A Whole Universe Christmas

Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Ephesians 4:7-10 – Each of us has received a special gift in proportion to what Christ has given. As the Scripture says, "When he went up to the very heights, he took many captives with him; he gave gifts to mankind." Now what does "he went up" mean? It means that first he came down to the lowest depths of the earth. So the one who came down is the same one who went up, above and beyond the heavens, to fill the whole universe with his presence.

Joy Davidman in her book Smoke on the Mountain wrote of "the mysterious power, vast and formless that filled the universe." It was her graphic way of describing the God of Israel. I found it a fresh and exciting description of God that continues to fascinate me. She also emphasized that in no way was there to be any attempt to give a form of any kind to this formless One. Such activity was called making idols. It was strictly forbidden.

As I remembered this rigid commandment it sharpened my appreciation of the Christmas story. In it, the vast and formless One takes form, of all places, in the human flesh of a tiny baby. In time the baby becomes a radical leader of some Jews who were persuaded that he was their long-awaited Messiah. He was put to death because of that claim, but out of that death has come a body of human beings claiming to give form to the formless One on a world-wide scale that once again fills the universe with his presence. Holy Communion has now been celebrated on the moon.

As we read that excerpt from Ephesians chapter 4, the Christmas theme of gifts appears. Christ has given each of us a special gift so that we can give visible form to what God is doing in our particular situation. In this remarkable plan, God can be seen through his people throughout the whole universe. "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," said Jesus. Likewise, whoever sees us should be able to see the Father also. In this way, we are able to share in what Christmas is all about every day. I think this is what God had in mind.

Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, in this Christmas Season, we remember that you have chosen to live in us and through us to carry out your eternal purposes. Please provide us with the knowledge and the gifts necessary for this task. Like our ancestors before us, help us, above all else, to glorify you and to enjoy you forever. In Jesus' holy Name we pray. Amen.

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Grant Muir

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