The Christmas season is a time to celebrate the feminine face of God, portrayed in the Christmas story through Mary. It is a time to sanctify the feminine face of humanity through the story—to celebrate it in ourselves and in others. The feminine face of humanity is our capacity to have union with the Divine, to allow for divine conception in ourselves. Christmas is also a celebration of the divine masculine, portrayed in the story through the baby Jesus, and it is an opportunity to sanctify the masculine face of humanity in ourselves and in others.
As is true in every Christmas season, there’s an opportunity to touch that most precious Christ Spirit, the spirit of ultimate Universal Love—to touch it deep in our heart, in our soul, and to reconnect to that spirit. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is closely aligned with the winter solstice, which is a time of deep reconnection.
So here we are again at Christmastime. For almost two millennia, since the first Christmas, year after year, in the middle of the world as it is, Christmas celebrates of the birth of the Christ. When we read the Christmas story, with all that was going on with governments and religious institutions, we realize that some things never change. The corruption of human institutions continues. And yet human culture progresses and the pace of change accelerates in the human world. In the middle of that there is the opportunity at this time of year to realign and refocus, to allow something to deepen and reconnect in ourselves.
The crash of Lion Air flight 610 in the Java Sea that occurred on October 29 is a modern-day parable for the human world. They have recovered the flight data recorder, or black box, which tells a chilling story of the crash.
There was a newly-devised version of the automatic navigation system that the Boeing Company had installed in their Boeing 737. It is called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. And, as is true with so many things invented in the world today, it has an acronym: MCAS. There were faulty sensors, and consequently the MCAS thought that it needed to take over from the human pilots. The effect was to bring the nose of the plane down. Time after time, the valiant pilots overrode the system to bring the nose of the plane back up. Finally the pilots’ efforts were unable to overcome the system, and so the nose of the plane went down for the last time, and at a speed of 450 miles per hour the jet airliner crashed into the Java Sea with 189 people on board.
There is a complicated procedure by which the MCAS could have been disengaged. It never was.
What an allegory for the human world in which we live. There’s something happening in the human experience that’s taking over and self-sabotaging the individual. And that automatic self-sabotaging system that is present in human hearts and minds is present in us all and asserts itself in us all. And yet, all the while, the God-self is present. There is someone on board in us all who knows how to fly the plane.
The same is true for all humankind. The God-self for all humanity is present and knows how to evolve the human world. The God-self is present in consciousness, even while the self-sabotaging patterns are taking over. Just as the pilots lost their fight with their automatic pilot system, so it is with humankind. No matter how hard we fight the self-sabotaging patterns, on that basis we ultimately lose. We fight and we fight, but ultimately, as long as the self-sabotaging pattern is operative and engaged in humankind, it wins.
The cockpit voice recorder hasn’t been retrieved. We can only imagine the conversation of the pilots as they attempted to overcome this self-sabotaging system. Perhaps it was reminiscent of all the conversations that are had between the conflicting factions of humanity, and indeed in our own psyche, arguing this way and that about how to overcome the impacts of the self-sabotaging human program. There is virtue, I’m sure, in what the pilots said in their valiant effort, as there are voices of virtue throughout humanity, arguing back and forth about the right thing to do, perhaps affiliated with a multitude of religions and political factions. There is truth in them all. And yet, as long as the self-sabotaging pattern is engaged, there is no answer to the state of the world.
Just as there was a mechanism to disengage the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System in flight 610, we, as human beings, have the ability to disengage the self-sabotaging program in our own heart and mind. That program is not your fault and it’s not my fault; it’s not your neighbor’s fault; it’s not God’s fault; it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just there. And the only reasonable thing to do, for us in the situation we are in, is to disengage that program and allow the God-self to take over—to guide each one of us and to guide humankind.
This is what is being told in the Christmas story. The only answer for humanity is for the Christ Child to be born today. It was born as Jesus, not just by the physical birth but through the consciousness of this beautiful man. The Christ entered in the physical birth, and then it entered into his heart and his mind, and into the world through him. He disengaged the self-sabotaging systems in his own consciousness and in the world in which he lived.
If there’s a meaning to Christmas, isn’t it this? That the dear Christ enters in. That spirit touches our hearts so deeply at this time of year. Christmas carols remind us of our opportunity at Christmastime now. Here are lines from some of my favorites.
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a voice, a tone, a spirit, a love that calls to me and to you. It is the voice of the God-self, our voice, calling us to disengage from the self-sabotaging habits of thought and feeling.
O come, let us adore Him.
Here is a sanctification of the masculine face of God. We see so much ersatz masculinity. But there is the truth of the masculine face of the Divine, and that truth is the truth of the masculine face of humanity. As a man, I adore the masculine face of God. I adore that as it was portrayed through Jesus, the man, and all that has come to us of his expression. I adore that reality in men who give it expression. I love those men, and I love the masculine face of God through the men who embody it and give it expression. Come, let us adore him. See, acknowledge, recognize, but then adore. Give ultimate value to that reality.
O come, O come, Emanuel.
Emanuel: God with us, the very presence of the Divine. In our own heart and mind, in our presence, in the state of consciousness known between us, O come, O come, Emanuel. Come between you and me. O come, O come, Emanuel, God with us.
This is from a carol that is new to me.
He had a stall for a cradle;
that was good enough for him.
I think of my own life circumstances and the self-sabotaging tendency to complain over things large and small. Sometimes, in that self-sabotaging mode, I wonder whether I don’t deserve better. He had a stall for a cradle. That was good enough for him. His whole life was good enough for him. He was never complaining, never wishing it was different, but bringing the Most High into the lowly places of the human world as it is, into his own human experience, from the beginning to the end, and encouraging all others to do the same. My life circumstances are good enough for me. Our life circumstances are good enough for us—the perfect opportunity to bring the Most High.
Here are words from my mother’s favorite Christmas carol:
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Bethlehem, like Mary herself, is a symbol for the feminine face of humanity. It’s from the Hebrew, Beth-lehem, the house of bread. What is the house of bread? Bread is a symbol of life. It’s a symbol of the place where life is born in each one of us, our spiritual womb. The feminine face of humanity, the feminine face of God within humanity, is the house of bread where the Divine is conceived and where it is born. Here the everlasting light comes in, and the hopes and the fears of all the years are met. On this day, I welcome the everlasting light into my Bethlehem.
We are Bethlehem as humankind. May our dark streets shine with the everlasting light. Yes, we know the self-sabotaging patterns that we carry individually and that are present in every person. I have met them in you, and you have met them in me. We have met them in the world. But tonight, we pull the switch that releases ourselves from those self-sabotaging patterns in those dark streets. We let in the everlasting light of the God-self. May it stream in fully, welcomed by us.
Here is the story of the birth in Luke. It is amazing that this story has come down over centuries. We could question the factual authenticity of some of the components of it, or the authorship of it, or the translation of it. And yet, as a story of today, it is authentic and accurate, and its poetry illuminates that birth which is happening now and is available to us now. It’s a celebration of the feminine face of God appearing and known through the feminine face of humanity. It is a celebration of the masculine face of God being known through the masculine face of humanity.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
I do believe that there are shepherds among us abiding in the field and keeping watch over their flock. Wherever we may be, we are keeping watch over what’s happening for humanity and in our own human state, abiding in the field.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
(Luke 2: 8-12)
Swaddling clothes are a symbol of confinement, and a manger of a lowly place. In the world as it is, the Christ is not yet fully liberated into full stature and grace. He is in swaddling clothes. There is a babe present within you and within me, born in a lowly place but present. The babe is being born within humanity, not yet fully capable of assuming the role of pilot for the plane of humankind, but nonetheless growing in the heart and mind of human beings.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Glory to the God-self that is present in the body of humanity, in the heaven of the human world—not just someplace else, not just in some high heaven, but right within the body of humanity. The heaven of humanity is home for the presence of the God-self.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This was Jesus’s message. The heaven that is the dwelling place of the God-self, is at hand. It is with us. The God-self is present with respect to you and with respect to me. The question is whether we will pull the switch that releases the self-sabotaging pattern. Do we put it aside so it is no longer operative in our own experience? So that the God-self may take over fully, allowing the presence of Love to be here? So that the governance of heaven may be present for us?
I greet you in the presence of Love. I connect in that spirit and invite us all to do the same with each other, affirming our role as Beth-lehem. We are Bethlehem, the manger and Mary, and we are the coming of the God-self being born into the world. It is the joy of Christmas to welcome the call of the angel and the coming of the God-self.