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Henry Bates

Henry Bates

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The Way to a Wonderful Life Message for December 20, 2015

             I had someone tell me today that they hated Christmas and I must say it is the first time someone has ever said this to me.  It took me by surprise especially since I know the person attends an Episcopal church.  Perhaps they aren't clear on their understanding of the significance of the celebration which is a celebration of "the Christ" ... the Law of Love being realized in the awareness of mankind.  I know that Jesus was not born on December 25th and I also know that he wasn’t “the Christ” but I also know that his teachings and Christ-consciousness can very well help all of us to find “the Christ” within ourselves.  The American mystic, Ernest Holmes, explained this very simply:  The two great teachers of the Bible are Moses and Jesus. Moses taught the universal law of cause and effect. Jesus tells us of a direct relationship between God and man. One is not complete without the other. Both teachings are necessary.”  And he further writes: “The inner Spirit, which is God, bears witness to the divine fact that we are the sons of God, the children of the Most High. As sons of God we are heirs to the heaven of reality; joint heirs with Christ. This means that we are all one in Christ as we are one in God. Christ typifies the universal Son of which each is an individual member.” 

           Ernest Holmes’ earnestly hoped and believed that we would all learn to “evolve” his teachings just as the Master Mind Jesus taught in simple parables so that the uneducated could understand profound spiritual laws believed that the enlightened among us would evolve his teachings as well.  To attach any great spiritual teacher’s philosophy to a religion is certain to create contradictions; i.e. Christianity has adapted certain concepts of Plato’s philosophy to their religious tenets creating confusion.  To understand the “sons of God” concept from Jesus’ teachings we must understand that the word “son” in the Aramaic language of Jesus meant “a part of” … and intelligence reveals that every living thing is a “part of” G-d, not just those of the human species for G-d is Life Itself. 

           However, even without a profound understanding of the teachings of Jesus, his-story can inspire us to reveal more of the Christ within our own individual soul or consciousness.  The great Dr. Norman Vincent Peale illustrates this in a story from his childhood:  "
One Christmas Eve when I was about 10 or so, my father and I were passing Burkhart’s Department Store in Cincinnati when a dirty old fellow in a tattered coat stopped me, took hold of my sleeve and said, “Young man, give me something.”
              I pulled my arm away, gave the man a slight push and walked on, nose in the air.
My father stopped short. “You shouldn’t treat a man like that—Christmas Eve or any other time.”
            “But Dad,” I said, “he’s a bum.”
             “There is no such thing as a bum, Norman,” my father said. “There may be some people who haven’t made the most of their lives, but all of us are still children of God.”
            Then he took out his skinny old wallet—it never had much in it—and he handed me a dollar. And he said, “You catch up with that man. Tell him, ‘Sir, I give you this dollar in the name of Jesus. Merry Christmas.’”
              “Oh, no,” I said. “I can’t do that.” He said, “You do as I tell you, boy.”
              In those days you really minded what your parents told you.
             So I chased after the man and said, “Sir, I give you this dollar in the name of Jesus. Merry Christmas.”
             The old fellow was flabbergasted. He took off his beat-up old cap and bowed to me and said, “I thank you, young sir. Merry Christmas.”
              In that moment, his face became beautiful to me. He was no longer a bum.
              Well, all this happened many years ago, but I remember it vividly because my father gave me such a clear demonstration of the new commandment Jesus brought to us.
              “Love one another,” Jesus said in John 13:34, No ifs, ands or buts. No reservations. And that’s how Jesus loved. He loved the poor, the diseased, the prostitutes, the criminals, the “bums.” He loved those who ridiculed, hated and abused Him. To me, Christmas is about that way of loving.
              If you are looking for words to grow on, let me tell you that you’ll never grow taller, nor wiser, nor more beautiful than when you’re putting those three words to work. Love one another.”

             The Christ-spirit within us can be compelled to be revealed from within us in many ways and we don’t have to be religious for this to be true.  Whether we get our inspiration from Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or Paramahansa Yogananda, matters little, what matters is how we translate this inspiration into the actions that we take in our life experiences.  And the season of Hanukkah and Christmas give us plenty of opportunities to experience the Christ-self of us.  It is a season of giving and most of all a recognition that there is Something more to us than mere flesh and bones.  It is a time to extend our heart and our spirit to those we know and to those we don’t know.  It is a time for sharing not only things of a material nature but those things of the heart; kindness, empathy and love.

          This story is from a sermon Dr. Norman Vincent Peale composed in 1970:
One Christmas Eve over 35 years ago I was in Syracuse. People of the church were distributing big, bulging love-motivated Christmas baskets to poor families in the neighborhood. 
         All but one basket had been delivered and I offered to take the last one. It led me into a strange adventure. The home proved to be little more than a shack at the rear of some rundown tenements. An obviously overworked young wife admitted me. 
         I could see she had been scrubbing the family clothes in a steaming old-fashioned washtub. On a shabby couch sprawled the young husband, obviously deep in his cups. The wife followed my glance. "He is a wonderful man," she spoke defensively. "If it wasn't for that one weakness he would go places. And he will...he will." 
        Her voice ended in a choke. On the wall, surprisingly, were two excellent paintings which appeared quite out of place in the surroundings. They pictured a dignified and obviously outstanding couple. "They were his parents," she explained, "who were good New England people. He wouldn't part with those pictures even if we starved. I guess they represent his hold on life, on hope maybe." 
          I gave the basket to the young wife, wished her a Merry Christmas, and determined to help that family in a more creative way than just a Christmas basket. Next day, Christmas, I dropped in to see these people again and had a pleasant visit. The following Sunday they showed up at church and kept on coming every week. 
          I stopped by the day they moved into a simple but nice home. I must admit I choked up a bit when I saw Fred carrying those two portraits into the new house. It was July when they made this move, but it did not seem at all incongruous when Fred said happily, "Merry Christmas!" 
        Why not? It was on Christmas that life began to be merry for this nice family.

          What Dr. Peale gave to this family was far beyond the human-judgments that we see evidence of in our world today.  Most people, including most ministers, preachers, priests and rabbi, would have had little empathy for this young couple which appeared to be a hard-working woman and a drunken husband.  Far too many of us would have dropped the basket off and dropped any concern about them from our mind.  Yet, it is the Christ that would compel us to put away our judgments and to give more of what Dr. Peale gave them; dignity, respect and worthiness.

         Let us think of the indwelling-Christ as we read these words from Psalm 51:10 from the ancient wisdom:  "
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" ... and let us add, "as I recognize the Christ in me at Christmas and throughout the New Year."


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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through the experiences of evolution." -
Dr. Ernest Holmes


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