Finally, in the third week of January, I slipped my 2006 calendar insert into the planner in my purse. When I did, I found tucked into a slit in the planner cover a 4x6 card with a quotation by Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor's founder.
Here's what it said: "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. This is the babe that twines its loving arms about the neck of omnipotence, and calls forth infinite care from His loving heart" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 370).
I can't remember when or why I first decided to carry these words around with me, but it was nice to be reminded of them. I knew from reading Mrs. Eddy's main book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," that she uses "the divine idea" as another name for the eternal Christ.
In this book, she explained that the term Christ was not so much Jesus' name as his title, and that he expressed the most divinity, or Christliness, possible. She wrote, "He [Jesus] was appointed to speak God's word and to appear to mortals in such a form of humanity as they could understand as well as perceive" (pp. 332, 333).
Jesus was the form in which the Christ appeared most fully some 2,000 years ago. But now it's Christian healing that best conveys Christ to our age. And Christian healing - not an infant in a manger - is the babe we're supposed to cherish.
But how, I wondered.
Then it dawned on me that I could take my cue from Mary and Joseph. Just as they had cherished baby Jesus, I could cherish Christian healing. For example, I could protect Christian healing the way Joseph protected Jesus when he fled with his young family to safety in Egypt until after Herod's death (see Matt. 2:13-21).
I could also follow Mary and Joseph's example by balancing my efforts to nurture Christian healing with trust in God's ability to promote His healing method.
Mary and Joseph had to learn early on to strike a similar balance in their care for Jesus. After celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem, for instance, they headed home, assuming Jesus (who was 12 at the time) was with them. After a day's travel, they discovered he wasn't anywhere in their group. Worried, they retraced their steps and searched Jerusalem for a couple of days before finding him in a temple talking with the doctors (see Luke 2:41-52). When Mary asked why Jesus had stayed behind, he responded simply that he was "about [his] Father's business."
I realized that I could take another cue from Mary by encouraging those seeking Christian healing (myself included) to wholeheartedly follow Jesus' instruction. She did this at the wedding in Cana, when, after noticing that the host family had run out of wine, she told the servants, "Whatsoever he [Jesus] saith unto you, do it." Her instruction helped set the stage for what the Bible refers to as Jesus' first miracle, when he turned pots of water into wine (see John 2:1-11).
As interesting as it was to note these parallels between Mary and Joseph's obligations to Jesus and my obligations to Christian healing, it was also a bit daunting. I'm not Mary or Joseph, and I'm certainly no match for their combined wisdom and spiritual mindedness. "But you could at least try to follow their lead," I admonished myself. Good point - there was no excuse not to at least give it a try.
With that, I tucked the quotation back into my planner, buoyed by the fact that Christian healing, this babe I was agreeing to cherish more steadfastly, "twines its loving arms about the neck of omnipotence, and calls forth infinite care from His loving heart."
Spending 2006 with this babe - its arms wrapped around the neck of omnipotence - may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.