An Allegorical Christmas, Part 1
He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” Luke 18:27
There are those who shun the biblical telling of the Christmas story because it is too difficult to believe factually. From the impregnating of Mary by the Holy Spirit, to Joseph agreeing to marry his pregnant fiancé (as opposed to having her stoned to death), to the bright star in the sky, the shepherds leaving their flocks, and the wise men journeying from far away to pay homage to this Prince of Peace. Truly, it is an incredible story. While I believe that all things are possible with God, I also believe we can discern God’s will allegorically, and not just physically and factually.
What can one learn from the Christmas story who is not ready to make the leap of accepting the Biblical record as written? Let us begin with the Immaculate Conception. This story is foretold in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (7:14): “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” Fast forward a few hundred years to the first chapter of Luke where an angel tells Mary, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” Mary responds, “How can this be, since I am a virgin.” The angel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”
The virgin birth is a profound element of the Christmas story. Typically, virginity refers to one who has not had sexual relations. The word virgin, however, has a larger meaning. It also means pure, undefiled, new, and inexperienced. For example, a virgin forest is one whose trees have never been harvested. The Christmas story tells of the birth of a child – a child with an earthly mother and a spirit Father. Heaven and earth came together in this child. The Christmas story is not just the story of Jesus, however, it is the story of us.
We all wish to express our physical and spiritual natures. To do so, the spirit must impregnate us by entering to awaken and develop our spiritual nature. That experience begins to make us whole – fully human and fully spiritual. In order to awaken our spiritual nature, however, we must be sufficiently pure for the Spirit to enter. We must be submissive and willing not only to conceive but also to receive the new creation that will result. When that happens, we too have experienced an Immaculate Conception, not exactly in the way the Bible describes, but in the way the Bible implies can be true for all of us. Seen allegorically, this is our blueprint to achieving wholeness – becoming pure enough, open enough, virgin enough for the Spirit to express through us.
When we are willing to explain what the Christmas story means at its deepest and most personal level, the love of God will reach a mass of humanity who otherwise will continue to celebrate only the secular version of Christmas. Allegorically or factually, we find the same Savior.
Come home to church this Sunday. Allegorical Christmas blessings!