9.6.09

The Glorious Fitting of Incarnation

Someone asks, “Doesn’t it say a lot about the smallness of your god that he could inhabit human flesh?” I wonder if, instead, it says something about the great care and value vested in the creation of humanity. (Psalm 8:5, in reference to humanity, is applied more specifically to the person of Christ in Hebrews 2:7.)

I read too much to remember the reference, or even how accurately these details are. Nevertheless, the inklings of a story read stay with me: a man whose granddaughter survived a horrific car (airplane?) accident. The narrative conveyed how he was actually the one who built, installed, and tested the safety restraint device which was the means of her survival.

Asked, “Were you surprised to hear that she survived, and that you—in a different time and place—had a hand in it?” the man answered something akin to, “Surprised? Yes—that anyone could survive that is a miracle. But not surprised at my part in it—no. I think about my family each and every time I am installing and testing the safety systems of these cars.”

What does it say about the capacity of humanity—made in the image of God—that He would design us with His own Son in view: His Son who would someday take up this same form? What does it say that every sampling of human expression, across the scope of history and space, bears the form designed to be taken up in the great union of God in Human Flesh? Furthermore, what does it say about our descent that we have stooped so low beneath the weight of base corruption, and what—that one day, face to face with fellows of the same substance, we would be tempted to worship that which was created? This is the Weight of Glory, of which C.S. Lewis wrote the following:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment” (The Weight of Glory).

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