Christmas and Chemistry

by Doug Engel

Chemistry wasn’t one of my strongest subjects in high school. I remember one time when we were in the lab using Bunsen burners to heat up some chemical combination in test tubes. The problem occurred when I tried to cool the results down (perhaps I was a little impatient) by using cold water from the tap. I found out rather quickly that cold water and hot glass don’t do well together. The test tube and my mark for the exercise shattered!

According to Collins Dictionary chemistry “is the scientific study of the structure of substances and of the way that they react with other substances.” Have you thought about the chemistry involved in cooking? In cooking you’re using different ingredients mixed in different ways and either cooling mixtures down or heating them up.

When you’re baking a cake, for example, there are a number of important ingredients necessary if you’re going to achieve the results you want. The main ingredients include flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and baking powder. Now, what would happen if you tried to bake the cake without one of the main ingredients? If you left out the baking powder it would end up kind of flat and heavy. If the egg was left out you might find your cake kind of hollow and inconsistent.

What if you left out the main thing? In this case it would be the flour. You could mix it all up and try baking it but it would resemble nothing like a cake. I can’t even imagine what it would taste like. It would be totally different. Or, what if you replaced one of the ingredients with something completely different? Salt instead of sugar! You know what would happen. It would taste really bad. All the icing on top wouldn’t change the fact that something wasn’t right!

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman ...” (Gal. 4:4). That was some 2000 years ago. On the day God’s Son was born angels overwhelmed shepherds with their celebration song. The shepherds hurried to see this miracle for themselves. They called His name Jesus because He would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Creation itself did it’s part also in the unveiling of a special announcement star. Astrologers from the East realized that a King was born. This made such an impression on them that they began their journey to see this King for themselves. After they had travelled for more than a year they worshipped, presenting their gifts.

This is Christmas!

And yet, it seems that every year the pressure is more and more to leave out the most important ingredient of Christmas. Not only that! It is common practice to replace the main ingredient with something else. I’m no Scrooge and I’m not saying Santa Claus is bad and shouldn’t be part of the holiday. I am saying that when you leave the main ingredient out then it looks and tastes nothing like it’s supposed to.

Christmas without Jesus becomes kind of like a cake without egg or a cake where the salt is substituted for the sugar... a little bit hollow and leaving a bad taste in your mouth. So this Christmas, let’s remember to include the main ingredient. Happy Birthday Jesus!