During a Christmas visit to Germany some time ago, I enjoyed being part of my hosts’ holiday activities. This included opening the doors of an Advent calendar, with a little window for each of the first 25 days of December.
The calendars are fun – everyone received a little gift when a new window was opened – but their deeper purpose is to build up anticipation for Christmas Day and the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Christmas is about not just celebrating Jesus’ historical coming, but also awakening more to the Christ-spirit that animated Jesus’ life, to the hope and promise that the Christ presence is always with us. What a wonderfully expanded sense this gives to our Christmas celebrations, bringing a more timeless sense of the holiday!
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, made note of this kind of special affection for Christmas, writing, “… Christ’s appearing in a fuller sense is so precious, and fraught with divine benedictions for mankind” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 320).
This “fuller sense” with its “divine benedictions for mankind” was a promise that Jesus made to his followers. He told them: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever …. I will not leave you comfortless: … the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:16, 18, 26).
This is sometimes taken to mean that Jesus will return in the flesh at a future time to establish a new earthly kingdom. To me it indicates something that is much nearer and more immediate: that this kingdom is here, now, and is revealed as each of us discovers the truth that we are actually spiritual, the children of God. This consciousness of our spirituality is the ongoing unfolding of the Christ message, which is ever present to help humanity.
One meaning of the word “comforter” is advocate or intercessor on behalf of those in need. The Christ – the powerful healing message of God’s love – coming to argue your case for you, right when you most need it, is a helpful sense of the ongoing Comforter.
The truth of this ever-appearing of the Christ in human consciousness can have wonderful healing results, as a friend of mine proved. One summer she was diagnosed with breast cancer by several doctors. Surgery had been scheduled. But before it took place, my friend took an approach to addressing health issues that she was used to, looking to better understand her spiritual nature in relation to God. She was healed when a new insight came to her. She realized that even in the heat of summer, she was residing in the full blessings of a Christmas morning – the blessings of the Christ presence.
The ideas in this passage from Miscellaneous Writings inspired her prayers for healing: “The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, – that calms man’s fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death” (p. 320).
The starry brightness of this idea reminded my friend of her true spirituality. It calmed and comforted her, and when she went for her pre-surgery examination, she was found free of any sign of a problem. And she continues to be free of this illness.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “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” (p. 333).
This spiritual preparation to receive Christ, Truth, in the run-up to Christmas brings new insights even as it enlarges and inspires our observance of Christmas. But, as my friend proved, the healing message of Christmas – that Christ is ever present – is with us every day.
Adapted from a Christian Science Sentinel article published Dec. 19, 2005.