At this time of year, do you sometimes encounter a person who reminds you of Charles Dickens's infamous spoilsport Scrooge? We bumped into one last Christmas, in a long line of would-be travelers trying to check in for a delayed flight to Chicago. It was one of the snowiest winters our city had ever known, and the airport had been closed for hours. Hundreds of stranded passengers had spent the night on the floor of the departure lounge.
As we reached the front of the line, a smartly uniformed agent said with an encouraging smile: "I know some of you have been here for a long time. And we're all tired. But, perhaps, if you think of what Christmas celebrates, it will help you to be even more patient."
As she turned back to help us, one passenger commandeered a microphone from a nearby counter and snorted back: "We don't need a lecture on patience. We've been here for two days already!"
Had it not been for his accent, it could have been the "Bah, Humbug!" voice of Ebenezer Scrooge himself-straight from the pages of A Christmas Carol. Even so, the representative continued to be gracious and helpful to each passenger. Clearly, she had the true spirit of Christmas in her heart, and I thanked her for sharing it with us.
A year later, that assistant's smile remains as vivid as the happy Christmas we ended up having when we finally got to Chicago. She had helped us in her own way to find a hush in the rush; to look beyond the obligatory gifts, gatherings, and greetings; to be reassured that our stockings were already full and that we had the greatest gift of all-a Saviour, a Way-shower. As the Bible explains, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16,17).
That morning I remembered how this Saviour had always been tenderly concerned with the needs of mankind. Jesus had looked with compassion on those struggling with various problems, yet had never allowed himself to be misled into believing in the solidity of those problems. He proved disease and sin to be false, not of God; and he demonstrated that good things-peace, joy, health, harmony, abundance, and dominion-are God's perpetual gifts to each of us.
Yet, we need to go beyond mere adulation of Jesus to celebrate the true Christmas. Our gratitude for God's immeasurable blessings is best expressed by putting the message of Christmas into practice every day of the year. This requires us to replace hatred and revenge with love and forgiveness. To dispel sorrow with the tender ministrations of the healing Christ. To melt fear and doubt with the warmth of omnipresent Love.
Christian Science is inseparable from the healing message of Christ Jesus. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered this Science, wrote, "I celebrate Christmas with my soul, my spiritual sense, and so commemorate the entrance into human understanding of the Christ conceived of Spirit, of God and not of a woman-as the birth of Truth, the dawn of divine Love breaking upon the gloom of matter and evil with the glory of infinite being" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 262).
As divine Love dawns brighter and brighter upon the "gloom" of greed, suspicion, and selfishness, materiality is silenced, and we can understand better how Scrooge felt when he was healed of his meanness and woke from his nightmare to find himself "as happy as an angel" and "as merry as a school-boy." Dickens wrote, "Running to the window, he opened it." And Scrooge was instantly embraced by "golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!"
All who demonstrate that healing and regeneration are far more important than tinsel, toys, and good food will have Scrooge's "golden sunlight" in their hearts wherever they are-even in a snowbound airport!