by Brad Stock
Recently, a Christian Science nurse asked me to explain the difference between a practitioner and a Christian Science nurse. I once heard a simplistic answer: A Christian Science nurse is a practitioner who does windows. At a certain level, this is true, for a Christian Science nurse is a hands-on worker who meets practical human needs. But we deserve a deeper answer.
The core duty of every Christian Scientist is the same—we are all called to be spiritual witnesses, to be windows through which the light of Christ shines. Such radiant witnessing brings healing. Mrs. Eddy makes this clear on p. 295 in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
The manifestation of God through mortals is as light passing through the window-pane. The light and the glass never mingle, but as matter, the glass is less opaque than the walls. The mortal mind through which Truth appears most vividly is that one which has lost much materiality—much error—in order to become a better transparency for Truth. Then, like a cloud melting into thin vapor, it no longer hides the sun.
Both the practitioner and nurse are spiritual witnesses. Each lovingly strives to see a patient’s spiritual identity. In addition, the Christian Science practitioner and nurse are windows through which the light of Christ enters a sickroom. In that sense, the Christian Science nurse and practitioner have overlapping roles. Their offices differ, but both should be spiritual witnesses and radiant transparencies for divine Love.
In recent years, it is increasingly clear that a Christian Science nurse’s “primary role” is to witness a patient’s spiritual individuality, as Eva Hussey noted in 2008: “Christian Science nurses . . . have every expectation of seeing the patient from a spiritual basis, the man of God’s creating. . . [T]he primary role of the Christian Science nurse . . . is to witness to each patient’s innate spiritual identity.” (“A Quiet, Mighty Band of Healers”, Christian Science Journal, May 2008)
Thus, a Christian Science nurse’s primary duty is to witness a patient’s spiritual identity while taking proper care of their own thought, thereby becoming a transparency for divine Love—and this form of Christian care must have a practical, healing effect. Likewise, the heart of a practitioner’s work is to witness the patient spiritually while reflecting the irradience of divine Love—and such loving witnessing can heal instantly. There remains, however, a significant distinction in the roles of the Christian Science practitioner and nurse. The practitioner gives direct metaphysical treatment to patients through Christian Science, while the Christian Science nurse provides excellent physical care and supports a patient’s spiritual growth.
Mrs. Eddy also makes it clear that spiritual witnessing must always have a direct healing effect. In one of the most fundamental passages in Science and Health, she says:
Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man [spiritual witnessing], who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy. (p. 476)
In the words that Christ Jesus spoke to each one of us: “Go and do thou likewise…”
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