The Revolution of Christmas
Christmas, Singing, and Social Justice
Tonight on Christmas Eve, thousands, if not millions, of people will gather to sing Christmas Carols. The songs will range from child friendly Jingle Bells, to pop driven All I want for Christmas, to the more traditional and faith inspired hymns like O Come, Emmanuel.
Christmas means many things to many people, yet the original story is one of upheaval, transformation, of embodying inspired ideas.
We are all invited into the work of transmutation; making light out of darkness.
To do this I want to look more closely at a popular Christmas Carol, O Holy Night and briefly connect it to the first Christmas song, the Song of Mary found in original story.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Christ is the representative of a God inspired idea made incarnate (embodied) in humanity. It is the conscious surrendering to the activity of the Spirit that we discover in our hearts through intuitive and introspective work. To take it even further, Christ is the representative of our True Selves when we allow the Light of Being to be made manifest in us.
This Christmas hymn reminds us that the birth of Christ happens during the darkest night. The date of 25th December is three days after the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the darkest time of the year, and the sun appears to stand still for three days. The Christ is born into a world of “sin and error”; a world where people have lost their way, they miss the point, and fall short of living the truth of their own souls. Asleep in the midnight hour, they have descended into spiritual darkness and forgotten their inherent worthiness.
Do we not find ourselves in a similar place in history? As political, economic, and ideological battles rage, the earth and humanity suffers. Once more we find ourselves in dark night looking for answers to our deepest questions. We find ourselves looking for a saviour, a way out of the darkness…
On Christmas day, the sun begins to shine its light once more into a weary and cold world. When we allow the Light to shine in us, the bringing forth of that Light is met with the “thrill of hope” and celebration as the soul begins to remember and feel its worthiness, it’s remembrance and connection to the Divine.
When we partner with the work happening within our heart, it brings light not only to us, but a felt worthiness. The work that flows from this place lifts people up.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
Falling on your knees is an embodied sign of wonderment, of overwhelm, of humble surrender. We are encouraged once more to humble ourselves and listen to the angel voices, the intuitive messages as they proclaim the deeper reality of our nature.
Let us turn now to the second verse, but in its more literal translation of the original French poem.
May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
The motif of Light takes prominence in this verse. Light is always representative of Truth, understanding, and consciousness. We are encouraged to follow the burning light of faith to the cradle of the Holy Infant, just as the Orient Kings (the Magi) followed the light of the star to the infant Jesus. The Holy Infant is a picture of Original Innocence, cradled in our heart. William Whitecloud, a master of creativity, often reminds people that in order to access the wisdom of their heart, which is the seat of intuition and source of our true nature, one must come in complete innocence. He says we must surrender all that we currently know about “how things are and must be” and humbly bow before the heart’s (which he often refers to as our “genius”) wisdom. He is echoed by the Christmas Hymn, telling us bow our heads to the Redeemer and Ruler born in the humble manger, the Light contained in our hearts.
Reminding us that the Christmas story is not just about the individual and ultimately concerned with the entire social order, proud and great rulers are told to bow and confront the pride of the egoic mind that has cut itself off from the wisdom of the heart. Those successful in the eyes of the world and empire (remember Herod?) are instructed to confront their shadow (“to your pride God preaches”).
Even Mary, portrayed as a humble and serene young woman, composing the first Christmas song says:
“he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty!”
Once more, we are reminded that the Christmas Spirit is one of revolution and social justice; a complete upheaval of an egoic system run free from the rule of the Heart, our essential essence. To allow this work in us, we confront the arrogance of egoic thinking, we come humbly, and we come hungry (empty), read to be filled and lifted up by the wisdom contained in our hearts.
When we follow through on the wisdom found within, justice and wholeness is made manifest.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
When we allow the light of our hearts to be embodied, we are lead into a universal and social love of the other. The heart, represented by Christ, is the aspect of us which remembers our divine source and sees with universal eyes. The ideas born of this place lead not just to the prospering of the individual, but to the freedom and peace of all. The original translation says that Christ has “…broken every bond. The Earth is free, and Heaven is open. He sees a brother where there was only a slave, Love unites those whom iron had chained.”. The work of the Christ, the work of the Heart, is work that flows with justice. It breaks all chains, and undoes oppression. For every other, it sees a brother. The work of “Christ” is the work of healing, of forgiving, of justice, of community and relationship.
This is what is proclaimed every Christmas amongst the popular symbols of Santa and the commercially viable practice of gift given: that within the darkness there is always hope. Every year we sing to remind ourselves to enter into the darkness, to embrace our not-knowing, and to bow our heads to the Christ Idea within our hearts. To watch and listen for the activity of the Christmas Spirit that has been at work within the womb of our hearts, calling us back to Original Innocence, to our Wholly Creativity, and to imagine a more just, a more connected, and more whole society.
We remember that Christmas is not a time just for our immediate family and friends, but to look and see that we are one Holy Family, that the oppressed is our brother and that our rulers (the government) must bow and remember the Heart is the ruler.
This Christmas, I encourage you to pause and bow your head to the Light of your Heart. What has been stirring within you, hidden in your subconscious? What idea is wanting to be born and made manifest in your life? In what way is your heart seeking more embodiment and engagement with the world? In what way will you contribute to the end of oppression in 2020?