Within days, Christmas Day will be upon us, the gifts will be opened, much delicious food will be enjoyed, and families will spend precious time together. But soon it will pass and the inevitable letdown will settle in. Is there something more in Christmas that will sustain us 365 days of the year?
The real miracle of Christmas is something called the Incarnation. Carne means flesh or meat. Perhaps you have eaten chili con carne. That is chili with meat. The Incarnation means that God came in the flesh. On Christmas Day we celebrate the fact that God wrapped Himself in human flesh and entered this world as a baby in a manger to be our Saviour.
This God-human, the little baby Jesus, came to rescue us from death, to take away our sin and to heal all of our wounds. He came to give us a life with Him that will last forever. No matter how dark the sin, it is forgiven with Jesus. No matter deadly the disease, it will not take away your life in Jesus. No matter how scary the future, Jesus will get you through it. Jesus is our Saviour now and forever. And that does not change when the wrapping paper is gathered and thrown away. The God-in-the-flesh is always with you, always watching over you, always guiding you and always keeping you safe in His love.
And there are more incarnational aspects to our life with Jesus. He dwells in the heart of every believer and He is embodied in everything that we say, think and do. Christ lives inside of us and we are His ambassadors to the world. The things that Jesus said and did while He was in the world, we now do on His behalf. We share His words of comfort and assurance. We show His compassion with acts of loving care.
So how are we doing at incarnational living? What sorts of values do we embody? When people look at us, do they see Jesus?
Our world today has very little use for the Church. Most people see it as another broken-down institution that hurts many of the people that it claims it wants to help. And the abuse that occurred at residential schools, the other examples of sexual abuse by clergy and the public moral failures of prominent pastors like Ted Haggard have served to reinforce such sentiments. When we try to sell people on joining the Christian Church, we are pushing a product that many people do not want to buy.
But people today value relationships very highly. And they still have a lot of respect for Jesus. So let’s show them Jesus! In the relationships that you already have, let the Christ who dwells within you reach out with his compassion, his kindness, his forgiveness, and his sacrificial love to drench those around you. That is how we connect people to Jesus, the God-in-the flesh. That is how Christmas becomes something that we celebrate every day of every year!
Merry Christmas today and every day!
For it has pleased God to tell his people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory. (Colossians 1:27)
(This article was written for the December 2006 edition of The Binder, the monthly newsletter of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK.)