Thursday, December 23, 2010

Renewing the Glorious Mystery

Think about it. The Spirit of God visit’s the uterine tube of a young virgin, possibly as young as 14 years old, and she is impregnated with God. Just that sentence alone is more profound than any human mind can fully grasp. This virgin was not from the king’s house, and she was in fact a mere peasant. Completely obscure and with no remark ability, Mary is chosen and submits. Sacred beyond imagination.

Joseph is given the grace necessary to lend support, however his understanding is far from complete. No one knows, not even Mary. Of course she heard the words of Gabriel, but they quickly become clouded. Even if Mary had understood Who was growing inside her body, no one saw the cross. But without a working knowledge of the Trinity, Mary surely could only grasp one thing: She was a virgin and yet she was pregnant.

Gabriel considered this event so important that he informed Mary himself. So God could impregnate a human being with Himself, but He could not provide adequate lodging for His Son’s birth? Oh no, you miss the point. It isn’t that God couldn’t, but that God didn’t. God speaks through this narrative. Infinite is the condescension of God coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, but so often we miss the living metaphor of Jesus being born among animals. That reveals to us, however incomplete, the depth that God lowered himself to reach us.

Over the years man has attached all sorts of sentimentality to this wonderful event. But stripped of the cultural and festive atmosphere of human holidays, we can get a glimpse of God’s glory. The mystery of the Incarnation is pervasive, but the mission ultimately becomes clear. This baby, Emmanuel, has come to die. God, the author of all life, has come to die. And not just a quick and merciful death, but a vicious and wrenching death that belies everything we think we know about God. Crucifixion awaits this newborn.

So go ahead and smile at the caricatures presented at this “Christmas” time of year. Feel warm inside when someone allows their child to be used in a Christmas pageant. And while perusing the retail establishments looking for the exact gift for some relative, go ahead and breathe in the “spirit” of Christmas. But be aware, that is not the spirit of Christmas. The spirit of Christmas can only be found at Golgotha.

Go ahead and feel the spirit of that tree with all its festive ornaments. Not lights but the Light; not red and green but mostly red; not carols but groans; not punch but vinegar; not the giving of gifts but the giving of the gift; not the fragrance of evergreen but the fragrance of sweat and death; not a time for family but a time to create a family. Oh yes, the Incarnation was a infinite mystery which will never be fully understood by fallen man. However we can understand death. And Christmas was not just a time of new life, it was also a time of impending death. God would die. Go discuss that around the water cooler. Instead of “Merry Christmas” shout out “Praise God for His Son’s death!” during Christmas. And instead of “Silent Night, Holy Night” sing “O Sacred Head now Wounded”.

Let us as believing followers of the Incarnate One shuffle off all vestiges of sentimentality and holiday spirit, and let us bow in worship before the Risen Christ that still bears the nail prints from Calvary!

1 comment:

Steve said...

You put your finger exactly on the central fact of this season: God's incomparably great power, His Kingly grandeur, His fierce love toward us, manifest in the human flesh of This Babe. Manifest again in The Man's human life, and human death. TRIUMPHANTLY manifest for all time, to all creation, in the living flesh of This One rising at God's word from the tomb.

There is none like our God !! PRAISE HIM !!

In Jesus, Steve