Midweek meetings: then and now

Coming together in fellowship and love to pray and give thanks to God brought strength and healing to the early Christians. Today, the tradition continues.

The first Christians met regularly to share with one another. Just as we today might invite friends for dinner to discuss important topics, they met at mealtimes. The gatherings emphasized fellowship, joy, and offerings of money, clothes, and food for the poor, widows, and orphans. Often there was a talk given by an experienced member of the group, perhaps recalling the experiences of Christ Jesus and his disciples. And of course there was prayer. The meeting might conclude with testimonies and giving of thanks. Biblical references to such meetings can be found in Acts 2:1–4, 41, 42, 46, 47; Acts 6:1–8; Acts 12:12; Acts 14:27, 28; Acts 15:30–32, 35, 36.

One can see why these gatherings came to be known as love feasts. They evolved through the centuries and, in a simplified version, were still part of the midweek church schedule of many denominations at the time Mary Baker Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879. So it wasn't unusual that Mrs. Eddy should include a midweek service as part of the activities of the Christian Science Church.

The Wednesday testimony meetings of today's Christian Scientists, however, don't include sharing a meal together or taking up a monetary collection. A note to The Mother Church from Mrs. Eddy that was published in her book Miscellaneous Writings explains her thinking on these particular subjects: "Invite all cordially and freely to this banquet of Christian Science, this feast and flow of Soul. Ask them to bring what they possess of love and light to help leaven your loaf and replenish your scanty store. Then, after presenting the various offerings, and one after another has opened his lips to discourse and distribute what God has given him of experience, hope, faith, and understanding, gather up the fragments, and count the baskets full of accessions to your love, and see that nothing has been lost."

Square pegs and round holes
April 12, 1993

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