As we approach the festive period and the dust comes off the tinsel once more, the core message of this time comes to mind.
2015 has been an interesting year for most of us with changes seeming to come along in so many ways, so quickly and so often. If ever there was a year which extols the need for us to live in the moment this was surely one. It has shown to us more than ever that the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty.
I wrote this time last year of the out dated and even questionable nature of what have become Christmas “traditions” for many. Perhaps it is the central, so often ignored revelation that should demand our attention as we over eat and drink too much.
The solstice on the 21st of December ushers in the New Year as the old one prepares to leave. The increasing darkness ceases and we enter a period of lightening, a time of awakening and emergence which rolls out before us to the Spring, when the goddess of fertility has her time again, giving birth once more to that which has been gestating in her during the dim Winter months. It marks a turning point; a beginning, a re-birth.
The Christmas story and its message, whether historically true or not – and it really doesn’t matter which – concerns the birth of the Christ, the God on earth, about to reveal itself in the form of a tiny child. This is not just about it emerging in Jesus or the “saviour”. It is telling us it is waiting to emerge in us, each one of us. It is a birth within us, not outside us, of love, wisdom, goodwill, and peace. And we have to become as innocent children to recognise its wonder.
I remember as a little boy my auntie Dolly talking to me once about religion and Christmas. She listened to me speaking about Jesus with my boyish enthusiasm. After a little pause, aunt “Doll” as she was affectionately called, smiled at me and said, “That sort of thing is good for the children, but not as you get older.”
It made me sad, my protests going largely unheeded. But aunt Doll was closer to the truth than perhaps she realised. The Christmas message is certainly for children, but for the child that exists in all of us however it is numbed by the weariness of age and time. This birth of the light of love can only be understood when we appeal to the child in our hearts and that innate, pure goodness dwelling deep inside. Then the Christ in us is born again and we discover who we truly are; “The Christ in you, the hope of Glory” of the apostle Paul.
These times, and certainly 2016, are ones of transformation, renewal and the re-birth of our glorious spirit. Then we discover that we are here to love, to give, to serve. As Silver Birch, wise guide of the famous Maurice Barbanell repeated many, many times, “service is the coin of the spirit.” Service of one’s fellow human beings and indeed all life is love in action. It is our priority.
This birth celebration is not really for making merry, parties, excessive self-indulgence and old rituals. Rather it exalts us to give the love in us a chance by our devotion to others. Yes, we are meant to respect ourselves, and love the god in us, but service is the key we must turn.
2016 and its increasingly transformational theme is our opportunity to loosen the bonds of selfishness, to serve whoever we can serve, to love whoever there is to be loved in our lives, and to heal that which still needs to be healed. If there is one person in our lives in pain because of us it is our responsibility to love them and to heal our relationship with them, to bring peace to them. Our task is to make amends wherever we can, to seek forgiveness whatever the cost may be. Then we truly understand the true message of Christmas and the magnificent birth possible in us all; and then 2016 will be able to work its transformational magic in us most perfectly.