Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Beautiful (and tricky) Incarnation

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

The incarnation.  

I don’t know if there has ever been a Christmas where the fact that God left heaven where there was no conflict or lost tempers or grudges harbored or disobedient children or expectations unmet or too many people under one roof or burnt bacon or gifts that don’t fit or nights of no sleep and came to this world that is all of those things and more has been so precious to me.  Can you imagine?  Would you ever leave a place where the people you were with were always complimentary and in perfect union with you?  Where there were entire fleets of angels worshiping you? And to leave this to go live with people who would kill you?

No thank you.

This Christmas was hard.  Not just because the brokenness of the world is so apparent, but because the brokenness of my heart is.  The stress of visiting both sets of family over the weekend returned back to Richmond with Sloan and me. And we, well, we were less than our best selves today.  Tempers were lost.  Tears were shed.  Feet were stomped.

Happy birthday Jesus, sorry your party was so lame.

As we left my sister’s house this afternoon from Christmas dinner, Sloan and I reconciled to one another and laughing, I started crying.  Not because my feelings had been hurt or my expectations unmet, but because I was overwhelmed with what Christmas really is about.

Incarnation.  Willingly entering into vulnerability and conflict for the love of another.  For the sake of another.  Bearing with and for another.  It's beautiful and tricky at the same time.

It is only fitting that we get stressed out about visiting family and it sometimes gets ugly.  That’s incarnation.  That’s what Christmas is.  It’s about a young girl, 9 months pregnant, having to go to her in-laws and there not being enough room so they stick her and her husband in a barn to have her baby.  (Can you imagine that conversation?  It was a census.  It’s not like Joseph’s kin didn’t know they were coming.  And convention would’ve had them staying with family, not looking for a Motel 6 like we often think.  But they were stuck in a barn.) It was into this smelly family quagmire that Jesus came.  God put on flesh.  Flesh that can hurt and bleed.  He chose to enter into conflict so that we could be re­conciled to Him and to one another.  He dwelt among us so that we could see and partake in His glory, grace, and truth.

In the dark, Henry remarked, “Daddy, Mommy is crying.  Again.” 

I said, “Henry, I’m crying because sometimes Daddy and I fight and I get my feelings hurt and I say mean things, but Jesus still came for me.  As a baby born on Christmas, he entered this difficult world so that Daddy and I could say we are sorry and forgive one another and really, really mean it.  Even though we are still sad a bit and hurting.  But we know that Jesus loves us and forgave us and forgives us still.  That is why we celebrate Christmas.  Because God is with us.”

And in typical 5 year old fashion, my darling son said, “Yeah, yeah. Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday Jesus.  Is Santa going to come again tonight?  Because I REALLY want to get some more Skylander guys.”

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

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