15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Wonders of the Universe!
Dr. Brian Cox!
What an amazing series,
And we were able to watch it again this week.
I enjoyed it possibly even more than the first time through.
It is just one of those subjects that compel us to return again and again.
The sheer magnitude of the numbers, of space, time, matter,
just blow our minds.
They are beyond our comprehension.
One of the joys of this series for me is the way Brian Cox and the team behind the programs use illustrations from our planet earth,
Familiar television images,
to make more comprehensible the wonders of the universe that are so hard for our imagination to grasp.
The picture of a glacier breaking up into the sea
To illustrate the forward motion of time.
The way space/time is curved by the gravitational pull of the fabric of the universe illustrated by the beautiful peaks and troughs of a snow covered mountain range viewed from above.
One of the wonders of Our God that we celebrate at Christmas time is that the Creator of the Whole Universe comes to live among us here on this little planet earth.
What’s more, he is born as a vulnerable little baby with only an animals’ manger for a cradle.
The paradox of our faith, God becomes human.
We just can’t get our minds round it.
2000 years ago, when the angels appeared to the shepherds and told them to go to Bethlehem to see “the Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
The shepherds didn’t wait.
They didn’t doubt their own senses, but went straight away to Bethlehem and found the baby.
The meeting with baby Jesus had such a profound effect on them that they couldn’t keep it to themselves but spread it to the whole town.
Everyone was amazed.
And it wasn’t the encounter with the angels that set the shepherds talking to everyone they met,
but the encounter with the baby.
You might have expected the visit by the angels to have filled the shepherds with such awe and wonder that they couldn’t help worshipping God.
After all, it isn’t every day that you’re visited by a heavenly choir who relay a direct message from God.
But although you might easily see a baby every day, it was actually the baby that set the shepherds aflame for God.
So even at that time,
when Jesus was newborn and completely helpless and vulnerable like every other newborn baby,
incapable even of smiling because he was so young, there was still something so special about him that it made the shepherds spread the word concerning him and return glorifying and praising God.
The shepherds could perhaps be described as the first evangelists, as they were the first people to tell others about Jesus.
Mary, by contrast, said nothing. She treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,
which is perhaps fairly unusual behaviour for a mother.
Many mothers can’t wait to sing the praises of their children, and tell anyone who will listen all about their child’s remarkable qualities.
But for Mary it was too important and too deep to be casually tossed around in idle chatter.
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart, using them as the precious basis for all her future thought and way of being.
So Mary too was changed by her encounter with the baby.
When the baby was eight days old, Mary took him to be circumcised as the Law demanded, and at his naming ceremony named him Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us –
Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us
Just like those incomprehensible wonders of the universe are made more real for us by illustrations from our familiar earth,
So we find that the Supreme Mystery that is Our God
is made more real for us
by the Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of a simple man – Jesus of Nazareth –
someone just like us, familiar to us all.
And there is more –
Jesus is not simply an illustration of what God is like,
he is God with us.
Just as we have come to appreciate more clearly the physics of the material universe and use these powers to enrich our lives,
So as we, like Mary, treasure up all these things
and ponder in our hearts
The Word made flesh and dwelling among us
The name of Jesus, God with us, gives us power,
power to become the adopted children of God, and call him Abba, Father.