(The following articles are reprinted with permission from the 2022 Advent booklet, A Christmas of Light and Peace, published by Unity. The booklet is available online at unity.org)
I am at peace with my home, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and everyone I meet as I go about my day. My peace comes from deep within. From the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Christ presence I am.
As I celebrate the season of Jesus’ birth, I recognize not only that I am the living, breathing Christ spirit here on earth, but also that everyone else is as well. As I honor the Christ spirit within every individual, the people with whom I interact feel the loving vibrations emanating from me. They in turn carry those vibrations of peace and love to everyone along their paths.
Even when events around me and news of the day do not reflect God’s love, I know that love is ever present and that through continuously sending out love to the world, the consciousness of the entire Universe is slowly changing from darkness to light. ~ Rev. Vernelle Nelson
In The Revealing Word, Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore defines peace as “harmony and tranquility derived from awareness of the Christ consciousness.” A peacemaker can say peace to turbulent waves of thought and reduce all thoughts of strife, anger, and retaliation to peace and harmony. In everyday terms, we can declare peace in the external unless and until it is cultivated within. Peace begins with me. ~ Rev. Karen Shepherd
Hope and Faith
This time of year, I find myself reflecting on Christmases past. I remember one year asking for what I considered the most prized of all gifts: an air hockey table. This thing had it all! It was a single-player version with lights, bells, and everything a 7-year old cold ever want!
I also recall how tough things were financially. My father had left the ministry to become an insurance salesperson. My mother worked as a nursing assistant in a senior care facility. But as a child, I did not understand our financial woes—I simply knew what I wanted. I hoped and wished as every child does. I had faith that my parents would not forget my request and reminded God of that faith in my bedtime prayers.
When I woke up Christmas morning and saw the giant box labeled with my name, I jumped for joy! I threw my arms around my dad and mom, thanking them for the best gift ever. And like a child, I thought I had never felt so loved.
Years later, I feel the echoes of that Christmas. While I may not experience that same unfettered excitement, there is an inexhaustible sense of wonder present. As a child, the anticipation of receiving that air hockey table occupied my thoughts. Today my mind is open to innovative ideas, new ways of expressing the indwelling Christ in thought, word, and action. Time in prayer and reflection grounds my faith in the awareness of being, and I become its loving caretaker. Rev. David Brian Adams
When the mind is filled with joy, the heart sings. Singing always puts me in a joyful mood. Even in the midst of chaos, my mind conjures up a tune and my heart sings it.
Advent is the perfect time to make a joyful noise as we anticipate the birth of something new in our lives. I experience the feeling of joy when I take the time to be in the moment. I consciously look for the joy in everything. When I sing, “I have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,” I realize my heart is the only place where real joy can be found.
There is always something to sing about. So, whenever I find myself in a sad, melancholy, or fearful mood, I simply breathe, become still, and listen to the music in my soul. There within is where I find my joy. ~ Rev. Sandra Campbell
What Child Is This?
It was December 1990, just months after the beginning of the Gulf War, when I found myself stationed in Japan at the Misawa Air Base. It was my first Christmas away from home and my first in a foreign country, so everything was different and new. Serving in the military overseas is a unique experience in itself—doing so in a time of conflict created a longing in me for the things of home.
I turned to the season’s music for comfort and joy to cope with the distance. I found a song that somehow felt new to me in my Christmas collection. “What Child Is This?” is a Christmas hymn that William Chatterton Dix wrote in 1865. I fell in love with it and often found myself lost within the mystery of the soulfulness of each word’s movement.
The intellectual side of me knew and understood that the song heralded the birth of Jesus, while the intuitive that I was becoming saw this as a lens through which I could look upon the world around me. In the face of the Gulf War, I quietly questioned: What child is this being born through all the chaos and destruction? In looking at my life away from the familiar, the question became: What child is this being born out of the unfamiliar?
Every year since, I have become more aware of how every element of the story comes to life anew for us. In their own way, the Christmas stories become the poetry of rebellion and the song of change that allow us to choose on which side of history we will land. The same is true in every element of our seasonal rituals, as they allow more God through us to be made known in the world in times of violence or peace, helplessness or hope.
What will remain for us when every decoration is appropriately stored and every candle extinguished? What remains is for us to take up our living, loving, and being in this world together. We must be daring enough to question our impact on the world and desire to know what is born in us and what is born in the world when we ask.
Many of our traditions and rituals involve telling the stories, singing the songs, and gathering to remember and claim the origin story as part of our own stories. We must be prepared to go and tell it on all of the mountains of our lives today that the holy birth did not just happen a long time ago; it is happening now and again for all of us.
Beloved, more God is known through our faith, love, and acts that bring peace. Where we place the focus of our question, “What child is this?” becomes the focus of the blessings of the light of love and hope that come to life through us. ~ Rev. Kathy Beasley