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The Way to a Wonderful Life, Sunday, December 9, 2012 

        Growing up in Missouri as a child of Baptist parents, my measure of spiritual and religious awareness was very limited.  I must have been in high school when I first realized that Jesus' last name wasn't Christ.  Baptist preachers didn't say "Jesus the Christ" or "Christ Jesus" but "Jesus Christ" ... perhaps it was because their congregations accepted this as true or perhaps they just didn't know any better themselves.  Yet, with their study of the Holy Bible one would think that they had found within the scriptures that the "Christ" wasn't a man, but the Living Spirit of G-d within all people ... Jesus explained this very definitely himself.  The "Christ" being part of the Power, Spirit and Intelligence of G-d, imparted to each of us and incarnated within our soul.  In the Book of Genesis 1:27, It is referred to as the "image and likeness of G-d" ... "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."  If we study the Bible or the Torah with this as our foundation, the scriptures take on a whole different meaning for us.  The Master Mind Jesus referred to this as the "Light" within us ... "I am the Light of the world" and he stated further as written in Matthew 5:14, "You are the Light of the world."  And so we realize that "Light" is the Presence of G-d within us and around us ... Omnipresent in the universe in which we live.

           "When we are fully conscious of what we can do, there is no power in the universe that can prevent us.  The Christ story illustrates this.  When the time for the Christ to appear had come, the Inn seemed to be closed, and no home to receive him.  But an idea, whose time has come, must find its fulfillment.  The lowly manger became a shrine to glory, which completely transcended everything around it.  The most mundane expression is covered with light when the emphasis is placed upon the spiritual reality.  The Wise Men had to come from the four corners of the earth in adoration.  The mystics throughout the ages have known that nothing can hold back that which is their rightful heritage."  - Dr. Robert H. Bitzer, 1952 

Light dispels darkness, and we know spiritually, Light is knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  And so we know why light as a symbol for spiritual enlightenment is found in Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations throughout the world.  Light festivals have become more and more prominent in our contemporary culture.  Jewish and Hindu people both celebrate a "Festival of Lights" but for different reasons.  And although there is controversy surrounding the Maccabees, Light Festivals and the Menorah continue to be prominent in Jewish culture.  Varies sects of the Christian faith also make use of lighting candles as part of the Christmas celebration; i.e. Candlelight Mass, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, etc.

"Here is the story of Hanukkah as it is taught to Jewish children: The Syrian king Antiochus demanded that the Jews in his dominion abandon their religion and worship the Greek gods. A small band of rebels, heroically led by Judah Maccabee, rose up against Antiochus's army and, against all odds, were victorious. They returned to the Temple in Jerusalem to find it desecrated, a pagan idol installed there. The holy lights were out, and there was only enough oil to last for one day. Then the miracle: the flame stayed lit for eight days, until new oil was found." ... "And there may be a message for the world in the Hanukkah story. If the Maccabees had not been victorious, would monotheism have survived? Would Christianity or Islam ever have come into being? Perhaps the Hanukkah story should be cause for celebration outside the Jewish community as well as within."  - Edgar M. Bronfman, 2008

The Master Mind Jesus observed the celebration of Hanukkah in the Temple [John 10:22-23] during the winter of AD 29.  Being of the Jewish faith, Jesus observed all of the Jewish Holidays and Observances.  Especially, I believe that he would have celebrated Hanukkah and the victory of the Maccabees because this victory illustrated the strength of the Christ in each of us and the Light that not only shined from the oil, but the Light of truth and faith that filled the minds of those who accepted this as a triumph of the Living Spirit of G-d present in and through us and all things that concern us.  Hilary Leila Krieger writes in the New York Times: "Many Americans, Jews as well as Christians, think that the legend of the long-lasting oil is the root of Hanukkah’s commemoration. And perhaps that mistake is no surprise, given that for many the holiday has morphed into “Christmas for Jews,” echoing the message of peace on earth accompanied by gift giving. In doing so, the holiday’s own message of Jewish survival and faith has been diluted."  It is this survival of faith, I suspect, is why the Master Mind Jesus observed Hanukkah and it is this survival of faith in One G-d that provided us with the pathway to a greater realization of the Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience of G-d.  Our study of the scriptures clearly show us that Jesus rejected religious dogma, but his faith, which had its foundation in Jewish history, was the triumphant element of his philosophy and teachings.

     This is a time for celebration and participation in whatever events our particular spiritual or religious affiliations offer us.  For many of us, it is a time to become reacquainted with what these annual celebrations mean to us.  And for those who are so inclined, to study the Truth as it is woven through each of these holidays throughout history.  Each of us can find our own way of celebration, and perhaps even find new ways in which to heighten our appreciation of this mystical time of year through the celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas and New Year's Eve ... light the candles, hang the lighted decorations, be conscious of the use of light around us, and realize that this light is dispelling the darkness of human weakness with the Light of Truth ... the revealing of the Christ within the world and within our own soul.

"Ye are the light of the world," the mystical Jesus declared, and this light can never be extinguished, for It is part of that Eternal Light of the Presence of G-d, always and forever expressing Itself through Life, world without end.  It is Intelligence, Power, and Life ... It is our guiding light ... directing us always to that which is for our highest and greatest good, G-d.  It is our sufficiency in all things, always ... it is the faith that sustained the Maccabees and it is the faith that shall sustain us in joy and happiness and peace and love ... it is the Truth revealed in Light.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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