The satisfying peace of Christmas
Christmas – the celebration of Christ’s appearing – comes to us in quietness and humility, bringing with it the lasting peace that can only come from God.
The house was full of relatives and friends celebrating Christmas loudly and happily. Needing a little escape from the noise, I ducked into my bedroom to be alone. In the calm of my room, I was a little surprised at how quietly happy I felt. I didn’t need to rush back out and join in the fun right away, but reveled in this moment of feeling God’s satisfying love and gentle presence right where I was.
Years later, I was alone for Christmas – away from family and friends while working at a resort. On Christmas Day, a few other staff members and I enjoyed some moments of laughter and a gift exchange of wrapped items from the vending machine. Yet, most of my time was spent being still, aware of the Christly affection I felt expressed by and for others.
To me, these instances were tangible examples of what Mary Baker Eddy refers to as “Truth’s appearing,” when writing about how she liked to observe Christmas. She said, “I love to observe Christmas in quietude, humility, benevolence, charity, letting good will towards man, eloquent silence, prayer, and praise express my conception of Truth’s appearing” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 262).
Christmas represents the appearing of Christ, the spiritual idea of Truth. And I realized that whether I was alone or with others, whether I had an abundance of gifts or none, the appearing of Christ, Truth, as a gentle and loving presence is a constant, because divine Truth is changeless. Listening for the Christ in quiet moments helps me to yield to the Christmas message that God, divine Love, is supreme, governing us all, and this comforts and heals.
In another of her writings about Christmas, Mrs. Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, beautifully describes the connection between Truth’s appearing and healing protection: “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” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 320).
Truth’s appearing comes from omnipotent and omnipresent God, whose influence cannot be hid by human busyness, by threats of isolation or contagion, or by any form of sin, disease, or death. Truth overcomes all discord, and this knowledge reassures us. The all-knowing God “feed[s] the famished affections,” forgives as we forgive others, and leads us into a greater understanding of our God-given health, purity, and grace (see Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 17).
Truth’s appearing may come in a wide variety of ways. But it often comes to our thinking in ways that are quiet and unexpected. Jesus’ birth is a perfect example. At the time, there was much anticipation of the coming of the Messiah and how this arrival might look – all grand and outwardly glorious narratives. But the actual appearance of the Messiah, as Jesus born in a manger, was unexpected, humble, yet powerful beyond all worldly calculations.
We can prepare our own mangers and humbly make room to receive the Christ, which Jesus exemplified, by letting into our experience the sacred influences of unselfishness. This is shown in our spontaneous generosity, honesty, and compassion; in our revolutionary philanthropy, shown in going beyond our comfort zones to express kindliness, benevolence, and love for all humanity; and in our spiritual affection – reflecting that holy, adoring, pure embrace of God to all Her creation.
Whether we are spending Christmas surrounded by others or alone, the comforting, constant reappearing of the Christ, Truth, is the essential element that gives the satisfying peace all can feel at Christmas and always.