When Christ Jesus was born, did everyone see a magnificent star shining over Bethlehem and follow it to the manger? No. Some people saw and followed the star. Others did not.
For example, Herod and his associates did not. Herod wanted to find the child in order to destroy him. When he learned of three wise men journeying from the East seeking this one who would be ''King of the Jews,'' he asked them to find him and report back when they had done so. They didn't come back, of course, because they were warned not to. But have you ever wondered why Herod did not follow the star and find the child for himself?
Discussing the new heaven and earth visualized by St. John, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''The Revelator was on our plane of existence, while yet beholding what the eye cannot see, - that which is invisible to the uninspired thought. This testimony of Holy Writ sustains the fact in Science, that the heavens and earth to one human consciousness, that consciousness which God bestows, are spiritual, while to another, the unillumined human mind, the vision is material. This shows unmistakably that what the human mind terms matter and spirit indicates states and stages of consciousness.''n1
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 573.
In light of this statement, it's interesting to note to whom the Bible says the shining star of Bethlehem appeared. Wise men saw it; the arrogant, uninspired Herod and his associates either did not see it or did not care to follow it. And it was humble shepherds who heard an angel messenger and saw ''the glory of the Lord'' shining round about them.n2
n2 See Luke 2:9.
Each one of us might ask himself, ''If I had been there, would I have seen and followed that brightness?'' Or perhaps more to the point, ''Is there a star shining now, at Christmastime, 1981, that heralds the presence of the Christ? Am I able to see it? Will I follow it?''
The very presence of the Christ, God's saving power, lights our way as we're receptive to its guidance. We can discern this presence and feel its healing influence by humbly following Jesus' example and adhering to his commands, letting the clear light of divine Truth into consciousness. This light may reveal dark Herod shadows we'd rather not see - elements of fear, lust, greed - but in revealing them this benign illumination dissolves them, because they are no part of God, Truth, or of His perfect image, man.
Destructive thinking ultimately victimized no one in Judea more than Herod. But it was really impersonal evil, belonging neither to God nor to His offspring , from which Herod might have freed himself, had he made a valiant spiritual effort. We can impersonalize and deny anything in our thought that's not worth perpetuating. We can refuse to give it identity (our name), and we can refuse to give it any further power over us on the basis that God, Love, Truth, didn't create it.
Isn't one of the messages of the Christmas story the fact that we always have a choice? No matter what we did yesterday or yesteryear, no matter what our previous thought-patterns may have been, Christmas returns again and again with its reminder that we, too, may see and follow the star. Destructive feelings and moods can be replaced with the affirmation of all that the Christ stands for. Such affirmation often takes place in churches, but it culminates in the very life of each one of us - in happier, healthier, and more spiritual states of consciousness.
So it appears that seeing the Christmas star and following it depend on one's state of thought. And the good thing about this is that each of us has the final word. Our eyes may not always see a certain constellation on a certain night, but the choice is ours as to whether we see heaven and earth through the eyes of Herodian arrogance and materiality or of shepherd-humble wisdom. To see and follow the star may take some effort. But surely one of the messages of Christmas is that the star is here, and each one of us has the capacity to follow it. DAILY BIBLE VERSE He that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:12