Christmas, and the permanence of joy
A Christian Science perspective.
Joy can sometimes seem fleeting, even absent. Usually we think of joy as a reaction to some circumstance. But what if joy was more permanent than fluctuating circumstances? What if joy was such a natural element of man’s character that it couldn’t be taken away? (see John 16:22). Those “what ifs” become solid fact when we consider the spiritual source of joy.
When Jesus was born, angels announced, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). That spiritual foundation was emphasized by the Apostle Paul when he spoke of joy as the “fruit of the Spirit,” with no law against it (see Galatians 5:22, 23).
Our family needed that spiritually based joy one Christmas. The day before Christmas Eve we were told that two beloved relatives, my husband’s grandmother and my dad, were seriously ill and might not be with us long. Could we come be with them for the holiday? Without hesitation, we made arrangements to begin the journey to see our relatives, who lived near each other.
Sadly, I realized Christmas might not be quite so joyful for our three children that year. So during the 600-mile trip, we talked about joy. We recognized that it can sometimes be exuberant, but it can often be quiet and thoughtful. It can be an inner, silent conviction that God, good, is always with us. We shared ideas about the kind of joy that’s not self-centered, but God-centered, joy that the angels, God’s messengers, sing about. Our conversation was stirring thought to recognize the healing qualities of joy. It uplifts us when we feel sad. It calms us when we feel afraid. It’s a companion when we feel lonely. Because its roots are in divine Love, God, it’s logical that where God is (and God is everywhere) there is joy.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, brought a level of reverence to our celebration of the Christmas season. Her teachings, the teachings of Christian Science, bring out that joy is a consequence of our relationship to Truth, and evidence of the kingdom of heaven within us (see “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 260).
Mrs. Eddy writes, “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” (Miscellany, p. 262). Christian Science recognizes that Christ Jesus was the harbinger of the healing Truth, God, to all mankind.
We arrived late on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, instead of opening presents, we were off early to visit our loved ones. That’s when I began to realize what I had almost missed: Nothing can put a lid on the permanence of childlike joy! It’s not seasonal or subject to change along with human events. It’s natural and enduring.
Our children were genuinely delighted to see my parents, their beloved Grammie and Gramp, on Christmas morning, and my husband’s grandmother in a nearby city later that day. Compassionate love and spontaneous happiness shone through the reunion. Although I had steeled myself for what might have been a long, sad day, it turned out to be one of the most loving, unselfish, and joyful days of the whole season. Joy and love had prevailed! We were told later that both relatives rallied after that visit. They were with us for many more happy Christmas seasons.
Those “good tidings of great joy” constitute a heaven-sent gift to everyone. No one is left out. Such joy is planted firmly in the Christian love and Christ-healing that followed the appearance of the babe, Jesus – joy that’s permanent.