A Christmas Meditation with Elizabeth Rice Handford

It was late October, and I was delighted to read that the Orionid meteor shower would be visible again in the Carolina sky that night, with perhaps as many as 20 “falling stars” an hour. I got up in the middle of the night, searched the night sky, realized I was too early, and sat down at a table to wait.

They are called the Orionid showers because they seem to rise out of the Orion constellation, which has two of the brightest stars in the sky. (You can recognize it by the three bright stars that form the belt of Orion, the hunter.) But the meteors are the debris left from Halley’s comet, which appears about once every 75 years.

Can you fathom it? Not only does planet earth make a full revolution every 24 hours, but it is also hurtles through space in orbit around the sun, completing an orbit once a year. And so every year our earth goes through the dust left by Halley’s comet and rewards us with a meteor shower.

I was awed as I thought how the universe reveals God’s power beyond my ability to comprehend. Job 9:9-11 says, “God made all the stars–the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky. His great works are too marvelous to understand. He performs miracles without number.”

Job 38:31-33 says, “Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth?”

As I waited, bemused, I noticed a tiny, 1/4″ leaf-hopper on the table staring right at me. It had a tiny, triangular face, its bright eyes seemingly fastened on mine. It looked at me, then bent one knee (since it had no neck) to get a better look, then bent the other knee. As if perplexed, it walked away, but circled back to stare at me again. Again, he surveyed me, then bent a knee, and then the other. It seemed to be trying to figure me out.

“Sorry, little’un,” I said aloud, “There’s no way you’ll understand me. The gulf between us is just too great.” Then I thought, “But not as great a gulf as there is between the Almighty Creator and me. I know He is God, and I know He is powerful, but His universe tells me nothing about His holiness, His justice, His unmeasured love. The eternal God spanned that gulf by making Himself a human being, so I could truly know Him.”
And that, of course, is the essence of the Christmas story.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
The glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man” numerous time. He was, and is, God Himself, but He came into the world as a human baby, not only so we could understand God, but also so He could carry humanity’s sorrows. He became flesh so He could die for our sin. He bridged the gulf so He could bring us to Heaven, to enjoy Him forever.

And that’s the conversation I had with a tiny leaf-hopper one October night. I was enthralled again with the truth of God’s inexpressible love for me. And I’d never known it, if Jesus had not come into the world that first Christmas day.