As children on Christmas Eve, my brother and I lay in our bunk beds so incredibly quiet, straining our ears to hear what we hoped would be the faint, far-off sound of sleigh bells approaching. We would also listen for the sound of reindeer’s hoofs when they touched down on the snow. Although we eventually discovered that listening for Santa to arrive in his sleigh was a fantasy, we realized that something good comes out of moments of quiet reflection each day.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has this to say in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Spirit, God is heard when the senses are silent” (p. 89). Listening quietly to Spirit, God, may not be that easy in today’s noisy world, especially if we are plugged into our electronic devices 24/7. But taking a break from the steady clamor of the noise of the material world, and turning to Spirit, can bring big blessings into our lives. In fact, it enables us to listen for angels.
By that, I don’t mean ethereal beings with wings. Science and Health describes angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (p. 581). The Bible abounds with references to angels – inspiration that came to those who were receptive – bringing warnings, advice, or good news.
I had an experience several years ago in which I felt an angel thought guiding me. While out for a walk one Sunday on a beautiful fall afternoon, in a somewhat remote area, I noticed that a van with two men in it drove past me, then stopped a short distance up the road. I had been thinking about a hymn that I had sung that morning in church and these words suddenly came to my thought:
Holy Father, Thou hast taught us,
We should live to Thee alone;
Year by year, Thy hand hath brought us
On through dangers oft unknown.
When we wandered, Thou hast found us;
When we doubted, sent us light;
Still Thine hand has been around us,
All our paths were in Thy sight.
(John M. Neale, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 115, adapt. © CSBD)
I had a strong intuition to turn around and not continue walking around the pond as I had planned to do. When I did, I noticed that the van also turned around and appeared to be slowly following me. Immediately I had the thought to pick up my pace, cut through a neighbor’s yard on to another street, and not look back. As this was happening, I was also striving to hold in thought the correct view of man. The man of God’s creating is always spiritual, perfect, and complete (see Genesis 1:26, 27), and could never cause harm to another of God’s children. Holding to that thought on that quiet afternoon I felt the presence of divine Love’s guidance and protection and, gratefully, I never saw the van again.
Listening quietly for God’s angel messages is a form of prayer. Prayer, I have learned in Christian Science, not only turns our thought to God, our divine source, but it enables us to better express our spiritual nature, which is always peaceful, kind, and intelligent. Our Way-shower, Christ Jesus, often sought quiet time with his Father. It is recorded that, at times, he went up into the mountains alone to pray and commune with God. Mrs. Eddy reminds us: “To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed” (Science and Health, p. 15).
In the Gospel of Luke we read about the shepherds who heard the angel message announcing the blessed birth of the Messiah: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (2:10, 11). This Christmas, let’s not forget to make time for what’s most important and quietly listen for the inspiring angel messages that lift our thought and promise good tidings of great joy to all people – people of every nationality worldwide. Like the shepherds, we, too, can hear the angels say: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).