IN our heart's depth we all want to be better, to find a deeper purpose, to feel that our lives really matter. I felt that way last year at Christmas. All the vital signs for contentment were there--happy marriage, home, joy--and yet I still felt empty. One evening I bought a recording of Handel's Messiah as a present to myself.
As the music played, I followed the text. The Messiah's text is essentially taken from verses of the Bible. It was all loved and familiar territory to me. Many times I've been moved by the music's beauty. But how easy it is to know the story and never hear the message!
Early in the oratorio the tenor sings an arrangement of Isaiah's words ``Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,'' and the chorus's answer includes these words from the following verse: ``and all flesh shall see it together.''1 I thought of my own valleys and mountains, of sunken self-centeredness and too-tall pride, the swings of depression and elation. I realized that when I've needed inspiration or humility and have prayed for such a change of thought, it has been the Messiah, the transforming Christ, that has changed me--the universal divine healing influence that Christ Jesus embodied. The Christ is God's light, revealing our genuine individuality as God's likeness. The bundle of muscle and brain that the world calls ``man'' only vaguely hints at our true being.
Jesus lived the Christ and showed us how to live a better, more Christly life. As we welcome into thought the Christ-power, we will feel it straightening and leveling our ``valleys'' and ``mountains''--will feel it showing us that mere human success has little to do with spiritual gain and that spiritual gain has everything to do with true satisfaction. A life spiritualized by the Christ isn't a life made dull but one given more purposeful vitality, mental clarity, and capacity to love and be loved selflessly instead of sensually. This spiritualization actually means salvation.
Not a salvation that comes only at the end of a long and painful road called life, but the salvation that is a daily waking to man's spiritual individuality as God's idea. For me this has meant that egotism and self-centeredness have begun to yield to a willingness to love the humanity beyond my own borders. I've seen glimmers of what I am as God's beloved child--not just the child of a loving God, but the child of God who is Love.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains this transforming power of Christ when she says, ``The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual,--yea, the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death.''2 When we see something of the potential of a manhood and womanhood transformed by the Christ, the hypnotic claim that anything material can bring us satisfaction loses any power to hold us back.
Christmas is a wonderful holiday, some might say, but it won't feed hungry people or heal hopeless mental illness. True, Christmas as a holiday won't. But the Christ will, as Jesus showed by doing just those things. And he said that his followers would do these and even greater works.3
Near the close of Messiah, the bass sings that powerful line from I Corinthians, ``We shall be changed.''4 To be changed for the better and so help to change the world. What a gift to give to yourself this year!
1Isaiah 40:4, 5. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332. 3See John 14:12. 4I Corinthians 15:52. You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:14