On the street on which I grew up there used to be a lot more trees. In fact, there were three very lush trees on our side of the street. Now they are no longer there. Instead, the only objects that stretch forth into the skies on this part of the street are telephone poles with their wires stretched from one to the next. The trees were cut down because they were getting in their way. A practical reality.
The view from my office window is of Concordia’s parking lot. There’s a section of this parking lot that wasn’t there when I was a student or when I was a child walking around campus. One part was just a grassy area serving as a bullpen for the baseball team and the other part was a section of trees and foliage. Concordia has more students than they used to which means that they are continually in need of more space for parking. A practical reality.
Because they realized that they were naked God made for Adam and Eve garments of skins to cloth them. Due to the consequences of their decision to be like God an animal had to be killed in order for them to be clothed. A practical reality, yet a disordered one. One that creates a world within a world wherein things are used in ways that they were not meant to be used.
No wonder creation groans. It groans through the cracks of our asphalt and the humming of our machines. For it has been subjected to futility. This futility, our handiwork, however benign it may seem. A perverted stewardship that, too often, leads to exploitive domination.
It’s easy to assume that the babe in a manger comes only for us – human beings. But that is only part of the picture. Nativity scenes always include animals, it’s cute to think of Jesus being born next to cows, donkeys and chickens. On another level, though, it can stand as a reminder that not only does he come for the unclean like the shepherds, but he also comes for such animals. In fact, he comes for his entire creation, because his entire creation has been disordered. Jesus comes to bind the strongman, the Satan, who brings destruction and disorder to a “good” creation.
For he hears the groans of his beloved creation. He hears us, he hears the animals, he hears the trees, he hears the valleys, he hears the mountains, he hears the seas.
And He comes…