God’s Amazing Gift

The incarnation—a miracle of God planned from the beginning of time. God knew His creation, man, whom He had lovingly sculptured in His own image, would fall. But God loves man and so He made a way to redeem him. Man’s spiritual death would be redeemed by a birth- the birth of God Himself to a lowly, young woman. The incorruptible God entered the world through a corruptible woman.
He could have come as a man, fully grown, ready to start His ministry. But God chose instead to leave His heavenly world, spend 9 months in the body of a woman, make the arduous, messy journey out of the woman’s womb, through the birth canal and into a sinful world. He took the form of a newborn baby, the most helpless of all humans, and at that moment in time, hope entered the world and His name was Jesus. He chose as His vehicle a young Jewish girl, Mary, called “highly favored one” by an angel who visits her. She was, as T.S. Eliot says, “the place of impossible union where past and future are conquered and reconciled in incarnation.” Mary is the one constant is Jesus’ life. She brought Him into the world and watched as death took Him from this world. This “most favored woman” does not question God but presented herself as God’s servant and said “let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Her faith was simple yet deep. Perhaps she remembered the many Old Testament scriptures that prophesied the Messiah’s birth. God had been in fact preparing the world for His arrival since before the world was created. The entire Old Testament is the story of a special preparation.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:9 2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” Jeremiah 23:5

The miracle of the incarnation made possible the miracle of salvation. We marvel at how God, the creator of the universe, could become man. Yet we should also marvel at how God could love us so much that He would leave His heavenly throne to become like us. The miracle of Christmas is not just that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” but that God chose to love us at all. The ancient scholar Irenaeus wrote, “The word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

Take time this Christmas season to ponder, wonder, contemplate and reflect on this great love!
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown, bestowed on, us, that we should be permitted to be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”
I John 3:1 (Amplified Bible).

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Home for the Holidays

There is something about Christmas that always causes me to remember the Christmases of my childhood. It was a special time of year for my  family, especially us six kids. We did not have a lot of money growing up so we really only got presents at birthdays and at Christmastime. We did get new clothes when school started but the “newness” of those things was long gone by December.  When I was very young we did not get our Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. We were told that it was a German tradition my dad brought from his family. When I became an adult I found out that dad went out Christmas Eve to get the tree because he could get a cheaper price that way. My mother finally convinced my dad to loosen up his wallet a bit and let us get our tree earlier in the season so we could enjoy it longer.

The anticipation of Christmas morning was almost more than we would handle as kids. The days leading up to Christmas were filled with excitement, wonder, and childhood joy. Christmas morning began at 6am but we were always awake well before then. We would try every year to get Mom and Dad to get up earlier, but they always banished us from their room until the appointed time.  Dad would gather us all around the tree and he would pass out the gifts one at a time to each child. We would excitedly watch one another open our gifts with as much glee as when we opened our own.  The gift exchange was followed by breakfast and then going outside to play with our new toys (it was California Christmas weather), while Mom began preparing our lavish Christmas dinner. Even after all of us “kids” were married with our own families, we continued to gather at Mom and Dad’s house to celebrate  Christmas and enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner with the family.

Our holidays are much different these days. Both Mom and Dad are gone now and our own families have spread across California making it difficult to spend the holiday together.  I look forward to the time when I will have married  children and grandchildren coming home for the holiday and reliving our family traditions.

As I reflect on the years I returned home for Christmas, I praise God that Jesus did just the opposite.  God the Father sent his son, Jesus, from the only home he had known in heaven to live on earth. He spent 9 months in the womb of a unwed teenage mother. He was not born in his parents’ hometown of Nazareth but Bethlehem to fulfill God’s promise.  And his actual birth occurred not in a home but in a stable. Not the place one would expect to find a king. Thus began a life of homelessness for the Promised One.

Jesus left his home in order to bring us back home to our Heavenly Father who awaits our arrival. Jesus is there now preparing our home for us and when it is ready, He is coming back for us to bring us home. (John 14)

The miracle of the incarnation made possible the miracle of salvation. We marvel at how God, the creator of the  universe, could become man. Yet we should also marvel at how God could love us so much that He would leave His heavenly throne to become like us. The miracle of Christmas is not just that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” but that God chose to love us at all. Because of Christmas and because of Easter, I now have a new home waiting for me in Heaven where much of my family now resides.  I’m sad that I won’t be able to be with my extended family this year. However, I have great joy and confidence knowing that one day I will be home for the holidays; home with my King whose birth we celebrate.