Friday, December 24, 2004

More than a story...

God come to earth? A virgin birth?
No - how could anybody believe?
(Wayne Watson, "One Christmas Eve")

In the little town of Bethlehem
A miracle was born to set us free
We read about it every year
I wanna live my life so everyone can see
That it's more than a story to me.

(GoFish, "More Than A Story")

It's the improbability that gets me about the Christmas gospel. Not even Zaphod Beeblebrox and the Heart of Gold, his ship equipped with the Infinite Improbability Drive, could come up with a plot-line like this. Even Cecil B. DeMille couldn't script something this unlikely, this amazing, this insane.

A God of unending love and limitless power slips out of infinity to adopt human form. And unlike the Greek and Roman gods of the day, who occasionally visited the earthly sod robed in beauty and power (Apollo, Aphrodite, Zeus), the God of Abraham and Moses breaks into human space and time in the most helpless, powerless, ultimately human way possible: as a baby. An infant. Born to a confused carpenter and his teenaged fiancee'; born into a nation trapped in servitude, occupied by an oppressive foreign power. Living a life as the carpenter's son. On the surface, living an utterly normal infancy, childhood, youth, and adulthood.

Did you ever stop and think, "That's God eating my soup"? (Max Lucado, "Twenty-Five Questions for Mary," from God Came Near)
People who are not Christian hear this story, and their first reaction is often some variation on "What the hell was your God thinking??"

Perhaps - especially for thick-headed folk like me - the greatest improbability of the coming of Christ is not how God came near...but who God chose to "come near" to. I was always willing to believe that God would choose to spend time with you - because I truly believed that you were more beautiful/handsome/talented/intelligent/"good" than I ever was, or ever could be. It made sense that God would come to earth to spend time with beautiful, talented, affluent, powerful people like you. It made no sense whatsoever, when I first read about the Incarnation, that God would come to earth for me. No way.

The story of an impossible God doing impossible things just validates that maybe - just maybe - that the God who loves to do impossible things might have done the most impossible thing of all - love me, and desire to be in a relationship with me. In the insanity of the Nativity, I find hope that an impossibly-acting God can accept me exactly as I am. And then I come to believe not only that God can do this, but that God did, and does, do just that.

Come, Emmanuel...come and dwell with us again...dwell with us still.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Peter said...

My memory of this is a bit fuzzy, but as I recall from my Hindu friends, the god Krishna had to be hidden from a wrathful uncle who intended to murder him. He was hidden among cow herders, and lived with them for years as one of them. There is also a delightful legend from this period of his existence that he consorted with a lusty group of milk maids one long night, pleasuring every one of them.

God among us.

Blessed Christmas, Steve.