The fourth and final week of the Advent Season begins this coming Sunday, which actually falls on Christmas Eve this year. The first three weeks of the Advent Season emphasize the themes of Faith/Hope, Peace and Love, respectively. In the context of Advent Season, each of those themes embodies a deep sense of anticipation and expectancy at the coming birth of Christ into the world.
In the first week of Advent, we emphasized the revelatory light of Faith, knowing in consciousness that the birth of Christ is imminent. We have abided in this truth with a sense of hope and expectation, knowing that a deeper experience of Peace and Love become available to us in the moment the Christ, as Jesus, is first born into the world. More importantly, the birth of Jesus symbolizes the birth of Christ within the realms of our own consciousness. As we enter the final week of Advent, we move beyond the anticipation of the birth, and into the experience of Joy at the good news that the Christ has arrived, so that it may be made known to, and manifested in humankind.
The Meaning of Christmas
In our postmodern, consumer driven world, the meaning of Christmas has become so diffused that most of us can no longer communicate a meaning for it beyond it being a season of giving and charity. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with those ideas or activities; but, giving and charity should be practices we maintain throughout the year, not just at Christmas. The divine promise that Christmas symbolizes is way beyond mere gift giving, or seasonally-driven acts of charity. Yes, it feels good to give to those we love, and feels extra good when we give anonymously to those we may never know. But in most all of those instances, our giving is measured in material, rather than spiritual, terms.
The annual Advent Season offers us an opportunity each year to contemplate the meaning of Christmas beyond what gifts we are going to give to whom, or what parties we are going to make time to attend. The true meaning of Christmas transcends the material aspects of how we celebrate the season. In metaphysical terms, Christmas symbolizes the birth of awareness in consciousness that the Christ is born into, and active in, the world. The Christ is alive, within me, within you, and within every living being on the planet. This is truly a reason for Joy, although we rarely experience the full measure of that Joy.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
The Christ is God’s greatest creation. Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore describes the “Christ” as the “divine idea that contains all divine ideas.” By extension, Jesus, who revealed and demonstrated the Christ potential in the physical world, becomes the “embodiment of all divine ideas.” Jesus discovered the Christ template within, and then, through his teachings and his actions revealed their availability to each one of us as well.
Among many other profound truths, Jesus taught that what he could do, we could do, too. Therefore, if Jesus can be the embodiment of all divine ideas, then so can we. The awareness of this indwelling truth is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Our acceptance of this truth transforms this “gift” into an active, dynamic power in our lives with inestimable potential and incalculable value. Once we accept and fully embrace it, the Christ becomes “the gift that keeps on giving.”
Christmas As The End Of Sacrifice
The inherent value in the lessons embodied in Jesus’ birth, life and death are, quite literally, invaluable. Because our Christ potential is unlimited, it is beyond our ability to place a material value on it in our lives. Notwithstanding this disclaimer, there are many lessons taught in the name of Jesus Christ that still yet obscure the full power and potential value of the Christ in our lives. Among these lessons is the idea of “love as sacrifice.”
In this Advent Season, even as we focus on the “birth of the Christ” through Jesus, we do so in the awareness of the circumstances of Jesus’ death some 33 years later. In terms of mainstream Christian teachings, the belief in the idea that Jesus sacrificed his life for us is deeply embedded in our consciousness. Using Jesus’ life as the model, we have been taught that to sacrifice our lives for others is to be Christ-like; and, that there is no more noble act than to lay down our lives in sacrifice for another. However, A Course In Miracles teaches a different perspective that allows us to view the birth of Jesus at Christmas as a symbol for the “end of sacrifice,” rather than a justification for it.
Sacrifice Is Separation From Love
In the section titled “Christmas As The End Of Sacrifice,” ACIM teaches that the “whole idea of sacrifice” is one that is “solely of [our] making.” From the perspective of God, or the Christ, or Jesus as the Christ for that matter, there is no such idea as sacrifice. Being wholly founded in the inexhaustible and infinite principle of Love, God and, by extension, the Christ know nothing of sacrifice.
Sacrifice is wholly impossible for God, who only knows of giving. It is only within the realms of our own limited consciousness that an idea of sacrifice could even take root. Perceiving lack from a sense of limitation, sacrifice may have some meaning in the human mind. However, since it would be founded on the shifting sands of illusion, and not the steadfast principle of truth, such an idea is completely and forever unstable. Given the unlimited creative power and potential that the Christ embodies, sacrifice is utterly meaningless, and unworthy of any consideration whatsoever.
“You who believe that sacrifice is love must learn that sacrifice is separation from love. For sacrifice brings guilt as surely as love brings peace. Guilt is the condition of sacrifice, as peace is the condition for the awareness of your relationship with God.” – ACIM, T-15.XI.4
Thoughts of sacrifice bring a tint of darkness to our lives. It is no mere coincidence that we celebrate the birth of Jesus at the “darkest time of the year,” for there is no greater time of need for the light than at the darkest moment. The whole meaning of Christmas is grounded in the divine ideas of Light and Love, and within their respective meanings, sacrifice has no place.
Awakening To A New Vision Of Christmas
As you move through the experience of Christmas this year, allow yourself to contemplate the meaning of the Advent Season in a deeper way than you may have in the past. Faith, Peace, Love and Joy, these are the symbols of the season. They are not mere words, they are the keys to unlocking a deeper experience of Christ in our lives. Two of the most valuable lessons that Jesus came to the planet to teach are that “sacrifice is nowhere” and “love is everywhere.” As long as we continue to perceive sacrifice as an act of love, we will limit our ability to express the fullness of the Christ Love we are in potential.
Each year at Christmas, we have a brand new opportunity to deepen our experience of the Light and Love that Christ represents in our lives. The Light of Christ is inexhaustible, and can never be extinguished. The Love of Christ is unlimited, and gives unconditionally without ever depleting itself. This year on Christmas morning, allow yourself to awaken to the birth of a new vision of Christmas as “the end of sacrifice.” Then, celebrate the rebirth of a newfound awareness that the unlimited potential of Christ Love resides within your very own being. If there was ever a cause for the experience of Joy in your life, this “new vision” is surely it. The best part is, there is no sacrifice required.