“Daddy, what time is Jesus coming to our house on Christmas?” my five-year old daughter asked.
“Why do you want to know?” I stumbled for an answer.
“Everyone keeps talking about the coming of Jesus. So, when’s he going to get here?”
My daughter’s question caught me off guard. I stopped and pondered. We often talk about the birth of Christ as if it’s a future event. We sing, “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Our preachers tell us to prepare our hearts for the Christ child. “Get ready!”
But Jesus already came to Earth two thousand years ago. He walked the soil. Lived his life. Laughed. Loved. Suffered like we do.
I wonder if the focus on the coming of Christ takes away the true message of our annual Christian celebration. Does it cause us to cast our eyes outward instead of inward? Do we look up at the heavens expecting to see an ET-like Jesus riding a bike across the sky? Does all the anticipation create anxiety, so we miss what Jesus’ coming two thousand years ago taught us?
Jesus has come, and because of that Christ is here and now in our hearts through the gift of God’s Spirit. We are the incarnation of Divine Love. According to Merriam-Webster, the word “incarnation” means the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form. So, we are called to embody Christ in our bodies.
Perhaps St. Teresa of Avila said it best:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
When we stop staring at the future waiting for ET-Jesus to appear, we can turn our gaze inward—toward our inner self. We can awaken to receive and embrace the joyous gift that God does dwell in you and me. And that Spirit of Love empowers us to put more good into the world through our daily actions. We participate in the unfolding of the kingdom of love here and now on this earth. We co-create with God. It’s a gift and a responsibility.
After asking God for the right words, I responded to my daughter.
“Honey, remember when we watched Frosty the Snowman the other night? When Frosty put on the magic top hat, he came alive. His spirit of love danced and sang and brought joy to the children. That’s what God’s Spirit is like. When Jesus came to Earth, he placed the Spirit of Love in you and me and in all people. We have the Holy Spirit—Jesus’ Spirit—in us. That Spirit gives us the power to love and put good into the world, just like Frosty did.”
“Daddy, does that mean I’m magic?”
“Yes. The magic of God’s love is in you. But it’s better than magic because it’s real.”
My daughter placed her hands above her heart. Closed her eyes. Took a few deep breaths. Then with a joy larger than getting the best Christmas present in the world, she said, “Now I know why Jesus isn’t coming to our house this year. He’s already here. Here’s the Spirit of love in me.”
She reached toward me, placed her tiny hands on my chest and asked, “Can you feel Jesus too?”
—brian j plachta
Spiritual Practice: Embracing the Spirit of Love
Take a few moments for quiet.
Close your eyes.
Place your hands above your heart.
Take a few deep breaths.
Can you feel God’s warm, loving Presence?
Can you trust that Presence is real?
Can you let it transform you?
Then, move into the rest of your day, aware of the Spirit of Love within you, embracing you.
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