Every year I am more struck by the HUGENESS of the Incarnation, God taking on flesh.
YHWH, the creator of the Universe and everything which has been created, chooses to enter His own creation, and He does it in the most intimate and humble of ways: He enters as a zygote, exactly like every other human being (excepting Adam & Eve) ...barring the fact that the sperm wasn't delivered in the usual manner, by a human father, which would pass along the sin nature common to all humanity. Whatever the specific physiological details of the quickening of the Messiah in the womb of the Virgin Mary (in Luke 1:35, the angel Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”), this particular miracle is small, compared to all of Yahweh's amazing miracles of creation; after all, there's no reason the Maker of the Universe can't essentially snap His fingers and say, "Boom, you're pregnant."
But it's shocking that such a Being would humble Himself in such a way, submitting to the complete human experience from the inside. It's kind of like doing open heart surgery in utero, except the extremes of size and concept are even bigger.
And this year, as we sang Away in a Manger, I was staggered by the reality that no palace on earth would be sufficiently glorious for the Person of Jesus - yet He embraced the discomfort and the poverty and the risk that Mary accepted, and Joseph along with her, once he'd been directed not to divorce her quietly, on account of this surprising and embarrassing pregnancy. How many slurs and whispers did they all endure, through the years? We get the scribes and Pharisees' clear accusation in John 8:41 ("we are not born of fornication"). Yeshua was literally born in a barn, to a couple in duress and distress, a forced migration in order to comply with a Roman census (I submit this "cartoon"; it does a great job of reminding us of what it might be like, if it happened here and now).
So how do we celebrate and remember this most stunning and contradictory of miracles?
We spend nearly two months working ourselves into a frenzy of spending and fretting over obligations of frantic gift-giving and all the gift-buying, gift-wrapping, gift-mailing, and gift-receiving entailed, not to mention sending out the only snail-mail correspondence we may do all year. We decorate our homes and our pets. We travel great distances to spend the holiday with family or friends that we might not otherwise see and may not actually like; we overeat, indulging in special holiday meals, foods, and a plethora of seasonal cookies, cakes, pies, and candies. We feel huge pressure to deliver at an impossibly high standard - and many folks who are alone during the holidays battle the great black dog of depression.
And I can't help but wonder, is this really a response to the miracle of God physically entering His creation? And I can't help but think the answer is no.
It's sort of like misdirection, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," sleight of hand... and even for those of us who believe the miracle and choose to worship the Incarnate Messiah, it's really hard to stay in the place of wonder, to not grow a callous over the nerves which otherwise scream, "God did WHAT?! Are you kidding me?!"
And I remember Him exhorting us to circumcise our hearts - and how often He instructs us to do it; clearly we need to be reminded. I need to be reminded. I hope somewhere in this season you've had the opportunity to just stand in awe of the great mystery which is the incarnation of Christ, God enrobed in flesh.
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Here's a song I wrote nearly 40 years which tries to capture a little of that amazement
Can You Imagine That Night?" (live room sound, 2004 recording. Please visit the Moonbird Music Can You Imagine That Night? page for lyrics and link to the 1980s recorded pop version.