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  • Writer's pictureSean O'Leary

Creation and the Christmas Crib

Often, people ponder the existence of the star of Bethlehem at Christmas time.

Thousands of articles containing a multitude of possible explanations have been published. This is not surprising as there are several possible planetary arrangements, comets or exploding stars that coincide with the different calculations for the actual birth of Jesus.

The truth is that we can’t know for sure which scientific explanation for the Christmas star is the correct one or if indeed a scientific explanation is even possible. However, we do know for sure that something significant happened just over two thousand years ago that changed the course of human history. The light from a heavenly star symbolised the birth of a new hope, a hope that would go on to live in the hearts of billions of people around the world.

The wise men or magi used reason and an early form of natural science to discover reality whereas the shepherds responded to the voices of angels to arrive at the same reality. The reality is Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

The Biblical accounts affirm that the glory of the stars at night is linked with the glory of God breaking into our world. This immense glory is manifested as a small infant lying in a manger. In a real sense, the glory of the heavens leads to the glory of Christ in human form. As the prophets foretold, all creation rejoices in the coming of the Saviour.

In today’s world, truth can be hard to find and even harder to believe in. There are so many dissenting voices and counter arguments that compete for authority. The loudest voices tend to rationally build an idea of reality based completely upon some partial truth. In this way, a limited view of reality becomes inflated into a supposedly all-encompassing worldview. This atheistic worldview is extremely narrow.

Such short-sightedness deliberately hides God’s truth and leads many into the choppy waters of doubt, hopelessness, relativism and even nihilism. But at Christmas, we are especially invited to re-open our minds and hearts to the harmony of natural reason and divine revelation.

God has given us two books, the ‘Book of Nature’ and the ‘Book of Scripture’. Both books do not conflict with each other. Once we truly appreciate and value this essential truth, we are raised up by the ‘wings’ of faith and reason.

Creation itself points to the Crib. The creation accounts of the entire universe reach their fulfillment in the birth of a child who brought so much love into the world. The story of the Crib teaches us that the majesty and beauty of creation speaks of the eternal love beyond creation. This divine love lies at the very heart of existence.

Whether we more closely resemble the intellectual magi or the pastoral shepherds, we are invited to encounter the creative power of beauty, goodness and truth through a radical relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is boundless and is nurtured by the eternal love that transcends our world and the universe itself.

The sacred accounts of Jesus’ birth remind us that truth is available to everyone regardless of personal background. We all travel different paths and express different preferences for approaching the truth. There are many routes to God. A real beauty of Christianity is that we all belong to the same truth regardless of our individual journey. This is a story of deep connection and belonging.

We are told that the magi avoided Herod by following a different path back to their homeland in the East. This has always struck me as significant. Real faith experiences change us. Once we discover the truth through reason and faith, we are never quite the same again. By God’s grace, we are transformed and no longer follow the same old path. Instead, we choose a better path, a path that leads us closer to the light of God’s love.

Some days, I respond to the Crib with a trusting faith and heartfelt joy much like the shepherds. Other times, I respond to the Crib with a rational approach that resembles the natural reason of the magi. Either avenue can help me to feel connected to the truth of divine reality within my mind and heart. Such experiences of wonder, reverence and humility are grace-filled moments that sustain my journey of faith.

Significantly, we cannot experience a deep personal connection with a vague idea of God. But a profound relationship is possible with the living God, incarnate in Christ. By entering history and becoming one of us, God has revealed himself to us for all time.

Christmas is a special time for contemplating the unique light of God’s arrival on earth in the town of Bethlehem. Just as a star illuminates the night sky amidst the depths of space, the truth of Christ’s birth delivers us from the shadows of our own lives.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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