It is nearing the Solstice. The days are either getting longer or shorter depending on what hemisphere you live in.
The polar vortex has descended here and the temperature is pretty frigid. Christmas is coming and the city is festive with lights, trees, wreaths and bows. Many are preparing to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest of God’s messengers. Jesus (or Yeshua as he was called) was an extremely religious Rabbi. He was dedicated to the teachings of the Jewish religion and entreated people to live according to the commandments.
As a prescribed part of his practice, he would have recited the Shema at least twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. And because he was a great mystic, he not only recited the words, but he lived them and exemplified them in his teaching. These are the opening lines of the Shema:
“Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” –
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
“V’a-hav-ta eit A-do-nai E-lo-he-cha, B’chawl l’va-v’cha, u-v’chawl naf-sh’cha, u-v’chawl m’o-de-cha.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.
The meaning of the Shema goes way beyond the belief in only one God. “Adonai Echad” declares that there is no existence outside of God. It proclaims that our world, and everything in it, is created from God’s speech at every given moment. Everything is an emanation of God. As all the great mystics like Jesus taught…there is no other!
We understand that God is infinite and omnipresent. Therefore, there is nowhere that cannot be God…there is only the One. If we choose to live as we are commanded, understanding that we must love all of God with all of our might, we must embrace not only the people and things that feel familiar and comfortable, but also those that feel foreign, strange, and scary. What a challenge. And what a radical and incredible invitation!
No matter what religion we practice, we can honor the birth of Christ and all that he stood for. We can take his example and birth in us the capacity to stretch our comfort zones and let go of the illusion of the “other.’ When we relate to everyone as an aspect of God, we create loving and caring communities.
It is through the capacity to do just this that we shall, as Isaiah 2:3–4 prophesizes, “beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks: and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall we learn war anymore”—