Throughout the years during the holidays, issues have arisen over how to express the nature of this special season of celebration for many people from diverse cultures. In the United States there has been an ongoing conflict between the conservative Christians (whose agenda is to keep the holidays “Christian”) and the more inclusive Christians and non-Christian religionists (who desire to include other faiths in the celebration of the season). The nonreligious groups, who want to also celebrate the holidays, have advocated for keeping all signs of Christianity or any other religion out of public displays and expression of the season.
This year in particular these issues seem petty when considering that there is an uncertain future for all of humankind due to what scientists refer to as “the Sixth Extinction,” which is occurring with rapidity in our natural world (much of it caused by humans). Many nations, including the U.S., are facing increased political and social turmoil as the financial and other institutions that our lives have been built upon shake with instability. And to top it off, there is an increasing awareness worldwide of something happening in our solar system that could change all of reality on this planet, and very very soon.
So in these times of increased unrest and uncertainty, rather than devolving into our “lizard legacy” of fight or flight and the old status-quo ways of withdrawing into our tribalistic and nationalistic behaviors (that are based on fear and misunderstanding), we humans must draw upon our higher-minds and move into our kinder-hearted natures to meet our future with intelligence, wisdom, and a sense of planetary citizenship and stewardship of the network of ecosystems on our world.
Indeed ’tis the season to discover and rekindle those parts of all of us that are good and wise, drawing upon our values and traditions that reflect our better selves and making changes in our individual selves as well as in our cultures that empower us to meet the challenges facing our planet. Let’s begin with how we perceive and celebrate “the holidays.”
The holidays at the end of every year can be the season for people of all religions and faiths, when they can enjoy their particular traditions as well as share their common love for life, family, and friends in a giving spirit, amongst and between people of all faiths. The United States is comprised of people of many diverse religions, nationalities, and subcultures. Regardless of religious and cultural leanings, most people (including the nonreligious) in this country celebrate this season, for almost every aspect of society is permeated with utilizing the holiday season, which for most starts around Thanksgiving and ends after New Year’s Day.
It seems that, whether from a religious perspective or a secular, the holidays are filled with anticipation for some kind of magic—outside of their daily mundane routine—to happen. I think that during these times many people are looking for a more meaningful expression of love, and almost every facet of the dominant culture in this country is tinseled with this anticipation. In trying to get you to buy something, every advertisement attempts to cleverly connect the dream of something great and good with the product that is being sold. All of the celebrations, parties, dinners, music, sales, trips, holiday-related movies—whether secular or religion-oriented—are in some manner trying to grasp at something that transcends the cold, spiritless, mechanical materialism of a world gone awry.
This is the season where people grasp for hope, for healing, for new beginnings and transformation into something more meaningful, even those who do not understand that is what they are desperately actually seeking, as they frantically shop and rush around getting ready for the holidays. The holiday season is a time of new resolutions for a brighter future, for ourselves, our children, and the world. Thus I think that even within those “Scrooges” who claim to hate this season (for whatever reason), there is a glimmer of desire for some form of miracle, some kind of renewal for themselves and for the world that they may have lost hope in.
Innate within every human being is a desire to reach for and find the magical spirit of this season—what many refer to as “the spirit of Christmas.” What is that spirit of Christmas and its awesome power to transform hearts and lives during the holiday season? Since I am a spiritually-oriented person, who loves language and understands the power of words—written, sung, signed, and spoken—I want to look at the words and their meaning within the concept of the spirit of Christmas, which applies to all peoples, regardless of their belief systems.
The word spirit of course indicates that we go beyond the material level of living. The URANTIA Book and The Cosmic Family volumes emphasize that there are three levels of reality throughout the grand universe: material, mindal, and spiritual. Within divine pattern, spirit dominates the material and mindal.
Here on our world that is broken and confused (due to the Lucifer Rebellion that deviated from divine pattern and procedure), the spirit circuitry from Paradise is continually present, but each of us individual mortal ascending sons and daughters of God must discover that for ourselves. So, we human beings have within us the potential for encircuiting ourselves within the circuitry of God, the Universal Father/Mother. We have within us the Threefold Spirit that calls to us to realize, embrace, and live in the magical spirit of the season (Christmas) every day, every moment of our lives—not just in December.
In order to begin to grasp the spirit of Christmas at a deeper level, we have to go beyond the shopping, beyond the eating and drinking, beyond the frantic searching for reassurance that we are O.K. and cool. We have to begin to move beyond material mindsets into a realization that love is more than buying and receiving gifts. Those who share their time, their skills, their money and possessions with others less fortunate are realizing at one level the true spirit of Christmas, even if they do not consider themselves religious at all.
Whenever any human being begins to wake up to the fact that he or she is more than just a physical body and that love is more than just getting what you want from another person, that individual is beginning to be awakened. If a person continues to allow himself or herself to unfold into discovering more facets of his or her being, then eventually that individual will respond to the leadings of the Threefold Spirit circuitry within all of us—the Fragment of the Father, the Ministry of the Mother, and the Spirit of Truth. Then that human being begins to realize that he or she has spirit also. That discovery in itself can seem like a miracle! In order for any of us to begin to truly experience the spirit of Christmas, we must bring spirit into our thinking, feeling, and doing.
Christmas originally was two words: Christ Mass. According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the word mass means: “coming together to celebrate the Eucharist.” The term Eucharist is always capitalized and is derived from a Greek word meaning “grateful, having gratitude, being in a state of grace.” I think that the capitalization rule is an implication of divinity being present in the denotations and connotations of Eucharist. Today the term Eucharist denotes “spiritual communion with God.” What I get from the semantics of Eucharist is that in order to spiritually commune with God you have to be in a state of grace, and a state of grace is a being in a mindal state of gratitude, of gratefulness.
So, Mass (coming together to celebrate the Eucharist) and Eucharist (a spiritual communion with God) means that Christ Mass is not done entirely alone, that there is a coming together of people to celebrate life within gratitude. And God is not left out of it. In fact, God is the source of Christ Mass; we are continually growing in our experiences of God’s presence and spiritual circuitry within us and each other. Christ Mass is a celebration with each other and with God.
The word Christ originates from the Greek word that means anointed and today is associated with “Messiah” and “Jesus.” The term Christ also connotes “an ideal type of humanity, the ideal truth that comes as a manifestation of God to destroy incarnate error.” Wow! (That’s in good old Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.)
The URANTIA Book expands upon the limited Christian understanding of who Jesus was, who the Christ was. Indeed, most Christians, Muslims, Urantia Book readers, and even Buddhists and those in the New Age movement would agree that the word Christ does connote “an ideal type of humanity.” When anyone aspires to be in the “Christ consciousness,” they are indeed reaching for a higher, nobler expression of truly being a human being (especially in our modern society, where the fast-paced lifestyle of many people has sometimes created “human doings” rather than “human beings”).
For Christians, most Muslims, and us in the church of Global Community Communications Alliance, Christ also connotes a person who actually existed on this world almost 2,000 years ago, a great spiritual teacher and prophet who lived an exemplary life that is meant to be an inspiration for all of us humans who want to live a life of compassion and God-consciousness.
For most Christians and Urantia Book readers, Christ also connotes that Jesus was anointed, that Jesus was The Anointed One. To be anointed means to be chosen by divine election. Jesus was given a mission by God, the Universal Father, to bestow upon this world in human form, to be born as a babe and live a life as a mortal, reflecting the truth, beauty, and goodness of God in his human life. Jesus was indeed the God Child who came to this world. He indeed was the Son of God (with the mind and emotions of divinity) as well as the Son of Man (with a human mind and human emotions). He was, and still is, a Mystery, a Miracle, to all of humanity as well as to the myriads of celestial beings.
Also for most Christians and Urantia Book readers, Christ was indeed “the ideal truth that comes as a manifestation of God to destroy incarnate error.” Here’s where Christians and Urantia Book readers differ: how is the error to be destroyed? Most Christians believe that Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, incarnated on this earth to teach and live the truth of God, but that Jesus had to be a sacrifice and actually die for our sins, our errors.
Along with that belief is the belief that in order for anyone to reach God, they have to be “Christian” and all that that encompasses. In that more fundamental context, Christmas is indeed a “Christian” holiday and unfortunately excludes those who are not of that faith when coming from a religious perspective.
The URANTIA Book and The Cosmic Family volumes state that Jesus did not die for our sins, that his sacrifice was not a requirement in order for us humans to get right with or be redeemed by the Universal Father God. Jesus was unjustly actually murdered within the so-called justice system of the day, legally, but he did not have to die in order for any of us to be saved from our selfish and sordid ways.
I believe that Christ Mass is different than Christmas. Christ Mass does include every soul, every ascending son and daughter of God across the globe, even if a soul does not acknowledge God or Jesus or Christ. Christ Mass is for even the Scrooges, the tyrants, the murderers, the robbers, the men in silk suits who have so much power over others and cause so much suffering on this world. (Note that word mass also is defined: “the great body of people as contrasted with the elite; including the whole people, the aggregate.”)
From the time Jesus was a little child, he lived a life of human perfection; he lived a life of love that goes beyond what we humans understand to be love. He did correct error and eradicate it through his own goodness, through his expressions of divine love, through his teachings that challenged and corrected wrong thinking, wrong ideas, and wrong ways of doing things. Jesus’ entire life was, and continues to be, a challenge to all of us humans who are full of error and messiness. His life was, and is, a gift to each of us ascending sons and daughters worldwide.
When we broken ones receive the gift of Christ Mass, we become unbroken, more whole and healed. When we selfish ones receive the blessings of the Cosmic Gift Child, we become more grateful, more selfless, and more loving. But we have to receive the gift of the God Child every day, not just during “the holidays.” We have to embrace and live the spirit of Christ Mass every day.
The spirit of Christ Mass is destined to be in the hearts and minds of every soul on this planet, regardless of whether they have a religion or not, whether they are considered good or bad or both. God’s love is universal, and so actually the spirit of Christ Mass is for every personality in the universe of Nebadon (the cosmic name of our local universe); it’s actually for every person in all 700,000 universes unfolding within the grand universe.
We here on Urantia (Earth) can have a cosmic perspective of Jesus being the Christ not only for this world but for all of the worlds in the universe of Nebadon. We can have a cosmic perspective of realizing that the man Jesus who lived about thirty-six years on this world was more than just the inspiration and motivation for a religious movement that resulted in the Christian religion that is full of both beauty and beastliness and reflects only a fragment of what he was about. We can have a cosmic perspective that Jesus actually is a divine Creator Son, Christ Michael who is Sovereign of his universe of Nebadon. We can have a cosmic perspective of the Christ belonging not only to all of this world’s people of every generation but to all of the people of every other world in the universe of Nebadon.
We can have those cosmic perspectives, but if we do not practice the spirit of Christ Mass within our own being, within our daily lives, none of the cosmic perspectives and knowledge has any Deo (godly) power. If we do not have our hearts broken over and over by God, by the Christ, then we are mere clanging cymbals. If we are not gardens bringing forth the fruits of the spirit that Christ presented to us, then we are but empty vessels that talk a good talk but don’t do the walk.
In closing, I would like to share a poem by Rumi, the popular ancient Sufi poet from the Muslim religion:
How should spring bring forth
a garden on hard stone?
Become earth, that you may
grow flowers of many colors.
For you have been heart-breaking rock.
Once, for the sake of experiment,
-Niánn Emerson Chase