ONE of the favorite questions to ask this time of year is, ``What do you want for Christmas?'' Often we have very specific ideas about what we want! In fact, sometimes the only thing Christmas seems to be about is presents.
I know what it feels like not to get the present you want or-- worse--to get something you don't want. At first it used to bother me quite a bit. But as I began to understand that Christmas is about a different kind of gift giving and receiving, I found that getting the perfect present isn't quite as important as I had thought it was.
You may already know that the Christmas story is the account of Christ Jesus' birth. This took place in a stable because his parents couldn't get a room anywhere in town. But something much more important was going on with this birth. People didn't know it then, but Jesus would be the one to reveal the Christ to the world. Christ is a gift to us from God. Christ is the power that helps us make good decisions, that enables us to give up being mad and to make peace with our friends or relatives. Christ can make us brave and also wise. And the Christ is a healing power that can cure us of sickness, too.
The Christ's message for each of us was expressed by the angels who announced Jesus' birth to some shepherds. Luke's Gospel tells us what the angels said: ``Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'' (2:14).
Throughout his life, Jesus taught people that God loves them, that they could know this love, and that God's love would heal them of any trouble they had. It was this love that would bring peace to families, to schools, cities, nations.
So what this means is that God's gift of love is for you, too, whether your parents are rich or poor, whether you are part of a big family or a small one. God's love is different from human love because it doesn't change. You can't find God in a bad mood, because He is Love itself.
Love, Truth, and Life are God's nature and being. And through Jesus' example we know that God loves us as His own children. In fact, the Bible says God made man in His own likeness. This doesn't mean that God looks like a human being. It means that He gives us His nature; we are spiritual, because He is Spirit. In other words, we are designed to be good, to express love, to be truthful, to be strong. We are always under God's care, no matter where we are. And since God never has a bad day, He has nothing but good in store for us on any day.
When we let Christmas remind us of the gift of Christ--God's love for us--we can be happy. In her book, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, Mary Baker Eddy, who is the Discoverer of Christian Science, speaks quite a bit about Christmas. She writes in one place, ``I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity, letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth's appearing'' (p. 262).
This attitude can help us not just at Christmastime, but during the whole year. When we really love to express qualities such as inner quiet, good will, and joy, we can feel the warmth and peace of the Christ no matter where we are or what time of year it is.
So whether or not you get the presents you want this year, take a few moments to celebrate ``Truth's appearing'' by feeling love for your family and friends. And after the holiday, when you're back in school, be sure to take Christmas with you. It's a gift you won't want to be without.
Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly
in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing
one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs,
singing with grace
in your hearts to the Lord.