Skip to comments.Christmas: the beginning of our redemption
Posted on 12/22/2006 9:14:43 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
Christmas: the beginning of our redemption
The manger and the empty tomb are doorways to new life
Half a century ago, the great British scholar, C.S. Lewis, wrote about the miracle we really celebrate every December. He said the following:
Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoiled. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.
What you would have done about that tin soldier, I do not know. But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many (pounds). The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but, before that, a baby, and before that, a fetus inside a womans body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.
The result of this is that you now had one man who really was what all men were intended to be: one man in whom created life, derived from his mother, allowed itself to be completely and perfectly turned into (Gods) begotten life. Thus, in one instance, humanity had, so to speak, arrived: had passed into the life of Christ.
And because the whole difficulty for us is that the natural life has to be, in a sense, killed, He chose an earthly career which involved the killing of His human desires at every turn poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered at and manhandled by the police, and execution by torture. And then, after being thus killed killed every day in a sense the human creature in Him, because it was united to the divine Son, came to life again. The man in Christ rose again: not only the God. That is the whole point. For the first time we saw a real man. One tin soldier real tin, just like the rest had come fully and splendidly alive.
This is why we celebrate Christmas. It begins our redemption. The Child conceived in Mary and born in Bethlehem grows up, preaches Gods kingdom, is murdered on a cross and rises from the dead and all of us with Him. The manger and the empty tomb are bookends to the Christian story. Theyre doorways to new life. Christian joy every December has nothing to do with a bleached and generic holiday spirit. Its much richer than that, just as flesh and blood is profoundly different from tin.
Of course, we have a choice. We can settle for less. We can remain tin. Even worse, we can begin to be genuinely human and turn back to being tin. The London Daily Mail reported this year that only one in 100 Christmas cards now sold in Britain the land of Lewis, Tolkien and dozens of great Christian saints like Thomas More, John Fisher and Augustine of Canterbury has any religious content at all.
These final days of Advent invite us to remember who we really are and what we really believe when we describe ourselves as Christians. Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. Every other motive for holiday good will, no matter how sincere, is a tin imitation of the real thing the true and lasting joy that begins in the birth of Jesus Christ.
May God grant you, your family and all of us a holy and merry Christmas.
Scripture tells us that Christ was the "lamb slain before the foundation of the earth." Seems to me that our redemption started a long time before the Incarnation.
Just a thought.
Great post - I liked Lewis' brilliant way of explaining/describing the Incarnation and also the fact that Archibishop Chaput would cite him and remind people of these points. Lewis had such a wonderful gift in his ability to simplify and make accessible the stunning facts about Christianity without diminishing them in any way in the process.
That is true, in a sense. The effects of the redemptive life of Our Lord Jesus Christ are eternal. But His eartly life was linear, just as any other human's.
earthly, not "eartly."
The victory of the Cross, our redemption goes back to the time when God spoke to both Adam and Eve after they sinned for not obeying Him. A certain promise that humanity would be saved began in the Garden of Eden and was realized at the manger, the Hill of Calvary, and the empty tomb.
True, and the great joy of Christmas is that Jesus is the love of the Heavenly Father who is not seen.
I always liked C.S.Lewis.
Me too. He's very - well, practical. But he also understands the depth and breadth of the Faith.