This year has been a year of challenges for everyone. And with Christmas in just ten short days away, everyone is wondering how to celebrate Christmas with all the restrictions. No more large gatherings. No large church services. I am starting to hear more “NO” than yes. Hearing “NO” triggers something in the human brain and it is usefully for the worse. Thus, we have to work even harder to spread the Christmas joy.
In 2018, I posted how tired of Christmas and how I needed to renew wonder in me. Having been a Christian for a long time, that means I have heard the Christmas story multiple times. I have participated in several Christmas pageants as a kid. I have decorated multiple trees. Later as an adult, I was the assistant director for a few Christmas pageants. And lastly, I have served as a church usher for dozens of Christmas Eve services.
I think I have it lucky. I’ve met people who are performers. Some of them have over 17 performances in a span of 15 days. Is it any wonder some of us are just tired at Christmas? Or even tired of Christmas?
Something changed my view of Christmas this year in June. Yes, in June. I was listening to the testimony of Jay and Katherine Wolf. It’s a pretty miraculous story, and yes, it is a miracle. The story begins in 2008; Katherine was just 26 years old and she suffered a near-fatal stroke that left her partially paralyzed. To this day, she is wheelchair bound. The road to recovery was long and hard. You should read their story in the book Suffer Strong. Their story is amazing.
What does this have to do with Christmas?
In their book, the Wolfs made a bold statement:
“No one enters life or leaves it without feeling bound by something. Some of us have physical wheelchairs, but we all have invisible wheelchairs inside us. None of us can do life all by ourselves.”Suffer Strong, p. 23.
I had an epiphany about the Incarnation not long after reading this. Christians have always preached that God became a Man. This is one of the two miracles on which orthodox Christianity rests; the other is the resurrection. I’ve said in previous blogs: if you are an atheist who argues for material secularism, pretty much any talk of miracles is worthless. But if you believe otherwise, read on. What does it mean for God to become a man?
In the Gospel of John chapter 1, the Apostle John penned this verse: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” What does it mean to become flesh? What does it mean for God to become flesh?
In a sense, God became wheelchair-bound like Katherine Wolf. Think about this: one attribute we declare about God is his omnipresence. God could go from New York to London in a blink of an eye now has to walk.
Yes, walk. Or hitch a ride in someone’s wagon.
God who is omniscient now has to learn human skills. Church tradition held that Jesus followed his earthly father Joseph into the carpentry trade, like Jewish boys did. Jesus would have to learn which woods work well with what project. I could imagine Jesus learning the final motor controls to carve something. What a huge step down from once having designed the entire universe.
In a sense, God chose to limit himself. Another way to think of the Incarnation is to imagine golf champion Tiger Woods teaching 8 year old children to play golf. If Tiger played at his highest level, he would pretty much overpower all the young ones. While he’s making a 200 yard drive into the wind, his young students barely break the 50 yard mark. What fun is that? So Tiger gives himself a handicap. He knows that these children lack his strength and experience.
Why focus on God limiting Himself? Why not on the other traditional elements of Christmas? By focusing God’s limiting himself in the Incarnation, Jesus becomes so much more approachable. God limited Himself to draw near to us. This is God with us: Immanuel. We should never forget just how much God gave up to save us. There is so much beauty in this thought.
So if you are still lost and wondering what Christmas is all about, it is God with us.