Receiving Christ no matter the season

A Christian Science perspective: It is with a receptive heart that we receive the idea of Christ, regardless of the time of year.

At this time of year, many TV commercials and movies feature some well-intentioned individual frenetically preparing for the holidays. Such scenes are often comical, but some viewers may find that the underlying theme resonates. As the holidays approach, it can be tempting to feel pressured to do certain things to prepare – travel plans to arrange, gifts to buy, work to get done.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with selfless giving or gathering with loved ones. But the heart of Christmas is not in human planning or the purchasing of items. It is Christ, Truth – the divine nature that Christ Jesus expressed – that brings to mankind the wonderful proof that man’s true identity is spiritual, the perfect reflection of God, divine Love. The Christ is eternal, “the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains: “The advent of Jesus of Nazareth marked the first century of the Christian era, but the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days. Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea, – the reflection of God, – has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 333). It’s with a receptive heart that we receive the Christ – regardless of what season it is or where we are on Dec. 25.

One year, I found myself feeling particularly burdened as Christmas approached. Scheduling anticipated travel had become complicated, and my time frame for completing the many work and household tasks on my to-do list was short. Anxious about both getting everything done and pleasing everyone involved, I soon felt utterly overwhelmed.

At that point, I realized that while my intentions may have been good, my “to-do list” focus had eclipsed my receptivity to the Christly reality of God’s love and care for all of us, His children. I decided to spend the rest of that evening praying to better understand the timeless, active, and relevant nature of Christ.

There’s no caveat to the fact that Christ is always present – no requirement that we craft some great plan for annual festivities in order to receive Christ. At every moment, Christ, Truth, is communicating to our consciousness the truth of God’s goodness, and of man as God’s deeply cared for, whole, spiritual reflection. And because we are God’s spiritual creation, we are each inherently capable of discerning and feeling that Christ presence. This is the spiritual fact at Christmas and every day. Referring to the Christ, his eternal, spiritual identity, Jesus promised, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

As I prayed in this way, I gained a deeper, more meaningful understanding of Christ and what Christmas is truly commemorating. I realized that, as the Christ forever assures us, God’s children are never helpless, but always cared for and embraced in His love. The heavy sense of burden I’d been feeling lifted completely, replaced with a sense of peace. Travel arrangements soon fell into place, and necessary tasks were accomplished without stress and on time.

We can open our hearts, right here and now, to receive the eternal Christ, and tangibly feel God’s infinite love for everyone. This not only paves the way for a truly joyous Christmas, but also enables us to feel the comforting, healing Christmas message at every hour.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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