What comes to mind when you hear, “Merry Christmas?” I remember growing up in the Santa Clara Valley in Northern California, USA, and experiencing the wonder of Christmas as a young child. I remember going to midnight Mass at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in San Jose a five minutes’ walk from our family home. I remember my dad’s voice singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Upon returning home, my brother and sister and I, open a present from our mom and dad on Christmas Eve before we go to bed. We awake early on a dark and cold Christmas morning to open more presents next to our Christmas tree under the bright lights of my father’s eight millimeter (8mm) camera.
What is Christmas? Jesus being born in a stable in the small town of Bethlehem in the Middle Eastern part of the Roman Empire over two thousand years ago? The angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary and announces: “Do not be afraid. Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”
What does this mean to you? How do you feel when you hear these words? They may be vibrant and meaningful. Yet they also may be lifeless. Moreover, these ancient words (translated into English) may bring up rage or fear. As we encounter this story about the first Christmas, we have an opportunity to better understand ourselves as well as our world. There are over 2.2 billion people who are part of Christianity. Yet religion is different from spirituality. Our internal experience is a core part of our spirituality. This is a vital part of what we find meaningful in our lives. If we choose, it is possible to have a different sense of the meaning of Christmas by finding a new relationship to the story of the birth of Jesus.
Manuel Costa has been leading seminars about the teachings of Jesus for many decades with the Guild for Psychological Studies. Please watch this video and learn more about how to possibly see from a new life giving perspective: