“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!”
Isn’t it great to look forward to Christmas again? Christmas in New York is different from the one in e.g. Sydney, – different again for cities where they don’t celebrate Christmas at all. It is more an event in the Western world than in the Eastern world.
But for us who celebrate Christmas we tend to look forward, to be with family and friends, to share presents perhaps. To have simply a good time together!
Some do like it and others don’t like it. And so be it!
If you don’t like this article try to read it again with Christmas, – if you need to think about it! .. Sometimes you need to read things twice.
Christmas is about a human life example. Jesus born more than 2000 years ago and being created as a force of love as planned by his Father. Whilst many people did resonate with his words of “freedom”, freedom from a different kind, – the powers in authority did not like Jesus Christ one bit and decided to kill him.
The story of the birth of JesusChrist has been repeated in endless variations but the crux of the story should or could be that we are reminded on what he tried to bring on earth as a set of principles perhaps (or examples), – rather than his birth itself. He did not consider his birth himself important as an event to celebrate. Far more the message and instructions he left. To celebrate the last and to live this out is more important and is actually a way of having Christmas at heart.
History turned it into a celebration of his birth with Christmas trees and presents, which is really fine, – however Christmas as such never existed shortly after Jesus died. He did not ask for it. He asked for different things.
The celebrations of this kind are strictly man-made as many things are man-made, which does not take away the positives of reminding the birth of Christ at heart.
All the care kindness and understanding besides the love you can master are the greatest contributions you can make beyond Christmas, if you are prepared to consider Christmas not only as a yearly memory amidst candlelight about the birth of Jesus Christ, but as “the birth” of a set of ideas which was created with the life of Jesus Christ. Radical in his manifestation during his lifetime.
Choices this direction will make life never anymore as it was before. We can change our lives with the love we give into our relationships, regardless the level of encounters we may have. It is summarised in the commend to love your neighbor as yourself. It manifest itself in kindness, support, gratitude and any other positive feelings towards others. The fundamental issue is not how others behave but how we respond in the day-to-day things, turning away from negativity where possible.
Perhaps Christmas is about you, what you are able to give both in your spare
time and non spare time. It is about what you are feeling as well in any
circumstances as this at some extend is determining your actions. Love
does resolve negatives at most levels in relationships, at most
dimensions of human life.
It’s a bit of a different look at it, isn’t it?
If the spirit of a real Christmas which never existed could call again from
long and dark centuries ago, it would not argue the yearly ritual around
Christmas day in modern times. There is no harm in it whatsoever even if we celebrate the things being less important in life, but for some only important at the end of each year.
Christianity through centuries has been both colourful and cruel, both full of love and hate through institutions, both full of evolution with sense and senseless destruction. The celebration of Christmas went on during war’s and other destructions of life. But Christmas itself is time for families and friends being together as a tradition closing in on the end of the year, with shops full of lights and houses with colourful trees and presents. Whilst this has little to do with the birth of Christ there is noting against it either. In certain parts of the world it is part of a human tradition to celebrate events and the repetition of celebrating such events through the year seems to be important in the way history evolved. At times it is very important for family life. The nice flavour, the nice atmosphere etc.
If human kind , or better those who are interested, for a moment are able to think about the real meaning of the life of Jesus, – we don’t need as such to celebrate his birth but concentrate on what he left as a legacy to be worked out, the last before he went back to our Father in Heaven. This is more than simply celebrating his birthday so to say and having Boxing Day afterwards. Again, nothing against it, – it’s all fine! It’s a time for family at the end of each year and everybody may define it his or her own way.
During the recent events around the death of Nelson Mandela the positive
thing was that many world leaders came together and tried to captivate in their own words what Mandela did for his country and some other countries. No one was able however to summarise this forgiving spirit into a unifying effort perhaps for a more complete world, – still in waiting.
So is Christmas not necessarily a repetitive yearly story to be told in Churches or celebrated under the Christmas tree, but possibly it could be more therepetitive effort how the world of Christ may come through in our time and circumstances. As a force of the best possible human efforts. Some would say we owe this to creation. Others would say we owe this to this world and its people. Few would say we owe this to God.
It is easier to dream about “realities” and not to work towards realities. It is easier to think about things never happening before and say “why” rather than to think about things which have never been before and say “Why not?”. It is easier to feel pain free without such a journey rather than feeling the pain of “the world living in us and we living in this world” during such a journey, – despite enjoyment we may feel about the gift of life and the colourful tapestry we may have experienced till so far.
Love is not the biological reproduction of life only, or the pleasure related with this, – but far more the spiritual reproduction of DNA to reduce the hardship in peoples life, to reduce the suffering, to reduce violence, to reduce the risk of war and to end criminal efforts of those who make e.g human trafficking and modern slavery their business. Those are e.g. the efforts which should not stop after yearly Christmas celebrations. The biggest criminals may have Christmas trees in their homes as well, – but take a day off with Christmas!
At the end of the day it all comes to the joint efforts to improve life rather than to destruct it. And all those things start in our own world, in our own imagination and desires, in our own community and countries and within our own circle of people we know.
We are not made to stand aside but we are made to take part. We are not made to stay in idle hope but we are made to carry the spirit forward in the firm belief that life is worthwhile living, in the knowledge that this world is far from perfect. Our decisions need to be based on the simple fact that it is better to love than to hate, regardless that loving does not mean allowing anyone else to abuse us.
To embrace human kind for what it is, more is required to make Christmas in your own heart real. An effort to create a better world where the old world has gone.
For each of us applies the question how much of our abilities and good fortune can be kept for us alone or need to be shared with others. Christmas that way can be an awesome and life changing experience.
A most famous bush doctor who went out to Lambarena in Gabon the last century to build a hospital for the locals said once to someone who was wondering how to serve best: “Every one can create his or her own Lambarena.” The person who asked this did it her own way, using her own creativity and talents. It was amazing the way she did it, different obviously but unique and simple. It is amazing how many other good things happen as well, often unnoticed. It is amazing as well how many people in essence are of good heart.
Nelson Mandela could have said: ” For those living in countries like South Africa in the past – under oppression – any one may ask what he or she may contribute to the reduction of tyranny and improve eventually, where possible, the process of reconciliation with the power of forgiveness”.
It is my feeling that he could have said it this way, as he did not say it as such as far as I am aware.
Feelings are important, they may start with a strong and positive thought, which may result in strong and positive action and if this action does resonate it will bring change for communities countries and the world.
With Christmas at heart we may say that Jesus could have said: ” The most important things for human beings here on earth is not to look only for the success rate of one’s own job and family, but look at the eternal Father first and love your neighbour as yourself then.”
He said it slightly differently but that does not matter. But with the awareness of Christ’s intentions in our heart we may be faced with different questions, for each of us to be answered in our own life and “worked on” in our own circumstances. For those who want to face this it is both a joy and struggle to work this out, a way of questioning yourself at times. Not always easy!
There is still increasing hunger and oppression, an increasing shift of people trying to move from one continent to the other, people smugglers who enrich themselves at a cost of far too many human lives , women and children.
Countless children are used for the sex industry. New recreational drugs appearing on the market show at times to be more lethal than before and can be delivered at your house per internet order, screwing up at least the minds of young people. One can’t turn a blind eye to the increasing yearly death toll as due to unlawful gun violence in the US and other countries.
If we can’t resolve those problems in peacetime, civilisation is not by any means able to resolve such problems at war-time. No reconciliation is able to undo the torture of women and children and the culprits of those acts against humanity should face the justice systems of their own countries. People e.g. who ignore the right of children to live may lose the right to live themselves as they compromise what needs to be our future, and the power of love does not need to accept what can’t be reconciled anymore when people make it their business to destruct and torture human lives.
When love is able affecting the trillions of body cells in one human being to work together with more harmony and less illness, – the same love resonating in a trillion of human beings may change the world by an unstoppable force of energy. That could be the most spectacular Christmas ever. That would be the most abundant reposition for the future.
It’s a dream!
What we do with the intent of Christmas will show in the direction the future takes.
The question is what we are going to do about it and what our own personal response will be for our own future, amidst all the choices we have. It is for all of us finding the right balance.
Hence Christmas is neither a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is part of having the real spirit of Christmas. And those who have not Christmas in their heart, for certain, – will never find it under a tree.
Whilst there is widespread scholarly agreement on the existence of Jesus, the portraits of Jesus constructed have often differed over past centuries until up today. Various scholars have criticized each other on the different approaches being used, – including the studies on the historical Jesus.It’s a long story, which started roughly since 1778 with various books being published and many criticising each other on historical methods of research. Some scholars believe that the life of Jesus must be seen within the historical and cultural context of Roman Judea and the forces in action within and without the Jewish culture at the time. The Roman occupation must be considered as well. Jesus grew up in Galilee and the majority of his ministry took place there. The language was both Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic being the main language. There are indications that Jesus spoke all those languages with most of his teachings in Aramaic. It would seem Jesus has been identified as a carpenter, woodworker and/or even builder. A highly skilled craftsman perhaps, – besides being wise and highly literate in the Torah. He could clearly read. Nazareth was only an obscure village at the time. His extended travels may suggest he had the financial means to do this. The existence of John the Baptist at the same time frame as Jesus in history, including the execution of John the Baptist, has been confirmed as authentic by far the majority of both old and modern scholars. This included Jesus having disciples and the incident around the Temple.
Scholars do agree as well that Jesus died between 30-36 AD
Despite the various opinions among scholars there is a consensus on the baptism and the crucification including the painful death of Jesus under Pontius Pilate, all this being historical facts and indisputable.
Interestingly scholars disagree on the reason and context for the above crucification. Some do say that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion, and that this own prediction on his crucification has been a Christian story developed after his death.
Despite efforts through centuries even until up to day the views on the portrait of Jesus are fragmented and no consensus has emerged amidst the different assumptions on the various contradictions in the life of Jesus. Various scholars support both the view that Jesus has prepared his followers for the end of times and that the resurrection of Jesus are physical and historical events .
There is support for view as well that Jesus came to announce the end of the Jewish spiritual exile within the Roman context of oppression and that in a new messianic era God would improve this world through the faith of his people.
The account of Jesus as the Christ being the Son of God can be accepted to be reasonable true in the view of the majority of scholars, – however with variations and despite an element of bias as most biblical scholars are Christians. Having said this some bias perhaps did not prevent many biblical historians being able to keep the scholarly integrity of their work.
Whilst Jesus hoped to bring God’s rule on earth with a genuine believe that this would arrive in his time, it did not happen. Not the way he did expect this would happen initially. In his days on earth, more than 2000 years ago, – he inspired people to change and to get reborn in God because the Kingdom of Heaven was nearby. He spoke almost as a matter of urgency on various occasions, as not too much time was left. Not much time being left before a revelation of supernatural power would take place enforcing the Kingdom of God on earth.
He gave various indications to get ready with grave warnings for those not being ready. He was clearly anticipating a total transformation, anticipating the unspeakable actually, – the time of the greatest harvest here on earth.
It was this which provoked him to send away some of his closest followers, promising them that after their return the Kingdom of God would be on earth.
The traditional Jesus as he presented in history was perhaps far more radical than we believe now.
With his awareness of God so clear and nearby, with no difference between his thoughts and God thoughts, – he expected the Kingdom of God to come soon.
Again it did not happen, for reasons we don’t know.
Only God knows.
We know about some of the miracles Jesus performed. Being able to do this using God given powers he never claimed to be God himself and was very clear in those distinctions.
Unless change was coming from within by complete transformation through him, you misunderstood what he had to say.
This was the only way to God, – as he said.
God’s Kingdom is not on earth as yet, not in the way Jesus initially believed it would come in his own days. God’s Kingdom did neither rule the earth when he died, nor did it rule the earth through centuries gone past, – as we can see and as we still see today.
We still live within anticipation in a time where the world get more complex, where evil powers seem to have free play and where nuclear self-inflicted destruction is hanging like a sword of Damocles on this planet.
Some people may have an awareness that God’s Kingdom is still nearby and some may live out close to similar awareness Jesus had in his days, – but fact is that most of us struggle to face the dilemma’s here on earth as the ruling of God is hard to find in the actions of both many people and countries.
At the root of humanity we were given the gift of a free choice, but this gift in the most general terms has been abused in many ways and humanity by far has not been receptive for the Kingdom of God in the way Jesus once proclaimed to get ready, -to get prepared.
The fact that it may live in some does neither change the world, – nor does it change the needless suffering from the many we can’t reach.
In part Jesus has been created through centuries of darkness into something he never was, part of an agenda within various dimensions and frictions within the Church itself.
Church doctrines often questionable at times, – the least.
Trying to find the Jesus who once wandered the shores of Galilee is not easy and actually not possible as he is not there anymore, but on a closer look on Matthew, he was at least a man at the time of amazing contradictions, – reflecting an extraordinary human existence on earth and fully embracing an ability (his ability) to be close to God, – despite differences and changing perceptions as shown in some of the existing stories.
Whether or not after his death some elements in the general view on his remarkable existence have been created as a selling point for Christianity is perhaps not that important, as long as we don’t get carried away with the small trivial stuff.
He wanted to save the world by showing people the pathway to God and as such the New Testament became a way of looking to Jesus by people who felt both reborn in Jesus but in ways left behind as well. The last may explain that the true historical Jesus is hard to be found as within this context some of his followers may have filled up the feeling of emptiness after his death with the sort of hope to comfort their own feelings, – genuine hope reflected as facts neither being right or complete correct. This has been the process where the true Jesus got lost in history and where groups within Christianity went to war with each other on in essence trivial differences in perceptions
Clear is that Jesus aimed to offer people a shift in conscious. Making people “the Light of the world” seems to have been his purpose, and with this nothing would stand between his followers and God.
When the Kingdom of God did not arrive the way he did expect it would come, and for which he warned his people to get ready before it was too late, he made a shift in perception. The perception that the Kingdom of God could be reached by a different and higher level of conscious and within this context he died for our sins, – promising his spirit to come back, enabling those searching for him to reunite with him and via him with God, – based on faith.
As faith on its own without action is no faith at all, – considerate action would follow based on this faith. In summary compassion with others, humility and believe in God were the strongholds of this faith. The Kingdom of God as described in the book of Revelation (NT) has no authority from Jesus himself, even though his early prediction of the Kingdom of God had the ingredients of both last judgement and the division of the righteous and evil in his own time.
If Jesus would arrive again today, his compassion would be with those who suffer, not only perhaps because of war or famine, but because of their difficulty to be in the light with him. He knew that nothing was terminal but that despite suffering and through death everything was transitional in his faith and through his faith. That neither death nor live, neither mountains nor valleys could separate us from the love from God through him in Christ.
In other words that based on faith in him we don’t need to worry about the future whatever this entails. This means as well to be awake, as we don’t know “when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn”. The last still with the implication that God himself will come one day, as predicted for his time by the special rabbi who once wandered the shores of Northern Galilee so many centuries ago, asking simply people to follow him.
Even where we don’t know him in person, through the centuries he still asks us to follow him when we are receptive for this, – and as an unknown stranger we may meet him in our times with him repeating the same question and indicating us to do what is required for our time and generation, – even when we are faced with baffling contradictions.
Whether the Kingdom of God is within those who follow him or in the expected entity of God coming back one day in ways we don’t know, is perhaps not that important for this once despised rabbi, crucified and resurrected.
The simple fact is that both is true, as in both cases we need to be ready by what we do in the short time frame of our own life.
If we respond to the quest to follow him, He understands the area of the unknown as he was faced with this as well, – being in the world but not of it, but faced with the challenge to love, – regardless.
This last word is the word most strongly connected with Jesus, – and this quest is posed to be renewed in every generation regardless of what we are faced with, even though love has failed in many ways where it earns forgiveness.
Therefore the same applies what Jesus once told, – to abide in Him. We don’t need to know each other, as we often do. We don’t need to know the intimate details of our friends to call them friends as lots is a secret in our dealings with others, even in the best possible marriage. But we can abide in the trust we have in some people, though not in all. And perhaps there are circumstances we can’t trust on people, but fact is that Jesus came back to his disciples after he died, after he made the human transition to spiritual transition being more close to God than ever before, but not God himself. He said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Given to him by God. Like Pharaoh made Joseph in some way in command over Egypt, with all authority being provided to help Egypt during the 7 years of draught.
This is just a comparison
And indeed God will be coming one day, – through the agony of times where the suffering hopefully will be shortened.
But as long as we have been caretakers and shepherds for the things we were created, within the scope of our talents, – we don’t need to fear that day as nothing through pain is terminal. Everything is transitional. He knows what we are going through, what we are struggling with and what we are faced with and in His compassion He will not let us down, whatever we are, – bright or silly, beautiful or ugly.
Through the centuries the historical Jesus will come to us this way in a different identity and comfort us , wiping our tears away.
And when our bodies give up in the last agony of dying He will take us away to our eternal Father in Heaven, without judgement on what we did in the true colours of His name.
And so we may say those words again today, – the words He once spoke differently perhaps, but with similar intention: >>
Our Father, Who is in Heaven, … Holy is Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven….Give us this day our daily bread, and what we need to stay within Your Will…Forgive us our sins. As we forgive those who sin against us; ..and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…..Help us to find Your Ways in our life, caring and sharing in what we are able to share. Help us to stay within Your Will and show us as to be proper caretakers of Your creation here on earth. And if our lives come to an end lead us in peace to that part of Your Eternal Energy where we once came from, and allow us to stay close to Your Eternal Love….Amen..
In the silence of our hearts, He may still come to us, – asking the same question as He did so long ago. The question to follow Him. And if we do so we get to know Him, – better even as time goes by. Better in the struggles we share, whilst trying to find similar answers for things we face today, in different identities as being faced in the past…………