I have two images colliding in my mind today – the cosmos and the crèche. The sparks from this collision sear my heart with Jesus’ words: “I judge no one,” (John 8:15).
Last Sunday our pastor displayed Hubble space telescope images. I gazed at swirls and bursts of infinite colorful stars, the beauty and glory splashed around the heavens somehow captured by the lens of a camera. I strained my mind to consider the distances I beheld, and I felt a little terrified.
How could anything be so big? How could anything be so glorious?
Then I attended a Christmas concert and saw a painting of the naked baby Jesus lying on straw, eagerly regarding the face of His mother. I thought of Tim Keller’s words about the overwhelming beauty of Jesus’ personality; Mary was looking into the face of the person who would love her and others with a greater love than this world has ever known. I wept to see it.
This baby, by whom “all things were created” (Col 1:15), including the unimaginable spaces and glories of the cosmos, entered our world with another mind-bender: the loudest possible statement about humility. He’s a King with a power and glory we cannot comprehend, yet in compassion he did not despise the dirt, shame, and humility of the stable.
How can this be?
When he was grown, Jesus encountered the leper, the greedy tax collectors, the adulterous woman, and the social outcasts of his day, and he did not despise at those times either. I read that he looked into their faces with respect and compassion, and spoke words of truth with love: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more,” (John 8:11).
And just before he left this world he stripped off his clothes, wore a towel around his waist, and tenderly washed the foul-smelling feet of his friends.
What does this mean for me this Christmas?
If the person who spoke the glories of the cosmos into being chose a stable for his first home and knelt to clean between the toes of his ragtag, blow-hard, betrayal-prone, violence-thirsting disciples, who in the world can I look askance at?
Not a single soul. I believe Jesus saw in the face each person he encountered the image of his Father (Gen 1:27), and so must I.
He came to wash my feet too, and He says to me, “do just as I have done to you,”(John 13:15) and “Do not judge,” (Matt 7:1).
I pray the glory of the cosmos juxtaposed against the compassion of the crèche will blast apart my complacency this Christmas so there might not be a single human soul I would look upon with distain.
May it be so. Amen.