Christmas 2021! The Glory of God’s Incarnation! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

From beginning to end, the whole Bible is about Jesus. This is true of the New Testament, which tells the story of Jesus’ coming to live with us. And it is true of the Hebrew (Old) Testament, written long before Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

The New Testament and the Hebrew (Old) Testament make up the whole Bible, and together they tell the story of God’s unconditional love for the world. That love comes into clearest focus in the coming of Jesus: through his prophesied birth, through his actual birth life and work, through death and resurrection.

Sometimes we think this fulfillment is only about those things in the story of Jesus which were predicted in the Hebrew Testament. But there is much more to it. Fulfillment is especially about words, events in the Old Testament finding a more profound meaning in our story of Jesus. We will go back to the beginning!

John 1:1-5, 12-14 Authorized (King James) Version

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

“In the beginning was…” is Deity’s statement of fact. “In the beginning…”  are words pregnant with meaning that subordinate logic, philosophy, psychology, and science. “In the beginning…” is a concept that astounds both the religious thinker and confounds the secular theorist. It impacts both the believer’s mind and the atheist’s imaginings but, “In the beginning, was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Before time and before space were created, before angelic voices chorused their harmonic, “holy, holy, holy”, in heavenly places, was ‘The Word’. Do we appreciate the beginning?

The Gospel of John is a portrait of Jesus Christ in the flesh, and his saving work. It focuses on the last three years of Jesus’s life and especially on his death and resurrection. Its purpose is clear in John 20:30-31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The book of John is written to try and help people come to know who God is, believe on Christ and have eternal life.

When John says, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” he meant that he was writing to awaken faith in unbelievers and sustain faith in believers — and in that way lead both to eternal life. And there may be no better book in the Bible to help you keep on trusting and treasuring Christ above all.

This portrait of Jesus is a written testimony by an eyewitness who was part of these infinitely important events. Five times in this Gospel we find the unusual words “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2, 7; 21:20). John wrote this book as his divinely inspired testimony and witness to the events of Jesus’s life, how John came to be changed and, today, what they mean for us.

John’s First Three Verses

Those words — “word of God”— bring us to the beginning words of John’s Gospel. John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

These are the verses we focus on today.

‘The Word’: Jesus

First, we focus on the term word. “In the beginning was the Word.” The most important thing to know about this Word is found in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Word refers to Jesus Christ.

John knows what he’s about to write in his Gospels 21 chapters. He is going to tell us the story of what Jesus Christ did and what he taught. This is a divinely inspired book about the life and work of the man Jesus Christ — the man that John knew and saw and heard and touched with his hands (1John 1:1).

He had flesh and blood. He was not a ghost or an apparition appearing and vanishing. He ate and drank and got tired, and John knew him very closely. Jesus’s mother lived with John in the last part of her life (John 19:26).

Therefore, what John is doing in John 1:1-3 is telling us the most penultimate things about Jesus that he can. It took John more than three years to figure out the fullness of who Jesus was. But he does not want any of his readers to take more than three verses to find out what took him so long to know. He wants us today to have in our minds, fixed and clear, from the beginning of his Gospel, of the eternal majesty and deity and Creator rights of Jesus Christ in the flesh.

Christmas celebrates the incarnation of God… (the Word becoming human – flesh and blood)

…in the years of our Lord 2020 and 2021, however – on the human level – or the family level These have been “non-incarnation” Christmases (!)

… if incarnation means to take on flesh and blood – to show up in person …. well, not this year!

Instead of an incarnation Christmas we might call it a “virtual Christmas” …

Christmas on the screen – on smart phones, on face time… on Zoom… on Twitter… on Facebook Messenger… indeed it is Christmas on the screen!

The new and emerging reality threatening us is Family cannot come home (easily)… travel is being restricted. “It won’t be the same this Christmas…”

“this year will be different”

Maybe this coming year we can appreciate a little more of what God did to overcome the obstacles of “long, long distance” travel to visit our planet…

To visit the nations… to visit our families… to visit our “neighbors”… our “shut-ins”… visit our prisons… and hospitals… our street people… our refugee camps.

1 John 1:1-3 Authorized (King James) Version

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

MERRY INCARNATION 2021 (and beyond)!

How did God do this?

How did he pull it off?

Where did he get the idea?

I mean it’s unprecedented!!! Never been done before… never been done since… never will be done ever again!

Not that the original incarnation was a 33 year experiment… it wasn’t;

I mean the Son of God being eternally pre-existent – he always was. He is not a “creature” – by that I mean …he isn’t created.

But something happened in that stable in Bethlehem that continues even today – God took on human form – and he’s never discarded it!

Even now…Christ our Lord – risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, retains his full humanity.

Yes, the incarnation was for real – and it’s still real.

Because we are made in the image of God, we also have a desire to be physically present.

Nowadays, Church is in a similar situation (!) – it’s infinitely more convenient to stay home and watch worship online – but it can never be quite the full church experience – it’s virtual church – not incarnational church!

Think about it… no make-up… don’t shave… no dressing up… get a coffee anytime… no annoying people to tolerate… you can even mute the sermon, and no one will know (sort of …except God himself – God will know!) … now who wouldn’t prefer that!!!

Do not get me wrong here, I believe virtual church is a good thing for those who could not otherwise, for whatever reason not including ‘100% laziness’ get to a physical church building… but it’s more like an on-ramp… it’s not the highway!

It’s a good entry point – but it’s not flesh and blood community!

*** Christmas is about God going “all in” to reach humanity — God knew that we needed Him to “show-up” … to enter the human experience fully!

Watching from the throne room of heaven wasn’t going to reach us… he had already sent prophets aplenty…he had to “come down” … get into the dust and the flies… into a family… into a country… into a culture… into a language… into a tradition… into working with his hands… into fishing…and carpentry…so he did – in fact he came right into an occupied military state… no electricity… not one piece of “smart” technology… no internet! …No cars, RV’s … no refrigeration…

God Before Christmas/Incarnation: V. 1-4

Creation/new creation language

With God/ was God

All things were made by him…

Matthew 1:18-25Authorized (King James) Version

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him and took unto him his wife: 25 and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

God “broke into” the ages long silence of the darkness which overcame that world as that first couple had come to know it, being under Roman oppression.

But Philippians 2:6-8 tells us he emptied himself of the exercise of his divine attributes {“Kenosis”}’

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Quote:

“The incarnation was a historical and unrepeatable event with permanent benefits… Reigning at God’s right hand today is the man Christ Jesus, still human as well as divine, though now his humanity has been glorified. Having assumed our human nature, he has never discarded it, and he never will. …Reverend John Stott

Dear sisters and brothers,

On this Christmas Day, we have a text from the Gospel according to Saint John (John 1:1-14) for our reflection:

“In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,

and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life,

and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.

He came for testimony, to testify to the light,

so that all might believe through him.

He was not the light,

but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,

and the world came to be through him,

but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,

but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him

he gave power to become children of God,

to those who believe in his name,

who were born not by natural generation

nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision

but of God.

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying,

“This was he of whom I said,

‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me

because he existed before me.’”

From his fullness we have all received,

grace in place of grace,

because while the law was given through Moses,

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God.

The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,

has revealed him.”

The search for the true meaning of Christmas is a recurring and ever changing one.

And yet, too often the answers we provide, even from the church pulpit, are more sentimentality, comfortable traditions than they are any deep reflection on the significance of the Incarnation for humanity.

It is not about the ‘spirit of giving’ or the ‘quest for global peace’, or the ‘importance of family’, or the beauty of a snow-decorated ‘silent night.’

Sure, we can immediately say that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

But…

Exactly, why is that fact so significant beyond the affirmation of a historical fact or a creedal confession?

How does or how should, the meaning of Christmas impact our lives on a daily basis as the people of God?

Perhaps for an answer, we need to return to the beginning biblical narratives, apart from all the traditions that we have heaped around them to make them more entertaining and more coherent to modern ways of thinking to make meaning of Christmas during the pandemic.

At the heart of the nativity narratives in both Matthew and Luke, is a simple, but too overlooked, uncommunicated fact: amid the struggle of a people who had longed for many years for God to act in the world in new ways, God came to be with them in a way that totally identified himself with us, as human beings.

Amidst the most unlikely of circumstances, to the most unlikely of people, God became human for the truest love, salvation of all people, and the entire world.

I personally also meditate the true meaning of Christmas is about possibility.

It is not the kind of possibility that comes from a confidence in our own skill, knowledge, ability, or a positive mental attitude.

It is a possibility that comes solely from the fact that God is the kind of God who comes into our own human existence to reveal himself and call us to himself.

It is a possibility which is so surprising at its birth we are caught unaware, and so are left with wonder at the simplicity of its expression in this infant child.

It is a possibility that is easily symbolized by a helpless infant that has nothing of its own by which to survive; but an infant that, because He is Immanuel (God with us, God within us), will surely, forever change the world and all humanity.

It is this same God who has promised to be with us, with His people, with the Church and with us individually, as we live, we love, as His people in the world.

It is not just a superficial, temporary hope defined by the bounds of our finite lives, as if it were wishful thinking that things will get better when they cannot.

It is hope incarnated into flesh, a hope that can be held in a mother’s arms, a hope that expresses a reality that will live beyond endings and death itself.

It is the genuine, undeniable hope, the 100% possibility, which springs forth from seemingly impossible, insignificant beginnings, infused with the power of God through the Son and Holy Spirit fully blossoming into a light to the nations.

It is this possibility, this Incarnate Word, this Almighty God that we celebrate at Christmas.

And we do celebrate with a confidence that a child who is the Son of God born not of our own desire for it, but for the purpose it has from the birth of a child over 2,021 years ago.

Once we understand the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ among us, we celebrate with those who have nothing…rather than otherwise.

It is in the right spirit of the season that we try to discover what is real Christmas in our lives.

God had sent many prophets, priests, messengers and angels but people ignored them and He sent His only Son Jesus Christ.

It is given in every Christmas time.

Do we ever think of ‘why?’

The answer lies in your heart when we hear…whisper of Child Jesus in the manger.

“I come as an ordinary.

My parents are ordinary couple struggling for survival.

I was born in a manger.

I am not a food for animals.

I am the bread of life for all of you.”

Our God is the God of impossible.

He came to us.

He dwelt among us.

He gave us eternal life.

He lives in us as the Spirit as he was in the apostles.

He promised us that He is with us till the end of our age.

In this Christmas, let us not lose our hope.

In this Christmas, let us discern the new possibilities, so that we can make this world a beautiful place to live with love and forgiveness.

In this Christmas, let us realize that the true meaning of Christmas is also to be the presence of Jesus to others, who are in need of us, who are depressed, who are marginalized, who are treated badly and suppressed physically, spiritually and psychologically, who need our presence and our prayers in their sorrow and to continuously communicate and freely give the message of God’s love to ALL!

It is an invitation…for us to help our Incarnate Word to pitch his tent among these people identifying ourselves with them.

God’s Message of salvation was with him at creation. In fact, by nature, the one who was the Message was God himself. John wants us to know that Jesus, God’s Word and ultimate Message, was with God from the very beginning. The one who turns water to wine, feeds the 5000, and raises Lazarus didn’t make his human appearance on earth until he was born in Bethlehem, but he has always been there. He is God with us, as Matthew puts it (Matthew 1:23). He is God come to visit us as Luke tells us (Luke 7:16). He is the Son of God as Mark reminds (Mark 1:1). He is God’s ultimate and final Word (Hebrews 1:1-2)!

Let us make a difference.

Let us add the real meaning of coming of Jesus in our lives and others.

Finally, I firmly believe the Incarnation is a simple fact that amid the struggle of each one of us, who long for many days, weeks, months, and years for God to act in new ways in our struggling lives and in the pandemic darkened world, the Incarnate Word, comes to be with us in a way which totally identified himself with us, as human beings giving, communicating to us new hopes, possibilities.

Wish you a Happy INCARNATIONAL Christmas…

May the Incarnate Word dwell among us and in each one’s, heart radiating his unconditional incarnational love by our words and actions and deeds so that we may be another incarnate for our families, friends, communities and neighbors.

May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all. Amen…

In the name of God. the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, let us pray,

Father in heaven, I worship and praise Your holy name for Your wonderful plan of salvation. Thank You for sending Jesus, the Word, Who was with the Father before the world began. He came to earth willingly, in human flesh, so that a sinner such as I may be redeemed by His precious blood. Praise Your name and praise Jesus, in Whose name I pray, Gloria! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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