Christmas Morning 2013
The church I served in Los Angeles was quite close to Hollywood, and so on any given Sunday it would be no surprise to see a well-known celebrity in the congregation - especially at Christmastime.
On a Christmas morning I would look out and there right in front of me would be some famous person sitting right there - "in the flesh."
At first, it all seemed so exotic and even distracting to me. I had never really met any well-known "celebrities" before. But gradually I came to a point where it was just kind of nice to have those folks there with us. They blended in so well that no one actually paid much attention to them. They sang the hymns, said the prayers, came up to receive communion, and stood in line to greet me after the service -just like everyone else.
Famous people who once seemed so distant, bigger than life on the silver screen, characters in my favorite TV shows, well-known musicians and recording artists, all came "down to earth" for me - so accessible, so human.
On this Christmas morning I think about those "in the flesh" celebrities with whom I "rubbed shoulders" on Christmas mornings in the past. They remind me of the one whose birth we celebrate this day. He made a far-away distant God so totally accessible - so down to earth, so human.
A"patriarch" of the ancient Christian church once said:
The glory of God is 'man' fully alive
When I look at the life of Jesus, I see the glory of God in a human being who was fully alive.
Jesus modeled what being fully alive looks like. He lived a life of total compassion, always welcoming, always forgiving and reconciling - no one ever pushed away. He was filled with an abiding joy and in touch with a deep sense of inner peace. He was fully alive.
Jesus showed the world that "God" is not some distant judge or vindictive king. "God" - not some well known out-of-sight celebrity, only accessible to the rich and famous. Jesus brought "God" down to earth, "God" in the flesh; "God" accessible to everyone.
However Jesus will have failed in his mission if, on this day of his birth, we only look to "him" to who he was and what he did. Jesus came among us to point the way for us all to follow. His life was a model of the fully alive life that every human being has the potential for living.
Like the Buddha, Jesus is not the only "enlightened one," a celebrity to be worshipped from afar on a Christmas day. Jesus was born in order to point the way for all of us to become "buddhas." He was the son of God who showed us how we all might become sons and daughters of God - fully alive human beings who shine with the glory of the energy of love.
The Jewish mystics say that every human being has a "spark of God" in their spirit. Every one of us enlivened, enlightened, and connected in that eternal light of abiding love flowing in us and through us.
We are all "God" in the flesh.
On this Christmas Day, I look to the life of the one whose birth we celebrate and I fan the flame of the spark of God, incarnate within me.
On this Christmas morning, I look to the life of the one whose birth we celebrate this day and I pledge once again to follow in his "way," living a life that is fully alive.