Beauty, Drama and Truth-Christmas Hope

This is a little heady, so, bear with me. Recently, I was having an extended conversation with Rev. Aaron Jeffery. He is on staff at Redeemer Seminary here in Dallas. His role is to shape and offer an Anglican track for those students who want to consider ministry in Anglican churches. This is very exciting and will help to raise up leaders for ministry in the Anglican Mission in America.

Our talk then took a theological turn. We were discussing one of the great 20th century theologians, Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian. His work seeks to join spirituality and theology. As the celebration of the Feast of Christmas nears, I thought his ideas were very appropriate. Basically, his theology focuses on a holistic approach to the value of Christianity. There are three pegs. The first peg is "theo – aesthetic." This simply means that there is a beauty to the faith. One way we can know God is the beauty of the creator and his creation. The second peg is "theo-drama." We are participants in the ongoing drama of God's work. We can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but, not merely as spectator. We are participants in the ongoing work of Christ in this world. The drama of creation, redemption, transformation and glorification is to be incarnate in us as we participate in the life of God and his church.

The third peg is "theo-logic." This peg concerns the truth of God's revelation in the historicity of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Too often, Western Christianity has focused only on this third peg. Important as it is, the Christian faith is not all about "head knowledge." Being drawn to God through the beauty of nature, his creation, and invited to participate in life with him, the whole world becomes sacramentalized. In other words, every thought, action, word or even gesture can have eternal meaning now, in this life.

I told you this was heady stuff. Nevertheless, as we begin to contemplate celebrating the birth of Christ, it fits exactly what Balthazar was saying. The beauty of God is uniquely revealed in the birth of his son at a manger in Bethlehem. The unfolding of his revelation draws us in to participate in life with him. The objective truth of God's revelation in Christ unveils a God who values the integrity of being human and revealing the love of God for the world and people he creates. This is Christmas hope.

+Philip