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Fulfilling the purpose of a Christian Science lecture

From the May 1981 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The purpose of a Christian Science lecture is to enlighten the public as to Christian Science, to reply to condemnation of it, and to give the facts of the life of its Founder and Discoverer, Mrs. Eddy.See Manual of The Mother Church, Art. XXXI, Sect. 2

But this enlightenment is not merely a cerebral correction. Mrs. Eddy writes of the Board of Lectureship, "The purpose of its members is to subserve the interest of mankind, and to cement the bonds of Christian brotherhood, whose every link leads upward in the chain of being."The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 339

A lecture is a public affair, through which members of branch Churches of Christ, Scientist, offer to their community a spiritual gift they themselves have found precious and precise. They will want to find the best way of attracting the attention of the public, for the lecture is primarily directed to those who know little or nothing of Christian Science. True, it will be a correction of misapprehensions and prejudices. But to fulfill its purpose it must also awaken spiritual sense in the hearers.

Are lectures bringing newcomers to Science? Strangers come, certainly; but do enough come? How do we strengthen attraction? The first way, the basic way, is metaphysical. That is to say, above human preparations, though governing these. Let's ask, Are we thinking of the lecture as an isolated occurrence on a certain date? Or are we seeing the occasion as specific evidence of the vast outpouring of God's timeless truth? Are we knowing that all, including the potential audience, in fact have their place in this outpouring; hence they inevitably feel it and respond to it?

The clearer the metaphysical preparation, the more intelligent will be the outward arrangements. With real spiritual appreciation of the occasion, would members be content with small, poorly stationed posters? Could they be satisfied, for instance, with merely putting a notice on a sign already standing in the grounds of the church, one that has become part of the landscape to the passer-by?

True spiritual appreciation of the occasion will open up new, more appealing ways to announce the lecture to the public. Ways that say, "Stop! Look! In that building something very special will be going on tonight. Why not come?"

What will the newcomer find if he comes? Every lecture is different; but a visitor may find that, to begin with, he is being uniquely included in some common aspects of humanity, something shared by all. It may be love. Or justice or even the delight and humor found in daily life.

The shared human experience, the amusing story, the apt allusion to contemporary events do help bring lecturer and audience together. But if the lecture were to remain on this level, the sharing would only be superficial. To fulfill its fundamental purpose, a lecture must go much further, much deeper.

Human togetherness has its right place as a meeting ground. It appears as a person talking to persons. But behind this lies the spiritual realization that all that is going on is the unfoldment of divine Mind, irrespective of person, place, or thing. Here is where spiritual understanding of the coincidence of the human with the divine is so important. This appearing of the divine is not the coincidence of two realities. It is the one divine reality blessing the temporary human experience by outshining it.

Because of this predominance of reality, the lecture steadily leads thought into more spiritual concepts, consistently showing how these will be found of practical use. Without this continuing coincidence the metaphysical statements that are at the core of Christian Science, and that should be present in every lecture, might appear otherworldly abstractions to newcomers.

The lecturer is talking with individuals, not pontificating to them. He is unfolding what he has himself learned, what he is experiencing and living. He is sharing it with them. He is aware that although he and the audience share a common humanity, the important fact is that they really share something only hinted at by their humanity. This something is their common immortality, their spiritual nature as the children of God, as expressions of divine Mind.

If those who prepare for this event through prayers and intelligent arrangements are fully aware of man's immortal being, they will look beyond the appearance of persons entering an auditorium. They will look beyond the appearance of a person lecturing to them. They will appreciate true attraction, the power of Love drawing those who perhaps had not previously thought of coming to a Christian Science lecture.

And they will claim that all that is going on is divine Mind revealing itself, delighting in itself and its creation in individual ways. And reflecting itself in the presence of all who are there. This is the purely spiritual sense of the whole occasion. And before it resistance to the expression of Truth dissolves.

Then, not because of the anecdotes and illustrations related by the lecturer, but because spiritual sense has been active and at work all the time, healings occur in the audience. The deep Christian metaphysics that should be at the heart of every lecture will be understood because thought has been prepared for it. If not fully understood at the time, these truths will continue to develop in thought afterward.

As the incomparable strength and beauty of Truth are felt, we realize what the Old Testament prophet Micaiah meant when he affirmed, "As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I Speak."I Kings 22:14

And we also think of Christ Jesus, the supreme communicator to humanity, and of how he said: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.... He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."John 7:16, 18

Deep and satisfying comprehension of the perfect nature and relationship of God and man is what remains as the human circumstances of the lecture give place to diviner realization. To the degree this happens, the individual listener will say, "I see, I understand." And the purpose of the Christian Science lecture will have been fulfilled.

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