It’s obvious I enjoy photography. I especially love how – once in a while – a single image captured in a fraction of a second can tell a complete story. Typically, though, life is too rich and nuanced to be told in one frame. That’s where words help. Then there are video segments, sound bites, and productions such as the Walk Through Bethlehem movie our church put out this week.
Sometimes I will try for a sequence of frames, such as this one that tells more of the story that is Max Retriever. It turns out that Max is a little bit of a ham. We will pause during a walk and take a shot at a portrait session, but the moment he sees my phone he will look anywhere but directly at the camera. Typically we eventually do get the “money shot” – but there are always diversions along the way!
Next up it’s going to be getting him to wear his Santa hat for the official “Christmas 2020 Maul Newsletter” picture in front of the tree. That session may be worth rolling video.
Getting it right: more than a tableau:
My point this morning is that there is no single picture – like the classic nativity tableau – capable of even beginning to represent the meaning of Christmas. A series of frames won’t do it either. And even a wonderfully produced video such as Walk Through Bethlehem (WTB) – concluding as it does with the stark message of the cross – is only capable of scratching the surface.
Christmas is a story we are invited not just to view, but to enter. We get this wonderfully right in WTB when we take people through Bethlehem as refugees themselves, where they are spoken to by prophets, warned by townsfolk, harassed by Roman soldiers, jostled in the marketplace, intimidated by Herod, greeted by shepherds, visited by angels, welcomed by Mary and Joseph, and blessed by the child in the manger, the Prince of Peace.
We get this even more wonderfully right when we ask Jesus to walk with us and continue the journey, this adventure, in the way God intended when Jesus shattered the constraints of time and space and entered our experience as fellow traveler and guide.
Don’t miss the real story this year. Don’t view the manger scene on a card and then move on by. Don’t relegate the light of the world to a seasonal snapshot.
O holy Child of Bethlehem– Phillips Brooks (1835-1903)
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel