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Are You Ready for Christmas?

  The prophets of old looked for something higher than the systems of their times; hence their foresight of the new dispensation of Truth. But they knew not what would be the precise nature of the teaching and demonstration of God, divine Mind, in His more infinite meanings. (SH 270:14)

Almost all of those anticipating the Messiah were waiting and watching for a warrior-like man who would destroy the enemies of Israel and build a political power base that would be impregnable. If you lived on earth at the time that the Christ child arrived, would you have been caught searching with your eyes and ego for a human champion? If so, you would have missed the event entirely like Herod and like the innkeeper in Bethlehem who turned away Mary and Joseph. In fact, no one in the world knew of that most precious event except some humble shepherds who heard the glad sound and set aside their work to follow the angel's call, and a few wise men from the East who were willing to travel across plains, cultures, and political boundaries to find him. Mary knew who was coming, and Joseph would soon learn of his appointed task as guardian of Mary's son. When he was of age, Jesus demonstrated what would be required for us to be ready for Christ - "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3). We will be ready to walk forth to meet the Christ child when we have no human ego and when our eyes to see are at one with God. Consciousness will never discover the true way until it acknowledges that it does not know the way without divine guidance. Virgin humility, exquisite silence, and earnestly waiting on the Lord for every idea to arrive are prerequisites for hearing the Christ child's invitation. Without that personal poverty of sense, we will miss the event - there will be no Christmas for us.

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered" (Rev 12:1-2). Mary knew what it meant to be "with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matt 1:18). Who else in that age could feel the joy and anguish that the new Messiah would bring to a sleeping earth too engrossed with itself to see the new dispensation of Truth? The human presence that was about to arrive was to found the Christian era. Blessed is Mary that mourns, for she shall be comforted. Are we ready to turn from mourning the earthly losses that Christ will demand of us and to rejoice with her in the new birth? We will escape the world's wrath when we are hid with Christ in the spiritual opulence of knowing "all that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31). The midnight hour will soon pass and Christ, Truth will bring the dawn. Prejudiced minds, covetous tyrants, and lovers of self - those clinging to earth's so-called gifts - will not feel this pain of childbirth until they first feel the pain of sin and cleanse themselves of it.

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt 5:5). The names of those two individuals who were about to give the whole earth pause were the meekest people on earth - Jesus and Mary. Jesus did not learn meekness from Joseph. He inherited it from his Father. Was it not the same quality of thought that was ready to answer the demand of the hour and say to the angel Gabriel, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38)? We cannot gain admittance to the birth of Christ in ourselves and offer our treasures in Truth's service until we feel the God-ordained quality of meekness and begin to live it. We all inherit grace from the same divine source.

Christmas arrived for Peter at a time when his business was failing. Not only were his fishing nets empty, but his mind was spiritually starved as well. Regardless of outward appearances, he could hear his brother, Andrew, declare, "We have found the Messias" (John 1:41), and when Jesus saw Peter, he immediately called him a stone, upon which he would prepare to build his church. Although Peter doubted his spiritual aptitude, most of the time he was eager to follow Jesus in the way. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matt 5:6). Many others came to gawk or to make demands of the Master, only to turn and walk away sad or too busy to follow. Are we hungry for Christmas to arrive? Are we willing to lay down our busy agendas, our families, and our jobs, as Peter did? If so, we will be filled!

Who was ready with a gift of mercy when the adulterous woman was about to be stoned? She received her Christmas gift that day. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt 5:7). Jesus saw right through her disguise of sin, saw her merciful nature, and showed it to her by his remarkable declaration, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). Is there any doubt that she heard his council? That precious cleansing gift of mercy brought personal freedom to her and the promise of forgiveness to countless millions who have read the testimony in Scripture and are ready for mercy. Are we ready to hear 'neither do I condemn you,' eager to reestablish our innocence so that we may share our mercy with others? Mercy is a gift worth unwrapping.

Then there was the woman with the long hair who came to anoint Jesus' feet. She brought the fragrant oil of gratitude and offered it up before she was forgiven. What a gift of adoration! Mary Magdalene knew what it meant to be pure in heart, even though she had not always lived it. Jesus' promise, "blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" was being fulfilled before her eyes (Matt 5:8). Her devils were gone! She was found last at the cross and first at the tomb to see the risen Lord. Are we bringing our gifts to Christ and pouring out gratitude before we see ourselves forgiven? The one is inseparably linked to the other.

When we begin to doubt the power of evil, we are breaking the bonds of our own wickedness. This is no easy task, for as we look at the conditions of this world, we see war, division, poverty, and lack of good sense. Jesus saw this too, but he did not allow it to have power over him. Through his leadership, he taught us to be peacemakers: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt 5:9). He fed the hungry, healed the sick, touched the untouchable, cast out mental torment, walked over the waves, awoke to eternal Life, rolled away the stone, and walked forth with victory. Behold the child of God! Sonship was God's gift to him and his Christmas gift to us. Are we ready for this Christmas? We are the children.

The Master foresaw the turmoil that peacemaker presence would stir up: "I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34). Stephen explained this to the high priest in his trial: "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost . . . Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" (Acts 7:51-52). Those in attendance threw stones at him, intending to stamp out both him and the truth he declared. Today, as yesterday, the price of holiness is persecution because the thought of having one Mind while we are hearing two is hard to justify. It often seems easier to bypass conscience than to reject the good and evil that our minds wish to act out.

Would we be willing and able to stand at the foot of the cross if it meant that we would be apprehended and persecuted as well? All of Jesus' students fled except for the apostle John and a few women. For them, their Lord and Master was more than a temporary prophet. They felt the Mind that lay behind Jesus' statement, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). The advent of Christ's Mass was upon them and they were going to see it through to the benediction. "The cross is the central emblem of history" (SH 238:31). It stands as a poignant reminder of our own trials in the flesh and the glorious result of those trials. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:10).

Jesus lived the precepts he taught. So live, and you will be ready for Christmas. Enter into the joy of our Lord.

George Denninger ©

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