A Christmas Post

The hustle and bustle of Christmas is well under way now. Last minute Christmas shopping, holiday dinners, special services, family gatherings – the list goes on and on. As crazy as it may get, I think all of us, when pressed, admit that this is one of our favorite times of the year. Mary Beth and I decided to pack all that we can into this time of year. Our sixth (hard to believe!) anniversary is Sunday. Clark’s first (already!) birthday falls two weeks after Christmas. We’re leaving for Vermont on Monday. A busy few weeks coming up so it may be awhile before I get the chance to post again. I’ll try to get a bunch of our pictures from VT on the photo blog when we get back. I thought it would be nice to pause for a second and reflect on what we should:

I have to confess that I love theology. With two great theology professors in college (John Mark Hicks and Randy Harris) I guess it was destined to happen. Before I was at Lipscomb I never would have given theology a thought. There are some amazing and paradigmatic shifts happening in the field of theology, and I love reading and thinking on them. In short – all the -ologies of our faith excite me.

Unfortunately, it is a short step to move from a living, breathing theology to a cold, ivory-tower kind of theology. In my reading today in Searching for God Knows What, I was reminded of what faith is all about.

Putting all technicalities and specifics aside, it is truly appropriate to reflect on the simplicity and reality of faith . . . and it begins with Christmas. Here are some thoughts that come to mind as I celebrate the wonder that accompanies my faith:

– The picture of young Mary and Joseph as they stood staring at the newborn Jesus in the manger scared as all of us young parents are, but their fear was even deeper. Their child was special . . . they had no idea of all that lay ahead, and I can see them staring with wide eyes at this child whose destiny was so much bigger than their minds could comprehend.

– The cataclysimic significance can be seen in the astrological signs, the arrival of the Magi, the political intrigue into the situation. The birth was an event that transcends all those involved.

– The virgin birth. Unfortunately, we don’t consider enough the import of this event. Early in our lives we learn all about the birds and the bees, but here is the exception. The one time God intervened in the process and placed a piece of Deity within Mary’s womb . . . wow . . . there are many instances recorded in Scripture that are somewhat easier for men to empathize with (ie. Jesus is a man, God is referred to as Father, etc.) but ladies here is a concept I wish I could share your insight in. God’s hand moved within Mary’s uterus and he placed a piece of Himself there!

In reading Donald Miller’s chapter (a lengthy one) on Jesus, I was reminded of the personal nature of my faith. He reflects on the martydom of the early Christians and notes that these people did not die for propositions. They didn’t offer their bodies as actual sacrifices because they disagreed with the “theology” of the king. Instead they died for a friend. They offered their bodies to a person, not to a system. Seeing the Nativity anew in this way reminds me of the person that I serve. I found the following statement very convicting:

“To exchange heaven for a place, and to exchange eternity for time, was an act of humility I don’t think any of us can understand.” (p. 121)
God loves us so much. The Nativity is the essence of the promise in John 3:16 – he loved us so much that he sent his one and only son . . . and he sent him through the Navity!
Gloria en excelsis deo!

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