“For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”
– Isaiah 9:6
Jesus comes to us in the muck of ordinary life, born to a refugee family in a strange land. And yet Isaiah proclaims that he will have authority, that he will be a wonderful counselor, mighty God, Prince of Peace.
How can we model Jesus’ love in these closing days of Advent?
Jesus comes to us: Emmanuel, which is ‘God with Us.’ This baby would become a child who would study scripture with the leading scholars of his day. Jesus of Nazareth was a very faithful Jew, which is a good thing to remember at Christmas. This boy would grow into a man, unfurling Isaiah’s scroll to proclaim, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
But incarnation is more than just inspiring words. Incarnation means that Jesus came to us in the flesh, to know our human story as truly as bread and tears, love and loss, manger and cross. Throughout his life, Jesus reached out to the forgotten and the ignored. He stirred up Holy trouble by flinging wide the doors of proper society, so that widows and lepers, the poor and the unclean would hear the good news of God’s liberating love. But they wouldn’t just hear it. They would know it. Because they would be fed and healed, nourished and cleansed.
This Christmas, may we be ever mindful of and responsive to the needs of others. May God who is the giver of every good gift also give us the courage to share abundantly. For those in our families who may have all the toys they already need, what if we gave a donation in their name to a worthy cause, and then took the time to write a heart-felt note? ‘Tis better to give than to receive, they say. What if even our Christmas gifts could become tokens of God’s reconciling work among us? Just a thought for those of us who make use of Christmas Eve morning to finalize our gifts. There’s still time, friends! At least a few dozen hours remain before Santa’s sleigh arrives.
However God calls you to show generosity, may you be blessed this Christmas. May our God who is at work even now, be known to you and those you love. As we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ incarnation, may we more fully become God’s hands and feet in this, our time and place. And may the blessing of the Christ-child lying in the straw be as haunting and powerful now as it was all those years ago.