As the Christmas hustle and bustle quietens down I have had some time to contemplate the spiritual connection between Christmas and New Year.
The first verse of a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of my faith Christian Science, came to mind.
O blessings infinite!
O glad New Year
Sweet sign and substance
Of God’s presence here (Miscellany. p354)
Here I found the connection. For me both Christmas and New Year are a time for giving thanks for the good already received and the promise of good to come.
At Christmas I acknowledge and celebrate the presence of the Christ, “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Science and Health p332). Jesus was the best example of how this Christ operated in humanity. He showed that this Christ was God’s perpetual gift of Love, available throughout all time and to all peoples.
New Year is not so much a time to looking back with nostalgia but, like Christmas, an opportunity to give thanks for evidence of the Christ, God’s gift of Love, over the past year and eagerly expect evidence of its presence in the future.
A blog by Terry Shoemaker showed how nostalgia in relation to Christmas can result in the belief that Christmas is under siege from other faiths or multiculturalism and that religious traditions associated with Christmas are being lost. Known as the ‘War on Christmas’ this thinking is based on fear and the perception that the past was grander, safer and holier. It imagines a battle between those of the Christian faith and others and would justify denigration of other faiths.
In contrast to this is Shoemaker’s understanding of Advent. Although it references the historical event of Jesus’ birth its emphasis is on the future, on potentiality, possibility and the expectation of good. This type of thinking encourages us to strive towards the elimination of religious violence, social injustices and inequalities. Advent does not dwell on the past but embraces the promise of a better tomorrow.
As we approach the New Year I hope you will join me in focusing our thinking on the qualities of Advent, the promise of God’s presence here now and in the future. As we look forward with an expectation of good I believe we encourage a basis of thinking that would result in a more just and equitable future for all with blessings infinite.