Aloha Dear Ones,
It’s Christmas Eve, the most sacred night of the year for the Christian community.
If you’ve read my last couple posts introducing evolutionary spirituality and evolutionary relationship, you might be wondering, “What does Jesus have to do with it?” For me, coming from a conservative Lutheran home, Jesus Christ is an essential part of the divine mystery.
Exactly what part of the mystery Jesus plays has been a central question of my spiritual journey. As a child, there wasn’t a question about the role of Christ on Sunday mornings. Nor was there any question of Jesus’ role in our home on a daily basis, as my devout mother reminded the family to show the love and forgiveness demonstrated by our savior.
I remember my first questionings of the fundamentalist interpretation of Bible scripture. It was one of the Sundays our small mid-western church had a visiting missionary. As he earnestly shared stories of victoriously converting the poor heathens, thereby saving them from eternal damnation in the fires of hell, I experienced an unfamiliar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had heard these stories before, but somehow, on that morning, there was a malaise that gripped me, an awareness that was encroaching upon six years of the best-intentioned conditioning (yes, I was only six).
I accepted that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to show us how to love each other. My parents tried to follow Christ’s example, and they were very loving towards my brother and me, and to our neighbors. God must be happy with them, and me, I assured myself. Maybe God would be happier with people from other countries if they followed Jesus, too–but would God, who loved us so much, really send them to hell forever if they didn’t?
I just couldn’t buy it anymore. The veil of separation from those who had appeared to be different from me was in place for six years, and then simply had to lift. I remember sitting in the pew, watching the missionary’s face increasingly flush as he admonished us about the torments of hell waiting for the unconfessed, and thinking to myself, “he’s trying to be good, he just doesn’t understand that God and Jesus love everybody, no matter where people live or what kind of church their parents go to.”
So, there you have it. I cannot pretend differently, my dear friends who subscribe to the orthodox doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ Jesus. The condemnation of those from other religious traditions that I could not stomach as an innocent child, I cannot accept now.
Yet, my relationship with Jesus continues, grows in depth and breadth. My capacity to understand and appreciate the miracle of his birth, his living example of divine love in human form, his sacrifice, his promise, increases as I experience my own heartbreaks and joys along life’s path. I identify as a Christian. I often find myself in between cultural/ spiritual groups, not enough Jesus for some, too much for others.
During the first year of my immersion in the Evolutionary Life Transformation Program (ELTP), an online, global, evolutionary spirituality community created by Craig Hamilton (IntegralEnlightenment.com), I helped create a small, “Interest/Learning Group,” for Christians within the larger group of students. Together, we explored our relationship with Christ, and the impact of the evolutionary perspective on our personal experience of Jesus. All of us were passionate about embracing the evolutionary impulse urging us to expanded our identity as, “We,” aligned with sacred deep care, God, and becoming responsible for living as that. All of us discovered an even deeper, realer connection with Christ throughout this process of inquiry.
What does Jesus have to do with evolutionary/integral spirituality? He is the best evidence of it I have found. How, exactly, it all works, I don’t pretend to know. I only know that on the eve of his birth, my heart rejoices. I believe that Christ is God’s love made manifest. My life is more aligned with his teachings now, than ever. Even though I tremble with the enormity of that not yet known, I can tenderly, fiercely, look into the eyes of my little six-year-old self and say, “You were onto something, sweetie–keep asking, keep finding.”
Happy Christmas Eve.
Love and blessings,
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