This is my Nativity Scene. It was purchased in November, or December, of 1946 by my parents, probably from Woolworths for less than $10. It is the Nativity Scene I have had all my life. As you can see a wise man has gone for a walk, some sheep have wandered off, two camels got tired of waiting for their riders and the angel looks like she was mucking out the cow’s stall. While this cheap, plaster of Paris set, which is chipped and dusty has no monetary value, at 74 years of age it is priceless to me.
My parents used this scene to explain to me what Christmas was all about. Not presents given or received, not Santa, not even joyful celebration. Rather Christmas is about God reminding us that They/Them are one of us. God became a human to remind us that They/Them walks with us, sits with us, listens to us, pray with us, dance and sing with us, cry with us, grieve with us, be disappointed with us, to doubt with us and then, . . . then discover that the Great Divine is right here to comfort us. The Great Divine surrounds us, moves through us, is part of every molecule of the clay vessel we call a body. They/Them is present in every animate and inanimate object of the universe. We cannot escape the presence of the Universal Divine for They/Them are part of every fiber of our being.
Love is recognizing we are here with each other, and the Divine Creator loved us enough to become one of us just to remind us of that. From the beginning we are created to be one with They/Them, She/He, how ever you address the one Universal Presence that came down to us 2000, 1000, 74 years ago, or right this moment.
I do not celebrate Christmas the way most people do, never have and never will. But I offer this prayer to every one of you:
May the love of the Universal Divine come into your hearts. May you remember the Holy is incarnated within you. May the sacred light shine forth from you. May you shine out as bright as the star in the East with Love’s gift of Justice, Kindness, and Peace.
When I was a child my mother sat me down and told me this story. “Once there was a woman who loved all things, she collected every object of interest to her. Her house was filled to overflowing with so much stuff that she could barely open the door. One day a man came to her and asked if she had a pair of shoes she could give him. Her answer was no that she needed every single pair, every single object for herself. The man who had no shoes went away in sadness. The next day a child came to the door and asked if she had any dolls she might give her. Her answer was no that she needed every single doll, every single object for herself. The child went away in sadness because she had no dolls.
One day an old woman came to the door and asked her if she wanted the old socks she had. The woman said why would I want your old stinky socks? The old woman said, well I heard that you need every single object for yourself and I thought I would share with you. I have two pair, I can only wear one pair, so I don’t need the second one I only need one pair.
You do understand the difference between want and need don’t you, said the old woman. Needs are the things we require for survival, wants are objects that are not always necessary for life. They may bring us joy, they may even bring delight, but they are not needed. If such objects prevent us from see each other as people, fellow humans, and creatures of earth, they are objects we do not need.”
I have remembered this story all my life. When I go into a store and find something that delights me, I ask do I “need” this or do I just “want” it?
It’s the end of the year everyone around me is feeling excited, joyful.
Christmas music is playing, wreaths are being hung, trees decorated, the stupid elf is back on the shelf.
Not in my house!
I used to wonder why I felt empty in the last month of the year. not anymore.
I know who I am now.
I feel put upon to decorate! I feel sorry for trees being cut down! I feel sorry for the turkey!
But those aren’t the reasons.
I don’t like Christmas because joy doesn’t only come in the last 4 weeks of the year, happiness doesn’t come in a wrapped box, Jesus isn’t Santa Claus
But that’s just the start.
I dislike what Christmas has become. A self-centered circus to please ourselves when it should be a celebration of God coming to us as love.
What does the birth of baby mean to me?
The image of a God being born as a poor child means we are to love the poor, care for those who do not have enough.
Oh, there’s more.
The child image tells us to love children not just the rich, the healthy, or the perfect, but the poor, the sick, those not like us.
So, who are those children?
The child born to a despised race means we are to love the immigrant, the stranger, the culturally different.
So, the prophets told me what to do.
Do justice: stand up for those being abused, fight injustice Love kindness: feed and clothe the hungry, give freely of your abundance Walk humbly with your God: remember whose you are. do what is right in the eyes of the great Divine.
So, who am I?
I am the one who chooses life I am the one who listens I am the one who gives back as much as I receive I will listen to the prophets and the lessons of The Carpenter I do it all year long not just in the last 4 weeks of the year.
Today I thought I would share my morning prayer ritual with you. It is nothing special just morning prayers. However, you will notice I use the name “Universal Divine” rather than “God”. As I have gotten older, and hopefully a little wiser, I have learned that there are so many paths to light and love that one name just does not fit for me anymore.
My Ritual is divided into 2 major portions, Prayer of intention, and Prayers of Petition with silence separating major division. I must admit on occasion I use a singing bowl at the beginning of each period of silence which seems to draw me deeper into myself. This is also a standing prayer, which is how it started out, but as I get older, I do think I will be doing more sitting than standing. These old legs and knees are not up to it on some days. So, If you want to model a ritual after mine do not feel it has to be a standing prayer.
Blessings be to one and all.
Prayer of Intention
Universal Divine I stand before you As I came into this universe Come Your Presence, fill my heart Come Your Presence, fill my mind Come Your Presence, fill every cell of this clay vessel
Divine Universal May my voice be your voice May my hands be your hands May the words and deeds I send into the universe be your words and deeds.
Prayers of Petition
Blessing be to John the beloved Blessing be to Lisa the soul friend Blessing be to Louis the soul keeper Blessing be to Esmerelda the joy bringer Blessing be to Charlie the snuggler Blessing be to George the friend of years Blessing be to Sweet pea the bringer of song
Blessing be to friends Living in pain and ill health May they be held in the light and be healed
Blessing be to leaders Living in the dark May they find their souls and return to the light
Blessing be to leaders yet to come Living in the light May they find strength in the light and not waver from the path
Blessing of the Earth Blessing of the sea and sky Blessings of love and light and peace Blessing of the Universal One now and forever be with us all
Remember when we were kids and on the first day back to school the teacher asked us to write what we did during the summer. Well I think we all need a little silliness, so I have decided to tell you what I did this weird, crazy, ZOOM laden summer.
First of all, I made jam. Not just once but 13 times. I decided in June to visit our local Farmers Market and each week pick out a fruit and turn it into jam. I now have 13 different kinds. I have Apricot, Red Plum, Black Plum, Raspberry, Black & Blue Berry, Peach, Honey Crisp Apple, Pear/Orange, Crabby Pluot, Apple/Cranberry, Orange Marmalade, Strawberry, and Fig. I also have 3 quarts of canned peaches and 3 pints of Tomato/Eggplant spread. It’s been busy summer but I’m ready for sandwiches this winter.
In addition to jam I trained two of my Chihuahua’s, Esmerelda and Charlie, to sing the “Song of our People.” I tried to teach Louis as well, but his idea of training was turning over in bed.
Well that was my exciting summer. So, what did you do?
I must tell you I am afraid. Afraid of what will happen if the Orange Butt Hole wins, afraid of what will happen if he will not accept the results if he doesn’t. I am afraid of the Orange Butt Hole’s supporters if Biden wins. Afraid of what they will do because they are lost souls who have put their trust in a soulless person.
We have always had people who have been outside of society, who have turned away from justice or kindness. But in general the people of this country have recognized them as outliers of civilization and have not placed them in positions of power. Twenty-five to 30 years ago we started electing soulless men who were only greedy for power and that has led us to a crossroad, the same crossroad Germany faced in the 1920’s. So yes, I am afraid, I am afraid we are headed towards a Nazi run country.
Yes, I know calling Donald Trump an Orange Butt Hole is offensive, so is calling him a soulless person. But there is an old saying that says every time you do evil you kill a piece of your soul. Well Trump has done so much evil that I do not think he has a soul left. His greatest evil is taking the souls of his supporters and using them to terrorize the people of this country. Turning our country into a place where fear, partisanship, racism, classism, and hatred for anyone not heterosexual, male or white becomes the rule and not the exception.
How we vote will determine if we can regain the soul of this country. How we act following election day on November 3rd will determine if we will keep that soul. I am praying, hoping, and wishing, I have my fingers and toes crossed that those of us who desire justice will stand up for it on November 4th. Let us join together not to keep hate king, but to send it out of this country. Let us join together to bring back honesty, compassion, and justice from the liars, the greedy, the political fiends who would see only the rich survive and let the rest of the country die.
Can we do that? Can we be better than what we have seen in the last 4 years of the Orange Butt Holes administration?
We stand at a crossroad. A political, and soul crossroad. I do not know which one we will take but the choices we make will be the most important ones we will ever make. I say this with caution, sadness, and with hope. I am not going to tell you how to vote or what to believe, only you can make those choices. But I am going to ask that you think hard and look deep within before you make your decisions.
There are questions you need to ask yourself that only you can answer.
What kind of world do you want to live in? I am not talking just about your neighborhood, state, or country, I mean the world.
How do you see yourself, or your children, in 50 years? Do you expect your world to be just as it is now? Because if you do you are sadly deluded.
Do you expect your children and your children’s children to have a better life than you have today? Because if you do you are sadly deluded.
If you are white do believe you will continue to be that privileged group where everything just comes to you? Well it does not happen today so why the heck do you believe it will be happening in 50 years? Are you that stupid?
Our world is changing and how we change with it will determine what this world, locally, nationally, and globally will become. Those of you who are afraid of change can fight to stop it, but it will not work, the world will change any way and you will be left behind. You see we have reached a tipping point environmentally, socially, and politically and the world is never going to be the same no matter how much you cry in your beer.
People of color, culturally different people, people with differing beliefs, the differently gendered, and most of all womxn will no longer accept the white, protestant, Western European, and male world view. We believe justice, compassion, and kindness, and political and religious freedoms are greater than hate, divisiveness, and political and religious manipulation, and domination.
The majority of people have begun to see the nonsense taught by political and religious leaders for the last three or four millennia for what it is, that one small group of people can protect us from ourselves is a lie. We who are different, who have different skin colors, different genders, and different beliefs from our white male dominators are striking out on our own. We will stand up for each other, we will protect each other, we will walk hand in hand toward a future that will leave our manipulators and dominators behind. Those of us believe in a faith that honors justice, kindness and compassion will change this world and unless you change your ways it will not go well for you. I am a follower of Jesus, the Carpenter from Nazareth, not everyone is and each culture and belief have their own stories. My stories come from Jesus and Jesus once told a parable of the rich man and a poor man. Do you, who claim to know the bible remember it? Since I doubt it let me refresh your memory.
“There was a rich man who feasted sumptuously every day. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table, but the rich man would give him nothing. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died, buried, and was delivered into Hades, where he was tormented with fire.
The rich man looked up into heaven and saw Lazarus sitting beside Abraham. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, Lazarus in like manner evil things yet you failed to comfort him. Now Lazarus is comforted here, and you are in agony.
The rich man said, ‘Then, Father, I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house for I have five brothers let Lazarus warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘I know Father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ Abraham replied to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:10-31)
Just as the rich man was taught the laws of Abraham, we too have been taught by the words of our own prophet Jesus and you who claim to follow this carpenter have failed to do so. Now those of us who are tired of receiving your scraps from your table are banding together and doing what we have been taught some by Jesus, some by Muhammad, some by Moses, Some by the Buddha, and there are many more. We have been taught to do justice, love kindness, walk with our God, however that may be described. We will feed the hungry, care for the poor, the imprisoned, the elderly, the young, and the stranger amongst us. Everything you have not done. We will see the divine in the eyes of each and everyone one of us no matter their gender, their beliefs, their skin color, or their culture and we will honor them. We will do everything you have not.
However, we will do one thing more. We will forgive you. But while our forgiveness is free it does not relieve you of your responsibility or accountability for the evil you have done in this world. You who have done so much to the poor, hungry, and homeless. You who have ignored the stranger and abused those who were different, female, and young will have to admit your wrongs. We will not let you go free, to travel on blithely without punishment for that too is wrong. So, like the rich man your time of abusive domination is over.
Come drink the water of quiet repose Let it fill you with cool peace, quiet it your mind, and strengthen your heart. May the sounds of bird, wind and stream follow as you travel the path of life. May they give you courage to stand among life’s joys and sorrows. Blessings of the Earth to you. Blessings of the Sky to you. Blessings of the Sea to you. Blessings of the Sacred Three to you.
We were born in the very first moments of the universe, Before we could speak, we sang among the stars, Before we could walk, we leaped from galaxy to galaxy, and Before we were confined to this lovely planet, we played with building blocks. Pushed and pulled together by Energy Divine, we became who we are today . . . Creatures of light, of dust, of Energy Divine.