This day is an example of perfect timing
Side By SideChristmas is about wanting to believe in goodness: in God, in people, in ourselves. Although the words sound strange to modern ears, Christmas is about: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Published: December 25, 2009
Published: December 25, 2009
Some will read this early Christmas morning, an alone moment before the bustle. Others will collapse with the paper, or online, after the big buildup is over. A few will convert discarded newspapers into blankets to cover a sidewalk bed. Many, irrespective of the what, where, and when of their existence, will ask the why: "Is that all there is?"
Patrick Condon of the Associated Press wrote recently: "Christmas is a tough time of year for an atheist." Atheists for Human Rights' groups teach coping skills for braving an "omnipresence of Christmas." They focus on pagan roots linked to winter solstice. Condon quoted a man named Larsen: "It's about taking the good and leaving the bad."
Larsen got that right, but it's not easy. To discern between good and bad requires faith that there is good. In "The Church Dropout" (Charisma 2009), Matthew Green says in the last decade many quit church because leaders failed them. Too many of those remaining are "passive consumers of a religious product that never transforms their lives." People failed us this year: in religion, government, sports, and families. Shall we fail ourselves by giving up the pursuit of good?
The U.S. Secret Service knows counterfeit money will increase at Christmas. To identify the bad cash, the agents study the good, memorizing every detail. Focusing on the real enables them to detect the false.
Christmas is about God's perfect timing. The first half of the 20th century a group of theologians shook the world, declaring, "God is dead." In 1947 an Arab shepherd boy threw a rock into a cave above the Dead Sea. Hidden pottery broke and the sound of the Dead Sea Scrolls echoed around the world. Just studying the Isaiah Scroll (and there was much more) is enough to make seekers yearn to understand "the Word made flesh."
Perfect timing? On Dec. 10, 2009, The Tampa Tribune featured a one-week-old calf born in Sterling, Conn., with a clear, cross-like, white mark on its forehead. Dairy science declared this mark unusual for the breed. Owner Brad Davis believes it is "a message from above." Neighborhood children named the calf "Moses." They may or may not know that Moses appeared, along with Elijah, to verify Jesus as "the Word made flesh": "This is my beloved Son...hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5).
Perfect timing? It's like what Cyndy Scheib, associate psychology professor, advises when a young child asks: "Is Santa real?" We flip back and ask what the child thinks before answering, carefully guarding the Christmas spirit (USA Weekend, Dec. 18-20, 2009). The Word meets us where we are. No wonder the "Snuggie," a blanket with sleeves, is now a season, must-have gift. Christmas should wrap us in warmth.
If we contemplate "the Word made flesh," God become man, we will not think it farfetched to see the Cross on a calf's head. After all, He was born in a manger. Perhaps "beholding His glory" is simply being in His presence, true Christmas, unveiled reality.
Linda Downing is a freelance writer and columnist for Highlands Today.