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Christmas, Whenever . . .

THERE are probably many people in my wife's homeland of Australia who dream of experiencing an idealized ``white Christmas.'' I'm the opposite. We live in the Northern Hemisphere, and not being an enthusiast for cold weather or snow, however crisp and white, each year I am tempted to be envious of those who can enjoy summer sunshine and barbecues on the beach for their Christmas celebration.

Christmas, though, is vastly more than a material celebration of any sort. The true idea of Christmas is the celebration of the glorious coming of Christ to individual and universal human thought and experience. We can celebrate the spiritual awakening that Christ brings to the world and to our own thought anywhere and at any time.

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Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has written several inspiring items on the spiritual meaning of Christmas. Each Christmas I somewhat dutifully dig out these and the wonderful story of the nativity in the Bible. Reading them is always uplifting and profitable, as they renew my spiritual concept of the Christmas season.

One of the things that I always notice is that I end up feeling that Christmas isn't limited to one season of the year but that Christmas is ``whenever.'' Whenever we open our thoughts to God in humble prayer, whenever we act in a Christian manner and heal and help others, whenever we prayerfully acknowledge the supremacy of God and the reality of His spiritual creation, we are living the message of Christmas. One thing that struck me one recent Christmas, though, was that I remembered the fact of the always-Christmas only at Christmastime!

Clearly, I realized, since the real, spiritual Christmas can come any day of the year, and should come every day of the year, I have to remember this at other times than when Christmas is in people's thought generally. So, one (northern) summer I got out Mrs. Eddy's writings about Christmas and the Bible story of Jesus' birth and studied them. True, there were no Christmas trappings in the stores or special celebration in the offing. These, though, are not the real definers of God's Christmas. They could wait till December!

I found in Mrs. Eddy's book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany a Christmas greeting that I could take with me everywhere I went throughout the coming months till Christmas, and on through the Christmas season, and after it had long died down. It's a Christmas message penned by her to members of her household. At the time it was written, they affectionately called her ``Mother.'' She wrote: ``Beloved:--A word to the wise is sufficient. Mother wishes you all a happy Christmas, a feast of Soul and a famine of sense'' (p. 263).

This, it seemed to me, defined the event of Christmas in terms of one's own willingness to yield to the demands of the Christ for purification from sensuality. To the degree that any day includes forsaking sensual thoughts and actions in favor of spiritual consciousness and Christian activity, then it is a Christmas day, and a truly happy one at that. Christmas occurs whenever and wherever sense yields to Soul. Whenever, in fact, we are striving to obey Jesus' command in the Sermon on the Mount ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect'' (Matthew 5:48).

There's no better way to learn how to achieve such a vital turnaround in our thinking and acting than through contemplating the birth and life of Christ Jesus. The most vital message of the Bible story of Jesus' virgin birth is that the real origin and source of man is God, Spirit, not matter. Man doesn't truly have a sensual heritage, but a spiritual one. You and I are in reality the purely spiritual man of God's creating, and sensuality is an impostor in our thoughts. As we prayerfully hold to this truth for ourselves and prove it by regenerated lives, we are gaining in the demonstration of man's divinely natural dominion over the evidences of material sense and we partake more fully in the feast of Soul's self-revelation through Christ.

Such spiritualization can occur today, tomorrow, always. Whenever it does occur, it's Christmas!

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@CALLOUT = We can celebrate the spiritual awakening that Christ brings every day.

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