A friend, who owns a Christian bookstore, and I had been talking about the transforming changes we had been seeing in our respective churches and sharing what we've been learning about these changes on a micro and macro level.
She recommended two books: Jesus, Mean and Wild and Beautiful Outlaw, both books which portray Jesus as a radical - playful, persistent, militant and unexpected. I was also doing a deep dive into cataloguing Jesus' healing works into a blog which I tagged in a variety of ways.
All these things made me take a second long look at the church that Jesus had built and where I felt I was at in this church.
Christian Science churches work under the mission of church that is "....designed to commemorate the word and works of
our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." That's from the Church Manual, on page 17.
So this new/old view of Jesus, as a radical change agent, whose works largely discredited the religious practices of the day, but provided a saving relief and assurance that God is all, that God is Love and that God is right with us all - this is the foundation of Church today.
Now take the fact that each branch church of The Mother Church is named specifically for the community in which it resides: for example, First Church of Christ, Scientist, St Paul, or Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago, and so on, and we see that each church has a special relationship to its larger community.
OK, let's keep going:
Now Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, defines Church in this way (mind you, this is a definition of Church on a large scale, not just for those branches of The First Church of Christ, Scientist):
"The church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick."
So, it follows that church is expected to walk its talk, to show proof of its utility. How? In the big picture, it is expected to elevate the race, and all of our branch churches have the opportunity to start in our own communities. Specifically, how to we show proof of our utility? On the one-on-one level, it is expected that people's lives will be healed and transformed because of the activity of church.
One of my roles is to represent our branch church in an inter-faith ministerium. There are about a dozen of us. And each minister and youth director from the various churches have come together recognizing that we represent the spiritual leadership of this community. It hit me that this group really represents the spiritual impulse that animates those things that are good, health-giving and progressive. All those things that improve our community have a spiritual basis.
How important, then, that we look at our own mission for church, challenge whatever orthodoxy would strain our reach, and enliven us to take responsibility for elevating the race and healing in our communities for which our churches are named. It is a call to love unselfishly, share without fear of consequences, and demonstrate the unity and oneness that our local communities to our global communties so urgently need.
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016