The student of the New Testament must needs be impressed with the frequency with which Jesus withdrew from the crowd, sometimes even from the immediate society of his disciples, to commune with God, and thereby to refresh himself at the infinite fountain of divine inspiration. Through communion with the Father, he gained that spiritual understanding and assurance which enabled him to perform many works so wonderful that while by many they have come to be regarded as miracles, by others they have been dismissed as beyond the pale of possible occurrence. Fresh from the mount of transfiguration, where he had gained new visions of the Christ, he was enabled to answer the appeal of the distressed father seeking aid for his son, declared to be "lunatick," healing the lad instantly.

         Again, "led up of the spirit into the wilderness," alone, tempted of the devil with all the allurements of material belief, he fasted "forty days and forty nights," emerging victorious over all the wiles of the evil one. Through denial of their reality, he withdrew from false material sense, gaining the spiritual heights whereon he was enabled to meet the tempter and reject his most appealing proffers, even the kingdoms of the world. When temptation was overcome, "angels came and ministered unto him." Again, in the garden of Gethsemane, facing the period of his greatest trial, he withdrew from human companionship to gain from communion with God the sense of unity with the Father which would enable him to rise above personal sense, even to the extent of proving life to be wholly spiritual. These periods of withdrawal, it is clear, served the great purpose of affording to Jesus the opportunity for realizing his oneness with God, thereby lifting thought so far above material sense as to make him complete master of it. Can one doubt the tremendous importance to Jesus of these hours of withdrawal in proving his Messiahship?

         On pages 34 and 35 of "Pulpit and Press" we read: "From 1866-'69 Mrs. Eddy withdrew from the world to meditate, to pray, to search the Scriptures. 'During this time,' she said, . . . 'the Bible was my only textbook. It answered my questions as to the process by which I was restored to health; it came to me with a new meaning, and suddenly I apprehended the spiritual meaning of the teaching of Jesus and the Principle and the law involved in spiritual Science and metaphysical healing in a word Christian Science." Thus did our revered Leader arrive at the conclusion that the works of Jesus were not miraculous, but altogether in accord with the divine law which governs God's universe. And she proceeded through application of that law to prove its efficacy as the greatest healing agency. Her season of withdrawal was one of the world's most momentous periods, for out of it came the Science of Christianity, whereby mankind is enabled to gain that salvation which is regeneration.

         Following the examples of Christ Jesus and of our divinely inspired Leader, Christian Scientists are constantly withdrawing from the world of personal sense into the higher atmosphere of divine Love, where is revealed man's unity with God, the Father-Mother. It is during these times that material sense is stilled and reality appears. How blessed in terms of spiritual growth is the experience, when we find ourselves alone with God, sense silenced and fears at rest! During such withdrawals thought is turned to God in grateful praise and thanksgiving for all His wondrous works, the beauties of spiritual being are disclosed to us, and the heart is uplifted in prayer and gratitude for the bounteous harvest of good which comes constantly into our lives.

         In view of this, on what sound reasoning was established that first Thanksgiving Day, when the Pilgrims, having passed through one of the severest trials of faith to which Christian men and women have ever been subjected, withdrew for a period to thank the heavenly Father for His bounty, of which they partook in token of their gratitude, and to refresh themselves at the infinite fount of spiritual blessedness! Furthermore, how consistent it is with the spirit of the Forefathers that the citizens of the United States should be called annually by the President of the Republic to withdraw from their accustomed round of activities to communion with Him who is the source of all being!

         It was to perpetuate this custom of withdrawal for thanksgiving that our Leader established a special service on this American anniversary day. Thus she provided for Christian Scientists, and all others who care to join them, the opportunity for refreshment through recognizing anew man's unity with God, and for thanksgiving for His constant blessings, so lavishly bestowed upon all. Christian Scientists are profoundly grateful for this privilege. It enables them to dwell "in the secret place of the most High;" and since they recognize the source of "every good gift and every perfect gift" to be God, in whom alone inheres infinite good, they commune with Him in joy and true thanksgiving.


"Withdrawal" by Albert F. Gilmore, CSB
Christian Science Sentinel, November 21, 1925

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