Before we get too far from the mysteries of Christmas, let me invite you to reflect on one of the most interesting passages in the Bible to me:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
The word translated "wise men" is "magos" which is defined as "the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc." (Strong's concordance).
The Magi were the first to make a great effort to follow Jesus. According to Luke, some shepherds went a few miles after perceiving angels - that's good. But the Wise Men probably traveled weeks if not months through the desert - that's amazing. How many of us would do that on the off chance of finding a single baby by way of a star? A star we came to understand as "his star." Just let that sink in for a minute. The odds against success are staggering even before considering the validity of the source of inspiration. We'd call such people crazy today. They would have been locked up for their own good in our society and given drugs until they stopped thinking in such ways.
The Bible tells us that the inspiration for the Wise Men came from astrological signs. Everybody saw the stars that were in the night sky (the above picture illustrates one possible scenario for "his star" that we saw in June a year ago and again this last August). Regardless of what was seen physically, no one else seems to have perceived what was going on. Not the priests, rabbis, Pharisees or Sadduccees who knew all of the Hebrew prophecies. The Bible implies that the Magi were the only ones who knew enough of astrology and the mystical arts in addition to prophecies to interpret and follow through on an accurate message from the heavens. And yet . . .
Christians are told not to consider astrology by the church. We are told not to talk to "seers" (people with psychic abilities). The mystical arts are looked at with great suspicion. Yet we still celebrate the wise men every year at Christmas and then at Epiphany. There's a disconnect there.
Here's how I deal with that.
Jesus said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Good advice. I try to do that. I only seek advice from people who believe in God – the Great I AM Whose character is Love - and are trying to live in alignment with the Divine. The point is to seek, accept and earnestly align with Heavenly Love and guidance as part of a life of faith - period. Test everything through prayer. Pay attention to that which passes testing for Divine Love. Keep praying and testing things as you seek to move with the Creative Forces of God (Like the Wise Men did – from following his star to following through on a message from a dream to go home another way than they came: Matthew 2:1-12). The rest that works is one way to seek to live in tune with Heavenly Guidance and Love.
Wise men and women still seek to align with God's Activities in ancient, Biblical ways (like dream interpretation and some mystical arts). Institutional religion just hasn't known what to do with the mysteries involved much of the time. I get that but shutting the door completely risks missing a lot.
You are not an institution with security issues. You are a person – living your divinely given life as a son or a daughter of God. Be humble and keep praying while seeking God's Will and Guidance. You do not have to employ them, but dreams, some astrology and other examples of modern magi (sincere seers trying to serve God along with Heavenly Helpers) are Biblical possibilities for guidance. Don't trust just any old “seer” or horoscope writer. Have very high standards for your sources or don't use them at all. And see your own prayer life as key to interpreting anything. Check-in with God and your angels regularly. In the depths of your heart you'll know what rings true to Divine Love.
I've found some very gifted helpers through friendships and the church (yes, the church. One of the most gifted spiritual intuitives I know is a Methodist who goes to church most every Sunday. She didn’t ask for her spiritual gift and it took her awhile to really accept it given churchly suspicions. She simply has it and seeks to help people with it, looking for God’s guidance all the way. She is a Christian Psychic). I thank God for leading me to these folks (or them to me). Again, testing for Divine Love through prayer is the key. Taking responsibility for pursuing one’s adventure with God is a big part of the process. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t seek God’s guidance in Biblical ways like prayerful dream interpretation and other sincere, prayerful means of spiritual discernment. Ask for God’s protection and guidance and then pay attention and listen. That’s what the Wise Men did. That’s what made them so wise.
More power to you in your grand adventure with God and the kingdom of heaven! I hope that these holidays include some truly holy moments for you. Thanks for journeying together.
(P.S. The rest that works is many things. One thing it gives us is a good framework for discernment. The next class starts Tuesday, Jan. 10th. Here are the details: http://www.therestthatworks.com/events-calendar.html. Let me know if you're interested since we will be limited to 10 people. I hope that you can come!).
A young, prayerful woman visited by the Holy Spirit . . .
A future husband realizing it through a dream . . .
Normal, everyday shepherds seeing and hearing angels . . .
Magi (astrologers) coming from the east because they saw his star . . .
Keep letting wonder win. That’s where God gets in . . .
Thanks for journeying together!
I love this picture of The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt. I especially like the eyes looking from different parts of the tree. I think that's a very good way to understand ourselves and all living beings relative to God. The rest that works is a way to settle in with The Spirit Behind and within all of Life as the branches that we really are.
Ego issues come up when we think of ourselves as independent contractors rather than branches. The branch perspective helps us retain a healthy sense of our individuality while also grounding us in a sense of our oneness in God. We all exist as expressions of a much Greater Being. As such, we are both free and connected (much like individual cells in a body).
I like breath meditation so much because it is a good way to experience key aspects of the branch perspective: I didn't start my breath or my heartbeat. Life did. I don't make them happen either. In fact, it's good that I don't try to take control of every breath and heartbeat. (Can you imagine the self-inflicted hell that would be?). The Spirit behind and within all of Life is undergirding my life all of the time, expressing life through me much like a tree expresses itself through it's branches. I often say, "Life-giving, Great I AM in me, please align the rest of me with You." Then I try to harmonize with the feel of the Creative Forces of God that give life. The graceful, unforced rhythms that give life feel wonderful and provide a good foundation from which to work everyday.
We'll be experimenting with things like that in our next series on the rest that works. I hope that you can come. If not, the books have all of the ideas and practices to try on your own.
Here's a link to the information on the next series:
Thanks and blessings,
(P.S. If you came to an earlier class and would like to come again, please do so. I've had a few people say they might and I think it's a very good idea. It takes time to develop new perspectives and practices. Otherwise, you can come to our monthly rest that works support group that will begin meeting again on the first Sunday of the month starting on Feb. 5th, from 6 - 7:30 pm. Thanks!).