I am starting a new discipline: for the next six weeks, I am seeking to follow a specific, simple reading plan I’ve devised for working through the Scriptures, along with some other personal goals. One of the goals is to write some “devotional” reflections every day. As such, I’ll be sharing thoughts from my morning reading late each day – after it has had time to marinate and stew all day, and when I have strong incentives to keep the word count (and thus, the amount of time I spend on it) to a minimum. You can expect to see roughly 500 words a day; if I occasionally go long or short you’ll simply have to forgive me.
This morning’s reading included Genesis 1 and Matthew 1. I was struck, reading through Matthew 1 immediately after Genesis 1, how incredible the story is. The God who made everything – who spoke the universe into being, who imagined light and darkness, who fashioned the earth with its peaks and its valleys and its vast seas, who filled the land with ferns and flowers and towering trees, who spun the stars through the vast empty span of the heavens, who shaped cetaceans and made mastodons, who capped his creation with feeble, magnificent humanity – this God stepped into the womb of a woman.
I too rarely feel the force of that: God became a man. The one who made us in his image took on everything that it means to be a human. The ancient divines summed it up magnificently: Jesus partakes of everything that it is to be human, and he is at the same time everything that it is to be God. In magnificent, marvelous mystery, he was both a rapidly splitting mass of cells in the body of a young Jewish woman in Palestine, and still upholding the universe by the word of his power.
This is too great a thing for our minds to grasp. That God who made all things has dwelt among us? This is myth, or the greatest of all possible jests. And indeed, it is both: myth come true (and every heart should leap to hear just one of the fairy-story endings come true), and a cause for laughter in the same vein as (but so much grander than) a platypus. There is nothing to top it – save perhaps the doctrine of the Trinity. There is one to make your head spin and your heart leap and set the world on its ear.
The God who made Adam is now also the son of David, the son of Abraham. (As Luke adds: the son of Adam.) Preposterous? Yes. Wonderful? Yes. Too good to be true? No: it is the one of the only things good enough to be true.
God made all things, then became one of the things he made and did not stop being god. Hallelujah.