I have said before that I am an “Incarnational Christian.” What I mean by this is that much of my theology is based on the understanding that our God took upon himself a human form…lowered himself…and came to earth…messy, mixed up, dirty, confused earth. And, doing so, God gives us a model of discipleship. It’s one of lowering ourselves for others. It’s one of entering into the suffering places of humans. It’s a faith that must be lived out…not just talked about or theorized or preached.
I find great Scriptural support in verses such as the following:
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish. (John 1:14 — The Message)
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 — NRSV)
Our God enters into the midst of the mess of life. Our God comes to where we are..in Christ. Cool, huh?
So often at Christmastime, we hold onto that blessed Christmas morning as if it’s the perfect Hallmark Card moment in time and space. We long for that “Silent Night, Holy Night” when “All is Calm, All is bright” and all is right with the world. There’s nothing but peace and love and happiness and sugarplum fairies and so on and so forth. It is, after all, “the most wonderful time of year.” Our songs tell us this, it must be true.
And we can bust our collective tails trying to ensure that we have the perfect Christmas experience…the house all clean, fancy Christmas cookies made and handed out the neighbors, Bing Crosby on the stereo, and gifts sent out months in advance.
However (and this is not be a Grinch) the birth of Christ isn’t like this.