It’s Christmas Eve and my Tender Tennessee Christmas has turned out to be 70 degrees, cloudy and green. So while I’m adjusting my expectation of what Christmas is going to look like, I’d like to invite you to join me. Let’s set aside all the craziness of the season: the wrapping, the shopping, the in-laws. I’d like to invite you to set aside the memories of the season: family members no longer with us, family still with us but worlds apart either emotionally or geographically, the childhood that once was – or perhaps never was. I’d like to invite you to set aside the hurts of the season: churches gone bad, rituals and traditions now forgotten, guilt and shame from economic pressure, losses that you will never be over regardless of how hard you try.
Set aside everything that might distract you, persuade you, discourage you or dissuade you. Forget the wise me, the shepherds, the angels, Mary singing, Joseph questioning, a inn that was full, a manger that stank or a king with a vendetta. Meditate on just one idea; the whole season stripped down to a simple concept: Incarnate.
If we split the word up it means something to the extent of filling the flesh with life. It’s what Jesus did the moment God was conceived as a son. And what’s amazing is not just the fact that God became a human, but that he brought all that is God along. Grace incarnate. Mercy incarnate. Justice incarnate. Wisdom incarnate. Love incarnate.
I love the way the Message translation of the Bible describes what we as Christians are celebrating in John 1:14,
“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”
As I reflect on this year and anticipate the next, I’m conscious of what I allow to be incarnate in my life. If I’m to move into to new neighborhoods, seek to be as Christ would have been to new neighbors. Am allowing God’s grace be be incarnate in me? God’s mercy to be incarnate in me? God’s justice to be incarnate in me? God’s love to be incarnate in me? Will this new year be one of loving to new depths, serving from new places in the soul and embracing the mystery that is God with new zeal and passion? Or will it be one where fear and anxiety continue to dominate the landscape of our lives?
We celebrate a child, we honor a Spiritual Monarch, and we rejoice in God’s presence with us. But let it move us to being God’s children in new and intense ways. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the greatest adventures exploring the mysteries of our God!