governed by God that I gained from this healing.

Later, when I returned home, I was able to share this experience with my church at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting. This was the first time I’d shared a healing at a testimony meeting.

Peace came on a ‘Gabriel’ day

Alexandra Hawley

A healing I had a few years ago while serving as First Reader at our branch Church of Christ, Scientist, brought me a lesson that has often been helpful. One Sunday after the service I was not feeling well and began to pray. However, by the next day the sense of fever and congestion was such that I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me.

By Tuesday the fever was gone, but the coughing seemed so severe that I asked a friend to substitute for me at our Wednesday testimony meeting. Sleeping was difficult, and I spent much of my time in prayer. I strongly affirmed that because God is all-powerful and ever present, this condition was a lie about His creation—it wasn’t part of me as His beloved child.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes God’s angels: “The Old Testament assigns to the angels, God’s divine messages, different offices. Michael’s characteristic is spiritual strength. He leads the hosts of heaven against the power of sin, Satan, and fights the holy wars” (pp. [566–567]). I prayed earnestly to exercise spiritual strength, knowing that nothing could separate me from God’s love or my right activity at church.

On Thursday my husband suggested that we go to our beach cottage for some rest and quiet. That morning the thought came: “Let’s make this a ‘Gabriel’ day!” As described by Mrs. Eddy in the same passage above, the angel Gabriel “has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love.” She continues: “These angels deliver us from the depths. Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God. The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death” (Science and Health, p. 567).

As we drove, I committed to keeping my thought filled with gratitude and with the recognition of peace and my true health as the expression of Spirit. I had done my “wrestling,” and now was the time to keep thought quietly filled with God’s infinite love.

By Friday morning I needed to think about whether I’d be reading for the Sunday service. I felt that my thought had been uplifted a great deal, but I was still coughing. It occurred to me that it might be better to have my morning prayer time first and study the weekly Bible Lesson, and then pray about Sunday’s reading later.

But immediately the powerful thought came: “The right decision is for you to be at your post and to be well.” Again I thought about doing my morning prayer work first and delaying the decision, but the same strong thought about being at my post kept coming, so I knew I needed to listen.

Maybe it would have been easier to find myself well first and then decide about reading, but it seemed as if God was giving me clear guidance, and my only choice was to obey. If He had given me this guidance, then it came with the guarantee that all would be well, and that I could completely trust that.

As we drove back home the next day, a Saturday, my husband expressed concern about the cough. He is not a Christian Scientist but has always been completely supportive of my reliance on prayer for healing, so the fact that he mentioned it made me reach out to God for an answer that would alleviate his fears.

I remembered that the practitioner I had been working with mentioned an instantaneous healing he’d had of something similar—which I shared with my husband. I realized with confidence and conviction that the same powerful law of Love was healing me, which, along with assuring my husband, brought me a complete inner calm and trust.

That night as I practiced the readings, I was filled with such a wonderful sense of love for God and our church and could just feel those symptoms evaporate. I was free to read without interruption the next morning, and by the following day any slight reminder of the cough was gone.

I am so grateful for the prayer and support of the practitioner in this healing. It has been an ongoing reminder to me in subsequent times that when we receive a clear message from God, we can trust that the message always comes complete, with whatever guidance and healing we may need.

Alexandra Hawley Atherton, California, US

I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.
—Luke 1:19