To Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish church reformer, Christmas was absurd. The biblical Yuletide story—complete with a virgin, baby, angels and a host of nativity guests—was utterly irrational. "Nobody would have done it that way."
And that, Kierkegaard concluded, was what made Christmas so perfect.
During the early 1800's the Church of Denmark had numbed the hearts of its people. Pastors were nothing more than glorified civil servants preaching pretentious rhetoric. Scripture was a non-factor. "After all, just because God seems confused, doesn't mean we have to be!" Consequently, the warm hope of the gospel had cooled.
That's where Kierkegaard came in. His fight to personalize the Christian message served as a controversial blowtorch to the icy Church of Denmark. And his theological trump card was, as he called it, "a leap of faith."
"By necessity," Kierkegaard reasoned, "trusting in Christ is completely irrational. No one can be born into God's family by objective examination. You must take a leap of faith."
And Christmas, as Kierkegaard saw it, was the perfect embodiment of Christianity's absurdity. It was the centerpiece of God's divine trademark—logical impossibilities.
"An infinite and eternal God became a finite and mortal man!" The Dane never tired of that profound paradox, or its appeal.
One day, while explaining the Christmas message, he told a story of a mighty king who had fallen hopelessly in love with a beautiful young maiden in his kingdom. But, the king wondered, how does royalty pursue a mere commoner?
Should his entourage descend on her cottage with blaring trumpets? Should he dazzle her with his royal crown, kingly robe and title? Should his minions parade his wealth as he kneels to ask for her hand in marriage?
Or, should he simply demand her betrothal? After all, as sovereign ruler he was entitled to the queen of his choice. But, if he used his rightful authority, how would he ever know if she truly loved him?
Ultimately, the wise king chose to lay aside his crown, riches and glory. If he was to win her it would be as her equal. Alone, he arrived in the woods disguised as a beggar, seeking first her acceptance, then her love.
Kierkegaard's story is the story of the incarnation.
The undoable was nicely done. The unthinkable was well thought-out. Absurdity got an A+. And, as a result, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory…"
For the first time in eternity's history, the Almighty stepped completely out of character as He took on humanity's weak form. Nobility was forsaken as He became a lowly Jew. He was mothered by a virgin, thereby casting doubts and stirring vicious rumors of His legitimacy. He was born in poverty, thus alienating Him from influential decision makers.
This couldn't be right, could it?
And, if that wasn't enough, the timing of His birth was all wrong—a godless political party was in power thus blocking the path to His rightful throne.
Even His big debut—Christmas' opening night—appeared terribly disorganized and poorly planned. Where was His royal crib? Where was the palace? How could the King of kings possibly be born in a stable? And, who picked Podunk Bethlehem for a location? Get real!
Is this the best Omnipotence can do? Madison Avenue would have laughed. Hollywood producers would demand a rewrite. What will this God think of next? A cross?
That's why Kierkegaard was so intrigued. Our God is a God of logical impossibilities.
And deep within God's bizarre Christmas agenda was His choice of messengers to spread the "good news of a great joy." But, who would He pick? Who would qualify? The obvious choice would be His sinless, beautiful, powerful angels. But, as usual, God had a different plan. He chose shepherds—defective human volunteers—to pass the word.
And to every succeeding generation He searched for new recruits who would faithfully declare the Christmas story. Naively, we volunteered. And, just like that, we've become His latest logical impossibility.
Isn't our God full of surprises!