Christmas, New Year and the expectation of good.

© Skutvik | Dreamstime.com – New Year 2015 Decoration Photo

 

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.

Our Thinking and Pain Relief

 

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In support of the upcoming National Pain Week, 21-27th July, Chronic Pain Australia provides user-friendly research-based information and support for sufferers of chronic pain. However, one of their least discussed hints explains that helpful thinking patterns can improve our mood, which helps our body to produce feel-good chemicals thus resulting in pain relief.

Long before the many recent neurological studies into the mental nature of pain, an American woman undertook an in-depth study in this area. Following a lifetime of illness and pain, a slip on the ice proved a turning point for Mary Baker Eddy. In desperation Eddy turned to her Bible and read an account of one of Jesus’ healings. She recovered almost immediately and spent the next nine years searching for the answer to how she was healed.

What she discovered about compassion, forgiveness and her spiritual divine nature and resulting self-worth not only resulted in the healing of her own chronic illness and pain, but she also found she was able to heal others. Later she successfully taught others how to apply these principles to bring healing. Her major work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures details and explains her discovery, which she named Christian Science.

Eddy placed importance on watching our thoughts. Her directive was to, “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” She saw that fear, anger, stress and resentment had a direct effect on health but she also emphasised the importance of the Divine Mind in healing. She did not see this Mind as unknowable or of little help in illness but understood that it was this Divine Mind which heals and that enables us to master our thinking.

A publication by the NSW Health, Hunter New England District, also outlines the importance of watching our thinking. It gives some useful strategies for recognising those thoughts that are helpful or unhelpful in controlling pain. It reminds patients that their thoughts are under their control and they can challenge unhelpful thoughts such as “what if” scenarios, feelings of lack of control, fear and panic.

In my own personal experience I have found that detecting and challenging unhelpful thoughts is most effective when I weigh up my thinking according to what I know a loving and all good God has planned for me. If it’s pain, fear, worry or resentment then it’s not helpful thinking and I can replace it with the knowledge that a loving and good God cares for and strengthens me —  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) — When I  focus on filling my consciousness with God’s love I no longer see myself as a victim of illness or circumstance but feel empowered to challenge these injustices and overcome them. You can read examples of how others have found healing by challenging thought here.

For almost 150 years people from different faiths and all walks of life in many countries have   applied the principles explained in Science and Health to challenge and change unhelpful thinking resulting in effective healing and relieve of chronic illness and pain.