Once It All Came TogetherBlog / Produced by The High Calling
God’s creative thrust brought the world into an orderly, beautiful whole. Then something went terribly wrong on planet earth. It seems blown apart—the original wholeness and unity is asunder. When did it happen? With the invention of gun powder? The atom splitting that ushered in the nuclear age? The fall of the World Trade Center?
All of the above.
And more than these global catastrophes are the private, personal worlds fragmented with depression and psychological problems. Meaning blows apart with every erupted land mine that blasts a child’s world. Someone comes unglued by the fatal shot from a Saturday night special.
Maybe creation’s damage is beyond repair. Is it true, as postmodern philosophers say, that life has no unifying meaning? That each human makes her own meaning? And that rather than collective wisdom appropriate for all time, there are only individual stories?
Maybe in our Humpty Dumpty world the cosmic egg is broken and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t mend it.
It is hard to imagine a world in which life’s meaning, creation’s harmony and order, the cosmos’ wholeness ever came together. Yet the story of divine wholeness could fit on a single sheet of paper, starting with Mark 1:1’s matter-of-fact “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Matthew 2:1-12 adds the wise men and star. Luke 1:26-2:32 fills in the story that hangs on four songs: Mary’s song, the song of Zechariah, the angels’ song, and Simeon’s benediction. John, like Mark, encapsulates the story in a single verse: "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” John 1:14.
Each of creation’s elements is celebrated in the Songs of Christmas.
First the child, a special child. In one of The Messiah’s most beautiful choruses, Handel quotes Isaiah, “For unto us a child is born.” How unbelievably simple—God starts to restore creation with the birth of a child.
Then the star—harbinger from the heavens—“Star of Wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright.” The hope of all things in space is illumined by that special star.
And the angels—first Gabriel, then the multitude of the heavenly host with their ethereal chant, “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” The wealth of earth comes in the persons of the Magi. “We three Kings of Orient are.” Their gifts would sustain the holy family through a long journey and an immigration resettlement. The humble of earth and their open capacity for wonder were there too. “While shepherds watched their flocks by night all seated on the ground.” The shepherds were the only ones listening, and they heard the messengers of God. The animals have their part—the ox, the ass, the sheep. Granted, the ox and ass are mentioned as a reference to Isaiah 1:3. But a manger suggests animals. “Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now.”
And celebrate the family, “Gentle Mary laid her child.”
All orders of creation sing: people—rich people, poor people, all people. We are there, for this is a cosmic event. Once it all came together. Finally, it will all come together again. It is picture-postcard perfect. Yes, yes, yes. But this is the Christian story. Sing your way through Christmas. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
Dr. Bill Hendricks, one of Laity Lodge's most devoted friends and a regular contributor of articles for our website, passed away December 8, 2002. Bill was a scholar and a gentleman to the last. He remains one of God's truly fine gifts.