Christmas and Contemplation Cherie Harder
Thursday, December 22, 2011


Holiday departures have already begun. Here in Washington, rush hour traffic is slowly (and blessedly) thinning, airports are packed, and offices are clearing out. For the next few days, families will gather to celebrate, shop, open presents, and overeat. And in the midst of the (usually) happy chaos, there will be occasional reminders to recall “the reason for the season.”

This reason is not always immediately recognizable from our patterns of celebration, as concentrated commercialization and ritualized overindulgence seem unlikely means of contemplating and commemorating the birth of Christ.

But the mystery, wonder, paradox, and miracle of Christmas begs for reflection, even as it gives us much to consider. Tim Keller summarized Christmas this way: “God has become human. The absolute has become particular, the ideal has become real. The Divine has taken up a human nature.”

The explanation and implications of the incarnation could fill many books – and have. Wrapping one’s mind around “the reason for the season” is thus (to understate) a challenge – yet one with its own benefits and consolations.  A young Charles  Spurgeon, in one of  his early sermons, declared: “There is  something exceedingly  improving to the  mind in a  contemplation of the  Divinity. It is a subject  so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity… No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God… But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it… Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.”

This Christmas season, all of us at the Trinity Forum wish you a happy celebration and joyous contemplation of the good news of Christ’s birth.




Cherie Harder