This question is the elephant in the room at this time of the year. I feel a bit like a spoil-sport in publicly raising it in OS; am I just letting the side down of our once great Christian culture? And me, a card carrying Follower of Christ! Aren’t we all confused enough about religion and spirituality, and art and science, and life in general? Why add to this in raising further doubts about the once great anchor day of the year when a whole culture remembered that God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, born to a poor family in a stable in Bethlehem. The day was once so powerful, that for instance in The Great War both sides of this appalling conflict stopped fighting, met in the middle of No Man’s Land, exchanged greetings and sang Silent Night together.
However, another part of me just wants to get real about matters of the Spirit. Less carols and Christmas pageants; more real encounter with each other and the Spirit. It doesn’t matter that we don’t really know when Jesus was born. We know when he died and when he returned in the Spirit. But it does matter that we human beings can continue to experience forgiveness and grace and peace in our lives, and that our acts of contemplation, meditation and prayer are meetings with the Spirit, whatever our tradition, in a very rapidly changing world. We are living at an extraordinary time when all civilisations on the planet are being confronted with each other, and are having to adjust to major new circumstances. Like it or not, we are being forced into one world community, and since the rise of Artificial Intelligence and such things as crypto-currencies, the speed of all this has become exponential. Forces are afoot that possibly no one can fully comprehend; and just where they will take us no one can know.
So, by all means, let us remember the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December, but why not every day of the year, along with all the saints of the Spirit in every tradition. This is why I value OS so much. We come from different traditions. We find a unity in contemplation and fellowship, in the Spirit of love and concern for each other and for the environment and the planet. We honour the saints of the Earth, those in whom the Spirit worked and is working great and important things. And we recognise that we live in momentous times when the need for spiritual unity and the experience of grace and forgiveness has never been more urgent. In the words of Philip Newell, the great exponent of Celtic spirituality, God is ‘rebirthing’ in our times, and it is vital we are open to this. We let go; we take up.
In our discussion forum on the 16th, I would love to hear what others think about Christmas and where you think we are going in our society and what bearing this has on religion and spirituality for a small community like Open Sanctuary, and for the wider community. And some time for quiet reflection, contemplation and prayer as usual.
As Linda wrote in the Reflections blog on OS website, 'The greatest gift of Christmas is the Christ consciousness that waits to irrupt into our ordinary awareness at any moment. Let us make space for that contemplative consciousness to bring new life for all'.