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Christmas Presence
Christmas Presence

Christmas Presence: Weekly Summary

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Week Fifty-One Summary and Practice

Sunday, December 19—Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Day

When we speak of Advent or waiting and preparing for Christmas, we’re not simply waiting for the little baby Jesus to be born. We’re in fact welcoming the Universal Christ, the Cosmic Christ, the Christ that is forever being born in the human soul and into history. —Richard Rohr

What this feast is telling us is that reality at its deepest foundation is good. The divine is hidden in the human. The holy is hidden in the physical and the material. And therefore, we have every reason to live in hope and trust and confidence. —Richard Rohr

The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because His manifestation in the world must be through us.Evelyn Underhill

The genealogy of Jesus reveals that God chooses to work with us as we are, using our weaknesses, even more than our strengths, to fulfill the divine purpose. —Kathleen Norris

When we say, “It is Christmas,” we mean that God has spoken into the world his last, his deepest, his most beautiful word in the incarnate Word. And this word means: I love you, you, the world and human beings. —Karl Rahner

There’s really only one message, and we just have to keep saying it until finally we’re undefended enough to hear it and to believe it: there is no separation between God and creation. —Richard Rohr


Two Christmas Gifts: Reconciliation and Grace

African American mystic, theologian, and pastor Howard Thurman (1900–1981) challenges us with two tasks during the Christmas season—to reconcile with people and to offer a gift of grace to someone else:

This is the season of Christmas. For many people, in many places, it is a time of great pressure and activity, a time when nerves are tense, and when a great deal of anxiety hovers over the common life. And this is just the reversal of what the mood and the meaning of Christmas really are. I would like to suggest, then, that for those of you who care deeply about the meaning of your own lives and the significance of moments of high celebration, that you would do two things during this season. One, that you will seek reconciliation with any person or persons with whom you have, at the moment, a ruptured or unhappy relationship. During the year that is rapidly coming to a close, you have perhaps had many experiences with many kinds of people, those with whom you live, those with whom you work, or those with whom you play, and in the course of these goings-on there have been times when the relationships heightened and were thrown out of joint, and a desert and a sea developed between you and someone else. And you were so busy with your own responsibilities, and perhaps so full of hostility yourselves, that there was no time to give . . . the grace of reconciliation. So will you think about such a person, find a way by which you can restore a lost harmony, so that your Christmas gift to yourselves will be peace between you and someone else.

The second is just as simple. Will you with your imagination, with your fancy, will you conjure up into your minds a gift of grace that you might give to someone for whom you have no obligation, someone whose need is not so great that if you don’t respond to it during this season you will feel guilty—but someone upon whom you might confer a private blessing. It may be just to pick up the telephone and call someone about whom you know something and with this knowledge as a background you say a word of reassurance, of comfort, of delight, of satisfaction—so that you will feel that out of the fullness of your own hearts, you have conferred upon some unsuspecting human being a gentle grace that makes the season a good and whole and hale and happy time.

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas (Harper and Row: 1973), 35.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: Jesus came as an ordinary person. This small, simple, beautiful bud—with its extraordinary ordinariness—reminds us to see the goodness in creation and be present to this moment, right here, right now.
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