THE birth of Jesus Christ, the Bible says, was marked by the appearance of a star. This star attracted wise men-devout men-from the East. It led them to journey to a remote desert place, where the baby Jesus was.
Historians have concluded that this "star" was likely a remarkably strong light, caused by the alignment of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. But beyond a perfectly reasonable astronomical calculation, another fact remains: the wise men possessed such keen spiritual awareness, or receptivity to the fact that something wondrous was happening, that they traveled a huge distance, to bring precious gifts to honor the coming of this infant representative of the Christ.
The age in which Jesus was born did not take note of his birth as a remarkable event. But the wise men perceived its significance, despite its obscurity. In the Preface to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy described the star as symbolic of the perception that God is infinite; that He is able to sustain each one of us in all circumstances. Here, at the very beginning of the Christian Science textbook, the Discoverer of Christian Science wrote of the star of Bethlehem: ". . . it traversed the night, and came where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe, the human herald of Christ, Truth, who would make plain to benighted understanding the way of salvation through Christ Jesus, till across a night of error should dawn the morning beams and shine the guiding star of being" (p. vii).
How many of us, today, are receptive to the star-the light of spiritual truth? This star is shining brightly, even as it did at the nativity. How many of us seek to cultivate what the wise men had: an awareness of that which is truly wondrous and holy?
Essentially it was Jesus' own unlimited awareness of God, his creator, that later enabled him to teach, to heal, and to redeem people. Jesus went on to claim his birthright as the Son of God. Once he quoted the prophetic words of Isaiah, as St. Luke records: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (4:18, 19; see also Isaiah 61:1, 2). More than just claiming this identity for himself, Jesus proved that he could fulfill its demands. He did "preach," "heal," and "set at liberty," and he did so more profoundly than anyone has done before or since. His self-awareness was based on divine inspiration. You might say his star shone more brightly than any other. And Jesus promised that we all have at hand this same light of God, with which we can work good works ourselves, through obedience and love.
Real celebration of the birth of Jesus is in celebrating what he taught-that spiritual perfection glows in each one of God's children. When human circumstances indicate otherwise, and something such as trouble, fear, or sickness casts a person into darkness, spiritual awareness can be counted on to lead him into actual light. This is what Christian Science teaches. Cultivating spiritual insight and intuition, Christian Science leads every seeker to the Christ-to the truth that Jesus represented and by which he healed. It does this to the degree that its precepts are obeyed. And these precepts spring from none other than the Word of God.
Observing Christmas in the way the wise men did on the first Christmas-loving God and His goodness enough to perceive it afar off, in the night, in a desert, and in a troubled time-is a practice anyone may undertake, no matter what his or her religious affiliation. The fruits of this practice are good. In fact, they are the same fruits that Jesus reaped in his ministry: spiritual growth, physical healing, and the regeneration of human lives. Christian healing honors all of us as "children of light." It shows that the teachings of Jesus are worth celebrating every day.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.