The First Sentence

PICTURE the scene: A single parent trudges heavily to the market after a long day at the office. It will be an evening of cooking, prying homework from kids, and battling with income tax forms. But somewhere a few minutes are found to spend with a book. From the first sentence the burden lifts. The parent's step becomes lighter. The book is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church. The first sentence is, ``To those leaning on the sustainin g infinite, to-day is big with blessings." Somehow the passage turns upside down a basic assumption of human existence, rescuing the reader from a heavy load.

Too often, we assume that we have to sustain a business, a family, a church, the precarious health of a body. Such an assumption tends to weigh one down.

But while that assumption may be as common as snow in Alaska, it is not fundamentally true. Yes, there's a need for individual responsibility in human affairs. But men and women are not the real sustaining force. God, divine Love, is. Overturning the belief that humans have to sustain themselves is wonderfully unburdening--is a perfect starting point in finding one's relationship to God. Perhaps that's why this book begins as it does. Because it is God's place to uphold all of His creation. And it is our

place to lean on Him.

The Psalmist says, ``Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee." Such counsel is comforting to hear, but it is--surprisingly--not easy to follow. For to lean on something is to rest on it, to be at one with it. What the Bible calls the carnal mind, in its arrogance, makes an enormous investment in its own importance. True, this arrogant mind deserves credit for sustaining most of humanity's idiocies and injustices. But to lean on divine Love humbles the carnal, or mortal, mentality as huma n thought begins to yield to Love's presence and sustaining power.

It is from this more humble outlook that the vast and timeless themes of Science and Health come into focus. The repeatable, provable Science of Christ's teaching and healing is revealed. There really is no better way the reader could approach the book than first to find the humbleness that is willing to lean not on human knowledge but on divine wisdom.

The message of Science and Health is rooted in the teachings and works of Christ Jesus. If that message today lightens the load on individual readers, its ultimate aim is to lift the burden of mortal existence off all humanity. The good news is that man is now the immortal and spiritual likeness of God. But for this bright promise to be meaningful, there must be proof of its validity. And there is.

Any book that claims to be scientific invites test. From its opening, Science and Health welcomes, even encourages, such testing. Instead of consigning proof to a blessed hereafter, Science and Health from its first sentence moves the emphasis to practical demonstration in the present. The Christly endeavor it calls for and the blessings it promises are in full view for the honest inquirer to practice and to receive. Today.

If it is helpful to draw a slight distinction between a book and its message, then perhaps the opening sentence of Science and Health does more than provide the reader with a best approach. Perhaps it also hints at how the work itself functions. The book itself is sustained by the message it conveys. In a very real sense the message carries the book--not just the book the message. It carries the book to where healing is needed. And it opens doors in receptive thought. For the impartial and receptive read er there is much to be found in the first sentence of this remarkable book. There is more to be found in the sentences that follow.

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