Several months ago, when snowfall on the East Coast of the United States broke many records, our church members witnessed the proof that God’s law of divine good is ever active.
A major drive runs between the ocean and our church building, providing a convenient route to nearby cities and parking spots for those visiting the beach or attending our church services. During the winter months, city and state parking bans are issued for long periods of time, enabling snowplows to clear this drive and surrounding city streets. During the bans, attending church services has often been difficult.
At a church business meeting in early December, the members agreed to hold all church services, regardless of the weather, provided a Reader and one other member were able to get to the church.
Two months later, winter brought unprecedented weather. In some cases, early storm predictions gave our members time to pray and coordinate plans for a volunteer shuttle service that could pick up and drop off in an approved, plowed parking lot nearby.
God’s loving, loyal children attend church services, not out of obligation or human will, but with a sincere desire to come together in the security of our church home.
One Wednesday night, before the testimony meeting was to begin, I opened Mary Baker Eddy’s Church Manual. A heading in the Table of Contents caught my eye: “Services Uninterrupted.” This title relates to services being held in The Mother Church without interruption all year, but it also alerted me to the fact that our branch church services are uninterrupted by inclement weather, parking bans, or any kind of restriction such as weariness, illness, time constraints, or indifference. Recalling the words in Hymn 58, I knew that we attend church services, not out of obligation or human will, but with a sincere desire to come together in the security of our church home. With “eager ears, expectant, joyful,” we are ready to hear God’s “right commands” and willing to share experiences of healing with each other (Elizabeth C. Adams, Christian Science Hymnal).
During that testimony meeting, members shared how they were praying about the weather. One mentioned he had been rereading the account of Mrs. Eddy asking her students “to realize that there were no destructive elements in God’s creation” (Clara Knox McKee, We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume I, p. 465), and he was following that instruction in his daily prayer.
At another service, a few members were surprised to see that a man who had visited a few times had made it to church. He said that he had walked about two miles in the snow to be there! A devout member, having missed the volunteer shuttle, walked well over a mile to be at his ushering post. The organist, assured that he didn’t have to drive the long distance in wintry conditions, responded, “I’ll be there!” and he was.
After several snowfalls, our church received citations for violating city requirements that the sidewalks and the corner in front of our building be cleared within a certain time frame. We had, in fact, hired a service to clear that area on time, but it seemed that snow had since been dumped or blown into that spot.
A member volunteered to appear at City Hall and defend our compliance. She reported that the violations would be waived, and that we should better monitor the area to make sure it was consistently clear. Several members volunteered to see that this was done.
Through calls to the state and to City Hall, it was clarified that parking bans, which had contributed to the decision to cancel services in past years, were actually only for city streets, whereas the drive in front of our church was governed by state bans only. Through prayer, a mistaken thought had been corrected.
In praying before another service, the word principalities came to me. I opened the Bible to Ephesians and read, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (6:12). The right idea of providing safety and efficiency through parking bans required by the state could not impose upon the pure and honest desire of our membership to gather together and provide a church service for ourselves and those in the community. I rejoiced in realizing that “there is no power apart from God” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 228). Happily, the state parking ban lifted within an hour before our service was to begin on two separate occasions.
During the winter months, we were able to hold all of our Wednesday meetings and all but one Sunday service—cancelled to comply with the Governor’s request for citizens to stay off the streets.
The truths acknowledged during this time have continued to bless both our congregation and visitors from the community. Members have told how applying these practical ideas in new ways has brought healing of discord and sickness.
Our church family rejoices with Mrs. Eddy: “What cannot God do?” (Science and Health, p. 135).