Saturday, December 11, 2010

Journey to Bethlehem - the Inside Story

It’s not hard to see what season we are in, is it?. We are surrounded by Christmas decorations, Christmas music – some of it really bad - stores spilling over with potential gifts, craft fairs, streets decorated with lights and stars.

The Christmas story now is about Santa Claus and reindeer and their amazing trip around the planet, visiting the homes of all the children. And that’s what we see in our stores and on the street: reindeer, Santa Claus, and lots of presents.

It’s not even called Christmas anymore. Now it’s called the ‘holiday’ season. But think about that - the word holiday…. means holy day. Where is the holiness in what we see around us right now?

Over the years I have asked myself that question and I have endeavoured to preserve the sacredness of this season – kind of like swimming against the tide – it’s not easy, but rewarding and it can be done.

But why? Why - why bother to try to preserve the original meaning of Christmas? Because, to me, that is all that matters.

Christmas is not a celebration to honor an event that happened a long time ago. In a place far, far away. The Christmas story is not just to be told one day of the year. What is the Christmas story, really?

What does it say in the Bible? In Matthew we read about Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men and the star. In Mark – no mention of the birth. In Luke we hear about Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, the inn, the shepherds. In John – no birth story.

Does that matter? What we do know is that these stories have a message for us that is much more profound and deep than the words. And I encourage you to look for this – not to stop at the words, the story, the characters, but at what they represent. If we want the real gift in the Christmas story we will look at it from a metaphysical perspective.

“The metaphysical interpretation of the Bible has been around for a long time. It is nothing new. For millennia, mystics and metaphysically minded people have looked into the scriptures and seen a spiritual dimension and meaning beyond conventional understanding. Their discoveries nourished their souls and encouraged them in their pursuit of God awareness.”
“Wisdom for a Lifetime” by Rev. Alden Studebaker

I love that part: “nourished their souls and encouraged them in their pursuit of God awareness.”

So what is the Christmas story from a metaphysical perspective? You could say it is about the birth of the Christ, but that is already a part of us, already present within us. We cannot be separate from it. It is our true spiritual identity – it can’t be born. What can be born however is our awareness of this Truth. Of our remembering of who and what we are, as spiritual beings.

So metaphysically what we celebrate each year is not the birth of Jesus a man who lived thousands of years ago, or of the Christ, which is already present within us, but the birth of our Christ awareness. And every Christmas is a new birth. A birth to the possibilities of living a life nourished and fed by the divine. An ever deeper willingness to live the truth we know and to express ourselves based on that truth. Of the light that dispels darkness and ignorance. The light that is gentle and changes everything with its presence.

Christmas is a call to nurture that light within us, to find opportunities to be the light in the world, to appreciate that light when we see it in others. To keep that light present in our decisions, our choices, and our everyday activities, our interactions with others. Christmas happens in our mind and heart and soul.

And then we go outside and are bombarded with all the other stuff that our society says is ‘the holiday season’.

We can be disheartened by the emphasis on commercialism or we can turn our attention elsewhere. We have that choice. We are not victims of our surroundings. I invite you to look for the stories of generosity, of service, of love that are taking place all around us – in this community and in our world. They are there. We are surrounded by the Light already being expressed in all forms and in some many ways.

It really is not hard to hold on to the message of the season. Our spiritual nature - the strongest aspect of us – is so easy to share.

Here are four ways to enhance this season:

Give Wisely
What is the most precious thing we can give – time. There is not one moment in our lives that we can buy back. It is the most precious of gifts. Time to make a gift, to write a long overdue letter. Take time to bake some yummy cookies and share them with your neighbours, take time to drive an elderly friend around your neighbourhood and enjoy the lights.

Spend Wisely
Make your gifts mean something. Give to charities, to overseas projects that work towards alleviating poverty and disease, that support healthy and life-giving opportunities for our brothers and sisters around the world. Buying less gives you more time to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Connect Wisely
Do something that nourishes your soul. Go to a concert and immerse yourself in the joy of music, go to a craft fair where you can admire the creativity and imagination all around us, feed your soul. It is no mistake that this season happens in the darkest time of the year. It is the perfect time for a message of Light, of Hope, of Peace, of Love. Find a place where that is being expressed. Places where deep spiritual connection is possible.