Thoughts on Christmas
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Look at this now in terms of Jesus. We can see that as the world taught the darkness of sin was real, the light of Heaven was real, and then the light of Heaven came down into the world of darkness to save the world of darkness and bring those sinners back to Heaven. So that Jesus was seen as the light or as the star. Those of you who know the book of Revelation would know that near the end of that book Jesus is referred to as the morning star, which is a reference he alludes to at the end of the Clarification of Terms, too. So that he is the star of Christ, the star of Heaven that comes into the world to then bring the world back with him; those who are at least worthy of doing that.
What that does clearly is again make the world of sin and the world of darkness real, but then it also makes the figure of Jesus in the world real too. And once you do that and you begin with the assumption that he is the Son of God, and he is the only Son of God, which means he is divine, but he is now divine in the world, then it makes very good sense that you will worship him, that you will worship his birth and you will build shrines out of cement and stone so that they stay put. Because what you are doing is you are worshipping someone whom you think is God. As he explains in the Course right at the beginning, he says awe in terms of me is inappropriate, that you should only have awe in terms of God because God is not your equal, but in terms of me it is inappropriate.
Again once you understand how the Christian world saw Jesus it makes perfect sense and it is logical that they would worship him. The point of view Jesus would have us see in terms of himself regarding the Course is that he is the Star of Christ that shines in Heaven but so are all of we. And the person whom we call Jesus who walked this earth in Palestine was not that light because light is not present in the world. He was a reflection of that light. You do not worship a reflection, a reflection is nothing. Just like a shadow that is outside is nothing. All that the reflection does, all that Jesus did was remind us that not only is he that star that shines, not only is he the Christ but so are all of we.
But if you see him as different from you and you make the reflection into the reality then there is no way you will ever find your way back because you are seeing him as different from you. You are seeing one Son of God as different from another. And those of you who are familiar with the Course’s teaching on special relationships will remember that that is one of the criteria to evaluate whether you are believing in specialness or not. If you believe you live in a world of differences that are real and that are important and that you are qualitatively different from other people, whether better or worse, then you are making your specialness real and you are denying the unity of Christ and the oneness of Heaven.
And that’s what the Christian world did. And they did not do it because they were any more sinful or ignorant than any other group. It is the exact same error that every other religious system, philosophical, economic, political system has ever made, where differences are seen as real, the world is seen as real, and then certain of those differences are worshipped as holy.
And again that is how you could see the mistake that Christmas is. It makes a big deal out of nothing. It makes a big deal out of an illusion. The big deal is what Jesus is reminding you of and is reflecting, not the body that people saw, not the words that they heard, and certainly not what they wrote down.
Again that is what makes this a non-dualistic Course and what makes it so radically different from almost anything else. There is no compromise between truth and illusion. And Jesus the man, who walked this earth is an illusion just like everyone else. He was a reflection of the truth but you do not, once again, worship the reflection. You follow the reflection to its source and that source is that capital S Self that we all share as one Christ.
So again if we go back to the Christmas lines, we could see “The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness,” which really means the reflection of that light. “See it not outside yourself,” so you do not see Jesus as someone who is outside of you who is different from you, “but shining in the Heaven within,” which is within your own mind, “and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come.” Christmas really means a Christ Time. But the whole meaning of Christmas as we interpret it in the Course is that time when we choose the Atonement for ourselves and we remember who we are as God’s Children. Jesus is the symbol within our dream who reminds us of that truth. But when you worship him and you worship his supposed birth date and his supposed birth place, and his parents and all that stuff then you are making the error real and you are worshipping something that is non-existent, which makes absolutely no sense.
Excerpted from The Sign of Christmas is a Star
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Question: A student objected to this presentation (see previous excerpt) feeling that he was being told that he could no longer celebrate Christmas, a celebration which he always looked forward to and which was very dear to him.
Kenneth: We are not taking the celebration of Christmas away from you. And the point that I was making was that we are not throwing Jesus out with the bath water. We are saying that the figure of Jesus that has been taught for two thousand years—and that is what the Course is saying—that the figure of Jesus that has been taught for two thousand years and as found in the Bible is not the Jesus who walked this earth. That is what we are saying. If for you the holiday of Christmas is a reminder of you of your love and gratitude for the Jesus who was here, by all means celebrate that. We are not saying not to do that. What we are talking about here in this workshop is the underlying theology of Christmas.
Excerpted from The Sign of Christmas is a Star
Christmas is holy only if you come
In silence to the manger, to behold
Your holiness made visible to you.
Your gifts are but your open hands, made clean
Of grasping. Nothing else you lay before
The newly-born except your doubts and fears,
Your pale illusions and your sickly pride,
Your hidden venom and your little love,
Your meager treasures and unfaithfulness
To all the gifts that God has given you.
Here at the altar lay all this aside
To let the door to Heaven open wide
And hear the angels sing of peace on earth,
For Christmas is the time of your rebirth.
( The Gifts of God, pg. 97, by Helen Schucman)
In this and many other of Helen’s poems, as well as in places throughout the text, the birth of Jesus becomes a symbol for our own birth. What is meant by rebirth or born again is the spiritual rebirth that occurs as a result of the miracle when we choose the Holy Spirit rather than the ego. The ego was “born” from the choice for separation, individuality, and specialness, so to be reborn is to choose again. Jesus says to us in “The Holiness of Christmas” what he says throughout A Course in Miracles, asking us to bring to him our open hands “made clean of grasping.” Grasping is symbolic of our special relationships, wherein we are always trying to get something from someone or something outside….specialness results from the thought that there is something wrong within, something missing something painfully deficient. We seek outside ourselves for a missing treasure—the priceless pearl of our specialness—and seize it when we think we have found it, grasping to replace what we feel is missing inside.
Jesus is telling us the gifts we should offer him, or lay before the Christ child, are the doubts, fears, illusions, and pride that accompany the “meager treasures” of specialness that represent our turning away from the gifts of holiness God has given us. Simply stated, we bring our guilt to Jesus, the guilt that gives rise to the world, which in turn defends against this guilt, as do all strivings for specialness. The source of our guilt is the belief that we have betrayed God by deciding that we do not want His gifts of Love and eternal life. When we choose separation, we throw those gifts away in exchange for the ego’s shabby offerings of specialness and individuality. Inevitably what follows is pain and suffering, hatred and death, all of which have their source in thoughts of separation and guilt.
We are thus asked to do what makes Christmas, or any other day holy: bring to the holiness in our minds the unholiness we believe about ourselves. To do this, it is most important to realize that the unholiness is a thought in the mind, not outside in the world. Before we can bring our unholy gifts to the gifts of love Jesus offers us, however, we must first be aware that the unholiness is not in our person, or in anyone else. It is in our minds, which means we must withdraw the projections we placed on others. We must release everyone from the terrible yet illusory burden of responsibility for our unhappiness. In special love, the burden we place on others is that they are responsible for our happiness. That is as hateful a burden as blaming everyone for being the cause of our unhappiness. When we say, “I could never be happy in this world if it were not for you,” that is just as hateful as saying, “I would be happy in this world if it were not for you.” Special hate and special love are the same: different forms that express the same content. Either way, we lose.
Forgiveness begins with releasing everyone from the horrible burden we have placed on them of being either a special devil or special savior, realizing that the problem is never outside our own minds. When we become aware that the problem is inside, we can recognize that it is our own guilt for having betrayed God and His Love that results in the different ways we project onto others. It is this guilt we bring to Jesus, but that must begin with honestly looking at what it is we are doing, and how we try to make everyone else responsible for what we secretly believe is our own sin.
(XI.8:1-2) Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so you offer me the love I offer you.
Jesus asks us to look, this season and all seasons, and see how our special relationships demand sacrifice. Someone must pay so we will be happy and regain our innocence. If, therefore, we truly wish to know Jesus’ forgiving love and accept it as our self, we cannot at the same time demand sacrifice of another, for his love excludes no one and includes everyone. God’s Love is perfect Oneness, and as long as we exclude any part of God’s Son, we express a decision that says: “I want to be excluded. By excluding others from the Kingdom, I exclude myself. This is my choice for the ego, but I want them to pay the price instead of me, and so I conveniently forget that sacrifice is total.” Recognizing that one cannot sacrifice another without sacrificing oneself is the motivation for choosing against the ego’s despair and for the joyful Christmas message of hope and promise.
(XI.8:3-5) What can be more joyous than to perceive we are deprived of nothing? Such is the message of the time of Christ, which I give you that you may give it and return it to the Father, Who gave it to me. For in the time of Christ communication is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son’s creation.
We are deprived of nothing because God gave us everything, as everything, when He created us. To know this, we need first to understand sacrifice and its great cost; otherwise we cannot choose differently. Deciding to hate hurts us because it keeps us little, despite the illusion of making ourselves strong at another’s expense. Weaving the Christmas theme into his teachings on sacrifice and specialness, Jesus communicates to us in the time of Christ, the holy instant, that the communication between God and His Son has never been disrupted.
Excerpted from Journey through the Text of “A Course in Miracles”