In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…., And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Religion, as normally understood, is a human system that organizes itself around trying to “reach” God. But we humans are destined to flounder when we attempt to make our own way to Him. Christianity is not essentially about a religion at all but about a relationship with God through His only Son Jesus Christ. This living relationship calls us to a journey not rooted in human attempts to seek God, but in God's seeking of us. Jesus came, that first Christmas, to fulfill God's promise that He would visit and redeem His people and establish a new and living way. The gulf between humanity and God therefore is bridged not by us but by God, the divine carpenter who spans our distance right from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross and beyond.
God came to us, so that we can go to Him. Jesus knows the way of that journey because He is the way. Because of this new and living way, we are invited on an exciting journey of discovery called the life of faith. Christian faith is not a self-initiated or self-directed "trip" but rather a journey that seeks to listen and be responsive to the invitational leadings of the Holy Spirit.
The Incarnation, God with us, is the greatest of all Christian doctrines. Christ came not to found a religion but to usher in a new kind of Kingdom, a relational reign of grace, truth and love. The building block of this new kingdom is the human heart accepting and sharing God's love and mercy offered through Jesus Christ.
The implication of "God with us" proclaims our Lord's passionate interest in you and me and all the world. In his best-selling novel and inspirational film The Shack, William P. Young describes God as one who is "especially fond" of individuals, not in a selective sense (I am fond of her, but not him) but in the intensely personal sense as a parent would be especially fond of each child in different ways and yet to the same degree. The wonderful truth of God's intimate and passionate knowledge of each one of us has implications for us personally but not individualistically.
I am so grateful that this past year, our community has been marked with increased signs of God's living way with peace, joy, strength, courage and love in service to God and others. We have seen new shoots of growth among us; increased attendance, giving and participation and, while we still have a way to go, God is doing a new thing among us, with us and through us.
This Christmas, may the gift of God's only Son fill you with all faith and hope in believing. May each of you find the grace to accept this simple and yet profound love. May Jesus enable us all to love as He has loved ~ simply, courageously and sacrificially. Together may we at Christ Church always strive to be a community that seeks to follow Jesus in His incarnational love, wherever He leads, whether across the street or around the world, this Christmas and always.
With every prayer that your Christmas and New Year be filled with peace, joy, strength, courage and love,