You probably heard the phrase, “Christmas is about giving” in TV shows and movies in the Christmas season. When we see the delight on the face of someone opening a gift we remember that Jesus himself said: ‘It is “More blessed to give” than to receive,’ in Acts 20:35. While this is true, we are continuously on the receiving end, receiving life and in turn we have the ability to give to others. Life is receiving and giving. In the ,The Nativity Story, we see Mary receiving the divine seed culminating in the birth of the child Jesus. Every woman who has given birth understands that gestation and birth evolves in stages and birth itself involves the most intense labor, the body making way for the gift of life. (See more about Stages of labor)
Nowadays, birth is sanitized. Babies are born in a sterile environment, but the work of the body has not changed. After the birth, work of another kind begins for the mother. Christmas is the call to new beginnings, the nurturing of the infant. Swedenborg writes of travailing a term meaning labor rarely heard these days, is faith in producing. See more about the significance of travailing in the Arcana Coelestia number 4919.
Our work begins when we accept the gift of life. What we do with the gift of life is our choice. What do we give? How do we give expression to our faith? Howard Thurman suggests work that should begin after the celebration of the “birth” of Jesus in
Work of Christmas Begins
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
Every day, in every way, in all athat we do
and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
Albrecht Dürer’s (1471-1528) nativity scene lacks the sentimentality of many artists’ depiction.
I felt drawn to the ordinariness of the scene. There is no attempt to reproduce the Bethlehem stable, instead, Durer places the couple and infant in a Medieval house that has seen better days. Joseph is drawing water, while Mary is leaning over the baby Jesus, seemingly overshadowed by the building in disrepair. There is a sense reality about this scene. There is work ahead for the couple and for us.
Circle Community is moving to a temporary home on Dec. 30, 2012. The topic of our discussion and sharing is “Service”. Please join us Dec. 30 at 4:30 in our temporary home. We will have refreshments following the meeting. Please RSVP in the reply section, by Dec. 29, 2012.
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