Practicing Hospitality

In Paul's instruction to Timothy regarding those qualified to be overseers, he indicates that not only was such a one expected to be master of himself and to be skilled as a teacher, but also to be "given to hospitality." Indeed, in his general instructions to the Romans, the apostle offers the same admonition, expecting all Christians to be "distributing to the necessity of saints," and also to be "given to hospitality." The Church of Christ, Scientist, in any community, is an expression of Christian hospitality. The church edifice itself is erected without solicitation of funds from the community. The gratitude of those benefited by Christian Science is expressed through a comely building to which any seeker may come and there freely enjoy the ministry of the pastor of the movement, the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," whose teachings mean life, healing, and health to those who hear. During the week there is not only the Wednesday evening testimony meeting, but the hospitality of the reading room offered to the public. Much might be said of the comfort afforded by reading rooms to the chance visitor, the stranger, the homeless worker, the new inquirer. But the hospitality offered in the free lecture to the general public is the present topic.

In giving a lecture the church is the host, and those invited by means of advertisements, cards, mailed announcements, telephone calls, or personal letters, are the guests. It is the duty of the member of the board of lectureship who is invited, to include in his lecture "a true and just reply to public topics condemning Christian Science, and to bear testimony to the facts pertaining to the life of the Pastor Emeritus" (Manual, Art. XXXI, Sect. 2). The listener then is helped by relief from the obstruction of untruth, and is drawn heavenward by learning of the life and example of our Leader, because it was given to Mary Baker Eddy to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Manual, p. 17), through the great church which she organized.

The lecture is usually announced as "a free lecture," but how shall the seeker hear the word if he cannot gain admittance to the auditorium? A branch church once provided a lecture for a neighboring district where no Christian Science lecture had ever been given. People of the neighborhood did not begin to arrive until about the advertised hour, and the hall was already full. An announcement of the facts was made to the assembly, and all who had already heard the lecture or lecturer were invited to yield their places to the waiting guests and retire by a rear door, which they did in an orderly way. Later a second request was made that those accustomed to hearing lectures should make way for those waiting at the front doors, and again a large number of seats were vacated. Finally the request was made that Christian Scientists should yield place to the waiting guests, which they did until there was room for all who sought entrance. The purpose of the lecture would not have been accomplished if the invited guests had been turned away. Paul asks, "How shall they hear without a preacher?" But in this case the question was, How could they hear without access to the preacher?

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Cleansing the Temple
April 6, 1918

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