Leland Ryken says that "[t]he incarnation of Jesus in human, earthly form affirms forever that human, earthly reality is worthy of study and love" (The Liberated Imagination). And yet while some Christian artists pay homage to this doctrine -- viewing their own works as little incarnations of meaning -- there's not often a consideration of the nature of that incarnation.
When Christ came, Scripture says he emptied himself, made himself nothing, took the nature of a servant, humbled himself, and died to self (Phil. 2:6-11). It's not a model of self-expression but self-mortification, the purpose of which is to glorify God and love and serve others. That doesn't mean that we always say nice things, that we write or sing not to offend. But when we express ourselves, we empty the expression of any self-serving motivation. Love is the highest virtue and trumps self-expression every time.
It also means serving the work itself. I had an opportunity to explain this to my daughter recently. She happened to read a portion of a story I am working on and told me that I had said a bad word in the story. I told her that I did indeed write it but in this case felt I had to because the character who used the word would use that word. In other words, I needed to serve the work and follow the character where she would go. That happens as well.
We can be thankful for many reasons that God came enfleshed, that he lived a fully human life, and that he died a real death and rose again in a real and tangible body. It means that the streets and fields and woods we tramp through, the buildings and cities we reside in, and the rivers, oceans, and continents and, perhaps, other worlds we roam mean a great deal to Him. "For God so loved the world" scripture says. That's cosmos. Everything matters to Him. That means whatever I create -- those little incarnations, imperfect though they are -- matters to Him.
Now that makes life worth living this Christmas.