Hearts made whole at Christmas

Whatever our holiday plans may look like, we can experience the joy and love that come from welcoming the eternal Christ into our hearts.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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It’s the Christmas season again! Beyond the festivities and gift-giving, Christians around the world are again revisiting the nativity story and celebrating the legacy of Christ Jesus’ remarkable life and works.

At this time of year, I’ve frequently pondered something Mary Baker Eddy, a follower of Jesus who discovered Christian Science, 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).

While Jesus’ appearance on earth was brief, the Christ – the healing and saving Truth that Jesus demonstrated – is incorporeal and eternal and appears to the receptive heart in every age.

In the Christmas story in the opening chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we find the story of Jesus’ birth. Obeying Caesar’s decree that citizens return to their ancestral homes in order to be counted in a census and pay their taxes, Jesus’ parents – a very pregnant Mary and a faithful Joseph – traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Joseph had been born.

But their trip served a higher purpose than the mere fulfillment of a civic duty – it was the fulfillment of prophecy. Their babe, Jesus, was in fact the promised Messiah, or Way-shower, who would bring to the world the good news that the Christ or divine Comforter is with us always. Nothing prevented them from reaching their destination and fulfilling their holy mission. Nor, it seems, was anything able to dampen their faith and trust in God’s loving care.

There’s something sacred, timeless, and relatable about the nativity story, and it brings to mind an experience our family had a couple of years ago. One night as my husband and I tucked our girls into bed, we shared with them the news that we couldn’t travel to visit family for Christmas because of another Covid-related lockdown in our area of the country.

“My heart is broken,” exclaimed our older daughter.

I was quiet. My heart ached as well.

But my husband spoke up. “You can’t cancel the Christ!” he said. I felt my heart soften in agreement. Christmas is a time to honor the Christ, to demonstrate that Christ is an eternal, healing presence. Every one of us, at any moment, can feel the living presence of Christ, Truth.

The Apostle Paul exemplified the spirit of the Christ despite the extreme adversity he faced. Throughout his wide-ranging healing ministry, he felt the presence and protection of God, divine Love. He said: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38, 39).

Instead of being sucked in by sadness, I felt a growing conviction that this same divine Love was present to comfort all of us. This was surely evidence of the appearance of the Comforter.

That Christmas turned out to be a holiday like none other. We savored the time with our immediate family and found joy in discovering new ways to minister to friends and neighbors. Sure, the presents, food, and parties we associate with the holiday season can be so much fun. But we saw that the real gift of Christmas is the eternal, inextinguishable Christ, Truth – that unbridled, pure light of hope and healing that obliterates the darkness of mortal thought. Like a brilliant idea, that spiritual light is always there, and it is perceived when thought is ready to receive it.

Was it the holiday that we’d planned? No. Was it one that we ultimately needed and thoroughly enjoyed? Yes!

Like so many people around the world, what we’d most needed was the divine reassurance that our hearts were whole.

Any year can be a trying one. Thus, the Christmas story continues to be relevant – a reminder that Christ brings to us the tender, healing message of our Father-Mother God, Love, wherever we are. Christ’s appearing in consciousness is as certain as the dawning sun and breaks through the clouds of fear and hopelessness.

Whether we’re at home or traveling this Christmas, we can keep an eye out for Truth’s continual appearing. This will no doubt make for a holy day.

Adapted from an article published in the Dec. 12, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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