He Shall Be Called God with Us

I’ve decided that Christmas is as two-toned as the colors we most associate with the holiday. One is primary, the other secondary, both attractive but completely divergent. So with Christmas, we have a primary purpose for the holiday—the celebration of Christ come down—and a secondary—the gift-giving family time with all the traditions. Both are attractive, but unless a person intentionally connects the two, quite divergent.

I was reminded of this when one of the local Christian radio stations claimed to be playing Christmas music with a difference, then proceeded to air “Frosty, the Snowman.” Yes different, I thought. Different that you thought there was anything different about that secular song over some other secular song.

Once again, C. S. Lewis in Miracles (MacMillian) made some profound observations that apply to the primary purpose of Christmas:

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation. (chapter 14, p. 112)

In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity … down to the very roots and sea-bed of Nature. … One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the deathlike region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour too. (chapter 14, p. 116)

I’ll be off tomorrow, as I suspect you will be also. May you have a joyous Christmas Day, including some recognition and celebration of Immanuel, God with us, God come down to bring us up with Him.

. . . And Bring Forth a Son

More from Miracles by C. S. Lewis:

Christianity does not involve the belief that all things were made for man. It does involve the belief that God loves man and for his sake became man and died. … The sceptic asks how we can believe that God so “came down” to this one tiny planet. The question would be embarrassing if we knew (1) that there are rational creatures on any of the other bodies that float in space; (2) that they have, like us, fallen and need redemption; (3) that their redemption must be in the same mode as ours; (4) that redemption in this mode has been withheld from them. But we know none of them. … If it is maintained that anything so small as the Earth must, in any event, be too unimportant to merit the love of the Creator, we reply that no Christian ever supposed we did merit it. Christ did not die for men because they were intrinsically worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and therefore loves infinitely. (emphasis mine, excerpted from chapter 7, p. 53)

It is therefore inaccurate to definite a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn’t. … If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point. Immediately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. … The moment it [the miraculous] enters her [Nature’s] realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate, miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all the ordinary process of textual corruption [unless the Holy Spirit also provides miraculous preservation], miraculous bread will be digested. … A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God: its results follow according to Natural law. (excerpts from chapter 8, pp. 60-61)

As Scripture indicates, God’s infinite love prompted Him to miraculous activity: sending His Son to earth as a baby. And so, Christmas. 😀

A Virgin Shall Conceive

Nativity Scene, Photographer: Ian BrittonI suppose it’s natural around Christmas time to think more about God, especially God with us, God Incarnate, God taking the form of a baby. And certainly my recent discussions regarding the existence of God have propelled my thoughts in that direction as well.

Now I am reading C. S. Lewis’s book Miracles which is much more of an apologetic for God and His work in the world than I had realized. Interestingly, I can see more clearly why Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, calls himself the anti-Lewis. The thing is, because Lewis had himself been an atheist, he could anticipate the arguments an atheist would make against the Supernatural.

Unsurprisingly, the miracle Lewis refers to with some frequency is the virgin birth. Here are some of his thoughts in answer to the argument that people of old believed in miracles because they didn’t have the scientific knowledge we have now.

You will hear people say, “The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is a scientific impossibility.” Such people seem to have an idea that belief in miracles arose at a period when men were so ignorant of the course of nature that they did not perceive a miracle to be contrary to it. A moment’s thought shows this to be nonsense: and the story of the Virgin Birth is a particularly striking example. When St. Joseph discovered that his fiancé was going to have a baby, he not unnaturally decided to repudiate her. Why? Because he knew just as well as any modern gynecologist that in the ordinary course of nature women do not have babies unless they have lain with men. … When St. Joseph finally accepted the view that his fiancé’s pregnancy was due not to unchastity but to a miracle, he accepted the miracle as something contrary to the known order of nature. All records of miracles teach the same thing. In such stories the miracles excite fear and wonder (that is what the very word miracle implies) among spectators, and are taken as evidence of supernatural power. If they were not known to be contrary to the laws of nature how could they suggest the presence of the supernatural? How could they be surprising unless they were seen to be exceptions to the rules? And how can anything be seen to be an exception till the rules are known? … If St. Joseph had lacked faith to trust God or humility to perceive the holiness of his spouse, he could have disbelieved in the miraculous origin of her Son as easily as any modern man; and any modern man who believes in God can accept the miracle as easily as St. Joseph did.

There’s more. Good stuff, important to recall when we are approaching the celebration of that which is impossible except for the God with whom all things are possible.

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