A few weeks ago I went looking for Christmas Cards that have some connection with the Christmas story. My search was a little like that of the wise men, in that it took quite a search to find them.
Increasingly the cards seem to have as little to do with Bethlehem as it did with Rome. I saw cards with cute animals, cards with 1920’s dance figures (true), cards with Christmas trees and snow (Christmas is a Northern hemisphere thing) but strangely, hardly any with Jesus and the holy family, or the angels, the shepherds or the Wise men.
Something is missing.
Actually, someone is missing – the Jesus of Christmas. He appears to have been submerged in a flood of sentimental and cynical commercialism – secularism at its best (or worst).
Who then is the Jesus of Christmas? What does the image of a baby and mother engender? What do angels have to do to with maternity? And, why the fuss?
The Jesus of Christmas is a remarkable, wholly unprepared for, story of vulnerability, incarnational wonder, and power on God’s terms – not ours.
A mother and child is one of the most precious, the most poignant of images. It is a picture of complete adoration and total dependence. A child is helpless without its mother. God became dependant on a young mother, utterly dependant. This is the remarkable vulnerability, and the total identification of God with man. Immanuel isn’t just a nice name – it describes a ‘peel your eyelids back’ shock, an arresting and mind numbing moment in history. God with man – God become man. Who’d have thought it?
What love, what grace, what wonder, brought this about?
The angels and heavenly host sang hallelujah at the sight. The night skies shone bright with their delight and holy response. That night the world slept on but not the heavens. And yet Gods holy creatures themselves barely understood what they marvelled at. It was, and still is, a mystery of unfathomable depths – the laying aside of the prerogative of Godhood and living as a man, suffering and eventually dying as a man, the holy seed buried in the earth. Wow!!
The pinnacle of human endeavour and accolade is power. But what kind of power does a baby possess? Christmas is an inversion of power in that it is a display of divine love. God’s love outlasts, out trumps, out scores man’s power. It neither forces nor manipulates. It doesn’t yell, or posture. It is seen, as weakness to man, but it is true strength – real power.
This isn’t the one of the old gods of myth, who were no more than man’s best and worst attempts at power and divinity.
This is the Jesus of Christmas, and we like the wise men, are wise ourselves if we seek him, and place the gift of our lives at his feet. A star beckons.
Simon McIntyre has been a part of C3 Church since
it’s inception in 1980. Simon resides in London,
along with his wife Valerie, where they serve as
Senior Pastors of C3 Church Fulham in addition to
overseeing C3 Europe.