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May Christ be Born in You

By: Robinmarie McClement, Spiritual Director A Flowing Spirit

Robinmarie-McClementIt’s a powerful thing to be present at a Christmas Eve Service.  For some who attend, it is one of the only times of the year they will visit a church, the other being Easter.  For others, who are regular members, it is a natural part of the Advent experience and one that would not be complete without it.

The Christmas Eve service offers a mixture of experiences for those who attend.  Whether a family service or one later in the evening that brings candles and reverence to the event., it is a powerful thing to attend a Christmas Eve service.

Those who attend a family service might be caught up in the little child who portrays a “Unicorn,” as part of the manger scene or the giggling angel whose wings are crooked and is having a difficult time standing still.  Sweet and magical to the eyes of the parents and family watching their little ones dressed in costume and acting out their parts. Joyful to the heart of all who come together to sing carols, praise God and take pictures of the story playing out of the live Nativity.

Those who attend another service might have quite a different experience.  The atmosphere   is serious and the church overflowing with members and strangers alike.  People are somber and quiet and prayerfully filled the pews.  The choir robed and ready and their voices are surely reminiscent of angels we have heard on high and not a note is missed.  Everything is very formal and for a moment everyone is caught up in the silence and devotion of lighting the candles and the sanctuary darkens as Silent Night begins to play and the room is filled with a deep internal light.   Many are moved to tears…yes, it is a powerful thing to be present at a Christmas Eve service.

But I wonder how many of us are really present to the miracle of the Christ child represented by a toy doll or in the somberness of lighting a candle.  And while I realize family services might have a live infant and that offers us a miracle of its very own and many who light their candle from another are completely immersed in the spirit of the season, is it really about the Christ child?  Are we so caught up in that moment that we miss the birth of this holy child named, Jesus being born into us?

In her book, “When the Heart Waits,” Sue Monk Kidd, the best-selling author (who is also a Spiritual Director) writes of an experience at a Monastery she visited during the Christmas season that occurred when passing a Monk outside before the service.  She said, “Merry Christmas,” and he replied, “May Christ Be Born in You.”   She had never heard it before and frankly before I read it, I hadn’t either.  It sounded so different from anything she had heard before that it stayed with her for many years…me too.  She wrote, “The moment affirmed to me all over again what the real essence of spiritual transformation is all about: it’s realizing more of our inner Christ-nature, it’s discovering our soul and letting Christ be born from a waiting heart.”

In the days leading up to Christmas I am always amused and amazed at how little patience people have during a season that is supposed to be about waiting, anticipation and wanting.  This sacred story occurs in the deepest and darkest part of winter and people…especially those who follow a Christian path are supposed to be patiently waiting through-out the Advent season for the miracle born to us in a manger. But we live in a fast paced material, commercial internet world and waiting is not something that we are particularly good at anymore.

As Christmas finally arrives with all its fanfare and beauty I sometimes wonder if everyone is so busy and exhausted with their preparations that they are missing Christ being born at all.  Sue Monk Kidd goes on to say, “In the passage of emergence, as the birthing begins, the soul becomes a nativity.  The whole Bethlehem pageant starts up inside us.  An unprecedented new star shines in our darkness – a new illumination and awareness.  God sends Wisdom to visit us, bearing gifts.  The shepherding qualities inside us are summoned to help tend what is being born.  The angels sing and a whole new music begins to float in the spheres.  Some new living, breathing, dimension of the life of Christ emerges with a tiny cry that says, I am.”

But how many of us are truly present in the moment and the birth of Christ and do we allow this experience to be born into us?  Do we truly invite Jesus to be born into us as we move forward past the Advent season and into Epiphany and the brief pause before Lent begins?  Do we invite God and the gifts of Wisdom to shine within us?  Are we aware of the newness inside us?  Have we failed to hear our own small speaking voice of birth?

It is said that when Christ was born the world began to transform.  From the time of his birth and boldly as we witnessed the story of Jesus baptism and his entrance into ministering we too are called to come out from the healing water and be baptized. One more opportunity for you to be open and for Christ to be born into you.

Yes, it’s a powerful thing to be present.

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