UNITY OF VANCOUVER
 3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996


The Message of Christmas
  Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
  December 20, 2020

 All Rights Reserved

 

 

It will soon be Christmas Day and I wish you the happiest, holiest week of your life! May all of the blessings of Spirit be yours this joyous season and for everyday for ever after. You are loved. You are here to be loving. You are a walking miracle. Celebrate the miracle that you are and find creative ways to share your light and love and choose to make this world more Heaven like. Give thanks for all we have and all we have to share.
In service to the light and love of Christ, Bernadette



ADVENT WREATH CANDLE LIGHTING - MEDITATION ON JOY – 4TH SUNDAY IN ADVENT

Relight your Advent candles for Hope, Peace, and Love. Now light your Advent candle for Joy and speak the words of the Meditation of Joy.

The news of the birth of a Messiah brought joy to the people of Israel. That joy gave them hope and that hope gave them strength to carry on. If ever I lose sight of my joy, I remember the boundlessness I felt as a child. That child is still present within me, alive, enthusiastic, and seeking expression. I love my inner child and give it room to come out and play. Life is filled with possibilities and I stay open to those that excite and inspire me. In this Advent season of great expectation, I hold great expectations for my own life. Who knows what might be coming next? Who knows what might be born anew in me? I am infused with the joy of being alive, and I am grateful. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

MEDITATION

I invite you to turn within to that place of special quiet that represents that Silent Night of long ago. Relax deeply and feel your body becoming still as you prepare your heart and mind for the rebirth of the Christ presence that is already within you, waiting to be re-awakened. Affirm: “I am open and receptive to the rebirth of the Christ in me today.”

Let us pray:  O Christ, my own eternal self, make yourself known to me this day.  I am open and receptive, and I ask to consciously experience Your presence in all areas of my life. O Christ, my own eternal self, I acknowledge Your presence and power here with me right now. I let that mind be in me that was in Christ Jesus and allow it to lift me into the Christ presence of hope, peace, love and joy. As I rest in the Christ consciousness, I invite the Christ light to fill my mind; the life of Christ to fill my body.  The love of Christ to fill my heart and the substance of Christ to fill my affairs. Affirm: The beauty of Christ shines forth through me as faith and freedom, joy and courage, power and peace. The Christ is flowing through me now, removing all darkness, all sense of disease and all anxiety and fear. Affirm:  Christ is made manifest in me.

Through the Christ of God in you, your hope of glory, know that you are loved. You experience yourself as loving and you become the love of God made manifest. In the loving consciousness of Christ, know that you are a spiritual being, living in a spiritual universe governed by spiritual law.  In the consciousness of the awakened Christ affirm: “I am love.  I am loving.  I am love. The Christ is made manifest in me”

Now pray for others by affirming: “You are love.  You are loving.  You are beloved. The Christ is made manifest in you.”

Now close with the Silent Unity Prayer For Fulfillment for yourself and for others:  “The light of Christ fills my mind; The life of Christ fills my body; The love of Christ fills my heart; The substance of Christ fills my affairs; The beauty of Christ shines forth through me as faith and freedom, joy and courage, power and peace.”

“The light of Christ fills your mind; The life of Christ fills your body; The love of Christ fills your heart; The substance of Christ fills your affairs; The beauty of Christ shines forth through you as faith and freedom, joy and courage, power and peace.” Amen.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS

In this lesson I’m going to give a brief overview of some the metaphysical meanings within the Christmas story. The word Metaphysics was coined by Aristotle and means to look beyond the physical, literal words and the historical events and to reflect on the symbolic meaning of all the characters and events in our own consciousness and in the events of our own lives.  So, as you read today’s lesson, place yourself in the story.

First, I’m reading from Luke 1:26-35.  “in the 6th month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.”  Let’s say you’re at home, in bed, fast asleep.  And in the middle of the night, say, 2 a.m., an angel, does a pop in and lights up your bedroom with something like 4000 watts of heavenly light. How do you initially feel about being awakened from a dead sleep by a bright light shining in your eyes?  How do you feel about a stranger popping up in your bedroom to chat?   Would you be a little bit troubled?

“And the angel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father, David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?”  In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Mary represents the soul that magnifies the Lord daily in the temple. Through its devotion of prayer and meditation, it prepares itself for a higher life.  Now, according to the Unity teachings, you are made up of three parts: Spirit, Soul and Body.  Spirit is the Christ: God individualized in you.  God is everywhere present, and God is inside you; that is called the Christ.

Men in the Bible represent that phase of Soul we term the intellect and women represent the emotional or feeling nature of soul.  You have both inside you. In the Christmas story, Soul is represented by Joseph and Mary.  The angel appearing in the 6th month is referring to the mystical marriage that takes place in the 6th charka when the intellect and emotion of the 5th chakra are lifted up, purified and thus transmuted into Divine Love and Divine Wisdom.  We thus become an open receptacle and channel for the Divine.

In our Unity teachings, the word Soul is also used to designate total consciousness.

Your present level of consciousness is determined by your Soul’s ability to live the truth you know in the moment.  The more you live from the awareness that you are a three old being and that there is only one presence and power, the more fearless you are when you encounter messages not only in outer events but also from angels within, from Spirit.  Body is the form of both Spirit and Soul.  The present condition of your body and affairs is the sum total of both your conscious and subconscious awareness.

At the lower levels of consciousness, our emotional nature reacts to external people and events as separate from God and influencing our good and as if we have no power to change what’s happening ‘to us.’  This victim consciousness creates a vast array of unstable emotional responses: happy–sad, faith- fear, up or down.   Mary is a young virgin. Divine Love is within us, but in our spiritual youth, we misuse our emotional nature to judge ourselves as unprepared or unworthy to be God’s vehicle of expression; unworthy of love, unworthy to prosper, unworthy of God’s attention and power in answering our prayers.

In the initial stages of our spiritual awakening, we aren’t aware of our indwelling Christ self and the Prodigal journey we’re on. Things begin to happen that are different from any experience that we’ve ever had.  If we’re smart enough to become still, a reassurance always comes just as the angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”   That’s always the message from God: “You have found favor. You are God’s beloved and you are going to bring forth something from the within of you that is very special—God-ordained and God-created.

“Listen to the angels sing be not afraid and no matter what you are facing in your life, be still and know that God is always with you.  You have found favor with God.”

The most basic message of the Christmas story is:  We are created as holding tanks of the divine and channels or distribution centers through which Spirit can pour to transmute God from the energy of unseen Spirit into good as the visible forms we desire in life.  These holy creations, creations of wholeness are the sons and daughters of God.  “By their fruits you will know them.”  Think Jell-O in a box, Jell-O in liquid, Jell-O in a Jell-O mold.  All the same substance, but different form.  It all tastes good.

Mary went to Joseph and told him an angel had visited her and that she was going to have a child who would be the Son of God.  Put yourself in his shoes and imagine his initial reaction.  Now I read Matthew 1:19-21, “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Joseph’s intention to divorce Mary quietly means that we do not, in the first stages of the birth of Christ in us, understand the process of how the emotional and intellectual natures in us need to be married and working together to bring forth the Christ.  This is talking about the times when we feel a strong emotion or intuitive push toward Spirit and we use our minds to push it away and say, “Wait a minute.  How can I follow this guidance?  The facts of the matter tell me I should go another route.  I don’t have time to pray about this, I have to do something right now!”

Mary received a revelation from the Lord directly from the angel that appeared in front of her.  (Your intuition receives directly from Spirit).  This signifies that spiritual enlightenment comes more directly through intuition.  Joseph received his message indirectly through a dream.  That’s the only way it could get through the intellect.  When we’re stuck in our heads, thinking about the facts of the appearances or the negativity, God’s guidance can’t get through unless we literally knock ourselves out, or go to sleep.  We have to do something in order to get our mind out of the think and do gear and into the listen and be gear necessary for clear thinking to happen as the guidance that will lead us to the healing, or the prospering ideas that when implemented that will lead us to the abundant life.

Mary as intuition was aware of the Divine Life that she carried and desired time for quiet and meditation, so she went to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Her devout and exalted frame of mind are expressed in a beautiful prayer of praise recorded in Luke 1:46-49. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savor, for He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.  For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.  For He who is mighty has done great things for me and Holy is His name.”

You experience this exaltation and joy when you believe without a shadow of doubt that the so-called miraculous is not only a possibility, it’s a promise.  The right working of the law of mind action results in the birth of the Christ in your now moment.

Then In Luke 2:1-24 we read: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.  This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.  And she gave birth to her first born, son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to the “Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people: for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior.”

Some distance away, or metaphysically one step down at the 5th chakra or power center of the throat, the shepherds are watching over the sheep. Here, the shepherds represent our controlling thoughts and the sheep our emotions that tend to run astray. Sheep will bolt out of fear of almost anything. When they are fearful, they run to the hills. We have both: controlling thoughts and emotions that run to the hills. There has to be a balance between these two.

If we only have shepherding thoughts (and we all know people who are only into their intellectual side and who aren’t in touch with their feelings), we are like shepherds without sheep.  The listener would think, “It’s silly to be a shepherd without any sheep. What kind of job is that?”

On the other hand, there are those who are only into their emotional side (their sheep nature) are very flighty and run all over the place. They never plant seeds or stay around long enough to reap the harvest, so they never really have a life. Again, we need both the energies of the emotional and the intellectual aspects of us working together in harmony.

A few years ago, I was shopping on a busy day at the mall. When I went to purchase something, I reached into a bag and brought out something I also wanted to return but I didn’t have a receipt for it with me. The manager was called to okay the return. So, it all took a long time and you can imagine how the people behind me we’re feeling. Their sheep were probably running to the hills thinking, “I have so much to do. Who does she think she is?”  It was like I was intentionally holding everyone up. In those kinds of moments, we need a good shepherding thought to say, “Calm down. Look at the bigger picture. In 30 minutes, this will be over with and you will be on with the rest of your life. You can forget this. Bless this person.”

The angels in the story take various forms: angels can be our inspirational thoughts or acts of grace that come from God like when something unexpectedly good happens to you without your having to work for it.  Our receptivity to higher energies and being determines how they appear dreams, visions or right there in front of you. Jesus became known as “the Good Shepherd.”  Being a Good Shepherd actually draws angels of illumination, inspiration, and grace to us.  And, unless we are in a good shepherd state of conscious, an angel can come to us and we won’t even know it. Imagine if the angels had appeared, but the sheep had bolted to the hills and the shepherds were off chasing the sheep. The angel could have appeared and had no one to announce the good news to.  Like the expression, “I talked to him, but there was nobody home!”
The Babe of course, represents our inner Christ self in potential. We are embodied Spirit. When we are the good shepherd, we receive the grace and wisdom to know where to look for and find the Christ, within its manger, it’s ordinary, humble place--inside our human body.  We tend to turn this around. We tend to value our bodies and human lives more than our spiritual life. But in a hundred years what will our bodies be …. just dust.  But you are more than just a body, you are embodied Spirit with a shelf life of forever.  From this perspective, 1,000 years is a second and a million years is just a day.

To summarize the meaning of Christmas I want to share a short story that was prepared for UPI News by Louis Cassels as a response to people who want to remove the manger and the Christ from Christmas and simply call it a ‘winter Holiday’ but still hold ‘after Christmas sales.”

He writes, “The Christmas story of God born in a man escapes many moderns, because they try to find complex answers to their complex questions. This story is utterly simple; so, to the skeptics, I offer a modern parable: “There was once a man. The man I’m talking about wasn’t a Scrooge. He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other people. He just didn’t believe in all that "incarnation" stuff that churches proclaim at Christmastime. and he couldn't pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man -- that a man could have God in him.  One year he said to his wife, "I'm truly sorry to distress you, but I'm not going to go to church with you anymore on Christmas Eve."

So, he stayed home while his family went to the evening service. He watched from the window, as they drove away in the car and the snow began to fall.   He watched for a while as the snow collected on the ground. Finally went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a loud thudding sound, then another and then another. He thought to himself, "Someone must be throwing snowballs against my living room window."  When he investigated, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter; they’d tried to fly through his large picture window.  He was troubled.  He couldn't let the poor creatures just lie there in the snow and freeze.  His thoughts turned to the barn where his children kept their pony. It would provide a warm shelter. If only he could direct the birds into it, they would survive the cold of this Christmas Eve night.

Quickly, he put on his coat and galoshes and trampled through the evening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the lights. But the birds wouldn't fly into the barn. The man thought, "Food might entice them," so he hurried back into the house to get something for the birds to eat, making a trail of breadcrumbs through the door and into the barn. But To his dismay, the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flop helplessly in the snow. So, he tried to catch them; he tried to shoo them into the barn by walking around them, waving his arms, but instead they scattered in every direction -- except into the warm, lighted barn. It was then he realized, "They're afraid of me." As he thought, he reasoned, "To them I must be a strange and terrifying creature. If only there was some way, I could let them know they could trust me, that I'm not trying to harm them, only to help them. But how can I convince these birds? Everything I do frightens and confuses them.”

As he stood there with the cold snow a falling all around him, the thought came to him, "If only I could be a bird, then I could go with them and speak their language. I could tell them, 'Don't be afraid.' And I could show them the way to the warm, safe barn. But I'd have to be a bird. I'd have to be one of them, so they’d understand." At that moment, church bells began to ring in the distance. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind and as he stood there in the silent snowy night listening to the bells, the birds flew into the barn. And feeling the glad tidings of Christmas for the first time, He sank reverently to his knees in the snow.

Jesus was born into a world that trembled with fear of a distant God.  He was born into a society of people who wouldn’t even speak God's name out of fear of death. He was born to bring this message to a weary, fearful word: “There is a light and warmth waiting for you in God. You do not have to be like the birds flopping around in the snow because the way is open wide for you to enter therein to a FULL abundant life.”

Let us keep the manger and the Christ in Christmas for the message of the baby born in Bethlehem is a message of love.

“God is love and God loves you.
You are worthy.
You have infinite potential.
You can never be alone,
 for God is with you always guiding you to safely
 through the storms of life.”

This Christmas and throughout the year, we in Unity strive to follow Jesus’ example and to put God first in everything, to be a spiritual seekers and finders who never allow ourselves to stop the journey toward full actualization of Christ consciousness.

God bless you, and Merry Christmas.


 

 What do you think?

Click here to share your thoughts about this lesson.

© Unity of Vancouver, 2004 All Rights Reserved.