At this time of year, much of the world is ablaze with color and lights and decoration in anticipation of Christmas. Amid all the dazzle it’s sometimes hard to find the simple signs that mark this as a holy day.
Look closely at that tall pine in the shop window, and you might see a bright star on top, images of angels or shepherds in its branches, or perhaps a modest crèche below its evergreen bows—all symbols of one of the most momentous events of all time.
The nativity story itself is one not of lights and glitter, but of the quiet welcoming of a precious babe, the long-awaited Messiah, Christ Jesus—the man who exemplified Christ, the true idea of the divine nature. It was a historic happening that brought Christianity, with its promise of healing, to a world hungry for comfort and hope.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, encourages us to know the first Christmas story, stating, “It is most fitting that Christian Scientists memorize the nativity of Jesus” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 374). But just as we looked more closely through the shop window at the pine to discover what more might lie in its branches, Mrs. Eddy encourages us to look deeper to discern the true substance of Christmas. She writes: “In different ages the divine idea assumes different forms, according to humanity’s needs. In this age it assumes, more intelligently than ever before, the form of Christian healing. This is the babe we are to cherish” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 370).
As the babe appeared to the watchers in that Bethlehem stable, the true significance of Christmas appears to us. In sacred simplicity we can recognize the Christ’s revealing of our true nature as solely spiritual; with joyous expectancy we can realize Christ’s revelation of our identity as the children of God; with steadfast buoyancy we can open our hearts to welcome in this healing Christ.
In sacred simplicity
Could there have been a simpler setting than a stable to welcome the arrival of the baby Jesus? His bed was the animals’ manger beneath the quiet of a starry Bethlehem night.
This points to one way we can welcome the Christ, Truth: in moments of quiet contemplation. When we enter into our mental closet and shut the door, we find the same simple stillness of Christmas that the shepherds and wise men welcomed, and we glimpse the glory and magnitude of the presence of the Christ.
With simple trust, the Virgin-mother Mary must have perceived the promises and prophecies of Jesus’ birth, pondering them “in her heart” (Luke 2:19). And some months before giving birth, she had gone away from the hustle and bustle of city life for a while, up to the hill country of Judea, or Judah, which Mrs. Eddy defines in part as “the spiritual understanding of God and man appearing” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 589).
Christ’s demand is sacredly simple—to love God without measure, to glorify Him in every aspect of our lives.
Christmas, understood spiritually, reveals the truth of our God-given identity in Spirit, not matter. Jesus’ conception proved God, Spirit, alone was his Father, and this unique occurrence lifted thought, then and now, to the realization of the universal truth of man’s spiritual source. Today, the Christ is continuing to enlighten human consciousness, revealing our oneness with our Father-Mother God. Jesus taught this oneness. He lived this oneness. And he helped others to demonstrate their oneness with God.
Christ’s demand is sacredly simple—to love God without measure, to glorify Him in every aspect of our lives. The Christly promise that we are the children of God is right now and always in place. Our gracious welcome of its message brings us its fulfillment in our lives.
With joyous expectancy
We can welcome this healing Christ message and claim our spiritual heritage with joy and expectancy. Good is ours because we are the children of God. And we can pray to let our spiritual nature reveal itself.
This expectancy is seen in how the prophet Isaiah proclaimed God’s glory and had a clear vision of the Son of God hundreds of years before the Savior’s arrival: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: … and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The joy is evident in the watchful shepherds who looked up to see the sky filled with an angel choir welcoming the new birth. And their response was immediate: “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Luke 2:15).
Jesus’ arrival on the human scene was a wake-up call. A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430–603 takes us to the humble village birth, asking how we today may welcome the babe: “What shall we give today?” (No. 434).
Shall we express the same joy and readiness for Christ today? Doing so opens the door to the spiritual understanding that all that exists is God and His creation, including His perfect idea, man. Truth reveals it. Love enables us to see it. This vivid realization and expectancy bring healing.
With steadfast buoyancy
The Bethlehem star shone high above the stable, dispersing the darkness of the night and lifting thought to the realization of a wondrous event. The wise men knew the starry skies, so they must have glimpsed the uniqueness of this new star, and they traveled a great distance to discover what it meant. Even King Herod’s trickery did not interfere with their buoyancy, their great joy and reverence for the promise embodied in this young child. They were steadfast in their support, bestowing their gifts and leaving town in another direction to keep this blessed babe hidden from evil’s reach.
Today, like a great shaft of light, the truth of divine being dawns with ever-increasing glory. We welcome the ever-present, all-powerful expression of divine Truth as the Christ. The darkness of resistance to Truth, symbolized around the time of Jesus’ birth by King Herod’s murderous efforts to wipe out the Bethlehem babe, would overwhelm the Christ-idea if it could. But as we steadfastly keep the deeper Christmas message in thought, the ephemeral mistiness of the Herod-thought is exposed and dispersed.
We find our fulfillment, our true identity and individuality, in Christ. Each one of us is precious in God’s sight. Divine Love has created us to joyfully fulfill our divine purpose. So each one of us has a divine mission: to bear witness to the presence and power of Truth and Love, comforting and healing us and our world—as Jesus proved.
Where is this Christ today? Right here, ever appearing, shining as brightly as the star in the Bethlehem sky, and lifting human consciousness beyond material beliefs. The Christ’s active influence on human consciousness can be discerned and adored. Christ is actively voicing the truth of God, and of us as God’s precious reflection, to us, our neighbor, and everyone, everywhere, always.
Mrs. Eddy wrote of a time in her experience when “the character of the Christ was illuminated by the midnight torches of Spirit” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 23). She prayed daily to more fully understand this light of Truth and to prove the full power and grace of the healing Christ, the babe of Christian healing. Her lifework was to share her discovery of the Science of the Christ with the world.
My husband and I had lovely proof of this Christly healing presence when we were expecting a baby one Christmas. The birth had begun a week earlier, but the baby hadn’t yet arrived, and the midwives indicated there was a blockage.
We had been praying with a Christian Science practitioner, and at a point when we felt particularly discouraged, the practitioner called. The ideas he shared were simple, joyously expectant, and buoyant, encouraging us to welcome the glorious unfoldment of God’s goodness.
We were obedient, yielding our human sense of things to the divine law of right activity in operation at every moment. We felt our Father-Mother God’s tender care. Within moments, the situation changed, and within the hour our daughter arrived.
This is an evidence of how the glory of the Christ that the birth of Jesus represented is as available today as it was when the Savior was born, and as present as it was when Mrs. Eddy encouraged us to enlighten our material sense of Christmas by welcoming the Christ. She assures us, “To-day the Christ is, more than ever before, ‘the way, the truth, and the life,’—‘which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,’ healing all sorrow, sickness, and sin” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 257).
So this Christmas, we can look more closely at the lessons learned from those who heard the angels sing. Let’s discover anew the Christmas promise and welcome this babe of Christian healing that we are to cherish. Let’s join in the angels’ chorus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Joy to the world, the Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
—Isaac Watts, Christian Science Hymnal, p. 164, Adapt.
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