Cheers to you!
My wife and I have been watching “The Good Place”, a show about the afterlife. In this poignant and hilarious show, a demon “breaks bad”, people sent to hell get better, and they explore big topics like what makes a person “good” and what inspires one to become better. It flips the script in an unexpected and powerful way, which I think the Christmas story does too.
Christmas is the first day after the shortest/darkest day of the year (the winter solstice) the human eye can notice light is increasing. It symbolizes how it’s from the darkness, the unknown, the failures, and the losses where we discover (really are gifted with) our True Self and the beautifully “backwards” way life is meant to flow.
When the story about the Christ’s birth first began to be told, it wasn’t the only tale about the son of god being born to a virgin mother. The Romans said the same about Caesar, with some crucial differences. While the emperor was said to be born to nobility, with wealth, armies and magnificent places to live, all so he could make the Roman Empire evermore powerful and dominant over others, Jesus entered the world with peasants, poverty, and dirt, all to peacefully woo ALL people into Loving relationships with Spirit, others, creation, and ourselves.
I read the manner of the Christ’s birth, and the absolutely free, and everlasting Love of the Divine he came to show us, as evidence: Power, Prestige, Possessions, and Privilege do NOT define us, Beauty, Belonging, and Belovedness as gifts from heaven do! In my experience, the first path (power, prestige, etc.) is the normal way of life and eventually leads to suffering, but the second path (beauty, belonging, and belovedness) is Christ’s way/gift of life and leads to heaven now and later!
Who am I? Who are you? Who are we in our essence? Who/what is our True Self? What defines us? Titles, jobs, health, strength, looks, memories, vitality, relationships, possessions, influence, intelligence, emotions, and pretty much every other part of life we often think define us come and go.
What’s standing out to me about Christmas this year is it’s a celebration about how the Divine came to tell us who we are and what life is about: There’s a YOUness that’s beyond labels like brown hair, tall, middle-aged, white, athletic, teacher, wife, son, home owner, etc. that God names, includes, and Loves. Even though the Christ likely wasn’t born on December 25th, it’s no accident that we mark the in-breaking of heavenly Light into the world during the darkest part of the year. For roughly a thousand years. Christmas and the winter solstice were on the same day because the early Christians realized how marvelously the two holidays fit together.
While the winter solstice marks the rebirth of the sun and the renewal of life in a more cosmic and nature-centric manner, Christmas stands for much the same on a relational and spiritual level. Christmas is all about radiance, wherein smack dab in the midst of our stories, experiences, and feelings of darkness, poverty, and alienation, God’s Light shines into us, filling us from the inside out so we can share that same gift with others. The Divine speaks our everlasting identities of beauty, belonging, and belovedness as free and unending gifts into us, so we may then give these (i.e. ourSELVES) away!
One of the blessings of shorter and colder days is we naturally dial things down, DO less, and enjoy BEING more. In doing this, we tend to gather more with family and friends, which is fitting because the self is most fully and truly witnessed in relationship with others. Family and friends are mirrors of our souls in that through them we see both what I believe the Christ reveals are the lies about us (the false self, who competes and compares with others and seeks to be known and identified by power, prestige, possessions, and privilege) and the Truth about us (the True Self, who connects and celebrates with others, while delighting in giving our beauty, belonging, and belovedness away for the blessing of others).
75 times in the Bible the authors write about being “in Christ”. More and more, as I find my identity, worth, belonging, and Love in the infinite and eternal arms of Christ, the more alive and wholehearted I become. Christmas is a Divine shout-out to humanity that there’s a breathtakingly beautiful Radiance at the center of each of us. A free gift from heaven that defines us FAR more than our triumphs or failures ever could. To me, Christ is the Radiance (the image of God in us), and while you may have a different name for it, all I ask is for us to shine it and see it together!
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