The Christmas Challenge
Since this time, keeping Christmas has always been a challenge. There has always been a natural pull during this time of year that urges us to focus on feelings. It is a place where we get stuck emotionally and spiritually. As noted above, for many, situations trigger emotions at the heart level that elevate anxiety, depression, and all kinds of dysfunctional habits. From children to adults, this struggle is real. We get stuck in just wanting to feel better. Unfortunately, feeling better is only temporary. Therefore we can get addicted to avoiding the real issues of the heart and move to trying to feel better. This is where disorder and dysfunction starts to become chronic.
Christmas can be a time of healing. Focusing on the sacred celebration of Christmas keeps us centered and working on our heart level needs. This season naturally stirs up past trauma and difficult emotions. The goal is to embrace these events to explore what is occurring at our spiritual core. What is the heart level need that is being expressed? Identifying and working on these dynamics lead to permanent growth and healing.
Finding the Heart of Christmas
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
(John 1: 1 – 5)
Keeping Christmas is all about substituting attempts to feel good with a search for true fulfillment and transformation. When we are naturally triggered by difficult thoughts and emotions, our work is to focus on a heart level celebration of the coming of Jesus. He is the Light that enters into the darkness. At the darkest time of the midwinter, we can embrace a celebration of the True Light. He has the power to enter into our heart struggles and transform, heal and save us both now, and eternally.
The goal of Christmas is to experience Epiphanies, or to lead children and adults alike to a revelation of Jesus Christ. As we do this, it helps us to stay focused on the Light. There are many symbols at the heart of the Christmas celebration that can help us keep this heart focus. One example is the Christmas tree.
One legend about the origin of the Christmas tree centers on Boniface, an English Benedictine monk who was a missionary to Germany. As the story goes, in 723, Saint Boniface encountered winter sacrifices being conducted in front of a mighty oak tree dedicated to Thor, near Geismar, in what is now Germany. In anger, Boniface seized an axe and cut down the large oak tree in one mighty blow. The gathering of local townspeople expected Thor to strike Boniface with a bolt of lightning, and when the lightning failed to appear, Boniface proclaimed Jesus Christ as the one and only true God.
He pointed to a young fir tree growing at the roots of the fallen oak, with its branches pointing to heaven, and said that it was a Holy tree, the tree of the Christ child who brought eternal life. Also, it is said that Boniface explained the triangular shape of the fir tree as an illustration of the Trinity. Retelling historical legends such as these helps us move from feeling to purpose, secular to sacred.