It’s like a line from an overworn movie – “the meaning of Christmas”. Singers on the radio croon about it, preachers write series of sermons on it, and the search for it can even be found in popular culture movies like The Polar Express. Most Christians acknowledge on some level that the cultural traditions of Christmas are a bit like a body without a soul, in the absence of the Christ child; that Christmastime embodies something deeper, something much more elemental. But what is it, exactly? The reality is that although believers may have an awareness that the Christmas season unveils God’s miracle for humanity, even God’s people struggle to move beyond the commercialism and chaos of the holiday to grasp a hold of the life altering, eternity impacting phenomenon that is the Christmas story. How do we even begin to comprehend the reality of a Being, outside of time and space, entering our world and transforming it?
Just like in a manger in Bethlehem, God’s truth can often be found where you would least expect it. Most recently I’ve found that Truth in (stay with me here) Quantum Mechanics – the scientific principles that describe the behavior of subatomic particles. Ironically, it is the study of the physical world, the very building blocks of life, which has pointed me to the miracle of the spiritual at Christmas.
Scientists now believe that there are 10 dimensions of space and time, with a possible 11th dimension (click on the video to the left for an amazing explanation of the dimensions). The first three dimensions are easy to understand, because we experience them every day. The first dimension is a line (length only), the second dimension is a plane (length and width), and the third dimension has length, width and height. Persons in any dimension cannot perceive what is going on in higher dimensions; just as a fictional being who lived in the second dimension (and only knew length and width) could not understand or experience what it would be like to be a 3-dimensional object. Click here for an interesting video that demonstrates this concept.
The fourth dimension is best described as duration, or time. To understand how we, in the third dimension, have difficulty recognizing movement in a higher dimension, it is helpful to think about a mobius strip – a long strip of paper twisted one time with its ends then taped together. If someone draws a line down the length of the mobius strip, the line will, somewhat amazingly, eventually be on both sides of the paper. If a fictional second dimensional “flatlander” were to walk along that line, he would eventually end back where he began – somehow, in his mind, miraculously ending up where he started while just walking in a straight line. However, those of us in the third dimension can clearly see that he was actually looping and twisting around a 3-dimensional object – even though he perceives that he never left the second dimension. The fourth dimension for us is very similar to the third dimension for the flatlander. Time seems to us to be moving in a straight line, when it is actually looping and twisting in the dimension above it (the fifth dimension). Therefore what we understand as a straight line of time, made up of the concrete choices we make in life, is, in the fifth dimension, actually a series of branches of infinite possibilities based on the choices we make, the choices of others, and chance.
The seventh dimension encompasses inifinity – all of the possible paths that could have occurred for every person from the beginning of our universe’s creation. Inifinity – that’s as far as can be gone. That’s neverending. That’s where God must be, right? But it doesn’t stop there. Because so far the dimensions have only addressed paths in our universe. There are two more dimensions, which culminate (according to string theory) with the tenth dimension. In the tenth dimension, all of the possible infinite paths of every possible dimension of all possible infinite universes exist.
Too much to grasp? And just think – this is science…the systematic knowledge of the physical world through using our senses. The physical world, not the spiritual world. Based on observation, our senses – things we understand well. This fantastic, mind blowing description of the universe is what we humans, in our fantastically limited, finite minds, have found as the best way to describe the physical universe. With our finest, most extraordinary theories, we cannot comprehend all that has been created. If grasping a theory of how creation (the world we know) functions is awe inspiring, take a moment and try to wrap your mind around the reality of the Creator. And yet “I AM” simply spoke, and it was. One who is somehow outside even the tenth dimension, outside the infinite paths of all dimensions of an infinite number of universes. One who is not physical, but spiritual. One who is.
And then ponder how that Being, the uncreated One, the master of inifinity, He who is outside time and space, loved His creation so much that He chose to become physical. He, who is somehow three in one, who experiences perfect communion and unity at the same time, who is both everywhere and everything all at once, limited Himself to the physical, to the singular, to the finite. He who created the wildest we can even conceive – the tenth dimension – decided to become a baby and enter the third dimension. Because that’s where we are. Because He wanted us to live in relationship with Him forever in a kingdom far beyond the best our brightest minds can begin to fathom.
It is a testament to our humanity we can be awed by the idea of a fifth dimension, yet feel a sense of patronizing familiarity with the Christmas story. And it is a testament to God’s unfathomable grace that He relinquished the transcendence of the spiritual in order to subject Himself to the worst of the physical, in order to save those who cannot even understand what He did. The miracle of Christmas? God simply spoke and the universe (or universes) came into being. At Christmas, God did far more than speak…He became. Just try to begin to imagine the miracle encompassed in that.
Click here for fun family Christmas projects
Click here for resources to teach children about Christmas
Click here for Christmas traditions and activities
Click here for 10 advent calendars to make with your kids
Click here for Christmas coloring pages
Click here for recommended Christmas books
Click here for Christmas arts and crafts to do with children
Click here for online Christmas games
Click here for the best chocolate mint cookies ever
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