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'Felt ye the power of the Word?'

From the March 31, 2014 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Today it can be easy to overlook the radical nature of being able to freely walk into a Christian Science church service and hear the pure Word of God because we stand at a point in human history where the freedom to listen to the Bible, and its spiritual interpretation, as found in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, has been won in many parts of the world. But this established freedom needs to be cherished and defended—and one subtle, deceptive thought to guard against is that hearing the rousing, healing Word of Truth is something that could possibly put people to sleep and thereby make it valueless.

It’s plain why listening to citations from the Bible and Science and Health must be an awakening experience. While the belief of mortal existence is the “deep sleep” described in the account of Adam in Genesis 2:21, the nature of Christ, through the Word, is always to wake us out of this mesmerism. For example, when it was known to Christ Jesus that Lazarus had died, Jesus told his disciples that he would go to Lazarus to “awake him out of sleep”—which he did, through his command to “come forth” (John 11:11, 43). Christ is always rousing us to “come forth” and wake out of the mortal dream of sin, disease, and death.

It’s also helpful to know that Mary Baker Eddy says: “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth’ ” (Science and Health, p. 559). If you had a lion pacing the pews and roaring during the church service, it would be difficult, to say the least, to take a nap! How helpful to know that the Word of God is just as rousing (and more comforting).

So it’s through the Word that everyone has complete dominion over “the spirit of deep sleep,” which Isaiah said made people “drunken, but not with wine” (Isaiah 29:9, 10). Church is the perfect antidote for such “drunkenness,” or mesmerism, because the very purpose of Church, as Mary Baker Eddy described it, includes “rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick” (Science and Health, p. 583). There’s no consciousness that can be so closed off that the light of Truth cannot enter in to heal and bless. If a closed door was no barrier for Christ Jesus to pass through (see John 20:26), neither can a “closed mind” be!

God is indeed speaking directly to each person during church.

It can sometimes be hard not to go through a week without hearing a lot of differing opinions about various things, whether from TV and radio, or even from co-workers and friends, and this makes the time in church hearing straight from God’s mouth all the more sweet. It was a radical idea Mary Baker Eddy, our Leader, had when she decided to elevate her Church’s services by lifting them out of the realm of ever-evolving personal beliefs about God, anchoring them instead squarely on the unalterable foundation of the divine Word. She knew that hearing and understanding the divine message right from its source would certainly have a healing effect.

While taking the bold step of removing personal preaching from Christian Science churches, Mary Baker Eddy was very clear that this could only invigorate the services. She said: “True, I have made the Bible, and ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,’ the pastor for all the churches of the Christian Science denomination, but that does not make it impossible for this pastor of ours to preach! … The Word of God is a powerful preacher, and it is not too spiritual to be practical, nor too transcendental to be heard and understood. Whosoever saith there is no sermon without personal preaching, forgets what Christian Scientists do not, namely, that God is a Person, and that he should be willing to hear a sermon from his personal God!” (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 11).

Understanding that God is indeed speaking directly to each person during church is a relief to the First and Second Readers, whose task it is to read aloud from the Bible and Science and Health. It frees them from the burden of thinking that a Christian Science service depends on an engaging human personality to inspire and bring healing, and puts this responsibility right where it belongs—with God, who never fails to meet the need.

Mary Baker Eddy’s question, “Felt ye the power of the Word?” in her “Communion Hymn” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 298), goes to the heart of what Church in Christian Science is all about. The Word is active, transforming, bursting with life—and this “truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) from all sin and disease, and even death. The Word is what prophets knew and demonstrated centuries ago. Some of them even gave their lives for it. And it’s freely given to us today.

Listening to the pure Word of God can surely rouse our “dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas” and heal us at every Christian Science church service we actively attend.

God is indeed speaking directly to each person during church.

Aaron Bingham lives in Seattle, Washington.

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