I think many of us believe we’re guided by our dreams at times. A few days before the death of my mother last year, I had what I called a healing dream, an affirmation of the journey of the soul to the next worlds. “My soul sings the song I received, as it flies down to the broad calm sea, dotted with white sails, boats on brave journeys, sailing to a glimpsed peace on the far horizon.”
In The Urantia Book (The UB), several dreams are accredited to the traditional Biblical Christmas story. A purpose of The UB is sometimes to sort, evaluate, and adjust accepted history, to present us a coherent picture of the nature of reality. Its version of the birth of Jesus makes several new adjustments to the received myth.
“At the noontide birth [August 21, 7 B.C.] of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias [father of John the Baptist].” (122:8.5)
How did these priests, known as the Magi (Persian astrologers), come to learn of the advent of Jesus? What inspired their month-long caravan journey to Jerusalem? It was a contact with an unnamed spiritual teacher, “These priests from Mesopotamia had been told sometime before by a strange religious teacher of their country that he had had a dream in which he was informed that "the light of life" was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews. And thither went these three teachers looking for this "light of life.” (122:8.6)
Such dreams, harbingers of Michael’s bestowal, occur several times in the narrative. Zacharias, the father of John, later to become “the Baptist,” learned about Jesus in a dream. “It was not until about six weeks before John’s birth that Zacharias, as the result of an impressive dream, became fully convinced that Elizabeth was to become the mother of a son of destiny, one who was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.” (122:2.5)
Notice that he views the birth through the lens of Jewish tradition, “the long-expected Messiah,” (122:4.2) a role Jesus later disavowed. Dreams do not necessarily give accurate information.
In Joseph’s dream, we come upon a significant detail: he is told by a celestial messenger. “Joseph did not become reconciled to the idea that Mary was to become the mother of an extraordinary child until after he had experienced a very impressive dream. In this dream a brilliant celestial messenger appeared to him…” (122:4.1)
The “angel” Gabriel’s appearances to Elizabeth and Mary are described as supernatural. Why not the vivid dreams of Joseph and Zacharias? They seem so much more than dreams, more like divine visitations. The UB is normally cautionary about the “great danger in all these psychic speculations” (100:5.6) about dream life.
The term “supernatural event” is used to describe the contact of the seraphim through midwayers. "Certain wise men of earth knew of Michael’s impending arrival. Through the contacts of one world with another, these wise men of spiritual insight learned of the forthcoming bestowal of Michael on Urantia. And the seraphim did, through the midway creatures, make announcement to a group of Chaldean priests whose leader was Ardnon. These men of God visited the newborn child in the manger. The only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus was this announcement to Ardnon and his associates by the seraphim of former attachment to Adam and Eve in the first garden." (119:7.6)
Many have puzzled over this paragraph and its strong implication that there were more “wise men of earth” who learned of the Creator Son’s birth/bestowal, more than just the famous Persian star-followers.
Urantian author, Merritt Horn, once asked the question, “If the seraphim’s announcement to the priests was ‘the only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus,’ then to what does the phrase in the very same paragraph, ‘through the contacts of one world with another’ refer?”
Are contacts that don’t involve appearances by Gabriel or midwayers more normal in some way? By inference then, the dreams that Joseph, Zacharias, and “the strange religious teacher” had are a more natural means of communication, not considered supernatural per The UB.
Perhaps quite a few wise men experienced dream contacts. But only Ardnon and his fellows had direct seraphic contact, as if the seraphim had discovered men of action and, through direct confrontation, decided to more strongly encourage the “wise men” to make their pilgrimage.
Scientists have offered different versions of what the astronomical event, the Star of Bethlehem, probably was. One theory coincides with The UB’s date: the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn between May and December of 7 B.C. http://www.space.com/14036-christmas-star-bethlehem-comet-planet-theories.html
It was three weeks after Jesus’ birth that, “they came bearing gifts,” to Mary (Matthew 2:1-12).
“These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces.” (122:8.7)
May the light of the gospel, given by our great master-teacher, shine brightly as that star in our lives in the coming year.
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