A guest blog post by Anna-Lena Hathaway
As many families around the world prepare for Christmas, by playing music, putting up lights, or decorating a Christmas tree, I am reminded of a family tradition of celebrating the advent season. One definition of the Latin word “adventus” means “coming.” In many Christian churches, advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ and the celebration of the Nativity at Christmas. The advent season provides the opportunity to share the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah. Today, this countdown can be found in advent calendars with chocolate, socks, or other treats, and many families, churches, and cultures light a candle for the four Sundays before Christmas.
Years ago my grandmother Dorette Kreutziger, a Journal-listed practitioner of Christian Science, created her own “Christian Science advent calendar” by reading through the twenty-four questions and answers in the chapter “Recapitulation” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The discoverer and founder of Christian Science laid out these twenty-four questions and answers to explain the principles behind her discovery. Mrs. Eddy begins the chapter with the most fundamental question: “What is God?” to which the author writes: “God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love” (Science & Health, p. 465: 8). In her second question, Mrs. Eddy calls these terms synonymous with the “one absolute God” (Science & Health, p. 465: 12). Through these twenty-four questions and answers, she explains how to address and overcome challenges by affirming the ever-present power of God, our relationship with God, and how to apply these truths to our daily lives. She concludes her chapter with the “important points, or religious tenets, of Christian Science” (Science & Health, p. 497: 1). These twenty-four questions sum up the philosophy of Christian Science, whose purpose, Mrs. Eddy explains, is to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing” (Manual of the Mother Church p. 17: 12-13). My grandmother’s exercise makes for a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the divine Principles governing the universe as set forth by Christian Science, whether the reader is new to Christian Science or has been a student for many years.
Pondering the seven synonyms: Principle, Life, Love, Truth, Mind, Soul, and Spirit offer a daily opportunity to express God in unique and new ways and to find our own completeness as God’s infinite expression or reflection. As I look forward to diving into these questions and answers again this December, I am reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and greeted with an immense sense of gratitude for Christ Jesus. We can all increase our spiritual understanding by expressing and witnessing those synonyms for God in our daily lives.
Some further reading?
Our first real Christmas (by Scott Preller)
The Christmas season or Christmas: Which shall it be? (by James Spencer)
"...and I want to remember..." (by Kate Robertson)
Quiet anticipation in 24 steps (by Annette Kreutziger-Herr)
I continue to be in the "Luther mode", discovering more insights and ideas of his that move me forward as I go along. This is my most recent insight, another wonderful quote by Luther:
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith."
"Die Freude ist der Doktorhut des Glaubens."
In German there is an inbuilt pithy humor within this saying, but in English you get the idea as well. Those, who dedicate their lives to the matters of Spirit, and truly do so, grow out of a sense of burden, out of the stress and strain of daily life, and eventually graduate as joy permeates the heart. Joy is the signature of everyone truly spiritually-minded, it is the sign of an active group of people serving a higher purpose than their own, it is the key feature of unselfishness.
There is a list of qualities that define the result of Spirit in our experience. Paul writes in his epistle to various groups of Christians in Galatia (fun fact: Today a region in Turkey around Ankara, the capital):
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (Gal. 5: 22, 23. NLT)
Right after love, the second on the list, comes joy. The state of being happy! I observe, that individuals who know something about God and have stepped into the world of unselfishness and spiritual observation, have a certain warmth and glow about them. It is not the joy the stems from well-being, success, or good fortune. It is more than an emotion or feeling. There is no room for doubt or fear left in a heart which feels the presence of Spirit.
There is little space for the story of desperation, which excludes the allness and onliness of Spirit. So if joy doesn't stem from well-being, success, or good fortune, we can now safely say that it stems from spiritual well-being, success, and good fortune - the good life which is the result of divine Love and filled with the yearning for the prospect of seeing more of Spirit in our and everyone's experience.
If the question of "graduation" comes up, we will get the question what subject we are graduating in. What is the content of faith? What is the doctrine? Here is an answer from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
"This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into
sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death." (p. 304)
Can you accept this doctrine? And graduate in the faith? And come up with your own test system, whether you understood it enough to graduate? Is there enough joy in your heart to throw it around like confetti? Joy is the standard, and once you have graduated, you will never unlearn it.
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith!" It is looking pretty good on you.
(You can find the previous posts on "What is joy?" by using the search box on my website. Simple.)
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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