Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When The Soul Felt Its Worth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

One of my favourite Christmas carols is O Holy Night. I think it is beautiful and the way the song rises to a majestic crescendo raises one's spirits this time of the year. That is, if your spirit needs raising.

For me, there are so many things this time of the year that raise my spirit. The tree, the wreaths, the ice skaters in front of city hall, the egg nog, the music, the movies, time spent with family and friends.

I found myself singing O Holy Night in the shower this morning, and heard a line in an entirely new and different way.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, in the last several years I have struggled to find a new meaning of Christmas that aligns with my ever-evolving beliefs. This year I can once again appreciate the birthday of Jesus as way-shower, as well as the Christ presence within me and all of humanity. Christ was not Jesus' last name, it is that divine spark that dwells in the hearts of every man and woman, if only we would recognize it.

Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

The image comes to mind that since the beginning of humanity the soul in everyone has wanted to rise up and exert its power, but perhaps there hadn't been all that many stellar examples of what this kind of life would look like. And then Jesus comes along. Jesus came along to show the way to live. What's more, while many Christian theologians assert that Jesus was sent "down" to earth from a literal Heaven, and became less (a man) for our sakes, I am coming to believe that Jesus did not come down to tell us how sinful we are and therefore in need of salvation from Hell, but that his message was this: "The divine, the spark of God lives within all of humanity, each and every one of you. I have not come to tell you how bad you are, but instead to help you realize that you are one with the Divine." Through his life, Jesus went on to show how powerful a difference it could make in the life of a human if she realized that God was not "up there" or "out there" somewhere, but that each of us has that power within us. The soul finally felt its worth, stood up and shouted "Finally! I've been waiting for this my whole life!" Jesus emphasized what kind of power was already within us when he said things like: "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," and "You will do greater things (than even me)."

The late Unity minister Eric Butterworth writes in his classic Discover The Power Within You, that Jesus came to be a window by which humanity could look through and see an example of divinity at work in humanity. But what did humanity do? Humanity instead worshiped the window, put it on a pedestal, and for the large part, missed his point entirely. They admired the frame, the smoothness of the glass, the windowsill. And missed the point entirely. We love to worship people and things. We worship singers, actors, models, athletes, anyone who possesses a quality that we find admirable or extraordinary. But this, in my opinion, was not what Jesus wanted whatsoever. Jesus did not live so that a religion would be named after him, so that churches and denominations would exist in his name. In fact, he deflected praise when someone dared call him "Good Teacher." 'Why do you call me good? Only God is good." That doesn't sound like someone who desired to be worshiped.

Jesus wanted to show humanity the way. He wanted us to look through the window. He wanted to show us what it looked like to live a divinely inspired life, a life at one with God.

I pray that this Christmastime your soul will feel its worth as someone who is a beloved Daughter or Son of God.


Mark Andrew