For goodness' sake, a reason for Christmas
A Christian Science perspective.
The American Humanist Association recently launched a nationwide advertising campaign for a "Godless Holiday," with billboards and bus signs appearing in major cities. "No God? ... No Problem," read the posters, picturing people in Santa hats concluding, "Be good for goodness’ sake."
In thinking about the play on the words of a Christmas song, I realized that for me, "goodness’ sake" and God are inseparable. It’s not a new thought; in various languages the word for good has the same root as the word for God. If "goodness’ sake" can make an appeal to us, goodness must be spiritual: always there, always real, always powerful.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, was ahead of her time in perceiving the gulf beginning to open between the world of religion and the world defined by scientific materialism. She was also a thoroughly Christian woman. She discovered Christian Science, which teaches that good is a name for God, and that the way for humanity to find real peace and lasting goodness is to gain a deeper understanding of God.
To really grasp that God is All and only good, and is always with us, involves something much more than attending church out of habit, doing occasional good works, and acknowledging a creed. Such an understanding of God cuts through debate about what role deity may or may not play in human life. The transformative healing and redemption that come when we acknowledge divine good, God, as the only genuine authority in our lives are proofs that spiritual sense is natural, practical, and universal.
Mary Baker Eddy experienced this when she was severely injured and not expected to survive. A passage from Scripture healed her, accompanied by a dawning awareness that God is always with us.
Christian Science reveals that a spiritual sense of life, and the blessings that come with it, flow naturally from Jesus’ loving and practical teaching that God is ever-present, divine good. You could say that Jesus set forth the recipe for a life filled with love, justice, truth, and lasting good when he advocated the first two commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke 10:27). Nothing in his teaching and healing ministry indicates that he imagined God to be an anthropomorphic deity who doled out good to some but not others. Quite the contrary. Jesus’ God was Love, Spirit, Truth; spiritual and always accessible to everyone.
Such a theology does not divide but unites us, and encourages what is best in us. Mrs. Eddy put it this way: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 340).
While it’s natural to rejoice in Christmas as a season to remember Jesus’ birth or to present tokens of affection to one another, Christmas has a deeper meaning as an opportunity to get to know the divine All-good better. Christmas is a meeting place for the human heart yearning for solid, dependable good. It’s an occasion to wake up to our everyday need for God – for good – and the part we play in the unfolding of good to all people.
The advent of Jesus’ universal message of love is always now; it comes to our hearts as we allow ourselves to be influenced by the Christ-message. It has never been more important to find our common ground and the relevance of this message. We must realize how much good we are capable of, for goodness’ sake!