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Holiday Cheer, Wassail! Wassail!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017    


What is it about the season? How Christmas inspires such expressions of good cheer? As we attend holiday gatherings, even with our knowledge of their roots in midwinter pagan celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia, they still work their magic. Our merriness and mirth make resentments melt away. In conversations around the feast table, creativity spontaneously blossoms and emerges.

“How can a creative imagination produce worthy children when the stage whereon it functions is already preoccupied by prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries?” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 111:4.9)

This winter solstice is the time of year when all that, the prejudices, hate and fears, fades away. We may even wake up like Mr. Scrooge on Christmas morning, "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! (A Christmas Carol, Dickens)

Jesus also understood how his apostles who “had hardly become accustomed to living and working together,” (143:3.1) would benefit from diversion and reversion. While in Samaria, he took them up Mount Sartaba away from the difficult relations with John the Baptist’s disciples. Also “the contact with the gentiles and the Samaritans was a great trial to these Jews.”

“While attaining satisfactory socialization of the personality on intellectual and vocational levels, further perfect the ability to live in intimate contact with similar and slightly dissimilar beings with ever-lessening irritability and ever-diminishing resentment. The reversion directors contribute much to this latter attainment through their group-play activities.” (43:8.9)

Tensions that have accumulated over the passing year slip away. Once again we enjoy revived fellowship with old friends and companions. We understand difficulties and disagreements in a more sympathetic, accepting way. “If someone irritates you, causes feelings of resentment, you should sympathetically seek to discern his viewpoint, his reasons for such objectionable conduct. If once you understand your neighbor, you will become tolerant, and this tolerance will grow into friendship and ripen into love.” (100:4.4)

We begin to enjoy our differences, learn to love each other more, as we lift our glasses, make toasts, and reminisce about the days of old, “those were the days, oh, yes, those were the days.”

“When partially exhausted by the efforts of attainment, and while awaiting the reception of new energy charges, there is agreeable pleasure in living over again the enactments of other days and ages.” (48:4.10)

Christmas is a time for nostalgic reflection. “The future signifies struggle and advancement; it bespeaks work, effort, and achievement; but the past savors of things already mastered and achieved; contemplation of the past permits of relaxation and such a carefree review as to provoke spirit mirth and a morontia state of mind verging on merriment.” (48:4.12)

Reversion and rest greatly changed the apostles’ state of mind while in Samaria. Starting down the mountain back to camp, “Their return from this holiday marked the beginning of a period of greatly improved relations with the followers of John. Many of the twelve really gave way to mirth when they noted the changed state of everybody's mind and observed the freedom from nervous irritability which had come to them as a result of their three days' vacation from the routine duties of life. There is always danger that monotony of human contact will greatly multiply perplexities and magnify difficulties.” (143:3.7)

“They never forgot the day going up the mountain. Throughout the entire trip hardly a word was said about their troubles. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Jesus seated them about him while he said: "… You must realize that the best method of solving some entangled problems is to forsake them for a time. … Again, many times your problem is found to have shrunk in size and proportions while you have been resting your mind and body." (143:3.3) …

And so our holiday time offers a break from day-to-day routines and struggles, a celebration of the past, an opportunity to be with each other, and have fun. Here’s to a recharged spirit to face anew the trials of social brotherhood ahead!


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