New Blog Post: “The Incarnation of Christ”
We all know that during the Season of Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Theologically, we call this the incarnation of Christ. So, what does this mean? As we read in The Heidelberg Catechism (HC) (Question & Answer 35): “That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that he might become David’s true descendant, like his brothers in every way, except for sin.” So, why is the incarnation important? As we read in HC (Q & A 36): “He is our mediator, and with his innocence and perfect holiness he removes from God’s sight my sin—mine since I was conceived.” Just think about that for a moment: God taking on flesh for us, so that he could save us in the flesh (sin). What a gracious and compassionate God! This is the God we serve and worship in the Christmas season and beyond. So enjoy your Christmas celebrations, remembering the mystery and blessing of the incarnation.
Sometimes we’re quick to downplay traditions, but meaningful traditions can be a good thing. They can help keep our faith alive! And most of us have many traditions, although we may not think of them as such. For example, most people place an evergreen tree (fake or real) in their house in December—a visual reminder of the Christmas season. One thing we do as a family is sing Christmas carols. There’s nothing like singing about the birth of our Savior! Local churches also have traditions that mark the time and guide us on our faith journey. For example: the annual Sunday School Christmas program—a meaningful Advent tradition that engages our children in ministry and prepares us for Christmas. So, what are some of your Christmas traditions? What can you do as an individual and/or family to prepare for and celebrate the birth of the Savior?
I enjoy December. The season of Advent. The beginning of the new Christian Year. The anticipation of the coming of our Lord. Christmas is a very important season. First of all, we remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus—God in the flesh. Need I say more? But I will! December is a prime time for ministry. Most people are open to the Baby Jesus. They may not yet know he’s the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the King of the universe. But they know there’s something important about him. They feel a sense of peace, joy and hope when they hear his story and sing his songs. Christmas provides a golden opportunity for ministry that only comes once or twice a year. Many people will not attend a worship service during the year, but they will attend a Christmas program, where they will sing spiritual songs and hear the gospel told in the form of the “Christmas Story.” So let’s not miss the opportunity to invite people to hear about the birth of Jesus.
On December 2 we celebrated our three-year anniversary in Lacombe. My, where has the time gone! An anniversary is important, as it marks the time and invites us to celebrate God’s faithfulness and be a bit reflective. Advent is one such milestone in the Church Calendar. I like what Ruth Haley Barton says about it: “Advent is a season for waking up to all the ways Christ comes to us. Yes, the themes of Advent help us to celebrate and commemorate his first coming in the Incarnation. They encourage us to anticipate his second coming in glory—of course! But there is also a third coming of Christ: that is, all the ways in which Jesus comes to us now, bringing light for our darkness, peace for our turmoil, hope for our fear.” (“The Importance of Waking Up” in eReflections, Nov. 25, 2013). Happy Second Sunday of Advent!
I also like the following Advent prayer from Ruth Haley Barton, which I invite you pray on or before the Second Sunday of Advent:
O holy God, open us unto light for our darkness, courage for our fear, hope for our despair.
O God of peace, open to us peace for our turmoil, joy for our sorrow, strength for our weakness.
O generous God, open our hearts to receive the gift of your presence. Amen.