Lessons from Christmas – About God, Yourself, and Others

If, like me, the celebration of Christmas has been a part of your spiritual tradition, you may be tempted to move on past this article.  After all, you know the story.  You’ve heard the lessons…maybe a thousand times.  And, Christmas sermons might just seem like the recounting of an important, but oh so familiar story.

But if, like me, you choose to sit with the mystery, the depth, the astonishing reality of this familiar miracle…you may find that the story continues to speak, year after year.  Here are a few of the things I’m pondering this year as I sit, afresh, with the mystery of the Christmas story:

  • God not only created this world…. God chose to visit it.
  • When God visited this world….God chose to come in the same way we all did, as a vulnerable child.
  • He came at a vulnerable time and to a vulnerable place.
  • He did not have to do it this way.
  • We learn what it means to be human by seeing the human life of Jesus.
  • We learn that to be human is a marvelous privilege.
  • We learn that to be human is to be vulnerable.
  • We learn that to be human is to begin a journey of growth. It is a process, not a destination.
  • We learn that not all the religious people will understand what God is doing when God does it.
    • Think of the religious leaders who did not discern that God was going to be born as a baby in Bethlehem.
  • We learn that not all political leaders will appreciate what God is doing when God does it.
    • Think of Herod killing all boys, two and under, in an attempt to kill Jesus before he could grow to adulthood.
  • We learn that the least likely people were given a picture of the vast change God was about to bring to the earth.
    • Think of shepherds hearing from angels;
    • Think of astrologers from the wrong religion being led by a star to the manger;
    • Think of a peasant girl being given the unique privilege of bearing the Messiah in her womb;
    • Think of an 84 year old woman who had been praying in the temple for 50 years being given the message that she would see the Messiah before she died.
  • We learn that humanness itself is blessed by God and that all people are endowed with an inner nobility.
    • Think of being “made in the Image of God.”

What might change in us based on these observations?

  1. We could be very thankful every minute for having been given the privilege of being human.
  2. We could study the life of Jesus to learn what being human is meant to look like.
  3. We could learn to accept our vulnerabilities and trust, rather than attempt to manipulate and control everything and everyone.
  4. We could learn that the spiritual life is a process of growth in the ability to love- not merely believing a list of doctrines about God.
  5. We could begin looking at ourselves (even in our frailties and mistakes) as having an “inner nobility.”
  6. We could begin looking at all others (the very people we see in a given day) as those who also have an “inner nobility’…. no matter how well, or poorly, they are living up to that nobility. Mother Teresa said that we find Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor.
  7. We could go a little easier on ourselves and others.
  8. We could even go a little easier on God when we realize how little we actually know about eternal matters.

Maybe, as we rightly think of the adorable baby Jesus (literally “worthy of adoration”), we could think of all the people we meet in the same way: Adorable;  Made in the Image of God; Imbued with an Inner Nobility.  This, in fact, might change the world, one relationship at a time, and truly bring Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas!

Bart Tarman

Bart Tarman has spent more than 30 years focusing on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth – but from an non-religious perspective. He presents the Jesus of the four Gospel narratives in a way that is relevant to our real life struggles and opportunities. Bart loves the subtitle to Gandhi’s autobiography: My Experiments with Truth, because he feels that our connection to Jesus Christ should be just that…. an ongoing experiment with truth and love…. in real life. More about Bart ›

1 Comment
  • elaine bennie

    December 2, 2017at1:01 am Reply

    This is wonderful. One of the most important truths that I learned in the past couple years is that even before He created the world and humans, Christ knew He would have to die for us. That to me is the most remarkable fact, creating us knowing we would sin and Yeshua would have to die in this horrible manner.

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