Have Yourself a Mystic Little Christmas
Thank you very much for joining me, and I know that I already love you! I’m glad that the title to this piece did not scare you away. I have a lot to say about Christmas, and this is where I’m going to say it.
The first thing I ask myself before almost every piece of writing that I do is: “Why? Why should I take my time to write it? Why would anyone take their time to read it? In a world saturated with books, magazines, devotionals, blogs, newspapers, newsletters; not to mention TV Christmas specials – what in the world do I think I could possibly say?” The truth is, my friends, that what I have to say I’ve never seen anywhere else. It is my personal view. Every year, this is what I really want for Christmas.
I confess that I have problems relating to almost everything that has to do with Christmas. We got our first Christmas catalog September 9th(!) of this year. Since then I’ve seen advertisements for “Christmas” kill-everything-in-sight video games, adult porno parlors with Christmas discounts, Jewish people who seem to have no problem singing Christmas carols…it goes without saying that the whole materialism aspect of Christmas is problematic at best. In a world where millions of people are starving, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ with a materialistic orgy that every year exceeds all bounds of imagination and propriety.
But my dis-ease extends to much more than just the materialistic orgy of our time. In churches, where “putting Christ back into Christmas” is endlessly and adamantly repeated, things are little better. We have our Christmas pageants and our beautiful manger scenes. Somehow we’re supposed to find inspiration in worshipping a baby that was born over 2,000 years ago. Frankly, folks, I can’t relate. And I have the felling (or is it just hope?) that you have similar feelings. So I’m grateful that you clicked on this article. I’m honored and touched that you are reading this.
The purpose of this writing is to very simply state what Christmas could mean to all of us, what I think it really should mean to most spiritual people, and what I certainly wish it meant for me. I say I wish it meant this for me because at all times, and to be honest, the meaning of Christmas I want to have is not my present reality. I’ve never had a Christmas like this. The ideas are there, but the living, breathing, experienced reality of it? No. Too much running around, too many parties, too many distractions.
But once again, if through no other process than committing these ideas to print, I am seeking rebirth and the opportunity to really do it right.
What is mysticism?
“Have Yourself a Mystic Little Christmas” is, obviously, a play on the title to the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. But what is a mystic? What is mysticism? I have found that “mysticism” is one of the great misunderstood terms. Upon hearing the word “mystic,” most people tend to think about the occult: fortune telling, Ouija boards, palm reading, crystal balls and tea leaves – none of this is true. Mysticism simply means the desire to see and know, directly, the truths of God. A mystic is never content to sit in the pew and sing songs or read stories about God; a mystic wants to see God himself, a mystic wants to touch God herself, a mystic wants to become one with the Divine and know to his or her utter certainty the present reality of God. That’s what I want Christmas to be about for me, my friends, and I have a feeling, if you’ve read this far, that’s what you want Christmas to be about for you, too.
Climbing outside of our normal lives and having an opportunity to touch the Divine – ahhh! But in order to do that, we’re going to have to leave behind some of our traditions and beliefs.
The Historical Question
For example, the endless arguments about the historicity of the accounts of Jesus’ birth as found in the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. My position on the historicity of these passages is very simple: I do not care. Whether or not what we have in Matthew and Luke is scientifically accurate, deposition-quality reporting does not matter, nor does it matter what was reported. For me, being a mystic-wannabe, the entire historical question is meaningless. I state fairly regularly with tongue-in-cheek that if someone was to prove that the entire Jesus-thing was made up by a guy named Bernard from the Bronx in 1912, I wouldn’t care. Are you asking why? Are you wondering wouldn’t that destroy the entire foundation of the Christian faith? Wouldn’t that mean that there is no living sacrifice for sins, no blood atonement?
A mystic does not seek that kind of confirmation for truth. To a mystic, this baby might or might not have been born a couple of thousand years ago. A mystic is perfectly willing to say “All right, fine, let’s say that he was,” or just as easily “Oh, you want to argue that he wasn’t, that it’s all symbolic? That’s fine too.”
The existential reality, what exists right here and now, is that we have these recordings of events, we have these stories. Whether they are scientific fact or pure myth is meaningless. What has meaning is what the stories mean to you and me here, now, today. If someone claims “they mean that God has come to the earth to eliminate all sin and war,” a mystic responds “I want to be the part of God who has come to earth now to eliminate my sin and to eliminate war the best I can.” We all can clearly see that the birth of a baby 2,000 years ago failed to solve this earth’s many problems. War and rumors of war could not be more prevalent than they are today. We have the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on disease, the war on diabetes. We have the war on autism, we have the war on illiteracy and I’ve even see a place where we have a war on war. Everyone wants to fight, to attack something. Confrontation is a word used nowadays for discussion. Why not just talk? Do we have to jump straight to confrontation?
The birth of a baby claimed to be the prince of peace 2,000 years ago is clearly not doing us much good in all of our warring. The mystic wants to know what will do some good, here and now. The answer will not be found in history. The answer will be found in our own living reanimation of the Divine story. That’s what we’re going to look at. We’re going to look at the Christmas story from three perspectives; three perspectives that are the true burden on my heart, the true excitement rejoicing in my heart, the three views of the Christmas story that I see as being the hope for a re-birth within Christianity.
The Liturgical Church Year
As we get further away from classical Christianity, many things become strange to us, such as the concept of the church year. It is possible that millions of Christians are unfamiliar with the term “the church year,” therefore they cannot know what it means or its power. We are losing touch with our roots, and the roots that mean the most this time of year have to do with the liturgical year. “Liturgy” meaning repeated or ritual, and the liturgical year is a cycle that we go through every twelve months to commemorate, and in our own ways to re-live, all of the important parts of the Christian life.
The Christian liturgical year begins in early December with Advent, the announcing of the birth of Christ. It follows through Christmas, moving into Epiphany, which is the appearance of the Lord, then into the forty days of Lent which follow Ash Wednesday, the day of repentance. Holy Week, the most important time of the Christian year, consists of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Forty days after Easter we have Pentecost, the pouring-out of the Holy Spirit. That process of Advent through Pentecost occupies just about half of the calendar year. Through the liturgical year we commemorate Christ’s birth, his appearance at the temple, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that we are all empowered to be as wonderful and divinely guided as we can possibly be.
The church year helps give us a connection to both the past and to the normal cycles of life. At the moment, Christmas is occupying everyone’s minds. In more traditional churches, we commemorate the liturgical year in the same way that the secular world commemorates New Years’ day, Valentines’ day, income tax day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Halloween and Thanksgiving – it’s a divine set of Holy Days superimposed on the secular life. These two worlds collide in the shopping malls, in the homes and the businesses of most Christians during the month of December. While the churches remind us to put Christ back into Christmas, the malls remind us that there are only 21 spending days left.
Christ = Messiah = Anointing
What’s interesting about this “Christ-mas” thing is the word itself. If divine revelation requires the proper conjugation of a word from an ancient Biblical language, then we’re all in trouble(!). But sometimes by digging just a little bit beneath the surface, we can see a relationship that we might have overlooked otherwise.
Our English word “Christ” comes from the Greek word “christos.” “Christos” is the Greek translation of a Hebrew word “meshiyach.” The word “meshiyach” (from which we get the word “messiah” and thus the word “Christ”) appears many times in the Bible, not just referring to Jesus, but was used anytime anyone was physically anointed with oil or was symbolically said to have God’s anointing upon him. That person was “messiah-ed” or “anointed.” So originally “messiah” meant the physical act of pouring oil upon someone; only later did it come to mean the power or honor or duty that the anointing had conferred upon the person.
Through the centuries, the Jewish people developed the idea of a particular anointed one, higher than all the others, much more special. It is said that King David was “messiah-ed” (anointed) of YHWH, the physical anointing symbolizing the spiritual anointing God gave him. David was so beloved, so powerful and so important in the history of Judaism that he came to symbolize the ultimate messiah, who would have the real anointing which would eliminate all disease, all suffering and all war on the planet.
So, the history of “Messiah” went like this: “Messiah” meant
First, the act of anointing with oil, then
The spiritual or secular power the anointing conferred, then
A person who had this anointing, and ultimately
The ONE Special Anointed Messiah of God, who would solve all problems on the earth.
As a Christian minister, I’m here to tell you very simply that Jesus was not the Messiah. That may offend you and I’m sorry, but it is the truth. When the people of Jesus’ time called him the “Messiah,” they meant that he was the one anointed of YHWH who would eliminate all war and all suffering on the planet. Jesus didn’t do that, so he couldn’t be the Messiah. The Christians came along and decided that the Jews didn’t know what they really meant when they used the word “messiah” and 2,000 years of hatred and murder were born.
It’s like saying to my ten-year-old “what do you want for dinner?” and he responds “I want a hamburger.” Then I give him some broccoli and asparagus and say “there you go, son, there’s your hamburger.” Perplexed, he says “that’s not what I asked for!” and I respond “certainly it is, son, you just didn’t know that by hamburger you really meant asparagus and broccoli.” That’s what the Christians did to the Jewish understanding of the word “messiah,” making it meaningless and wrong; telling the Jews that what they were really looking for in their “messiah” was one who had God’s spiritual anointing on him, who would usher in a spiritual kingdom, not a physical kingdom. But “messiah” was the Jews’ own Hebrew word, and thus 2,000 years of hatred and murder were born. Lovely little planet….
For you and me here and now, what I think is interesting to remember is that “Christ” means “messiah” which means “anointing.” When we’re talking about “Christ-mas” then, the “mas” part means “birth.” This makes most people think about Jesus when they think about that birth, but Jesus had a name, and his name was not “Christ!” Christ was a title. If we simply move the language back one generation, “Christ-mas” means “messiah-mas” which means the birth of the messiah, which means, literally, the birth of the anointed one!
Ahhh, now we’re getting close to having a mystical Christmas, because what mystics really want is to feel and to touch God – mystics want God’s anointing; it is the mystic’s desire to be God’s anointed one. It’s one thing to sing songs on Christmas Eve about a baby born 2,000 years ago. It’s another thing to believe that Jesus really did have God’s anointing on him. It’s another thing to believe that he was the one chosen Messiah, the only one.
But you know, mystics like me really don’t care about any of that. It’s all interesting, but what really matters is whether or not we are also God’s anointed, whether or not we have such favor with YHWH that He will pour out His special anointing on us, too. That’s what I want, that’s what I lust for more than the precious gifts under the tree – what I really want for me and for you is to feel and to smell and to know that we live with God’s anointing; we want to be His servant, to be God’s Prince of Peace to help this sad world the best we can. That, my friends, is the start of what it means to have a mystic little Christmas. The anointing that Jesus had by which he was ultimately called “The Anointed One,” “The Messiah,” “The Christ” – that anointing still exists and is available to be conferred upon anyone who will seek for it and ask for it.
In this way, what happened 2,000 years ago becomes the mystical center of our lives wherein we are reenacting, resurrecting, and reincarnating what went on 2,000 years ago.
A Pause to Reflect
Please, my friends: slow down in your lives, slow down in your reading. Slow down right now and think about this. Think about what religion, the church, society as a whole would be like if this Christmas we weren’t driving around insanely seeking all the material stuff we can get, or pretending to put “Christ back into Christmas” by singing songs about an ancient birth. The only way you will have the real Christ in Christmas is if God’s anointing lives abundantly in you and your family.
Imagine what it would mean if every year during this time, as a part of the liturgical year, as a part of your connection with the sacred cycles of life which happen and intertwine with the secular cycles of life, we found the anointing of God being renewed and refreshed in our lives. Imagine how exciting, how precious, how priceless life could be.
This is why I started this little writing by saying I can’t relate to the “Christmas” I see around me. I feel like the old song from the 70’s – “fools to the left of me, jokers to the right – here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” I am seeking something different, something very special; I am seeking myself to be The Mashiyach, the Christ, the anointed one of God, because without that, my life is just a shadow of what it could be.
The power that I have to help others, to be the Prince of Peace, to offer the opportunity for better living for all, is seriously diminished by allowing Christmas to remain impersonal. True power comes not from material goods – look at the power the United States has exerted with all of its material force in the Middle East and you can see all of the evil and suffering that has resulted. Plato was correct – might does not make right. Yet, Christianity seems stuck in the past, arguing about the historicity of this infant twenty centuries ago. What we need is God re-animated inside all of our hearts. That’s what we will look at for the rest of this document.
We’re going to take a symbolic look at the Christmas story. Symbolism sometimes scares people and I’m sorry about that, but if you think about it, we have signs and symbols around us constantly. The Nike “swoosh,” for example, stands for the Nike company and it also stands for athletic shoes, but more than that, it brings to mind by association excitement, “just do it,” getting out there and accomplishing big things. You’re not afraid of the Nike “swoosh” and similar symbols. What if the symbol we’re talking about is the Bible, and particularly now the story of Jesus’ birth. What if that story symbolizes you and your life? That might get a little scary, because then you might actually experience the power of God and you might start to change.
Symbolism is the basis of most of what Jesus taught in what we call parables. “A man goes out to sow some seed, some of the seed falls on rocky soil, some falls on good soil, some gets eaten by birds and some of it grows forever.” The seed is a symbol of the word of God and what affect it might have within us. It is my prayer that these words of God as we find them in the Holy Bible might be born anew inside of our hearts, that we can see the entire Christmas story as a symbol of our spiritual birth.
Is that shocking to you? I hope not, but it could be a new idea for you.
When you “Have Yourself a Mystic Little Christmas” the entire Christ-mas story becomes full of symbols about you, your spiritual life, and the people around you. Mysticism tends, often, to mean a little mystery; after all, the words are certainly related. The Bible talks about the “mystery of the ages,” language that is not used very often, but there is one specific case where the Bible is adamant there is a mystery that God has been brewing since the beginning of time, a mystery God has held in His heart. From Paul’s words in the book of Colossians in the New Testament, chapter 1, beginning with verse 24:
24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The mystery of the ages, the fulfillment of the word of God disclosed to the saints is that Christ is in you, and this is the hope of glory.
Paul started off his “career” helping to murder those early Christians who stood in opposition to the world as he understood it. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Anyone who has a different understanding we want to lash out and kill. However, in the book of Acts you can read about Paul’s personal encounter with Christ (Paul never knew Jesus during Jesus’ life) – Jesus was inside his head, speaking to him; Paul heard voices and saw visions. Something major happened to him, maybe it was a stroke or a seizure, (we will never know for certain) and he lost his sight for a while. While he was blind to the outer world he could see Jesus The Christ inside his head, could talk with him and learn from him. He became a mystic, his inner experiences far more powerful and real to him than anything that ever happened or could happen in his outer world.
Your personal mysticism does not need to take you to these extremes of blindness or hearing voices, but your personal mysticism will take you to a personal encounter, touch, oneness with Christ, with God.
After his mystical union with Christ, Paul’s ministry was all about that very special mystery, that Christ is not just “out there,” is not just ascended into Heaven, wherever that is, but Christ is actually inside us.
Back to our word game, the Christ = the Messiah = the anointing of God, is inside of you. That, my friends, is the mystery of the ages that God has been preparing us to learn since the beginning. It is exactly as Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is within you.” The kingdom is where the King anoints his subjects, both literally and symbolically.
Galatians chapter 4, verse 19:
19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Christ lives in us and Christ will grow to fullness in us. In fact, in Galatians Chapter 2, verse 20, Paul says:
20 I have been crucified with Christ [the anointing] and I no longer live, but Christ [the anointing] lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Indeed, the Bible itself tells you that the Bible is not complete because you are to be one of the letters, one of the epistles that people “read” as Holy Scripture. II Corinthians chapter 3, verse 2:
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
That’s incredibly exciting…YOU are the real Missing Book of the Bible!
The Real Christmas
In order for Christ to be formed in you (Gal 4:19), in order for Christ to become the fullness of you (Gal 2:20), in order for Christ to become all that you are (2 Cor 3:2), Christ must at some point be born in you! The seed that will eventually fill the grove with fruit must first be planted.
That, my friends, is what Christmas is really about. It’s not about Jesus in the manger twenty centuries ago nor about all of our fancy stuff under the tree with the credit card 22.9% interest payments.
Christmas is about the birth of Christ in YOU.
To use a shocking term, Jesus the Christ wants to be reincarnated in you, as you - to be born again. In the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about being born again - this is exactly the Christmas story. If Christ is going to be formed in you, then at some point Christ has to be born in you. It is at that moment that you are truly “born again.” Don’t you find this exciting? Now we can look at the Christmas story in a brand new way.
Three Christmas Parables
1) The first parable is the Christmas story explaining the birth of Christ within our souls, the moment when we receive God’s anointing in our hearts.
2) Secondly, we see the Christmas story as a parable about your personal, physical birth – not just symbolically or spiritually, but that you, too, are born to be Christ in the world, that your birth was the birth of the daughter or the son of God, born of the flesh. You are born to be the Prince or Princess of Peace, that your physical birth means that God is now with us.
3) The third and most important parable is once we understand that the Christmas story is about our spiritual birth, that of Christ being born in us, and we can also understand the Christmas story is referring to our physical lives, then we are free to see the Christmas story in every human being on the earth. That little starving child in Somalia eating his own excrement for breakfast: he is the Christ child, the anointed one of God, The Child of Peace, named God With Us, and s/he matters much more here and now than a baby born 2,000 years ago.
The idea that Christ is every person -that’s the really exciting part. Now, the hope and the promise of Christmas are truly reborn. Now the hope and the blessing of Christmas are truly ours, without limitation.
Take your time as you read these next sections. Take your time and let the symbolism, hope and beauty of these passages take on their fullest meaning. Experience the birth of Christ within your heart, perhaps this Christmas for the very first time. Experience the sacred nature of every individual human being around you, for indeed, there is immense, immeasurable joy to this world, because the Lord of all time has come, and it’s you and all 45,000 people who will die of starvation tonight.
It’s all of us.
Part 2 – Christmas Parable Number One
‘Til Christ is Formed In You
In Luke chapter 1, verse 26 we have an extraordinary passage in the Bible:
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
There are many remarkable things here:
The Christmas story goes on to say there is a census, so Joseph and Mary go back to Joseph’s hometown and, finding no room for them in the inn, the baby is delivered in the stable. Symbolically, this part of the story tells us the birth of the anointing of God in you has to compete with a great number of other interests. There are football games to watch, parties to attend, shopping and cooking and sex and drugs and of course, business as usual at the office, so in the beginning the birth of Christ within you is not greeted very warmly because everybody inside the inn (inn-side) is partying and laughing and drinking and screwing. When the Christ is born, we can’t ask the people of the town to stop doing all of that, but nevertheless, on the fringes of our lives, outside of our culture and much closer to nature (symbolized by the animals of the stable) the Christ child is born.
The Birth of God In You Brings Great Riches: What happens next in our Christmas story? As soon as this Christ is born, immediately there is great treasure brought to him, symbolized by the gold, frankincense and myrrh. You might make millions or billions of dollars, but unless you have the abiding presence of God within your heart, you will be empty, you will be lonely. The treasures we seek are not material, but are symbolized in the gold, frankincense and myrrh, because they are what were used to confer anointing. A king would be given a golden scepter, and the frankincense and myrrh are fragrant resins used to make ceremonial anointing oils. (My wife anoints our bed with frankincense every time she changes the bedding by sprinkling frankincense oil on the sheets.) The symbolism is wonderful. The anointing of God that is now born in you brings with it great treasure, riches beyond the imagination: the ability to love, to find peace and joy, real joy. Galatians chapter 5, verse 22:
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Anointing of God Grows to Fill You: The spirit of God that is now born within you, the messiah, the anointing of God, grows like a tiny seed will grow to become a tree and then the tree bears fruit…so too the seed of the spirit will grow to bear spiritual fruit with nine different characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Joy to the World: The Christmas story goes on to tell us that as soon as the child is born within us and the great riches are there, suddenly there is a multitude of the heavenly host singing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” The Lord has now come to you, in your heart.
The Guiding Light: There is a great shining star in the east, symbolizing the light that is coming into your heart, starting off as a tiny star far away, until you become the light itself. The anointing of God comes in the beginning like a whisper into the parties and fun going on at the inn, so too the light starts off unnoticed until the anointing of God it grows fills your heart to completeness. The Light of God fills you to totality and you are in fact the shining star itself.
Thus is Christ born in your heart, prophesied of old, performed miraculously by God Himself, on the outskirts of your consciousness, but growing. It is this child born that will truly save you from your sins.
Saved From Sin
Matthew 1, chapter 20:
20But after he (Joseph, Mary’s husband-to-be) had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
First off, symbolically (and I apologize -this may be too much for some of you) we have the male and female aspects within us, what we now call the left and right brain. The right brain being the warm, romantic, artistic side, the left brain being the cool, analytical, scientific/mathematic/logical side. The birth of Christ might begin with the right brain as we emotionally respond to something, whether it’s a sermon or a sunrise or maybe a document read on the internet, but eventually the Christ consciousness has to be embraced by both the right and left sides of the brain, the yin and the yang, in order to be able to be fully alive inside you. More than this: it is this presence of God, this anointing, that will save you from your sins.
It may sound odd in the context of all of this God-talk but I don’t want to get too theological with you. Let’s just put it like this: Christianity is about that transcendence of ego, becoming more than we thought we could become, and part of that means atoning for or dealing with the problem of our shortcomings and failures, our hatred, our ego, our sin. The story of Christmas as a parable for your spiritual life is telling you that this is the only way for you to truly deal with the problem of sin. It is not enough to believe in Jesus…You must become him.
The pathway of the mystic, to become one with God, is a life-long calling. The anointing of God that begets Christ, the Messiah within your heart, that is the very presence that will save you from your sin. Symbolically, as the baby grows, the partying and the fighting and the smoking that is going on at the inn loses its flavor, loses its attraction and we become more and more attracted to the fruit of the spirit, that love, joy, peace, patience etc. That’s what saves us from our sin, in true experience of communion with God, not simply saying approved prayers or believing correct doctrine. It is the living, breathing presence of God in you. The Christ, born in you on Christ-mas day, grows to fill your life, and that alone can save you from your sins.
Immanuel = God With Us
Matthew Chapter 2, verse 22:
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
We’ve looked at the Christmas story symbolizing God being with you, in your heart, being the start of your born-again experience, that God literally lives inside of you and has to start somewhere to begin to fill you totally, and that “somewhere” is the Christmas story. Live it!
Part 3 – Christmas Parable Number Two
God in the World
The Christmas story is more than just symbolic, and it’s more than just your private experience of feeling God’s grace inside yourself. Paul said in 1st Corinthians,
“Be ye therefore imitators of me as I am of Christ. If we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, so to we will be united with him the likeness of his resurrection.”
This is one of those areas I could spend hundreds of pages on, but I think you either get my point or your don’t: the Christ story symbolizes the birth of God’s anointing inside your heart, but it also symbolizes the birth of you in this world. Your physical birth to your mother and father into this world was “foretold” of old. You are a part of the universe and have every right and all the means necessary to be here. You might have been born of biology, itself utterly miraculous, but you are not just biology. Science is looking for the elusive chemical that will finally define life, but it won’t happen. Science is like a bunch of aliens inside a television set, pulling the television set apart looking for the chip inside that generates the programming, but what the television set does is transmit and receive a signal that does not originate inside the box. Consciousness is a function of neurons inside the brain, the scientists say, but that is not true, no more so than all of the programming, the football games, the comedies, and the news broadcasts are somehow present inside your television. Even though “natural” biology is involved doesn’t mean your birth is any less miraculous.
You are supposed to be God among us! You are, as Paul said, that living letter – you are the only letter from God that others may ever “read!” If God wants to help someone in your life, you are the instrument by which God can do so. Let’s say you have $1000 to give to your friend to help solve his financial problem. If God was to miraculously put that money into his bank account (which God could easily do) and he then spent the $1000, it is possible your friend could be prosecuted for bank fraud! It may have been possible hundreds of years ago for God to miraculously make money appear out of nowhere, but He can’t do it now, not with our fancy computer systems. If God made money fall out of the sky for you and you were to deposit it into your account, that deposit would be reported and you would have to come up with some kind of explanation to convince the Feds you didn’t get the cash from drug or terrorist activities. The only way God can give money or health or hope or beauty to someone who is hurting is by pouring it through you. You, my friend, are Immanuel. You are God with us!
Change Your Thinking
I’m inviting you, as your friend, maybe as your Pastor or Rabbi, maybe as your older brother or just some weirdo on the internet, to change your entire way of thinking about yourself. Let the Christmas story be your story. That’s what it means to be a Christian; that you are Christ-like, that Jesus’ birth account echoes in your heart and mind as an indication of your own birth account. In Part 2 of this writing we saw how that meant, symbolically, the birth of the spirit within us, our religious awakening. But here in Part 3, I’m admonishing you to realize that it’s also about your physical birth, your physical reality. Read the Christmas story and let it be your story. That’s why there is a liturgical year: the birth of Christ becomes your birth, at Easter his death and resurrection become your death and resurrection. His ascension into heaven becomes yours!
You are Gold with us. You are the Prince or Princess of Peace. You are the Lord of Lords, the Mighty One who has come to save us from oppression! The government shall reside on your shoulders. You are the Son of God, the Daughter of God.
Change your thinking about yourself. Like the Bible says, “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Now, it’s really easy to become egomaniacal with this information about your true being, but I’m trusting you to read the entire story, because if you stop here and you start fancying yourself to be God in the flesh to the exclusion of anyone else, you become sick, out of balance and diseased. The story is not complete without Christmas Parable Number Three.
Part 4 – Christmas Parable Number Three
God Bless Us, Every One
You are simultaneously special beyond imagination, unique, prophesied of old, meant to be here from the beginning, a miraculous work of the Universe too complex to understand, and so on…but my friends, so too is every other person on the earth! They, too, are called to have God born in their hearts that they might be born again, with the angels singing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” They are also God in the flesh. We are not prepared to fully live until we wake up, intent that we are going to be the best Jesus we can be, here to save others from their sins, to be available to help in whatever way we can, to have our unique anointing of God. Your anointing is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as anyone else’s, but we all have a special anointing. To use that anointing for our own joy, as our own fruit of the spirit blossoms and grows, and we become perfect love, joy, peace etc in this world, that we might use that anointing in our hearts to infuse the life that we have in service to others.
In very simple human terms: all those children dying of starvation today are Jesus in the manger. We have made no room for them in the inn or in our hearts. The planet can spend almost $2 million per minute for war-making, but we cannot find the pennies a day to keep one of these precious Christ-children alive.
So the next time you see one of those “feed the children” infomercials that you usually click past as fast as you can, take a moment to look at the faces of the Christ-children. Look into their eyes. That is Jesus! That is the Christ child, perhaps with an amazing anointing, living in horrible poverty with flies eating her flesh.
I do not care one bit about the historicity of the accounts of a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago. But I do know and I do care that there are hundreds of millions of people on the earth right now dying of starvation and treatable diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control for the United Nations, there are about 45,000 Christs who die ever day. I also know and care that those people are no less valuable than you or I or any president, king or tyrant.
I also know and care that every single one of those people can be healed and given a sacred, beautiful life by someone who cares enough to be who they came to earth to be: Christ in the flesh.
For decades I have been supporting children through World Vision. For $25 a month per child the children are fed, clothed, housed, given clean water and medical care and an education – hope for living. They are given their own opportunity to the Christ-mas story be born in their hearts.
If you’ve read this far, if any of this has touched you, if you really want to have a Merry Christmas……
…then I have several recommendations for you.
Just think…You click on www.WorldVision.org and save the life of a child…hmmmm…you really are Christ in this world…hmmmm…You must already have God’s anointing on your heart…hmmmm…….
Please call me any time. (615) 773-6084
I appreciate your time and attention. The fact that you have read this much means
I deeply love you. Have Yourself a Mystic Little Christmas!
The World Needs You, Child of Peace, Messiah of God!
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