“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.” Handel Brown
Christmas is a time of imagination. Santa Claus, flying reindeer, elves, a living singing snowman are just some of the products of our imaginations as children. A great deal of mystery and wonderment builds as children around the globe await the arrival of Christmas. And with Christmas comes Donner, Blitzen and of course, Rudolph. But along with the dreams and wonder of Christmas, come the unanswered questions. How can Santa cover the whole world in one night? How does such a “jolly” man get down a chimney? How do reindeer fly? The answers to these questions are mostly glossed over and unsatisfactory.
However, that usually does not dampen the average child’s enthusiasm for Christmas, especially at a young age. Although their questions can’t be answered, they are able to accept and embrace the mystery of things unseen and unexplained. Imagination creates an unseen world of gingerbread houses, mounds of presents, the North Pole and giant sleighs led by soaring reindeer that thrills their hearts and builds excitement until Christmas arrives. Such is the wonder of a child’s imagination.
However, imagination is a God given gift that remains viable and useful once we grow out of childhood. In fact, the true meaning of Christmas requires a little imagination.
John says in John 1: 1,14 that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We understand that God’s Word reveals to us the objective truth that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. God taking on the form of man in Bethlehem’s manger is not Disney like fiction. Rather, it is the ultimate reality. However, just because God becoming man is fact, doesn’t mean that it is totally explainable. The incarnation (God becoming man) is a divine mystery that will always necessitate the use of our imaginations.
Most of us are very practical people. We are business people, or homemakers, or college students, and we understand the need to be grounded and realistic. We think in measurable and achievable results, so we don’t think of our faith in terms of deep, baffling, and indescribable mysteries. We expect Christianity to be simple and plain. We expect our church leaders to tell us what to do and not do.
But there are parts of Christianity that cannot be fully apprehended with the mind. I, for one, cannot fathom the depths of these two indescribable facts: that the one, true God exists in three divine Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and that God the Son became a man – that in one Person existed from the moment of His conception in the womb of His virgin mother, two separate and complete natures – eternal God and man. The Bible tells us that Jesus was God come in the flesh, but it doesn’t tell us how it can be so – how two natures can exist in a single person, perfect God and perfect humanity. There isn’t a Sherlock Holmes alive that can explain that mystery.
So, during this Christmas, do not pass over the most earthshaking truth without serious reflection, meditation, and especially without imagination. Take a few moments to marvel at the Sovereign becoming the subject, of the Creator becoming the creation. Or the fact that when Mary was holding that little baby, she was holding God, that when she looked into that small round face, she was looking into the face of God.