[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
In our Tuesday night Course group in Xalapa, Patricia and I gave a presentation on the meaning of Christmas in the Course, based on Robert’s recent article on the topic. At the end, we did an exercise that had a powerful impact on those present, and we thought it would be good to share it here.
In our presentation, we emphasized the idea that Christmas in the Course is all about the birth of the Christ in us, the recognition of the true Self we all share. How do we bring about that birth? One way is to release our brothers from the ego-based demands we have placed on them. This is an important theme of the Course’s Christmas material. The theme is so important, in fact, that in the Text we are given a specific practice to help us release our brothers from those demands — a practice that, in his article, Robert calls the “Christmas Prayer.”
In our group, we talked about how Christmas is time when those demands are especially evident. Think about it. There are the demands that flare up in the hustle and bustle of the shopping season. There are the demands surrounding the annual gift-giving competition. There are the demands that rise to the surface as families come together. Christmas can be an especially demanding time.
We also talked about the striking idea that releasing my brothers from those demands is the way that I welcome the birth of Christ in me. This may seem like an odd connection at first, but on closer inspection, it is the Course’s standard formula. How many times are we told that the way to receive what we truly desire is to give it to our brothers? As the Course says in Workbook Lesson 357:
Forgiveness, truth’s reflection, tells me how to offer miracles, and thus escape the prison house in which I think I live. Your holy Son is pointed out to me, first in my brother; then in me. (W-pII.357.1:1-2, italics mine)
Of course! Releasing my brother from the demands I’ve made on him is forgiveness, a miracle extended from me to him. It is the decision to see the Christ in him. Applying the law of love — that what I give my brother is my gift to me — leads to one conclusion: Welcoming the birth of Christ in my brother is how I welcome the birth of Christ in me.
All of this led to our exercise, a guided meditation using a combination of that “Christmas Prayer” practice from the Text and the beautiful practice from Workbook Lesson 303. In the first part, we released our brothers from the demands we had placed on them. This was a preparation for the second part, in which we welcomed the birth of Christ in ourselves. Here is the meditation:
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First, close your eyes and choose a brother on whom you are placing demands — someone on whom you are placing heavy expectations, someone from whom you are demanding gifts (material gifts, time, attention, etc.) in order to “prove” his love to you. Then, release this person from the chains of your ego’s demands by saying the following to him, with as much heartfelt conviction as you can:
I give you to the Holy Spirit as part of myself.
I know that you will be released,
unless I want to use you to imprison myself.
In the name of my freedom I choose your release,
because I recognize that we will be released together. (T-15.XI.10:5-7)
Now that you have released your brother, you have prepared a place in your mind for the Christ in you to be born. Welcome that birth with the following words. Let the words really sink in; feel the joyful anticipation of this glorious birth in you. And when you pray to our Father, say that prayer to God as a heartfelt and grateful welcoming of the Christ in you:
Watch with me, angels, watch with me today. Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear. Let Christ be welcomed where He is at home. And let Him hear the sounds He understands, and see but sights that show His Father’s Love. Let Him no longer be a stranger here, for He is born again in me today.
Your Son is welcome, Father. He has come to save me from the evil self I made. He is the Self that You have given me. He is but what I really am in truth. He is the Son You love above all things. He is my Self as You created me. It is not Christ that can be crucified. Safe in Your Arms let me receive Your Son. (W-pI.303.1-2)
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As I said, this exercise had a powerful impact on those present. A few of the comments people shared after the exercise:
“To release my brother from my demands as the way to clean my home and make space for Christ to enter is a very calming thought.”
“When I accept that Christ has been born in me, it feels like we can ‘grow up’ together, accompanying each other in the way back to our Father.”
“The fact that we can welcome Christ in us today gives us much hope. I might have made mistakes in the past and, even when I tried to correct them, I might have failed again and again. But it is never too late: I can invite the Christ to be born in me once more, at any time. How about today?”
Patricia and I wish all of our mighty companions in the Circle Course Community Feliz Navidad and a Merry Christmas!