Advent Pictures of Christ


Snowflake Photos from SnowCrystals.com

I know I need to be careful how I say this.

Yes, they’re snowflakes.

But when I first saw these pictures, all I could think of was: Look! Pictures of Christ!

Pictures of perfection, they remind us of the joyful Antiphon for a Monday’s vespers: “yours is more than mortal beauty; every word you speak is full of grace.”

They are -in a sense- pictures of Christ in Glory.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the first-born of all creation.
In him everything in heaven and on earth was created,
things visible and invisible.

All things were created through him;
all were created for him.
He is before all else that is.
In him everything continues in being
– Col 1:12-17

The Christ is the firstborn of all creation -he is the prototokos- the primacy is his, and he is the first of all that is brought or may be brought.

And so, this snow, these miraculous, singular snowflakes -each exceptional as your own fingerprints- have been brought into being, by Christ, by whose glorious light they are made.

I think of Christ’s primacy as being akin to the old flashbulbs we used in cameras; there would be a blinding flash of light, and then something would come of it. Christ is the flash of light but because there are no negatives in Christ his light brings clarity, not an aching blind spot. His Holy Light is the consent – every “yes” that allows life to blossom, rather than shrivel or suffocate and die. As John tells us in the beginning of his Gospel, without that Light, nothing exists. Life is carried on it, the way it is carried, joyfully, in the fizzy mist of the Shekinah.

Perhaps this can better explain what I mean:

I watched an incredible woman generously, disinterestedly and most helpfully console another woman who was in major emotional distress. And that time, when I saw the mist, I also thought…here is Christ, poured forth like a libation.

Although Christ was in the kindness, and in the assist, it was the mist I was writing about; it flowed from woman to woman, warm and aglow with love, and it shimmered and moved, pouring forth and through even the tiniest of their psycho-spiritual openings. The mist, and the light, they were alive.

In his primacy, Christ is the light, yes. But also, Christ is the “let there be” Light.

Try to put that first image of the flashbulb into your head. There is a flash of light; his Divine “yes” and then, things come to be, because his light, his assent, came first.

A flash -a Divine “yes”- and a new life is formed. Flash! A new crocodile. Flash! A litter puppies. Flash! Maggots and flies. Flash! Springtime flowers. Flash! A new infant is conceived, life assented to, allowed to be created, thanks to the light; thanks to the “yes.”

Without the flash that is his light – nothing! Nothing comes because nothing is brought. No life.

Considered in this way, the mystery of Christ being the “firstborn of all creation” in whom “we live and move and have our being” becomes accessible. What also becomes accessible is the concept of evil and corruption in those acts which work to hinder the light -to stop what God has, by his love, consented into being.

How the Evil must dance when a new life is disallowed, shredded in utero, and the flash, the “yes” snuffed out. How Evil must smile in content when the means by which God permits us to assist in creation are waylaid, or purposely directed toward what is only decaying, and corrupted and utterly dead.

It was only when I came to understand that Christ is truly “the first born of all creation” and therefore the very flash and thrust of all creation, that I came to understand the notion of things ordered, and disordered. It is less about design and physicality, than about turning a “yes” into a “no,” life into death, being into non-being, light into dark.

The only way the Evil can stop what the Light of Christ has put into motion is with our help. We are destructors in big and little ways. We kill our bodies, or our children. We kill their little psyches. We beat each other up with guilt and sly manipulations, or the serpent’s hissing gossip. We look at what we should condemn, and look away when we ought not. We give an unrealized assist, then, to what is anti-Christ, anti-light, anti-life, anti-God-all-good; we help to plunge the world into a darkness bleak, and cold.

The snowflakes are ordered -they are visibly, perfectly ordered- like Christ. And as with Christ, you can see the whole world in them. Butterflies, and flowers, dragonflies, and stingers and crescents; stars, arrows and feathers and leaves; sand dollars, beetles,and tents and cathedrals and even people. This snowflake looks like it is just crammed full of people.

And in each of those snowflakes, I see the cross, the speartip, the pillar, the stone, the star that led shepherds and kings, and a mother’s pierced heart, too.

In the scriptures, we hear of rivers laughing, cedars clapping, water creatures praising God. Thomas Merton talked about seeing humanity going about “shining like the sun.” St. Therese Couderc wrote of seeing the luminous “goodness” lingering aglow upon all creation.

They are all talking about the same thing -this primal light of Christ- the light that came before any thing, before any body, and which remains, throughout. It is a light that can only willfully be extinguished, and even then, the merest surviving ember may still attract his mercy and love, and blaze anew. Like finds like. Light reflects.

When we see the snowflakes we can even better appreciate St. Patrick’s Breastplate, and his prayer to the Christ -in all things seen and unseen- all around:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Think about that, next time you’re caught in the snow.

And don’t our Anglican brothers and sisters surely know how to do Advent Vespers?

Italy does Christmas

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Anglican Peggy

    re: Vespers

    Nice! Wow!

    Thanks, Anchoress.

  • zmama

    Oh my-what a beautiful post!
    Something that especially made me smile-in college I worked pt-time at a home for multihandicapped children. One of my favorites and the child whom God truly used to open my heart to the idea of adoption was a little girl whose name just happened to be Shekina! I know she led me years later, along with my husband, to our beautiful daughter born in China. When I recently read the latest statistics that there are 22 million live births each year along with 14 million abortions in China, I praise God that our daughter was spared-this one who is the light of our lives-and grieve the loss of so many others like her.

    Thank you for this wonderful post during Advent.

  • Jeanne

    This is one of my favorites on YouTube. The moment when the congregation joins in song..gives me goosebumps!

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  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    Beautiful post. And yes, if there’s one thing I miss about being Anglican . . .

  • http://www.celticpole.blogspot.com Barb

    Thank you for helping me start my day in reverence. I woke up humming In the Bleak Mid Winter for some odd reason. It’s now on my cd player. Snowflakes do amaze. Thank you.

  • Judith L

    Thank you,Anchoress. For quoting my favorite scripture from Colossians, for paying tribute to my all but shattered church, to which I continue to cling, and for, probably, my favorite carol sung so beautifully.

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com W Chase

    Wonderful post. My kids from my first marraige are being raised RC, and due to some very sad history with their Mom, it is often very hard for me to see the positive in it. I am sure they pick up on my body language when I manage to keep my mouth shut. Your posts are helpful to me in eliminating the need to fake an optimistic view of their spiritual development in a church other than my own.

  • Rosellen Tracy

    Having spent my morning Christmas shopping, your Finding Christ in the Snowflakes brought me back to what my Christmas should be about and then Advent Vespers just took my breath away. Thank you so very much.

  • Judith L

    Seeing these wonderful snowflake pictures reminded me that as a child in (public) school, I often cut snowflakes out of paper folded twice. In winter time, the windows were decorated with these snowflakes and we all knew that God made each snowflake unique. I’ll bet my grandsons haven’t had such an exercise in school. Too close to worshiping the Maker, not Gaia.

  • Cecile DeOrnellas

    As an ex-Catholic who practically withered in a loveless church, thank you for this beautiful testimony of our Lord Jesus. Thank you for the inspiration and honor it brings to fairest Lord Jesus. Thank you for reminding me that love of Christ is boundless and non-denominational. Thank you for the beautiful love of Christ communicated. Oh that all who call themselves Christians would have the depth of understanding of Christ expressed in this post. Thank you my Catholic, christian friend.

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