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The heart of Christmas

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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Last year, a holiday film came out that challenged the status quo for seasonal entertainment. "What Would Jesus Buy?" followed a performance artist and his gospel choir as they crossed the United States, staging events to encourage people to consider the true meaning of Christmas. The movie's message to live more simply and consciously remains timely for those of us who embark on the annual quest to keep the Christmas season real.

It's easy to get caught up in the "magic" of the season. At some point, though, it's not uncommon for people to find that while the idea of spreading good cheer is nice, the conventional forms of celebration – holiday parties, decorations, and the exchange of presents – tend not to deliver more than passing pleasure.

Mary Baker Eddy's illustrated poem, "Christ and Christmas," depicts a scene that captures the sense of yearning for a more spiritual view that often comes at this time of year. In it, a family and friends are decorating a tree, a scene that would fit well on a nostalgic Christmas card. But in the foreground is an elderly guest in a wheelchair, not participating in the festivities. That image brings out the desire to include everyone in the all-embracing spirit of good – the kind of comfort and cheer that lasts and radiates to others.

It's a good thing to wish others well, and even better to make an effort to reach out and help. Attaining these aims begins with identifying our values and ideals and acting more in accord with them. Backed by love for one another, they express a desire that opens the way toward greater good.

But it's even more helpful to recognize that both the inspiration and the impetus for accomplishing good come from God. And God's love is divine – infinitely bigger and more embracing than can be humanly conceived. Recognizing that there's a divine Principle of good makes the difference in distinguishing between a limited personal philanthropy and the world-transforming love that's seen in the words and works of Jesus. And it means that Christmas isn't so much a once-a-year celebration but an always available understanding of God's presence to be lived every day.

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