Chicken Soup for the Soul tells the story of a priest who was so madly in love with his Christmas nativity scene that he often took a special inventory of his beloved life-sized plaster figurines and doted on his favorite, which was the Christ Child Jesus. So when the priest awoke on Christmas day to find the Christ Child missing from the manger, he almost lost his mind. He chastised his congregation about the theft, repeating his tirade at each Mass. Yet, the manger remained empty. In order to calm down, the priest took a meditative stroll. Where is the Christ Child? He had to have pondered again and again. What happened? Where is Christ?
In John 14, Jesus said I might not always be with you in the flesh, but God is going to send the Counselor to be with you forever. Jesus called that Counselor “the Spirit of truth”, who Jesus said would live in us and be in us. He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
In other words, Jesus Christ is not really in our nativity scenes, even though we remember him there. Jesus Christ is not really on our symbolic cross, even though we carry him there. Jesus Christ is not limited to plaster or plastic or wood or silver or gold. Jesus Christ did not limit himself to the physical but taught about the oneness of the spiritual realm. He said, I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you — not just in a manger or a scroll or a prayer. He said I am a reality that you touch every day. I am in every breath that you breathe and space that you take up.
In his wonderful book, Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, says that Jesus is born every time the Holy Spirit in us is touched. He says that “The Christ within us is waiting for each minute to be born again and again.” Thich Nhat Hanh says that “the Holy Son has been born in you as a baby, but maybe it’s not strong yet. You have to strengthen and cultivate the Holy Spirit in you.” You have to practice your awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Otherwise, you will miss the beauty of the Christ that is right within your midst.
The Chicken Soup story says that the priest — worried about the missing Christ Child — walked through his neighborhood. As he walked, he saw one of the smallest members of his flock — bundled shabbily against the cold, dragging behind him a brand new red wagon. The priest was touched by how much sacrifice the boy’s family must have made to get him a brand new red wagon. So, he quickly caught up with the boy to wish him a Merry Christmas. But when the priest caught up with the boy, he could see that the wagon was not empty. Right there, in plain view, was the Christ Child wrapped in a blanket.
Grimly, the Priest stopped the boy and lectured him profusely: stealing was a sin — and robbing the church of such a sacred image — was an even greater one.
“But Father!” the little boy cried out after the Priest’s tongue lashing was over , “I didn’t steal the Christ child. It wasn’t like that at all. It’s just that I was praying to Him for a red wagon for Christmas — and I promised him that if I got it, I would take him out for the first ride!”
Where is Christ? The Christ left the manger eons ago. The Christ was resurrected in us as the Holy Spirit to teach us the power of the Divine Mind — over the material world, over plaster and plastic, and even flesh. The Christ lives within us in a place that never grows old, never grows weary, never grows tired, never needs surgery, never feels the economic decline or its surge because it is full and complete in the inexhaustible everything of all that God is. Jesus did not leave us comfortless. He is always present as the Holy Ghost — to teach us all things. The great Hindu spiritual teacher Paramahansa Yogananda, in The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You, says that this is not the body but the omnipresent Christ Consciousness present in all creation.
During these weeks of Advent, the time during which many people prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ through prayer, meditation and other forms of worship, it is important to re-visit our spiritual practice so that we develop a consistent way to tune into the Holy Spirit within us. The most priceless gift that can be given now is the remembrance of this divine connection that unites us all. God is always calling us to greater works than those who have gone before us, always breathing into us the power to do better, create more, and evolve beyond the pure potential of the infinite realm of possibilities. Now is the time to release whatever we allow to block our good and allow Spirit to do its good work. Now is the time to stop chasing the plaster figurines of your Baby Jesus and know that the Christ within you has never left.
Reverend Cecilia Loving
Pastor,SPIRITMUV http://www.spiritmuv.com http://www.godisabrowngirltoo.com
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