On Sunday, December 12, 2021 Rev. Tony Ponticello gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
Once again, thank you all for being here. Nice to see so many people here today. The title of my talk today is, "A Christmas State of Mind." I do want to note that this is the last talk that I am going to give in calendar year 2021. I counted them up. It's the 28th talk I've given this year. I've spoken at 28 of our Sunday Gatherings, a little more than half. As Rev. Vincent Fuqua always says, when he starts his talks, "It's always an honor and a privilege." I'm thinking that too. It's an honor and a privilege to be able to organize my thoughts and share my thoughts with all of you. I truly want to thank you all for giving me that honor and that privilege. I want to express some honest gratitude.
Gratitude is one of the values of the Christmas season. We are grateful at Christmas time. If I'm going to get in a Christmas state of mind, I certainly want to reinforce gratitude, and I am grateful. I'm grateful for all of you for being there, giving me this opportunity, this honor, and this privilege. When I was getting ready to give the talk, and during the week with the shares I give to my Healing Team, I was thinking about Christmas. I did a search in A Course in Miracles, which I've done many times, for the word "Christmas." Christmas is one of the few holidays that actually is mentioned in A Course in Miracles. This quotation came up, "Christmas is not a time; it is a state of mind. The Christ Mind wills from the Soul, not from the ego, and the Christ Mind is yours." (OrEd.Tx.4.41)
So Christmas is not a time. It is a state of mind. Now, when I read that quote, I'd read it before, but there was just something that got me this time. It sounded a little unusual, and then I thought, I don't think that quotation is in the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) A Course in Miracles book. It's definitely in the Original Edition, which is the book that I usually use, but it's not located where the other Christmas quotations are, which is in Chapter 15. It's located in Chapter 4. So I did a search in the FIP book, and sure enough, it is not there. The text before it is there; the text after it is there. But these two sentences are not. This little Christmas quotation got edited out of the Foundation for Inner Peace book.
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When you truly think about this, the party line is that they edited out the personal material, so I just wondered "Why?" Why was this considered to be personal material? What prompted the decision to edit this out? Let me repeat it for you again. "Christmas is not a time; it is a state of mind. The Christ Mind wills from the Soul, not from the ego, and the Christ Mind is yours." (OrEd.Tx.4.41) This is a wonderful, beautiful idea. I love thinking about Christmas as a state of mind. Actually, that's a recurring theme that we hear. Elvis Presley once sang, "Why can't every day be like Christmas?" Why can't we be in the Christmas state of mind every day?
When I was thinking about the Christmas state of mind, first I had the thought of all the esoteric, spiritual ideas that go along with Christmas. I've already mentioned gratitude. It's always good. Be grateful at Christmas time. Be grateful for all the wonderful things that we have. Love, of course, we want to reinforce love and flow with love's energy. Abundance – on Christmas, we give gifts. It's abundant. Whatever's going on in our lives, we just give it all to ourselves, we give it all away, and we share. Giving, of course, is a truly important idea.
Peace, great Christmas idea. Joy, great Christmas idea. So if I'm going to have a Christmas state of mind, I'm definitely going to be in those attitudes: gratitude, love, abundance, giving, peace, joy, ... all of those things. I want to center on them, and I have been feeling them. This Thursday, my apartment mate, Michael and I, decorated our little tabletop Christmas tree that we do every year. We put on Christmas music, decorated of the tree. It's a small tree. It's just about three feet tall. It doesn't take all that long to decorate.
I also put some lights around the table and around the mirror on the wall above the table. After it was all decorated, I just sat there and looked at it. "Ahhh," I think everybody does that right after they decorate a tree. They turn the room lights off; they let the tree lights shine. Then they just sit there and look at their tree. I was in the Christmas state of mind then. All of those ideas of: love, abundance, giving, peace, joy, gratitude, ... they were all there. I thought about the Christmas party I'm planning. I thought, "Yea!" I thought about my sister Sara, who's coming to visit and to be here for the Christmas party, like she was for Thanksgiving day. I was in the Christmas state of mind.
Many years ago, there was a Christmas special called, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I know everybody knows this one. I'm talking about the original cartoon special that came out in 1966, which was a little half hour Christmas special, not the Jim Carey movie of a couple years ago, which was a good movie too. When I think about the spirit of Christmas and the Christmas state of mind, I think about How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The old miserable hermit, the Grinch, just thought Christmas was all about the gifts and the food. He figured out this crafty way with his dog, impersonating Santa and a reindeer, to go down to Whoville and steal all of Christmas.
He took all the trappings of Christmas and expected that on Christmas morning, everybody would be sad and they wouldn't know what to do, because Christmas hadn't come. Of course, the great message of the movie is that on Christmas morning, all the Whos got up and just held hands and sang. They were just like they always were on any Christmas morning. The Christmas spirit had come. The Christmas spirit wasn't about any of those things Grinch stole.
I was a young lad when that cartoon special first came out, and I probably saw it every year for a number of years. It has permeated my consciousness. It was communicating a great Christmas idea, that the Christmas spirit descends regardless. I was feeling in the Christmas spirit on Thursday night, regardless of all the things that are going on, and I've got some things going on in my life that are challenging.
But then I remember another A Course of Miracles quote about Christmas, that says, "Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas, for the time of Christ is meaningless apart from joy. Let us join in celebrating peace by demanding no sacrifice of anyone, for so will you offer me the love I offer you." (OrEd.Tx.15.108) We don't ask any sacrifice of anybody, and we don't let any despairing thoughts darken the joy. The Whos in Whoville didn't care that their decorations, their presents, and their special food were gone. They felt the joy of Christmas regardless.
Okay, what have I got challenging going on? The big thing right now is I lost my office assistant. There's a lot of work to do at the Community Miracles Center office, a lot that we do all the time. I've had an assistant for the past year, but she recently got a job that paid more, and she left with just a week's notice. I'm suddenly there in the office without my assistant. It seems like a tremendous amount of work to do that I don't know how I'm going to get done.
So there's that. I also sometimes have despairing thoughts about what's going on in the world. I have despairing thoughts about how some countries, and a little bit the United States too, seem to be drifting towards totalitarianism: Australia, Austria, Canada, and a little bit here in the United States. I've seen videos of very strong arm police tactics. It seems like tyranny, and that's disturbing to me. However, "Let no despair darken the joy of Christmas" (OrEd.Tx.15.108) Rise above that.
This week, my idea of freedom of speech was challenged, because I got notified from YouTube that they had removed one of my videos, the video of the talk I gave just a few weeks ago on October 24th, called Bamboozled! I dialogued with them. I asked, "Could you tell me what in the video you are objecting to?" Maybe I'll just delete that part. Did I say something I wasn't supposed to say? I don't mind removing a small part. I was willing to delete the "objectionable" part. I listened to the video, and actually, it's one of my tamer videos. I really couldn't figure out what the hell is in this video that bothered YouTube. I talked about how we're fooled by the ego. We're fooled by the ego into thinking that this world is real. We've been bamboozled by the ego, to think that bodies are real, and this life and death that we see here in the world is real. It's hard for us to let go of that bamboozle. I didn't talk at all about vaccination. So – I don't know. I appealed their decision. They denied my appeal. They wouldn't tell me what it was about the video they thought was against their "community guidelines."
I had been posting my videos for about a year and a half on alternative platforms. Bamboozled! is still viewable if you go to BitChute, which is an alternative to YouTube. I'm also posting all my videos now on Rumble, which is another alternative video platform. I've got all my videos over the past two years on BitChute, and I'm getting them all on Rumble now a little at a time.
My video getting censored was a little despairing. What's going on in the country that we can't talk about spiritual ideas? I wasn't advocating the violent overthrow of the U.S. government or anything like that. I didn't give any healthcare guidance, recommendations, or even opinions. I really don't know what YouTube got upset about. I've asked a few other people to watch the video, the people always say something like, "What is it they don't like about this video?" I reply, "I don't know."
YouTube removing my video, world governments having strong arm police tactics, totalitarian measures, losing my office assistant – I can have thoughts of despair. But A Course of Miracles has another wonderful teaching about Christmas. The Course says "This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely that you may join with Him in healing, and let us celebrate our release together by releasing everyone with us." (OrEd.Tx.15.103) This Christmas, every Christmas, every day – since every day is supposed to be like Christmas and the Christmas state of mind should be every day – we give those things which we are using to hurt ourselves to Holy Spirit. I'm using those things I just mentioned and the thoughts I have about them to hurt myself. I'm just going to give it all to the Holy Spirit. It's under the Holy Spirit's guidance.
People say, "What are you going to do about getting a new office assistant?" I reply, "Well, I'll do whatever I'm guided to do, whatever we can do. And it's in Holy Spirit's hands." I've turned it over to Holy Spirit, and I trust that the right person is on their way. I do that with the world situation too. I do that with my video being removed from YouTube. I do what Holy Spirit guides me to do. I'm very grateful that Holy Spirit guided me to start a channel on BitChute a year and a half ago, because BitChute is known for not censoring videos and advocating free speech. They're all there, and I'm getting a lot of views on BitChute.
In truth, I'm totally protected. "A happy outcome to all things is sure." (OrEd.WkBk.292) I've given all these things to Holy Spirit, and that's what we're supposed to do at Christmas time. That way I stay at peace.
When I first heard this quote about a Christmas state of mind, I thought of the Billy Joel song. Billy Joel had the song called "A New York State of Mind" that he released in 1976. That goes back a ways. But that's how I thought of the energy when I thought of a Christmas state of mind.
Billy Joel starts his song, I'm going to paraphrase here a little bit. (Rev. Tony sings.)
"Some folks like to get away,
Take a holiday from the neighborhood,
Hop a flight to Miami beach or to Hollywood.
But I'm taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River line
I'm in a Christmas state of mind."
The whole thrust of the Billy Joel song is he didn't have to do anything special right now. He's understanding that some people like to take holidays and to do all these things and go to fun places like Miami Beach or Hollywood. But right now where he's at, he's just taking the bus to get back to the city that he's from, the city that he loves, New York City.
That's how I feel this year about Christmas. I don't have to go any place special. Actually, I never go any place special for Christmas. I'm just really happy to be in my home in my city, in my neighborhood, with my friends, with the local members of our congregation, especially the ones who will gather on Christmas day, with my sister, who's going to visit. I'm happy to be in a Christmas state of mind just doing the normal everyday things. I talked about those spiritual, esoteric ideals and values that we associate with Christmas, but we also associate a lot of simple worldly, mundane, regular day-to-day things with Christmas. And that's the energy of the Billy Joel song.
I've already talked about Christmas decorations. They're popping up all over San Francisco, and they're popping up in my own home. As I said, I decorated the Christmas tree. Another worldly thing is on Christmas, we get together with family and friends. We especially try to make a special effort to get together with those ones who we don't see all that often or that regularly anymore, and to reconnect with them, to really make an effort. And a Christmas state of mind is expressing that energy to reconnect to old friends, friends that you don't see quite as often, and just really reaffirm your oneness and your connection to them and with them.
And what a wonderful thing that is. It's a real reaffirmation of our oneness with everyone. On Christmas, we connect with people who maybe we don't share a lot of day-to-day things in common with, but we share life. We share being a Holy Divine Child of God. We're all Whos in Whoville on Christmas, and Christmas day is a day to reaffirm that.
We associate Christmas with holiday food. Let's face it, Christmas is a big food holiday, and it's a big comfort food holiday. We don't think too much about healthy eating on Christmas. I know some people do, but Christmas day is that one day when you really let go of all that, and everybody has special foods that they associate with Christmas. I'm from an Italian American household. Panettone, that Italian dessert bread, it's a light white bread, but it has all kinds of little pieces of candy fruit baked into it. (See picture on the cover.) It's a little on the sweet side. It's wonderful to cut a big slice of that, toast it, put on some butter, melt the butter on it, and eat a big piece of toasted Panettone.
As an Italian American, our traditional Christmas dinner was Italian meatballs, Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and spaghetti. And that's what I'm making for my Christmas holiday dinner. I'm going to make meatballs in my special tomato sauce, my recipes, and spaghetti, because that's what I associate Christmas with. That's my comfort food.
Christmas carols mean a Christmas state of mind. As I said, it's those highfalutin spiritual things, but it's also the regular day-to-day mundane things like Billy Joel was singing about. So it's singing Christmas carols. It doesn't matter if they're a little corny. I like the spiritual ones. I love "O Holy Night." I have refrained from singing that because I cannot hit that high note in "O Holy Night." I try every once in a while. Maybe I'll give it a shot this year.
"O Holy Night," "Joy to the World," "Silent night," "O Come All Ye Faithful," which we just sang, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Hark! The Herald Angels." I try to sing all of those at some time during the Christmas season, because they just feel like Christmas to me. They put me in a Christmas state of mind. So one of the ideas that I got yesterday, and I shared it with my Healing Team last night, is not to over intellectualized Christmas, not over think it, just to indulge in it. It's like jumping in the water cause the water's going to be fine and fun. Jump in with the esoteric, high spiritual idea, and jump in with the day-to-day worldly, mundane things as well.
Figure out what's going to work for you and let it be a combination of all those things. Don't over think it. I think Billy Joel was onto something in "A New York State of Mind." Don't over think it. Just be happy, and joyful, and glad, and grateful, for the day-to-day of your life, because underneath it all is that eternal, infinite love that is there for all of us all the time.
In that reading that Rev. Dusa Althea read, along with the Christmas being a state of mind quote that is not in the Foundation for Inner Peace book, there is also this quote which actually is in the FIP book. A Course in Miracles says "The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen." (OrEd.Tx.4.43) The Course gives us that affirmation. That's what I need to think about when I tend to indulge in: I don't have an employee, or totalitarianism is like creeping into the world, my video was removed from YouTube, or any of those types of things. "The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen." (OrEd.Tx.4.43)
Then A Course in Miracles says this, "That was written in that form because it is a good thing to use as a … prayer in moments of temptation … a Declaration of Independence." (OrEd.Tx.4.43-44) That is my prayer this holiday season. That is my declaration of independence. That is my prayer for Christmas. "The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen." (OrEd.Tx.4.43)
The ultimate Christmas energy probably is peace. "God's answer is some form of peace." (OrEd.WkBk.359) We're going to come to that lesson right on Christmas day. I think about the holiday season and my traditional holiday season growing up in the Northeast part of the country – the wintertime and the snow. When heavy snow is falling, it just dampens all the sound. Many of you maybe have never had a real experience of a heavy snowfall and what it's like, but those snowflakes coming down through the air, they just dampen all the sound. It gets very, very quiet, and that's a wonderful Christmas state of mind to get into midst all the joyful celebrating.
There is a quiet that descends on everyone. The chatter of the ego is gone, because all those things that we would use to hurt us, we have offered to the Holy Spirit. And the only thing that remains is the love and the joy of the holiday. That's the Christmas state of mind. So I'll end the way the Billy Joel song ends. (Rev. Tony sings again.)
"I don't have any reasons,
I've left them all behind.
I'm in a Christmas state of mind."
Merry Christmas, everybody. WooHoo! ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20 minister. He currently (12.27.22) serves on the CMC's Executive Minister and is President of CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
Rev. Tony Ponticello
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the December 2021 (Vol. 35 No. 10) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.