Family harmony at the holidays

A Christian Science perspective: How can we nurture a sense of holiness and harmony during the holidays?

Soon it will be the holidays again. According to Webster, a “holiday” is a holy day. Christmas is certainly a holiday, but is it really a “holy day” for each of us? Perhaps the degree to which we are looking forward to, or dreading, the holidays has a specific connection to how much we are hallowing, or making holy, those days and the relationships that are a part of them.

Aside from the trappings and trimmings, our experience at Christmastime often comes down to our relationships. It helps to base our relationships – and therefore family events – on a more spiritual, or holier, foundation, which promotes harmony. One dictionary states that the word “holy” means, in part, divine. So to cherish holiness means to devote our thought to the Divine, or God.

A sense of holiness can be nurtured and developed in one’s own consciousness through the spiritual understanding of God as Love, and in our demonstration of a higher, more unselfish, even spiritual sense of love in our daily activities. Of course, Christmas exists to honor the birth of Christ Jesus, the appearing of the Christ, Truth, in human experience. Two of the precepts of Christ Jesus’ teaching are to love God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and the related, consequent commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (see Matthew 22:36-39).

Endeavoring to obey these two commandments helps us see that as God’s spiritual, perfect reflection (see Genesis 1:26, 27), we are anchored in God, divine Love. As we strive to express a more divinely derived love toward others, we nurture a sense of holiness that transforms our thought and helps hallow, or make holy, our experience. We can cherish family members, both those who are with us at Christmas and those who may be absent, by seeing the spiritual perfection of each one as the perfect image of God, created by God. This supports family harmony all year round.

Affirming our oneness with God by learning to love Him and express His love for all, we bring the powerful influence of divine Love into our relationships. As the Bible says, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I John 4:16). Expressing God’s love to others, we are armored against the slights, criticism, cynicism, or any other small or large inharmonies that would intrude on family gatherings during the holidays. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you” (p. 571).

God, Love, gives all of us the ability, inspiration, and desire to turn our thought toward Him; so praying to express more love, and gaining a new, more harmonious view of family, is a natural process. It may take effort and wrestling with human tendencies and characteristics, but love is inherent in our real, God-given individuality, and through the progress we make we feel this more and more. In “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” Mrs. Eddy explains the results of putting divine Love first in our thought: “We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (p. 113).

Through greater spiritual understanding and a fuller expression of divine Love, we’ll find that a deep, lasting peace fills our thought at Christmas and other times. As we see all those present at holiday gatherings, including ourselves, as the image and likeness of God, we are supporting real harmony and peace all around us.

Taking this spiritual approach enables us to reflect the healing influence of divine Love at holiday gatherings. Divine Love, expressed, hallows these occasions and transforms them into meaningful experiences – into truly holy days.

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