Tag Archives: Christmas quotes

The Glow of Divine Mystery

quotes by Dietrich BonhoefferBy Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from God is in the Manger

No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable.

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ … .

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.

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It Is the Waking

Winter's Promise[Passage from Reflections on Your Life by Ken Gire]

None of us has gone [to heaven.] We are left largely to our imaginations to visualize what heaven is like…. We have [also] been left with the revelations of a few people who have actually seen heaven and lived to tell about it. Isaiah was one of them (Isaiah 6). The Apostle Paul was another (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). The disciple John was still another (Revelation 19-22). The revelations were so dazzling, they overwhelmed each one of them.

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Whatever else heaven is, it is more than our experience of life here on earth, not less. It is the fullness of life, not its reduction. It is the waking, as C.S. Lewis put it, not the dream.

From the glimpses given us… we know that whatever else heaven is, it is full of joy. The picture He left us with is one of merriment, of music, dancing, and feasting (vv. 22-25). “Enter into the joy of your master,” are the words He used in a parable to describe the rewards of heaven (Matthew 25:21, 23).

Now and then we get firefly glimpses of that joy… Fleeting moments that pass all understanding. Here one second, someplace else the next. With childlike excitement we follow them, hoping to catch one of them long enough to take in the wonder of it all.

C.S. Lewis describes the feeling as an “inconsolable longing.” In those moments of longing our joy speaks to us. It speaks to us the way the lick of the spoons speaks of birthday cake, the way the smell of roasting turkey speaks of the Thanksgiving meal, the way the scent of pine speaks of Christmas.

And what it speaks of, is heaven.

[More beautiful passages on winter and hope during difficult seasons can be found in Winter’s Promise, Ken Gire’s latest book, releasing in February, 2014.]

Unbearable Light in Unthinkable Darkness

Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise.

nativity

Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one.

But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed—as a matter of cold, hard fact—all its cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading.

The Word became flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God… who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”

Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.

By Frederick Buechner from Whistling in the Dark