Anticipating Christmas ~ Fourth Week
Dear old and new friends,
Today’s Christmas is domesticated and tamed…but the first one was wild, lacking kindly toy-making elves and flying reindeer. It was also frightening as Bethlehem’s silent night was shattered with loud agonizing cries of pain, the same ones heard at every birth! No heavenly chorus of singing angels soothed that birthing anguish we celebrate on this Christmas—so don’t expect them at yours!
Birthing? What are you talking about? It’s impossible; I’m too old to be born again. Besides once is enough! Yet vast are the spiritual depths for our Christmas meditation in the First Letter of John, 4:7-8: “Everyone who loves is born of God…for God is love.”
To unravel this mystical puzzle, let’s begin by reviewing our loves. First, we learned how to love as infants by being loved by our parents, then this love evolved into a wider love of members of our immediate family and relatives. Outside our family, our first real love perhaps was a sexual, erotic one that began a new relationship with another that was intended to evolve into the beautifully, supportive love of companionship. Of falling in love, the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Once you get over falling in love, you can really begin to love.” Yes, after those high octane mind-blowing experiences you must learn to love with such great strength so as to withstand infidelity of all types, along with your physical aging and that of your lover, so your love can evolve into a greater, divine love.
God is all of these kinds of human loves, yet God’s love is different. That author of John’s first letter said, “God is love,” yet left unspoken what that loves is! Divine love is radically different in that it is not attracted by physical beauty or charm and loves effortlessly the disfigured and ugly. God’s love is free. It can’t be purchased or manipulated, and it never requires any thanks, not even the natural response of being loved in returned.
To love as does God requires a dedication to the evolution of all of our previous ways of loving, and so naturally must include the birthing pains of evolution. Your spirit will scream out in pain when this new loving calls you to lift a soiled, stinking, perhaps diseased person out of the gutter. Inwardly your soul will wail in agony as you continue to love one who returned your years of loving kindness with hostility and stony silence. Your spirit will howl with a birthing burst of anguished pain when you respond with loving kindness to those who dislike you, who speak lies and spread malicious gossip about you.
Love like this day after day and you will be born of God, just as Jesus, born of Mary, was born of God to become Living Mystical Love among us. When you love as God does, all of Heaven rejoices and sends out the joyous announcements of your new birth!