CHRISTMAS is a wonderful holiday -- partly because of the festivities but mostly because of its glorious spiritual message of salvation. But what happens after Christmas? Do we rejoice in the message until Christmas is over and then put away the spiritual ideas -- as children gradually put away their new toys and return to their old, familiar ones? Isn't there a way to carry over the inspiration of Christmas to the new year?
Each of us will no doubt have had some thoughts about what the celebration of the birth of Jesus means to us. But one of the most important elements of Jesus' mission in the world is beautifully summarized in John's Gospel. He writes: ``For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.''1
This concept of our salvation is a wonderfully strengthening one to carry with us into the new year. It was evident in every aspect of Christ Jesus' life. Through his understanding of God and his relationship to Him, the Master saved people from sin, from sickness, from death. His teachings helped people understand something of God's promises to them, and his works showed them how these promises have an actual impact on their lives.
Yet the gospel passage doesn't limit the possibility of salvation to the past. It says, ``whosoever believeth in him.'' If we are willing to believe in Christ Jesus' teachings and works, we too can begin to gain freedom from sickness, death, and condemnation.
This promise of freedom seems especially important at the twilight of an old year and the beginning of a new one. By giving the Christmas message more influence in what comes after Christmas, we build on a sure foundation of Christ, Truth. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science says, ``It is the living Christ, the practical Truth, which makes Jesus `the resurrection and the life' to all who follow him in deed.''2
We experience the influence of this ``living Christ'' as we search our hearts to discover if there is any part of them that is opposed to good, to God. If, for instance, we are resentful, now is the time to give it up. God is Love, and we are His offspring. Therefore, to be resentful or angry is not Godlike. Although giving up such feelings is not easy, each effort to do so will lead us toward the ``living Christ,'' the spiritual truth that is the basis of salvation and happiness.
In preparing for the new year we should also consider our relationship to ourselves. Sometimes we get so involved in seeing what we have done wrong that we don't see the spiritual progress we have made. Perhaps now is the time to give up this self-condemnation. Remember that God didn't send His Christ to condemn the world but to save it. And Jesus' promise of salvation is meant for each of us. As we embrace the certainty that we are loved of God and as we strive to live more spiritually, we will like ourselves better. We will also see more evidence of our own and others' spiritual progress.
We are not alone in our efforts to be more spiritually-minded; the spirit of Christ, which Jesus so perfectly lived, is with us. Through our embracing of this Christ message, each Christmas and new year can bring opportunities for joy in our true condition as the sons and daughters of God.
1John 3:16, 17. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 31.
A Spanish translation of this article appeared on the same page.