As Jesus was recorded as saying by his follower John, God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. This statement is at the heart of our Spiritualist philosophy. And as Paul stated some years later after Jesus had been killed by the Roman occupiers of his country, Israel, we are all spirit beings here in the physical body. What is more, Paul also reiterated that there are many gifts of the spirit with which fact we Spiritualists are happily cognisant.
We also accept wholeheartedly that Paul received a great deal of communication from Jesus after he was deemed dead to this life. The clue to the core beliefs of Spiritualism is in its name – spirit, spiritual, plus an ‘ism’ meaning appertaining to spirit and spiritual…
However, for all that all pervading focus on spirit and life after death in spirit, it places emphasis on rationalism and therefore seeks to provide a constant proof of these facts within its religious practices. Like the early Christians before the Council of Nicaea constrained Christianity, branding those with differing views as heretics, we focus on the example and teachings of Jesus’ life, the resurrection and the promised life hereafter.
There is no evidence for the legend that the Council decided on the canon of books that make up the Old and New Testaments, but they did intensely debate the existing biblical texts and interpreted the New as their doctrine aka the Nicene Creed. Those bishops who refused to accept it were banished… It was decided that a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, a Christ Mass, would replace the pagan Saturnalia. This enabled the mid-winter licentiousness to continue under the auspices of the Established, orthodox, Church of Rome. The date? December 25th.
In the Bible the seasons are only ever referred to as summer and winter. Winter’s darkness, damp and cold, has ever cried out for some contrived warmth and light – of the spiritual kind as well as physical. And hope for the return of sunnier, longer days. What better than to celebrate the birth of the one who was born 43to bring spiritual light and warmth to the world with everlasting life; and why not around the time of the shortest day and longest night. If only it could have truly replaced barbarism and materialism with the message of peaceful co-existence and love for all fellow human beings that had actually happened, and had not been pressed into service as just a ploy to curry popular favour. A ploy with dire consequences for many outside the Roman Church over millennia. Particularly in its persecution of Jews…
Born a Jew, in which tradition babies’ births were recorded only as the nearest holy day, Jesus’ birth date was not remarked in eye witness or later narratives of his life and work, but according to some distinguished scholars it works out as near the Jewish New Year in September. An auspicious time of year indeed! December 25th continues to be popularly singled out for merry- making, but whatever date Jesus was delivered, we shouldn’t forget the significance of the angels who appeared in a blaze of light to those shepherds watching their flocks at night, more likely at harvest-time, who told them that they brought news of great joy; the birth of a bringer of peace and love and everlasting life for all who walk the earth.
Here in Littleport in the heart of the English countryside, we ask the Great and Holy Spirit to grant comfort and joy for all, with health and a measure of happiness throughout the winter months and for God to help us make it a ‘Happy Christmas’ every day.
Words to the hymn ‘Help us make it happy Christmas every day’ are in the New Spiritualists’ Society Little Blue Hymn Book.
The Most Reverend, The Primus, NSS.