Physically it is reality that at age 65 I cannot do what I did 20 years ago. Sometimes pride overcomes good sense and I attempt same kind of work at the same pace. When evening comes my sore shoulders and aching remind me of my foolish denial of my age. I see some of the same kind of pride at work in me in this pandemic when I convince myself that I need not wear a mask or push back against the directives of health authorities because “I am capable of taking care of myself, too strong to be subject to this.” Granted, the messages we have received have been confusing and sometimes the directions seem baseless.
But there is a real struggle in the acknowledgement of our fragile humanity; that we are “frail children of dust and feeble as frail.” Ultimately, we break down, our body’s part of a world of decay, and death comes to all. Don’t leave me now. It will get more hopeful in a moment.
Against that dark backdrop there is the amazing message of Christmas!
Our God shared in our humanity. This is the mystery and wonder of the Incarnation.
John says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV) Paul tells us that Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8, NIV)
The ’how’ of all that is beyond my capacity to reason. How did the God of the universe confine Himself to a body born of Mary? I believe and accept this declaration by faith. I do know the ‘why.’ It was because of LOVE. He came to be with us, to share life with us, to offer Himself the final sacrifice for a sinful world that we could be, once again, the children of God. “Although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came.” (John 1:10, NLT) “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12, NLT)
Jesus knows our HUMANITY fully. The Baby needed His mother’s milk. As He grew, He took direction from Joseph and Mary. He felt aching muscles after a long day of labor. When He worked in the hot sun, sweat poured down His face, just like yours. And yes, as He faced death, He cried. His body was not different from ours. If He lived in 2020, He would be subject to the virus that stalks us all, within the permission of the Father’s will, just as we are.
In our worship at Christmas, let’s not gloss over the amazing truth of the Incarnation. Yes, that Jesus became fully Man is important in the plan of God for the salvation of the world, but that is not my focus today. It is also important to us personally, strengthening our faith to trust our Savior, our Friend, our Heavenly Priest.
We are foolish to deny the weakness of the ‘flesh,’ to think that somehow we are stronger than the temptations that come to us through the appetites of our body, that we will somehow elude the eventual decline that comes with age, that we are above sickness. If we think we are facing these things alone or only in our own strength, we will be fearful or we will vainly attempt to overcome the inevitable, leading to a kind of despair too common among the elderly and infirm.
We can confidently face life and death because we have a
Savior and Lord who walks with us,
One who knows the fragile state of our physical state.
Christmas celebrates God’s participation in His own creation,
not from a distance, but as one of us!
Meditate on the weighty words from Hebrews about the nature of our Great High Priest in Heaven, Jesus. Find comfort and strength in Him, hope that because He lives, we will live eternally, too.
“Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:5-7, NIV)
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV)
Are you fearful of the weakness of your body? Tell Him.
Are you struggling with acceptance of aging? Let Him help you.
Do temptations of the ‘flesh’ come over you? Carry them to Him, He knows.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
(Romans 8:36-37, NIV)
What Child Is This
What Child is this who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping
This this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste haste to bring Him laud
The Babe the Son of Mary
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
Good Christian fear for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading
Nails spear shall pierce Him through
The cross be borne for me for you
Hail hail the Word made flesh
The Babe the Son of Mary
So bring Him incense gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to own Him
The King of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him
Raise raise the song on high
The Virgin sings her lullaby
Joy joy for Christ is born
The Babe the Son of Mary
William Chatterton Dix © Words: Public Domain