Sunday, December 25, 2016

refulgence of his glory

In this sense, we are all victims, and the mythological instinct is a sound one which represents the human race as the collective victim of the devil, a personified principle of deprivation, the great 'despoiler'. Yet such a discovery can only be made by beginning from the particular facts of the violence for which I am responsible, not by a bland generalization. By discovering my past of oppression, I can discover my own self-diminution in the process; and in pressing back to the source of this vicious spiral, I discover the primary lack of wholeness, the primary deprivation, which is a part of belonging to the single human story.

But the freedom, the 'space', to undertake this process of discovery requires the presence of the 'pure victim', the symbolic figure who transcends the order of human violence, a figure first to be identified with my victim, then with myself.
--Resurrection, Rowan Williams

What do our creches mean in the midst of civil wars, senseless death, and rampant fear? Who is the infant Christ in a world of violence? 

Theophany is not native to the nursery, but this child lets history march over Him in her entropic, callous stride. He too will bear the whips and scorns of time, become a figure lost in dust of passing centuries, in which all humans, one day, vanish.

He endures the bitter snub of human forgetting. He, too, has been ravaged by history, as we are, trampled by time, humbling himself to our lowly fate of blind players, flailing on the world stage.
He who began time will watch his own time run out. His birth is almost as violent an effrontery as his death, and so we celebrate it all the more. For a God who can endure the indignity of history is a God who loves us more deeply than we could possibly imagine. A God who submits to being painted in the "chromatic pains of flesh," who exchanges ineffable unity for the indescribable particular containment of the particular of a human person is a God more generous than we anticipate.

Isaiah's words are trying to blow open Israel's imagination: Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. None of these capture the immense beauty of the God whose love has given us Emmanuel.

Christ, the pure victim--the one who endures violence and never inflicts it--comes crashing into our world of violence, opening up space for peace. Peace the world cannot give, because the world is forever victim and violator. But peace that comes from love, undaunted by the night of death that presses upon Him even at his birth, a love that pitches His tent among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

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