Even though Jesus was not born on December 25th, this is the time of year that many people celebrate the birth of Christ by going into debt to purchase expense gifts that [somehow] demonstrate their love for friends and family.
This is not a post about the evils of commercialism or materialism. Promise.
Instead, I want to take some time to consider the implication of the Incarnation of Christ, which is supposed to be what everyone is celebrating this time of year.
In Philippians 2, we have a beautiful summary of this miracle expressed this way:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue [gladly] acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Notice that this entire passage hinges on the suggestion that each of us should model our relationships with others based on this same “mindset” of Christ – humility, service, and selflessness – and that, in this way, we might bring glory to God the Father.
I’m not sure we really get that part.
Or, maybe I’m the one who needs to be reminded of that.
Either way, it’s good to stop and remember that the Incarnation of Christ was intended to teach us something about how we treat one another….with love, respect, compassion and genuine concern.
Of course, the Incarnation is also about God’s presence with Humankind. Even the Messianic title of “Immanuel” means “God with us!” and affirms that God is not far away from us, but forever, always with us at all times.This same Messiah also promises “never to leave or forsake us”, so God is with us, and God is for us, and God will never, ever leave us.
This is the sort of “Christmas Presence” we should be sharing with one another and celebrating all year long.
What I love about this promise of God’s Presence with us, is that it cannot be undone.
As the Apostle Paul reminds us, there is nothing in Heaven or on Earth or under the Earth – not angels, nor demons, nor anything else in all of Creation that can ever – ever – separate us from the love of God expressed for us in Christ.
Do you understand what this means? It means that you and I are never, ever, separated from God. God has come to us in the form of Christ. Christ promises never to leave us or forsake us. This connection we have with Christ is expressed in a love so strong and so wide and so deep that it defies human understanding. [See Eph. 3:18]
This same love that binds us to Christ can never be broken; we can never be separated from God’s love; therefore you and I can never know what it’s like to be apart from God’s presence. We will never know anything other than the continual drawing of our souls nearer and nearer to the One who loves us more than life itself and would rather die than be without us.
From this point forward, and stretching onward into Eternity, you and I will only experience more and more of the Presence of God – closer than our own breath, nearer than our own heartbeat – until finally, inevitably, we will see our Beloved face to face.
And then? We will dance and laugh and live forever in the Divine Presence of this God who has been drawing us nearer with every passing moment of time.
This is the sort of Christmas Presence I’m excited about. I don’t need a new flat screen TV. I don’t want a new iPhone. I’m not interested in some shiny box covered in wrapping paper under a plastic tree. You can keep those Christmas Presents.
I want the Presence of Christ. That’s more than enough for me.
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