Christmas is Champagne

The closest thing to man in the world is not the ape, it is the grape.

Grapes, like humans, come in many varieties, shades of red and green, sweet and sour, seeded or seedless. Like people, the grape can be used in a myriad of ways. It can be a juicy fruit, or a dry raisin, or squeezed to drink.

It is fun to think of one’s self as a grape. I wonder what kind of a grape I am. Am I a big sweet white grape or a shriveled rotten one? Or, in my old age, am I a dried up raisin? Did my sister turn to vinegar? I wonder if the girls waving their batons in the parade are grape juice.

The royal role for grape is wine. Wine is the only living beverage. Unlike spirits (e.g. whiskey) or fruit juice, wine improves over time. It is alive! Like people, wine is influenced by environment. The quality of the wine depends on the type of grape and the soil and weather conditions.

When Jesus Christ raised a glass of red wine and said, “Drink of this you all, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant” He was deliberately lifting up the grape. It was not because there was no water, or lemonade nearby that Christ used the glass of red wine to be His blood. It was because red wine promotes health of the blood-processing and nutrient-distributing heart, the core of our embodied life.

According to Saint John the Evangelist, when Jesus was on the Cross, after several hours of suffering He cried that He was thirsty, so they sent up a sponge dipped in vinegar. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished.' Then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit." (John 19:28-30)

Sour wine, vinegar, is the end of the line, it has finished living. Perhaps the instant the vinegar quenched Christ’s thirst it hit His bloodstream and turned His blood to wine. Perhaps Jesus Christ reversed the death of the grape, just as He restored immortality to humanity.

That is one imaginative theory for why when the Church claims that wine-flavored Eucharist really is Christ’s blood; we are 100% right! Christ’s blood when infused by the vinegar became wine! It is holy chemistry!

It should not be surprising to note that the grapevine lives for an average of 33 years, the number of years Christ walked on earth. It is all so perfect!. If Saints were grapes, they would be fine wine.

Baby Jesus, in grape form, is Champagne! Champagne bubbles are produced during a second fermentation in a strong bottle that can withstand great pressure. Christ's dual nature can be compared to this second step. As God with us His human nature is formed by the pressure of His condescension from divine to human! Therefore, I say it is most fitting to celebrate Christmas with champagne! Partake of the symbol of baby Jesus,

Baby Jesus is the break-through of sunrise after a very long dark night. Celebrate His arrival with the royal champagne grape!

Merry Christmas!


People are grapes.
Saints are wine.
Jesus is Champagne.

Christ - mas

Dear Fellow Aspiring Immortal,

On my trip to the Holy Land, I visited the birthpoint of Christ, and send you these pictures.

This place reminded us of the humanity of Christ. To quote James Martin, SJ in his wonderful book, 'Jesus a Pilgrimage' "God comes to the world as a human being, at the risk of confusing Mary and Joseph, so the rest of us will not be confused. Confused about God? Look at Jesus. See what he does. Listen to his words."

Jesus came to fetch us Adams and Eves after the expulsion that separated humans from God’s perfect will for us to live happily near Him forever. Jesus came to heal us, to comfort us and to teach us God’s ways. He came to guide us through this life and ultimately to annihilate death for us.

For all of these reasons and more, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving.

Our Christmas gifts to each other and to the poor are simply tiny reflections of our Creator’s enormous gift.

May you experience the newest year ever by taking some of your precious time on earth to study Christ through the Gospels and then by listening for the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, counsel you personally in your heart, and discover the wealth that true life has to offer. Let the New Year renew you.

With love,


The Mark of Christmas

The Mark is the target formed by the commands of Christ. They teach us how to be like God, how to become a child of God. Unlike most teachers and preachers, Jesus Christ shows by example everything He tells us to do, and more. The wisest among us study Christ's life as much as we study His teachings. Even his birth teaches.

I wonder if it was even harder to be born than it was to be crucified. We think that the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion was the ultimate act of love because we can identify with the unfair trial, or imagine people jeering at us with disdain. We can imagine the embarrassment of the public flogging and the grief and agony of leaving behind our friends and family at death.

On the other hand, we can no more imagine the human birth of God’s only begotten Son than we can remember our own.

When Christ told the man to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and follow him, was He reminded of Christmas when He shed the glory of the heavenly throne to become a helpless infant born to modest parents in a stable? Jesus Christ let go of everything He had to give us eternal life in obedience to His Father. He has indeed done everything He asks us to do.

The Mark of Christmas is to find ways to emulate this level of love, humility, and adventure!

Hark! Do you hear herald angels singing?

I pray that this Christmastime brings you the humbling awareness of the enormous sacrifice that became Christmas.

Maybe our extensive debt-making gift-buying is one way to do it! Spend all that you have on your friends and enemies and follow Him.

Peace to you,

Abundance to you,

Light in you,


The Outside-In Christmas

The Tree

The tree of Life planted in the garden, to be the antidote for the poison apple, is an evergreen. (Genesis 3:22) Perhaps now we can eat of it and live forever. But where is its fruit?

The Lights

Twinkling lights fill our tree to remind us that “the people who sat [walked] in darkness have seen a great Light, (Matthew 4:16) and for those who sat [dwelt] in the land [of intense darkness] and shadow of death Light has dawned." [Isaiah 9:2]


"The true Light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world." (John 1:9). It’s more than beautiful.

The Balls

Shiny reflective balls and satin ones too hang on our tree. Let’s eat this fruit with our eyes and fill our hearts with the joy of Life.

The Ornaments

Little people, birds, angels, and all kinds of things hang on our evergreen tree limbs. We hang samples of the whole wide world on our tree because it is this world that is being illuminated with the Light. Hallelujah!

Do you add tinsel for sparkling rain, or ribbons of popcorn or satin to dance around your tree of light and life?

The Star

We stretch to place that star on top of the tree because it is the star that guided the wise men to the infant King. Here it is, landed at its destination, and here it rests forever. Mission accomplished!

The Gifts

Hidden inside pretty packages, that are as much a mystery as the mystery of Christ Himself, we discover the joy, or comfort, or relief from need that good gifts bring.

The gifts we give each other send a message of love. They say, “In this moment of giving and receiving we connect to each other.” Love is a connection.

Not until we make the effort to tear away the paper, open the boxes, no, not until we make the effort to find Christ (to understand the mystery of His miraculous life) do we get the happiness inside.

The Wreath

No beginning and no end. Christ’s life is timeless. Jesus the Christ (Gr. Messiah) was with God when the earth was created, along with everything on the earth both visible and invisible. After the crucifixion He showed that He was still alive. Death did not destroy Him. He is alive today.

His disguises keep changing (John 21:14) but His personality never changes. He is funny, sarcastic, compassionate and demanding. There is no beginning and no end to His love.

The Music

Joy to the world; we can’t be silent! The news is too good! So we burst out in song. With harmony, melody, and lyrics, a chorus expresses the explosion of mirth in our hearts. And in this chorus we are, if only for the moment of song, united to each other, as always it should be.

The Food

What is life without food? As our souls are nourished by this joyous occasion, so do our bodies join in the celebration. Ah Christmas flavors; tongues and noses, tummies too rejoice together! I say rejoice!

The Bills

Love is a sacrifice. The commercial debt we owe is nothing compared to the debt we owe God, the Father. It’s significant that debt is part of this occasion. The world asks to be paid by work, Heaven asks for recognition and conformance to His image. Let’s pay up and be free!

The Point of it All

“For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior,  who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Jesus, the Christ (Gr. Messiah) was sent to earth, with a pocketful of miracles, gifts of healing and wisdom to illuminate our path back to the Father God who is our Creator, and the source of our Life.

We were not created just to consume and die. We were created to become a part of the wreath of Life without beginning or end.

The infant Jesus is an illusion. The small and helpless disguise is deceiving. The gift is inside not out. The baby is a seed of a great tree. He is the Tree of Life that shines in the darkness.

He is the Tree of Life that heals us from the poison apple.

The Christmas tree, from the sparkling star on top, to the colorful wrapped gifts beneath is life in Christ.

As you light your Christmas candles, pause from time to time to consider how the light and love of Christ makes your world better every day.

And as you burn your candle let it remind you that to be a light in the world you must give up some of your self. 

It’s worth it!

Merry 2,008th Christmas Day,

my aspiring immortal friend.



A Christmas Letter

Dear Aspiring Immortal,

Driving down the street I noticed a small house outlined in bright white lights. In the center of the roof lay a large white cross. Please, I thought, don’t remind me of the fate of the baby whose birthday triggers this worldwide annual celebration.

The gaity of the season eludes me this year because several people who are dear to me have passed away. In this melancholy mindset I wonder why mankind would be so happy--knowing what this infant Jesus lost in power, wealth, and peace to become one of us.

Doesn’t anyone else think this is very sad? After all, not only did this precious babe lose so much, His short life was spent suffering ridicule, rejection, and poverty. How can celebration be the proper response to the beginning of a life of sorrows? Instead of tinsel and bells, shouldn’t we show a little more sympathy by hauling out the black arm bands and drawing our shades in shame?

Why is the world working so hard to be happy now? Are we so crazy that we prepare hams and sugarplum feasts and exchange elegant gifts because God went through so much for us? This seems so one-sided, so self-centered. Don’t we care about His homeless life of suffering and buffeting the arrogant at every turn?

The answer dawned on me. Love. Being torn from the heavenly realm, loss of power, rejection, and ridicule weigh little compared with love. As hard as it is to imagine, even His assassination pales in the light of His love--for mankind. It is not so much that the baby came to earth to pay for our impulses, indulgences, selfishness, and poor judgement and that we should be ashamed of the need for this. But that He was first in demonstrating how small darkness is, and how much bigger love is than anything on earth.

And because of this quintessential act, we have more than the knowledge of good and evil, we have knowledge of love. Love takes the sting away from calamity of every kind, it heals and transforms.

When you look at the baby in the manger, and I hope you will have a moment to do so, the response should not be to cry at his fate, or to consume a lot, but the only proper response should be to show love. Truthfully, the most appropriate would be for us to show love to the least deserving person we can find. Then this spirit of Christmas, of the birth of this baby, will echo in our hearts. What a nice gift to give and to receive at the same time!

Sincerely yours,


The Christmas Night Light

God made Adam in His luminous image and likeness. Adam was more spirit than animal, intelligent, verbal, creative, emotional, and free. Adam kept the image and tossed the likeness when he ate the knowledge of good‘n’evil fruit and blamed his wife. A good son of a good God would not cave to the lure of “You will not die (i.e. God lied to you. Don’t trust Him.); for God knows that when you eat the fruit your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (i.e. God doesn’t want you to be as smart as He is; knowing good and evil will make you powerful-eat up!)”


Funny thing happened. Adam became unlike God for the first time in his life. Eating the knowledge of good‘n’evil fruit was like eating a delicious piece of salmonella filled chicken. Worse. Adam opened himself to the evil parasite and suddenly Adam and his species could pollute and corrupt good as evil does! In fact, Adam & Co. couldn’t help but lie, kill, cheat, and steal, et cetera to get whatever they needed to fabricate a semblance of good. Adam believed the lie that 1. God knew evil in the same way that Adam 2. should. Wrong. Wrong. Before the bite, God and Adam could see the infectious fruit tree. God never ate from it.


The farther infected-humans stray from the likeness of God the darker the world gets. The sun masks the stench of death. To a few, a very few out of this death-laden sunny-darkness God spoke. Noah, Abraham, Hagar, Job, and Moses heard His voice beckon them with paternal guidance. To Moses God presented a way of life that helped his people distinguish between good and evil, light and darkness, the likeness of God and death. The Law is life because the Law tells us what God likes: recognition, honesty, respect, loyalty, obedience... Ten Commandments, hundreds of rules all designed to resurrect God’s likeness and trust in Adam’s children.


The Law ushers humankind in restorative steps to the likeness that befits its image. Inasmuch as humankind would not, could not adequately and consistently follow the Law to its holy destination, it needed and still needs help.


Anyone who has witnessed a sun rise, who has seen darkness vanquished by a speck of light, has been to the manger where Christ was born.


Jesus Christ is the light of the world because He reflects the pure image and likeness of God, who invented light. Jesus Christ emanated from God the Father as light did at Creation. He is the light of Light.

Deny the Virgin birth.

What cannot be denied is that the likeness of God is reflected in Jesus the Christ. Not since Adam did a man, not Moses, not Abraham, not Mohammed, not Buddha, demonstrate both the intelligent spiritual image of God and the pure likeness of God as did Jesus Christ. As tempting as it was, Jesus did not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He trusted Adam’s Father and His Father to the death.

Deny the healings, deny walking on water, doubt the transfiguration, doubt the feeding of five thousand.

What cannot be disputed is that Jesus Christ forged a new way of life that leads humankind to the likeness of God with the means to distinguish between good and evil. What would Jesus do? Spiritually, Jesus Christ purges evil even as antidotes reverse poison or as antibiotics kill bacteria. Jesus is the second Adam that shines true light onto a very dark world. Born in the darkness of exile, poverty, political oppression and foreign occupation, with His first breath Jesus said, “Let there be Light.”

Doubt that the keys of Hades were relinquished. Doubt the resurrection.

What are indisputable are the presence of His Light through the centuries and the detoxifying medicine of His Image and Likeness, His Body and Blood. The light of Jesus Christ may wane from time to time and place to place but it will not be extinguished until darkness is expelled and evil is obliterated, when every one of us aspiring immortals is pure good in the luminous land of the living.

Christmas, my friend, is the sunrise of a never-ending day.

Bells can’t help but jingle with joy.

Toddlers giggle.

Wrinkled faces sparkle.

The Law is relieved for the help that is born.

Life rings out loud.


Happy Birthday Patricia!

Immortals Beware: Christmas is Coming!

Immortals love Christmastime. It’s hard not to be deliriously happy that Jesus Christ was born. Without this birth we would still be bouncing around the planet aimlessly, working and sleeping, playing and fighting like pinballs trying to hit little goals for imaginary wealth.

The birth of Jesus is a birth of brilliant potential. He looks like a baby, probably cries and sleeps like one too but we know that this helpless living doll will demonstrate what God made humanity to be like. God made human beings to dominate nature, to be compassionate, to love Him and to trust Him implicitly. God made human beings to be like Himself! God made Adam immortal, and a few thousand years or so later, God made Jesus immortal. When that Christmas baby grows up, he will not only show his friends and neighbors how to be the kind of guy that makes God proud of humanity, he will give humans all the help they need to become immortal too.

See the baby, know his mission; celebrate. Remember yourself as a baby or as a little child, then see yourself as one of God’s chosen persons living with Him on the new earth. Think ahead, look back…don’t get dizzy.

Little baby Jesus grows up to usher human beings, one at a time, to the land of immortality. Celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth is celebrating the man who trusted God better than Adam did. He helps the children of men to know and to love the unknowable Creator of our planet and of our universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Ishmael and Muhammad, the one God of Plato and Socrates. Peace, we share loving the multi-faceted God. In unison let’s give three cheers for that baby!

Immortals beware; Mr. Grinch and Mr. Scrooge want to steal your joy! They want you to feel stressed and to give grudgingly. They want you to cower in the face of a kind of multiculturalism that erases Christ from Christmas, and then erases Christmas. At this beginning of the dawn of Christmastime, get centered, think about the best way that you can give and receive joy. Do no more, and no less. Plan a joyous season to receive one. Christmas is the buzzword for being unabashedly brave about trusting God. Say it as often as you can. It makes the baby giggle.