24 October 2018
Upside Down Christmas
Carol the summer and welcome the Christ Child
warm in our sunshine and sweetness of air.
Put plenty of sunscreen on this Christmas, the warmth of our sunshine carries some dangers.
When New Zealand and British scientists put forward that there was an ozone hole over Antarctica, the more sophisticated American readings said that their results could simply not be true, they did not fit the expected pattern and therefore were disregarded.
Later, it was realised that the American computers had received the same readings, however when they were analysed, those readings were discarded as errors because they were too far off the expected data. The computer programmers had placed a restriction, based on predetermined limits, on which results would be deemed acceptable, and in doing so excluded the possibility of anything unknown being picked up if it was outside those boundaries.
In fact, it was not a scientific exploration, there were too many barriers to allow the freedom for new data to change existing theories. The so called exploration was, in effect, merely to confirm what was already thought to be the situation.. When the human restrictions were removed, the new results confirmed the New Zealander and British findings and the theories of the ozone hole were developed.
Scientific research has grown out of the Christian faith and world view. Scientific discoveries are made by being open to new thoughts, often outside the accepted square, and scientists fight battles over entrenched beliefs, when accepted norms are challenged, as fervently as those supporting religious beliefs .
The Christmas stories push us to expand our ideas. They challenge all our predetermined theories about in whom and where and how God acts.
We keep on wanting to contain this child of Bethlehem to fit with our ideas of what should be or is possible. We might discover something dangerous and out of control unless we eliminate possibilities beyond our boundaries,
Those who want to reduce the stories to historic facts and analyse them according to our scientific world view, even in the name of verifying their faith, will miss the child at Bethlehem, and the angelsong. They may get stuck at Herod?s palace looking in the expected places for the leaders, and miss travelling with the wise ones on that improbable journey, following a star or all things, to kneel at the manger with prophetic gifts.
Christmas is about wonder, suddenly! there are angels, suddenly! the sky fills with light and shepherds run to see a baby. Everyone gathers at the manger where the baby lies. All our conventions are questioned, Mary?s pregnancy out of a recognised relationship, Joseph?s faith in sticking with his beloved, despite disapproval and Luke?s story is written daringly, as a direct challenge to the King of King and Lord of Lords, The Prince of Peace, Augustus Caesar where the hosts of Rome are faced with the uneven contest of heavenly hosts. The Peace of God is seen reaching far beyond the Roman peace.
Good news! You should know it well, but the story still has the power surprise us with wonder.
Joy Cowley writes [Nativity, Psalms Down Under]
And here again is the star
that white flame of truth
Blazing the way for us
through a desert of tired words
Once more comes the music,
Angel song that lifts our hearts
and tunes our ears
to the harmony of the universe making us wonder how
we ever could have forgotten.
Tell your children the story of peace, give your grandchildren the gift of hope this Christmas the story, pass its love on to your neighbours. Christmas is a time of joy and wonder, even if there are tears and pain, for there is the discovery that there is more than we can tell.
Shepherds and musterers move over hillsides
finding not angels but sheep to be shorn;
wise ones make journeys whatever the season,
search for the signs of the truth to be born.
Right side up Christmas belongs to the universe,
made in the moment a woman gives birth;
hope is the Jesus Gift, love is the offering
everywhere, anywhere, here on the earth.
© Shirley Murray
Take time to wonder, for the love of God seeks us out Unexpectedly.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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