A Conversation in the Heavenly Realms

What follows is an extended meditation on the Incarnation. Not only how God redeemed culture, but how he entered it … became part of it. This thought-piece takes the form of a conversation between God the Father and God the Son, conducted in the heavenly realms.

Father:

Our creation is in trouble.

Son:

Yes. Shocking how quickly they turned their backs on the Garden and all the blessings we planted for them there.

Father:

Sad that they wouldn’t trust us, that they would listen to the Serpent rather than the One who made them.

Son:

And things have gone from bad to worse, haven’t they?

Father:

They love to do evil, these humans we created.

Son:

Don’t they? Sometimes it seems all they think about is how to distrust us and disobey us and live in defiance of us. [A star explodes in a far galaxy.]

Father:

And nothing we’ve done so far has made much of a difference. I thought, perhaps with Noah, we could start again, build something righteous from a righteous man.

Son:

Or Abraham and his offspring! Craft a new people, a chosen people, who would be ours in a special way … our sons and daughters … our beloved bride.

Father:

Humph! That worked out well, didn’t it! Even when we gave them our perfect Law … when we provided a special place, a Holy Land … when we set before them godly leaders: priests and prophets and kings—none of it made any difference. Still they distrusted. Still they went their own way. Still they would not love us and obey us.

Son:

It is perplexing, isn’t it?

Father:

Perplexing? It’s heart-breaking! I’m losing my sons and daughters! [Long pause. The fabric of space and time stretches and contracts.] Son, I fear something more drastic is required.

Son:

I know. I’ve been thinking on it myself.

Father:

The time has come …

Son:

For you to send me into the world …

Father:

To save the world from itself and its stubborn sinfulness …

Son:

Because we love the world …

Father:

More than almost anything in the world or beyond …

Son:

So, you want me to leave all of this [the Universe alights with a burst of gamma rays] and travel to the earth, to announce good news.

Father:

Exactly! To tell them how much we love them. To tell them their failures don’t have to be fatal.

Son:

I see. But I don’t get to tell them this good news by appearing in angelic form and singing with a heavenly chorus, do I?

Father:

[Long sigh—A solar wind blows across a distant planetary system.] No. I fear not.

Son:

And I don’t get to appear on a mountain-top, remote and unapproachable, wrapped in fire and smoke and thunder, as we were at Sinai?

Father:

You know better, my Son. I want to baptize you in flesh and blood, wrap your divine essence in a human being, send you into the world as one of them. I want you to become like them so that they can become like you.

Son:

God-become-man. Fully-God and fully-man. That’s what you mean. [A Red Giant collapses of its own immense gravity and becomes a singularity.]

Father:

Yes, my Son. You’ll have to give up certain privileges, certain rights in order to do this. You understand?

Son:

Pour myself out. Give myself up.

Father:

For a time. For their good.

Son:

Take on the form of a man and live for a while among them.

Father:

Yes, but more. Far more.

Son:

Not just a man, you mean. A man of no means, no advantages, no station. A poor man. A simple man. A slave rather than a man. A nobody.

Father:

[Turning his face away—The speed of light slows for a nano-second.] More. I’m asking you to spend nine months in the warm, wet confines of a woman’s womb. You won’t know who you are during that time. You won’t know me during that time.

Son:

[Looking away himself and swallowing hard.] That will be difficult.

Father:

I’m asking even more. It might as well be said. You’ll be squeezed through a birth canal to enter choking and squalling into the world. You’ll be slapped on the bottom in welcome. You’ll be wrapped in diapers to contain your poop and pee …

Son:

Poop and pee? [A black hole swallows up a small corner of the cosmos.]

Father:

No point sugar-coating it! You’ll feed at the breast. You’ll have rashes and coughs. You’ll scream like a banshee. For the first time, you will know hunger and thirst and cold and pain. That is only part of what I’m asking of you.

Son:

Father, you’re not making this easy!

Father:

You—the Word—will need to learn words, to speak and read and write them. You’ll have to learn how to walk and feed yourself. And about personal hygiene—sometime after your teenage years. [A pulsar rotates and winks.] You’ll learn how to run and catch, how to laugh and listen, how to sleep when you’re tired and weep when you hurt. You’ll have to learn to handle emotions: your anger, your fear, your despair, your disappointment. We deal with some of those feelings even now, in the Spirit. But add a mix of hormones and neuro-transmitters, hunger and fatigue—all the vagaries of the flesh—and emotions become a challenge.

Son:

I’ll have to learn our Law all over again, won’t I—the Law I helped you write. The commands. The covenants. The promises.

Father:

Yes. From the ground up.

Son:

And temptation. That’s something I’ll experience in the flesh.

Father:

Lust and greed and gluttony.

Son:

Selfishness and pride and envy.

Father:

The flesh is prone to all of that. The flesh makes you vulnerable to all of that. [Another long sigh. The Third Law of Thermodynamics suspends for a heartbeat.] You’ll train as a carpenter. You’ll cut your hand with a chisel. You’ll slice your leg with an axe. You’ll trade your hours and skills for a few denarii. You’ll trade your denarii for tools and food and shelter. So you can get up the next day and do it all again. The curse of Adam. The futility of the flesh.

Son:

Speaking of Adam [the Son pauses and considers … Light waves become particles and then are waves again] I’ll become intimate with death, won’t I? Joseph, my earthly father. Lazarus, my earthly friend.

Father:

And you will encounter worse-than-death. The Pharisee who loves the praise of men more than my praise. The woman who sells the body I gave her for a few coin. The man who would rather hold on to worldly possessions than gain treasures in heaven.

Son:

So, why am I doing this again, Father?

Father:

So that you can show them who I am. So that you can show them what I meant for them to be. So that you can understand fully what it means to live in the flesh. And, most of all, so that you can become the means of their salvation.

Son:

Yes, I know. Without a body, I cannot die.

Father:

And without a death, there can be no atonement, no reconciliation, no forgiveness of sins.

Son:

So I am putting on flesh and blood so that I can take them off again?

Father:

Yes. In the end. The flesh you take on freely and in love they will strip away slowly and in much pain. They will beat your back and pierce your brow. They will nail you hand and foot to wooden beams. They will watch with glee as your flesh screams and your blood pours and your lungs gasp. The flesh I will give you will not die easily or without protest.

Son:

And at the pinnacle of my suffering, when the flesh I have become is most difficult to bear …

Father:

Then I will place upon your tortured flesh the sins of all the world. To the pain of your flesh I will add the agony of your soul. And in that hour, I will turn my face away and separate myself from you. For I cannot be where sin lives, and you—in your flesh—will be the container of all sin, the embodiment of sin, the essence and epitome of sin.

Son:

So, in the hour I give up my flesh, I will be alone … abandoned … condemned. [A long silence stretched between them. A planet, light years removed, is shattered by an asteroid.]

Father:

Only the flesh that bears all sin can become the sacrifice to cleanse all sin. The flesh I give you will become a curse. And that same flesh will become the Curse’s cure.

Son:

The price of sin.

Father:

The solution to sin.

Son:

This body you give me.

Father:

This flesh and blood.

Together, Father-in-Son and Son-in-Father, they watch as the universe expands. A gaseous cloud coalesces and ignites, birthing a baby star. Together, God considers what he has created—cosmos and correction, creation and cure.

And it is good.

© 2012 by Tim Woodroof. Reproduction of this material requires permission from the author.