“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not
one thing came into being…And the Word became flesh
and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory
as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-3a, 14
Paul Harvey’s “The Man and the Birds” is one of my favorite Christmas stories. It’s about a man not going with his wife and children to the Christmas Eve worship service. He says he isn’t going to be a hypocrite; he can’t swallow the Jesus Story about God coming down to earth as a man. So he’s staying home.
Shortly after his family leaves snow begins falling. Minutes later he hears a thud against the living room window, then another thud and another. Thinking someone is throwing snowballs against the window, he rushes to investigate and discovers a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. Caught in the storm and desperate for shelter, they had tried flying through the large landscape window to the warmth of the house.
Not wanting the poor creatures to freeze, the man remembered the barn where his family stabled their pony. He would direct the birds to shelter there. He tried leading them to the barn, even sprinkling a trail of breadcrumbs for them; but they were too afraid. He tried catching them, but they fled every direction from the warm, lighted stable. They were afraid of him.
Then the man thought: “If only I could be a bird and mingle among them and speak their language. I could tell them not to be afraid. But I would have to become one of them and live among them.”
Paul Harvey ends the story with the man hearing church bells ringing. “And the man stood there listening to the bells — ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful!’ — listening to the good tidings of Christmas… And the man sank to his knees in the snow.”
I love that story because it captures the good news of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. The Word who created the worlds, the Logos who governs the order of the universe, put skin on and made His home with us. And the Gospel writer says of the Word become flesh: “and we have seen his glory.” And what is that glory? It is “the glory as of a father’s only son; full of grace and truth.”
It is a striking Greek word, monogenes, translated here “a father’s only son.” It combines the Greek word mono, meaning “only” or “alone”, with genes, meaning, “descent” or “family”. It is the word from which we get “genes” and “genetic”. In modern parlance we might say monogenes denotes “one genetic makeup.” Thus, The Message translated this phrase, “one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son.” There is no one like Him!
The glory that Jesus the Word reveals is the exact glory of the Father. Jesus and the Father are of the same essence, the same nature, so that Jesus can say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), and “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). And what is the glory revealed in Jesus? It is the Father’s glory!
I look up the word “glory” in my thesaurus and find associated words like, “celebrity, grandeur, majesty, prestige, splendor, exaltation and honor.” That is how the world thinks of glory. But Jesus trades it all in in order to reveal to us “the glory as of a father’s only son; full of grace and truth.” Like Father, like Son!
- What are some ways the Son of God made Himself like me?
- What does it mean for me that God is like Jesus?
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.
Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.