August 2023 Newsletter – Joint Letter from George and Brad

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Every newsletter, we like to include a letter from our Administrator. As the role passes from George to Brad, they both wrote to the community discussing their shared ideas for operating Fern Lodge as a Matthew 25 Facility and what that means.

George Strong: Matthew 25 and Christian Science Nursing

In my mid-20s, I began studying Christian Science. Yes, I had been to Sunday School for many years, and yes, I had been healed through prayer, but up to that time, I had not been an earnest student of Christian Science. After spending a few years in a rural community, however, I began to realize how much I had been blessed by the prayers of my mom and her friends. I felt strongly that I wanted to do something to repay a debt of gratitude to Christian Science.

Then one Christmas, my Mom and her friend visited me, and during a conversation one of them suddenly said “You should be a Christian Science nurse,” and I thought to myself: “That’s my answer.” Two months later, I was working as a Christian Science nurse at Fern Lodge. Soon after, I began training at a nearby facility. Three years later, I returned to Fern Lodge, was listed in The Christian Science Journal as a Christian Science nurse, and have been at Fern Lodge ever since.

What attracted me so strongly to Christian Science nursing? Well, nursing is a vital component of Christianity. For example, in the parable of the Samaritan, Christ Jesus describes the tender care given to a wounded man and the provision made for on-going care at a ‘facility’ for as long as this might be needed. At the end of this parable, Jesus told his followers: “Go, and do thou likewise” (see Luke 10).

Several years ago, I was wondering why Mrs. Eddy asked us, twice a year, to study the topic “Everlasting Punishment.” To my surprise, I realized that the phrase “everlasting punishment” appears only once in the King James Bible. In Matthew 25:46, we read: “And these [the goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous [the sheep] into life eternal.”

Mrs. Eddy was a student of the Bible. Surely, she knew the source of the term “everlasting punishment.” Clearly, she chose the topics for the Bible Lessons carefully. So I asked: “What is it about Matthew 25 that merits our collective attention twice each year?”

The answer is simple. Matthew 25:31-46 presents us with a clear choice: we either help each other and thereby enter into life eternal, or we neglect each other “go away into everlasting punishment.”

In this key parable, Jesus speaks of a king who is separating the sheep from the goats. To the sheep, he says: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.” The sheep are confused and ask the king when they did these things. He replies: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” To the goats, he then says: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire…: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” The goats are confused and ask when they failed to do these things. The king answers: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” The goats are then condemned to “everlasting punishment,” but the righteous are blessed with “life eternal.”

When Mrs. Eddy asked the Bible Lesson Committee to construct lessons on the subject “Everlasting Punishment,” did she know that she was requiring us to ponder twice each year Christ Jesus’ demand to help each other in practical, simple, humane ways? According to our Master, simple acts of kindness — giving food, drink, and clothes, taking in the needy, visiting those who are held captive — are essential to our salvation. Understood spiritually and put into practice, Jesus’ parable provides a simple model of Christian Science nursing. This is our salvation. We invite you to join us in this holy work.

Letter from our Administrator

George and I have been discussing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25 for quite a few years. Recently, we have been asking: What would it mean to be a “Matthew 25 facility”? What would that commitment look like in practice? We have put together a short checklist that may suggest the essence of Matthew 25 in an organizational setting. The list is incomplete, but represents our conviction that the teachings of Matthew 25 should be put into practice here at Fern Lodge comprehensively, intentionally, consciously. Only in this way can we achieve the full potential of Christian Science nursing.

As an ideal, we believe a “Matthew 25 facility” should be:

  • Unswervingly Christian. We will strive to ensure that our every thought, motive, deed is radiant with divine Love, that we imbibe the spirit of Christ, that we remain grounded in the teachings and demonstrations of Christ Jesus, that we are willing to give our all for Christ.
  • Committed to Christian Care. We will strive to love each other in practical ways that meet the human need and lift each other Spiritward. Above all, we will strive to witness each other’s spiritual identity as a beloved child of God.
  • Dedicated to fellowship in Christ. We will strive to live increasingly in harmony with God, His Christ, the Holy Spirit, and each other. This sense of Christian comradery, of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ, is the essence of genuine Christianity. This true fellowship brings healing.

Several years ago, when speaking of Matthew 25, George said: “Feeding, giving drink, clothing, visiting, and comforting, all lead to salvation. This is nursing.” And humanly, this is exactly what Christian Science nursing is. However, Christian Science nursing is more than that — it is holy work. Ideally, the Christian Science nurse is filled with a love so clear that it has a healing effect, physically and morally. Our commitment to putting Matthew 25 into practice is a requirement of salvation. Neglecting our duty of Christian care opens the way to perdition. It is that simple — and that important. And that is why we at Fern Lodge are striving to become more fully a “Matthew 25 facility.”

To be clear: I strongly support Fern Lodge’s healing ministry and the contribution it has made over many years to our collective understanding of Christian Science nursing and an expansive sense of home, community, family, and care. My mother was a patient at Fern Lodge for about five years and benefitted greatly. My son worked here for ten years, growing humanly and spiritually. George Strong and I have been friends for over twenty years and collaborated on many projects, enjoying an expansive dialogue. I look forward to witnessing the next phase of Fern Lodge’s healing ministry and am grateful that George remains engaged with the work.

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