The watchword is vigilance

A Christian Science perspective: Staying prayerfully alert in today’s world.

The terrorist attacks that have occurred over the past year have left many feeling helpless and wondering how they can deal with such challenges. Thinking back on the recently thwarted terrorist attack on a train in France brings some hope and provides an example of the importance of being an engaged and alert citizen wherever we may be.

Praising the actions of the young men who disarmed a gunman, the French government called upon all citizens to be more vigilant and aware of what is going on around them. It seems there is a growing recognition in France and elsewhere that each of us bears some responsibility for creating a safer and more peaceful world. Guillaume Pepy, head of the SNCF (the French national train company), said, “The watchword is really vigilance for everyone.”

But what kind of aid can we give if we are not soldiers as two of the American men were on that train in France? Maybe we are not even in a position to lend a hand because we are not close by.

Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science has shown that prayer based on a spiritual understanding of God and man brings tangible aid, because there is no trouble that is beyond the reach of the healing power of infinite Mind, ever-present divine Love.

Such prayer brings a calm confidence that allows a person to act with wisdom, courage, and compassion, because it springs from an understanding that we are each made in God’s image, reflecting divine Love, the source of true strength. Watching, praying, and acting compassionately, we are expressing in some degree the nature of God’s care, and are being guided by the divine Principle, Love. Expressing a more spiritual love toward others, we are motivated in ways that bless our neighbors and ourselves.

Every day in our workplaces, in public, or even in our own homes, we can pray to be ready to respond alertly and compassionately to situations where help or healing is needed. The importance of compassion and mercy is what Jesus taught in the parable of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:30-35). In the story, a man is traveling to Jericho and is attacked, robbed, and left nearly dead by the side of the road. When two strangers see him, they cross to the other side of the road. But the third stranger, a Samaritan, is ready and willing to respond; he stops to care for the man’s wounds, helps him to an inn where he can recuperate, and covers the cost of his stay for as long as is required. Jesus uses this story to show the importance of loving our neighbor – demonstrating that our “neighbor” isn’t just someone we know and would naturally take care of, but anyone who is in need of our help.

The root of our willingness to be vigilant and aware of the needs of others is a love for mankind. This type of selfless love comes from God, who is Love itself. God endows each of us with such love, which is never in short supply, because God is its source. Love enables us to come to the aid of those in need without fear.

Giving advice to students of Christian Science in 1905, Mrs. Eddy wrote, “You will reap the sure reward of right thinking and acting, of watching and praying, and you will find the ever-present God an ever-present help” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 254).

Challenges are more readily met when we address them prayerfully, with compassion for our fellow neighbors. Such care and love keep us from putting our heads in the sand or passing by on the other side; they encourage us to think and act rightly, to love our neighbor, and be magnanimous. As we let divine Love guide us, we will be led to watch, pray, and engage in ways that will help, heal, and bless our homes, neighborhoods, and beyond.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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