In the second week of Advent we invite you to take a step back from the images and stories that are most familiar within this season. Stars guiding shepherds in the desert, wise men bringing strange and extravagant gifts, farm animals nestled near a baby Jesus in the manger - let’s take these stories and set them aside, just for the week, to hear the story of God coming to earth from a perspective not often remembered as a Christmas story:
John 1:14-17, The Incarnation
And the Word became flesh, and lived among us. We gazed upon his glory, glory like that of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John gave evidence about him, loud and clear. “This is the one,” he said, “that I was speaking about when I told you, ‘The one who comes after me ranks ahead of me, because he was before me.’ ” Yes: it’s out of his fullness that we have all received, grace indeed on top of grace. The law, you see, was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus the Messiah. 1
In Jesus, God is here. Fullness beyond fullness, filling out in the experience of humanity. God is here, in Jesus.
Incarnation. Embodiment. God in the real.
When we are talking about Christmas we are talking about the God of everything getting wrapped up in the everything of humanity.
God, here, in the wildness and chaos of this world, dwelling among us to inaugurate a new way of being where life begets life to the glory of God.
When we look at the incarnation from 30,000 ft, we see that Christmas is the culminating moment in the whole of history. God, in the form of Jesus, here to lead his people into glory. He is like Moses, but for the entire world.
The Jewish story of exile, restoration and a new era of righteousness is kicked up into the atmosphere and spread over the entirety of creation.
The local story of God’s redeeming force of love is amplified so that everyone can hear. The world is being led out of exile. The world is being restored. The world will experience the righteousness and holiness of God, and Jesus will be at the center of it all. Grace, truth, justice, mercy, love - all in generous portions, these are the gifts to be embodied by Christ and then given to humanity for the flourishing of the Earth.
Maybe it’s just this,
that the Christmas story is a continual stating that “God is here” which stretches out into the horizon of eternity. Somehow, some way, the One that holds the universe together, chose to take on human form and show us a better way. Grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace, forever.
In Jesus, God is here, present, dwelling and living among us. And if we take that seriously, it means something for how we live.
Here are two areas to reflect on during this second week of advent:
I. Dwell: During this week, take space to reflect on God’s choice to use the incarnation as the method for bringing about the fullness of His Kingdom. The incarnation is not just a way to describe an event in history, it is an invitation to live a life that embodies the love of God in a way that can be experienced by others. Where is God inviting you to dwell more intentionally this Advent season? How can you be a force for God’s love in your neighborhood and city?
II. Remember: Additionally, this passage is a reminder that Advent is both a culminating event and an invitation to future hope. Take space to remember that in the birth of Jesus, God’s great plan for the restoration of humanity was set in motion. How is God inviting you to reflect on the largeness of His story this week?
Wright, N. T.. The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (pp. 171-172). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Words: Geoff Gentry
Photos: Bryan Chung