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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why Christmas?

In a recent meeting at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, a member shared that after attending services and classes at Unity for a while and learning of our perspective on Jesus and the Christ, she speculated about what Christmas would be like for us, questioning whether we would even celebrate Christmas. She shared that she was surprised to find that not only do we celebrate Christmas, but that we display a nativity scene on our platform, and we hold a Christmas Eve candle lighting service.

I completely relate. When I began studying New Thought philosophy and teachings, I also wondered why we celebrate Christmas. Moreover, I was deeply troubled that we sang the same Christmas carols I learned and sang in the Baptist church. Because we do not teach a doctrine of “sin” or salvation through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, I did not understand why we would sing about Jesus as “savior,” “lord,” and “messiah.” Perhaps others have pondered this as well.

In Unity, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, not because of how or why he died, but because of how he lived. We honor Jesus as our example, teacher and guide. He showed us what is possible for all of us. He fully awakened to oneness. He realized his unity with God and proudly proclaimed it when he said things such as, “The Father and I are one;” “Those who have seen me have seen the Father;” and “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” He invited us to do the same.

Image credit: Body and Blood (detail), Janet McKenzie,
In what we know today as the “sermon on the mount” as presented to us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 – 7, Jesus outlines his instructions for attaining oneness consciousness and living it. Here we find his teaching on the “beatitudes,” attitudes of being that open us to embodying Christ consciousness; as well as instruction on how to pray, love our neighbors, forgive, give, and seek the kingdom of God. When we understand these teachings from a metaphysical perspective and apply them as practical tools for our lives, we can truly follow Jesus as our teacher and guide. For additional information on the metaphysical interpretation, I suggest reading The Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox and/or Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth.

We honor Jesus as “Lord” not because we see him as ruling over us, but because he exampled for us one who obtained dominion over, thus became the “Lord” of his consciousness. In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore says,

In the Old Testament ‘Jehovah,’ in the New Testament ‘Christ,’ is referred to as Lord. Jehovah and Christ both represent spiritual man. Lord then is another name for spiritual man.

As Lord spiritual man is ruler of himself, of his faculties, and of the world. The Lord consciousness is one of dominion. When we enter into our lordship we rule. We rule over ourselves, our thoughts, our body, our environment, and all the creatures and creations of the earth.

We may refer to Jesus as “savior,” not because he died for our sins, but because he overcame ‘sin,’ which we understand as thoughts and actions which stem from a consciousness of separation.

Through the conscious recognition of his relation to the Father, and the inherent divine force dwelling within him, [Jesus] was able to redeem himself from all possibility of sin¹ and taught by his life that what he could do, everyone could do, and in this way was the Savior of the world, and inasmuch as we help a brother to see the Life, the Truth, the Way, do we become Saviors as also. – Unity Magazine, December 1905

We call Jesus “Messiah,” not because we see him as the one and only “Son of God” sent to redeem the world, rather because he realized and embodied the power of the indwelling Spirit to accomplish his mission on Earth. In this way, he is our way-shower. Charles Fillmore explains,

There is quite a bit of misunderstanding on the part of both Christians and non-Christians with regard to the meaning of the words Christ and Jesus, and their use as applied to Jesus of Nazareth. Christ, meaning "messiah" or "anointed," designates one who had received a spiritual quickening from God, while Jesus is the name of the personality. – Jesus Christ Heals

Even though some Christmas songs may stimulate outdated theology still embedded in my consciousness from earlier times, I proudly celebrate Christmas as the birth of our elder brother and way shower Jesus of Nazareth who showed us the way to a life empowered by the Spirit of the Christ, our indwelling expression of the Divine. In Unity, we also celebrate Christmas because it is a reminder that the same Christ born as Jesus is also born as each of us. Every moment of every day is our opportunity to remember and embrace this Truth. Finally, we celebrate Christmas as a time of remembering and for recommitting ourselves to following Jesus on the path of living the Christ in the world.

¹ ‘sin’ - Metaphysical Bible Dictionary

1 comment :

  1. I appreciate the clarity this message provides. As one who openly proclaimed love and devotion to Jesus Christ throughout my lifetime I went through a period of mourning as I gradually let go of my earlier interpretation of the patriarchal interpretation of God the Father and Jesus the Savior. Yet, as I have allowed myself to open up to a new awareness of what this means for me, I have discovered that I have not actually lost anything or anyone. The Presence I have loved since childhood is still with me, offering guidance, comfort, healing, forgiveness, and empowerment, as it always has. I have always recognized the Presence within everyone and everything around me, but now I have become part of a loving community that shares that understanding. Several years ago I was on a Christian history tour of Italy. The minister who was leading the tour asked us to identify the places where we felt the presence of God most strongly. He was referring to a concept coined by the professor of religion and author Marcus Borg. He was preparing to share a sermon on that topic of "thin places" when we returned to our home church. I had trouble with his question, because I felt it EVERYWHERE. I knew it as a presence that was in every face, every plant, every moment. It seemed so limiting to narrow it down to a few specific locations. I still love the beautiful traditions of Christmas, but to be honest, the metaphysical perspective on the story aligns better with archeological and historical evidence and has enriched my own celebration of this special time of year. Thank you for this illuminating blog, David. I look forward to hearing more in your sermon tomorrow.