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Spiritual matters

Living the Christ message

December 15, 2010 - Christmas has a special meaning unique to each one of us. For some it is a focus on family: finding the right present, planning the perfect meal, traveling great distances to be with those we love.

For others it's a time of extra work, cleaning, decorating, gifts to buy and wrap, food to prepare, being forced to spend time with people we try to avoid the rest of the year.

For some, Christmas is all about the birth of a special child a little over 2,000 years ago. It can be about living the Christ message of awakening, practicing love and forgiveness by giving of ourselves, our time, our talents, our treasury to share with those who are less fortunate.

I love the Christmas holiday season. Once I can recover my serenity and get past the blast of commercialism, I revel in the experience. The lights, the Christmas cards, the carols, our advent celebration, snow: these all help to bring a sense of awe and wonder and mystery to the season.

This can be a time of awakening to the Christ Spirit within, returning to the light of spiritual awareness that Jesus spoke about, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14 ), "God is Spirit" (John 4:24 ) and we are made in the image and after the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). We are inherently spiritual.

The Christmas story is our story. Joseph and Mary are our thoughts and feelings who have had a spiritual awakening, visited by angels. They are bringing forth a new level of awareness within us, the Christ child. But there was no room for them at the inn, our intellect which is full of preconceived ideas and beliefs of what is real.

So the birth, the coming forth in consciousness, happens in a manger: our heart center which is open to give and receive.

We are the spirit that God has given us. Spiritual awareness is awakening to the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus clearly located as "within," "in our midst" and "at hand."

His parables describe Heaven as a here and now experience that we can choose to participate in. The pearl of great price, the treasure buried in the field, the good seed, etc., are stories that describe activities that assist us in awakening to the Christ Spirit within.

A story is told of a man who dreamed he had died and, standing before his creator, was given a choice between heaven or hell. First he was shown a room labeled Hell, where miserable people sat around a bountiful banquet table with all the delicacies a person could desire.

Tied to their hands were spoons and forks that were three feet long, so despite the abundance they could not feed themselves.

Next he was shown a room labeled Heaven. Here was the same scene, same bountiful table, same three foot long spoons and forks. The only difference was that the people were joyously feeding each other. It's our choice.

Blessings of peace, joy & love,

Matthew E. Long is senior minister

at Peace Unity Church & Holistic Center.

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