Week 3: A Christmas Worth Savoring

Midlife Monday 12-18-17

Welcome to this week’s Midlife Monday.

It’s Week 3 of my 4 Week series called, A Christmas Worth Savoring 

The past two weeks highlighted ways of preparation and mediation to help you stay focused through all the business of your Christmas week with family and friends.  

This week I want to invite you to join me into a very brief consideration of the word:

incarnation.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

I don’t know when I was first introduced to this word, but my guess is that I heard it many times as a child while singing things I didn’t fully (or even partially) understand. Perhaps the same is true of you.

The Christmas hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, comes to mind.

I grew up in the city of Cleveland and attended a small little neighborhood church on West 65th Street called Calvary Reformed Church. I sang this song many time but with little regard for the meaning of what I was actually saying or singing.

The first verse announcing the arrival of this incarnate God.

Hark the Herald angels sing! Glory to the newborn King.

Peace on earth and mercy mild.

God and sinners reconciled.

Joyful all ye nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies.

With angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark the herald angels sing.

Glory to the new-born King.

The second stanza expounds as the plot thickens highlighting the humanity and mystery of the Christ child:

Christ by highest heav’n adore,

Christ the everlasting Lord.

Late in time behold him come,

Offspring of the virgin’s womb.

But it’s in these words that this mysterious God is made known – and who can fully comprehend such a wonder?

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see.

Hail the incarnate deity.

Please as man, with men to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark the herald angel sing.

Glory to the new-born King.

Hail the Incarnate Deity

The assumption is of one that embodies, in the flesh, a deity or spirit. Incarnation theology addresses the second person of the trinity, the triune Godhead who took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ. Because he is God’s Son, conceived by God himself into the womb of a young virgin, showcasing his humanity alongside his deity.

100% God and 100% man.

We can sing the songs 1000 times and still miss the astounding reality of God incarnate.

I invite you to consider this incarnational God with me in the same spirit of Mary, who when God had visited her, considered all the things God had said and done, and pondered them in her heart.  

This week I’d like to invite you to join me in pondering the incarnational attributes of God and what implication this incarnate God has on you personally, professionally, and relationally.

In many ways, it’s quite astounding that God himself – the creator of all things – would lay his deity aside – and come to earth, and live among us.

10 Attributes of God

The Bible tells us that the One, true God is 1) omniscient (all-knowing), 2) omnipotent (having no external limitations), 3) omnipresent (able to be in all places at all times), 4) immutable (unchanging), 5) holy (without sin), 6) righteous (how he expresses his holiness), 7) sovereign (ruler over all creation – yet gives man free will to choose), 8) love (he is gracious and kind, and desires a loving, caring relationship with his creation), 9) merciful (does not give us what we deserve, but provided a way to save us from our sin and rebellion), 10) and triune (who reveals himself as three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit).

This God, this Master of the university – creator of all things – comes in the cover of night.

His entrance into the world is one of limited fanfare that contained an element of secrecy – to mankind, but not to the heavens.

Heavens, No!  What did the heavenly bodies do?

They rejoiced!

The Bible tells us of a tremendous fanfare that took place in the heavens when Jesus entered the world. Stars shown brightly, trumpets sounded and the heavenly angels sang with one voice: Glory to God in the Highest – Peace on earth and goodwill toward man!

And who did he let in on the secret?

The least and lowliest among men; shepherds.

The lowest of lowest professions. Sheep herders. Servants.

To these, the Messiah is revealed. In the most humble of ways – this child, born in a stinky stable, taking on the same flesh and blood as that of his creation, makes his entrance into a broken, sinful world – to live among us.

Quietly. Peacefully. He comes. To us. For us.

Veiled in Flesh

Jesus, veiled in flesh, incarnate God, moved into our neighborhood to show us who God was.

The fact that he came in this manner changed the course of history forever, for all mankind, and for all eternity.I

n every way possible – he was and is still, God – With us!

This Incarnate Jesus became real to me when I was at a very broken place in my life as a teenager. You can read my story here.

Fast forward to the year 2000, my understanding of this incarnational Jesus became even more real to me after I went on staff with the youth ministry Young Life.

Incarnational theology is the core ministry philosophy and cornerstone of how Young Life does youth ministry. Go to others, earn the right to be heard, and then share the hope of Jesus.

The Scriptures teaches us that we love, because God first loved us. And this love was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s simple and profound all at once.

Jesus came to us and so are we to go where others are. We can’t expect them to come to us – or our fancy churches. We must demonstrate the love of God is mundane simple ways, every single day. In the same way that God shows us his love, grace, kindness and forgiveness…every single day and every single moment.

The incarnational aspect of God comes from the understanding that we don’t come to God… God came to us. We merely respond to him.

And this is where you and I come in as we let this thought, this truth, this understanding sink into the core of our being.

What is it that God wants to do in you? What might he want to do through you? Where might he lead you this day, this week, this coming year to bring hope? How might you and I become his hands, his feet, his eyes, his ears.

I don’t know how God will use you to bring light into the dark places of this broken world, but I do know that we cannot give what we ourselves do not possess.

Will you take some time to consider perhaps for the 1st time or reconsider for the 2nd, 3rd, or even the 10th time, this incarnational Jesus…this Word that became flesh and dwelt among us and what that means for you personally.

I work on an airplane and every day that I take to the skies, I find myself surrounded by so many passengers and colleagues in need of knowing and experiencing God’s love, grace, kindness and forgiveness. I’m praying that I will be aware of each and every opportunity God brings my way to make this incarnate God known, and I’m praying the same for you.

As you ponder in your heart – where you are in life, what he has called you to do, and who he has called you to be, I pray that you will approach this coming week and year with eyes and ears and arms and heart wide open to the people God will call you to serve and love and forgive and bless and honor.

I’m planning some exciting new things for the coming year to help you navigate through midlife and help you get a greater sense of clarity on what looks like for you personally. As I prepare and consider how I might best serve you, I’d love to know what your number one struggle is at this time in your life.

Next Monday – we will celebrate this incarnate Jesus. I will have a few brief things to share with you then concerning the word – Celebration.. knowing full well that most if not all of you will be busy, like me, celebrating Jesus.

I hope to capture a few minutes of your time then.
Until then, may you know the deep love, grace and forgiveness of the incarnate Jesus. He came with you and I in mind and is worthy of our praise.
May we know him more fully and make him known right where we are.

Betsy

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