The Christmas story as we know it is not found in Mark, the first Gospel.  Nor in John, the last Gospel.  Nor in Paul’s epistles, the first writer in the Christian Bible.  It is less historical than it is pedagogy and art with a stirring story with many dimensions to it.

The Christmas Gospel. Photo by WI-Photos. Wikimedia Commons.

The story is filled with memorable promises and exciting good news and it becomes a microcosm of the larger story that follows in both Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels, a creative feat that renders the first and the last gospel all the more rich and interesting.

When I re-read the story, now in my 81st year, these are some themes I see celebrated there:

–The cosmos.  Angels, stars, sheep, oxen, donkeys, (see Is 1:1), night, darkness, mangers, are all players in the story.

–And “Glory,” doxa, always a sign of the Cosmic Christ, is the first word out of the angels’ mouth: “Glory to God in the highest and Peace to all people of good will.”  Glory begets peace.

“Doxa” (Glory) Original painting by M.C. Richards, gifted to Matthew Fox.

–Ecology and Mother Earth.  If “ecology is functional cosmology,” as Tom Berry proposes, then the Earth is very well represented as well and many of her creatures mentioned above.

–Humility and Earth, humus, marry.

–Inclusiveness is present—pagan magi, peace promised to all people of good will, the poor are the primary characters including shepherds and Jesus’s parents banished from the Inn.  The rich magi bring gifts but they also bring reverence and respect to a tiny baby.

–Birth and mothering and the Mother are highlighted.

–The poor and outcast are central players.

–A father—Joseph—protects his family.

–Family is important even for survival’s sake.

A Ukrainian religious painting, from an iconostasis, showing the Adoration of the Shepherds, c. 1650-1700. Wikimedia Commons.

–Peace is promised.

–Hope is promised.

–Paradox is present in many instances.  A Prince of peace born in a manger amidst poverty and animals is one such example

–Love of virtue and values is honored

–Joy occurs.

–Hints of suffering are strong including a message to be wary of empires and their representatives.

–A deep Yes plays a big role (Mary’s response to the angel at the annunciation).

–A deep No is hinted at as well regarding the values of empires and the power they wield.

–Suffering is in the air too.

See Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 53-58, 65-70. 

And Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. 

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “The Nativity” Crayon drawing by Adolf Hölzel (1853–1934). Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

Spend time taking in these themes from Christmas.  Which most strike you as important for today?  What further themes emerge for you from the Christmas stories?

Recommended Reading

Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.

This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

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9 thoughts on “Themes of Christmas”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you! I’ve been thinking about midrash and our own gleanings from Lectio Divina, appreciating the treasure of imagination in faith development. Your reflection here supports reverence in the experience of Mystery made palpable. Blessed Christmas Season to All!

  2. Avatar

    Coincidentally as a global partnership launched a space telescope whose mission is to look deeper, Mathew Fox helps us look deeper at the cosmic event called Christmas. There has always been more good going on than we can see. }:- a.m.

  3. Avatar

    A deep bow to you Matthew, for guiding us through these very dark times to this moment of love and light. I have to admit it has been very hard for me to stay with these recent daily meditations and at times I couldn’t go on. Thank you for holding the lamp of Creation Spiritualty on High!
    A new day is dawning.
    Yours in this cosmic dance Of love and light and suffering and hope, Always hope,

  4. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew for clarifying and reminding us of the power of story. Part of me has always shied away from the sentimentality of the manger scene with angels and shepherds, but it is really a very deep story with all the themes that you list. A theme that strikes me also is the courage of a teenager far from home without family or midwife to help birth her baby in such potentially squalid conditions. I wish that more churches would go deeper, as you always do, with these themes.

  5. Avatar

    Thank you. The Infancy Narratives do speak to me very deeply and they have so much to teach us. Thank you for reminding us that we don’t need to get lost in debates about historical accuracy but should take in the bigger picture of what the stories have to say,

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Michael, Thank you for your comment and after years of studying theology, philosophy, and the Bible in general–though I used to get lost in debates I have found that as you say, “we don’t need to get lost in debates about historical accuracy but should take in the bigger picture of what the stories have to say…”

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