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.
Under the Curse
In a world where death reigns, there is an end in sight. Whether that end is in five minutes or 50 years, an end, an outer limit necessarily creates scarcity: only five years, only fifty years. And limited time enforces certain limits to resources. Your working hours are limited, your income is limited, the tasks you can accomplish are limited. Your labor is finite, your resources are finite, you can only give so much time, so many gifts. We make many decisions based on scarcity. Markets are driven by scarcity. If the weather station says there will be a blizzard, certain basic necessities will quickly disappear at the grocery store on the assumption of scarcity. Many sins are based on this way of living in the world, chiefly selfishness. If good things are scarce, then when you find one, you better snatch it up. If you’re hungry you better stuff it in your mouth. You don’t know when you might get another meal. You don’t know when you might find another deal like this one. You might not get another chance. People steal because they want particular items or because they want the glory that seems so closely tied to the item, the glory of that diamond, the glory of that car, those clothes. But what grows into theft is initially conceived in hearts full of envy and jealousy. A certain kind of hatred resents the gifts given to someone else, assuming that glory and gifts are scarce. But what if there is no scarcity to goodness and beauty? What if the infinite God created the world in order to share His endless gifts and glory?
In economic theory, flooding the market with particular goods causes their value to plummet. If everyone has a diamond, and diamonds grow on trees then diamonds are not so valuable, not so scarce as before. But somehow God’s infinite supply of good things, His infinite reserves of beauty resists this devaluing. In the economy of the Trinity, there is difference in the Father, Son, and Spirit, but they share and give among themselves an infinite supply of love and glory. Their glories are different, and those differences allow them to bestow unique gifts upon one another, but they all draw from the same infinite reservoir of life. This means that within the infinite life of the Triune God there is capacity for infinite difference, infinitely unique gifts and glory and thus retaining their value. But this is based upon the endless life the persons of the Godhead share. The life of God is unending, boundless, infinite. The Father is forever the Father and offers the gifts and glory of the Father. The Son is the Son forever, etc.
When God entered the world as a child and was laid in a manger, this was no accident. When the Word became flesh and was laid in a food trough this was for our salvation. The Word became flesh, the Infinite broke into the finite in order to share that infinite life with those doomed to die. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus, the man who was also truly God, forever begotten of the Father displays the life of God forever begun, forever born, forever just getting started, with no end in sight. Under the curse of death, the curse of endings, the curse of the grave, we are under the curse of scarcity, the curse of finitude which necessarily creates societies and economies based on fear and greed and selfishness. If I don’t grab this now, I’ll never get it. What if I can’t get another one? If you only have one shot at life, sacrifice seems foolish. Thus, under death, time is always running out which means that energy is running out, wealth is running out, products are running out, value is running out. Entropy entails an economics of scarcity, an economics of selfishness. But if the incarnation is in fact the planting of a new Tree of Life, if Jesus is the Tree of Life in His birth, in His life and death, and resurrection, then the infinite life of the Triune God is in the process of overtaking the entropy of history. It’s erasing the end, turning back the curse of scarcity. Peter says that we have been “born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever… therefore as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
While the old world runs out, runs down, and the shelves are emptied, while flesh is grass and the glory of man fades, meanwhile the Kingdom of Life and Light has begun to take hold in this same creation. In this Kingdom, this city, where the Word has been made flesh, the Word of God has become food that cannot run out. As we celebrate Christmas, we do so as partakers of the infinite, unending, forever-life of our Father. This means we have time, we have plenty: there will always be more oil. Our tokens of love and affirmation to our friends and family and neighbors, our hugs and grace and cookies and glasses of water in the name of Jesus become carriers of the Infinite. All our gifts, all our sacrifices, small and great, from our sons to our pennies are taken up into the infinite reserves of the Infinite life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. God has been born and become our food and made us young with Him forever.