The joy of Christmas

CHRISTMAS traditions vary from country to country, and even from home to home. But wherever we live, there is a special joy at Christmas- time. That joy has nothing to do with the foods we eat on Christmas Day, or even with the gathering of relatives who don't get to see each other often. It's a quiet joy which tells us that this day commemorates a very special event--the coming of Christ, of the divine healing influence represented in the life of Jesus. Our own hearts are receptive to Christ just as Jesus' countrymen anticipated the Messiah in their time. How we receive the Christ, the power of God present in all ages, depends a great deal on what we think its purpose is. Some of Jesus' countrymen were looking for a political savior and didn't recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Do we think of the Christ in our lives as merely an agency through which we can obtain replacements of difficult human situations with our own prescribed human solutions? Do we, l ike many in Jesus' time, think we know best how God's grace should appear in our lives? Do we think that the influence of the Christ in our lives means we will finally get the car we always wanted, or the house in the country, or even a humanly defined political solution to the problems of our times? Though Christ does care for our needs completely, if we are only looking for material solutions, we may find that we too miss the divine appearing. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea,--the reflection of God,--has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth.'' 1 The shepherds were prepared to receive Christ. Luke tells us that after they saw the child, ``the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.'' 2 They had been quietly in their fields, going about their work faithfully. We have no indication that they were discontented with their work or that they expected the Messiah to change their work. They returned to their fields. They must have seen that what this child brought to th e world was more profound than any political change. It was the evidence of God's ever-present love, of His fatherhood, of man's status as the child of God. We too can greet the Christ as the shepherds did. ``The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day,'' 3 writes Mrs. Eddy. Are we awake to the angels? Are we listening to their message of ``glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'' ? 4 Are we expecting the Christ to help us be more loving, more peaceful, full of good will for our fellow beings? If this is the quiet expectation we have--one of our own redemption--then we too will hear, in our own way, the angels singing. That is the greatest joy Christmas can bring--the knowledge that faithfully following the teachings of our Master will help us feel the divine presence, and love our world in a way that brings healing and regeneration. 1 Science and Health, p. 333. 2 Luke 2:20. 3 Science and Health, p. vii. 4 Luke 2:14.

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