God breaking into time. It’s a startling concept when you really stop to think about it. We’re so conditioned to see the world in a this-worldly fashion that it sounds downright fanciful to think of a deity breaking into our settled arrangements and studied habits. How can we say God breaks into time?
Back in the 17th century, many in the West embraced the Enlightenment idea of Deism. This view held that the world was indeed created by God but that God demurs in its day-to-day-affairs. God is, instead, the “cosmic watchmaker” who sets up all of life, its laws and truths, and then lets it unwind, like a wristwatch. God resides in some far off place unable or unwilling to intervene in human affairs.
Traditional Christianity, of course, begs to differ. After Adam and Eve willfully reject God’s sovereignty, humanity becomes tragically alienated from its source. Things go from bad to worse. Until, that is, Abraham is called to initiate a new, divine plan to reconcile life to its forsaken Creator. Thus begins God’s plan to redirect human history, to reestablish and restore all of life to its Edenic purity.
Beginning with Abraham, then Israel, and, ultimately, the Church of Jesus Christ, God’s intervention in and through time moves forth seeking to banish the darkness wrought by human hubris and pretense.
It is not that our world is evil, as many ancient and contemporary philosophies presume, but that the world’s inherent goodness has been desecrated. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31a)
It is in the metaphorical Fall, when humanity exchanges goodness for self-sufficiency (that of playing God), that darkness spreads over the face of the earth. Then, just prior Christ’s birth, a powerful belief grows that God (and God alone) will restore the light that had grown inexorably dim and weak.
During this sacred season of Christmas, we rightly celebrate the Light that has dawned upon our world. It is the Light which furnishes a lamp for our feet and a way forward amid the surrounded gloom, bidding a confident hope and expectant joy.