Con­trast­ing the splen­dors of Heaven, squalors of earth

The Compass - - OPINION - — Harold Hay­ward writes from Mus­grave Har­bour

This ru­ral scrib­bler from the Straight Shore so de­sires to script a few lines re­gard­ing Christ­mas.

“Christ­mas comes but once a year, and when it comes it brings good cheer,” so says the old rhyme, and nat­u­rally ev­ery­one tries at Christ­mas time to en­joy as much good cheer as he can.

But, not ev­ery­one re­al­izes the true and ex­tra­or­di­nary story that lies be­hind Christ­mas. We may have a vague im­pres­sion at the back of our minds of shep­herds and an­gels and a star — like some kind of half-re­mem­bered fairy-tale of childhood, and with the pass­ing of the years it has all be­come very beau­ti­ful and ro­man­tic.

Yet in re­al­ity, al­though it is the most won­der­ful fact of his­tory, it was not at the time par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful. For when God de­cided to en­ter the stream of hu­man his­tory by be­com­ing a hu­man baby He did not choose, as we might ex­pect, to be born in a rich and priv­i­leged home. There were no pri­or­i­ties or spe­cial ad­van­tages for Him. He choose as mother a peas­ant woman in hum­ble cir­cum­stances.

There was no pub­lic­ity and no fuss when he slipped like this in hu­man life. It hap­pened in a third-world coun­try some two thou­sand years ago (there­abouts) and very few peo­ple knew what was hap­pen­ing. It may look beau­ti­ful now on a Christ­mas card or a re­li­gious pic­ture, but there is not re­ally any­thing lovely in hunt­ing des­per­ately for lodg­ing when your wife is preg­nant and near her time. There is noth­ing ro­man­tic on hav­ing your first baby in a draughty barn be­cause no one in the inn next door will give up their bed for you, and it isn’t re­ally much fun to put your baby to sleep in the cat­tle’s feed­ing-trough be­cause there is nowhere else ex­cept the dirty floor.

The his­toric fact, shorn of ro­mance and dec­o­ra­tion, was rather ugly and squalid. It is not a pleas­ant thing for a mother to feel that the world has no room for her baby.

How it must have cheered Mary when the rough shep­herds came bust­ing in, all breath­less and ex­cited, say­ing that they had a vi­sion of an­gels up there on the hill­side and had been told that this lit­tle fel­low was re­ally God, and might they please kneel and give Him their presents! How the peo­ple snoring com­fort­ably in the inn next store would have laughed to have seen the sight of those coun­try bump­kins kneel­ing on the sta­ble floor.

Yet that is how God made his en­trance. If you can imag­ine the con­trast be­tween the splen­dors of Heaven and the squalors of earth you can­not help ad­mir­ing and lov­ing a char­ac­ter who ac­cepted no spe­cial ad­van­tages or de­fenses, who lived life on the same terms as His crea­tures. That is the real good cheer of Christ­mas: that God is not an aloof in­vis­i­ble power, but one who ac­tu­ally took the risk of en­ter­ing His own world.

Cut­ting out the sen­ti­men­tal­ity, the dec­o­ra­tions and com­mer­cial racket of Christ­mas, the his­toric fact that what we are cel­e­brat­ing is sim­ple, but quite un­for­get­table once it gets un­der your skin. God be­came one of us that we might find the way to be­come some­thing like Him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.