“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,
who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
It was Christmas Eve and an otherwise happy family is nearing meltdown. Dad fumes over a maxed out credit card; Mom learns five more people are coming for Christmas dinner; sister frets that her boyfriend won’t like his present. And little brother’s eager offers to help decorate the tree are rebuffed, sending him crying to his bedroom. Things are not looking good for a happy Christmas Eve! That night as brother knelt by his bed to say the Lord’s Prayer, he was overheard saying, “Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us!”
Yes, Christmas Eve is a long awaited day of joyful expectation; yet things don’t always go as planned on this special day. Ironically, many of our most loved Christmas stories are about things not going as planned. There is the Grinch trying to steal Christmas, poor Rudolph and his red nose, miserly Scrooge, and bereft George Bailey ready to jump off a bridge.
Then there is the Christmas story about things not going as planned for Mary and Joseph. There was the small town gossip, the booked-up inn, a feeding trough instead of a cradle, a maniacal King Herod, and a dead of the night run for Egypt. God’s plans often surprise!
“In the beginning was the Word” and God was making His plans. Before the creation, before time and space, God who is love in His very being loved us (1 John 4:8). God could not not love us! Unable to contain His love within the Trinity, God was compelled to share it. Karl Barth writes about God not wanting to be God without us: “He wills to belong to us and he wills that we should belong to him. He does not will to be without us, as he does not will that we should be without him.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, II/1) Should we ever question or doubt God’s love for us: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Word who was God and with God came to be with us! He who was of the same being as God deigned to take on our being with all our weakness and suffering. The Nicene Creed wonderfully expresses the faith of the ancient church in the God who took on our humanity:
“God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not make, one in being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven.”
Yes! It was for us and for our salvation that God came down from heaven to enter our brokenness, darkness, and corruption. The Word become flesh took on our cause, and “lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian) Jesus clothed Himself in our humanity so that He might take on what is ours in order to impart what is His! He was committed to His mission of making us sons and daughters of God. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). In this we see Jesus’ glory, the glory of God the Father!
God has big plans in store for us! Everything might not go as we planned today, and there might be some surprises. But each moment comes as God’s special gift to us! He is the Father who loves to surprise His children with goodness.
- As I look back, how has God’s goodness surprised me?
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.