OK, so we’re now the other side of Christmas. The food is eaten, the presents unwrapped and the films (which we’ve seen a hundred times before) have been watched. It’s that in-between time, when the New Year is before us, Christmas is behind us and we (may) get some time to slow down and reflect.
I have to say that when I get time to reflect on the Christmas story, the thought that can sometimes go through my head is; really? Are we really saying that God became an embryo, a tiny life inside a womb, sloshing about in amniotic fluid (if babies do slosh about), gradually growing and forming until one day he's born into the world and has his first sleep in an animal’s feeding trough. Or as Max Lucado says;
"Majesty in the midst of mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter."
Of course God can do it, he's God.
But why? Why did God have to become one of us?
The answer to this question is in the Christmas story itself. God tells Joseph; "Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Brennan Manning writes;
"This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us, sent the only Son he ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for his milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all."
Peter Lewis calls this "An astonishing stoop of grace." I like that. I need that. I need Gods grace.
Just like Bono when he said grace “…is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff… It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."
In the Christmas story Jesus "came alongside us as our helper, in it he embraced us as our brother, by it he died for us as our redeemer. Let us then cherish this truth, for it is in the humanity of Jesus that we encounter the nearness of God. Thus we bless him as 'Emmanuel' - God with us."