In 1566 Flemish artist Pieter Breugel painted a remarkable picture called ‘Census at Bethlehem.’ In his picture, Breugel transports the events of the first Christmas Eve to a village in north western Europe on a Christmas Eve in the sixteenth century. Villagers are absorbed in their own activities. There are children playing. One man is preparing to ice skate. A pig is being slaughtered. There are financial transactions being undertaken outside a building. While people are engaged in their business and focus on their passions, they do not notice a carpenter leading a donkey which is carrying a pregnant woman. It seems that the couple, Joseph and Mary, are only observed by an ox which is looking up at them. The villagers are preparing for Christmas but do not recognise the main players in the Christmas story coming among them. They will not see the wonderful actions of God that will be happening among them.
Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate and to show generosity to those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot celebrate. Christmas is a celebration of the generosity of God who, in the person of Jesus Christ, became deeply involved in the hopes and fears of the world in order to affirm all that is life-giving and to challenge and transform all that brings hatred and fear.
There is much in our world, our country and in our lives that stir up hatred and fear and we become absorbed in it and by it. Christmas reminds us that such negativity does not have the upper hand, that the darkness does not ultimately overwhelm the light. Christmas encourages us to peer through the darkness and be generous in our lives, attitudes and relationships so that we notice the wonderful activity of God happening among us and the people through whom God is working. Our eyes will then be open to the potential within our world.
Thank you for all your thoughtful and encouraging blog posts
It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
Wonderful! We found this inspirational and thank you for words that influenced our day. ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not [will never] overcome it’