So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares, when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through whom the whole universe was made. — treatise against Notes by Hippolytus
It’s not a stunning treatise of Hippolytus, an early church writer I don’t know from Adam. But he captures so poignantly what the revelation we await on Christmas means—God will show creation to itself.
To live is quite difficult if you don’t know what you’re about. I’m not quite sure how areligious humans do it, well, in fact, I think they do it quite like most religious humans do. We muddle through life by making idols. It’s easy to say you worship God, and harder to make your life about it.
It’s much easier to make your life about being “pro-life” or “successful” or “good.” All of these have metrics created by human communities, graspable by human minds, enactable by human powers. It’s much easier to measure your meaning by the ruler of ideology, because an ideology is a logos made from a form, pattern, an idea, that we can grasp. Because we made it.
But to measure your life according to Christ—now there’s a project worth living decades for. Because the logos of life in Christ is not a pattern we can grasp. The logos is the meaning of life itself. When we live in the Word, we constantly discover there is more emptying of our selves to do along the way, more dying to accomplish. More mystery in our meaning. There is less certainty and more simplicity. There is less light from other stars or darkness of our own making. There is one light, and, in him, darkness itself is illuminated.
In the manger, what we see is not just God-as-baby, although that in itself is enough to shake the world from its pillars. What we behold is the meaning of the world itself—our meaning, too. It is a beautiful thing to be explained to oneself. And that is what Christmas is about. It is, of course, about God, but it is also about Creation, which is us.
Christmas is about us—and about who we are: which is, of course, nothing less than images of God. Creation sees itself on Christmas, and its purpose—to radiate the glory of the lord.
On one brief, cold night in Palestine, if you can believe it, the world was revealed to itself. The Word that moves the sun and other stars was made visible. And we beheld his glory, full of grace, and—what we spend so much time searching for—truth.