“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man.” C. S. Lewis, Miracles, p. 108
“If the thing happened, it was the central event in the history of the Earth.” Ibid
“Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable glow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.
“Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.
“Among the sheep (I like sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!
– C.S. Lewis, “The Nativity”
Christmas wonder these days seems mostly to be about carols, lights, decorations, piles of gifts under fir trees adorned with multi-glazed ornaments, filled cookies, chocolates, rum-soaked cakes, and fattened geese.
No, Christmas Wonder, something wholly other, is the greatest mystery in the history of humankind.
Christianity possesses a truth unlike any other creed. No other religion can claim the revealed truth that God became man:
Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God…
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
If the Incarnation isn’t astonishing enough, next is death and Resurrection:
He suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father…
This is not the stuff of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, sexless conception, or cryogenics. Neither is it a fanciful fable, phantasmagoria, or some temporal spiritual fashion. It is about the holiest transcendent real-time transaction, upon which rests the fate of the world and the salvation of mankind.
Impossible, you say…but true.
The Christian faith is hard stuff. It is an intellectual labyrinth, neither a casual pursuit nor a trifle, easy to get lost, convenient to abandon. The Christian’s journey has a joyful ending, but its beginning, and timeless passage, is daunting.
Despite the progressive liberal assertions that religions outside Christianity enjoy multicultural equivalency and authority, none other insists – after more than two millennia – that God dwelt among us as man, at least for a while; was crucified; and then rose from the dead, whose sacrifice freed men from sin. None other compels a Trinitarian God and all of its glorious complications.
Indeed sensational, mystifying, confounding, and wondrous. The entire notion of Christianity is incomprehensible, ultimately demanding faith, increasingly considered irrelevant in a civilization where God’s gifts have rendered His presence unnecessary.
At Christmastide, and Christmas Eve in particular, we shall celebrate the wonders of the season, the scents, tastes, embraces, greetings, sounds, and joys that surround us with all of the rightful seasonal trappings. At the same time, let us be grateful for having traversed the rightful intellectual demands that the Christian faith requires and absorb His grace that transcends understanding.
There is no better time to reflect upon the Wonder that started it all.