Come Adore Him

On Christmas day we remember and celebrate the coming into the world of the greatest human, this human was not just human, but God becoming man. Jesus is both God and man. How this works I do not know, yet I have faith in it being true. I trust that Jesus is who he said and the entire New Testament claims him to be. We retell and sing of the birth of Jesus—from the angel’s announcement to Mary saying yes to the trip from one city to another to the arrival of the baby Jesus to the shepherd’s celebration. The whole advent season is one long procession through this, what it means to take it seriously, and looking forward to the coming again of Jesus.

The nativity stories involve a choice. The choice in Matthew is between the newborn King of the universe and illegitimate King Herod and in Luke, a choice between Jesus and Caesar as the Son of God. In both cases, the narratives proclaim that the powers of the day are made relative in the face of the coming Kingdom. They claim that Jesus is ultimate expression of both man and God, both earth and heaven.

The renowned theologian Karl Barth calls the Nativity a mystery. ‘The nativity mystery’ means that God became human, truly human out of his own grace. The miracle of the existence of Jesus, his ‘climbing down of God’ is Holy Spirit and Mary! Here is a human being, the Virgin Mary, and as he comes from God, Jesus comes from this human being. Born of Mary means a human origin for God. Jesus Christ is not only truly God; he is human like every one of us. He is human without limitation. Not only similar to us, he is like us.

There has been, and I suppose there will always be argument over the truth behind a virgin conception. Some make more of a fuss over it than others. Some emphasize it while other accept, but don’t consider it as important as the cross. This is not the place to get into that whole argument. With N T Wright I say, “I believe that the God of Israel, the world’s creator, was personally and fully revealed in and as Jesus of Nazareth. If that’s what God deemed appropriate, who am I to object?” I do like Robert Farrar Capon’s idea of the incarnation as a feature present in the universe—a mystery present in creation from beginning to end, but was finally and fully manifested to us in Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, God gave us his son. The Savior of all came wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. On this holy day, we are drawn into the mystery and wonder of God’s love. We join our voice with the voice of others through history that have worshiped and glorified the Word of God made flesh among us. Our praise for the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ should be seen in how we live our lives now and in the future.

Faith in Jesus is a gift, as gift it needs to be received, opened and treasured. Faith in Jesus is not just about sitting in pews, singing hymns and carols, and hearing a message. We need to hear and respond to God’s word by doing the will of God in particular by loving our fellow man. Faith is trusting that Jesus is who he said he was and will keep the promises he spoke. Faith trusts that even in the darkest night that soon, very soon the light of the world will dawn. It will be a new day and nothing will ever be the same again. Faith is radical trust that God is King, and as King is in charge and working in history and our lives for the good.

Faith is affirmed when we stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when we speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when we cry for those who have no more tears left to shed. We affirm Christ when we love without reason. When we stand up for others, hug a hurting friend, drop a coin in a donation jar, smile at a stranger, and encourage a hurting person we proclaim the Kingdom of God not with words that won’t be remembered but actions that will linger.  We declare God is good when we love the stranger, include the excluded, provide shelter and comfort for the widow and orphan.

Hark! The Herald Angel Sings!  A triumphant tune declares the good news behind Christmas that God became man, humbled himself to be born human and experience human life. This carol sings what the gospel is all about—Jesus became human to reconcile all of creation to God and herald in the Kingdom of God. Jesus the incarnation of the Word of God came to show us what it means to live a human life in communion with God. Jesus does for us what we could never do. He pays our debt and makes a way for us to come to God not as sinners, but as children loved by an infinite God.

Joyful, triumph, proclaim, Hail the incarnate Deity—all these words of overwhelming joy declare what is truly good about the good news. God loves us so much to forsake heaven to come down to earth to reconcile all of creation to him. God loves us as we are; God meets us where we are but refuses to leave us that way. God graces and blesses us with joy and wonder. Jesus was born that no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Jesus came so that we may live fully, authentic God-honoring lives. Not that one day we may go to heaven, but that we may have heaven on earth here and now that stretches beyond. It starts here and now in the heart and soul of everyone in our choice to chose the way of Jesus. Jesus is not a ticket to heaven, but a guide to living life, as it should be lived.

Michael Spencer said, “God’s creation of humanity in his image gives hints of who he is, since we all are marked by his fingerprints. As flawed humans, we give only a vague hint of God. Our broken reflection of God’s image is easily drowned out by our broken humanity. Two thousand years ago, God came in his fullness. He came to all of us in Jesus. The incarnation is not owned, trademarked, or controlled by any church. It belongs to every human being. The incarnation is not something that requires a distributor or middleman. It is a gracious gift to every person everywhere, religious or not. God gave himself to us in Jesus… without the incarnation, Christianity isn’t even a very good story, and most sadly, it means nothing. ‘Be nice to one another’ is not a message that can give my life meaning, assure me of love beyond brokenness, and break open the dark doors of death with the key of hope.”

So, in the end come and adore him who was born so man may not die, but have life to the full here, now, and forever!

Grace and peace

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