December is the month for re-runs of favorite holiday television shows - "Its a Wonderful Life", "A Sesame Street Christmas", "Polar Express", and of course "A Christmas Carol", to name a few. We're all familiar with these shows, but many of them have lessons that are worth refreshing in our thought and repeating so that those that haven't seen them can be blessed by their message.
Although its not a classic on the same level as many of these television shows, I have a blog from a previous Christmas that I've already been re-running in my thought. It has an idea that I try to re-visit, explore, and make a part of my Christmas experience every year. I'd like to share it again.
The Christmas Story ... and you!
I've always loved the Christmas story, the story of the birth of Jesus recorded in the Bible (Matthew 2, Luke 2). The story tells of a bright star that wisemen from far away followed to Bethlehem, of angels that spoke and sang to shepherds watching their flocks that night, of there being no room at the inn so the newborn baby was laid in a manger, of a wicked king who tried to locate and kill the baby boy. Did these events really happen? Some scholars don't think so.
I can tell you that the Christmas story really happened - I was there! No, I wasn't in Bethlehem in 4 BC. But the Christmas story isn't tied to a year in the calendar or a place on the globe. The Christmas story is about the appearance of the Christ-idea in our own consciousness.
For many of us, when it comes to the Christ, there is truly no room at the inn. We are so busy 24/7 with careers, family, and entertainment that we hardly have time to eat and sleep, let alone be aware of the Christ. But the Christ comes anyway, to each of us, continually. We don't recognize the Christ or even realize that it is in our experience because ... well, its like a baby in a manger - out of the radar of our attention and seemingly irrelevant and insignificant. So the Christ comes as little baby events in our day - the bird singing outside your bedroom window before dawn, the sales clerk or waitress or passing stranger that smiles at you, the bright sunshine that warms you or gentle breeze that cools, the empty parking space right where you need it, and yes, the fresh snow decorating the bare tree branches.
If we are wisemen, we are alert to the signs of Christ's coming. We behold the star and are willing to leave the comfort and convenience of our lives to follow where the star leads us, even into foreign lands - new ways of thinking and acting. We bring gifts to honor this new birth: gifts of giving up of our old ways of thinking and giving our commitment to work and follow in a new way. With this attitude we successfully follow the star to the young child.
Watchful shepherds are awake and listening. We are watchful shepherds if we don't let our thought be lulled into stupefaction by the gross materialism and sensualism of the age. Watchfully guarding the innocence of our being, our spiritual identity, we will hear and heed the angel messages that announce the presence of the Christ.
There is an evil king in our lives too. In the Bible story, Herod, the king imposed on the Jews by Roman authority, saw the young child as his rival and sought to slay him. Today, the false king that would eliminate the Christ from our experience appears in may forms - the glamour and self-centered greed of modern society, the claims of medical practice that would limit or deny the healing Christ, the intellictualism or scientific materialism that says the Bible is archaic, inaccurate, or irrelevant. Like the wisemen in the Bible story, we must recognize the intent of these kings and not let them interfere with our embracing of the Christ.
What if we have room at the inn, are wisemen and shepherds, and foil the evil king? Then the Christ enters our experience and true Christmas comes! And all I can say about the true Christmas is WOW! (Click here to read one of my "Christmas" experiences).