Symbols – of Christ in Christmas, Part I

Symbols can be powerful representations of a position, a conviction, a faith.  The United States flag symbolizes all three, and more.  They’re NOT the truth they surface but draw us to substantial truth.  It’s proper to use symbols as signs of faith in God and his works.  To be permanently useful, however, they must be seen merely as heralds of truth beyond themselves.

In the next two blogs let’s consider symbols relating to our Master’s birth.  They’ll be used in my message 24 December.  If anyone from Escondido Christian Church is reading this, READ ON.  I’m only going to skim the cream of the sermon for the blogs.

A.  Consider the Shepherd’s Staff. I have several walking sticks stuck in the corner of the bedroom.  The one used on daily walks stands beside the stereo in the entryway.  A ceremonial stick given by a Christian brother in Las Vegas is too soft to be used in defense.  Then there’s the shepherd’s Staff Brooks gave me a few years ago.  It’s the symbol of a Shepherd’s authority over his sheep; what he carried before them as he went before them; what he used as a weapon against intruders of his flock, the crook of which he used to retrieve lambs out of arms’ reach in a crevice.  This one is also too soft a wood to be used in real life situations.

Let’s remember that the first Noel—Christmas carol—featured an angelic choir singing to…shepherds.  The unlikeliest audience to hear, the least likely to be considered worthy by those in charge of Israel’s life.  Those everyone else missed, but God saw.  That others overlooked, but God looked over.  The representatives of the unknown, unseen, unpretentious people in every generation—the salt of the earth people!

B.  Consider the Linen Ephod. With twelve precious stones representing the 12 Tribes stitched onto it.  Across his chest.  Over his heart.  Carrying the people to God.  Bearing their cares and aspirations and sins before God.  The symbol of authority to the people, of God’s presence among his people.

And, as representative of the Hebrew establishment, all that Israel had ever known, the final word in all religious matters.  Which, by the time of Christ’s ministry, represented the biggest obstacle to his originality, creativity and singularity:  TRADITION!

They defied his miracles, teachings and claims, all reinforced by massive evidence.  They would rather the nation perish with them than survive under another, particularly a Doctor-less in any study, who nonetheless had a Post-Doctoral knowledge and wisdom.

Beware of traditions that have a life of their own, an end in themselves.  They invariably sacrifice Truth itself to protect what has become their reason for living.       – End Part I –

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