IN the progress of mankind there are times that call for extraordinary courage, mercy, and perspective. Times that challenge men and women to stand in gratitude for the richness of lessons learned - usually the hard way. People are often asked by events, again and again, to give the best and most honorable of themselves. And the worst of times has been changed to the best through a timely and unselfish word or act by a person, an institution, a community, or a nation. This is such a time. There are signs that a more noble era is struggling to emerge. None of us is blind to the despair felt by so many of our brothers and sisters who share this globe. But it must be that this very awareness is drawing forth a wider charity to assuage the grief, sorrow, and deprivation felt by too many. A more noble era can only become so as it leaves no one out - leaves no one untouched.
It is our conviction that spirituality remains today the most powerful agent in the progress of mankind. Spirituality certainly isn't something elusive or antiquated. It's the power of God actively realized in human experience - uplifting, transforming, healing. It's felt in many ways, shining through the hearts and lives of people the world over. Spiritualization of motive and act can do more for mankind than anything else. And, it has to do with home and human relations and education; and jobs and commerce and farms and fishing and clean environment; and government and freedom and safety, and communication and invention and individual purpose.
The power of spirituality, and the man Christ Jesus, who exercised it more fully than all others, inspire everyone who prays for unconditional love. In that spirit, and based on the practice of spiritual healing in Christian Science for over 100 years, we see this as a crucial time for people everywhere to become more fully engaged in striving for the best of times for all mankind.
We value goodness, love, spirituality. Like many others, we see the force of these elements of thought unfolding a better life in practical ways that affect the lives of the men, women, and children who together inhabit this planet more closely than ever before. More materialism is not an answer. But neither is abstract, uncertain spirituality.
Jesus' spirituality was neither abstract nor uncertain. His works and his teachings sprang from his oneness with God, to whom he was so close he called him Father. Jesus prayed and fed a multitude; he paid his taxes; he cured the insane; he redeemed the sinner; he raised others and himself from death. Practical. Felt. Useful.
Yet a sad and desolating form of illiteracy - spiritual illiteracy - still hides from much of mankind the worth of prayer. The gloss of what would pass as a ``civilized'' self-sufficiency has distracted too many from feeling so close to God that He can be called Father as well as Mother. In this advancing era, in unfolding its nobility, no longer can spirituality be dismissed as incompatible with civilization and society. Spirituality is the best friend civilization has ever had, and prayer is the God-given means for cultivating that spirituality and applying it to human needs.
In the pages of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Founder of our Church, Mary Baker Eddy, writes about the Lord's Prayer. As the centerpiece of our message to all at this Christmas season we quote from her description of the import of that prayer and her spiritual interpretation of the prayer:
``Our Master taught his disciples one brief prayer, which we name after him the Lord's Prayer. Our Master said, `After this manner therefore pray ye,' and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs. ...
``Here let me give what I understand to be the spiritual sense of the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father which art in heaven, Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,
Hallowed be Thy name. Adorable One.
Thy kingdom come. Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme.
Give us this day our daily bread; Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And Love is reflected in love;
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All.''
A joyous and spiritually enlightening Christmas and holiday season to all.
1Science and Health, pp. 16-17.