A Higher Way of Being Together - Right Here and Right Now

While December 25th wasn’t established as the birth date of Jesus until the 300’s, I just love that choice.  For whether you consider the prophecy of Isaiah or the stories of the evangelists - whether you consider the prophecy of a young woman of marriageable age or the story of a young woman sexually chaste, there is a common thread, for both prophet and evangelist perceived and experienced unthinkable cruelty and oppression in his world and I think each assigned a birth as the symbolic entrance of a higher way of being together right here and right now, among the living, breathing brothers and sisters of planet earth; a better way of being together - not as subjects in an imperially-driven world marked by power but as equals in a divinely-inspired world marked by justice.

Both are tales of hopeful triumph amidst an experience of daunting circumstance.  Both are tales of profound light amidst an experience of deepest darkness.

So, is it factual that the birth occurred on December 25th?  For many, many reasons, it’s highly unlikely.  But is it true that the birth occurred on a night of deepest darkness?  I would say, yes this is deeply, deeply true.

And if you agree, then you’re beginning to set aside the mindset which so enjoys all that can be weighed on a scale and charted on a graph.  And you’re beginning to call forth something of that mindset which is capable of drawing transcendent truth from these beautiful tales, regardless of their factuality.  You’re beginning to call forth something of that mindset which is capable of grasping that the Christmas story is a universal story which was particularized by Jesus of Nazareth; that the Christmas story is a universal story which is to be particularized by each of us.

If you are one for whom this story is that of a human agent for societal change that would prove global and lasting – an itinerant Jewish teacher and healer born around 2,000 years ago – we welcome you and we honor this Rabbi Jesus.  And if you are one for whom this story is that of availability, obedience, courage and a willingness to step into the thing itself, we welcome you, and we honor this Christ.

We began our series with the magi.  Gentile scientists from what can be described as little more than “over there somewhere,” these unlikely candidates obeyed the call of a star – they obeyed inspiration, presented in a manner which they could accept.  Theirs is a story of that higher idea which already exists for each of us, if we will but lift our eyes high enough over the horizon of current circumstance to see it.

And then we continued with the shepherds.  Jewish peasants from the local hills, I imagine.  They obeyed the call of the angels – they obeyed inspiration, again presented in a matter which they could accept.  Theirs is a story of that higher idea which already exists for each of us, if we will but find enough nighttime (that is, if we will but find enough quiet) to hear it.

Together, it could be said that these are stories of availability, obedience and courage.  After all, what value has availability without obedience and courage?

And it’s at this juncture that our story presents the Virgin Mary - ill-prepared and ill-equipped, an underage peasant girl.  Imagine the arguments she could have made.  But with the angel’s announcement - in what I would offer as a pinnacle moment in our narratives - Mary responded by saying, “Let it be.  Let it be.”

I would go so far as to argue that at every pinnacle moment – at every jump point (if you will) – in human evolution, you’ll find at the center at least one soul who was wildly ill-prepared and completely ill-equipped, for change cannot rise from a comfortable, status quo wisdom.

Taken together, it could be said that these are stories of availability, obedience, courage and a willingness to step into the thing.  For what, value have availability, obedience, even courage without a willingness to step into the thing?

Perhaps this is what Meister Eckhart, 13th century Dominican priest, theologian and mystic,  meant when he concluded his Christmas message by offering, and I quote, “We are all meant to be mothers of God.”

And so it is that we arrive at this climax of our narratives.  For if Mary demonstrates a willingness to step into the thing, what exactly is the thing itself?  What does it mean to step into the Christ?

If the life of Jesus himself is to be our guide, we step into this Christ in every moment that we challenge our own prejudices;

  • we step into this Christ in every moment that we embrace the outcast, in every moment that we welcome the estranged, in every moment that we touch the untouchable;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment that we open our tables in kindness;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment that we pray generously for our persecutors, in every moment that we share generously with our condemners;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment that we turn the other cheek;
  • we step into this Christ is every moment that we simply let it – whatever it is – go;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment of quiet contemplation;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment of forgiveness;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment of healing;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment of love;
  • we step into Christ in every moment that we relinquish tomorrow’s fears for today’s sufficiency;
  • we step into this Christ in every moment that we relinquish social convention for divine authority.

We step into this Christ in every moment that we bring forth any portion of the richness that has been placed within us; and we step into this Christ in every moment that we let our respective lights shine.