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A celebration of light
For the Lesson titled "Christian Science" from December 23 - 29, 2013
This week’s Bible Lesson, “Christian Science,” shows us the light that the Christ, Truth, shines on the Christmas season. “Thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee,” says the Golden Text (Isaiah 60:1). No matter how or whether we celebrate Christmas, the Christ is always with us and always has been. “The advent of Jesus of Nazareth marked the first century of the Christian era, but the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days,” Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 333, citation 4).
The Responsive Reading includes Isaiah’s prophecies for the birth of Jesus, as well as Jesus’ promises to send “the Comforter [who] shall teach you all things” (Isaiah 9, John 13 and 14). Just as we don’t need to wait for Christmas Eve to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we’re also not waiting for the Second Coming. The Christ, which Jesus represented, has never left, and the promised Comforter is already with us: “This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science” (Science and Health, p. 55, cit. 20).
It’s interesting to note that while Christmas is on December 25, hints from the biblical account suggest that Jesus was probably born in the spring or fall. For one thing, shepherds don’t watch their flocks outside at night in winter because it’s too cold (Luke 2:8, cit. 2). Scholars have several theories for why we celebrate Jesus’ birth in late December. December 25 is four days after the shortest day and longest night of the year, the winter solstice. The word solstice comes from the Latin for “sun stands still.” For several days around the solstice, the sun appears to rise from the same point every morning, but after a few days, the ancients would have been able to tell that the sunrise was moving north again and days were lengthening. These signs would have offered reassurance that despite the darkness, spring would come again. Many agricultural societies, especially those that worshipped the sun as a god, celebrated on this day. Perhaps Christian priests, seeking to convert sun worshippers, encouraged them to celebrate Jesus’ birth instead of the sun’s return on that day, thus easing the transition to Christianity. Other scholars suggest that, to avoid persecution, Christians hid their celebrations of Jesus’ birth in the festivities for the sun.
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About the author
Abigail Fuller Innes has a master’s degree in physics, and she has a master’s of divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
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