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Church that cannot be attacked

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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One heartbreaking aspect of the killing of the pastor in a Maryville, Ill., church last Sunday is that it happened in a church during a service – a place and time of refuge. It leaves one asking, Is there no time that is sacred, is there no place that is truly safe?

As meaningful as our places of worship may be, they are not the bulwarks of safety we wish they could be. But behind the physical structures is something unassailable and thereby safe because it is not material. It is our spiritual consciousness or our place of communion with the one infinite Creator, or divine Mind.

This all-knowing, all-loving Mind embraces us every moment of every day and cares for us wherever we go. Anyone can come into this place of refuge through prayer. Attending a church service may be one way to lift thought to this place of communion, but mental assurance and peace are present wherever and whenever we pray. Such spiritual consciousness helps protect individuals, churches, and other community institutions from becoming targets of attack from hatred, misunderstanding, and personal conflict.

The Psalmist referred to this place of peace as "the secret place of the most High": "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust" (91:1, 2). This psalm assures us that we all have a place not subject to events, not at the mercy of violence – a place evil can never touch because it can only be accessed by aligning oneself with God's good thoughts.

The secret place of the most High is not an abstract place of retreat to avoid dealing with the world. Christ Jesus prayed consistently and was always conscious of his spiritual refuge in God. This protected him from an angry mob in the temple. He'd been sharing with this congregation that his spiritual identity (and therefore everyone's spiritual identity) exists in timeless, deathless, eternal oneness with God. This offended some listeners, and the crowd responded violently, preparing to stone him. "But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:59).

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