Igniting Hearts: The Way Faith Blesses Our Community

The Deputy Committee on Publication for Massachusetts shares insights and inspiration after attending Annual Meeting 2023.

Alex Griffin, Deputy Christian Science Committee on Publication for Massachusetts

As a member of a generation not known for regular church attendance, I was so grateful recently to join with friends and strangers from around the world who traveled to Boston to attend the annual meeting of my denomination, the Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science). Praying together, and learning from one another about the healing grace of God in our lives was outright inspiring. The weekend’s theme, “The discovery today—where hearts catch fire,” felt to me like the perfect title; I certainly left the meeting feeling that my own heart was burning with inspiration and joy.

The theme and sharing from attendees throughout helped me to recognize that when approached with pure motives, religion is not stagnant, cold, or rote — not a series of boxes we check — but a living expression of faith and purpose, which brings transformation of character and lasting improvement not just in individual lives but also in our communities. One member at the meeting shared: “God is a very living presence; not something far away. … God is there. That’s the reality.” 

It was a joyous occasion for me and my young family, although the meeting dealt with some sobering concepts, including the modern-day trend of declining faith in God, which many religious denominations are experiencing. This is certainly a trend I have noticed – both in my own church and in the churches, synagogues and other places of worship attended by my friends from other faith traditions.

But rather than looking at this trend with fear, members of the Christian Science church’s Board of Directors, encouraged members to see instead the opportunity to turn to God in prayer for real answers. Director Keith Wommack related the issue to Jesus’ parable in the Bible of the prodigal son, who demands his inheritance from his Father (meant to portray God) before wasting it away. Wommack shared “…the younger son demands ‘Father, give me.’ When everything his Father had given him was lost, he ‘came to himself.’ The toxic demand, ‘give me,’ was replaced with the humble prayer, ‘make me. Make me as one of your hired servants.’ Today, are we believing that everything we have received of our Father is lost? Are we demanding, ‘Father, give us. Give us members for our churches? Youth for our Sunday Schools? . . .’ Or are we humbly praying, ‘Father, make us. Make us your humble servants.’” 

This prayer of asking God to “make me” meant a great deal to me. It was a reminder that no matter our circumstances, we each have a direct connection to the Divine, which, when turned to, reforms and heals character flaws, replacing them with His grace and love. This echoed my own experience of rediscovering church in my late teens – a deeply meaningful experience for me. And it echoed an experience recounted by a newly admitted church member, Daniel, who had been introduced to Christian Science while he was in prison. Upon his release, he started attending a local Christian Science church. He shared “…I felt so compelled to come into this church, and I actually met a God who is present in my life right now.” He shared how much this church community has blessed and supported his life and that he has felt a renewed sense of love and purpose while serving there. Daniel spoke of the meaning that involvement in church has given him, saying: “What could be better than coming to church and trying to heal a community? What could you do better?” 

I agree with Daniel – truly, what could be better than coming to church, intent on healing and blessing our communities in whatever way we can? I certainly have much room to grow in this regard, but I left that meeting inspired to continue to strive to do this more in my own life. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science church, wrote a passage in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that speaks to this very thing. “Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mold and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness.” My prayer moving forward is to more fully live this desire to assimilate more of that divine character and to express it toward others, too.

Replay of Annual Meeting 2023