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.