Christmas is the time, traditionally, when we remember the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. Historically, that event was significant because it was the entrance into our world of a man who remembered his identity as the Christ, and brought the light of that awareness to all the world. That is certainly an event worthy of some celebration and remembrance.
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus speaks of his birth in another way as well. He speaks of being reborn in us. Perhaps, this Christmas, we can remember not only to celebrate his birth 2000 years ago, but to seek for, and celebrate, his birth in us today.
Learning the Way Out of Pain
My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain (W-pI.rV.in.7:1-2).
What does it mean to have Jesus reborn in us? It means allowing him to lead us out of our misery and pain. He says he is "renewed" each time any one of us allows him to lead us out of pain.
This Christmas give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely that you may join with Him in healing, and let us celebrate our release together by releasing everyone with us (T-15.XI.3:1-2).
Let us, then, see if there are any spots of pain in our minds, and consider making a gift of them to the Holy Spirit. It's amazing how stubbornly we hold on to old pains. The question is, are we willing for our pain to be gone? Are we willing to let ourselves be healed completely? Or do we still foolishly cling to our pain, thinking it is necessary to prove how badly someone has hurt us? Pain is misery; are we willing to be free of it?
There is a way out of misery and pain. Let us, this Christmas, open our hearts to being shown this way out, thus releasing everyone else along with us, and in so doing, allow Jesus to be reborn in us.
Turning to the Light within Us
I am reborn each time a brother's mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me (W-pI.rV.in.7:3-5).
Another way Jesus is reborn in us is when we turn to the light within ourselves, and look for the Christ in us. Each time I quiet my mind and turn to the light, he is reborn. Each time I remind myself, "I am as God created me" (W-pI.94) or "I am the holy Son of God himself" (W-pI.191), he is reborn.
As we begin to find our way out of pain, we discover, in the Course, an amazing thing: It looks on us as the light of the world! (See Workbook Lesson 61, for instance.) In the traditional view of Christmas, Jesus was the light of the world—the only light of the world. The Course intends for every one of us to discover that light in ourselves, and to shine it on all the world around us.
There is a light that this world cannot give. Yet you can give it, as it was given you (T-13.VI.11:1-2).
There is a light in you the world can not perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight (W-pI.189.1:1-5).
We can look upon that light in ourselves; we have the eyes to see it, if we choose to see it. Our looking upon, and seeing, the light of Christ in ourselves is the way we can give birth to Christ in this world.
Awakening to Our Own Grandeur
My birth in you is your awakening to grandeur. Welcome me not into a manger, but into the altar to holiness, where holiness abides in perfect peace. My Kingdom is not of this world because it is in you. And you are of your Father. Let us join in honoring you, who must remain forever beyond littleness (T-15.III.9:5-9).
Jesus is reborn, not in a manger, but in the "altar to holiness" within our own hearts. The altar represents that to which we are devoted, that which we consider to be sacred. The "altar to holiness," then, represents our devotion to holiness, our dedication to realizing, recognizing, and manifesting the holiness of God in all His creations, including ourselves. Holiness, in its turn, means divine innocence, untainted by any shred of sin, guilt, or impurity. When Jesus asks us to welcome him "into the altar of holiness," he is asking us to recognize the divine innocence in ourselves. That is where he can be reborn, and take up residence.
Welcoming him to our altar of holiness means awakening to our own grandeur as God's creations. It means being willing to let go of all of our guilt. It means that we stop thinking of ourselves as unworthy of him (like the manger), and realize that what we are, as God created us, is wholly worthy of him, wholly worthy, even, of being the dwelling place of God. What we are, as God's creations, is something grand, something deserving of great honor.
All through the Course, the way to the recognition of our own grandeur is through being willing to see that grandeur in our sisters and brothers:
This [a fearful attacker] do the body's eyes behold in one whom Heaven cherishes, the angels love and God created perfect. This is his reality. And in Christ's vision is his loveliness reflected in a form so holy and so beautiful that you could scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet. Yet you will take his hand instead, for you are like him in the sight that sees him thus (W-pI.161.9:1-4).
What you are is "so holy and so beautiful that [if I saw it, I] could scarce refrain from kneeling at [your] feet." That's an awesome statement, isn't it? Yet that is our reality. That is what we are.
The tradition of Christmas is often, among devout Christians, filled with expressions of awe that God should come to dwell with man; exclamations of amazement and wonder at the incredible significance of what was in that tiny child, lying in a manger. "Joy to the world! The Lord is come!" "Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, Love's pure Light!" "O holy night!…O night when Christ was born!" I think what Jesus is suggesting to us in this passage about his birth in an altar to holiness is that all of that awe, all of that wonder, all of that breathtaking glory belongs to us! For we are the birthplace of Christ. What traditionally is seen as having taken shape in that baby in a manger is actually taking shape within each and every one of us. Christ is born in me—Hallelujah!
Demonstrating that He Lives in Us
What does it mean to have Jesus reborn in us? Well, it isn't like the reincarnation of some Tibetan Lama in a young boy in Seattle (a story told in a recent movie); it doesn't mean that all of us are (or become), in some literal sense, the reincarnation of Jesus. Yet in a figurative sense, I think that is exactly what it means: In our lives, in our thinking, in our behavior, in our compassion, in our kindness, in our forgiveness, and most of all, in our love, we can reproduce or "reincarnate" Jesus. We become what he was, a human being "who remembered spirit and its knowledge" (T-3.IV.7:3), and who "saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God" (C-5.2:1).
Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you (T-11.VI.7:3-4).
Jesus is reborn in us when we remember spirit. Jesus is reborn in us when we remember God. We remember God by choosing, as Jesus chose, to see the face of Christ in all our brothers. Those words, "demonstrating that I live in you," never fail to move me. They awaken a deep longing in my heart, a longing that the apparently ordinary events and encounters of my daily life would become ways of demonstrating that he lives in me.
Many years ago, a Christian gentleman by the name of Charles Sheldon wrote a novel, a book of inspiration, titled, "What Would Jesus Do?" It told the story of a man who decided to ask himself that deceptively simple question in every situation of his life. It seemed an innocuous decision, and yet it revolutionized his life. As a teenager I read that book, and I have never forgotten it.
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus makes a similar suggestion to us. He suggests that we go through our days asking the Holy Spirit, "What would You have me do? Where would You have me go? What would You have me say, and to whom?" (W-pI.79.9:3-5) We are told that the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, can direct our every step:
"Seeing your strengths exactly as they are, and equally aware of where they can be best applied, for what, to whom and when, He chooses and accepts your part for you" (W-pI.154.2:2). Late in the Workbook we are instructed to pray this prayer: "For Your Voice will tell me what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world" (W-pII.275.2:3).
Jesus tells us that he is our model for learning. If we are to demonstrate that he lives in us, we must live as he did. He says, "I have enjoined you to behave as I behaved, but we must respond to the same Mind to do this. This Mind is the Holy Spirit, Whose Will is for God always" (T-5.II.12:1-2). So the way we learn to behave as he behaved is to listen to the same Voice, to decide, as he did, to hear only the Holy Spirit.
If we listen only to the judgment of the Holy Spirit, we will never condemn one another nor perceive sin in one another; we will see the face of Christ, which symbolizes the innocence of the Son of God. It is our forgiveness of our sisters and brothers that demonstates that Jesus lives in us. Just as he did not perceive attack in those who crucified him, we—if we listen to the same Voice Jesus listened to-will see only the innocence, only the call for love, in those who seemingly attack us. Demonstrating that he lives in us is one way we can celebrate his birth.
Becoming the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
You are His manifestation in this world. Your brother calls to you to be His Voice along with him. Alone he cannot be the Helper of God's Son for he alone is functionless. But joined with you he is the shining Savior of the world, Whose part in its redemption you have made complete (C-6.5:1-4).
We honor Jesus by becoming like him.
The great significance of the birth of Jesus, to Christians, is that God was manifested in the flesh. God took birth, and lived among men as a man. The Course refers to Jesus as "the manifestation of the Holy Spirit" ( T-12.VII.6:1; C-6.1:1). So, in a certain sense, it agrees with Christian tradition; Jesus was the manifestation of God in this world. "Manifestation" means a form in which an idea, or a divine being, is revealed; the American Heritage Dictionary definition includes these very applicable words: "The materialized form of a spirit." That is exactly what Jesus was, "the materialized form" of the Holy Spirit. That is what made his birth so significant.
The Course, however, tells us, "You are His [the Holy Spirit's] manifestation in this world." Jesus is the materialized form of the Holy Spirit, but so are we! That is, to me, what it means to give our body to the fulfillment of the purpose of the Holy Spirit. It means that you and I can become, quite literally, the embodiment of God in this world, the expression, in material form, of God's Love. This is not something you or I can do alone, however; it is only possible as we join with one another, in recognition of that same Christ within us all. I can become the Voice for God for my brother as I allow him to become the Voice for God for me.
The way to recognize your brother is by recognizing the Holy Spirit in him (T-5.III.1:1).
You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see your brothers truly. And the light in them will show you all that you need to see. When the peace in you has been extended to encompass everyone, the Holy Spirit's function here will be accomplished (T-19.IV.3:4-6).
As I behold innocence in my sister, as I learn to hear God's Voice speaking through her to tell me of my innocence, so I will come to recognize my innocence and experience the Holy Spirit working through me to heal my brothers. The process of a holy relationship is, at least in part, a process of learning to perceive my relationship partner as a witness to my own innocence, rather than a bringer of guilt. I need to learn to recognize the Holy Spirit in her, or in him.
In turn, I began to realize that my brother or sister is calling to me to be God's Voice for him or for her. The pain, the guilt, the attack, the anger and the fear that I perceive in those around me is calling out to God's Voice in me, calling out to hear the words of divine Love I have in me to speak. As I open to the possibility that I really am here to save the world, to be a savior from guilt to those around me, I come to know myself as what I am: the Love of God in materialized form. And thus is Christ born again in me.
What does it mean to have Jesus reborn in us? It means that:
• we allow him to show us the way out of our misery and pain;
• we begin to learn to turn to the light within us, and seek his face;
• we open ourselves to awaken to the grandeur of the Christ within us;
• we begin to demonstrate that Jesus lives within us;
• and we become, like him, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in this world.
As this Christmas season approaches, then, let every carol, every manger scene, every Christmas card, and every time we hear someone say, "Merry Christmas," be to us a reminder of the Christ who is daily being reborn in us. Let each such occurrence, no matter how trite it may appear, no matter how insincerely offered, remind us to turn to the light within us and look for Jesus. Let our walk through the shopping mall become a prolonged holy instant. Let each string of lights on houses we drive by speak of the light within us. Let all of Christmas be a constant reminder: "He has come! He lives in me!"