hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel
A scientist said, making a plea for exchange scholarships between nations, “The very best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.” That was what happened at Christmas. The idea of divine love was wrapped up in a Person.
Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He as God… Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists… anyone might say that he was part of God, or one with God: There would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world who made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
Most sensible people say that adults cannot be expected to appreciate Christmas as much as children appreciate it. But I am not sure that even sensible people are always right; and this has been my principle reason for deciding to be silly — a decision that is now irrevocable. It may be because I am silly, but I rather think that, relatively to the rest of the year, I enjoy Christmas more than I did when I was a child. My faith demands that such be the case. The more mature I become the more I need to embrace the joys of the incarnation. The more mature I become, the more I need to be but a child.
… God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity … down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.
[In a] natural fear of lowering the Divine dignity of Christ, we often forget His true humanity. We think of His earthly life as moving on a plane so different from ours that no parallel can be drawn between them. What we forget is, that He too needed to walk by faith, needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, needed the sympathy of loving friends, needed the strengthening that is gained by private prayer. His strong and beautiful, serene and holy life so fills the eye that we lose sight of His secret intimacy with the Father, out of which came all its beauty, all its power.
A lowly Babe lies in the lowly cradle of a lowly town, the offspring of a lowly mother. Look again. That child is the eternal “I AM.” He whose Deity never had birth, is born “the woman’s Seed.” He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. He, who never began to be, as God, here begins to be, as man. And can it be, that the great “I AM THAT I AM” shrinks into our flesh, and is little upon our earth, as one newborn of yesterday? It is so.
When I look at Jesus’ warm and intimate friendships, my heart fills with praise that Jesus was…a man. A man of flesh-and-blood reality. His heart felt the sting of sympathy. His eyes glowed with tenderness. His arms embraced. His lips smiled. His hands touched. Jesus was male! Jesus invites us to relate to him as the Son of Man. And because he is fully man, we can relate to Jesus with affection and love.
Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.
How extraordinary to find the common bond of love expressed in a shared poverty. On this basis He could speak to us of shared values, of a vision and a mission we could make our own. From the manger this Child of the virgin Mary could speak to us of our destiny, our dignity, our ability, in His Name, to change not only ourselves but the world. Here we hear of our God-given rights and of our responsibilities as God’s adopted children. This Child will come to represent everything that is inspiring in terms of mercy, of compassion, of love, of justice and of peace. Christmas is a time to renew one’s spirit in the message and in the challenge of the Christ Child, a time to determine to become more credible witnesses to Him.