He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child–of–God selves. These are the God–begotten, not blood–begotten, not flesh–begotten, not sex–begotten. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:10c-14a | MSG
During Advent we have been invited to slow down enough to consider the unexpected, surprising miracle of God taking up residence on planet earth. We have pondered the coming of Jesus, born to a middle-eastern couple who lived in a blue collar village, in a place run by a tyrant king and controlled by the occupying army of Rome. Eugene Peterson translates this miracle in the memorable words:
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
During Advent we’ve been invited to lay down our sentimentalized images and ideas of “The Word” becoming flesh. What are we to do with this world we find ourselves occupying this Advent season? How are we to make sense of a world where, “all is calm, all is bright” just doesn’t match our experience? Where did we get the idea of a baby Jesus who doesn’t cry – even when his bed is a feeding trough and his first sleeper is made out of strips of cloth. The whole thing carries a strange foreboding of a burial shroud fit for a rabbi? Can we picture a Christmas card with Joseph and Mary running for their lives to the southern border with their little boy, while a paranoid echo-maniacal tyrant seeks to snuff out all the little boys of Bethlehem? You won’t find this on anything marked Courier and Ives.
So, here we stand, on the other side of another Christmas. We are being invited to embrace the scandal of a God who has the power to create a universe, but is also willing to concentrate God’s all-knowing, all-seeing power in the weakness of a child. In, Honest Advent, Scott Erickson invites us to consider such.
A birth is a rite of passage in human vulnerability, and the Almighty did not insulate (himself) from participating in that… That the Christ was born of blood like we are. That the Christ partook in the powerless vulnerability of coming into the world naked, and weak – like we often still feel…. for me the magic of Christmas is knowing that the Saving Christ has always been in the fecal muck with us – and still is today. God with us – in all our goopy humanity.”
The poet, Luci Shaw keeps inviting us back to the wonder and the scandal, and the reality of Christmas.
Yet if we celebrate, let it be that He has invaded our lives with purpose, striding over our picturesque traditions, our shallow sentiment, overturning our cash registers, wielding His peace like a sword, rescuing us into reality, demanding much more than the milk and the softness and the mother warmth of the baby in the storefront crèche, (only the Man would ask all, of each of us) reaching out always, urgently, with strong effective love (only the Man would give His life and live again for love of us).
Oh come, let us adore Him – Christ – the Lord.
– It Is As If Infancy Were The Whole of Incarnation
Blessings, Peace, and Happy New Year!