Wednesday, 30 December 2009

God Incarnate

And what are we celebrating when we Christians celebrate Christmas? Apparently it's about the Baby Jesus (or baby cheeses, depending on your accent).

Really? It's about a baby? If that's the case, Christmas is about sleepless nights, gas and filthy nappies. For all the parents who've had a baby late in the year this is probably true at least once. You have my undying admiration, but you're only 25% of the population, and a baby doesn't say much about Christmas.

Except for one thing: powerlessness. This is often brought up around Christmas, that God would be a powerless and vulnerable baby. Even though a baby is powerless and vulnerable, I don't think that's exclusive to babies. But let's run with it, because the comparison between God as transcendent and God as immanent is where it leads. God in the flesh is far removed from the kinds of gods found elsewhere. God in the flesh is powerless, not the force of nature found in the traditional fertility gods, or the god of the gaps.

Seeing God in this way, as incarnate, provokes us to think about the implications. God became human and taught people to follow him, to emulate him. Live life as God did. And die as God died, by taking up the cross each and every day. Christmas is a celebration of the liberation from the burdens we've managed to accrue through human history and human effort, but it carries with it the quiet reminder that to follow Christ, the God incarnate, is to follow the path of powerlessness and humility.
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