Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Q: Celebrating Life

This question came in from John:

Being new to CS, I'm wondering how Christian Science handles death, funerals, memorial services, etc.? Does it acknowledge death at all? How does it comfort family and friends left behind?

I've often really appreciated the Christian Science perspective on Life when faced with the passing of someone. To know that Life is God, that all expressions of Life are eternal, and that nothing that ever lived can ever die has been a huge comfort.

Since there are no rituals or ceremonies in Christian Science, there is no specific set of things to do when someone passes. Yet, people often want to celebrate and/or mourn when someone leaves us. I've seen a wide range of acknowledgements among those who study Christian Science, from the very quiet to the full blown. The most moving to me have been the large gatherings, a few weeks after the passing, that celebrate the person's life and allow an outpouring of appreciation from friends and family.

A few years ago, I attended the memorial service for a friend from church. She had been a single woman, never married, and I had thought we were close and that I knew a great deal about her. Yet at this service, stranger after stranger stood up to give their gratitude for how she had touched their lives. She was apparently the kind of person who constantly did the "little things," like help a neighbor with their garden or shop with an elderly friend. I was amazed at her goodness, and she seemed very much alive to me.

That goodness, I knew, had not died. While my friend had moved away to a place where I will move someday, too, the goodness she'd given the world remained and was in fact continuing to spread as all these people shared it with each other.

I love this passage from Science and Health, speaking about Jesus:

Through the magnitude of human life, [Jesus] demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love. With the affluence of Truth, he vanquished error. The world acknowledged not his righteousness, seeing it not; but earth received the harmony his glorified example introduced.

In a sense, we celebrate how a particular individual emulated Jesus in our memorials to their human lives. The earth receives the harmony each of us introduces with our day-to-day goodness. When someone passes, we may feel in our grief that we've lost that harmony, yet it remains, continuing to influence and grow.

So, to address John's question, to me Christian Science comforts those left behind with its teaching of eternal Life, unending goodness and universal Love. Christian Science allows us to adjust our focus from grief over mortality to the celebration of Life.

Please share your stories about this as well.


Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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