The lights, the trees, the music - Bing, Frank, Boney M, the movies - It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Rudolph. The tinsel, the wreaths, the church services. I love everything about Christmas.
But what does it all mean? My first thought is that I admit I try to dig into the deeper meanings of almost everything; I admit that I use my brain too much. If Christmas were just about what I mentioned above, I think I'd be happy with that. There would be plenty to be joyful about.
However, Christmas used to be so shrouded in religious meaning for me for twenty-some-odd years that now I still grapple with what deeper, more spiritual meaning it could have.
My beliefs about Christmas have evolved as I have evolved. For those twenty or so years Christmas was about the Son of God, Jesus, being sent down to earth and being born of a virgin, sent to be the Saviour of all humankind. However, those beliefs began to shift - it was more like an earthquake, as my beliefs changed. I no longer believed that humanity's nature is sinful, thus we didn't need someone to sacrifice himself for our sins in order for us to be acceptable to God.
Two years ago I wrote an article for this blog called Before, When I Had A Saviour. The title itself was perhaps slightly antagonistic to Facebook friends who were evangelicals, but in re-reading it just now for the first time in months, I really enjoy the article. The crux of the article is that when we reach outward for a saviour, we dull our own ability and our own powers within us.
Which brings me to this year. The last couple of years I have softly tried to find my reason for Christmas. There wasn't the Saviour notion anymore, so I mainly concentrated on those movies, and music, goodwill, peace, eggnog (mmm...eggnog.)
This year there is a new idea coming to mind. And that is that perhaps at Christmastime we can concentrate on the Christ-consciousness within each and every one of us. There is the popular phrase that many Christians like to use that "God's last name is not Dammit." Well, I would also say that Jesus' last name was not Christ. The Christ consciousness, to my understanding, is that spark of divinity and connection with the Divine that each of us has. So at Christmastime we can celebrate the birth of this man who obviously realized humanity's divine nature and taught us many invaluable lessons, but we can also celebrate our own divinity, our own Christ consciousness. I was part of a group on the subject of prayer at my spiritual centre recently, and the leader went around the circle calling each of us "the Christ." Mary The Christ, Robert The Christ, Mark Andrew The Christ. I believe that this is not scandalous at all, but it is our birthright. The meaning of Jesus was not that one man would come down and do miraculous, powerful things, but that this man, who realized his Christ nature, would show us ours as well. He believed that we could do powerful, powerful things. "Ask and it will be given to you," "“Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you," "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these."
So what is our job at Christmastime spiritually speaking? I believe it may be to let every heart prepare the Christ consciousness room. To rid ourselves not only of malice, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, but also of small-minded thinking that we are merely powerless human beings. Charlotte Shelton, President and CEO of Unity World Headquarters, writes: "Will you let the Christ consciousness be fully born anew in you this Christmas? As we do so, we will create a world of peace and plenty, but first we must awaken to our potential. Are you ready? Do you feel the labor pains? Let's start preparing the manger of our hearts because a new day is about to be born … first inside of us … then in the material world."
This Christmas, may we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, and realize anew our own Christ presence.