"Unto us a child is born..." wrote the spiritual seer Isaiah. Unto us? Today? For you and me? The prophet's words reverberate with the impact of the moment - and indeed, even today this impact resonates in grateful hearts and peaceful minds. "Unto us a child is born."
What do children stand for? Beyond the obvious, the respect for the value and worth of childhood echoes a deepened understanding of manhood and womanhood and of the relationships that are forged among the family of man. Children define relationships and make individuals become a family. They identify metaphorically and physically the complex network of being.
When our son was about to be born, my husband and I were thrilled. We had prepared well for this event, and we were looking forward to getting to know an individual whom we already deeply loved. Our love was genuine and it included not just this little one; it integrated everybody.
This child would turn our parents into grandparents, my sister into an aunt, and our brothers into uncles. The child would, without doing anything but simply coming into being, redefine the relationships within the family. Children classify relationships and show by their very existence the wonderful web into which life is woven.
In a similar but much more significant way, the child Jesus, born into the family of humanity, showed by his very existence the wonderful web into which spiritual life is woven. This gracefully celebrated advent of a new era inaugurated an epoch of illumined human rights, respect for the individual, a higher understanding of God, the healing power of Love.
The key to understanding why this child was born unto us - unto you and me - is hidden within the virgin birth, revealing in a new way that God is a Father. Jesus didn't have a biological father; he had a spiritual father. And later, in a most touching and powerful sermon, he would teach everyone a simple prayer, starting with this line: "Our Father which art in heaven." Our Father is Spirit, and we belong with the Christ to one spiritual family. We are indeed brothers and sisters, part of the amazing richness of divine being.
When Jesus pronounced, "Our Father," he defined his own role within the spiritual history of humanity and made clear that his spiritual origin was not just his privilege or a special dispensation. It was and is a heritage granted to all of us.
So the family ties we have with the eternal Christ draw upon this heritage and run deeper than other ties. "Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective," observed Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 18).
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." The joyous music that Georg Friedrich Händel wrote for this message in his "Messiah" resonates in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.
This child is for us - for you and me. This child relates his own being to all of us and proves the sturdy spiritual bond between God and His children. The Christ, Jesus' spiritual selfhood, connects us with our Father. After Jesus' time on earth, life was never the same. The birth and life of Jesus reach beyond the stable in Bethlehem into our homes, unfolding their meaning in our lives today.
There is a tender secret in life, reaching beyond circumstance and happenstance into divine design and spiritual planning. It is revealed whenever someone is touched by the sweetness of good, whenever somebody realizes the unity and oneness of being in sincere love. So let the angels this Christmas whisper to you and me a diapason of peace and friendship, and let our relationships be realized as natural, given, and, yes, glorious.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote these poetic words a century ago, and they still sparkle in childlike sincerity: "The nineteenth-century prophets repeat, 'Unto us a son is given.' The shepherds shout, 'We behold the appearing of the star!' - and the pure in heart clap their hands..." ("Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896," pg. 168).