Yesterday I attended a United Church of Christ Christmas Eve service. My former next door, neighbor, Vern, is the pastor of the church and my beloved friend and minister colleague of ten years, Renee, sang. I sat in the front row standing witness to two friends who have dedicated their lives to serving God, as I have.
Pastor Vern is a former Catholic priest and a scholar of all things Mediterranean so his sermon about the birth of Jesus wove in historic details. According to his studies, Jesus was born in a cave in Bethlehem, which he has visited several times. Father Joseph and Mother Mary traveled to Bethlehem in order to be counted as part of the census; a political and governmental necessity. Mary was nine months pregnant and the small city of a few hundred was overflowing with thousands of David’s lineage. There really was no room in the inn so Jesus ended up being born in a cave on the side of a hill.
The Christmas story tells us that God shows up “in the midst” of the birth as The Presence of Love. And in the Christmas story the conditions for Jesus’ birth were less than desirable, somewhat dangerous, and the parents were immensely vulnerable. Let’s sit with that insight for a moment. In the story of the birth of Eternal Love; vulnerability was coupled with uncertainty; meaning that the experience of Faith developed into Trust and birthed Love.
As Pastor Vern spoke I placed myself in the story and realized that Mary and Joseph were family and Jesus, their offspring. And yet they were surrounded by key contributors who for that moment following their inner light/star showed up as non-biological yet REAL family. There was the inn keeper, his wife, shepherds, wise men and I’m guessing others.
As I sat quietly I realized that the times I was the most vulnerable and opening to a greater depth of Love my REAL family was present. As this awareness spread throughout my body I realized that my perception of family can limit or expand my ability to receive the Love of God which stands in front of me. How do I relate to, appreciate, or see “others” who are part of the birth happening in front of or within me?
Now the co-dependent part of me wants to see everyone with this innocence and love and yet, in the story there is a villain. King Herod wanted to harm Jesus, or squelch the Light of Love. As I remain in the story and look around at the scene I am aware King Herod is NOT in the REAL family present for the birth of Love. He is in another city, where he belongs. In the story Mary and Joseph didn’t lean into or trust King Herod. They leaned into The Presence of Love and knew those that surrounded them were of God. How often have I wanted King Herod’s approval or to pull him into the family and include him so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt? And yet there is a reason he isn’t present; and there is a perfection in it. Hate does not give birth to Love. Those who were prepared in Consciousness to be present to birth Love were present, those who weren’t; were not.
Goosebumps ran up and down my arms and my heart opened a bit further. I looked up at both Vern and Renee and in that moment, knew they were a part of my REAL Family. And today I attend a Christmas dinner with another friend who is gathering her non-biological family to share in celebrating This Birth. I began to wonder how my 2020 may be different if I lived in the awareness of the Love of God right where I am at the moment and trust in the REAL family leaving my concern about the King behind?
God is ALWAYS present.
It is my prayer that your Christmas may be touched by and reveal to you an even greater experience of Eternal Love.
Peace and Joy,