Viewed in the right light, Christmas brings clarity to so much of what vexes the world. If that clarity entered every household during this season, think how the world would change.

Consider how ridiculous the hubris of dictators and tyrants appears amid the endless sparkles of creation the James Webb Telescope has laid bare this year. Consider how the perspective of endless creation reduces human conceit and pride to nothingness.

Just one example, but a typical one, is a photo the telescope produced, showing what experts say is 50,000 sources of near infrared light. Each tiny bright spot is a separate galaxy containing millions of stars and planets. The website says this one single photo may contain as many as 4 trillion stars.

That seems impossible to comprehend.

Not only do human pursuits vanish into vapor against this backdrop, but a bigger, more ominous question comes to mind. How could anyone on a planet such as earth, which is less than a dark pebble in an ocean of stars and planets, presume a level of importance at all? How does anything we do matter?

And how could any thoughtful person consider the vastness of endless creation without wondering about the value of individuals, from the tiniest newborn baby to the most powerful political figure?

Christmas brings clarity to it all. 

“O, Holy Night,” a hymn written by Placide Cappeau, a poet in a small town in France, contains these words about Jesus Christ: “Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

The story of Christmas is the story of weak things being, in reality, of infinite worth. It is the story that corrects the way perspectives can be obscured by finite vision. It is about how tiny lives on a dim and remote planet, eclipsed by endless creative splendor, are important enough for the God of all creation to send his “only begotten son” to offer redemption, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) 

More than just a story about a baby born in a manger, it is a jaw-dropping affirmation of the divine worth of every person who has inhabited this planet, or whoever will so long as the planet exists. This tiny speck of a globe, then, is in reality the most sparkling jewel in the vast array of cosmic lights.

Opinion: The true power of Christmas in a world filled with violence and hate

One of the most troubling tragedies of modern life is the way so many people today readily lose sight of the eternal and focus obsessively on things of little or no value. Much has been written in recent years about families in the United States being torn apart by politics. Many people cringe at the thought of another acrimonious election season coming in 2024. 

Too many people now refuse to talk to or acknowledge mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers who hold differing political views. Too many walk amid splendor and beauty, focused only on the tiny specks of imperfections they insist on magnifying beyond proportion. Too many strive to keep those they dislike under their thumbs.

In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Will Leitch described the change in people regarding politics over the past eight years, or so.

“What had once been merely some awkward moments at Thanksgiving became constant fissures pitting kids against parents, siblings against siblings, generation against generation,” he said.

Others focus solely on wealth or the acquisition of things, oblivious to the short duration of their own lives.

It is common this time of year to hear people talk about wanting to feel the spirit of Christmas. Let’s be clear about that. 

Cappeau’s “O, Holy Night” continues, “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.”

The spirit of Christmas comes when we forgive as he does, when we love as he does, and when we stop trying to punish others for what we have seen as irredeemable shortcomings. It comes when we view all people as equals, endowed by the same loving creator with certain inalienable rights. It comes when we look around us and, most importantly, above us, focusing on transcendent beauties and wonders that lift and inspire.

It comes when we discover the worth of our own soul, and subsequently the worth of all other souls. It comes when we can see the bright light of that holy night through the perspective of eternity.