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One of a series of articles by the Research Staff of The Mary Baker Eddy Library, giving the historical background of the By-Laws of the Manual of The Mother Church.

The Thanksgiving Day Service and 'the good already received'

From the November 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Mary Baker Eddy described gratitude as "the highest human quality" and "the sum total of all the graces of Spirit" (A10667 and A10572, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library). Her writings frequently cite giving thanks as essential to spiritual growth and healing. Mrs. Eddy felt that gratitude was especially required at times of great need. She once admonished, "Under affliction in the very depths, stop and contemplate what you have to be grateful for." And she continued with some examples, "Think of the redemption of mortals, of the waking from all suffering, from sin itself, all the woes it includes, waking from the unreal dream of life in matter to the reality of Life in God, in infinite goodness, blessedness, Love" (A10572). She asks in Science and Health: "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (p. 3). Even though times of trial can make us feel like we have little to be grateful for, we can always express thanks for these truths about reality, and these radical expressions of gratitude bring healing.

It is perhaps not surprising then that Mary Baker Eddy created a special Thanksgiving Day service that includes testimonies of healing. Thanksgiving Day makes its appearance in the Manual of the Mother Church in the Appendix under Order of Services (p. 123) and in this installment of our series on the Manual, we will trace the development of this service.

Mary Baker Eddy held what she called a "thanksgiving service" on November 24, 1878, in the rented Shawmut Baptist Tabernacle Church in Boston. In her sermon she expressed her gratitude for Science and Health's teachings about the omnipresence of God, which was followed by expressions of thanksgiving from the congregation (Reminiscence File of Clara E. Choate, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection).

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