He was a composer who had gone bankrupt, was a deeply depressed man, and was derided as a “German nincompoop.” One day, though, a friend visited him and asked if he would write music to accompany Bible verses that had been compiled into a libretto. Later on, another party asked if he would compose music for a benefit performance. Inspired by the words of Scripture to use as text, along with a performance request, this composer, George Frideric Handel, began writing the music. He wrote and wrote and within 24 days, he had written the 260 pages of what was called Messiah.
When this oratorio was first performed, there was some controversy, but it was quite well received. And some have said that when it was later performed in London, King George II attended and wound up rising during the opening notes of the “Hallelujah” chorus. This has been a tradition ever since.
For centuries, performance after performance has still touched the heart when this ageless piece of music has been sung. Not just because it is beautifully written, but because of the meaning of the words and the reverence for God and His Son.
As this Christmas season arrives, we may seem to be inundated with gift lists, cooking, and decorating. But let’s remember these words of Scripture, as adapted in Handel’s oratorio: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (see Revelation 11:15).
Instead of letting the observance of Christmas become swallowed up in endless tasks and spending, we can consciously turn to recognizing alleluia (which means a song of praise to God) embracing any and all holiday celebrations.
These words from a New York World newspaper article by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this magazine, speak volumes: “Christmas respects the Christ too much to submerge itself in merely temporary means and ends” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 259).
How much will we respect the Christ this Christmas season? Will we keep the Christ—the healing Truth Jesus demonstrated and taught—uppermost in our thinking this holiday and then, not just in December, but all year long? Will we pray for ourselves and others? Will we conform our lives to the Christianity that Christ Jesus lived? Will we so mirror what Jesus taught, that others will take notice and feel the presence of God and His Christ?
In the same article by Mrs. Eddy, she states: “The basis of Christmas is love loving its enemies, returning good for evil, love that ‘suffereth long, and is kind.’ The true spirit of Christmas elevates medicine to Mind; it casts out evils, heals the sick, raises the dormant faculties, appeals to all conditions, and supplies every need of man” (Miscellany, p. 260). These are the true gifts that we can give that will replace stress and pressure with joy, spiritual progress, and accomplishments; and, replace loneliness and fear with hearts filled with peace and love. In other words, the greatest gift we can give is healing.
The Christ is always present, not just during a certain season; it is the true idea of God. Beautifully lived in the life of Jesus, the Christ is the power by which he healed sin and disease. Its comforting presence is still here, teaching us that the true identity of each of us is the child of God. This spiritual discernment recognizes that the man and woman of God’s creating are not fleshly manifestations exhibiting disease, sin, and death, but instead the image of Spirit, spiritual and perfect. Jesus taught, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It is this Christlike understanding that we should cherish at the Christmas season, and all year long.
One year, a few weeks before Christmas, I became quite ill. I was unable to eat, sleep, or do much of anything, and was continually cold. I had been reading the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, from cover to cover in the months leading up to this time, and was now reading the chapter entitled “Glossary.” Within it, I read the spiritual definition of Christ: “The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error” (p. 583).
I reached out to God, praying that the divine will of health be established in me. This wasn’t a matter of words; my prayer was asking God to help me surrender a feeling of sadness and being victimized by illness, to a change of thinking—a yearning to understand more deeply my true selfhood as God’s spiritual child. I felt my thought lifted to a sense of divine comfort. And I experienced the redeeming power of the Christ, Truth. I was well.
A few days later, I received a call from a music conductor who was putting together a group of individuals to play for the students at our local college, bringing a little Christmas cheer to the college campus after students finished finals. I was grateful to be invited and more thankful to be healthy and able to play well. One of the pieces we performed was the “Hallelujah” chorus. It was a sacred experience.
An article in Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 says, “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” (p. 370). That is what I experienced that Christmas years ago and cherish each Christmas season: knowing that the Christ—God’s saving power—is with all of us now and always, able to bring healing to any situation, whether it be physical illness, depression, inadequate supply, or anything else.
Have a merry Christmas—one filled with God’s love that redeems, restores, and heals. Hallelujah!
Guest Editorial Writer