Monday, December 24, 2012

Veiled in Flesh the Godhead See

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm in Kansas.  Nothing particular planned today.  Our church in Sioux City has two huge Christmas Eve extravaganzas happening at the Orpheum theater.  I suppose it would be nice to see those.  One disadvantage of always being "home" for the holidays is we are never in town to experience our own church's Christmas Eve services.

Our church in NJ did four services on Christmas Eve -- two "family" services (geared toward kids), and two adult services, including a candlelight service at eleven.  As I said, I never got to go to one, but if the candlelight service was in the spirit of the Advent and Lent services they held every year, I think I would have enjoyed it very much.

I think if I could just choose for myself my own Christmas Eve celebration, it would include a small, meaningful candlelight service at a church where I don't know anyone in particular, so I don't feel a need to be social and can focus on why I'm there.  Focus on what happened on this night (okay, I realize it didn't actually happen on THIS night, but on the night that we are remembering this night).

To focus for a few minutes on the amazing concept of the God of the universe -- creator and sustainer of all there is -- holy and separate from all he has created -- the God of the universe making a conscious choice to give up the privileges of deity for a time and become one of us.  To feel our pains.  To live our struggles.  To be tempted as we are.  To be hungry and cold and lonely and discouraged and abandoned by everyone who was supposed to love him . . .

He CHOSE to bear that pain.  Sometimes, I think I've heard the end of the story so often and take it so for granted that I forget the awesomeness of each moment of the narrative.  And this moment -- this voluntary stepping into the limitations of human existence -- it's a big one.

Recently I had occasion to re-read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and I was struck again at that famous shortest-verse-in-the-Bible: "Jesus wept."  I think there's so much more significance there that we realize.  Jesus was standing there ready to raise his friend from the dead and end the misery of the mourning loved ones around him.  He knew the end of the story and that it was good -- phenomenally good.  Why did he weep?  He wept because it hurt him to see those he loved in pain.  Even when he knew the pain was going to be short and was going to be worth it, he entered into their pain with them and felt it deeply and it caused him to weep.

May I never lose the wonder of a God loving me enough to voluntarily enter into my life, my walk, my pain.  Hail, the Incarnate Deity.  Thank you, Lord.  Happy birthday.

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