A Christmas Thought...
I spent 14 Christmases in New York – helping Mark and Bernie Kelsey on the Long Island church plant, and at this time of year there are many things I miss about a Northern Hemisphere Christmas.
I loved singing Christmas songs in a climate where they made sense, in Sydney we are never dreaming of a white Christmas, unless it’s white sand in our toes. I loved going to see the Radio City Christmas show with an audience full of little girls in beautiful velvet dresses and bows in their hair. On the Northern Beaches the little girls are in bikinis and flip flops with salt water in their hair, cute, but not the same. I miss driving home from work seeing candles in windows of people’s homes on a cold winter’s night. I miss praying and believing for snow on Christmas Day!
The thing I miss most is the fact that it is very cold and so when you are not at Christmas parties, you are bundled up inside at home watching the lights on the real Christmas tree twinkling. It provides you with the opportunity to reflect on the magnitude of what actually happened at Christmas 2000 years ago.
We often think of the whole story. , brilliant as it is, We and focus on Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, and giving birth in a stable, on the Angels, the Shepherds and the Wise Men worshiping the newborn King!!
These are all wonderful aspects of the Nativity story, however, the real meaning of Christmas is in the incarnation.
“Offspring of the favoured one.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th'incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!”
But do we stop to reflect on what those words mean? On the fact that God became a man. He not only became a man but a baby boy. The eternal Son of God, became a fragile, human child, Jesus.
I remember when I first came back to church, lying awake on night for hours thinking about the enormity of this. I could not fathom how it was possible that the Son would limit himself in this way and take such a risk. What if Mary or Joseph had have dropped him on the donkey ride home? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
In some ways it is like many aspects of our faith – a mystery.
At Christmas time it is so good to embrace this mystery. In the midst of running around buying the gifts and planning a Pinterest perfect family Christmas lunch, it’s good to stop and allow ourselves time to reflect, to get lost in the mystery of what Christmas means.
Then the fact that the Son became a man, was born in a stable, specifically to die on a cross 33 years later. Caught up in the birth of Jesus is the death of Jesus too.
I guess for me, when I think about the enormity of the incarnation and all that is contained in it, it reminds me of the great depths of the God’s love for us. God doing something so outrageous, so undignified, so incredibly risky to reconcile us to himself is astounding.
Hope you have a happy and holy Christmas – enjoying the festivities even more because you have had a time of reflection on the incarnation.