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The Interpretation of the Sermon


         It is not too much to say that the work of the Readers of the Christian Science sermon is an exalted task. As the sermon contains the truth of God, it will, if rightly interpreted, fulfill the work of Truth of which Christ Jesus spoke saying — “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” The sermons of Christ Jesus healed the sick and the sinful. So would every Christian Science sermon rightly interpreted and understood. The Reader then voices the word which heals, — of which it is written — “He sent His word and healed them.” The Reader is an ambassador of the King, nothing in himself, everything in the message which he brings; a message which sets the captive free and restores to the outcast his rightful heritage. How sacred the task! How noble the mission!

         In the work of the Reader there are several things to be considered. The Reader should be correct in his English, and the words correctly pronounced. The Readers should be so familiar with the sermon that the reading from commencement to close will be continuous and smooth. He should know that each scriptural passage has a two-fold meaning. It has the outward form and the inward spirit. It has its plain statement of fact and its spiritual interpretation. It has its body of Truth and its heart of Love. His first duty is to become acquainted with the outward. In the case of the Bible texts, the first Reader should familiarize himself with the Bible references and the second Reader be thoroughly acquainted with those from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In the case of the Bible texts then the Reader should study the context, and if an historical incident be referred to he should learn the whole history of the event named. In this study he may be helped by Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the Revised Version of the Bible, Rotherham or other equally high authorities. Having a clear understanding of the outward facts concerning the Bible passages, he should study them in connection with their correlative passages from Science and Health to learn their scientific meaning. Then with prayer and meditation he will behold their deep inward meaning, and grasp their profound spiritual import.

         While this study has been going on he has most likely seen the truth which each section of the sermon is intended to set forth. And he sees the intimate bearing which each part has toward the subject as a whole. If not, further study will reveal it. Often the first sentence from the first Science and Health reference will reveal the import of the section. Often every Bible reference in the section will deal with the phase of the subject to be presented. Again the study of all the passages may be needful to unfold the teaching of that division of the subject. As every architect, to rightly build a house, first sees its framework, so every interpreter of the Christian Science sermon should know its framework. Understanding this, his interpretation will have strength and character.

         As all understand, an important item in the preparation to rightly interpret the sermon, is the unity of thought and unity of spirit between the two Readers.

         Having done all to rightly interpret the message of the sermon, the true interpreters will give earnest heed to the words of Paul. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Truly the Reader is sufficient for his task only because he knows that the work is God’s. His highest preparation is that of the Spirit which giveth life. “More than regal is the majesty of meekness,” our Leader has declared. And nowhere is meekness more regal in its majesty than in the Reader who does not think anything of himself, but of the Royal message which he bears from the King of Kings, to the waiting hearts, eager for the glad tidings of peace and good will.

 

"The Interpretation of the Sermon"
Christian Science Sentinel, March 16, 1899
 

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