Today we will light our third Advent candle. Each Sunday we have been lighting a candle as we prepare ourselves for the birth of the Christ child within us. Our Advent wreath is round, without beginning or end, to represent the completeness that we have in Christ, in us
Timmy was a typical boy, many times getting into trouble with his family and at school. Even, dare I say, at church!
He was determined to get a bicycle for his birthday, he had it all picked out, one of the new kinds with special wheels and a snazzy seat.
The problem was, he was, in effect, what most people would call a bad kid! Every time he mentioned the bike to his parents, they would roll their eyes and just shake their heads, like, No Way!
He decided to ask the “Higher Authority” so, he went to his room, sat at the desk and began writing a letter to God.
Dear God, If you let me have this bike, I’ll clean my room every week.
Before he even finished writing the words, he knew he couldn’t do that, so he crumbled the paper up and tossed it near the trash can.
Picking up another piece of paper, he began, Dear God, If you let me have the bike, I’ll stop picking on my sister.
Again, he barely finished writing the words when he knew he just couldn’t do that. He loved teasing and harassing his sister!
He tossed that crumbled paper toward the trash can and picked up another piece of paper.
He sat at his desk a few moments, wondering what he could do to convince God and His parents he should have the bike.
Finally, he had it!
He ran to his parent’s room, picked up the statue of Mother Mary. Ran back to his room and hid it in his sock drawer.
Then he went to his desk and began writing: Dear God, If you want to see your Mother again….
The Trip To Bethlehem Series
This is the third week of our spiritual 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,” 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,” “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.
Think about what transformed your relationship into ‘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.
This is classic Unity, by the way: Principle 4 we take the inner journey through prayer and meditation and then Principle 5 turn outward to put those inner revelations into practice in our world. ACTION
We call that “Practical Christianity,” and it’s the cornerstone of what the Fillmore’s thought and what they taught at Unity School of Practical Christianity
The Christmas story is a rich one, with lots of metaphysical meaning.
Remember: METAPHYSICAL INTERPRETATION REPRESENTS WHAT’S GOING ON WITHIN YOUR INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS. YOU ARE THE FINAL AUTHORITY!
Each element of the Christmas story symbolizes something that can or does exist within each one of us.
Hypatia Hasbrouck’s ideas of what thing mean are presented– but you have to decide for yourself whether it makes sense to you.
In week one we talked about Herod as symbolic of the human ego, but I want to add one other interesting interpretation. Herod ruled Judea, a land of religious beliefs and practices.
But the birth of Jesus was a spiritual event, not a religious one, and significantly, it occurred near the end of Herod’s life.
Ms Hasbrouck suggests, “Though the egocentric ego may rule a religiously oriented consciousness, it cannot rule a spiritually oriented one.” An interesting insight….
I wonder what your thoughts are on that???
That’s one reason we say that Unity of Rehoboth Beach is “spiritual, but not religious:” we teach that the ego must diminish if true spiritual transformation is to occur. Notice I say diminish-not be eliminated. We need the ego for many things- safety, for one.
As we begin this week’s journey, let’s review: we find Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem for the World Census.
World Census 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. Questioning our beliefs is a major step on this spiritual journey.
We’ve discussed the importance of questioning our beliefs in our classes. We used the books by Don Miguel Ruiz and Byron Katie to bring these ideas to focus.
This “accounting” takes place in Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means house of bread, house of sustenance.
Hasbrouck says, metaphysically it means “a consciousness of omnipresent (everywhere present) substance or divine energy which provides everything needed to create and sustain everything, including the emerging Christ.”
She also makes the point that Bethlehem had no walls, which implies that anyone can enter this consciousness. We are ALL ONE, the sooner we realize this the sooner we find peace. And the open town reminds us of the many paths that lead to the One Source.
In the Gospel of Luke, Bethlehem is called the city of David. Metaphysically, David represents love, so Bethlehem represents a state of consciousness dominated by love. And only in such a consciousness could the Christ be born.
As I often say – “Love is the answer.”
We are reminded that 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.
In this case, it takes strength to overcome old, stubborn habits of thinking, feeling and responding to situations in our lives. Can any of you relate to the sometimes stubborn habits we must overcome to allow for growth? I know I can.
Animals represent the instinctual consciousness that has been tamed to serve the Christ or the evolved aspects of our soul. If we follow our instincts, our insights, we discover more often than not, that we are headed in the right direction.
For many of us today – especially children – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gifts, so let’s look at the interpretation of the gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Gold is pretty easy: it stands for wealth, so metaphysically it means the riches of Spirit, or spiritual wisdom.
Frankincense was extremely valuable because it was an aromatic resin from a tree that did not grow in Palestine, so it had to be imported. It was the only incense burned on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem, so it was a symbol for holiness or purity.
The burning of incense changes a solid into heat and smoke, so metaphysically it represents transformation – a change from a lower state of being to a higher one.
And the aroma is detectable long after the smoke clears, so in that way, it represents the presence of God – invisible in the material world, but always present.
Myrrh was also an aromatic resin, used in perfumes and ointments – and in embalming.
It symbolizes the infinite wheel of life – and in the Christmas story, foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus.
The Wise Men are coming from the East, from the rising sun, light. Light is the symbol of awakening. They symbolize our inner wisdom. So, our inner wisdom, or insight, is awakening to the light that is our inner Christ.
So in short, “The Trip to Bethlehem”, the metaphysical journey we are on leads us inward – and that leads us to transformation, to powerful and eternal changes in our thinking and thus in our actions.
Once we set out on this journey, we cannot help but be changed at the deepest level.
In this way, our journey to Bethlehem really becomes a hero’s journey, doesn’t it?
- We return changed at depth
- Our lives take on new meaning
- We treat people differently
- We cease to be victims, no matter how awful we may have been treated in the past.
- We look at life in an entirely different way – as a wonder, not a struggle.
- We understand that cooperation, not competition, is the way to save the world.
- We recognize our oneness with all living things on this planet.
- We know that waging war cannot possibly be the way to peace.
- We understand at a gut level that there is enough for everyone – that I don’t have to give up mine in order for you to have yours.
- And, most importantly, WE TRULY UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE NEVER ALONE. We know that God is with us, no matter what the material world looks like.
So we are at peace
Peace is really what Christmas is all about, no matter how you interpret it.
With the way our world seems at times, peace seems such a distant thing. But I remind you, PEACE begins with each one of us. And it begins within. We cannot have peace, or anything, on the outside until we have it within.
Peace begins within. Within each and every one of us.
So I’m closing today with a story that shows how a family can stay together in peace despite real tragedy.
It’s called “Secret of the Christmas Box,” written by Mark Slater.
Slater tells of a tradition in his family that the Christmas tree is taken down on New Year’s Day.
His mother likes to put away all the ornaments and handmade decorations crafted over the years by the children in the family.
Once, as a boy, he sneaks into an adjoining room and watches her remove a red-and-green paper chain, its faded links displaying years of wear.
She takes off the paper chain carefully, one link at a time, and places it in its own box, securing it with tape and whispering, “I can’t wait to see you again.”
This scene puzzled Mark Slater, so he offered to take the Christmas decorations to the basement when his mother was finished with her duties.
All the ornaments had been placed in small boxes, which were sealed inside a larger box.
When he got to the basement, he unsealed the large box, searching for the box that held the paper chain.
“There it was,” he writes, “the answer to my curiosity, the reason for the care…and the purpose for Christmas. Written on the side of the box in crayon, with five-year-old hands, in letters that did not match and leaned to one side, was the name ‘EriCK.’
“My younger brother, Erick, never lived to see his sixth Christmas or his ornament on the tree, but Mom has saved a spot for it each year, next to the star. She keeps it in repair, much like our entire family. And with weary hands and only a mother’s love, keeps the chain together.
“Now, as an adult and a father, I finally understand what ‘together’ really means.”
Mark Slater’s Trip to Bethlehem led him to the basement of his mother’s house.
And what he discovered there led to his own transformation.
How’s YOUR transformation coming along? And are YOU at PEACE?
Next week we conclude our Trip to Bethlehem…but not really. Transformation takes place many, many times throughout our lives. And the birth of our Christ presence takes place daily.