The Christmas Season is a time full of beauty: The natural quiet stillness of snowfall and the warmth of a family taking common shelter against the cold. As I will spend Christmas this year away from those I love, I thought I might take a moment to articulate one of the true meanings of Christmas
The proper name for Christmas is “The Feast of the Incarnation”. ‘Incarnation’, to paraphrase, means the coming of spirit upon flesh. It is well known that the date of Christmas is not meant to correspond to the actual anniversary of the birth of the Nazarene. The feast was adapted from a pagan feast celebrating the darkest time of the year (the winter solstice). Pagans believed that this was a time where Light was coming back into the world. The Christians adopted this feast as the best time to celebrate the birth of the ‘Lord of Light’. And so, we wish each other ‘Merry Christmas’. We acknowledge the Divine Light alive and well in our fellow man. We give each other gifts as an acknowledgment that the Light has come alive in them.
There is a custom that has traveled with eastern tradition to every corner of the globe. It is called ‘nemaste’. While the spelling and littoral meaning of this custom vary; it most nearly means ‘I bow to you’. It is the custom of people slightly inclining their heads in a bow of recognition. The idea is: “I see the Light in you, I feel the loving presence of the ‘Divine Source’ within you, because you are holy I bow to you”. The beauty of this custom is that people bow to each other at the same time. It is a custom without rank, simply an acknowledgment that the Light is within in all good people.
As we progress into the cold of winter let us reach out to our loved ones. The gifts we give are not always bought in a store. A hug, a smile, a kind word of encouragement, or even a slight bow of the head; these are all vessels of love and let us be generous with them this Christmas.
May the Great Light shine upon You
May It grow within You.
May You be for the World a beacon
May You shine the Light forth
May the World be comforted
For Truth and Light will prevail.