Paradoxes of Christmas

Paradoxes of Christmas


Christmas is so full of paradox. Some of these are expressed beautifully in the first 14 verses of the first chapter of John's Gospel which is usually read at Christmas. Pete Broadbent has posted a reflective poem on John 1: 14 as follows:

In the contradiction of the gods of Mammon and the lords of Misrule
In the pavement legalities of occupation and assertion, injunction and counterclaim
At the interface of tourist and worshipper, occupier and passer-by
He pitched his tent among us.

In another place and time, where the Eagle standard spreads its wings
In the tyrant rule of Herod, toying with Magi and butchering children
At the Royal City – subject today to another occupation
He pitched his tent among us.

In a culture where “reality” is pathos and everything has a price
In the lives of poor and privileged, Pharisee and refugee
At the cusp of history, at this time and at all times
He pitched his tent among us.

Come, transforming Christ, manger born and Spirit led
Take hold of what is tawdry and bring your kingdom’s joy
Take lives which ache for vision and instil eternal hope
And pitch your tent among us.

I also like an older reflection on this in a sermon by Augustine of Hippo from the 4th//5th century AD:
“The Word of the Father, by whom all the cycles of time were made, When He was made flesh, caused the day of his birth to take place in time;And in this human genesis willed to have one day, when no day opens without His divine command.With the Father He precedes all the ages of the world,By the Mother He set Himself on this day in the courses of the years. The Maker of man was made man, That the Ruler of the stars might suck at the breast; That the Bread might be hungered; The Fountain, thirst; The Light, sleep;The Way, be wearied by the journey;The Truth, be accused by false witnesses; The Judge of the living and the dead, be judged by a mortal judge; The Chastener, be chastened with whips; The Vine be crowned with thorns; The Foundation, be hung upon the tree; Strength, be made weak; Health, be wounded; Life, die.He who was before all the ages, without any beginning of days, Son of God, deigned in these days just past to be the Son of man; And He who was begotten of the Father, not made by the Father, was ‘made’ in the mother whom He had made; That here and now He might spring from Her, who except through Him could no-when and no-where have been.”
– St. Augustine (354-430), Sermon CXCI (on Christmas)


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