Dec. 27, 2015

A number of years ago I was given a Rubik's Cube for Christmas. It was so neatly arranged with solid surfaces of white, red, green and blue, yellow, and orange when I got it. What a wonderful symmetry! I very tentatively rotated the edges, so I could reverse it again and easily get back to the solution of the cube's puzzle. I put it down and went to do an errand and returned to find that my son furiously twisting and turning the cube...and each side was now splashed with at least four colors on each of the six sides of the cube. How would I ever get it back to the beautiful single colored sides again? I left off trying after a few hours...I had to, it was driving me crazy. And that's the way it stayed for years. It just sat on a shelf unsolved. I saw a news program the other day about a young man who was able to work out almost any combination of Rubik's cube solutions in a matter of seconds! I didn't believe it until I saw a video of it on YouTube. I was amazed, and deeply resentful...some people are just able to see a solution to such things, whereas others cannot. But I guess that's true of a lot of things. Some people see a way where others do not.

I guess that's why I like to read history. It's amazing to read about the ebb and flow of events, personalities, and consequences of even the simplest of things in a historical perspective. When we read historical accounts of world events, it's possible in retrospect to see trends playing out over many years, that may not have been recognized except by the prophets of their day, only they had seen things coming and announced it to the world. But rarely are these voices heeded in their own time. They saw things and announced it others, but others just don't see it--like the solution to the Rubik's Cube.

The cynic would say that the course of human history is all too clear... that it flows to the lowest points of history. Just as water seeks the lowest level, some would say that if you want a prediction of where history is headed then just try to find the lowest place. That may be a bit pessimistic, but as the great early 20th century newspaper man HL Menken said, "Nobody every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

Recently I've been reading Niall Ferguson's history of the two World Wars of the 20th century. You'd think that after all that, that after we'd had to fight Hitler, Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan that we'd have learned the real nature of fascism. But as in any age, hate and xenophobia, and fear of those who differ from us...these are never in short supply...and they always seem to bring us down to the lowest level. The political environment in our country seems to bear that out still.

Christ was born into the world in the lowest meanest place. I have been to Bethlehem and it's no better today than it was two millennia ago. Today Jews are still fighting Muslims and the Christians get caught up in the middle of it all. It's like a big circular chase where each participant is chasing the one in front with a club trying to throttle the front-runner and so it goes round and round.

Looking back through history one can see a delicate line that stretches from the birth of Christ to the present. But trying to see how that manger works a solution to the world's problems is like trying to solve a mixed up Rubik's can it be sorted out so that red is red, white is white, blue is blue and green is green? Looking at it today it just seems like a big mess, but God knows the twists and turns that must be taken to get to a solution.

We don't need to be a genius or a savant to work this out. We simply need to be guided by the God who revealed himself in a tiny baby in Bethlehem so long ago. In the words of the Christmas carol, "Oh, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord." It's a long and complicated path from Bethlehem to here, but God has made a way for us to know the solution. It's not a Rubik's Cube...and it's not an impossible conundrum. The solution is as simple as a babe in a manger...and 2000 years still is. "Oh, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord." Amen.

The Reverend Wayne Ray
St Thomas Church