"What, in all your lifetime, has caused you the greatest satisfaction?" an old Chinese philosopher was once asked.

"A child that went down the road singing, after asking me the way," he replied.

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Nothing in all the world is of greater satisfaction than unselfish service. Many years ago Christ Jesus taught us the lesson of service. Master, his disciples called him; and Master, indeed, he was. Yet on the evening before the crucifixion, as they were gathered together for what we have since called "the last supper," it was he who wrapped a towel around his waist and, taking a basin of water, washed the disciples' feet. Gently, wisely, lovingly, he asked (John 13:12), "Know ye what I have done to you?" And then he explained (verses 13–15): "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." No better lesson could he have given them; no greater sermon could he have preached. He, their Lord and Master, he whom they loved and respected above anyone else on earth, instead of being served, lovingly and graciously served them.

Washing the feet was, in Jesus' time and centuries before him, a token of hospitality in the East. Sandals, the common footgear of the day, were ineffectual against the heat and dust of Palestinian roads, so that this act of service, usually performed by a servant or a younger member of the family, was a natural and much appreciated courtesy.

A few years ago some American travelers were spending a short time on a small island—one of the so-called outposts of civilization. On Sunday morning they went to the little Protestant mission church on the island. The congregation consisted of a few government officials, some Navy personnel, and a number of natives. What would the young preacher say, the strangers thought, that would reach and help so dissimilar a group of people? He chose for his theme "The Joy of Service," a subject everyone present could understand, and spoke of the dignity and loveliness of service in the home, to one's neighbor, one's employer, one's community, the world, and, greatest of all, service to God.

Christian Science shows that we can best serve God, our neighbor, and the world by prayer, prayer that is put into practice in daily living. "What we most need," Mary Baker Eddy writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 4), "is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds." And she further states, "Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness."

"All service ranks the same with God," Browning writes. It is the spirit in which we offer our sacrifices that determines their value. Love for God and man is the motive power of true service. Such love, the Master said, summed up all the commandments of the Mosaic Decalogue; on it hung all the law and the prophets. This love, which is the reflection and expression of divine Love, God, is in fact the solution for every problem, whether it be physical, political, social, or economic.

A young mother, suffering one day from a nervous headache and an almost overwhelming sense of weariness, found this to be true with a physical problem. Her little son, just learning to walk, pulled over a wastebasket into which an old ink bottle had been thrown. Hot tears of anger filled her eyes as she contemplated the disorder on the floor about her. Then the child smiled up at her, holding up his inky hands for her to see. Instantly the tension and tightness in her thinking, and consequently in her body, disappeared as laughingly she gathered him into her arms and tenderly washed his hands. When, a few minutes later, she stooped down to clean up the disorder on the floor, she found that her headache and weariness were gone. Love and the healing joy of service had eliminated them.

This is always true. Love's attributes—humility, joy, unselfishness, faith, and spiritual understanding —are powerful, constructive qualities of thought which build healthy homes, healthy communities, and a healthy world. Pride, hate, selfishness, and fear are negative, destructive modes of thinking. They do not build. They do not achieve. They are of no good to anyone.

Let us heed the Master's example of service and give with open hearts of our understanding and love. Let us refuse to accept any suggestion of separation from God, our Father, or from our brother. Let us spiritualize our concept of man, of home, of church, of our community, and of the world. "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, 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," writes Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, pp. 476, 477). No greater service can we give to our brother and to the world than this correct seeing. In seeing man as God's image and likeness, we shall heal and bless, even as the Master did. And no matter where we are, or what our specific duties may be, we shall experience the joy of service and contribute to the establishment of peace and happiness among men. Whittier puts it beautifully in the following lines (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 217):

Then, brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother,
For where love dwells, the peace of God is there:
To worship rightly is to love each other;
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.

August 28, 1948

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