Each year since 1971, the people of Nova Scotia have gifted Boston a majestic Christmas tree. The annual tree lighting in the Boston Common attracts thousands, although not all are familiar with the history behind the gift.
Canada’s generosity is attached to a century-old thank-you for Boston’s first response to a disaster some have compared to the scale of 9/11. In December 1917, two cargo ships collided in Halifax Harbor, one a French cargo ship carrying explosives, which resulted in the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb. Waves of responders soon came to our Canadian neighbors’ aid. In fact, one of the first trains to arrive was one commissioned by The Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. It carried warm clothing and monetary aid, as well as transporting Red Cross supplies, doctors and nurses, and others ready to contribute to the relief efforts. Strained relations between Canada and the United States at the time were dramatically improved because of the US response to the tragedy.
This spirit of neighbors helping neighbors has certainly been a theme this year as our global community witnessed first responders to large-scale disasters resulting from hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes. Many were displaced from their homes, in need of food and shelter, and above all comfort and hope for a brighter future.
Such brotherly affection and neighborly love typifies the spirit of Christian discipleship, demonstrated in the highest sense by Christ Jesus himself, who went about “doing good” by healing the sick and freeing those in bondage to immorality. Jesus proclaimed, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Christian Science brings the inspiring example of Christ Jesus’ lifework into present-day relevance. It explains that the saving Christ, or Truth that Jesus manifested, wasn’t just limited to Jesus’ time here on earth. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described the Christ in timeless terms. She wrote, “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332). And many individuals have proved that God’s saving, healing power is not a thing of the past, but is available to each one of us, bringing healing, inspiration, and comfort right where it is most needed. Christ is the spirit Jesus so perfectly expressed and that isn’t limited to a time or place, but comes to searching hearts in every age.
It was this divine voice that spoke to me when I was traveling from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast for a work conference recently. I arrived with a full schedule ahead of me, which would last into the late evening. I had traveled this distance not just to be barely present, but to be an active and joyous participant in the conference. But on arrival, I suddenly began to feel unwell, so I reached out to God and listened for the “true idea voicing good.”
Rather than giving in to the symptoms, I began to acknowledge that, as a spiritual expression of God, harmony and health – manifestations of God’s eternal vitality and balance – were present in me. This kind of spiritual, scientific prayer has become an immediate aid in my life, and it again proved to be effective that day. I got ready for the evening program, and soon all the symptoms faded away. My contribution that night was more than just being present, it was accompanied by a renewed awareness of the healing presence of the Christ in my life.
“Christ is Truth, and Truth is always here, – the impersonal Saviour,” Mrs. Eddy once wrote (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 180). The gratitude of Nova Scotians, which continues to this day, is an inspiration for all. I know in my family, we will be expressing our gratitude this season for the true spirit of Christmas, the ever-present Christ and its ability to meet our global family’s needs.