Before the Christmas bells shall ring, allow me to improvise some new notes, not specially musical to be sure, but admirably adapted to the key of my feeling and emphatically phrasing strict observance or note well.
This year, my beloved Christian Scientists, you must grant me my request that I be permitted total exemption from Christmas gifts. Also I beg to send to you all a deep-drawn, heartfelt breath of thanks for those things of beauty and use forming themselves in your thoughts to send to your Leader. Thus may I close the door of mind on this subject, and open the volume of Life on the pure pages of impersonal presents, pleasures, achievements, and aid.
Again loved Christmas is here, full of divine benedictions and crowned with the dearest memories in human history — the earthly advent and nativity of our Lord and Master. At this happy season the veil of time springs aside at the touch of Love. We count our blessings and see whence they came and whither they tend. Parents call home their loved ones, the Yule-fires burn, the festive boards are spread, the gifts glow in the dark 257green branches of the Christmas-tree. But alas for the broken household band! God give to them more of His dear love that heals the wounded heart.
To-day the watchful shepherd shouts his welcome over the new cradle of an old truth. This truth has traversed night, through gloom to glory, from cradle to crown. To the awakened consciousness, the Bethlehem babe has left his swaddling-clothes (material environments) for the form and comeliness of the divine ideal, which has passed from a corporeal to the spiritual sense of Christ and is winning the heart of humanity with ineffable tenderness. The Christ is speaking for himself and for his mother, Christ’s heavenly origin and aim. To-day the Christ is, more than ever before, “the way, the truth, and the life,” — “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” healing all sorrow, sickness, and sin. To this auspicious Christmastide, which hallows the close of the nineteenth century, our hearts are kneeling humbly. We own his grace, reviving and healing. At this immortal hour, all human hate, pride, greed, lust should bow and declare Christ’s power, and the reign of Truth and Life divine should make man’s being pure and blest.
To-day Christian Scientists have their record in the monarch’s palace, the Alpine hamlet, the Christian traveller’s resting-place. Wherever the child looks up in 258prayer, or the Book of Life is loved, there the sinner is reformed and the sick are healed. Those are the “signs following.” What is it that lifts a system of religion to deserved fame? Nothing is worthy the name of religion save one lowly offering — love.
This period, so fraught with opposites, seems illuminated for woman’s hope with divine light. It bids her bind the tenderest tendril of the heart to all of holiest worth. To the woman at the sepulchre, bowed in strong affection’s anguish, one word, “Mary,” broke the gloom with Christ’s all-conquering love. Then came her resurrection and task of glory, to know and to do God’s will, — in the words of St. Paul: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The memory of the Bethlehem babe bears to mortals gifts greater than those of Magian kings, — hopes that cannot deceive, that waken prophecy, gleams of glory, coronals of meekness, diadems of love. Nor should they who drink their Master’s cup repine over blossoms that mock their hope and friends that forsake. Divinely beautiful are the Christmas memories of him who sounded all depths of love, grief, death, and humanity.
To the dear children let me say: Your Christmas gifts are hallowed by our Lord’s blessing. A transmitted charm rests on them. May this consciousness of God’s dear love for you give you the might of love, and may you move onward and upward, lowly in its majesty.
To the children who sent me that beautiful statuette in alabaster — a child with finger on her lip reading a book — I write: Fancy yourselves with me; take a peep into 259my studio; look again at your gift, and you will see the sweetest sculptured face and form conceivable, mounted on its pedestal between my bow windows, and on either side lace and flowers. I have named it my white student.
CONCORD, N. H.
To this church across the sea I return my heart’s wireless love. All our dear churches’ Christmas telegrams to me are refreshing and most pleasing Christmas presents, for they require less attention than packages and give me more time to think and work for others. I hope that in 1902 the churches will remember me only thus. Do not forget that an honest, wise zeal, a lowly, triumphant trust, a true heart, and a helping hand constitute man, and nothing less is man or woman.
Certain occasions, considered either collectively or individually and observed properly, tend to give the activity of man infinite scope; but mere merry-making or needless gift-giving is not that in which human capacities find the most appropriate and proper exercise. Christmas respects the Christ too much to submerge itself in merely temporary means and ends. It represents the eternal informing Soul recognized only in harmony, 260in the beauty and bounty of Life everlasting, — in the truth that is Life, the Life that heals and saves mankind. An eternal Christmas would make matter an alien save as phenomenon, and matter would reverentially withdraw itself before Mind. The despotism of material sense or the flesh would flee before such reality, to make room for substance, and the shadow of frivolity and the inaccuracy of material sense would disappear.
In Christian Science, Christmas stands for the real, the absolute and eternal, — for the things of Spirit, not of matter. Science is divine; it hath no partnership with human means and ends, no half-way stations. Nothing conditional or material belongs to it. Human reason and philosophy may pursue paths devious, the line of liquids, the lure of gold, the doubtful sense that falls short of substance, the things hoped for and the evidence unseen.
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. It leaves hygiene, medicine, ethics, and religion to God and His Christ, to that which is the Way, in word and in deed, — the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Methinks the loving parents and guardians of youth ofttimes query: How shall we cheer the children’s Christmas and profit them withal? The wisdom of their elders, who seek wisdom of God, seems to have amply provided for this, according to the custom of the age and to the full supply of juvenile joy. Let it continue thus with one exception: the children should not be taught to believe that Santa Claus has aught to do with this pastime. A deceit or falsehood is never wise. Too much cannot be done towards guarding and guiding well the germinating and inclining thought of childhood. To mould aright the first impressions of innocence, aids in perpetuating purity and in unfolding the immortal model, man in His image and likeness. St. Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, . . . but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
To me Christmas involves an open secret, understood by few — or by none — and unutterable except in Christian Science. Christ was not born of the flesh. Christ is the Truth and Life born of God — born of Spirit and not of matter. Jesus, the Galilean Prophet, was born of the Virgin Mary’s spiritual thoughts of Life and its manifestation.
262 God creates man perfect and eternal in His own image. Hence man is the image, idea, or likeness of perfection — an ideal which cannot fall from its inherent unity with divine Love, from its spotless purity and original perfection.
This homely origin of the babe Jesus falls far short of my sense of the eternal Christ, Truth, never born and never dying. I celebrate Christmas with my soul, my spiritual sense, and so commemorate the entrance into human understanding of the Christ conceived of Spirit, of God and not of a woman — as the birth of Truth, the dawn of divine Love breaking upon the gloom of matter and evil with the glory of infinite being.
Human doctrines or hypotheses or vague human philosophy afford little divine effulgence, deific presence or power. Christmas to me is the reminder of God’s great gift, — His spiritual idea, man and the universe, — a gift which so transcends mortal, material, sensual giving that the merriment, mad ambition, rivalry, and ritual of our common Christmas seem a human mockery in mimicry of the real worship in commemoration of Christ’s coming.
The splendor of this nativity of Christ reveals infinite meanings and gives manifold blessings. Material gifts 263and pastimes tend to obliterate the spiritual idea in consciousness, leaving one alone and without His glory.