The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In my church for the past four Sundays we have been immersed in Advent. That’s not unusual, of course, but our pastors have been particularly insistent that we not rush into Christmas, that we fully experience Advent, the season of waiting, hope, anticipation, struggle.
That’s been difficult for me. I understand the value of remembering, even re-living, the past. It’s a way to deepen one’s appreciation for the present. But throughout December I felt like I was pretending there was no Jesus! Almost as if I were trying to manufacture an emotional experience.
So now it’s Christmas, and Christ is here, and the season of waiting is over.
And now I face a different difficulty: What can I say about the Christ of Christmas, the Christ I’ve been waiting for?
What words can capture the Word made flesh?
Jesus is a mystery to me. Being simultaneously “fully God” and “fully man” brings up a lot of questions in my mind. I accept it, but I wonder what it looked like in everyday life. Could people tell that Jesus the carpenter was God the Almighty? Was His humanity like a too-small costume that didn’t quite convince anyone? As He walked around, mingling with crowds, joking with friends, going through life, did His glory shine through His eyes and His smile and His fingertips?
When I was in high school, a classmate of mine spoke in one of our weekly chapel services during the holiday season. He said for the God of the universe to become a man was like one of us squeezing into a jar. A crude image, perhaps, but it stuck with me. And I think it does capture the sense of limitation and confinement Jesus endured while He walked earth with us.
This Advent season we have paused to read Scriptures and light candles that symbolize characters in the Christmas story who have been waiting, just like us, for someone to change their world. The angel, the crowds of Bethlehem, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph—all had been hoping, doubting, wondering. Waiting.
Today those four candles of waiting are extinguished, and the Christ candle is lit.
The waiting is over. Jesus is here.
He was born to a human mother, raised in a human family. He shared our genes and our instincts, entered our culture, spoke our language, felt our pains.
He still does.
Whether you recognize Him or not, Christ was born for you! Set aside some time today—away from the relatives, the wrapping paper, the cooking and cleaning—to read about it in the first 14 verses of John’s Gospel. Take some time to ponder the mystery, to imagine the impossible, to accept the miracle.
Merry Christmas! Jesus is here!
Next week: Epiphany
This post is part of a series that originally appeared as Advent bulletin inserts for a small church in Hammond, Indiana. If you’d like similar materials for your church or ministry, email LifeLines.