Saturday, 20 December 2008


"I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather his flesh. Look upon the Baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify man. Inexpressible majesty will crush him. That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.

Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother, still a virgin. What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than the mother! What fairer than her youth! What more gracious than her virginity! Look at the Child, knowing nothing. Yet all that is belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in him. Doubt nothing. Watch him springing in the lap of the maiden. Laugh with him. Look upon this Lord of Peace and your spirit will be at peace. See how God invites you in many ways. He places before you a Babe with whom you may take refuge. You cannot fear him, for nothing is more appealing to man than a babe. Are you affrighted? Then come to him, lying in the lap of the fairest and sweetest maid. You will see how great is the divine goodness, which seeks above all else that you should not despair. Trust him! Trust him! Here is the Child in whom is salvation. To me there is no grater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother. Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save". Martin Luther on the Nativity (Christmas Sermons).

Gift-wrap. It's used by the store-load this time of year, but have you ever thought about why we find it so important to use it?
What is it that requires us to take up our time and make so much effort to insure that all those goodies we buy for others is so nicely (in my case, not so much - I'm pretty dreadful with paper and tape) wrapped?

It's all about marking something as special.
When we hand over that little box of something in that brightly colored sheet, it says 'here's something to say you're special', and because of that we (usually) know a moment of delight: an affirmation that we are loved.

Christmas is a moment when we can look with amazement upon the most beautiful and total gift that has ever been given.
The one whom the Apostle John describes as 'The Word' - the one who makes all things and holds them together - is 'gift wrapped' to come amongst us.
Now it's important to reflect on this, because it says something wonderful about the handiwork of God.

The Lord does not come amongst us as some strange, extra-terrestrial like creature, or as an "Angel", just to proclaim a message and go. Christ is given to us flesh and blood - to live like us, to encounter first hand all the pain, frustration, fear and futility that define our lives in a fallen world.
The gift the world received at Christmas is truly miraculous.

What always astonishes me is how so much of the time, we want to 'wrap' God up in some other way - we want to make Him remote or distant, strange and aloof; a being far, far away in some remote spot we tag 'heaven' - certainly not a naked child feeding at a bare human breast!
The truth that Christianity conveys is that human redemption is that real.
It was a real child that came to rescue us, a real man that walked and lived amongst us, attending our weddings and feasts, our funerals and days of illness. It was this man who was to be crucified upon a Roman Cross, buried and then - raised from death, truly alive!

Amidst all the usual things that happen this Christmas, take a moment to reflect on the greatest gift that God wants us to unwrap -
that we can have life through the love and salvation provided to us in His only Son.

God is with us, and that makes life here hallowed indeed!

1 comment:

Steve said...

Great post, Howard!

He is a special gift, showing us how much God loves us.

That He Himself would come and become one of us. Live as we live. Die as we die.

He did it all for us.

God with us!

Merry Christmas!