A Christmas Gift From Virginia Harris C.S.B. – Thursday 25 December 2014

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Harry Belafonte – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

  • 3 years ago
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Harry Belafonte was popular in the late 50’s.

 

 

The Present Gift: Immanuel

 

“God with us.” A promise in Isaiah…a gift in Matthew…a present and active Presence proclaimed for all mankind today. This is the continuity of the spirit of the Christ, felt whenever there is peace, love, and joy stirring in every selfless heart. In the Bible commentary, Science and Health with Key to the ScripturesMary Baker Eddy  describes the Christ in this way:

“…Immanuel, ‘God with us,’ — the sovereign ever-presence, delivering the children of men from every ill ‘that flesh is heir to.’”

It is no wonder that much of the world pauses each year to sing and celebrate and pray to feel connected to the season of Christmas!

How is it possible, then, to reconcile the turmoil plaguing every corner of the globe today: violence, political and social oppression, environmental catastrophes, economic upheaval? It seems that no region is free of chaos. What a contrast to the Christmas spirit! Where is the peace and joy that has been promised?

The prophecy of Isaiah and the fulfillment of the Christ-child in Matthew came in the midst of fear, oppression, and turbulence. And when Eddy wrote her words almost 2,000 years later, the world still faced the brutality of wars and pestilences. But regardless of the human events throughout time, there have been victories!

Perhaps the real message is that in spite of what chaos appears, the Christ, when acknowledged as the divine influence that has dominion over every human condition, is a powerful presence that gives one peace and changes one’s experience for the better.

From this calm, uplifted, and unshakeable spiritual consciousness, each one can be assured that each heart is guided to express the divine nature in daily life, and be prepared and willing to love and help one’s neighbor. In this way each one of us proves the permanence and continuity of the Christ – and each one’s inseparability from it – regardless of the set of circumstances. This is the present gift of Immanuel, and this power of righteousness and goodness prevails, is victorious, no matter what.

A much loved American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem, “Christmas Bells,”  that describes a Christmas in the middle of the horrific US Civil War when he is filled with anguish and despair. The “back-story” for Longfellow is that his wife had recently died and his son had been severely wounded in the war. But what almost crushes Longfellow at this particular Christmas is the temptation to believe that God and His goodness are not all powerful, and that mankind has somehow been separated from His love and care. Yes, to me that would be the worst kind of despair.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
”For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” 

But something, some stirring influence comes to heal the poet’s heart, piercing the gloom that threatened to bury him, and the scene shifts: God is All-in-all and we are inseparable from His peace, joy, and goodness…He is the victor! To me, this is the light and renewal of the Christ-spirit that is promised to each of us especially in the depths of our darkest nights:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

(Harry Belafonte sings the adapted Christmas Carol here)

This Christmas season, be not tempted to believe in any separation from the Christ power of good. Join the joyful chorus of angels who have sung the song of Immanuel for millennia and proclaim with expectation of victory, “God with us!”