If “God” is not up there and out there, if the “God” of theism is dead, then incarnation (Christmas) takes on significant new meaning. Incarnation means that divinity is refreshed in matter, in the physical and material. The Cosmic Christ speaks to incarnation. Divinity has been enfleshed in materiality from before that explosive moment in time when the divine became stardust, when hydrogen life began. “God” is Life as it comes at us, Life bursting forth.
The Buddhist perspective gives me a new focus on the Cosmic Christ. Buddha is not divine. The Buddha became more than what he was. Buddhists are very aware of the Buddha within. The Buddha, more than most, became the incarnation of compassionate living. Buddhist prayer is distinct from Western Christian prayer. Buddhists do not pray to a superpower up there and out there who will come to their rescue. Buddhists bless one another. They are Buddha to one another.
In post-modern thought, the Christ is not divine as coming down from above to rescue a fallen humanity. In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, myth has been translated into fact. For example, when I stood in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I did not think for one moment that I was at the actual place of Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born in the backwater town of Nazareth. Interpreting Jesus, the early followers came up with the Bethlehem story to show that the Christ was descended from David. Jesus, like the Buddha, became more than what he was. He became the Christ.
The Cosmic Christ, enfleshed “divinity,” now lives in all of creation and in each of us. Paul had it right–“I live. Now not I but Christ lives in me.” This is Christmas. This is incarnation as all mortal flesh keeps silence, pondering the immensity of Love pouring forth. Incarnation is a growing awareness of unity with all that is. Christmas is compassion.
Incarnation is justice, right order, flowing down like a mighty river. Incarnation is reaching beyond our survival instinct to become more than what we are.
Thomas Merton had a profound experience of Love incarnate at the corner of Fourth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) in Louisville when, looking at the people scurrying about their daily business, generalized, “I am one with all these people. . . It is a glorious destiny be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities. . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, No more cruelty, No more greed.” Merton further described his experience as enfleshment, as incarnation, “I have the immense joy of being [human], a member of the race in which God became incarnate.” When we accept and bless others, we become more than what we are, more Buddha-like, more Christ-like, more divine, more of what we are meant to be..
Russ Parker, an Episcopal priest from the UK teaches that we are called to be people of blessing. When we have positive expectations and bless others, powerful things happen. The Cosmic Christ–Love Incarnate–works all things for good. The Cosmic Christ Love Power bends the universe toward justice where slalom wholeness rules. Cosmic Christ Love changes the game. Poverty is power.
Love pours forth as blessing, blessing for the cosmos and all creatures. A few weeks ago, as I was approaching the Wal-Mart in Titusville, I saw a woman walking on the sidewalk. She had a purse and a shopping bag and had just finished talking to another man. As she looked at me and approached, I was beginning to wonder what she wanted. Was she going to ask me for a handout? Then, I was completely taken aback as she said, “Can I pray for you.” I said, “No.” Then, for some reason, I stopped and went back asking, “Pray for what?” She said, “For your healing.” (I should add that I had just finished a one hour bike ride before my shopping trip and I had a hitch in my giddyup.) I said, “Okay.” She took my hands and prayed for me and my legs. The evangelical tone of her prayer made no matter. The fact that she blessed me with healing prayer mattered. I came out of the store. She was no longer there. I was haunted for the rest of the day with, “I was visited by an angel–Love in the flesh.”
Christmas tells me that we are here to be Christ for others. We are here to bless all creation. We are here to be Love incarnate for one another.
Have a blessed Christmas.