Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Celtic Christmas: Celebrating the Sacred in All Creation Pt 1

This is a wonderful article by Mary Earle   exploring the meaning of Christmas from a Celtic Christian perspective

We are in a season of contradictions. Lights glitter from every structure; meanwhile, the days lengthen, and darkness begins to come earlier, stay later. A little shiver runs through our pre-electric-light, primordial selves. The ancient human family viewed this time of year with trepidation. They lit fires for warmth and light, and wondered what the winter would bring. No longer concerned with a lack of food and shelter during the freezing winter months, we turn on the central heat, put on a fleece-lined parka and wait for the weather report.

Yet underneath our civilized response to the season, we may sense our human roots. We may look at the dark velvet dome of the night sky laced with stars, and wonder. It is a season that mysteriously brings together death and birth—death of the old season, the old year, the growth from last summer’s garden; birth of the new light after December 21, the Winter Solstice, and birth of the community that is formed as we turn inward with the season. It is the season when Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus, also called Immanuel or God-with-us.

 This is the season when we remember that darkness may be fruitful—the darkness of the soil where the hidden seed sleeps, or the darkness of the womb where new life is created. This is the darkness of gestation, the darkness in which creative spirit begins to make the first silent stirrings, taking form and flesh. We celebrate the deep compatibility of the divine and the human as we rejoice in the Incarnation—in God’s life being revealed to us in the baby boy born at Bethlehem, God being birthed into human life, taking on human nature from the inside out.
As an old Welsh poem states,
Mary nurtures a Son in her womb:
His birth a blessing to those who discover him.
He goes forth like the sun,
great is the number of his company.
 The wonder of the Incarnation is that in Jesus we are told that God and humanity are meant for each other. We discover that God loves bodies, God plays with matter, God speaks to us through quarks and atoms and molecules, through blood and lymph and bone. Through every human race and culture. The Christian story tells us that God chooses to be human, chooses to know human life from the moment of conception to the suffering of death. In Jesus, God knows intimately what it is to be a toddler, to have a stomachache, to feel the rain and wind, to be betrayed and forsaken, to die. Incarnation is about God choosing to be one of us, so that we might become communities of compassion, mercy, courage, justice, care, God’s embodied presence here and now.

Copyright ©2003 Mary Earle

 Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints
For more information on Celtic Spirituality, read HOLY COMPANIONS: SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FROM THE CELTIC SAINTS by Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox.

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