Feeling loved during the holidays

HOLIDAYS sometimes accentuate loneliness. Without the traditional companionship, traditions often feel hollow. But simply replacing old activities with new ones, as is sometimes kindly recommended, doesn't in itself fill the void, does it? Think for a moment, though, of the event to which Christmas turns us (when we're not sidetracked by the trappings): the appearing on earth of Christ Jesus. Startling as it may sound, Christmas is actually a celebration of the spiritual fact that we are not alone! The Gospel reveals that Jesus' birth fulfilled a prophecy: ``Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.'' 1 Lasting comfort isn't found in people or activities, but in focusing on the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of the recognition on earth that God is with us! Christ Jesus proved that God is present and available to guard, guide, and heal. If the very meaning of Christmas is that we are not alone, how do we feel God's loving presence? In his epistle, James declared, ``Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.'' 2 One way to become aware of ``God with us,'' then, is to notice anything good. Good has its source in the Father and is proof of ``God with us.'' Because God's gifts are eternal, invariable, good times in the past assure us of God's presence and love now. Even if our circumstances have changed, we can still be will ing to see such God-derived qualities as joy, security, and love expressed in new ways. Indeed, every evidence of genuine goodness in our lives proves that God is with us, because God is good as revealed by Scripture. If we're really having trouble perceiving good around us, maybe we should be expressing even more good ourselves in order to feel that sense of Immanuel, of ``God with us.'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, poses the question ``Are we really grateful for the good already received?'' She follows it with this promise: ``Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.'' 3 A young man, weary of feeling lonely during the holidays, studied what Mrs. Eddy has to say about Christmas. These Biblically based writings turned his thought toward the satisfying spiritual significance of Christmas. Consequently he thought less of the material hubbub and customs. As the young man began to understand the rich gift of Christmastime's spiritual promise--to see something of the infinite blessings given to man by God--his loneliness waned. Each holiday season after that was easier. Then one year he considered how he could give more to others. He could ``work'' on Christmas Day, he decided. In other words, he could pray. As he sat quietly praying in his office that day, two people called him, asking for his help through prayer in Christian Science. He was able to give the needed help, and his new approach to the holiday made Christmas Day a little easier for others. Instead of spending the holiday alone, he entertained Immanuel. As we notice and acknowledge even the smallest signs of Immanuel, we will begin to see more and more good, to feel more and more love. When we love God for His goodness, we are witnessing Immanuel, for love comes from God; Love is God. Truly, we are not alone. God cherishes each one of us. This Christmas, entertain Immanuel--``God with us.'' 1 Matthew 1:22, 23. 2 James 1:17. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3.

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