Friday, 24 December 2010

What Christmas Means To Me

Just as my town is to this house, just as this country is to this town, just as this world is to this land; just as the sun is to this planet, just as this galaxy is to our sun just as the universe is to a galaxy, so is God to all the universe.  He is so much greater than all we see here, though all that we see here around us and above us and below is undoubtedly within him, carried safely within him.  Still, though being so vast he could hold the very universe in the palm of his hand, and supporting and sustaining all that is. Still, in the midst of all this, though he alone is great and holy and eternal, and the world is a small and sinful place, still he came and was born to a young girl, in a stable where only animals saw his birth.

God is greater than anything and everything, yet he made himself nothing, made himself entirely weak, entirely dependent on human hands, because he loved us so much.  We see so many Christmas scenes, so many little statues of the nativity, that it is easy to forget what it really is.

Throughout all human history man has attempted to reach out to God, to know him and to be as One with him.  To this end we have tried everything through the ages. We have built vast churches, temples, cathedrals and shrines; made beautiful Art, sculptures, paintings, murals; wrote songs, chanted, written classical symphonies and oratio, hymns, carols, strummed guitars and rock worship songs; formulated liturgies, services and prayers, given sacrifices, performed rituals, lived as hermits, prayed, fasted from meat, for a time, until the point of death; lived in caves in the desert, and caves on distant islands; wore hairshirts, sackcloth and ashes, habits of wool, elaborate robes; burnt incense and shared bread, kept vigils, entered trances, whipped ourselves into frenzies, meditated for years on end; danced and sung, begged, kept silence, built great institutions, spanning continents and centuries, held laws and statutes, raised leaders, revered prophets, revered saints, told stories and legends, crafted myths and philosophies; read books and nature, wrote and studied books after books for lives after lives, preached, taught, spoken and listened and listened, argued and argued; done works of charity and love, taken poverty and hoarded great wealth, travelled vast distances and changed the world, fought wars and conflicts, taken life and given life and given up our own life, loved and hated, hoped and trusted and clung on for lifetime after lifetime over century after century.

But for all our learning, studying, writing, speaking, listening and arguing we know and comprehend all but nothing about the depth of God who is infinite Truth. For all our praying, sacrificing, worshipping and ritual we barely brush the edges of his greatness.  For all our meditation, prayer, fasting and solitude we barely approach his essence.  For all our good deeds and acts of charity and sacrifice to be holy we only come to realise how perfect, how Holy, how infinitely far beyond us and what we can conceive, he truly is.  For all our mysticism, philosophy, frenzies and ceremony we barely glimpse him as through a thick mist.

And our greatest efforts could barely begin to approach God.  But God came down and was born as a tiny baby in a lowly stable.  And the fullness of Almighty, Infinite God was held tight in the arms of a virgin girl, and Invisible and Unseen God was seen clearly by those human eyes, and God who requires nothing from us received everything he needed in milk and warmth from that girl; And God who can not be known was known by those there.  And All of God who encloses the whole Universe was enclosed in her arms.  God who is so far away was no distance from her arms; God who no one fully knows was known by her, and raised by her and taught and loved by her.  And he grew and he walked amongst us and we could see him and touch him and speak to him face to face, and we knew him. And he taught us in plain words and ate with us and was there, and he was a friend.

God descended from his distance and came into the world as a man, and the whole world is sacred, because the Lord God experienced it.  Thus this earth of matter is sanctified, because God descended into it.  Not because it is God, but because it is a created thing and still God grew up from within it like a plant from the withered ground.

Without a doubt the two greatest deeds of God are the birth of the Universe and the birth of Christ.  The first creation and the new creation.  And the One Creation is much like the Other.  Through the Creation of the Universe we know of God at all, as St Paul says, 'the whole world sings of the glory of God'.  In the new creation we know of God perfectly, as his perfection enters a damaged world.  The Universe is vast and great and magnificent, but in new creation God,who is greater and vaster than all the Universe, is born into it, as the tiniest part of it.

One Life grew and lived and loved and died and rose again.  So we are all reflected and sanctified by the life of Christ, who shared our body.  One Life who is greater than all life and all things, is born among us.  We who are beings may see Being, asleep in a manger, and we who love, may hold Love in our arms, a babe in a stable by an inn.

Christ grew up among us like a flower from dead ground.  He was born beautiful and grew and lived in love, and for a long time he was silent, but in later days he spoke out, but he died, but God raised him to greater glory, transformed into eternity, and he sits at the right hand of the Father. Like this the Universe was created, beautiful, and grew in beauty, but for a long time it was silent. Now in these later days have awoken the voice of the children of God among it.  But in the end it will come to destruction, but it will not pass away, but be transformed by God in to greater glory, to dwell, sanctified by him and with him forever.  He gave us the sign of the Christ, so we may know, and never fear again.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of Grace and Truth”

The Universe is a mystery, but God upholds it and secures it and sustains it.  And God is wrapped around everything that is and hold it within him, yet still he came within and was held within himself.  God who is beyond all Understanding upholds the Universe, which is an infinite mystery to us all, which yet again God was within, tiny, perfect, and so we have a Wonder containing a Mystery containing that same Wonder.

And that is the most beautiful thing in the world.



Merry Christmas.

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