It’s Christmas. Of course, we don’t have to be reminded of that, the evidence for the season is all around us, at least in terms of parties, holidays, presents, open-all-hours shopping, family gatherings etc. For many, even the majority, those are the things Christmas is about. But is it?
For those of us who still take note of the word Christ in the word Christmas, (i.e. Christ-mass) the season is about the event that took place in that cattle stall in the little backwater town of Bethlehem in Judea around 2000 years ago. However, I wonder if many who do put the birth of Jesus event at the centre of this season actually view it as if they were looking at it through the wrong (large) end of a telescope. They will still see the image but it will be shrunken and very lacking in detail. Such an image is often reduced to the sort of cute baby that gives us all warm fuzzy feelings, accompanied by an often sentimental nostalgia in the singing of Carols with little focus on the seriousness of their words.
“He made peace between us and God through his blood on the Cross”.
Maybe it’s time to turn our telescope round and see the big picture view of the Bethlehem child. A good way to do that is to read a letter, or at least part of one, a letter written by a Pastor around 60 AD to a small church congregation in the City of Colossae in the valley of the river Lycus in what is now Turkey. In his letter (known as the ‘Letter to the Colossians’ in the New Testament) the pastor describes the image of the baby that is to be seen when viewed through a telescope used the right way round, that is larger and with greater detail. This shows us that there was much more to the story than a cute little baby to be cooed over and uncomprehendingly sing some songs about. Here are a few relevant quotes from that letter Chapter 1 verses 15-20.
“He is the image of the invisible God”. To put that another way, if you want to know what God is like look at Jesus.
“He is before all things” Wow! That means he always existed, even before he came into the world at Bethlehem.
“All things have been created through him and for him” i.e. He is the Creator and everything he created is for him. That is he owns the whole box and dice, including you and me and all we have.
“In him all things hold together”. Wow again! That means that he is keeping the whole show on the road, i.e. the world and you and me only continue to exist, nanosecond by nanosecond, because he wills it.
“He made peace between us and God through his blood on the Cross”. That is the reason for Christmas is actually Easter, this is why the child was born to provide the way back to God. Easter is part two of the Christmas story, and the most important part at that, something simply invisible to those who view Christmas through a ‘wrong way round’ telescope!
The man known as the Apostle Paul wrote his letter so we might use our telescope round the right way and, as we look back down the centuries, see the big picture of just who this child is, and marvel at the Creator entering our Space-Time, the Space-Time he actually created and sustains for us. Then, and only then, are we able to truly praise God for why Jesus came, and give him the honour and praise that is his due. Not just in the warm and fuzzy feelings that singing carols gives, but in how we use our lives the rest of the year.
So it’s probably a good idea as we look at that Bethlehem scene to check whether we are seeing the Big Picture. Or do we have our telescope round the wrong way, so our Jesus is far too small.
Which way round is our telescope?