Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Christmas in August with Chesterton

God in a box. God in a cave. God in human flesh. God is neither too dignified nor civilized to ignore his creation. He likes matter; he created it. Even before the fall into sin it appears that "walking in the cool of the garden" - whatever that may have looked or sounded like - was simply an excuse for him to be in his creation. Forgive the crass illustration but perhaps it's not unlike a young boy who spends hours and days and weeks building the finest creation Lego bricks have ever seen, only to want to become a part of his own creation, to crawl into the world his mind has made in imagination. Perhaps creation is like that only real, and infinitely better. Because Genesis 3 is but a shadow. John 1 gives us the light and the flesh. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. For John also would write later that the dwelling place of God is with man (Revelation 21). This is why we live - because Christ is one of us, one with us and for us in his life, death and resurrection. This is why the church lives - for we receive our very life - are fed and nourished - by this God in human flesh who feeds us with his flesh. For he is the life of the world.

Christ is, as Chesterton calls him in this famous book, the Everlasting Man. And yet he is also very much a man. Flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. As I have been reading The Everlasting Man it is as if the reader is drawn out of the cave of man's errant philosophical and mythological patterns into the light, albeit the light of another cave. Not one lit from the outside but from within. A cave that is the dwelling place of man...and God. The cave (as Chesterton calls it) of Bethlehem. So, why not celebrate a little Christmas in August with Chesterton!

This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science  associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night. It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravans had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passerby, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God was also a CaveMan, and, had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously coloured upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life. (G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, p. 105)

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