Christmas, the festive season that takes up a lot of space in our minds every year. As December draws near, the excitement and preparation for Christmas increases. However, have you ever wondered if everyone celebrates this holiday?
In particular, Christian Science is a religious group that some people may not be familiar with. So, do Christian Science followers celebrate Christmas? The answer might surprise you, but it’s more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”
“Every church has its own customs regarding holidays,” said Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.
This surprising fact reveals that while Christian Science does consider itself to be a branch of Christianity, their approach to Christmas may differ from other denominations.
To understand whether or not Christian Science celebrates Christmas and how they observe the occasion, let’s dive deeper into the history of this religion and explore what their beliefs are regarding this pervasive holiday.
While some Christians eagerly anticipate the birth of Jesus Christ during Christmastime, some groups hold varying beliefs about the celebration of Christmas. In this post, we’ll get to know where Christian Science stands when it comes to this beloved holiday, giving us insight into one cultural aspect of this unique religion.
The Origins of Christian Science and Christmas
Christian Science is a religious movement that was founded in the late 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy. This movement teaches that sickness, sin, and death are illusions that can be overcome through prayer and a deeper understanding of God’s love.
Christmas, on the other hand, is a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It has been celebrated for centuries by Christians around the world as a time of reflection, joy, and giving.
The Life and Work of Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was born in Bow, New Hampshire in 1821. She suffered from poor health throughout her childhood and early adulthood and sought treatment from many doctors without success. In 1866, she experienced a healing while reading the Bible that led her to develop the principles of Christian Science.
Eddy went on to write several books, including the foundational text of Christian Science called “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She also established the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, which still exists today with branches all over the world. Eddy passed away in 1910 at the age of 89.
The Influence of Christian Science on Christmas Celebrations
While Christian Scientists acknowledge the birth of Jesus Christ, they do not place as much emphasis on his physical birth as traditional Christians do. Instead, they focus on Christ’s teachings and how they can be applied in daily life.
Therefore, Christian Scientists may celebrate Christmas more as a time of spiritual renewal rather than a commemoration of Christ’s birth. They may attend church services or participate in special readings that reflect on the deeper meaning of the holiday season.
The Historical Roots of Christmas in Christian Science
Despite the fact that Christian Scientists may have a different approach to Christmas celebrations, there is evidence that Eddy herself acknowledged and celebrated the holiday season. In her book “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” she wrote about participating in Christmas festivities with her family and friends.
In addition, some branches of Christian Science have developed their own traditions around the holidays. For example, the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston hosts an annual event called “Messiah Sing” where attendees sing along to Handel’s Messiah and reflect on its spiritual significance.
The Evolution of Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
Over time, some Christian Scientists have continued to embrace Christmas as a time of joy and celebration while others have taken a more reserved approach. Some churches may decorate with wreaths or lights while others avoid any visual symbols of the holiday.
How Christian Scientists celebrate Christmas will vary based on individual beliefs and interpretations. However, the core principles of Christian Science – including the power of prayer and the importance of understanding God’s love – can provide a meaningful framework for experiencing the deeper spiritual aspects of the holiday season.
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” -Norman Vincent Peale
The Teachings of Mary Baker Eddy on Christmas
Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science, a religion that emphasizes spiritual healing through prayer and the understanding of God’s nature. Although she did not mention Christmas specifically in her writings, Eddy believed in the importance of celebrating Christ’s teachings every day, rather than just on one particular holiday.
According to Eddy, “The feast-day of Soul points to the exodus from material darkness to the spiritual light and liberation.” She saw Christmas as an opportunity for people to deepen their understanding of God’s love and presence in their lives. As such, Christian Scientists do celebrate Christmas, but they emphasize the spiritual meaning behind the holiday rather than focusing solely on decorating and gift-giving.
The Spiritual Significance of Christmas in Christian Science
In Christian Science, Christmas is seen as a time to reflect on the birth of Christ and his message of unconditional love and compassion. The celebration of Jesus’ birth serves as a reminder that everyone has the potential to experience divine goodness and grace in their lives.
Furthermore, Christian Scientists believe that the true spirit of Christmas is not found in material possessions or external festivities, but in one’s heart. By turning inward and seeking a deeper connection with God during this time of year, individuals can tap into the peace and joy that comes from knowing they are loved unconditionally by the Divine.
The Relationship Between Christmas and Healing in Christian Science
Healing is central to Christian Science, and Christmas provides a powerful reminder that physical and mental ailments are ultimately illusory and can be overcome through spiritual means. According to Eddy, “Christmas speaks to rebirth as well as to birth. Jesus embodied in himself the law of progress, born of Spirit, and its inherent power and infinite possibilities.”
By focusing on the spiritual significance of Christmas, Christian Scientists are able to shift their attention away from physical limitations and instead focus on the infinite possibilities that exist within each individual. This mindset can lead to profound healing experiences that have been documented by many individuals who practice Christian Science.
The Importance of Prayer and Meditation During Christmas in Christian Science
Prayer and meditation are essential practices for Christian Scientists throughout the year, but they take on heightened importance during the Christmas season. By setting aside time each day to commune with God, individuals can deepen their understanding of His love and grace, and align themselves more fully with Divine Mind.
Furthermore, prayer is seen as a powerful tool for bringing about healing in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Christian Scientists believe that turning to God in times of need can bring about profound transformation, and Christmas serves as a reminder of this truth.
“True Christmas spirit knows no outward adornment, but shines at midnight hour, before dawn’s first light appears, heralding the near advent of morn.”
For Christian Scientists, Christmas is not just a holiday, but a sacred opportunity to draw closer to God and embody the teachings of Christ in every aspect of their lives. It is a time to reflect on the infinite possibilities that exist within each individual, and to recommit oneself to living a life characterized by love, compassion, and healing.
The Controversy Surrounding Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
Christian Science is a religious movement that emphasizes spiritual healing through prayer and doesn’t follow many traditional Christian practices. One of the debates within the movement centers around whether or not to celebrate Christmas.
The Debate over the Commercialization of Christmas in Christian Science
One of the main reasons why some Christian Scientists choose not to celebrate Christmas is due to its commercialization. They believe that the holiday has become too focused on material possessions and consumerism, rather than the religious and spiritual aspects of the celebration.
As Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, wrote in her book “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896”: “The exchange of presents which facilitates merry-making, long ago linked itself with this festive day.”
“It seems strange that Christmas, originally so simple in its solemnity, should have become the greatest surviving display of pagan Rome.” -Mary Baker Eddy
The commercialization of Christmas goes against the teachings of Christian Science, which stresses the importance of relying on God instead of material wealth.
The Role of Tradition and Culture in Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
On the other hand, there are Christian Scientists who believe that celebrating Christmas is tied to their cultural identity and family traditions, regardless of the commercialization surrounding the holiday. For these individuals, Christmas represents an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, exchange gifts, and create cherished memories.
In fact, some argue that Christian Science’s emphasis on spiritual healing makes Christmas even more relevant as it provides an occasion to focus on the joy and spiritual renewal of Christ’s birth.
“I think Christian Scientists absolutely can and do celebrate Christmas. In fact, the holiday offers an opportunity to focus on healing and renewal— core spiritual ideas that Christian Science highlights.” -Holly Froning, a practicing Christian Scientist
The Tension between Religious and Secular Celebrations of Christmas in Christian Science
Another factor contributing to the controversy over celebrating Christmas within Christian Science is the tension between religious and secular aspects of the holiday. For example, some people feel uncomfortable with Santa Claus or Elf on the Shelf figures being part of their family’s holiday traditions as they believe it detracts from the true meaning of the celebration.
Additionally, some worry about the inclusion of Christmas trees and other festive decorations, which have pagan origins. While others don’t view this as an issue since these elements are often viewed as cultural rather than religious symbols.
“What I like most about how we celebrate Christmas is that while it includes some of the traditional elements that you might see elsewhere…the emphasis for us is much more about what Christ represents—a spirit of love and hope.” -Cicily Wilson, a practicing Christian Scientist
There isn’t a consensus among Christian Scientists when it comes to celebrating Christmas. The debate revolves around the commercialization of the holiday, the importance of tradition and culture, and whether certain elements of the celebrations cross the line into secularism. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide how they want to approach the holiday season within the context of their faith.
How Some Christian Scientists Choose to Celebrate Christmas
The Practice of Giving Back During Christmas in Christian Science
In the Christian Science faith, giving back to others is a key part of the Christmas season. This often involves participating in charitable events or volunteering at local organizations. Many Christian Scientists believe that showing love and compassion towards those in need is a reflection of God’s love for humanity.
One way that some Christian Scientists give back during Christmas is by donating their time and resources to local hospitals or nursing homes. This can include singing carols, reading stories, or simply spending time with patients who may not have family or friends nearby. By spreading joy and kindness to others, Christian Scientists are able to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
The Emphasis on Community and Fellowship During Christmas in Christian Science
Another important aspect of Christmas in the Christian Science community is the emphasis on fellowship and community. This includes attending church services, participating in prayer groups, and gathering together with friends and loved ones.
Many Christian Science churches hold special Christmas services that include traditional hymns, readings from the Bible, and prayer. These services provide an opportunity for members of the community to come together and reflect on the significance of the holiday season.
Beyond attending church, many Christian Scientists also gather with friends and family to share meals and exchange gifts. This time spent together strengthens relationships and reinforces the importance of connection and unity within the Christian Science community.
The Importance of Family and Personal Reflection During Christmas in Christian Science
For Christian Scientists, Christmas is also a time for personal reflection and introspection. This means taking time to think about one’s own spiritual journey as well as the role that family plays in nurturing that journey.
Some families choose to read through the Bible together during the Christmas season, while others spend time in prayer or meditating on spiritual texts. These practices help individuals to connect with their own inner spirituality and deepen their understanding of Christian Science principles.
At the same time, Christian Scientists also recognize the importance of family bonding and spending quality time together during the holiday season. This may involve cooking together, playing games, or engaging in other fun activities that foster a sense of closeness and connection within the family unit.
The Integration of Christian Science Teachings into Christmas Celebrations
A key element of celebrating Christmas as a Christian Scientist is the integration of Christian Science teachings into holiday traditions. For example, many families choose to decorate their homes with symbols and imagery that represent God’s love and presence.
Others may create nativity scenes or ornaments that reflect the story of Jesus’ birth. Still others recite passages from the Bible or other spiritual texts during their personal or family celebrations.
“The practice of Christian Science helps us to be better prepared to know and give greater expression to the Christ spirit–the true essence of Christmas.” -Mary Baker Eddy
This emphasis on integrating spiritual teachings into all aspects of life demonstrates the deep commitment that Christian Scientists have to living out their faith not just during the Christmas season but throughout the year.In conclusion, Christian Scientists do celebrate Christmas, but their celebrations are often focused on giving back, building community, reflecting on personal spirituality, and integrating Christian Science teachings into holiday traditions. Rather than focusing solely on material gifts or consumerism, Christian Scientists see the Christmas season as an opportunity to deepen their connection with God and live out their faith in meaningful ways.
The Future of Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
Christian Science is a religion that emphasizes the importance of spiritual healing and prayer. While Christmas may not be celebrated in the traditional sense, many Christian Scientists take time to reflect on its meaning and significance.
In recent years, there has been a shift towards more personalized and inclusive approaches to celebrating Christmas within the Christian Science community. Many churches are now incorporating music, art, and other forms of creative expression into their holiday services, making them more engaging and accessible for all members.
As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see even more innovative ways of celebrating Christmas in the future. Virtual gatherings, live-streamed performances and choir concerts, and interactive online prayer groups could all become commonplace among Christian Scientists during the holiday season.
New Approaches to Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
While some Christian Scientists choose not to celebrate Christmas at all, others view it as an opportunity to deepen their understanding of God’s love and grace.
One emerging trend is the use of Advent calendars as a way to prepare for Christmas spiritually. These calendars often include daily readings or activities that help individuals connect with the deeper meaning of the holiday season.
Another approach involves creating personalized traditions that align with one’s own beliefs and values. For example, some Christian Scientists might choose to spend Christmas serving their community, volunteering at a food pantry or hospital, or participating in charitable giving programs.
Still others may opt for quieter, more introspective celebrations, such as reading Scripture, meditating, or spending quality time with loved ones while reflecting on the true spirit of Christmas.
The Impact of Technology on Christmas Celebrations in Christian Science
Technology has undoubtedly influenced how people around the world celebrate Christmas, and Christian Science is no exception.
Many churches now offer live-streamed services, allowing members who are unable to attend in person to participate from the comfort of their own homes. This has been especially important during the pandemic, as many Christians were not able to gather together for Christmas due to social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter also play a role in how Christian Scientists connect with each other during the holiday season. Groups dedicated to sharing prayer requests and expressing gratitude have become popular among those looking to cultivate a sense of community and support during this time of year.
“Technology can help us stay connected in meaningful ways and facilitate deeper spiritual connections,” notes one Christian Science practitioner. “It’s up to us to use it mindfully and purposefully.”
Looking ahead, it is likely that technology will continue to shape how Christian Scientists celebrate Christmas in the years to come. Virtual choirs, online prayer groups, and interactive Advent calendars may all become more common as people seek new ways of connecting with each other and deepening their faith during the holiday season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Christian Science followers celebrate Christmas?
Yes, Christian Science followers do celebrate Christmas. However, the holiday is seen as more of a spiritual celebration rather than a commercial one. The focus is on the birth of Jesus and the message of love and healing that he brought to the world.
What is the Christian Science perspective on Christmas?
The Christian Science perspective on Christmas is that it is a time to reflect on the true meaning of Christ’s message of love and healing. It is not about material gifts or decorations, but about spiritual renewal and growth. The holiday is seen as an opportunity to deepen one’s connection with God and to express gratitude for all of His blessings.
How do Christian Science churches commemorate the holiday season?
Christian Science churches may hold special services and events during the holiday season, such as Christmas Eve services or carol singing. The focus is on spiritual reflection and the sharing of love and goodwill. Many churches also participate in charitable activities, such as food drives or visiting the sick and elderly.
Is the celebration of Christmas a requirement in Christian Science?
No, the celebration of Christmas is not a requirement in Christian Science. The religion emphasizes individual spiritual growth and personal connection with God, so each person is free to celebrate the holiday in their own way. Some may choose to observe the holiday in a more traditional way, while others may focus more on the spiritual aspects of the season.
What do Christian Science practitioners suggest to their patients during the Christmas season?
Christian Science practitioners may suggest that their patients use the holiday season as an opportunity to focus on spiritual healing and growth. They may encourage patients to turn away from material distractions and instead focus on gratitude, forgiveness, and love. The holiday can also be a time to deepen one’s understanding of God’s love and the healing power of prayer.