New Thought Editorials > Going Toward the Light
Going Toward the Light
We celebrate the birth of Jesus near the winter solstice—even though he was probably born in the spring—because this is the time of year when we are most in need of light, and he told us, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). It is the first in a long line of Christmas traditions that are more myth than fact, but remember that a myth is "a little lie to tell a big truth", as my resident philosopher once put it. Anyway, we have ended up with a series of Christmas traditions that begin with a getting-ready-for-Christmas season (Advent) followed by a twelve-day celebration that ends with burning the dead Christmas trees in the town square in a final blaze of light. The fire department may heave a sigh of relief at having all those tinder-dry potential fire starters out of the house, but in the interests of air quality, many folks are developing alternative endings. Nonetheless, we get together with those we love and celebrate again the birth of light into the world after the shortening of the days.
Somewhere between Christmas and Epiphany, which follows Twelfth Night, we celebrate the departure of the old year and the arrival of the new, with renewed hope for better times to come. Once again, we feel a need for light along with all the joyful noise; many New Thought churches have a burning bowl ceremony in which things to be released are written on slips of paper and burned, to help start the new year with a clean slate.
Jesus was a good Jew who took traditional Jewish teachings and put new emphasis on love of God, our neighbors, and ourselves. He also insisted on following the law, God’s guidebook for a successful life here on earth: "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:18). But his emphasis was on observing the spirit of the law rather than the letter. He lived in a time when many religious leaders were hypocrites who "tithed mint and rue" but ignored the spirit of God’s teachings, and he regularly teed off on them. Today we live in a world where governments founded on Judeo-Christian teachings are ignoring or even suppressing them. In some places, public displays of traditional Christmas celebrations are restricted or banned entirely. Our freedoms are gradually being eroded, as were the freedoms of the Jews under Hitler, and there are anti-Semitic sentiments and even movements. In Western society we see a lack of the self-discipline that is needed to achieve optimum freedom along with our goals and dreams. My favorite definition of New Thought is "habitual God-centered mental self-discipline".
As New Thoughters, we work by putting our attention on what we want, rather than what we don’t want. We believe that God will keep us "in perfect peace" when our minds are stayed on him. But we also believe in denials to be followed by affirmations: "No, I will not be a party to hatred of any person or group." "Yes, I will insist on upholding the law derived from Judeo-Christian principles, free from distortions or misinterpretations."
During this season of holy-days, let us renew our own individual lights from the light of Christ. Let our celebration center on the reason for the season, and however we celebrate, let us do it in the spirit of love given by God and exemplified by Jesus.