I love seeing the mail this time of year. The cards and letters arrive from friends far and wide. Yet every year, I’m struck by the pictures on the front of the Christmas cards – the sanitized Christmas cards, that is. The stable looks so clean, the animals so docile, the hay so fresh, and the halos above the heads so golden. The reality of Christmas – sung in carols, recited in plays, illustrated on cards – shows how familiar we have become with something that was so profound.
God with us – Immanuel – I never want to lose the wonder of the incarnation. Each year, I need help remembering the wonder of God having skin and bones, feeling my pain. Others help me by painting paradoxes that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14).
One of my favourite Christmas CDs is Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. Read these words from the song “Labor of Love”:
It was not a silent night;
There was blood on the ground.
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town.
Consider Charles Spurgeon’s sermon from September 19, 1858 on the wonder of Christ’s coming:
Infinite, and an infant;
eternal, and yet born of a woman;
Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast;
supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms;
king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph;
heir of all things and yet the carpenter’s despised son.
Ponder these words from my favourite Christmas sermon, from Augustine, bishop of Hippo, from the late fourth century (sermon 191.1):
Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.
Behold, your King has come in poverty! Rejoice this Christmas – Immanuel has come to comfort you! Worship Christ the newborn King!
See you Sunday,
PS – don’t forget to join us Christmas Eve!