I give you due warning: this is different from the usual content of this blog, but if you want to truly know what stories I’m telling my kids these days, here they are. In addition to our fun Advent calendars and silly stories, I try to do a little reading with my kids each night that focuses on what Christmas is really about. I used to read from a children’s Bible, but they are just getting too old for that. Instead, this year, I’m trying to write something short for us, something that takes some of the important verses of the Bible but also is straight from me to them. I won’t have one for every day because that’s more than I can take on, but three or four times a week we’ll sit down and I’ll read, hoping a little truth gets through the impatience that this time of year generates. This is for my kids, but if you want to come along with us, you’re always welcome.
Hold a small Christmas ball ornament in your hand. Close your eyes for just a minute.
Feel where you are sitting. Picture it in your head. Now imagine that you are slowly shrinking. You shrink down, smaller and smaller. You are now so small that the room around you seems like a giant’s room and that round ornmant is a huge globe that could crush you. Shrink down even smaller, smaller and smaller until you can see that the shiny globe is actually made up of little atoms all bonded together. You are microscopic now and that Christmas ornament is as big as the world to you. You see the atoms that form it, and you can easily tell that what seemed like a solid surface is actually full of wide open spaces. Each atom has its protons and neutrons clustered in the middle with several electrons circling around them like planets around a sun, and in between…nothing. Wide open spaces. What is keeping it all together? What is holding that wide open space tightly enough together that when you zoom out it seems solid? What keeps it from simply flying apart? From becoming nothing?
Colossians 1:15-17 NIV
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Are your eyes still closed? Keep them that way.
Now feel yourself growing again. You get larger and larger until you are your normal size. Picture your hands. Look down at them if you want. Now you know that they, too, are really just a collection of tiny, microscopic parts, full of moving pieces with infinite spaces in between, and all held together by the power of God alone. Without him, you would fly apart, those useful hands would cease to exist.
Close your eyes again.
Instead of shrinking, now we are going to fly. Imagine yourself lifting up off of your seat and floating right out the window. You are going up and and up. You can see your house, your whole neighborhood below you. You go higher and higher. Now you can see the whole city stretched out. You go higher. The countryside is like a tiny model of itself. You go still higher. You are leaving the atmosphere. This is all imagination, luckily, so you can still breathe as you go up and up and find yourself floating in space. Space, empty and dark is all around you. The Earth shrinks as you fly and further and further away. You look back at it and it is just a little ball, no bigger than that Christmas ornament. It is spinning in the empty openness of space. You look down on it and it seems so small and unimportant, so fragile. The people who walk its surface are so infintesimally tiny that you can’t even see them. Whole bustling cities have disappeared into nothingness. You look up and see other planets, see the sun, hot and burning, but here you can see beyond it, and space stretches out so far, as far as you can see, so that even the sun doesn’t seem so very significant as you fly away from it. Now you’ve gone so far that the sun is the size of that Christmas ornament and the Earth can’t even be seen. Where is all that stuff that seemed so important? Where is the you that was sure your every feeling and thought was the most interesting thing that existed? Just a speck, as miscroscopic as those atoms you examined earlier.
Psalm 8:3-4 NIV
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
God is both infinitely large and also infinitely small. He is everything in between. It was by his power that the universe was made and by his power that it continues to function. It is by his power that you were made and by his power that your body holds together every second that you are alive. It is his choice that make gravity work and keeps us all from spinning off into space. Every minute of our existence only happens because he wants it to. He is all there is, all that matters in this whole giant, intricate universe.
Everything is about him.
That is where we start at Christmas.
That’s what we need to remember if we are really going to understand what happened when that same God brought himself down and confined himself inside one of these human bodies. This is the God we are talking about. The vast, limitless, all-powerful, all-sustaining God of everything. We have to start here if we are truly going to grasp the miracle of what He did.
Isaiah 40:21-28 NIV
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”