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Merry Christmas!

`MERRY Christmas!'' That's how many people who speak English greet one another at this time of year. People who speak other languages convey the same thought in different words.

Almost everyone looks forward to Christmas--I know I do. I enjoy the brotherly love, the anticipation of meeting with friends or family, and I love watching someone open a gift I've given. What's sometimes tough to swallow is the commercialism--the excess marketing and merchandising, and the shallow treatment of a holiday that symbolizes something so momentous.

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Just think about what Christmas truly represents. The real joy of Christmas comes from the appearance on earth of Christ Jesus. But it doesn't need to stop there. Christ Jesus' life and example should be triggering the birth and development in our own thought of the power of Christ. Jesus expressed the Christ--God's perfect, divine manifestation of Himself--more fully than anyone before or since. The Christ-power isn't, however, something that was limited to the man Jesus. What it had behind it then, it has behind it now- -all of the might of God, divine Love and Truth. Christ is what tells you the good news that you are God's cherished, perfect offspring!

In her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ``The basis of Christmas is the rock, Christ Jesus; its fruits are inspiration and spiritual understanding of joy and rejoicing,--not because of tradition, usage, or corporeal pleasures, but because of fundamental and demonstrable truth, because of the heaven within us. The basis of Christmas is love loving its enemies, returning good for evil, love that `suffereth long, and is kind.' The true spirit of Christmas elevates medicine to Mind; it casts out evils, heals the sick, raises the dormant faculties, appeals to all conditions, and supplies every need of man'' (p. 260).

The true evidences of Christmas are ``inspiration and spiritual understanding of joy and rejoicing.'' Spiritual understanding means knowing about something through what God tells you. True joy, love, brotherhood, and rejoicing are things we appreciate and feel deeply because they are what God lovingly expresses in His children.

Spiritually understanding and rejoicing in what God is expressing in you as His spiritual offspring hints at the real meaning of Christmas. Spiritual joy comes as we recognize how true love and happiness aren't the result of the human environment--people, places, presents, and so forth--they are the outcome of God, expressed in each of us.

Christ's coming is more valuable to us and the world than any amount of extravagant celebration could ever be. I remember one Christmas when our family celebrated in such an extravagant way, giving one another so many presents, that the holiday felt shallow and the joy short-lived. The experience showed me how vital it is to put what's really important--Christ--first in our hearts and in our celebrations. As a family, we decided to celebrate this special time by loving more and living with Christ Jesus as our example. And we made a point of rereading the Bible's story of Jesus' birth. Suddenly Christmas took on real meaning for everyone--especially the children. Sure, we exchanged small, thoughtful gifts, but it was the brotherly love we exchanged that really mattered. Everyone truly felt the spiritual joy and love of Christmas.

Christ, Truth, is truly priceless. We never have to wait for someone to package it and give it to us. We don't ever need to return to bygone days to feel its power. And no matter how other people around us are acting, we can certainly rejoice in the birth of Christ in our own consciousness. ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you,'' said Christ Jesus (Luke 17:20, 21).

Yes, ``the kingdom of God is within you.'' The wonderful, Christly message is the fact that you are perfect and satisfied now. That is something certainly worth celebrating! This year, and in the years to come, the words Merry Christmas can hint at something truly spiritual, even at the appearing within us of the Christ, Truth.

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