reason4thehope

Thinking about life, faith and the world.

Archive for the tag “Christmas”

No Half Measures

Pleasmathed with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel… – Charles Wesley, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”

If Jesus were a mythological figure, his parentage might make him a kind of demigod: A human-divine hybrid, a superman, fallible and yet with abilities beyond the rest of us. The incarnation we celebrate at Christmas is so much more than that.

It seems enough to say that through Christmas we have Good Friday and Easter. But Jesus’ coming to Earth was not just a relocation to shorten the commute to the cross. Distance is nothing to God. He could have dispensed with the messy business of teaching, healing and discipling, and just made His triumphal entry vertically.

That would have been a good show, but it wouldn’t have completed the humanly impossible math God was working out. One God plus one human did not produce half a god and half a man, or some dual or divided being. Jesus was all God because God alone was holy enough and perfect enough to be an acceptable sacrifice for humanity’s sins. He was all man because he had to identify fully with those he would redeem, from the womb through helpless infancy to all the struggles and temptations of earthly life.

No spinner of myths could conjure the miracle that is Christmas. One plus one equaled one savior, all God and all man, as it had to be.

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Receive the Child

Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. — Mark 9:37

Jesus commands us to receive the little children. They are the powerless, the helpless — the very kind of people Jesus always stood up for against the powerful and self-sufficient. But the little children are also what He became.

If you ever feel that Christmas is just a wallow in consumerism wrapped as gooey sentiment, maybe it would help to remember this: Christmas is where we mark the divine becoming flesh, the indispensable beginning of God’s earthly journey to change the eternal destiny of all who would believe. If we don’t believe that He came in this way and rejoice in it, nothing else about Christianity is believable or makes very much sense. Without a flesh and blood Jesus, the Gospels become uplifting mythology. There is no cross and no resurrection.

There are many ways to receive the children. Sponsor one living in poverty on the other side of the world. Mentor one in your own community. If you’re really daring, adopt one who otherwise would have no family. But for any of it to have permanent significance, we first have to receive the Child of Bethlehem. He became the Lamb of God, offered in our place on the cross for our sins, and then He became the only dead man ever to raise Himself from the grave.

The gift has been given, but it’s not ours until we receive it. Receive the Christmas Child, and all that He became.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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