THE TRIP TO BETHLEHEM – A Metaphysical Journey Part 4: “Home”
Here we are, just 4 days before Christmas, and we’re completing our metaphysical “Trip to Bethlehem.”
Where are we going this week? We are going home. Wand what is “home” to you?
Our home is the Rehoboth Beach and surrounding area. And I really love our home – the house we found here, and the “feel” of this area. I especially love our group and all of you who make up this community! You’re a big part of my “spiritual family”!
Later, some of us will be going to a different home, we’ll be “going home” to be with our “biological” family. And others of us will be spending this Christmas Celebration time with a ‘family of choice.’
But, whichever way we celebrate, it will be HOME.
Our “Trip to Bethlehem” has been a metaphysical journey. And “home” in our metaphysical journey is not “a place,” but a “state of consciousness.” So I think it’s important for us to examine the consciousness that the Christmas story brings to us.
I have happily come to know that the birth of the Christ doesn’t happen just once in a lifetime, or symbolically just once a year at Christmas time.
This new birth of the Christ awareness within us can happen every moment of every day as we recognize the magnificence of who we are and acknowledge the holiness and the presence of Divine Spirit within us.
But for Christmas to have any real meaning, we must bring the Christmas story “home” – into our own lives – to know that this story is really our story. For this story represents a universal yearning in our souls to seek a more spiritual life.
So let’s pause for a moment and put ourselves in this humble setting. For although Jesus was born far away and a long time ago, this Christmas story can have great spiritual significance for us right here, and right now.
The story begins with the birth of a child, but has evolved to include the tradition of exchanging gifts, of holiday decorations – including the Christmas tree, lights, and candles – of mistletoe, candy canes, Yule logs, Santa Claus, Scrooge. . .and yes, even Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
All this “stuff” is part of Christmas. Much of it is almost as important as the original story, yet the “real” story is so much more, isn’t it? The “real” story belongs to each one of us. . .it’s our story. The Christmas story is the drama of the birth of the Christ within each one of us.
We Americans often get confused about this story, but Unity has a way of making it plainer:
The person who was born was a baby named Jesus, a babe who in manhood took on the qualities of the Christ. See, the word Christ is not a last name, as some people believe – it is more of a job description – a quality that describes the divinity within all humankind. And what we in Unity really celebrate at Christmas time is not so much the birth of the baby, but what the birth of that baby “represents” in us; the birth of the Christ awareness within each one of us.
So for the Christmas story to have real meaning, we must bring the story of the birth of Jesus into our own lives today, over 2,000 years later.
In only two of the Gospels do we have a description of the birth of Jesus – in Matthew and Luke – and they are very different stories. Matthew was writing mostly for the Jews, to convince them that Jesus, whom they had rejected, was indeed the messiah they had waited so long for. Matthew reminded them that even the Wise Men from outside Jerusalem had recognized Jesus as the messiah and had traveled a long way to honor his birth with great treasures.
Luke gives us an entirely different look at the story. Luke was a gentile, a Greek physician. He took the story into a different dimension; he gave it a worldwide setting with a universal meaning with shepherds and angels.
But it’s more important to understand that all the ideas of the Christmas story make real sense only when we apply them to our own lives, right now. As we’ve said so many times: It all happens in consciousness – everything in your life is an inner drama in which spiritual awareness is awakened in you.
And everything in the story of the birth has a place in this drama – Mary and Joseph, the inn, the manger, the Wise Men, Herod, the shepherds, the great star. They all have a role. So let’s explore the drama of the Christmas story today. . .of “coming home” to the Christ born within us.
We have two simple characters – Mary and Joseph. It was a busy time, especially for Mary and Joseph. So much had to be done to get ready for the trip to Bethlehem.
“For in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.” (Luke 2:1) Mary and Joseph were going to Bethlehem for a census, to be accounted for. And within us there is an enrollment going on that is greater than anything in the outer. We are being enrolled in Christ consciousness – we are traveling step by step to that higher consciousness inside of us. (Remember, we said in the beginning that even though there are many names for the Divine, we are choosing to use Christ to represent that Higher Consciousness at this time of the year.)
Mary is with child. Mary has been picked for this holy assignment. She is a virgin, but how can that be? The Christ is born of a virgin.
In Unity we see Mary as representing a “virgin” state of consciousness – a state of consciousness so pure that the Christ can be born through it. It is a state of consciousness that is open and receptive to the word of God, empty of ego, free of negative thinking and judgment. . .and it’s into this consciousness, that is so pure, that the Christ can be born.
Mary symbolizes the purified soul, a soul that has become highly intuitive and sensitive to inspiration from God. It is through prayer – through the “virgin” awareness of pure intuition – that the perfect Christ idea of our own spiritual identity is inspired.
Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, says that Mary represents: “The soul that magnifies the Lord daily…and through its devotion prepares itself for the higher life.” (This is our spiritual practices.)
Betrothed to Mary is Joseph, who becomes the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph represents our thinking faculty, our intellect. See, we need both the intellect and the emotion. . .there must be a “marriage” between the heart of intuition and intellectual understanding in order for the Christ to be born in us. Head and heart must work together.
Our thinking ability serves to protect, guide and support us when it is illumined and attuned to the spiritual truth through intuition. The right state of mind is important to the growth of new spiritual awareness.
Are you beginning to see how it all connects? How we must experience all parts of the story in our own lives in order to experience new spiritual awareness within us?
And where is this Christ child born? Not at the inn, for there was no room there. The inn represents the old thoughts and ideas we have used in the past, and often our ego doesn’t want to make room for this new birth, this new spiritual way of life. How often do we resist the onset of spiritual ideas? We want to throw these ideas out of the inn and listen to the old thoughts, don’t we? Sometimes the past way of doing things is just easier.
Therefore, the Christ child is not born in the inn, but in a stable and laid in a manger. The manger represents the heart or the emotions, and we must be open and receptive to feel the emotion of that birth within us. We must prepare the manger of our hearts to receive the babe, the new Christ awareness within us.
We each are an inn keeper and we each get to choose if there is room in OUR inn for the Christ.
And now enter the Wise Men. Traditionally, we have felt that there were three, but the Bible doesn’t say that, it just says, “wise men from the east” (Matt. 2:1). And the Bible doesn’t say anything about their being kings, either. The footnote says that they were Magi, wizards, or probably astrologers who came from the East, following a star.
East is the direction of the rising sun, which symbolizes the Source, the spiritual realm of consciousness. The Wise Men, then, represent something wonderful in us. . .that kind of higher wisdom and spiritual insight that can come right into our ordinary thoughts and feelings for no reason at all.
Have you ever had a “knowing” about something, a strong hunch? Have you ever experienced a “synchronistic moment” – when you begin thinking of someone and the phone rings and that someone is on the line?
That kind of thing is what the Wise Men represent in us; that wondrous mystical quality of which we become even more aware once we begin to walk the spiritual path.
And how did the Wise Men get to the birth scene? How do their qualities begin to show up in our lives? They were guided by the Star, of course.
Charles Fillmore believed the Star represents the possibilities of our own Christ nature. It shines for us – it is spiritual guidance. And when we allow that connection, we feel that spiritual guidance.
Now, there are a number of explanations of the Star. It has been suggested that it might have been a supernova, an exploding star. Or perhaps it was a very bright conjunction of planets. But if we look only for a “natural” explanation, we overlook the spiritual one.
Not everyone saw that Star! King Herod didn’t. Only the highly illumined saw the Star. The Star represents our higher aspirations, something that we can see only when we have the consciousness…when we have the spiritual receptivity of the Wise Men in us.
And we can’t forget the angels and the shepherds! Ordinarily in those days when a prince was born, bells were rung and trumpets were blown. This did not happen when Jesus was born.
Instead, angels announced the good news to shepherds in the field, for Jesus was a different kind of king – a spiritual king – who would teach us what is possible as we open ourselves to the experience of the birth of the Christ in the manger of our heart.
The shepherds represent our peaceful, loving thoughts. And metaphysically, shepherds tend with loving care the “flock of feelings” that are under their charge. Through a deep prayer consciousness, the “shepherd” in us can gently guide us back to God, to the Christ within.
The angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields as they kept watch over their flock. “An angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Christ, the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11).
The light of the angels frightened the shepherds at first, but soon they were absorbed in the light and the glorious song of joy in the air. “There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will among people’” (Luke 2:13-14).
The proclamation of peace touched their hearts. And angels help us do that, for angels represent divine ideas, they are messengers from God. They help us to understand ourselves and to come back to that wonderful spiritual place of peace and light so that we can be spiritually illumined.
Our story does not end with the birth of Christ or even his dedication in the temple. We now must establish Christ as our ruling consciousness. We maintain our inner peace as represented by the return to Bethlehem and await further spiritual guidance as we continue to develop and grow our spiritual POWER.
The accumulated wisdom of our soul represented by the three WISE MEN OF THE EAST brings us divine gifts. GOLD, the riches of Spirit, FRANKINCENSE an incense symbolizing purity of God potential, and MYRRH, an aromatic resin symbolic of the attracting power of love. These spiritual gifts prepare us to live according to our Higher Self.
The wise men are warned not to return to Herod, just as we receive outer signs that our life will return to old dysfunctional patterns that bring misery and pain if we return to our old egotistical ways of thinking and being.
Our inner guidance inspires us to restrain ourselves from letting the ego take over the Christ attributes. We must remain in our outer world as we establish new ways of expressing this inner nature. This means we may not appear that different at first. We travel to EGYPT, the world of material consciousness and do not expose all of our new spiritual thoughts until they are more fully developed and established in our consciousness. It still feels dangerous to expose this vulnerable part of ourselves.
Eventually, HEROD dies. If we allow our spiritual nature to grow and develop without letting our old ego obliterate it, the ego eventually loses its power and instead of destroying, is destroyed through lack of energy to sustain its life in us. This is when we truly claim our new LIFE as a SPIRITUAL LIFE. We are no longer fearful of past patterns that have haunted us because we now know the power of our inner Christ.
This is the true birth of Christ within our lives. We begin to live differently and find miracles, healing, wisdom teachings and mystical understandings are the natural order for us just as they were for Jesus the Christ, our way-shower.
When we feel the Christ presence within us, we can begin to remember who we are and what our purpose is – to be the Christ presence for everyone, to love those around us, to bring peace and love and joy to all the world.
We no longer need to look for the Christ child in the outer trappings that surround this holiday, for the Christ lives within each one of us as Faith, Peace, Love and Joy…the gifts of Christmas and symbols of Advent. Know that the Christ presence is just waiting to be brought into your consciousness, to be born in the manger of your heart.
Christmas is about Love in ACTION. It is about the exchange of Love; and Love is the best present of all – all we have to do is open it up!
May Christmas occur this year to you as never before. May you follow your inner star – the Light of the Christ – and be guided “home” to the potential of Spirit that is waiting to be born in you this Christmas Day!
May this Christmas be the Christmas of your life. . .one filled with the Joy and the Love of the Christ!