Last night we went to Christmas Eve service at church. Gabe joined us in the auditorium and enjoyed mimicking the drummer during worship songs. The songs were punctuated with interludes of readings. One of the readings was from Miracles by C.S. Lewis:
“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.”
The next song started and Gabe leaned into my ear, all in hushed whispers.
GABE: Dad, I need to tell you something.
DAD: Did you want down?
GABE: Well yeah, but that’s not what I need to tell you.
DAD: Okay, what did you need to tell me?
GABE: I wish he never came.
GABE: Yeah, I wish Satan would have never came.
Gabe was actually listening. Not only was he listening he was processing, and at a way more mature level than I was. I had come, unplugged my mind, and was there to enjoy singing some Christmas hymns. Gabe, after hearing that passage from Miracles, brought to light what Christ, out of his love for us, did for us in coming to earth as a baby. My mind reengaged, and I recalled S.D. Smiths’s post from the previous week:
“Mike Cosper has a wonderful post on the ironic, violent meaning of Christmas. Here’s an outtake… Christmas is violent. It’s earth-shattering. The very order of things, the way the world worked, was being rewritten. In 1811, an earthquake in Missouri caused church bells to ring in Philadelphia and made the Mississippi River run backwards. When the Christ-child gasped his first breath, the hinge of history swung in a new direction, and hell shuddered. The assault on its gates had begun.
We celebrate Christmas right at the Winter Solstice—a bit of metaphorical genius, if you ask me (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere). Right as the year reaches its coldest, just as the nights get their longest and darkest, we open our Bibles and read,
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).
Historically, the church observed Advent in the month before Christmas, a month of fasting and anticipation. I grew up in churches that skipped the fasts and dove straight into the fa-la-la’s. Discovering Advent was like discovering Good Friday. A deep well of meaning gave Christmas wider and broader dimensions. For all of Christmas’s cause for celebration, there’s an accompanying need to awaken our minds to the surrounding desperation. The world was, and remains in many ways, in darkness. Christmas is part of that glorious already/not-yet tension, where the finished song of redemption awaits the ‘Amen!’ of restoration. We celebrate Christmas in a broken and fallen world, in broken and fallen churches full of broken and fallen people.
Whatever we do in these coming days, let’s not miss the truly epic story of irony and violence that is the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas.”
I leaned over and left Gabe with another thought:
DAD: Well Gabe, here’s the real mind blow. God’s in control right?
DAD: So, God allowed Satan to come.
I’m pretty sure he was processing that until Pastor Troy got up and spoke of the shepherds seeing the angels that night and exclaiming, holy sheep!