The Big Bang Boom Christmas Day.
I held a newborn baby in my arms a few days ago, it really helped me to understand Christmas. This child was so helpless, vulnerable, dependent, its little head dangling, it doesn’t even have the strength to hold its own head in place. That our All-powerful God would have known such weakness is mind-blowing. The one whose power created the whole cosmos can’t even hold its own head. It’s incredible to see that the two most powerful moments in the life of Jesus are also the two moments where he is at his weakest.
§So to put this into perspective, as we contemplate this little baby lying on a bed of straw, we contemplate the creator of the Universe, a Universe so much bigger and greater than we can even begin to understand or imagine. Going to planet Mars, one of the nearest planets to our earth, is such a big step for us. With the present technology we have, going to visit our nearest star would take over 950,000 years.
Science tells us that about 13.7 billion years ago there was a “Big Bang”, it unleashed a power and energy we still experience today. Scientists are fascinated with this beginning, especially with the 1st second. Some cosmologists have dedicated their whole lives and careers to understanding this 1st second. In less than 1 minute the universe was a million billion miles across and expanding fast.
Well let me tell you brothers and sisters, for all the power unleashed in the Big Bang there was a bigger “Bang” to come…. It’s a bang that happened in Mary’s womb, we could call it the “Big Bang Boom” for lack of a better word.
As a great theologian once said; “Do you think it is a great thing for God to create the universe out of nothing? I will tell you a greater thing he does; Mary said yes and the Word became flesh”.
The power unleashed on this night is the greatest power in the universe, but there are no nuclear explosions, no cosmic bangs. It’s in silence that God slips quietly into this world. The power unleashed tonight is the power of God’s love that will change the world forever.
Israel was waiting for a powerful, and conquering hero to rid their land of foreign occupation, stamp out sin and banish evil. What they got was a baby lying on straw, defenseless, powerless, that can’t feed itself, can’t clothe itself, can’t change itself and yet would change the world.
But how is this Good News for us in a world where bad news is all around us. What has this to do with my little fragile, broken and daily mess?
We have romanticized Christmas. This scene of the child lying in a manger is meant to shock us. The most important birth in history takes place in an obscure, damp, cold and smelly cave, rejected and ignored by most of humanity. Jesus was born into a crisis, into our mess… Joseph, Mary and Jesus were far from home, no roof over their heads, no friends and family to support them, cold, exhausted from a long journey on foot, running from a mass murderer… sounds like a crisis to me!
St Francis, who is said to have popularized the tradition of the crib, understood the secret of this night. He understood that the straw-filled manger is meant to be our heart. Our often obscure, damp, smelly and cold hearts is where Jesus wants to be tonight, where he longs to be, where he belongs. But so often there is “no room for him” in today’s world, in our homes, in our hearts. In the midst of our “mess” he is lying there, begging to be loved, embraced, taken close.
The shepherds, who were the poorest of the poor, in a certain sense symbolize ourselves. Behind our masks and brave appearances of sophistication, behind our hi-tech camouflage there is a poor, simple and “scared” little shepherd. Like the shepherds, we have nothing to give him, all we can give is ourselves. But actually that’s all he wants, that’s all he can really love, who we really are.
The scene, the message, the mystery, the power of this child’s birth, coming into this world, if we allow it to really sink in, has the capacity to change our lives radically. To see God’s light, that often seems so far from our suffering world, shine in our darkness, to see how close he really is allows our hearts to expand, blossom, beat in hope. “Emmanuel”; “God is with us”.
“Glory to God in the highest and peace to those who enjoy his favour”
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