Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Message of Christmas: A Holy Encounter – Part 2

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah everyone! I do hope each of you have a wonderful holiday season.
Last week I discussed an AA truism, “If you spot it you got it,” a sentiment very similar to an adage in the November/December 2012 Holy Encounter magazine published by the ACIM Miracle Distribution Center: “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself” – A Course in Miracles.
Last week I discussed several examples of these truths in terms of Christmas as the birth of a transformation and Chanukah as the celebration of spiritual Light.  Today, as another example, we can simply look at the Christmas story in the New Testament. When we examine the story of Jesus’ birth in the accounts in Matthew and Luke (mostly symbolic and contradictory) we can see this truism being played out.  
The Shepherds: They heard this commotion in the heavens, heard an angelic chorus singing praises, and heard an angel commanding them to go to a manger and worship the newborn Messiah. They went, told Joseph and Mary what had happened to them, and left. They were amazed and excited. They returned – presumably to their pasturing flocks.
Joseph and Mary: They appeared on the scene, birthed the babe, and listened to the shepherds tell them that the Angel of the Lord said this was the Messiah. Mary pondered their comments. They left to go hide out in Egypt for perhaps 12 years. Then they, following information in a dream, returned not to Bethlehem but to Nazareth, where Joseph established his carpentry trade.
The Magi: They were Eastern/Persian/Zoroastrians/Hindu/Buddhist (?) astronomers or astrologers who could read the heavens like the back of their hand. They knew the sign of the Star was very significant – perhaps pointing to a new beginning for humankind. They left home with gifts and followed the star. They stopped (out of respect or courtesy?) to visit Herod and his court. Herod asked them to pay homage to the child and report back to him so he could go, as well. They saw the child, marveled, and then they were warned not to go back to Herod, so they didn’t. They left. We have no idea what they did after all the time, effort, and expense they had undergone.
Herod and the leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin: Here are the leaders of the Faith. They are the most knowledgeable and sophisticated of the Jews. After the visit of the Eastern wise men, they pored over scriptural scrolls and found an obscure reference in Micah that pointed to the small town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. So, why didn’t Herod and his court go there (especially since there was this huge star in the sky over Bethlehem only about 5-6 miles away) and pay their respects? They didn’t. Instead their thinking led them to the conclusion that this birth was a threat to their power and prestige. They began to plot against this threat.
Each of the participants in the Christmas drama (including Matthew and Luke, themselves) had a different perception based on their thinking. They projected those perceptions onto the Christ Child and believed, not in Him, but in their own created projections of Him.
I would have thought that all this commotion around Bethlehem would have caught someone’s attention. I mean it’s not every day that a chorus of angels is singing over a pastoral landscape, while a terribly bright star is hovering overhead and strange, wealthy Eastern Potentates and their entourage of camels, assistants, and slaves is wandering around the little town. But apparently that caused no severe response or reaction among the common folk. For the shepherds, Joseph and Mary, and the Magi this seemed to be a pretty ho-hum event. Joseph and Mary weren’t really impressed with their new son until they had Jesus circumcised and took him to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord.  There a respected man, Simeon, and a prophetess, Anna, made a real fuss over the lad. That is what filled Joseph and Mary with wonder.
For Herod it was a life-and-death struggle for his throne. He responded with an edict to kill all male children under the age of two. Although this action is not supported in the historical record, it is referred to in tradition as the Murder of Innocents.
As beautiful a story it is, it’s all perception. It’s not reality. Only the Holy Spirit can change your perception if you truly want it and ask for it – If you are truly willing.
As I wrote last week, I still don’t understand where my willingness comes from. But, I believe my willingness to really want something else, because my life just wasn’t working anymore, was my Higher Power working behind the scenes. He conceived in me hope and openness once again, just like it happened in a manger two millennia ago. Voila, my transformation has begun. A life is being reborn as God-in-Me. The power of Love has triumphed once again over my egoism. Another error has been corrected, and I know my ego-error will have to be corrected again….  and again…. and again.
Christmas morning didn’t happen only once – a long time ago in history. Neither did Chanukah. They continue to happen in my life all the time.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 December, 2012
Copyright, 2012

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