Friday, December 28, 2012

The non-threatening, approachable King

In the events associated with the birth and infancy of Jesus we hear the unique message that he has for the world then and now. Christmas decorations depicting the Baby Jesus in a manger are integral part of the displays during the season. It is a reminder that God comes to the human race in the most non-threatening way, in the form of an infant. Jesus Christ came to this world in the form of a baby born in a manger outside an inn in Bethlehem. Babies are innocent, they have no enemies, they have no prejudices. All babies are cute and adorable. We love babies not for their eloquence or even for their achievements: they are unable to speak and they haven't achieved anything yet. They don't threaten us in any way! It is the most non-threatening form God can incarnate. His purpose was to make a dwelling in the hearts of people, so he chose to be in the form of a baby.
Besides this non-threatening presence of God in our midst, Christmas also reminds us of the approachability of God. The night he was born, a host of angels appeared in the skies and sang praises to God. Their singing woke up the shepherds who were watching their sheep in the open field. The angels told them the exact place where the newborn Jesus could be found. The shepherds followed the angelic instruction and worshipped him in the manger. The shepherds were people of the lowest rung in the society. For their sake and the sake of all those of their rank in society, God chose a manger to be born in. A cosy bedroom in a large house is an ideal place for Jesus to be born. However, that would make him unreachable for the poor for whom he came. So, he chose to be born in a manger of a stable which is outside an inn that was approachable to the poor. We don't have to worship God from a distance, he meets us in places where we can find him. God, though transcendent breaks the barricades the society has erected and comes to the aam admi.
However, Jesus more than a mere baby. What drew people to him as a baby was not the fact that he was adorable but the fact that he was worthy of their worship. Another story associated with Christmas is that of the kings of the 'East' visiting the baby and paying him tribute. These kings were probably astrologers who gazed the stars and saw 'his star' in the sky and followed it to the place where Jesus was born. According to scholars, they might have travelled either from present day Iran or India two places where astrology flourished. It might have taken many months of travel for them. Jesus was not in the manger anyway for such a long period. It seems appropriate to think that he was in a place where the royalty could walk in. The kings visited him and worshipped him. They presented him with gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, valuable gifts from the East. This symbolic act of paying tribute was to accept his authority over them. He is not just a mere adorable child but a king over other kings.
Jesus came to rule the hearts of men and women of the world. To give them a new standard to live by. To challenge the evil social systems and decadent moral values that corrupted the society. Christmas thus reminds us that God has come to human beings in the most non-threatening, approachable way to claim his place in our hearts. To rule it in such a way that a just, righteous societies are built up.

Burning Bushes

'And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning,...