A hint from the Christian Scientists

Universal salvation rests on progression and probation, and is unattainable without them. Mary Baker Eddy: Science and Health 291:12.

Having missed worship on Sunday, I took in a testimony meeting last night at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in my neighborhood. It is a massive brick building, but gated tight as a tomb outside of worship. Living here three and a half years, I’ve been pining to go inside.

The service follows a very predictable sequence of organ prelude, hymn, several appointed readings from the Bible (always the King James Version), readings from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (including the line, above), another hymn, silent and the Lord’s prayer, testimony of how Science affected the lives of the people here, last hymn, and postlude. The service was exactly 59 minutes, 30 seconds. Very restful.

Two things of note.

1. The building was immaculately clean. No dinginess anywhere. No falling plaster, no peeling paint. I didn’t even see dust. The building was a typical big-city Christian Science auditorium — I would say “Akron plan” but I didn’t see the classrooms that typify that style — which few congregations of any denomination could regularly fill. The folk there put up “screens” of houseplants and mums to shrink the sense of space, and these plants were perfectly fresh and well cared-for. The posters and pamphlets (free; no dunning visitors for a quarter, here) were fresh, current, and appropriate. I was very happy to be there, even if Christian Science theology gives me a rash.

2. I confirmed the time of the service by going to Christian Science websites. Given their historic care to journalism, their rigorously standardized and thematic form of worship, and attention to personal study and testimony, Christian Science is perhaps the perfect religion for the Web.

Their public outreach is through Spirituality.com, a brilliant bit of forethought. Plus, they have seen the power of blogging and have a set of rather hit and entreprenurial types how share their faith through featured blogs, though it looks a bit “packaged.”

See here.

There are lessons to learn here.

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