HOW CHURCH RESCUED OUR HOME
I’ve always thought home and church should be thought of as in the same category - a welcoming and warm place to feel peaceful and inspired so that we then go out into our communities refreshed with something to give!
Years ago churches with spires reaching up to heaven were often packed with villagers praying to God. Most churches were cold and congregations warmed up with hymn singing and kept awake with rousing sermons.
Today people are finding peace of mind through different forms of prayer and meditation, where going to a building can now be considered outdated when spiritual uplift is found within their own quiet thoughts.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, gave a definition of 'church', in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures which has much to offer a home as it does a church. She calls it “the structure of Truth and Love, whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.” (p 583:12)
While there’s no mention here of bricks, mortar, wood, spires and stained glass, she attached importance to a physical church and after her discovery of Christian Science, thousands of churches sprung up around the world.
She adds, in part that it’s an “institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science.”
In short, she expected this new concept of church would do great things it would provide a wider orbit beyond an old theological view where man was searching for God. It would change people’s lives, their homes and communities. It would heal. She wanted church to be a home where people would discover their spiritual oneness with God and feel at home and in heaven. She wrote: “May all whose means, energies and prayers helped erect The Mother Church, find within it home, and heaven.” (Pul 11:6)
It wasn’t surprising that her radical view of church didn’t find a place in the established Christian churches where she’d hoped it would take root and flourish. So reluctantly she founded her own church which offered revolutionary ideas that healed. It would be a church unencumbered with complex theological beliefs and practices.
She knew her Church had a mighty job to do if it was to deliver Christ Jesus’ promise: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)
She wrote that “home is the dearest spot on earth and it should be the centre though not the boundary of the affections.” (58:21) For her, church, home and heaven were to be spiritually understood, a three-part triangle whose healing effect was inestimable.
When my husband inherited an iconic seaside apartment which had been badly neglected for over 30 years we enthusiastically used Mrs Eddy’s idea of church to transform it.
Poor management and a series of quarrelling boards of directors had been unable to reverse its downward spiral. The town which has always loved the Art Deco building had sadly resigned itself to possible demolition.
I reluctantly offered to serve on the board of directors and to my horror was elected chairman. I’d learned on several branch church boards that God, divine Principle, could restore and heal a hopeless situation like this, though it seemed a pretty daunting task. As it turned out, it was nothing like any Christian Science church board I’d ever been on!
My husband and I knew that God was certainly up to it and our job was to stay close to Him and follow His instructions.
The building was in a sorry state. The reinforced concrete had begun decaying and individual apartments were leaking. Residents’ relationships were strained and over the years several managing agents had proved disappointing. As we investigated, questionable practices came to light including financial ineptitude, unilateral decision making, a lack of board cohesion and the likelihood that funds had been skimmed.
We knew a spiritual understanding of the building as the structure of Truth and Love could restore it to its original 1930s beauty and reinstate residents’ homes to soundness. So we got praying.
The dissension at board meetings had to be replaced with harmony and order. It was a bumpy ride but a spiritual restructuring slowly began emerging.
Mrs Eddy’s definition of 'Zion' in Science and Health (p 599) helped our prayers: “spiritual foundation and superstructure; inspiration; spiritual strength. Emptiness, unfaithfulness, desolation.” This enforced in our thought the building’s spiritual foundation but also what needed correction.
As this spiritual rousing took place the building began its transformation. A new board was elected, funds were allocated and renovation began. Our building was awakening.
“Then shall Zion have put on her most beautiful garment and her waste places budded and blossomed as the rose.” (Pul. 22.19)
Church and home had made the connection.
However, we couldn’t rest on our laurels. Out of the blue the town council proposed erecting a large number of beach huts which threatened to block both the building’s sea views and that of the passers-by and provoked a storm of protest. But my husband and I stayed prayerfully knowing that there was more healing to do.
Whilst petitions were lodged with the town council we knew the same spiritual concept of church and home that we had been holding to in our prayers would win the day.
The council plan was withdrawn only to be replaced with a proposal for fewer huts! Again prayer and petitions succeeded and this second proposal was withdrawn.
What Mrs Eddy says about Church and Zion was the foundation, which, when applied to our situation saved our building, repaired relationships, blessed our home and community and proved to us, that Church and home are one!