For many people, Christmas is a deeply loved memorial of the birth of Jesus, the Founder of Christianity. They see this birth as fulfillment of the prophecy in the Hebrew Scripture concerning the coming of a Messiah, or Saviour, sent of God, who would lift humanity out of its troubles and draw people closer to God and His heavenly kingdom.
In his life, Jesus did indeed fulfill that prophecy, freeing men and women from submission to sickness, sin, and even death. To each one he healed, Jesus represented freedom from some kind of trouble - leprosy, palsy, dishonesty, lameness, shame, dumbness, insanity - whatever loomed large in that individual's life as a limiting factor.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures" that "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (Pg. 332). This does not refer to a human form. It speaks of the spiritual, immortal nature of the Christ. Every time we acknowledge a thought as from God - pure, perfect, and good - we are entertaining the Christ.
The message of the Christ speaks differently to different people. They celebrate its coming in different ways. At Christmastime, the celebration tends to be very social. At other times (and even during the Christmas season), God's message comes to thought unannounced, sometimes almost unrecognized; the celebration is very private, unknown by others; just a silent, joyous praise of God and a feeling of gratitude for a need met.
The Bible tells of shepherds watching over their flocks at the time Jesus was born (see Luke 2:8-18). They didn't know the full significance of what was happening. They were simply aware of something wonderful going on. Here was the coming of the Christ, which Jesus was to embody.
Even now, it may well be that you or I have only a small glimpse of the full significance of the coming of the Christ. But anyone who has been touched by the truth of God, anyone who has been uplifted, healed, released from some bondage by the power of God, knows he or she has been divinely blessed.
As a boy, I had an experience of this coming of the Christ. I didn't even recognize it as such at the time. I had often been in trouble. And I know that my mother had prayed diligently for me.
One day, the thought came to me that I didn't have to be like that anymore. I accepted the thought. And my life changed after that. It wasn't instantaneous change, but my standpoint after that experience was different. My life consistently improved, and continues to improve.
I didn't realize at the time that the Christ, Truth, had come to my thought and healed it. It wasn't until many years later that I remembered that experience and realized I had welcomed a better thought and been healed by it in my life. I now think of that experience as a spiritual rebirth, a new beginning.
So, when we experience the coming of the Christ, we are not aware of the physical presence of Jesus. But the same benefit comes to us - the same healing, regeneration, and love - as came to those who met Jesus and were healed by him when he walked the earth.
This does not in any way detract from feeling a profound reverence for Jesus and what he did. Nothing can take his place in eternity, nor in the human heart; no one else can fulfill his mission or take it on. But each of us can resolve to follow him by following what he taught, even as he asked. Each can strive in some measure to do the works Jesus did, healing included, as he promised we would (see John 14:12). We can strive toward a better understanding of God, the Father of us all, in the way God Himself unfolds.
Even as Jesus was unique in his embodiment of the Christ, so each of us, too, has his or her own God-ordained identity and purpose. Each of us can humbly pray, as Jesus did, for God's will to be done "in earth, as it is in heaven," and let the light of Christmas shine through in our lives. In some measure, we thus forward the coming of the Christ to the heart of humanity.