Christmas Eve Eve

It’s two days before Christmas; tonight will be “Christmas Eve Eve.” I am reminded that the journey to Bethlehem was short by today’s traveling standards – just under six miles – but Mary was pregnant, and their mode of travel was walking and occasionally riding a young donkey; it must have felt as if it took forever. I imagine they had started out early on this day, and the ride hastened her labor. But then, as the story goes, there were no rooms at the inn, and it was only the kindness of the one innkeeper to let her give birth in his animal barn. Or cave. Or stable. (How important is one word, really? We shall see…)

What a perfect start to the story of a man who was shunned by most of the “exclusive” of his own faith – the priests and Pharisees who, it is said, saw themselves as better, certainly smarter and holier, than the poor family that he was born into. He grew to become a teacher, and welcomed all to him: Jews and non-Jews, people with money and people without,  people with demons and diseases, both inside and out, tax collectors, hookers; no one was excluded from his love. His lesson was – is – that love is the answer, not law. Love to draw in, not to shut out; inclusion, not exclusivity. Not “my faith is better than yours,” or “my God loves me, and he will love you, too, but only if you believe as I do.” I no longer feel comfortable using the term “Christian,” for it has been spoiled for me by those who are so clearly not, yet who claim to be, followers of this gentle, loving teacher who chose to die rather than proclaim himself king over one people, “his” people. He chose, instead, to die and create a new paradigm of faith. But his followers grew distant from his original message.

How is it that so many who profess to follow this man can be so self-righteous as to think they have the answer for everyone? Your faith is not my faith. Your perception of this story is not necessarily mine. That doesn’t make you right, nor does it make me right. But for us to be friends, you and I, we must travel a journey much longer than the one from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. It is the journey of forgiveness and love, of permitting the light of God that shines in each of us to be recognized and acknowledged:  followers of Jesus, of Abraham, of Buddha, of Allah; God loves us all, for we are all part of God, and God is part of all of us; we were, after all, created to live together, not to argue and fight for who is the holiest of all. God’s light is in each of us, and if the love is there, too, THAT is the key. Wasn’t that the one commandment Jesus asked? “Love God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself”? If God is in each of us, isn’t that one and the same thing?

Happy Christmas Eve “eve.” Find your God, your Higher Power, your Eternal Spirit, and love with all your heart. For me, that is the message, AND the journey.


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