It is a sad reflection of our society where the reality of war, hunger and oppression haunt our celebrations that many will be looking forward more to the Christmas episode of Dr Who rather than the episode of Christ coming to save a world that has missed the mark. I wonder if we should not be singing “God Rest Ye Merry Cybermen” and “O come all ye Daleks?” Worse still we might consider “Hark the Weeping Angels Sing.” But I look forward to singing the original Charles Wesley’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The second verse includes:
“Late in time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.”
Why late? It sounds like another one of the Doctor’s struggles to arrive where and when expected! We need to avoid any thought of “better late than never.” We could miss the wonder in such an expression. It is late in that the plan began in Genesis when we missed God’s mark and unfolded throughout the Old Testament until Jesus’ birth. Now we can meet the risen Jesus for ourselves, not just as the human offspring but as the incarnate Deity, identifying with our own weaknesses but still God. Even the history of the Church has struggled to make sense of the duality of Jesus as both God and man. In our understanding of what God is like then Jesus has to be God. If we are to see God in any way wanting to meet with us as men, women and children we need to meet the human who feels our pain and knows our weaknesses and sorrow.
While it is not a good idea to draw too many parallels between a fictional character and the real person of Jesus, it is of some value to consider, purely metaphorically, that like the Doc-tor, Jesus had two hearts beating within him. One a very human heart in all that frailty we know well, and the other the heart of God. Here we approach some understanding of the mystery that is the incarnation – God with us. It was as an embryo in the womb of Mary that both hearts started to beat. Here intimately related they shared the same blood that one day on a cross, bled when Jesus died, and one human heart beat ceased to beat in unison with God’s.
It seems to me that in the run up to Christmas, much as we might find a Time Lord helpful to organise our busy schedule and save us from the season, the Lord of Time appearing as Jesus is more use to us. If God can plan so intricately his own appearance in the Universe we can be confident that his salvation that embraces us in our faith, which often seems smaller on the outside, extends far beyond the reach of any fictional character, even deep into our own hearts this Christmas. Can our hearts, joined by the Spirit with his, become bigger on the inside as we too embrace a desire to bring God’s peace and salvation to everyone?