Christmas means that we have access to the infinite. The infinite has entered the finite (Jn. 1:1, 14). While to be creatures necessarily means limits and some finitude, to be created in the image of God, created to be companions of the Infinite originally indicated a capacity for the infinite, a capacity to share and commune with the Infinite God. Man lost that access to the infinite when we rejected God’s Word, and then, lest we ate of the Tree of Life and lived forever in that state, we were excluded from the garden. The incarnation (Christmas) is the planting of a new Tree of Life in this world. This is why we decorate Christmas trees. The Tree of Life means access to God’s infinite life. Infinite life means limitless, endless, boundless life. Our decorations, gifts, and feasting are meant to mimic that infinite life. Continue Reading…
Archives For December 2011
We come now to the virtue of love as it fits into God’s blueprints for the city of God. Of course we could say much on this virtue, but we’ll limit ourselves to the vision of the city of God as being the family of God, bound together by the self-giving, sacrificial love of the Trinity.
Better Than a House
David desires to build a house for God, but God responds by saying: Sure, your son can build one (2 Sam. 7:13). But what God really wants to do is build David an even better sort of house, a kingdom and dynasty that will never end (2 Sam. 7:11-13, 16). God will do this by adopting David’s son as His own, disciplining him such that His mercies never leave him (2 Sam. 7:14-15). God will exalt David’s name just as He had promised Abraham: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). Whereas the builders of Babel sought to make their own name great (Gen. 11:4), God promises to make Abram’s name great and make his family into a great nation, a city with permanent foundations. God is fulfilling that promise in David’s family. Continue Reading…
Great thoughts on the passing of Christopher Hitchens from Doug Wilson:
Christopher knew that faithful Christians believe that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the Judgment. He knew that we believe what Jesus taught about the reality of damnation. He also knew that we believe—for I told him—that in this life, the door of repentance is always open. A wise Puritan once noted what we learn from the last-minute conversion of the thief on the cross—one, that no one might despair, but only one, that no one might presume. We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).
We also know that Christopher was worried about this, and was afraid of letting down the infidel team. In a number of interviews during the course of his cancer treatments, he discussed the prospect of a “death bed” conversion, and it was clear that he was concerned about the prospect. But, he assured interviewers, if anything like that ever happened, we should all be certain that the cancer or the chemo orsomething had gotten to his brain. If he confessed faith, then he, the Christopher Hitchens that we all knew, should be counted as already dead. In short, he was preparing a narrative for us, just in case. But it is interesting that the narrative he prepped us with did not involve some ethically challenged evangelical nurses on the late shift who were ready to claim that they had heard him cry out to God, thus misrepresenting another great infidel into heaven. It has been done with Einstein, and with Darwin. Why not Hitchens? But Christopher actually prepared us by saying that if he said anything like this, then he did not know what he was saying.
Read the whole thing here.
Peter Hitchens writes of his brother, Christopher Hitchen’s death:
Two pieces of verse come to mind, one from Hilaire Belloc’s ’Dedicatory Ode’
‘From quiet homes and first beginnings, out to the undiscovered ends, there’s nothing worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends’
I have always found this passage unexpectedly moving because of something that lies beneath the words, good and largely true though they are. When I hear it, I see in my mind’s eye a narrow, half-lit entrance hall with a slowly-ticking clock in it, and a half-open door beyond which somebody is waiting for news of a child who long ago left home.
And T.S.Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’ (one of the Four Quartets)
‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time’
These words I love because I have found them to be increasingly and powerfully true. In my beginning, as Eliot wrote elsewhere in the Quartets, is my end. Alpha et Omega.
Read the rest here.
Peter Leithart writes:
Advent celebrates the coming of the King, but the Christian tradition has always recognized that the Son’s first Advent heightens our longing for his coming again. In this respect, Augustine’s politics is a double-sided politics of Advent. On one hand, it leaves us with anti-utopian skepticism and radical dissatisfaction with every existent or conceivable human society. On the other, it fills us with hope that the good of human society, which is the end of human life, will be realized – not here, not now, but in another city, after yet another Advent.
You can read the rest here.
Thoughts on Advent (and all holidays) as a fast and a feast:
Last, and to push this thought one step further, if we are going to celebrate seasons like Advent and Lent, we ought to do so by keeping the Lord’s Day as our standard. This means that all fasting is always forfeasting. We eat no bread so that we might feast on the Word that is our bread of life. We abstain from various activities so that we might feast in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We refrain from doing the ordinary so that we might give ourselves to those in need, the lonely, and the outcast and rejoice with them and feast – which is the true fast! (Is. 58:6-8) Even extreme, penitential fasting (e.g. Jonah 2:5-10) is for the purpose of seeking salvation in the Lord, our only source of life and health and strength. And when God hears and relents from promised judgment, our response is joyous feasting. All this is to say that large heapings of thankfulness and joy go a long way to make all of this possible, and this brings us back to the Lord’s Day, back to our Feast of Thanksgiving, back to what we get to do. We are not slaves to days or diets; we are free lords of the Sabbath, free to decorate the world with our Savior’s trophies. Celebrated rightly, Advent and Lent can fit easily into our calendar of feasts.
You can read the whole article here.
My friend Jerry Owen writes:
What does a beefed up version of the 5th Commandment have to do with the coming of Christ? More than we might think. God prepares us for the coming of his Son by telling us to get right with our own children. He tells us to prepare our hearts to love the Father who gives life to the Son by turning our hearts to our fathers who gave us life. We fail to see these connections because we think it’s easy to run if you never walk, which is a lie: “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn. 4:20). How much more is this true if anyone hates his father? Or if anyone anyone hates his son? He cannot love the Father or the Son. This is not said to throw your faith into a tailspin. In his juxtaposing brilliance, John tells us that one must drive the other out. If you love the Father, love your father. If you love the Son, love your son. If you are a Christian who believes Jesus is God, this is where you are going anyway, so you might as well come along and have a merry Christmas.
Fathers, turn your hearts to your children. They need a dad who loves in word and deed, and not a sugar daddy who simply fills the Christmas tree with presents. Like Jesus, they need to hear you are well pleased with them. If they are young, they need a fun-filled Christmas that includes lots of time together. Christmas is the time when the eternal God took on flesh and became a man. We shouldn’t shy away from presents, parties, lights, seasonal ale, and fudge, but we should make we are giving all of this along with ourselves to our children (more or less ale, age depending). Enjoy it together. If your kids are older, they need your friendship, advice, and support. Continue Reading…
The Third Sunday in Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” which means “Rejoicing/Joyful Sunday.” This is because our fathers in the faith knew that learning the practice and discipline of waiting and longing could result in a joyless people. Waiting for the Lord shouldn’t be joyless, but this Sunday is a liturgical memorial of this fact. This Sunday we consider joy and the city of God.
Isaiah 52 is a call to a city to wake up and get ready for a celebration, to put on strength and beauty (Is. 52:1). The city sold herself into slavery and went into exile (Is. 52:2-3), but Jerusalem needs to wake up because God is performing a new Exodus, God is coming back (Is. 52:4-6). It is a beautiful thing when you see the news of victory coming down from the mountains, specifically the message that your God has won and is coming (Is. 52:7). When the watchmen see it, they will shout and sing and celebrate in the ruins of the old city because Israel is coming home (Is. 52:8-9). Like the Exodus of old, God will bear his holy arm for everyone to see, and Israel will be escorted out of the dungeon of exile by God Himself (Is. 52:10-12). Continue Reading…
Isaiah says that when God restores Israel, He will go before them and behind them (Is. 52:12). The first Advent of God was the incarnation, when God went before us, leading us out of the dungeon of sin and death. The final Advent of God at the end of history is when God comes up behind us, as our rearguard, finishing what was begun at the incarnation.
In other words, from Advent to Advent from first coming to second coming, God is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the alpha and the omega.
Or, in other words, we are all Calvinists after all. The incarnation is God’s decisive, efficacious act of regeneration for the whole world. Because we could not prepare ourselves for Him, He came in order to prepare us for Him. Then He sent His Spirit to comfort, strengthen, and cheer us, continuing the work that was begun in us. And He will come again and finish what He started.
God came in Christ in order to make us into a place where the Spirit could dwell in order to make this world a place that could bear the weight of heaven when it arrives at the end. It’s all of grace from first to last because it’s all of Jesus who is the first and the last. He was and is and is to come.