Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Birth of God

I suspect the very words the birth of God are offensive to some. Isn't God self-existent, and therefore not subject to a beginning?

Perhaps this connundrum is part of the weight of the Gospel. God dared enter time by actually being born in the flesh, putting on our nature so to save us. (Philippians 2:5-11)

I rambled in my journal last year about the concept. This year, I was privileged to hear friend Tricia Walker sing an Andrew Peterson song on the birth of God at Daystar's Evening in December. The hearing of it startled me. I thought to my self-absorbed self: I wrote that song, that's mine. Quickened, I winced. Only one of countless examples of my dire need. Yes, God really did come in the flesh, to save me (and you). Here's what I what believed Andrew Peterson stole from me:

Birth of God

I’m wondering several things: if the birth of Jesus was on a damp Bethlehem night, as this one is here, in the Cumberland Basin of Tennessee. Did the rain fall cold? Were the gathered creatures in the stable disarmed by the intrusion of the lonely travelers?
The mother was a child herself; perhaps her labor prompted cries of such volume the sheep grew tired of their antiphonal wailing; maybe they stood by in silent contentment to watch what, for their kind, was not uncommon. Maybe other animals were not so quiet. Mournful cattle bellowed and doves perched atop the stable cooed as darkness enveloped them all.
Joseph gathered his tunic at his waist, knelt in the straw and fastened a calloused hand on the knee of the girl, now in full labor. Expectant, and alive, this earthly father must have been astonished at what was taking place, recalling what the Angel of the Lord said. (Matthew 1:19-25)
Mary gave one last cry of agonizing hope as Eternity thrust himself into time. Tears spilled from the girl as her opening stretched to accommodate the boisterous newborn; no pain had been as sharp, no pain would be until that Friday.
Exhausted, and exuberant, Mary received her son, as Joseph‘s bloody hands passed the tiny screaming lad to her. Was it coincidence the birth of God to have been awash in blood? Though they had been told, could they have apprehended that God himself was with them? (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:26-33)

When God appoints the time, the time has come, and so it was, the ugly, glorious, birth of God.

1 comment:

arah said...

Jesus the Messenger

In the Qur'an, stories about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (called 'Isa in Arabic) are abundant. The Qur'an recalls his miraculous birth, his teachings, the miracles he performed by God's permission, and his life as a respected prophet of God. The Qur'an also repeatedly reminds that Jesus was a human prophet sent by God, not part of God Himself. For more detailed information about what Muslims believe about Jesus, please visit the FAQ index page. Below are some direct quotations from the Qur'an regarding his life and teachings.

"Behold! the angels said, 'Oh Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter, and in (the company of) those nearest to God. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. He shall be (in the company) of the righteous... And God will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel'" (3:45-48).

"He [Jesus] said: 'I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me revelation and made me a prophet; He has made me blessed wheresoever I be; and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!' Such was Jesus the son of Mary. It is a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is" (19:30-35).

"When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said: 'Now I have come to you with Wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which you dispute. Therefore, fear God and obey me. God, He is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him -- this is a Straight Way.' But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement. So woe to the wrongdoers, from the penalty of a Grievous Day!" (43:63-65)

"And behold! God will say [i.e. on the Day of Judgment]: 'Oh Jesus, the son of Mary! Did you say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God?' He will say: 'Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Yours. For You know in full all that is hidden. Never did I say to them anything except what You commanded me to say: 'Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.' And I was a witness over them while I lived among them. When You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things'" (5:116-117).

"Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God makes His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!" (5:75).