Travelling Towards Christmas
5. Jesus, Downsizing in Love
We come to the final meditation in the series, ‘Travelling Towards Christmas’. Today we have arrived and, hopefully, are giving some thought to the spiritual meaning of this celebration. This is Christ’s Mass. It’s about God sending ‘his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.’
Those words are found in 1 John 4:9, and are closely followed in verse 14 by these words, ‘The Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.’ As was hinted in the last talk, about the visit of the Magi, Christmas is about incarnation.
Earlier in Advent I was thinking about the idea of the Creator of the universe becoming part of his own creation. It seemed to me to be the ultimate in ‘downsizing’. That’s a word people use when they sell their house and buy a smaller one to live in, for whatever reason. However strong one’s imagination in envisaging possible examples of downsizing, there is nothing greater than that of God becoming a human being, of leaving heaven to live on earth. And to be born in a stable, what’s more, not in a fine palace with all the trimmings of royalty.
And this for the greatest of all reasons; to save humanity from its self-destroying lifestyle and to bring us back into a loving relationship with God, for now and forever. As I dwelt on these thoughts some verses began to form in my mind.
Downsizing! That’s the word we want
to tell what we’ve been through,
giving up our Knightsbridge pad
for a flat in Waterloo,
where the folk in cardboard boxes
are our neighbours in dire need;
we’ve come to show them the love of Christ,
not just in word, but deed!
He showed us how it should be done
when he came from heaven to earth;
downsizing in a massive way
to arrive through human birth.
The Son of God made just like us;
they call it ‘incarnation’,
God’s love at work in a human frame
– the Christmas celebration!
That first verse, by the way, is not a description of what has happened to me. It is an imaginary scenario that reflects what a number of people have done in responding to Christ’s love and the needs of people they encounter in life on Earth. Some have quite literally sold up and moved among the people they feel called to serve. Some have gone to other parts of the world in order to share the love of Christ, sinking their whole lives into the endeavour. No doubt, you can think of some current examples.
Christmas Day can be a lovely experience for most of us, as we come together as families and friends to enjoy good food and fun, and as we share Christmas greeting and presents. For others, it can be a very difficult day and it would be good for us to think of them prayerfully and to pray for those who devote their Christmas Day to cater for the needs of the less privileged members of our communities. They are, as my verses suggested, incarnating the love of God and the Lord Jesus.
Let’s finish by thinking about the stable scene in Bethlehem. Mary looking at Jesus with a mother’s love for her firstborn child, and with deep thoughts about how different their lives would be from here on. Joseph, still with Gabriel’s words ringing in his ears, already slipping into the role of being father to God’s Son. The shepherds, alive with excitement and looking with wonder at the little baby whose future was to be so big. The Magi, kneeling before the one they know is destined to be more than a king, worshipping him in a manner that befitted their religion and understanding. It’s good for us to join them all around the manger, giving thanks and praise to God for the gift of his only Son.
The Lord bless you today, and then as you move into the new year. Whatever it holds for you, if you’ve stood in the stable today, you will know that God will be with you and nothing is impossible with him.
We began our journey with that promise. We’ve seen how it happened for these characters.
The question we now have to face and work through is,
‘Will it be true for me?’
There’s only one way to find out – trust him; he’s as good as his word.
Happy New Year!