Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bethlehem Revisited

In this short pamphlet Douglas Steere revisits his understanding of Christmas and the mysteries surrounding the Christmas story.
Christmas is a time when we are invited to revisit Bethlehem and to reconsider its miracle. Bethlehem does not change and the miracle does not change, but we change, and the eyes with which we are able to see change. Hence what we see from year to year is not the same, which makes this annual visit an adventure rather than a routine pilgrimage.”

Relating stories of Christmas the author captures new interpretations of the meaning of those events which were reported so long ago. Those stories provide Steere a framework, a lattice, on which he can hang his well worked ecumenism as well as his understanding of his fellow men. With the star of Bethlehem is rediscovered reflecting in the depths of a well Steere concludes that “when in stubborn self-will you refuse direction and lose the star of rapture, you can recover your direction only by looking into the inward well of your own heart.”

That inward well reminds Steere of the words of the 17th century Angelus Silesius who declares:
Were Christ a thousand times
Reborn in Bethlehem’s stall
And not in thee,
Thou still art lost beyond recall.

Steere considers what Pascal in his Thoughts says that "all of the troubles of the world come from the fact that a man cannot remain in his own chamber."
When in stubborn self-will you refuse direction and lose the star of rapture, you can recover your direction only by looking into the inward well of your own heart. Only as you return to your chamber – the chamber that lies open to each of us if we dare to stop and enter into it – will you be restored to that which you most deeply long to find: One who can take away all fear; One who can restore you to living on the earth, sowing your life as a seed in those about you; One who can take away the haunting fear of death by using your life in His and your fellow man’s service.

For Douglas Steere, a fundamental message of Jesus is that "he has come to draw all men, and that no religion can ever again be exclusively concerned about either individual or denominational salvation but only about the lifting of all men into a community of loving interdependence."

View the complete Pendle Hill pamphlet number 144:
Bethlehem Revisited

No comments: