Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Festival of Light (Part One)

Most years about this season I revisit an old sermon that was preached by the German evangelical theologian Helmut Thielicke, entitled "The Festival of Light" (found in "Christ and The Meaning of Life", Baker, 1962). I trust you will find joy and significance in these devotional portions I share...

WHEN I am asked why as a Christian I celebrate Christmas, my first reply is that I do so because something has happened TO me and therefore - but only as I am receptive and give myself to it - something now can happen IN me.

There is a Sun "that smiles at me," and I can run out of the dark house of my life into the sunshine (as Luther once put it). I live by virtue of the miracle that God is not merely the mute and voiceless ground of the universe, but that He comes to me down in the depths. I see this in Him Who lay in a manger, a human Child, yet different from us all. And even though at first I look upon it only as a lovely colored picture, seeing it with the wondering eyes of a child, who has no conception whatsoever of the problem of the personhood of God and the Trinity and the metaphysical problems of time and eternity, I see that He, "Whom all the universe could not contain," comes down into the world of little things, the little things of MY life, into the world of homelessness and refugees, a world where there are lepers, lost sons, poor old ladies, and men and women who are afraid, a world in which men cheat and are cheated, in which men die and are killed.

CRIB and CROSS: these are the nethermost extreme of life's curve; no man can go any deeper than this; and He traversed it all. I do not need first to to become godly and noble before I can have a part in Him. For there are no depths in my life where He has not already come to meet me, no depths to which He has not been able to give meaning by surrounding them with love and making them the place where He visits me and brings me back home.

Once it HAPPENED, ONCE in the world's history it happened, that Someone came forward with the claim that He was the Son of God and the assertion "I and The Father are one," and that He proved the legitimacy of that claim, not by acting like a supernatural being or stunning men with His wisdom or communicating knowledge of higher worlds, but rather by proving His claims through the depths to which He descended. A Son of God Who defends His title with the argument that He is the brother of even the poorest and the guilty and takes their burden on Himself: that is a fact one can only note, and shake one's head in unbelief - OR one must worship and adore. There is no other alternative. I MUST WORSHIP. That's why I celebrate Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding...thanks for these thoughts. Merry Christmas, Keith!