The Stone Child
As I explore the bustling streets of central London I keep one eye scanning for my goal while my other eye remains on the traffic jam in front of me. Like any other metropolis, London’s arteries tend to flow more than ebb. Everyone has somewhere to be. The shrill honking of horns and the waves of sirens keep the flow moving if only at a snail’s pace. If there is a traffic jam waiting to happen in London, Trafalgar Square will most likely be the place. I zigzag around the frozen vehicles on foot, thankful that I am not in the auto-coma that surrounds me.
My objective sits on the opposite side of Trafalgar Square. The Square has been a gathering point for political demonstration for hundreds of years. Multitudes of people are eating lunch, basking in the sun, or just neighboring in the Square. They look like strange creatures caught in one of those drive through safaris, giving the drivers that slowly rotate around them something to stare at on their painfully dawdling ride around the plaza. The spire of St-Martin-in-the-Field Church rises out of the southwest corner of the Square. It is the oldest building on Trafalgar. I have come to visit both the Café in the Crypt, which sits under the church, and gather information on their concert series for future groups that we will lead into London.
As I climb the steps of the Greek colonnade porch to that leads the entrance of the sanctuary I am halted by an unusual stone sculpture that dominates the middle of the large covered entrance. A hewn block of granite stands almost at eye level. Bare in its form, and cold to the touch, the four smoothed cubed sides have a simple inscription that wraps around the top of the obelisk. “IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS THE WORD. THE WORD BECAME HUMAN & LIVED AMONG US.” St. John 1:1, 14.
Unlike its sides, the top of the obelisk is rough and pock-marked, like a lake suddenly barraged by a violent rainstorm. Out of the middle of that stone, as if pushed through the rock into the world, rises the newborn God-Child. His eyes are still closed as he emerges out of his mother’s womb. He is naked, exposed to the elements, still attached to the umbilical cord that winds back into the rock.
It is the beautiful disturbing mystery, captured within this memorial that unexpectedly holds me bound between two worlds for these few minutes. The idea of the Incarnation, God come to earth wrapped in human flesh, both comforts and confounds me. Yet, without this mystery we have an untouchable invisible God. Literal incarnation separates Christ from humanities great labyrinth of gods. To have a God that wrestled in the mud of humanity, that experienced pain and loss, that I can never say, “You don’t understand” too; that is a God that seeks me. The transcendence I toil and trouble over starts with His incarnation. He has broken through creation, into the world of his making. The Author has entered the story as the central character but in doing so he decided to follow by our rules.
This baby, pushed through the granite, is vulnerable, and in need of the protection and sustenance of others. Vulnerable omniscience, vulnerable omnipotence, vulnerable omnipresence; my head spins while my heart flies.
A walk away, onto my tasks, remembering the Word became flesh. A child of stone was sent to soften the stony hearts of humanity. My stony heart just softened a bit more.
Let the Advent begin.