Van Ens: Glance back at Christmas’ big picture (column) |

Van Ens: Glance back at Christmas’ big picture (column)

Jack Van Ens
My View

Holiday lights get boxed and put away. Memories of Yuletide parties fade. As you store festive decorations, gaze at Christmas’s big picture before its focus blurs.

Picture the central thrust of the Christmas message as if it were a huge mural. Biblical writers used two broad brush strokes when painting this Yuletide scene.

With eyes glued to Jesus’ birth in a manger, we tend to overlook the panoramic backdrop biblical writers painted. Look at the wide-angled shot of a split-apart world in which Jesus was born. See a depleted cosmos that, like Humpty Dumpty, needs to be put back together again.

Christmas’ mural shows “God was in Christ reconciling the world,” declares the Apostle Paul (Colossians 1:15-20) because havoc-ridden Nature “groans” (Romans 8:18-25). This writer uses imagery of relationships blown apart. Then we feel alienated and await healing. Reconciliation takes place after what’s fractured is repaired.

Consequently, the Bible teaches Christ was born for two major reasons: to heal our broken relationship with God and to renew fractured nature — cracking because humans abuse it.

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Global warming has hammered the world Christ came to restore. Issued on Black Friday last November, the National Climate Assessment from scientists in 13 federal departments and agencies darkly paints how much Mother Nature is hurting.

It points its finger at man-made greenhouse gases as the prime culprit destroying our planet. “High temperature extremes, heavy precipitation, high tide flooding events along the U.S. coastlines, ocean acidification and warming and forest fires in the western United States and Alaska are all projected to continue to increase, while land and sea-ice cover, snowpack and surface soil moisture are expected to continue to decline in the coming decades.”

How do these changes affect our health and future well-being? “Weather events will get more extreme, new climate conditions will allow for the spread of disease and factors such as reduced agricultural input will shave hundreds of billions of dollars off U.S. economic growth by the end of the century,” reports Time magazine (“Trump’s Deaf to Dire U.S. Climate Warming,” Dec. 10, 2018, p. 10).

President Donald Trump is blinded to this dire picture of climate change’s poisoning of nature. He blithely dismissed it as a “hoax” perpetrated by those who oppose the fossil fuel industry. Talking to reporters on Monday, Nov. 26, President Trump treated the National Climate Assessment as if it were a faulty weather report.

“I’ve seen it (the Assessment),” said Trump. “I’ve read some of it. And it’s fine.” After damning it with faint praise, the president trashed the assessment. “I don’t believe it,” he declared.

Evidence for global warming doesn’t impress the president. “World carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to have risen 2.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to three studies released on Wednesday, (Dec. 5, 2018) from the Global Carbon Project, an international scientific collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks gas emissions,” reports the Associated Press’ Seth Borenstein.

“John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and policy of Global Change, said the results aren’t too surprising because fossil fuels still account for 81 percent of the world’s energy use. The burning of coal, oil and gas released carbon dioxide warms the Earth. Reilly, who wasn’t part of the study praised it as impressive” (The Denver Post, “Global Carbon Pollution Rises in 2018,” Dec. 6, 2018, p. 15A).

Seldom has so little a mind as Trump’s missed so much that matters.

Focus on Christmas’ big picture. Jesus was born into our broken world to renew, protect and refurbish its damaged parts.

The Rev. Dr. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax-exempt Creative Growth Ministries (, which enhances Christian worship through dynamic storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive.

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