Sunday, December 12, 2010

the grand miracle.

A large snowman has been built in a popular city park; it is your job to supply the hat for his head. What hat would you choose to make this snowman unique?

I would of course choose my "hatband."

Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel. There then comes to you a person, saying, "Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel. The text is incomplete without it. I have got the missing passage which is really the center of the whole work." The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reflected on the whole of the rest of the work. If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic. On the other hand, if it failed to do that, then, however attractive it was in itself, you would reject it.

Now, what is the missing chapter in this case, the chapter which Christians are offering? The story of the Incarnation - the story of a descent and resurrection. When I say "resurrection" here, I am not referring simply to the first few hours, or the first few weeks of the Resurrection. I am talking of this whole, huge pattern of descent, down, down, and then up again. What we ordinarily call the Resurrection being just, so to speak, the point at which it turns. Think what that descent is. The coming down, not only into humanity, but into those nine months which precede human birth, in which they tell us we all recapitulate strange pre-human, sub-human forms of life, and going lower still into being a corpse, a thing which, if this ascending movement had not begun, would presently have passed out of the organic altogether, and have gone back into the inorganic, as all corpses do. One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea-bottom. One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a very big, complicated burden. He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders. Or else one has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green and warm and sunlit water into the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but associated with it, all nature, the new universe. That indeed is a point I cannot go into here, because it would take a whole sermon - this connection between human nature and nature in general. It sounds startling, but I believe it can be fully justified.

Now as soon as you have thought of this, this pattern of the huge dive down to the bottom, into the depths of the universe and coming up again into the light, everyone will see at once how that is imitated and echoed by the principles of the natural world; the descent of the seed into the soil, and its rising again in the plants. There are also all sorts of things in our own spiritual life, where a thing has to be killed, and broken, in order that it may then become bright and strong and splendid. The analogy is obvious.

-"The Grand Miracle" by C.S. Lewis

This nativity set came from Israel. Our tradition is that each time you do an act of kindness, you get to place a piece of straw in the manger. And, of course, Baby Jesus doesn't appear until Christmas Ever.


  1. Hmmm. I think Patrick's little Austrian fedora would be pretty awesome on a snowman.

  2. You all know my favorite hat for every occasion - Old Faithful. But not sure I could part with it, so I guess I could loan him my black fedora from Innsbruck...

  3. I'd place one of my most prized possessions on his head~ my grandfather's wool deerstalker hat, the kind that Sherlock Holmes wore!

  4. I would go with Dad's "Old Hat".

    I am so enjoying a Jesse Tree devotional this year and being reminded of how the whole story of Scripture points to and prepares the way for Jesus. How rich the tapestry, how intricate the plan!