Monthly Archives: December 2014

Christmas Reflection

A gift is a token of our mutual connection

A gift is a token of our mutual connection

What a beautiful time of year this is, the festivities are almost over and now we have time for reflection. Christmas is a time for reflection on Christ’s message which is one of peace and to have a giving nature, and the Jewish festival of Chanukah is the festival of light and a celebration of god’s power and grace.

In the darkness and cold of winter, light and peace bring warmth and brightness to our hearts.

This time of year holds a serious message for us all and I think these festivals represent the core of the human condition and the giving nature of the Universe.

The candles and lights remind us of the human spirit, and that the human spirit has its own light. The Universal source is the source of that light, it nourishes that flame within.

The giving of presents and the acts of sharing and reflection remind us that it is important to have gratitude within us. Nothing in life is our right; we must carve life out for ourselves. Life gives us what we need as long as we engage in life appropriately.  We seek out gifts to thank people for being part of our lives and for sharing with us.

Life is an exchange of human interaction and what greater gift is there than the meaningful exchange of time, energy and experience to enhance the lives of all concerned?

The use of light when celebrating festivals the world over is a testament to the power of love and compassion that resides in the human heart and at the core of the Universal Spirit.  It is celebrated the world over, and for a short period it is in the fore front of our minds.  It can only be a good thing to have light and peace and giving in the fore front of our minds each year to reacquaint us all with those concepts.

Our lives are full of modern wants and needs.  However, perhaps we should ask ourselves is this the point of life, or is there a more fundamental and real point to existence? The Christmas message is one of gratitude, knowledge, understanding, hope, joy and peace to all. Christ came to light the way for us all and so that we would know what the light is and we would carry that light in our hearts always.

It is always pleasant to receive a gift from a treasured family member or friend. The gift is just a token of something more. It is a token of their connection to us and us to them. The human story is one of connection and that we are all bound together in our humanity. We should be truly grateful for those that bind us close to them. We should always remember to show gratitude for the love that is given to us by others. Our life would be the less without it. In the Chanukah story, god showed devotion to humanity by keeping the ever- lasting light alight even though there was not enough oil to keep it burning.  The wise men traveled far to honour the Christ child and in that act they showed us humility for Christ’s message, the Christmas message, the message of the light.

David Brown and Lynette Avis

Christmas Spirit

Intuitively we understand that light is good.  When we unite under the banner of light we are stronger.

Intuitively we understand that light is good. When we unite under the banner of light we are stronger.

What is the Christmas Spirit? Though Christmas is a Christian holiday, I believe there is a universal message that all people, Christian and non- Christian alike, can learn.  If we can get beyond the attachment of “my” religion, there are many beautiful messages to be shared throughout the religions, cultures and traditions of the world.  In fact, the Christmas message is so universal, that it appears time and again in religions and even in popular culture.

So what is this message?  Throughout history, humans have struggled with the balance of good and evil: corruption versus compassion; greed in conflict with generosity; arrogance and humility; love and apathy; hatred and tranquillity and; self- doubt compared to empowerment.  So often, we chose the dark side of our character even though it brings pain to us and our loved ones.  The message of Christmas is to choose the light, not just the light side of our character, but the light side of the universe, the forces that compel us to do good, to be the best of ourselves and to live beyond our petty fears and concerns and move into a greater future.

My understanding of the Christmas message is that Jesus was sent to show humanity the way towards the Light of God.  It is the story of the battle between light and darkness, good and evil that has been told the world over and across time.  Many cultures have stories in their traditions that represent this archetypal struggle:  The Jews have the story of Hanukkah (The Festival of Light);  The Hindus celebrate Diwali (the festival of lights) which spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair; Charles Dickens writes about it in A Christmas Carol with the lessons to Scrooge from the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future; George Lucas deals with it in the story of the Jedi and the Sith in the Star Wars Series and; JK Rowling discusses it in the Harry Potter books with the wizards of light fighting the dark wizard Voldemorte and his Death- Eaters.

The context of Jesus’ story is set in Roman Palestine and Jesus tried to preach a better path away from the corruption of the Jewish priests and the Roman politicians.  The story of Hanukkah, set centuries before highlighted the suppression by the Greeks of the Jewish way of life and yet somehow, despite the Greeks’ best efforts, that way of life could not be quashed.  In both stories, a greater force was sent to change the status quo, to show people that there is a force greater than them nurturing the Path of Truth, the Universal message.  The acts are often depicted as miracles: the star that led the three Kings to the baby Jesus and; the one day’s worth of oil to burn the ever- lasting light (that represents God’s presence) in the Jewish Temple that lasted for eight days.  May be they are in fact universal forces that show us we live in a supporting universe of love?

This spiritual message is important.  I think it is significant that it is often represented by light and the use of candles (Christmas and Hanukkah) and Fireworks (Diwali).  Intuitively we understand that light is good.  We must make a stand against the darkness and that when we unite under the banner of light we are stronger.  That light is an internal force, a flame burning within that is the human spirit.  It is also an external force, from beyond our self, from the universe itself, nurturing and nourishing our inner flame.  The religious festivals and cultural stories remind us of this wonderful universal spirit of giving and sharing that we all enjoy.  A plethora of Christmas movies that celebrate the Christmas spirit often make us feel warm and empowered to do our best good.  To embrace the light and its significance is a message to be held as a way of life.  The light never to be forgotten, forever nurtured.

Giving the Christmas Message

461259677

 Seasons Greetings,

Christmas is more than a time of giving.  We all rush around in a mad frenzy choosing and buying gifts for our family and friends for the big day.

It is the time of year that retailers love the most as they do the majority of their business at Christmas. Each year retailers wait with baited breath, as the last sales are totalled. They have sweat on their brow, I am sure of it, whilst they wait to know if sales are up or down. Each year we all get to hear via the media how well or badly the retailers have done.  I am not sure why we should care and especially at Christmas. For retailers Christmas is first and foremost about sales and profit.

I wonder too what Christmas means to the average person as Christ is inched out of his own birthday bit by bit. Some schools are now changing their practise on the nativity and have removed the play from their Christmas activity. Also, some schools have now changed what they call Christmas and are calling it the winter festival instead of Christmas. I feel if that is the case let’s just get rid of the whole thing altogether. If we are not celebrating the birth of Christ, what are we celebrating exactly?

How can Christ be a bad thing? This was a child that was born a special person. Some people are born to be special. Others have to work and become special. Surely if nothing else we should celebrate the specialness. Three wise kings came to celebrate Jesus’s birth. They brought him three gifts. They gave him gold to symbolise his high status, even thought he was of a humble human family. Gold is a special and precious metal given to special people or for special occasions. This was given to him to honour what was special in him.

The second gift that was given to Christ was frankincense. Frankincense is an interesting substance that has been traditionally used for spiritual ceremonies in religion and spiritual practices. It is an aromatic resin. This resin comes from the Boswellia tree.  This resin has a particular and pleasant smell. It smells quite sweet and a little bit musty at the same time. This gift signified the spiritual nature of the child and the special spiritual gift which was his teaching and special message that he would give to the world of man.

The third gift that the kings brought to the Baby Jesus was Myrrh. This too is a resin derived from a tree. This comes from the Commiphora myrrh tree. This substance was traditionally used by people to prepare the dead for burial. This gift signified Jesus’s short life and premature death. The kings were saying this child is special and he would do good work for the world and only have a very short life. The fact that these wise kings travelled far to honour the baby Jesus and brought such well thought out gifts is the reason we give gifts at Christmas. The birth of this special person and what he went onto achieve is the reason we have celebrated Christmas for about two thousand years. I am not sure what will be left if we take Christ out of Christ’s own mass.

Each year at this time we all give and receive gifts. How many of us give gifts as a celebration of Christ’s birth and life? How many of us concern ourselves with the true reason we are celebrating at this time of year? Or is it just that we are all full of the expectation of the material gain, as well as the spirits that we will consume? Is that more important to most of us? Maybe I am getting old and cynical.  Spiritual sustenance is like bread for the body. Good eating and good nutrition. Christ had a spiritual message to enhance our spiritual well-being. Perhaps we should all take a little time out from the mistletoe and wine and reflect inwardly to nourish our flame within. Seems like the most appropriate time of year to do so to me.

I wish you a happy Christmas and the best ever New Year, and would like to thank everyone who has been reading our blogs and supporting our work over the past two years and for being so fab.

Have a great Christmas and don’t consume too many spirits. Stay safe.

Lynette.