Three sons, who were raised by an overly critical and disapproving mother, grew up, left home, and went out on their own, worked very, very hard and amassed great amounts of money — mostly trying to prove their worth to their mother.
Getting back together, they discussed the Christmas gifts they had just given to their elderly mother, each trying to win more of her approval than the other ones got.
The first son, Milton, said, “For Christmas this year, I built a big house for our mother. I’ve moved her in, and she’s there right now”
The second son, Gerald, said, “I sent her a top-of-the-line Mercedes with every feature you could imagine AND a full-time driver.”
The third son, Donald, smiled and said, “You both remember how mom enjoyed reading the Bible? And you know she can’t see very well any more. Well, I sent here the best gift of all. I sent her a one-of-a-kind parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him, but he’s got it nailed. Mama will just have to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot will recite it without a hitch!”
Soon thereafter, Milton, Gerald and Donald each received a thank you note from their mother:
Milton’s note read: “Dear Milton: The house you built for me is ridiculously large. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. I’m exhausted — thanks a lot!”
“Dear Gerald,” she wrote to the second, “I am too old to travel, and I spend most of my time cleaning this darn house, so I rarely use the Mercedes. Besides, the driver is so rude. Thanks for nothing!”
However, to the third, she wrote: “My Dearest Donald: “You have the good sense to know what your mother likes. Thank you so much. That chicken was simply delicious.”
This is the second step in our Trip to Bethlehem, a metaphysical journey we are taking together as we approach Christmas. A critical element of any journey is determining where we are going, and we’re going to look at that today.
We’re also going to explore the metaphysical meaning of many of the things we’ll find along our way.
Hypatia Hasbrouck, author of The Trip to Bethlehem, which is the book we’re referring to in this series, writes that the journey we’re on is an important mythic symbol for transformation.
“The trip to Bethlehem is a round trip during which Mary and Joseph undergo a profound change,” she writes. “They leave Nazareth as a couple and, because the Child is born while they are away, they return as a family. A newborn child is almost always the center of attention and the factor which transforms a couple into a family. (I wonder if this is a reason many couples, after they have moved in together and are not anticipating having children for whatever reason, get a pet. More often than not, thankfully, our pets ARE family.)
“The Christmas story is archetypal, for it illustrates the inner rebirth process through which the higher Self emerges. . .and transforms the individual.”
So our journey is a sacred trip leading us toward personal transformation on the deepest level. That’s where we are going.
Ms. Hasbrouck says this trip is an inner process that guides us in consciousness “first to an invisible point beyond space or time where we become aware that God is the all-providing substance, life, and intelligence and then back to our world ready to express our whole nature in daily life.”
So our trip, like that of Joseph and Mary, is a round trip. First we go inward, then we return to the material world ready to express what we have discovered.
Isn’t this what we have been experiencing for some time now? We read, or go to class, or discuss something and then put it into motion in the ‘real’ world?
It’s classic Unity, by the way: we take the inner journey through prayer and meditation and contemplation, classes and discussions, and then turn outward to put those inner revelations into practice in our world.
We call that “Practical Christianity,” and it’s the cornerstone of what the Fillmore’s thought and what they taught. It’s what Unity of Rehoboth Beach and our classes are all about!
Remember: metaphysical interpretation represents what’s going on within your individual consciousness. Each element of the Christmas story symbolizes something that can or does exist within you.
I’ll give you what Hypatia Hasbrouck thinks these things mean, tempered with my own ideas – but you have to decide for yourself whether what is said makes sense to you.
We have a pamphlet to help you along the way with some metaphysical definitions for reference. But keep in mind, it’s always what makes sense to you.
Let’s look at some of the characters. First, of course, is Jesus. As the unborn child of the Holy Spirit, he symbolizes the idea that God is latent in every soul – that each of us has a spark of divinity within. And we call that spark of Divinity by many names – but at this time of year, we’ll name it Jesus.
When we begin to “get it,” that we are made in the image and after the likeness of God – that we have God-stuff within us – we begin the process of transformation. That’s what Unity is all about – giving us tools to understand and manage change in our lives.
King Herod represents our egocentric ego wishing to maintain his long reign in our consciousness. This is our worldly self that tends to oppose our spiritual development. Sound familiar?
Let’s look at the Bible section of Elizabeth and Zechariah—-Luke Chapter 1, verse 5-20
Back to our journey:
As we begin to open to our inner spiritual guidance (the star) we find the wisdom (three magi) to move forward on a new spiritual path. We have a part of us that has felt barren as Elizabeth did and is open to our insights. However, there is the part of us that has established religious and other beliefs (Zechariah) that doubts the divine ideas (messenger angel Gabriel). Our old belief system is struck “dumb” unable to explain away the spiritual wisdom that is emerging within. As our spiritual understanding is developed in the inner realms of our minds and hearts, we birth an illumined intellect (John the Baptist). This new understanding is granted through grace, even though we may still be somewhat in resistance as Zechariah was.
As we continue our spiritual unfoldment into the sixth month, we are introduced to MARY. Mary represents the archetype of our purified soul and our feeling, intuitive nature when it is operating in positive ways and is prepared to welcome the Christ. Mary, as our pure soul potential, is visited by the angel Gabriel in NAZARETH, which symbolizes that she is in a state of consciousness that guards spiritual thoughts as they sprout and develop. Nazareth is in GALILEE, a land of fertile hills known for feeding people, and metaphysically means that her spiritual thoughts have gained momentum as they have been nurtured and fed.
Mary receives he angel, Gabriel (remember, angels are messengers from the divine) directly, rather than in a dream, which indicates she has developed her intuition enough to connect directly with God. The angel tells her she will bear a son to be named Jesus who will be given the throne of David and rule over the house of Jacob forever. Mary protests that she is not married and Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will perform the miracle.
Each of us has the full Christ potential within ourselves. At first we see our potential, but can’t fully imagine all the ways it will transform every aspect of us. It is ordained, as represented by the name of Jesus already being ordained. At this stage of our journey we’ve listened to our intuition and through our new spiritual perspective, we purify our thoughts and release outdated belief systems.
Mary is able to conceive of a Christ-led life and therefore the whole activity of God rushes in to bring this to fruition within her. Now that she has the concept growing within her, she travels to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth. This means that she acts on faith, trusts the higher Truths she is learning and praises God for this activity within her.
Mary’s FAITH finds validation in physical form when she sees that Elizabeth is indeed six months pregnant. According to Ms. Hasbrouck, “That Mary travels to the hill town and enters Zechariah’s house (which represents the consciousness of the Priest) indicates that the soul does not abandon the outer forms of religion, but with the mental faculty of faith now active, fulfills them with a fresh realization of what the forms represent.” Our soul has begun to synthesize the spiritual attributes within us and establishes an integrated relationship just as Mary and Elizabeth nurture and support one another for the next three months.
Mary’s betrothal to JOSEPH, a descendant of David (a symbol of divine love in human consciousness), foreshadows the integration of divine love with all other attributes of the soul. Joseph represents the human awareness of spiritual oneness and the surrender to God’s will. Joseph receives his message from Gabriel in his sleep when his conscious thought is quiet and the message from Spirit can come through. This is a significant difference than Mary’s messenger.
Joseph had decided to “dismiss” Mary until the angel shared his message with Joseph. In our personal journey, we may want to discount our spiritual insights and feelings, even when things begin to manifest in front of us. We are often reluctant to change when the will of God is presented to us.
Joseph had a choice, but then received the clear inner guidance, the voice of the angel, helping him to know that this was indeed God’s will for him. Our thinking nature must choose to support our spiritual journey and be willing to surrender to our Higher Self if we are to allow our Christ spirit to become the ruling consciousness within us.
It is especially important to make a conscious choice to surrender our will to God’s will because we will be faced with opportunities to honor the “Holy Child” in our choices throughout our journey to Christhood. Every time we face a power struggle between our ego and our divine urging, we return to this point of surrender. We’ve mentioned these ‘choice-points’ before – it’s where our integrity comes into play.
The “Holy Child” is growing within us and our surrender becomes easier and easier – natural, no longer a struggle – because the choice leads to the birth of our inner Christ as our dominant consciousness.
Our SURRENDER TO FAITH represents the inner journey we must make in our thoughts and feelings to honor that which is Divinely ordained within us. We are all filled with the potential to live as Christ or to remain in our outer world of materialism.
As we begin this week’s journey, we find Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem for the World Census which symbolizes a time when all beliefs, thoughts and feelings that were gained from the material environment are called to account. In order to attain an awakened spiritual consciousness we must examine all that we have held as true and invite it into the light of a new spiritual evaluation rather than just trusting the outer senses.
This “accounting” takes place in Bethlehem, a city that represents the consciousness of omnipresent substance or the consciousness that teaches us that God is the source and sustenance of life, the provider of all our needs. It is only when we have reached this place in our own evolution of consciousness that the Christ can emerge and be sustained.
Strength is required to make this inner journey. Mary rides the donkey, which indicates we must lift our stubborn, resistant thoughts to a higher level where they express the higher attributes of courage and humility. Animals represent the instinctual consciousness that has been tamed to serve the Christ or the evolved aspects of our soul. In this case, it takes strength to overcome old, stubborn habits of thinking, feeling and responding to situations in our lives. That journey may involve a less than comfortable ride at times – as we can only imagine the discomfort of Mary during this long trek in her last trimester of pregnancy!
Our first response is to turn to the Crowded Inn as our usual place of comfort in unknown territory. This is the everyday place in consciousness where our thoughts and feelings have traditionally gone, but now are all crowded together and confused because they have all been called to this census or accounting. It has provided temporary shelter in the past, but it is not where we give birth to the truth of our Christ Self.
Instead, we must turn to the humble Stable. This is the mysterious, unpretentious inner realm where we are in touch with all of the aspects of our true nature. We have tamed our instinctual thoughts and feelings to honor our emerging Divine consciousness. In this heartfelt place, Love is born, the Christ is born.
The Christ infant is wrapped in swaddling clothes, indicating that protection is still needed for this innocent and pure aspect of ourselves. He is placed in a manger, metaphysically this means that our Christ essence must be nurtured by the true food of our evolved consciousness.
Order is established when baby Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day. This represents both the release of lower consciousness (such as greed, lust, false pride, etc.) and the total acceptance of Christ in our thinking mind.
Luke chapter 2, verse 22-38
Mary and Joseph take the Christ child to a temple in Jerusalem where he will be named Jesus, as ordained. This indicates our body and mind are both at peace with the decision to dedicate our inner Self to the service of God. Anna and Simeon are present representing the spiritual wisdom that is now present in our thinking and feeling nature. We are now committed to serve God through the expression of our Christ Spirit.
As these events come to pass the heavenly hosts rejoice and sing praises. Join us next week as we complete the journey that leads to a whole and wondrous SPIRITUAL LIFE as we celebrate this holy Christmas birth