When you fold your hands in front of your chest, palms together, you are making the archetypical gesture of prayer, you are honoring the spirit in your heart. When I make this gesture to you and bow, and you to me, I am saying the God within me honors the God within you and the spirit in you honors the spirit in me.
In a world where no one agrees on almost anything, religion and the proper way to refer to spirit somehow lead the league in petty and major disagreements. We just can’t seem to get our arms around this whole God thing without controversy. Except for Christmas.
Christians, along with Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Pagans all seem to be willing to acknowledge something is going on at this time of year. We buy “holiday gifts” for each other, send cards and wish each other all forms of good tidings. Wars stop, at least for a day, in acknowledgment of the time, even Wal Mart closes! We know that normal life lacks something and, for just a season, we come pretty close to tapping into it.
I think what happens is this: there is, whether you like the words or not, a spirit that we all long to acknowledge. Christians link it to the birth of Jesus and even non believers seem to be willing to accept parts of the story, that’s how powerful it is.
Theologians will tell you that Easter is the most important Christian holiday. The Christmas story is only described in two of the four Gospels, a story that involves taxes, the kindness of strangers, astrologers, an evil King, a Virgin, Shepards and Angels. The Christmas legend, one we hear over and over, is something that touches everyone. Why? Does this Baby get up and preach? Perform miracles? No. The innocence of the story is what draws us in, no plagues, no war victories, just the humble birth of a Baby. (I understand, that this birth is the beginning of a much bigger story, but, to some, the birth of the Baby Jesus is the only religion needed. It universally speaks to spirit.)
At Christmas we actually think of others, we try, in our clumsy modern American way, to make someone else happy by buying them things. We think of each other, we sing… we smile.
What we say at Christmas is this: somewhere, in all of us, there is a spirit. It is deep, it wants peace, understanding, acknowledgement and love. At Christmas we say:
The God within me acknowledges the God in you.
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