Christmas Meditation

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, [14] ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ (Luke 2:13-14, ESV)

After the angels announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2, a heavenly host erupted in praise declaring, “Glory to God in the highest!”  They were glorifying God for His work, in this case redemptive work of sending the promised Messiah in Jesus.  The works of God in nature also redound to the glory of God.

The now late outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens said,

Religion has run out of justifications.  Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, it no longer offers and explanation of anything important (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great, 282).

One man would beg to differ.  The man’s name is Wilson Bentley (1865-1931).*  Bentley was taken by Job 38:22 which speaks about “the treasures of the snow” (KJV).  At 14, Bentley already showed a scientific bent.  Bentley’s mother, a school teacher, gave him a microscope.  He used it to observe anything that fit under the lens.  Later in his life, Bentley said he felt compelled to proclaim the Great Designer’s glory through the microscope.  He recounted,

I became possessed with a great desire to show people something of this wonderful loveliness, an ambition to become in some measure, its preserver.

What was Bentley talking about?  He was talking about the snowflake.  When he first began observing snowflakes, he expected them all to look the same.  He was surprised to learn that they were all different.  Bentley concluded that, to the best of his knowledge, no snowflake

was an exact duplicate of any other snowflake!

adding

with profound humility, we acknowledge that the Great Designer is incomparable an unapproachable in the infinite prodigality [extravagance] and beauty of His works.

Turns out that the combination of water molecules, air currents, temperature, and humidity make it extremely unlikely that one snowflake will resemble another—much like a human fingerprint.  Bentley explained that the matchlessness of each snowflake

can only be referred to the will and pleasure of the Great First Cause, whose works, even the most minute and evanescent, and in regions the most removed from human observation, are altogether admirable.

So taken by their beauty, Bentley began to draw snowflakes when he was 15 but they melted before he could finish.  He learned about a camera that could be used with a microscope.  He bought it when he was 17.  A year after he bought the camera—he did it!  He took a picture of a snowflake; the first one ever taken.  It was tedious work.  Even with a camera, the snowflakes would melt or break like glass depending on the temperature.  Over the years, he managed to take many pictures of snowflakes capturing their unique beauty.

The beautiful seasons give us cause to join the heavens as they declare the glory of God.  Thanks to William Bentley, we now know that the white stuff that falls from the sky is made up of intricate little masterpieces called snowflakes.  These snowflakes are another reason to proclaim the glory of our powerful Creator.  This brings us back to the angelic proclamation of the good news of Jesus’ birth and the heavenly choir.  The Christmas season is a time when we ought to give glory to God not only for His handiwork displayed in the snowflake but supremely for the first advent of His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is the work of our Divine and gracious Redeemer.  With the heavenly host, we too should exclaim, “Glory to God in the highest!”

*Taken from Jerry Bergman, “Snowflake Bentley: Man of Science, Man of God,” Acts & Facts (December 2011), 12-14.

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