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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Two - The First Initiation - The Birth at Bethlehem
When Christ was born in Bethlehem, a threefold Word sounded forth. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (St. Luke, II, 14) A triple Word was then given to us. It was chanted by angels in the night to the shepherds tending their flocks in the fields surrounding the stable-cave where the infant Child lay. A unique event had happened in the cosmos, and the hosts of heaven did honor to it.

This question of the earth's uniqueness has often troubled thinking people. Can so infinitesimal an atom in space as our planet be indeed of such interest to God that He permitted this great experiment to be tried here? Is the mystery of man and the significance of our purpose of such importance that nowhere else can it be paralleled?

Can anything really happen on this "ball of dust" of such vital import that it can warrant the angels in singing: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men"? We like to think that it can be so. We dread the moment when our futility appears as we look upon the stars of heaven, realizing that there are thousands of millions of universes and tens of thousands of millions of constellations! We are such specks in a great immensity.

Perhaps we are of more importance than we had guessed. Perhaps what happens to us in the realm of consciousness really does matter in the cosmic scheme. We know that it does not much matter what happens to the body. It is what happens in and through that body which counts. Perhaps what happens in and through the body, which we call a planet, indwelt likewise by God, is of vital moment in the plans of God Himself. This would give meaning to life; it is only when we apprehend meaning and appreciate it that we can understand the significance of the Word spoken at the birth of Christ. Let us paraphrase the message of the angels. It came from a group of beings and was spoken to [71] a group of beings. It is therefore a world message, a message which still awaits response. When the consciousness which is Christ's has been awakened in all men, then we shall have peace on earth and goodwill among men. When this has taken place, then will God be glorified. The expression of our divinity will bring to an end the hatred rampant upon earth and break down all the separating walls which divide man from man, group from group, nation from nation, religion from religion. Where there is goodwill there must be peace; there must be organized activity and a recognition of the Plan of God, for that Plan is synthesis; that Plan is fusion; that Plan is unity and at-one-ment. Then Christ will be all in all, and God the Father will be glorified. This must be brought about by a living union with God through Christ - through the historical Christ Who revealed God, and through the individual Christ, hidden in every human heart, Who must be brought to birth. None of the Epistles in the New Testament make this so clear as the Epistle to the Ephesians, for there is given the picture of possibility in terms that leave no excuse for misinterpretation. This epistle is:

"...penetrated through by that idea of a living union with Christ, and indwelling in Him. It is expressed in many metaphors. We are rooted in Him as the tree in the soil, which makes it firm and fruitful. We are built into Him as the strong foundations of the Temple are bedded in the living rock. We live in Him as the limbs in the body... The indwelling, we say, is reciprocal. He is in us and we are in Him. He is in us as the source of our being; we are in Him as filled with His fullness. He is in us all-communicative; we are in Him all-receptive. He is in us as the sunlight in the else darkened chamber; we are in Him as the cold green log cast into the flaming furnace glows through and through with ruddy and transforming heat. He is in us as the sap in the veins of the tree; we are in Him as the branches"
- Sermons, A. MacLaren, 3rd Series, pp. 71, 72.

The realization of this is needed today. Christ in God. God in Christ. Christ in you and Christ in me. This is [72] what will bring into being that one religion which will be the religion of love, of peace on earth, of universal goodwill, of divine understanding, and of the deep recognition of God. Then His impress and His life can be seen everywhere, in everybody and everything. The divine "signature" (as Boehme calls it) will everywhere be recognized. The life of God is today agitating the minds of men and causing them to move towards the birth chamber. From there they will pass into a new world where higher ideals and deeper contacts and richer understandings will characterize humanity.

When Christ came, we read that those of vision who were prepared said, "We have seen his star in the East and are come to worship him." (St. Matt., II, 2.) This was the Sign given to the few who were ready, and who had made the necessary journey to Bethlehem. But another sign was seen by the many, and given by the angel of the Lord to the shepherds who were watching in the fields by night. "And this shall be a sign unto you, Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." (St. Luke, II, 12.) Here was a sign given to those watching ones, two or three, who were ready to consecrate their all, who perceived the star of initiation flashing forth and hastened to the initiation chamber. The larger number, who were interested and watching, needed a more concrete and more easily interpreted sign and were sent to see the infant with his mother. Their attitude is expressed in the words, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass." (St. Luke, II, 15.) But the three who understood came to worship and to give.

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