In an attempt at collaborative creativity, each Advent reflection this season has been written by a different contributor to the site. As we approached Christmas, not only did I post about the coming of Christ, but Angie Rines, Dwana Back, and Gwynne Watkins all shared what it meant to be waiting for Christmas this year. In the spirit of community and collaboration, the four of us have all contributed to this post to celebrate the arrival of Jesus and Christmas. It has been a joy to work with these ladies and I hope it blesses you on this Christmas day.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. — John 1:14
Reflect on those words for a moment.
Really reflect on them.
Like you are hearing them for the first time again.
Jesus, the Word, became human. God in all His greatness, as the creator of the entire universe, limited Himself by putting on flesh, becoming human. He chose to come down into our broken world. Chose to put himself in the form of a human body. It’s amazing to think about the God that we serve. He does not just sit in heaven, totally disconnected from us, disconnected from our experiences here on earth. Instead, God came and “made his home among us.” Or as Eugene Peterson phrases it in The Message, God “moved into the neighborhood.” Think about the meaning conveyed in that phrase.
What would it look like if God moved into your neighborhood?
We talk in the abstract about God being “with us” throughout our day, but do we really envision Him there in our minute-to-minute existence? Do we picture Jesus carpooling with us on the commute to work, standing around the water cooler, participating in the office small talk?
The time He spent living His mortal life was brief, but those years were only a sliver of His existence. And because He donned a physical frame, He knows and understands you completely. He has experienced pain, loneliness, frustration, temptation, and rejection. He knows you – literally – inside and out. He was there in the manger in Bethlehem, and He is here now. And one day, He will return and restore his creation as he makes all things new and all sufferings and sadness come to an end.
A new age has dawned!
On Christmas day we sing “Hallelujah! Into the darkness has stepped an eternal light, who is Jesus, the Christ, our Lord!” One who saves, and who fulfills all of God’s promises, and who becomes King. Not through some act of cosmic military power, but through his own life and death. In the vulnerability of a baby who needs his every need met. He has put on flesh and got dirty. Wearing the dust and the filth of life, he kicks around where we live, walks with those who have no hope and ultimately dies our death so we could share in his resurrection and power. We sing “Hallelujah” because on Christmas day, the new age has dawned.
The Good News is that Jesus not only came to Earth as God Incarnate, but that He remains with us in the here and now. This is why Christmas is a season of profound joy! We rejoice in the fact that we serve a God who doesn’t sit up in the sky aloof and removed from us—who didn’t just wind the clock and let everything go. Likewise, rather than putting into motion a mechanical plan to fix what was broken, or scrapping his plan entirely, God began the work of setting things right by joining with his creation. It’s how he worked with Adam, Abraham, David, Josiah. In the arrival of Jesus on Christmas morning, God’s plan begins and in Jesus God reaches his goal all along, to put in his people a new heart, one in which dwells his very spirit. Our God stepped down into creation and made a new way for us, one that is full of peace, love, joy and new life.
Redemption Draws Near
The chance at new life and redemption captures our hearts because it is the song of God. At the close of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” after Ebeneezer Scrooge makes his turnaround from only loving his money to living a life of generosity and caring for others, it says,
“And it was always said of him [Scrooge] that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”
How do we, like Scrooge learned, “keep Christmas well”? How do we keep the hope, love, joy and peace of Christmas affect our lives throughout the entire year? How does our Savior being with us shape our every day? A key lies in Philippians 2:3-11 where Paul writes:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Pray this Christmas season for a heightened awareness of God’s presence in your life. When you are feeling especially lonely, listen for His still small voice in your heart. As we spend time this season reflecting on Jesus’ first moments on Earth as a flesh-and-blood human, remember that He was here from the beginning of time and is here now. Pray that God’s work in and through Jesus would become God’s work in and through you by the power of the Holy Spirit so that as Christ humbly lived and died so might we.