Christmas: A History

Greetings Blessed Community, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

My name is Dave Miller, and I’m the director of Sacred Breeze Ministries.  When the website is working, Sacred Breeze Ministries can be found at SacredBreeze.org, or on Facebook.

I’m sharing a short message today that is not strictly traditional in the Christian sense, but it is based on the history of the times in which Jesus of Nazareth was born.  This message doesn’t go into the miraculous occurrences like the Virgin Birth recorded in Christian Scripture, but I believe it is in keeping with the Christmas Spirit of Hope, Peace, and Love nonetheless.  Since this message is based on history as reported by Roman historians of the times and others, I think this it can be well received by people of any faith, including Christians, as well as people of no faith. I will warn that the history of the times in which Jesus was born were somewhat brutal.  The brutality will be mentioned, but not portrayed graphically in any way.  Anyway, have a little faith and allow me to be your guide for the next 20 minutes or so. 

The Christian holiday known as Christmas is centered on a person named Jesus, who is believed to have lived over 2000 years ago in what is now modern-day Israel.  Jesus was a common name back then, based on the name Joshua, who a Jewish prophet who lived over 1200 years before Jesus.

A lot has been written about the historical reality of the person Jesus.  Some scholars deny his existence, but I think most acknowledge the likelihood that he did exist, even if they doubt the miraculous occurrences surrounding his life. 

Christmas, of course, acknowledges the birth of the person known as Jesus of Nazareth, and in so doing also acknowledges the existence of his mother, who was named Mary.  Historians would probably agree that if Jesus existed, his mother existed also.  On a side note, for those who are aware of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions regarding the creation of humanity, isn’t it interesting how those narratives insists that women were somehow derived from men?  I was just reading from the Hindu Upanishads and saw a similar narrative saying that women were sourced from men.  In a way, Christmas affirms the fact that men, even men who are described as having Divine attributes, are born from women. 

But anyway, back to the main story, the biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth includes several events that were also independently recorded by Roman historians during that time period. These other historical events include the reign of Augustus Caesar in Rome, the death of Herod the Great, and a census imposed on the Judean region by the Roman governor Quirinius.  While Christian scripture describes the census as happening first followed by the death of Herod, Roman historians said that Herod died 4 years before the beginning of the Common Era and the census occurred 6 years after the beginning of the Common Era.  This puts a 10 year question mark on the historical date and circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Another event that has been reported by Roman historians was a revolt in protest to the census led by a man named Judas of Galilee.  This revolt was also mentioned by Luke in the Christian Bible in Acts 5:37. After overcoming the revolt with overwhelming force, the occupying Roman forces crucified some 2000 people who participated in the revolt. 

A revolt that was put down violently followed by a mass crucifixion killing thousands of people would have been big news in a small region like Galilee.  Based on town sizes and population distributions of the time, some estimates placed the population of the region well under 200,000.  The deaths of perhaps 2 percent of the entire population, or perhaps 4 percent of the males in the population would have been felt heavily by the region.  And the deaths would have been felt heavily by the families that lost brothers, husbands, and fathers.  Jesus may have been 10 years old during the revolt, which may explain why it was not recorded in the birth narrative of Jesus.

A mystery that is often discussed based on the birth narrative is, what happened to Joseph the husband of Jesus’s mother Mary?  After the birth narrative, he seems to disappear.  Some have speculated that Joseph lost his life during the rebellion, either to the battle or the mass crucifixion.  Given the size of the region, which is about the same size as San Jose California, and the population, it is definitely possible that the husband of Jesus’s mother participated in and died as part of that rebellion.  It is also possible that Jesus’ friends from the region may have lost fathers to the rebellion and mass Crucifixion as well.  His friends James and John were also known as the “Sons of Thunder.”  It is possible that “Thunder” was a covert name their father used while participating in the rebellion.    

What do towns and regions and people and families do with that kind of trauma?  For some, including the children of Judas of Galilee and others, the traumatic memory inspires and provoked more rebellion, and more violence.  The Roman historian Josephus said in Antiquities 20 Chapter 5 that about 40 years later, Judas’s sons James and Simon were captured and crucified for continuing violence and rebellion.   And some 70 years after the birth of Jesus, the Romans completely destroyed Jerusalem and killed all her inhabitants. 

While some used the trauma to fuel ongoing violence, what about a young mother and child who suffered such traumatic loss?  A mother’s instinct would be to love and protect that child from such a trauma recurring.  Remember the reaction that mothers in particular had to the Vietnam war?  Moms who lost children and husbands recognized the futility of war, and stood up for peace and an ending of hostilities.  It may well be that Jesus’s mother also recognized the futility of violence and conflict and decided that love would be a better and safer course for the life of her young child.  It is possible that Jesus’s mother taught him that love is the right path to follow, rather than violence. 

Growing up, Jesus’s education would have included stories of empires rising up and conquering each other.  These empires included the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Macedonians under Alexander the Great, and finally the Romans.  The history he learned would have included his own people portrayed as conquerors, taking the land from the resident Canaanites of the region. 

He would have also learned that every conquest resulted in death, misery, slavery, and displacement.   By the time the Romans came around, the history of conquest and suffering was ingrained in the minds and hearts of the Jewish people.

While many of the conquering cultures had disappeared, Jesus’s own Jewish culture and faith remained steadfast through all the suffering and death and displacement.  He would have learned that the loving kindness that the God of the Jewish people had for them, and the love that they had for each other, held them together through the worst of traumatic times.  He also would have learned that the earliest stories from his tradition said that his own Jewish heritage was meant to be a blessing to all nations, inspiring peace and love among all people.

With the urging and teaching of his mother, and the lessons of his education and faith, it is possible that Jesus was raised to recognize both the futility of violence, and the power of love.  It is possible that the teachings shared during his life regarding love of neighbors, strangers, and enemies alike were inspired by the events of his birth, the love and teachings of his mother, and his history and heritage.

Historically, great messengers don’t just rise up out of nowhere and nothing.  Great messengers become great because they give voice to sentiments that many people carry in their hearts.  Expressed theologically, God inspires great messengers to give voice to the suffering of people.   The time in which Jesus lived wasn’t the only time when people were faced with mass killings, oppression, and violence. 

I mentioned the mothers during the Vietnam era who rose up and said “enough,” not only to the war but also to the oppression of women and LGBTQ people.  Consider also the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. whose voice said “enough” to not only war, but also to oppression and violence against people of color.  Just as Gandhi’s voice in India and Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela’s voices in South Africa said enough as well.  And just as the Dalai Lama’s voice continues to say “Enough” as the people and culture of Tibet suffer under decades of oppression and exile.  All these voices say enough is enough, and rather than meeting violence and hatred with more of the same, choose the path of love.

Prophetic voices do not rise up in isolation, they give voice to the suffering of thousands and millions, they represent the voices of mothers and parents and people of all ages and races and cultures and sexual orientations as well. 

Many of us often experience similar feelings today as well, in response to mass shootings, in response to never ending wars, in response to justice systems that do not treat all citizens equally, and in response to voices that lift up division and blame rather than peace and love.  Enough is enough.

Jesus gave voice to a similar sentiment in Galilee.  Enough is enough.  Let the voice of love be heard.  Let peace reign.  Let the love a mother has for her children represent the voice of God, rather than a voice of fear, anger, and violence. 

The stories of miracles that surround Jesus’s birth, life, death, and resurrection are often used to claim the Divinity of Jesus, and the truth and power of Jesus’s teachings.  This Christmas message is not meant to dispute or argue any of the claims, narratives, stories, or miracles described in Jesus’s life.  This Christmas message simply suggests that the special revelation Jesus brings the world with his birth, the message of hope and love and peace, also carries the strength of experience, of history, and of the love his mother nurtured, taught, and shared with him. 

This Christmas season, let us embrace faith from the perspective that Jesus was born with, lived and taught, and died for – the perspective of love. 

May the message of Christmas be preserved and always remain the same.  May the lessons of experience, history and the love a mother holds for her children always be a guiding light. 

Peace on earth and good will toward all. 

Spiritual Discernment

Hello everyone, my name is Dave Miller, I am director of Sacred Breeze Ministries at SacredBreeze.org where we provide instruction and resources for meditation, spiritual discernment, and inclusive faith communities.

We continue to live in interesting times.  We live with the threat of a virus that continues to infect and kill people every day.  Our justice systems continue to discriminate based on skin color, often with deadly results.  And people who speak out for justice in a peaceful manner continue to be victimized by false information and violence incited by factions who do not want justice and peace. 

We are ever reminded that while we may speak out, while we may be present, and while we may have hearts that long for love, justice, and peace, we cannot control the thoughts or actions of others. 

Where do we go for shelter?  Where can we find peace?  How can we recharge our Spiritual batteries so that we can find the strength to carry on?

Today I want to talk about Spiritual Discernment, and I’m going to do so by considering 4 questions.

Why would someone seek Spiritual Discernment?

How is Spiritual Discernment different than MH Therapy?

Why explore Spiritual Discernment with Sacred Breeze Ministries and Dave Miller?

How do I get started?

So, for the first question, why do people seek spiritual discernment, there are several reasons.  The first reason that comes to mind, which is very much connected to the challenges we face today, is to explore some of the Big Questions that life throws at us.  Questions like Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  Why do people suffer and die?   Is God Real?  How can I connect with my Higher Power? And How can I make a difference? Spiritual Discernment seeks out the answers to these and other questions that the Spirit, with a capital S, may reveal within the hearts and minds of the seekers.

Another reason people engage in Spiritual Discernment is to try and understand conflicting messages they have received over a lifetime regarding God and Spirituality.  We receive many messages every day, from friends, family, from all of the religions and cultures and identities we participate in, from circumstances and events both positive and negative that happen in our lives, and from some place deep within us. Not surprisingly, sometimes these messages conflict with one another.  Spiritual Discernment seeks out the authentic message that the Spirit, with a capital S, has for the seeker.

And while I’m on the subject, I have a special message for LGBTQ people.  You are perfect just as you are, just as God made you to be.  Many faith traditions have made life very hard for LGBTQ people and their families.  Traditional roles are often assigned to people based on physical attributes.  When approached from a Spiritual perspective, all faith traditions call us to be true to each our own authentic Spiritual identity, whatever that may be.  And that is part of the Spiritual Discernment practice, to help people to discern and celebrate each our own unique and wonderful and beloved Spiritual identity. 

So far, we’ve talked about discussing big questions and conflicts in Spiritual discernment sessions.  Often people come to Spiritual Discernment with heavy burdens that they may have been carrying for years, including feelings of grief or guilt or shame.  This especially is an area where Spiritual Discernment sessions can be helpful.  This is also an area where there may be some crossover with mental health counseling. And this is an important distinction to make.

Spiritual Discernment sessions are different than Mental Health therapy sessions in several important ways.  During mental health sessions, specific pathologies are addressed, including depression, anxiety, and addiction.  Feelings of grief, guilt, and shame are often intertwined in these pathologies.  If underlying issues that require Mental Health counseling are brought up during Spiritual Discernment sessions, we discuss referral to a licensed therapist in the state or location where the seeker resides.

Whereas mental health therapy sessions include established treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral and dialectical therapies, Spiritual Discernment sessions discuss how Spirituality may be part of releasing burdens and accepting healing Grace.

Another way Spiritual discernment is different from mental health counseling is in how often sessions occur.  Usually, mental health sessions are weekly and last for perhaps 8 to 12 weeks or more.  Spiritual discernment may begin with a couple weekly sessions to get acquainted, but usually continue meeting less frequently, once per month or so.  Whereas mental health therapy usually concludes after 2 to 3 months, spiritual discernment sessions may continue on as long as the seeker finds value in the discussions. 

Mental health therapy practice is limited by law to the state in which the client is physically located.  On line Spiritual discernment sessions are available to anyone anywhere. 

So, now that we’ve discussed why people seek out spiritual discernment, the next question is why explore Spiritual Discernment with Sacred Breeze Ministries. 

It is important to know that there are no credentialing requirements for Spiritual Directors or Spiritual Discernment companions.  A seeker must verify a potential provider’s education, experience, and religious or philosophical affiliations.  Registration on sites like Spiritual Directors International is just that, registration, with no verification of qualifications.  And perhaps most importantly, a person seeking help has no way of knowing whether the potential provider is willing to walk with the client, or whether the provider will be pushing a “one size fits all” agenda, theology, or philosophy.

Speaking for myself, Dave Miller, I have a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Emory University, and a Master’s degree in Community counseling. I’ve studied Buddhism, and I have read many diverse Sacred writings, including the Jewish and Christian bibles, the Quran, the Gita, Upanishads, Rumi, and the sacred writings of Japan just to name a few. 

I have worked as both a licensed therapist and as a Director of Spiritual Discernment in private practice and in addiction recovery settings.  I have served as lay minister in various church settings, including the United Methodist Church.  I consider myself an inclusive Buddheo-Christian, which means I connect with both the Buddhist philosophy of reducing suffering and Christian message of unconditional love as revealed in the Fruits of the Spirit. I actually love exploring the diverse ways people experience Spirit, and I have worked with Christians, Buddhists, Jewish people and Muslims, neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and others in a nonjudging supportive manner.  I celebrate diversity of all kinds. 

My approach to Spiritual Discernment is one of open-minded listening, and accompanying the seeker on a journey of discovery. People connect with Spirit in a variety of ways, some connect through nature, others through prayer and meditation, and others connect through social interaction. The ways the Spirit communicates are as varied and diverse as humanity is.  My job is to help seekers to connect with Authentic Spirit in the way that suits and applies to them. 

We also have other Spiritual Discernment helpers available on the website, for more information about them, please explore their biographies.

How do I get started with Spiritual Discernment sessions?  To get started, simply send me an email to initiate contact.  My email is dave@sacredbreeze.org.  From there, we can discuss whether individual or group sessions best suit you. 

For a limited time, I am going to be offering free Spiritual Discernment group sessions on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM Eastern United States time.  Both group and individual sessions usually last 50 minutes to an hour.  And as I said previously, usually Spiritual Discernment sessions happen only once per month after the relationship is established.  I use Google meet for sessions, which means that I will email you a meeting link to click on to get connected.  You will need access to the internet and a computer with a mic and camera in order to meet. 

So, if you are interested in exploring this further drop me an email, I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Have a Blessed Day.

Spirituality and a Spa Life Attitude

When I’m in Florida I attend church at First Congregational UCC of Port St. Lucie. The pastor there is Reverend Dr. Bruce Irwin, and he asked me a question that may be helpful to anyone during this time of limited public engagement. The question he asked was whether there was anything we could learn from Monastic practice to help us get through these time. In this video, I share a bit about Spiritual Discipline in a Monastic setting, and in the context of what I call a “Spa Life Attitude”. I hope you find this helpful and enjoyable. Have a Blessed Day!

Free Introduction to Mindful Meditation

Greetings, and welcome to Sacred Breeze Introduction to Meditation! There are two videos attached, the first video offers a lecture on what mindful meditation is, and also discusses the value of self affirmation. The second video offers a ten minute guided meditation. These videos provide an introduction to the Sacred Breeze Meditation Protocol.

The COVID-19 self quarantine is challenging emotionally, and it challenges motivation for self care and creative expression. Affirmations and mindful meditation have been very helpful to hundreds of people I have worked with over the years. I hope you find these helpful as well.

3 Core Counseling CE “Meditation in Counseling” Class

Sunrise Meditation and Counseling is happy to be offering a 3 Core CE credit course entitled “Meditation in Therapy”. The class will be from 10:30AM to 2:30 PM on Friday August 17th. The cost of the class will be $50.00, and a deli sandwich and salad fixings lunch will be provided. The class will be conducted at the Sunrise Meditation and Counseling studio in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains Sautee Nacoochee Georgia. The LPCAGA CE approval number is 7806-18.  The address is 2276 Ga Hwy 17, Suite E, Sautee Ga 30571.  To register either call 678-358-8775, email dave@sunrisemeditation.org, or register online at http://sunrisemeditation.org/contact-us/.

Easter: Faith in Possibilities

For Christians everywhere, this is Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year. During this week, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of his followers and all of humanity.

The entire story starts, of course, with Jesus appearing and proclaiming “the kingdom is at hand”.  At hand means up close and personal, here and now, within our grasp.  Jesus also described this kingdom in terms of healing and unconditional love.  To demonstrate what he was saying, Jesus performed miraculous healings and spent his time with the people who were considered unclean or unlovable at the time, including tax collectors and people living in the streets, living day to day and finding food and shelter any way they could.

Well, this caught the attention of the religious leaders of the time, who were busy telling people what is right and what is wrong and how to live.  When Jesus came along and said the old religious rules take a second seat to loving one another and practicing peace, they had a problem with that, so they started following Jesus around to gather evidence against him.  Their power base was being threatened so they wanted him to shut up.

When they tried to challenge him with questions regarding scripture and the law, Jesus turned their questions around and challenged their interpretations right back at them.

Eventually, they caught up with Jesus.   Jesus and some of his followers gathered together to celebrate a Jewish Holy day called Passover, and after dinner they went to a hilltop park. While they were gathered there, a group of officials came to arrest them all.   Jesus told the officials “I’m the one you seek, take me, leave them alone.”  So for the followers of Jesus who were in that garden with him, Jesus literally saved their lives, because the penalty for speaking out against religious and political leaders was death.

And so, the man Jesus was arrested, put on trial, convicted, and sentenced to death by crucifixion. After the execution, on the first day of the week, some of his women followers visited his grave with the intention of preparing the body for a traditional burial.  When they visited the grave, and they found the grave was empty.

Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.[a] While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women[b] were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men[c] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.[d] Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

When we speak of faith, we often speak in terms of possibilities.  Science gives us demonstrable facts.  If you throw a ball with a certain amount of force at a certain angle, science can tell you where the ball will land.  Science tells us the universe appeared after a big bang, and science tells us that humans evolved from mice.  Science tells us that when a living creature dies, they are dead, they cease to live.

Faith offers possibilities.  For example, faith offers the possibility that there is an unconditionally loving higher power.  Faith tells us that it is possible that the universe, this galaxy, this solar system, this planet earth, us human beings, and each of us as individuals are here for a reason.  Faith tells us that it is possible that we are all brothers and sisters, born from a common set of parents.   And faith tells us that the reason we exist may be to love, to love our creator, to love all of creation including the trees and flowers and mountains and rivers and oceans and all the animals, and ultimately to love ourselves and one another, even as we are loved, unconditionally.

Remember, the story began with a statement that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, here and now.  The final chapter of Jesus life, and this first chapter of Jesus eternal life, is also about here and now.  The possibility presented by this first chapter of eternal life is that even death can’t stop the power of Grace, of unconditional love that Jesus spoke of.  Even in death, healing is possible.  And this healing and Grace is possible for our friends and loved ones who have passed on before us, and for ourselves and our friends and family who suffer here and now.

Faith is about possibilities, and Grace and the signs of resurrection are all around us.  Every sunrise is a resurrection, ever morning awakening.  There is resurrection in the tender leaves that faithfully appear in the spring time.  In the voices and play of little children.  In our own experiences of healing and love, and in healing relationships we are blessed with.

In summary, the story of Jesus’ life, His teachings, his death, and resurrection present the possibility that even when we feel alone, we are not alone, and even when we feel unloved and unlovable, we are loved, and even when we or our loved ones are injured or ill, even in death, healing is possible.

Meditation Classes March 2018

Greetings,

We are going to repeat our first Meditation class in the series next week on Saturday March 17th from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Our location is in Sautee Georgia which is near Helen Georgia, about an hour from Gwinnett and about 1.5 hours from Metro Atlanta.  Our new updates include exploring mindfulness from an “Integral” perspective, expanding awareness into dimensions beyond “self.”

Tantric Meditation techniques and Christian Contemplative perspectives are explored in the classes.  Our wellness meditation classes teach skills for dealing with stress and increasing enjoyment of life and personal freedom through letting go of negative thoughts and emotions.    Classes also explore increasing Spirituality and exercising Compassion with healthy boundaries for self and others.  People who are new to meditation and people who are experienced with meditation find our classes helpful.

Walk in registrations are welcome, or visit our Workshops page and sign up on line, or call 678-358-8775.  Our rates are very reasonable, 20.00 for a class.

Also, if traveling to Sautee Georgia for classes is difficult, let us know, we are making on-line meditation classes available as demand dictates.  Contact us at 678-358-8775 or dave@sunrisemeditation.org for more information.

Christian Tantric Meditation Saturday March 10th

I’d like to share a prayer that I think illustrates the benefits of Christian Tantric Meditation practice:

Lord, accept our offering of our fears, that our faith and self confidence may flourish. Lord, accept our offering of our resentments, that we may fully experience love and compassion for ourselves and for others. Lord, accept our offering of our distractions, that we may explore, enjoy, and share the creative gifts we have been blessed with. Lord, open our eyes, ears, and hearts, to your Presence within and all around us.  Amen.”

With that, we are again happy to remind everyone that we will be offering a series of four Christian Tantric Meditation classes in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains beginning next week Saturday March 10th.   This is a rare opportunity to experience all four phases of the Christian Tantric Meditation protocol in a low cost short series of classes on Saturdays.  The traditional Wellness based Christian Tantric Meditation protocol will be offered from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Our location is in Sautee Georgia which is near Helen Georgia, about an hour from Gwinnett and about 1.5 hours from Metro Atlanta.

Tantric Meditation techniques and Christian Contemplative perspectives are explored in the classes.  Our wellness meditation classes teach skills for dealing with stress and increasing enjoyment of life and personal freedom through letting go of negative thoughts and emotions.    Classes also explore increasing Spirituality and exercising Compassion with healthy boundaries for self and others.  People who are new to meditation and people who are experienced with meditation find our classes helpful.

Walk in registrations are welcome, or visit our Workshops page and sign up on line, or call 678-358-8775.  Our rates are very reasonable, 20.00 for a class.  Our schedule is flexible, so if you will be unable to attend four weekends in a row, don’t let that stop you from participating, we can schedule make up sessions and extend the classes into April as necessary.

Also, if anyone is interested in participating in on line classes, please let me know, if there is enough interest we will schedule those as well.  Since this will be our first attempt at on line classes we will offer reduced rates also as we will be working out the process.  Call  678-358-8775 or visit our Workshops page.

Have a Blessed Day!

 

Hope in a Weary World

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. And this year it’s not about the bustle of the Holidays and Christmas shopping, if anything those activities were a welcome distraction.

After a year of  extreme politics and further division within the USA, rising deficit and threats against health insurance,  I for one am just tired.

As I look back to the events that have led to where we are, I remember the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.  I remember videos of terrorist attrocities in the Middle East.  I remember US cabinet members laughing and clapping when a Middle Eastern leader was killed, and most of all I remember angry people arguing politics, myself among them.

It occurred to me that we are a Nation and a World that is constantly dealing with both primary and secondary traumatic stress.  And we are dealing with these stresses not only as individuals, but as communities, as nations, and as a world community of human beings.

There is a phrase from old Western movies that applies to how communities deal with traumatic stress: “circling the wagons.”  We form groups of like minded people with the intent of protecting ourselves and our families.

Both ancient and modern history are filled with examples of communities experiencing extreme stress and trauma, pulling together, rallying around a common identity, be it ethnic or religious or nationalistic, becoming powerful, and in turn becoming the source of stress and trauma towards neighboring communities.  Eventually, someone stronger always comes along and the cycle begins again.  Trauma, circle the wagons, gain power, cause trauma, and then experience oppression and trauma all over again.

At Christmas time, the world celebrates the birth of a man called Jesus.  I say the world because at this point in human history, with few exceptions, everyone is pretty much aware of everything, including the origins of the Christian religion and culture.  I say the man Jesus because the humanity of Jesus is something we all have in common.  Jewish people may view Jesus as a historical Rabbi, Buddhists and Hindus may view Jesus as an Enlightened Being, Muslims may view Jesus as a revered Prophet, and Christians view Jesus as both Human and Divine.

Enlightened, Prophet, Human, Divine, Personal Savior, or anointed Christ, however we view Jesus, the words and teachings attributed to this person are what is left for us in the 21st century to read, share, interpret, and draw inspiration from.

2000 years ago, Jesus’ words and teachings inspired a group of people, human beings, to become  followers.  These human followers of Jesus the Christ also experienced extreme trauma, at the hands of a government, specifically the Roman government who had power at the time.  And like human communities have done since the beginning of time, the followers of Jesus the Christ reacted by circling the wagons.   They focusing on mutual care of each other, they comforted families who lost loved ones to the Roman Government’s systematic oppression, they cared for each other, and they talked about ways to deal with the stress of living in the traumatic world they lived in.

They also turned to the teachings of Jesus the Christ whom they followed for guidance.  And in those teachings, they learned of the repeated history of violence, conquering, and being conquered.  And they saw the alternative message that Jesus taught: demonstrate our love of God through loving each other, loving neighbors, and even loving the oppressive enemies.

So, instead of gathering weapons and power, these followers of Jesus the Christ offered love and help to their Roman neighbors.  They bound wounds, offered medicine and a kind presence to people who were sick, they loved their neighbors, they loved their enemies, and they prayed and worshiped together, reminding each other that though the path they chose did not make sense in a world of “fight power with power,” this was the path that Jesus of Nazareth lived and taught.

The world is still a dark place, people are still circling wagons and gathering resources to hide or fight.  But Christmas is a reminder, a still small voice, a voice so small it is symbolized in  the presence of an infant child, calling us to a path of Grace.  A small voice reminding us that peace is possible, we don’t need to react with anger and violence, we can choose to be loving and caring instead, even with those we perceive as enemies.

It is my fervent wish this year that even in the midst of darkness and conflict, even with memories of trauma and fear either fresh or distant in our minds, experienced first hand or vicariously through social and broadcast media, we think of this infant, this prophet, this enlightened one, this Jesus who is called Christ, and remind ourselves that even as we circle our wagons, we can choose to share peace and kindness with others, even others we don’t know or feel suspicious about.

I’m going to follow this thought with a challenge.  For those who are able, if you find yourself sitting in a drive through window waiting for coffee or a meal, consider buying the coffee or meal for the car in line behind you.  It’s a way of sharing that does not judge, and does not expect a reward or even a thank you.  Catch the Spirit of Christmas, offer up a gift of kindness.  The family in the car behind you may be Jewish, Christian, may be Muslim, may be Buddhist or Hindu.  They may be black, they may be white, they may be Hispanic or Asian, they may be Gay or Straight.  They may be living in poverty or blessed with great wealth. They may be politically conservative or liberal; they may be a member of the law enforcement community or they may be struggling with legal issues.  No matter what their race, culture, or circumstance, they are human, and they are loved, even as we are loved.  Share the Love.

May All People experience a Merry Christmas, a Blessed Holiday, and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

Peace Gathering Reminder

Just a reminder, Sunrise Meditation and Counseling is offering weekly Ecumenical Contemplative Peace Gatherings on Thursday evenings.  The gatherings begin at 6:00 pm and last less than an hour.  The format includes a time of gathering, a time of sharing brief inspirational thoughts and readings, a time of contemplative silence, and a time for closure.  There will be no cost for attending, but donations will be accepted.

logolargerChristian Tantric Meditation workshops are now available for groups or individuals by appointment, so please call for more information.   This is a four class program that introduces several meditation techniques, including breath centered mind stabilization, self emptying, Divine Communion as a form of guru yoga, and Compassion outreach meditation.

For more information or to register for a Workshop or an Individual Therapeutic or Spiritual Discernment Session, visit our Contact and Registration page  or call 678-358-8775.