Christmas morning found me at one of my interfaith communities where I share spiritual sustenance. It is called Circle of Miracles, and for very good reason…miracles flow through the place, like sweet aroma of lavendar on a breeze, they reverberate in my ears like rhythm, rhyme and harmony and they glow brilliantly like illumination from on high. At the end of the service, as we share our miracles, offer healing for those in need, we wish each other “unrestricted miracles.”
On this day, the founding minister, Rev. Hannelore Goodwin offered inspiration in the form of what would (in other settings) be called a sermon, that she titled: ”What Did Jesus Know?” Before she put fingers to keyboard to write what she would be sharing, she sat in silence, went within and asked that question. What came through was nothing less than divine nourishment for body, mind and spirit. Call it channeling if you will…but it resonated as truth for me and with the nodding heads of the others who were in the room, it seemed, for them too.
The first word that issued forth for Hannelore, was heart-space and that indeed, she felt Jesus was that…a sacred vessel for offering the healing love that he knew he was without question. He recognized his purpose from an early age (at 12 years old, he was found communing with the elders, having spiritual discourse) and went about living it, in the face of challenge and disapproval. He would become still and silent and go within, asking his Source for guidance. He surrounded himself with support in the form of his disciples AND he clearly knew that he was in charge of his path and made decisions from that place. He was adept at using the laws of the universe to morph matter…turning water into wine, healing the sick and even transcending death, because he was never taught that he couldn’t. He was firmly rooted in what he knew and couldn’t be toppled or distracted from what he was called on to do. So powerful was that calling that it overcame societal mores. He was the soul of love and compassion AND he had the human emotions of anger and fear; honoring the dichotomy inherent in that. He walked between the worlds of life and death.
As I sat in the comfort of my trans-denominational community, where folks were raised in various ways, my shawl wrapped around me, I looked back at my relationship with Yeshua ben Joseph; born, according to the Old Testament, to a young, unwed mother, whose betrothed Joseph questioned the parentage of her son until he accepted his role as earthly father to the celestially fathered child. Mary, a nice Jewish girl like me, and Joseph raised Jesus in the Jewish tradition and later in his life, he was called Rabbi. No question about his earthly lineage and faith.
My relationship Jesus was a challenging one. Paradoxically although I was permitted to go to church with Christian friends, my father, in particular had a hard time with what people justified doing (including persecuting Jew) in Jesus’ name. There was an element of fear. When I began studying A Course in Miracles, I had headaches, feeling that the languaging flew in the face of my upbringing (Bat Mitzvah and Hebrew school until age 16) and my parents would have disapproved had they known. Later in life, I began to accept the ideas he embodied and found a picture (the one above) that spoke to me of the essence of Jesus. Laughing since he got the cosmic joke that we are all One ; as he was quoted as saying definitively “I and the Father are One.”
In 1998, I enrolled in The New Seminary to beome an interfaith minister. When I told my mother I was becoming a ministerial student and not a rabbinical student as they would have much preferred, she said, “I have only one question for you….are you converting?” This would have felt like a huge betrayal to my parents. “No”, I responded, “I’m expanding.” to embrace it all. “Ok. If that makes you happy, we support you.” and they came up from Florida to NYC for my ordination in 1999 at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine. An ultimate act of love and acceptance from them for which I am eternally grateful.
These days, Jesus feels like companion, friend and guide, not the hell-fire and brimstone judge that some would make Him out to be. Although I am not a biblical scholar, I like this quote:
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
“Timeless truth, I tell you: whoever believes in me, those works which I have done he will also do, and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to the presence of my Father.” Seems to me, Jesus made no bones about it, that we are capable of following his example and it would likely honor his teachings by living in that heart-space and acting on the very things Hannelore mentioned in her sharing on a beautiful crisp, clear Pennsylvania Christmas morning.