I have been thinking and praying deeply about church and cherishing its role in the world today.
One afternoon I read an address that Mary Baker Eddy wrote to her students in 1894, on the occasion of laying the cornerstone of her church. In the address she shared these thoughts: “The Church, more than any other institution, at present is the cement of society, and it should be the bulwark of civil and religious liberty. But the time cometh when the religious element, or Church of Christ, shall exist alone in the affections, and need no organization to express it” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 144–145).
What an astounding statement. It reveals Mrs. Eddy’s vision of Church as an idea of God, a fundamentally spiritual structure that will forever remain, no matter how that idea is manifested humanly. What a beautiful description of Church, expressing how eternally safe it is from extinction and irrelevance. It is consistent with the first part of her definition of Church as “the structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 583).
In the second part of her definition, Mrs. Eddy emphasizes how vitally important the human expression of Church—the institution—is in this age, and that it must show its usefulness by “elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.” I am so grateful that Mrs. Eddy saw humanity’s need for this church institution today, when the value of church is being severely questioned.
When we attend church services filled with the spiritual consciousness that heals, church is a blessing to mankind and all feel the embrace of God’s love. The opportunity we have at our churches for selfless prayer “for the congregations” (Mary Baker Eddy, Church Manual, p. 42) further supports the healing mission of our Church. I look forward to each Sunday and Wednesday for this reason, and because each service demonstrates Church, the indestructible spiritual idea, which lives forever in our hearts.
As I read Mrs. Eddy’s address, I felt a deep peace fill my prayers for church. The human manifestation of Church will progress as the spiritual idea becomes nearer and dearer to us. Church is forever “a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 5:1), and it is my precious task to discover its spiritual purpose and to demonstrate its utility.
Access more great content like this
Welcome to JSH-Online, the home of the digital editions of The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel, and Herald. We hope you enjoy the content that has been shared with you. To learn more about JSH-Online visit our Learn More page or Subscribe to receive full access to the entire archive of these periodicals, and to new text and audio content added daily.