Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Incarnation: On Ice!

Christmas is, after all, still a month away, but a recent excursion to the ice rink got me thinking about that central mystery of the Advent and Christmas season: the Incarnation.

First, this flippant thought passed through my head: Network TV is about to roll out its yearly set of ‘holiday specials,’ with their strange and slightly humorous promise to definitively reveal “the true meaning of Christmas.” What if some television producer staged the Christmas story on ice? Byran Boitano would be a back-flipping St. Joseph, Christi Yamaguchi would play the cross-ethnic Virgin Mary. The fiat could be represented by a dramatic duet dance between her and the angel Gabriel, Evan Lysacek. The shepherds could do an all-out group musical number, featuring Arabic/MC Hammer poofy-pants, fireworks and little kids dressed as sheep. Tara Lipinseki would deliver the angelic message of the Savior’s birth. The wise men could appear throughout as the comic relief, slipping and sliding all over the ice, spilling their gold, frankincense and myrhh, and speaking in strange foreign accents alá Cirque du Soliel. NBC’s Bob Costas could commentate, interspersing figure skating trivia amidst Scripture (“Now Elizabeth is greeting Mary and, together, they will re-enact her Magnificat. This is the first time these two have skated together since the Salt Lake City Olympics in ‘98, when Christi made that nasty fall during her warm up set. I was talking with her coach about that fall earlier today, and he recalled that…”)

There have been worse ideas for a Christmas special. In fact, most of them have already been produced. All joking aside, however, I did find a deeper reflection while gliding over the mirror of ice on Sunday. The Christian owners of this skating rink interposed Praise and Worship with the usual pop-songs. A couple of times, a song about Emmanuel came on and I got a weird vision of God ice skating with us. What would He have made of it? As the Logos, Creator of this strange dynamic where ice melting forms thin water strips that maintain their surface tension long enough to induce sliding, would he have reveled in explaining such physics? As the Healer of Soul and Body, would he touched the bruises of all those slipping and falling down, bearing their ills and getting them back on the ice. As the ‘Lord of the Dance’ (that’s for you, Branson Hipp), would He glide to the center of the rink and pull off the perfect triple-lutz. To be honest, I think he would have just skated the laps like everyone else, racing his family and friends. One could draw on some chessy metaphors about Jesus going round and round in circles like the rest of us, or about Him gliding over the ice the way the Spirit glided across the water in the Beginning. We could talk about Him slipping and falling flat on the cold reality He had created. God puts up with such cheesiness, just as He puts up with Christmas specials, figure skating, Olympic commentators and silly blog writers, and the Incarnation is the biggest proof of that. In a certain sense, His walking on water, in all its miraculous splendor and unexpected glory, has sanctified even the trivial practice of skating on ice. There is indeed a certain grace to skating, but there is also a great deal of giddiness, a giddiness Christ does not disapprove of. Perhaps “The Incarnation: On Ice!” is a stupid idea for a Christmas special (in fact, I have no doubt that it is), but God risked such stupidity in becoming human. Even though TV producers, ice skaters and bloggers sometimes have not a clue, He certainly must have known what He was doing when He became one of us. So let’s not be so hard on our own silliness. God seems to…let it slide.

1 comment:

Fides Quarens Intellectum said...

Of course this whole post was pretty funny but man that last line got me. Lol.