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Beyond Christmas Commercialization

Columnist Rev. JoAnn Barrett offers a spiritual look at the lessons of Christmas

And so this is Christmas. The John Lennon song, Happy Christmas asks us, “What have we done?” I would rather ask, how can I be joyful and satisfied?

The story of Christmas, the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, the son of God, is filled with metaphors for life. This year I am personally drawn to the one of the shepherds in the fields. They were just watching their flocks in the night when an angel appeared to them. When they saw the angel, they were afraid. The angel then told them not to be afraid for they had great news to tell them. The angels brought news of the reminder of the Light and peace of God being born into the world.

Each year as a holiday approaches you hear people ask, “What are you doing for the holidays”. Many speak of a variety of traditions. Whether you are Christian or not, we are all inundated by this season. Everywhere you turn you see something Christmas. But what do you do for Christmas? What do you do for any holiday? Why does it matter? Whatever you do, over time it will change. So what does it all mean? This is where fear breeds its ugly head. The idea that we have to do something to feel the peace and love of God.

The story is that an angel comes. The purpose of Christmas is that a Light was born into the world. And what do we do? We look for it outside ourselves. We look for it in what we are doing or where we are going or who we are with. All of these things are distractions from the true spiritual meaning of Christmas.

One of the signs of Christmas is a star. The story says that when Jesus was born a new star shown in the sky. Stars are the lights that exist in the dark of night. This symbol represents light in the darkness. But unless we can find a way to allow ourselves to see that light within, we will be afraid when light comes to us in our lives, like the shepherds.

No matter how much commercialism surrounds Christmas and how fancy and magical the movies may make it out to be, it will never completely satisfy us. It needs to come from within. We need to be still and quiet and not be afraid to let love in. We need to not get caught up in how love looks and decide for the light of heaven to be born in us.

In the Christian tradition we are told we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us reestablish the light we may have forgotten. The shepherds were in the dark but an angel came to remind them of the light. This season let's use the influence of the symbols of Christmas to remind us of the Love and Light of God that is with us always and needs no special tradition to make it so.

A Course in Miracles says to give the Holy Spirit anything that would get in the way of receiving this light. Let no despair or requirement darken the joy of Christmas. They call Jesus the Prince of Peace. Let us call for peace in our hearts, peace in our lives and peace in the world.

Merry Christmas!

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