A Christian Science lecture is no ordinary occasion. Rightly conceived it is at one with the most important event of the ages, for it is the public presentation of spiritual Truth, which is the one corrective power that can save men from sin, disease, and mortality. Metaphysically considered it is the hand of God extended to mankind, a part of the Christly activity appearing throughout the ages and now finding expression in the Christian Science movement. Our Leader's recognition of the importance of the lecture work is indicated in her letter to the Board of Lectureship on page 248 of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," where she says: "You are the needed and the inevitable sponsors for the twentieth century, reaching deep down into the universal and rising above theorems into the transcendental, the infinite—yea, to the reality of God, man, nature, the universe. ... The Christ mode of understanding Life—of exterminating sin and suffering and their penalty, death—I have largely committed to you, my faithful witnesses."
Christian Science is raising up the walls of the New Jerusalem—the kingdom of heaven—in the consciousness of men. The lecture with its truth-affirming message, strong and positive, points ever to "the stone which the builders rejected," now discerned as the chief corner stone of the city of light and glory. How well should we prepare for and protect all our building upon this corner stone!
By the beloved disciple the divine vitality of the Word of God has been thus proclaimed: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" and Christ Jesus declared, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." So when the Word finds expression in a Christian Science lecture, it is no passing current of personal opinion, but is one with ever present and eternal Mind. It is the assertion of the divine esse, the affirmative voice of reality. It is in no wise conditioned by physical environment or locality, for its place is infinity, its time eternity. The Word coexists with God. To human sense a Christian Science lecture is an occasion when mortals consent to listen for a little to the ever present truth,—to dwell for a time in the natural atmosphere of spiritually enlightened thought. It is to them a rift in the clouds of mortal, material consciousness.
A Christian Science lecture is usually preceded by the healing and distribution work which has made possible the establishment of a branch church or society; the lecture comes as a fuller unfoldment of scientific being in the community and the world at large, bringing a message of good tidings sent from God. It comes at the time of God's appointing, and has a specific place in the orderly unfoldment of spiritual Truth to human consciousness, even as every brick has its place in the wall. Mind operates through its ideas; so when in the course of its unfoldment to men the appointed time comes for a Christian Science lecture, Mind works through men and women to accomplish its purpose. Some issue the call to the lecturer; others, like the disciples, go forth to find and prepare the place, "the upper room" of wisdom's choosing; still others may be the messengers to make known the coming feast and invite the guests. Every detail of the arrangements, time, place, lecturer, publicity, ushering, and the distribution of literature, should exemplify the wisdom, care, and love, that come only of unerring intelligence.
The occasion is God's. It will help us to know that He appoints and governs it in every detail. Mortals lack the wisdom to discern who may be ready, but the all-seeing and omniscient Mind knows them, bids and impels them to come. Matter or mortal mind never initiates, arranges, or knows aught of the real import of a Christian Science lecture, can neither bring anyone there nor keep anyone away. In every individual consciousness salvation is being worked out according to law. Whenever the individual has reached the point where he is ready for the message of Truth, God will bring the two together, but not before. Salvation is not haphazard, but orderly, both individually and universally. Every lecture is for a definite purpose and for a specific audience. Only divine wisdom can select this audience, and no lawless, human effort or personal insistence has any right to usurp or limit the divine prerogative. As the Master has said, "Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
The information that a free Christian Science lecture is to be given, the time, the place, and the welcome to the public should be thoroughly and intelligently presented to the community, and then dutifully and unfailingly followed by the prayer which knows the power that is operating to bring together the right audience of Love's choosing. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me," said Jesus. Christian Scientists do not primarily work or wish for crowds,—though a large audience if of the right kind is gratifying,—but rather to know that the lecture must fulfill its righteous function, accomplish its godly purpose, and deliver its message to all who have ears to hear.
Intelligent metaphysical work alone nullifies the material beliefs and evil suggestions that would obscure with the mist of ignorance the correct concept of a Christian Science lecture, relegate it to the commonplace, minimize its import, detract from its attractiveness, becloud its meaning, and make Christian Scientists indifferent to their opportunity to cooperate with God in His holy work. All that is enduringly real about a Christian Science lecture is the Word, and the occasion should exemplify the unity of God and His idea, and radiate vitality, peace, and power. God is imparting, and the audience and the lecturer are hearing, appreciating, responding to the Word of Life. No mental mist of belief that there is life in matter, no scholastic theology, material medicine, prejudice, or false conception, can separate the Word from its idea. They are one. Nor can any currents of aggressive evil stay the river of righteous thought as it courses through human consciousness. Arguments of time, space, temperature, sleep, are powerless to interrupt or lessen the effectiveness of the lecture, nor can evil reverse the Word that is declared. God's will must be done.
Christian Scientists have the privilege of preparing for this coming of the Christ message by clearing away with the hands of mental might the weeds, and breaking up the clods of material belief, so making ready a fertile and responsive seed bed in which the seed of truth may be sown. Failure on the part of anyone to accept this privilege is to sleep while opportunity beckons. In Article VIII, Section 6, of the Manual the requirement of alertness is set forth: "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged,—and justified or condemned."
No argument of counter attraction, be it social or theatrical, a question of business or the weather, has any legitimacy. A Christian Science lecture is a most important happening in a community's life; for it is the message of Christ, Truth, making plain the one and only way of salvation for every individual in the locality. The truth it offers possesses in itself all the power of attraction there is and draws with a power irresistible all who are ready for its message. It is the exalted Christ-idea, of which Jesus said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
Christian Scientists are learning the need of vigilance. The times tolerate no slumber. Evil, discerning its doom, is rampant, and would cloud, obscure, and thwart every right purpose and every God-sent message. Ours is the work to prepare the way of the Lord. The Christian Science lecture is often to multitudes the first star in the night of material belief. To others it is the awakening trumpet blast of Truth; to some it is the morning meal upon life's shore; to all it brings the healing Christ, the message sent from God. It fulfills its function proportionably to the correct thinking of Christian Scientists about it. "Prayer, watching, and working," says our Leader (Science and Health, p. 1), "combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind."
Copyright, 1918, by The Christian Science Publishing Society, Falmouth and St. Paul Streets, Boston, Massachusetts. Entered at Boston post office as second-class matter. Acceptance for mailing at a special rate of postage provided for in section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized on July 11, 1918.