Mrs. Eddy writes in her textbook, Science and Health, "It is sad that the phrase DIVINE SERVICE has come so generally to mean PUBLIC WORSHIP instead of DAILY DEEDS".
I had a very special moment the other day when this sense of DIVINE SERVICE, or the true concept of CHURCH, was felt and experienced right in the middle of our road, just yards from our front door.
I had been looking after our neighbour's cat while she was away for a few days, and on this particular morning I had popped in to check that all was well at her house. As I walked home, I spotted another neighbour in her front drive. She and her family had only recently moved in, and we hadn't had the opportunity to get to know them. She hadn't seen me, and my first impulse was to keep walking home, as I had a load of shopping to unpack, and I also didn't feel in the right "head space" to get into a long conversation with a neighbour I hardly knew. But as I walked away from her, these words by Mrs. Eddy came clearly to thought, and I stopped dead in my tracks. Our Leader writes, "Jesus established in the Christian era the precedent for all Christianity, theology and healing. Christians are under as direct orders now, as they were then, to be Christ-like, to possess the Christ-spirit, to follow the Christ-example, and to heal the sick as well as the sinning."
I knew immediately that to avoid this neighbour was not being Christ-like, and so I turned back, greeted her warmly, and we began a surprisingly animated conversation. Within minutes, a second neighbour appeared in the road on her way back from the village, and we welcomed her into our conversation, the three of us chatting and laughing like old friends. Not long after, a third neighbour came out of her house, and seeing our little group, came to join us! There was a tangible feeling of unity, fellowship, outreach and mutual support as the four of us stood in the road on that sunny morning. As we talked, Jesus' words came clearly to thought, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them". (Matthew 18:20).
By coming together in this way, sharing and communicating spontaneously with each other, I was very much aware of the deeper sense of Christian fellowship that had drawn us together on that day. On returning home, it occurred to me that had I not turned back to speak to the first neighbour, we would not have gathered in the second and third neighbour, and this golden opportunity for fellowship and neighbourliness would have been lost. When Mrs. Eddy talks about church being "whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle", it is so clear to me that this spiritual definition of church can take place wherever we are, whether chatting in the road with our neighbours, in the supermarket, in the office or at home.
I felt I was walking on holy ground that morning with these dear neighbours, and I was so grateful to have been given this opportunity to be "Christ-like, and to "possess the Christ-spirit". This, to me, was simply church in action.