"REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY"
Many parents are deeply desirous of impressing upon their children, from the time of their infancy, the importance of doing right. Wise and understanding parents are equally eager to have their offspring follow the way of righteousness through love of good rather than fear of evil.
Even in a home where support of the Cause of Christian Science is the central theme, there crops up occasionally the question as to why one should go to church or Sunday-School. This is likely to happen when something more attractive seems to have been offered to a pleasure-loving child or when school studies seem particularly-pressing to a more studious one.
The fallacious argument may even arise that because we can know God's presence wherever we are, we do not have to go to church to feel dose to Him. The suggestion may even come that if we recognize the spiritual meaning of the commandment in regard to keeping the Sabbath, we do not need to adhere to it literally by attending church. It is true, of course, that in time of stress it is a great comfort to feel that one can pray to his heavenly Father, even though he is far from a church building. But one should also realize that to hide behind this line of reasoning when there is no emergency does not make for healthy, spiritual growth. The church needs our individual support as much as we need the church. Some of the comfort we derive from church membership lies in the consciousness it gives us that we are wanted and needed and in the opportunity for Christian fellowship.
Probably not many of our young people realize how much regular attendance at church services should mean to them. When they are reminded that in some countries this public acknowledgment of a Supreme Being is not encouraged, they are usually distinctly surprised. This general public worship is the sign of a God-fearing people. The Bible represents God as saying to Moses when He gave him the Ten Commandments: "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever'" (Ex. 31:16, 17).
Christian Science reveals that God, Spirit, is the only power, the only presence, the only attraction, the only source of action. He is manifested in ideas which reflect this action and which respond only to His law of spiritual attraction. Actually, we are all spiritual ideas and live under God's law in perpetual security, contentment, and holiness.
If parents and other adult church members dwell on these truths, express them in daily life, and do not concede power either in thought or in deed to any other so-called force, they can expect the children of the community to be inspired to go to Sunday School with regularity.
The problem of regular church attendance arose in our family several years ago when a relative bought a beach house about an hour's drive from town. Our whole family went down on Friday evenings and came back on Sunday evenings. Because of their love for the Cause of Christian Science, the parents attended a small Christian Science Society about ten miles from the beach house or went to church after returning to town on Sunday evenings; but they soon realized that the young people were doing neither of these things.
On Sunday mornings the young people did not get back from a walk in time, or they were expecting guests, or the tide was just right for fishing. At night they felt too exhausted from a strenuous week end in the sun and wind to go to the evening service. This went on for quite a long time, and only occasionally and under protest did the younger generation attend church.
After prayerful thought on the subject, the older members of the family decided that everyone should go back to town late on Saturday nights. It was pointed out to the young people that in the period from Friday night to Saturday night, they had twenty-four more hours at the beach than they had ever had before the purchase of the beach house and that it was only wise and beneficial to resume a lifelong practice of attending church.
The decision fell on receptive ears, and there was never a word of objection from any of the young people over the plan. With this right step, they gave up hurry, fatigue, and a certain irritable discontent over a too crowded week end. The gains resulting from renewal of regular church attendance, with the spiritual refreshment and happy social intercourse which come with it, were sincerely appreciated.
When I told this experience to a Sunday School class of thirteen-year-old girls, one of them said with a radiant smile that her family had had the same type of problem with their mountain cabin. In their case, there was a small Christian Science church close by, but for various reasons they never got to the services.
Finally, this girl's mother decided that unless they all made an effort to attend, they would have to stop going to the mountains for the week ends. After that, she said, they all went to church each Sunday, and in two summers they missed only two services.
These incidents give different solutions to the problem. There are doubtless many others. In any case, we can reach the conclusion that if the adult members' desire is to be in church on Sunday and if their chief concern is to see that their young people are in church also, no siren song of worldly pleasure or burden of material care can for long keep the receptive heart from obeying the Master's command (Matt. 11:28), "Come unto me."
In our effort to impress on the younger generation the importance of regular church attendance, we ourselves should also not forget to defend our thinking against the suggestion of absenteeism. In "Miscellaneous Writings," Mary Baker Eddy says, referring to the Master's parable of the ten virgins (pp. 341, 342), "We learn from this parable that neither the cares of this world nor the so-called pleasures or pains of material sense are adequate to plead for the neglect of spiritual light, that must be tended to keep aglow the flame of devotion whereby to enter into the joy of divine Science demonstrated."
Each church member needs constantly to rededicate himself by willing, consecrated attendance at church services. We must see to it that our church attendance is never perfunctory. We must make sure that our prayerful work at the services is assisting in bringing about the healings, individually and collectively, which Mrs. Eddy expected would occur.
The sixth chapter of Deuteronomy is filled with beautiful injunctions to keep the Commandments of the Decalogue. In forceful and poetic language Moses, in order to show how frequent must be this reminder, said to the children of Israel (verses 7, 9): "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when them sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.... And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
Then Moses went on to describe the abundance which would come to them as a result of this obedience and added that even then they must not forget the law. And if their sons in the future should ask why these laws are so important, they were to say (verse 21), "We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand."
Let none of us forget that we have been brought out of the bondage of materiality through Christian Science and that our debt can be paid in part by spontaneous and consistent support of our branch Churches of Christ, Scientist. In this way, we bear continual witness to the truth that Christian Science, besides being in complete accord with the teachings of Jesus, also urges obedience to the Ten Commandments, the fourth one of which reads (Ex. 20:8), "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."