For a lot of years Christmas would frustrate me, because worship would be a struggle. The story so often told, the Christmas programs, the need to preach in an engaging lifegiving way -- it didn't seem real or vivid to me. Intellectually, I understood, but I wanted my heart to be more engaged. This was supposed to be a big deal, but it felt terribly cliched.
Then last year, I think it was, a truth that I may or should have known was illumined to me, and now I have a different problem.
I think I had been prone to think of the Incarnation as a mission. God needed to get in touch with us, show us what He was like, and provide redemption and free access for us into His presence. So the eternal Son of God became a man, and lived and died and rose again. Then He went back where He came from to be what He was before.
He became a man, and He still is a man. Wow! The eternal Son of God is now what He was not. It was not a mission that He could end and say, "Oh , that was awful." or, "I am glad that's over." He became, is now, and forever will be my brother King. This is mystery beyond comprehension. He who had no beginning, became what He was not, in order that I/we might gain what we lost, and enter into the kind of intimacy with the Father, that the Father and the Son have shared fom eternity past. (cf John 17)
Dare we say, that the Son changed for our sake. Not that He lost what He was, though He emptied Himself for a time. But that He took on what He did not have -- our humanity, so that He is now one of us, and one with us who have become one with Him.
Worship is easy now at Christmas.
But then someone asked me why it was important that Jesus is still a man. Wouldn't Christianity be intact if the incarnation was just a mission for a time. His death and resurrection would still hold true wouldn't it?
I think we unknowingly read the phrase, In Him, to be a metonymy, for in His work. When the apostle Paul says that we have died, and risen, and been seated with Christ, I don't think He is just talking about our relationship to the finished work of Christ. I think our participation in the finished work of Christ depends upon our union with Him which is dynamic and ongoing (the abiding in the vine metaphor) and depends on His humanity. It is the kind of union we had with Adam before we came to believe in Christ. So then if Christ has not come "in the flesh" as John would say, we can not be in Him, and if we are not in Him, then we are in Adam, and if we are in Adam, our share in His rebellion continues to hold us aloof from our loving Father.
"Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren," is the heart cry of one who belongs forever to the human family.
So what's my problem? The incarnation has become so uncliched -- so vivid to me, that I struggle to believe. The creator of the universe is my brother? The unseen Christ, is still the Jesus of the manger. God is not distant at all, but so connected to us that He has become one of us. It was easier to believe when Spiritual realities were somewhere out there, and physical realities down here.
I think I am helplessly secular! God help me shed my rationalism, and give me eyes to see Jesus.