From HOW eNews Issue 11, Volume 1|
The Miracle of Christmas
Greetings to all of you and may the joy of this wonderful season fill your homes. In our home the reality of what Christmas means seems to become clearer as we draw closer to December the twenty-fifth. Every night as we celebrate Advent with the children the miracle of Christmas becomes all the more astonishing to us.
I never cease to be amazed by the miracle of Christmas which is the Incarnation. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus Christ. On that day so long ago the Eternal, Almighty God stepped into the stream of human history as a vulnerable child. When I stop to consider what that miracle implies it is almost too much for my finite circuits to handle.
I had this miracle put into perspective a while ago. My son Joshua and I were looking at a painting of a scale model of our solar system. There in the center of course was our sun, by earth’s standards a brilliant, powerful, impressive star that fuels our planet with warmth and energy making life as we know it possible.
As we looked at that star we were both awed by its immense power especially when we stopped to consider that the earth receives but a tiny fraction of the sun’s apocalyptic radiation. Here we are a diminutive blue ball hanging in space ninety-three million miles away from the sun as it explodes evenly in all directions and yet the little sliver of energy we manage to catch is sufficient to drive the engines of our atmosphere and sustain life on planet earth.
We learned on that day that the sun burns in excess of 4 million tons of hydrogen per second - that’s a lot of gas! Furthermore, the sun is so powerful that scientists speculate it could burn at that rate for another 6 billion years - give or take a few hundred million. Not only that, the sun is so big that were the sun a hollow ball you could actually fit 1.3 million earths in it!
Now that’s huge, that’s hot, that’s powerful by our standards. And yet in the context of our galaxy the sun is nothing to write home about. In actuality the sun is but an ordinary star. In the theater of cosmic stardom it does not radiate with the brilliance of a William Shakespeare, but rather shines in the category of a Neil Simon - not bad, just not a superstar.
As Joshua and I were looking at the artist’s rendering of our neighborhood of planets, we were shown our solar system in relation to our galaxy. It pictured our solar system in relief at the bottom left hand corner of the page. The diagram went on to pin point our approximate location on the fringes of this vast collection of stars that make up our galactic home.
And what was obvious even from a casual glance was that we are significantly. . . puny. In fact, if it were possible to travel billions of light years out into space and view our galaxy, our solar system would not be visible to the naked eye. It is so tiny in relation to this massive stellar body that it would be indistinguishable in the glowing cosmic fog we call the Milky Way. Our solar system is so unspectacular that it would be lost in the vast brilliance of our populated heavens.
Our galaxy is so dense with stars (some one hundred billion of them - I’m beginning to sound like Carl Sagan) that to a celestial observer they would blend into a kind of luminous astral cloud - hence the name ‘Milky Way.’ Against the dark void of space our galaxy would appear to be over crowded with stars. In reality, while these stars appear to be close together they are actually thousands and millions of light years apart (light travels nearly six trillion miles in a year, you do the math!) What is even more amazing is that our Milky Way is swirling about in a a universal soup, get this, of billions of galaxies!
“What’s your point, Marcelo?” My point is this, creation is so big, so powerful, so awesome that it is truly hard for us to fathom its numbers let alone its complexities. And who is the creator of this vast universe? Jesus Christ! Jesus made it all.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us in Col. 1:16-17, “For by Him (Jesus) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” From macro worlds to micro worlds, from the material to the spiritual, Jesus made it all and He holds it together by His Divine power. Now think about that in relation to Christmas.
Jesus Christ, the Almighty, the Creator of this boundless universe with its awesome display of power, splendor, and order, this Jesus on Christmas day became a little needy infant. On that day Jesus (the second person of the Trinity) became dependent on His creatures, His earthly parents, to feed Him, change Him, protect Him, and love Him.
I often wonder how the hosts of heaven, the angels, must have watched His birth in utter astonishment. There was their King, the Architect of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Creator of men and of angels, the Ancient of Days, the One who exists beyond the confines of time and space . . . born as a baby. There was their God laying in a hay trough as an infant boy, born to poor parents, in a barn, on the outskirts of an obscure little village of an enslaved nation. How the angels must have marveled at God’s redemptive plan! What a miracle!
Christmas, the Incarnation, is a remarkable miracle. In the Christmas story we see a glimpse of the infinite extremes God had to take in order to redeem you and me. This event gives us a preview of the cost of redemption, the radical depths of God’s commitment to save, and the dawn of God’s salviffic power.
Indeed, while God created the incalculable expanse of the heavens with the wave of His fingers (Psalm 8:3), the prophet Isaiah reminds us that in order to accomplish redemption God had to bare His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10). In the cradle of Bethlehem we see displayed God’s greatest power in the genesis of the Gospel which is “...the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...” (Ro. 1:16). In the birth of Jesus we see the paradox of God’s mighty power wrapped in vulnerable humanity. Again, what a miracle!
It is our hope that you will experience anew the wonder of this Christmas miracle. It is our prayer that you will know the infinite love of God the Father and of Jesus Christ His Son as you celebrate that first step in God’s redemptive plan, the Incarnation. And as you remember His birth, remember that He did this for you.
By Marcelo A. Tolopilo