This is a lightly edited version of a meditation that I wrote trying to explain the meaning of Christmas without using the words God or Jesus. I read this in my church, LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, on December 23, 2018. At the service they showed pictures of babies in the congregation while I read this, but since this is my blog, I will show off pictures of my grandchildren instead.
Ancient people had no problem believing in a Higher Power. They saw the power of creation all around them. They lived or died by actions they could not control, like the weather, or disease. Being alive meant living with a constant fear, an underlying dread, of these malevolent or capricious powers that dominated their lives.
But what if they got it wrong? What if the motivating force behind creation was not power, or ego, but love? What if the Creator desired to have more beings experience the beauty and love that it felt within itself? How could this Creator convey to the people it had created that its nature was love? How could the All Powerful One communicate in a way that would not leave people cowering in fear, unable to experience the love that it was trying to express?
That’s what the story of this season is all about. Our Creator finding a way to let us know that the Source of all Power loves and delights in us.
Now take a moment to remember a time when you held a little baby. What did you feel when you look at this little one, held securely in your arms? I would imagine that what you felt is the opposite of fear. You felt love, you felt delight, you wanted to protect this child and draw out of it all the potential that resides in that tiny body.
In other words, what little babies draw out of us are the very forces that motivated the creation of all things — the desire to love, to share in wonder, to watch life unfold and find meaning in creative expression.
That is what this season teaches us, that we are loved in the same way we feel love when we hold a tiny infant. That our Creator feels joy in our presence and wants to see us flourish in the same way that we desire those things for these little ones. That the maker of all things hears our cries and desires to respond, in the same way that a baby’s cries immediately draws our attention.
How would our lives be different if we could feel this love, acceptance and playfulness from our Creator each and every day? How might our outlook change if we could imagine the Universe cheering us on as we experienced new things and tested our growing abilities?
The lesson of this time of year is that, in the middle of dark days and cold nights, we do not need to live in fear. All creation comes from love and we can connect with the energy of creation when we reach out in love to the vulnerable, when we build relationships of support, when we draw out potential and creativity in each other.
But if love created us, why do we live in a world of violence and oppression? Why do hatred and greed seem to dominate?
Love is vulnerable, in the same way a baby is vulnerable. It opens us up to suffering. We want to protect ourselves against suffering. We close down. We band together with others who can protect us. We find solace by blaming others for our pain. We seek to punish others who we believe are responsible for our suffering, hoping that will make us safe.
But what if, in the midst of our fear, we chose to follow the example of our Creator and respond with love instead? Love casts out fear. In the presence of a baby, fear dissipates, and not just because we know we have nothing to fear in the presence of something so helpless. More than that, our fear vanishes as we express love for the vulnerable one and remind ourselves that there is love for us too, even when we feel exposed and unsafe.
So how can we remind ourselves of this shocking news in a world that works hard to forget its origins? We can celebrate the love of families by giving each other expressions of our love. We can take time this season to remember the love that created us. And we can reach out to those who suffer, to the children who cry in pain or struggle without the love and nurture they deserve. When we do so we will feel the energy of Creation flowing through us, drawing out our own potential as we do the same for others.
I hope that this Christmas, you will get to hold a little baby, or watch children expressing their delight. And as you do, as you feel love and joy flowing out of you, I hope you remember that your Creator loves you even more than that.