Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Et incarnatus est

A beautifully incarnational, Christological, and Christocentric understanding of Christmas is found on page 120 of Max Anders's 30 Days to Understanding the Bible in 15 Minutes a Day (1998 edition):

 "Dr. Richard Selzer is a brilliant surgeon who wrote a penetrating book entitled Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery.  In it he writes:

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in a palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of a facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, had been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her husband is in the room. He stands on the bed, and together, they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight. Isolated from me, private, Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made, who gaze at each other, and touch each other generously, greedily?

The young woman speaks. 'Will I always be like this?' she asks. 'Yes,' I say. 'It is because the nerve was cut.' She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. 'I like it,' he says. 'It's kind of cute.'

All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers, to show that their kiss still works. I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in.

That is the spirit of Jesus.  Man's link with God had been severed through sin.  And He twisted Himself to accommodate us, and give us the kiss of eternal life.  But not without giving His own life on our behalf.  Jesus.  At the same time, so tender and powerful.  The most remarkable figure ever to have lived.  And why not?  He was God incarnate.

The birth of Jesus split history like a thunderbolt on a hot July evening.  Everything before His birth we call B.C., before Christ.  Everything after, we call A.D., anno Domini, in the year of our Lord." 


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