Monday, December 13, 2010

Meaning of Christmas for Unitarian Universalists

Of course I have to begin with the caveat that I cannot speak for all Unitarian Universalists. One of the primary values of our free faith tradition is the freedom and responsibility to each search for truth and meaning on our own. We come together in community to do so with other seekers, to test our ideas and know that we are not alone.   Not all Unitarian Universalists celebrate Christmas or some may celebrate Christmas in addition to Hanukkah and Winter Solstice. 

For this piece however I want to focus on how Unitarian Universalists understand the story of the birth of Jesus.  The moral teachings of Jesus are one of the six sources that Unitarian Universalists draw upon for the search for truth and meaning.  Unitarians early on stressed the importance of Jesus’ moral teachings and his life as an example of how each of us should live.  Universalists stressed the universal love of God through Jesus – his life as an example of God’s deep love for humanity.

For Unitarian Universalists, Jesus’ humanity and his life serves as an example of the goodness of humanity and the potential each of us possess to make this world a more just, loving and peaceful place for everyone.  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who addition to a being a great speaker and writer was a Unitarian minister.  He said this about Jesus in his famed Divinity School Address:  “Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history, he estimated the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world.”

So for Unitarian Universalists, Jesus serves as example of the divine indwelling in all of humanity – that each person is made in the image and likeness of God.  Sophia Lyon Fahs (1876-1978), Unitarian Universalist minister and religious educator tells us that each night that a child is born is a holy night, for each child a manifestation of the holy in the world.  She wrote “Each night a child is born is a holy night: A time for singing, A time for wondering, A time for worshiping, Each night a child is born is a holy night.”  So on Christmas as we honor the birth of one child, Jesus, we honor all the children born, each person born.  Christmas reminds us that each of us has the capacity “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

This Christmas, may we honor the miracle of each child born!

Blessed Be!