Once a little boy on his way to school stopped to watch an old man working with his knife on a block of wood. “Grandfather,” asked the little boy respectfully, “what are you doing?” “I am making a gift for you, child,” he said with a smile. “Come back this way after your classes and it will be ready.” The boy was excited and all day he could barely keep his mind on his studies. When the final bell rang he threw his books in a bag and bolted down the street. True to his word the old man was sitting at his bench with a paper bag beside him. “Grandfather, please show me what you made for me,“ the boy said breathlessly. “All right, but close your eyes.” The old man took his work out of the sack and said, “You can look now.” The little boy open his eyes and his mouth fell open. “Grandfather, how did you know there was lion hiding in that block of wood?”
Tonight my friends we are children again, gazing in wonder at what our God has been up to these many hundreds of thousands of years. He has been patiently and lovingly whittling at creation and today/night he reveals what he has been working on. As we gaze at the Christ Child with the little boy of our story we cry out, “Oh Lord God, how did you know there was such beauty, such simplicity, such vulnerability, and strength in our humanity? How did you know there was a lion hiding in your creation? But there he is. God, looking back at us through human eyes.
You see, before God flung stars into the sky and set the galaxies whirling into deepest space. Before earth’s molten crust cooled and gave birth to her seas. Before the first tiny one-celled animals dared to throw themselves up on land. Before any human voice broke the silence of night in a primal song…God was preparing for this moment. The moment when Eternal Love would join his human voice to ours.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
Everything is made from this pattern that lies before us in the manger. Every tree and flower and bird and fish and child is cut from this fabric. The Incarnation – God become human – is the secret waiting to be revealed from all eternity; Christ was the lion hiding in the rough wood of Creation. As St. Paul tell us “In Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He us before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Christ did not come to simply repair what was broken; he came to reveal what had been hidden and is finally revealed to those who look at the world as God does – with love. God is hiding in plain sight. He plays hide-and-seek in every sunset; in the pattern of frost on our window pane; in the grip of a newborn child around our finger. We are each a way in which God takes pleasure in his goodness. True, sometimes our sin and foolish pride distorts the sacred image in us and God must fashion us anew. But Christ is and has always been and always will be “the dearest deep-down freshness in things.” I offer you a poem by Joseph Mary Plunkett which says this much better than I have…
I see his blood upon the rose,
And in the stars the glory of his eyes.
His body gleams amid eternal snow
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in ev’ry flower;
The thunder and the singing of birds
Are but his voice – and carven by his power
Rocks are his written word.
All pathways by his feet are worn
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea;
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is ev’ry tree.
May what delights God so in Christ become flesh again in you and me.