“The word became flesh,” John wrote, “and lived among us and we beheld his glory.”
God — perfect in every detail — decided to be normal and called it glorious. He gave himself the powerlessness of an infant. He needed diapers. And milk. And comfort. He cried.
(Never mind what the Christmas carol says: “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” Its a sweet thought, but really? Of course he cried! That was his glory — that he was willing to experience fully what we know as life.)
He had birthdays and good days and sick days and down days. He did boy things, like wrestle and throw rocks and run. He laughed and cried and got angry and tired and hungry. He made friends. And when he grew up, he looked like a man and acted like a man … so completely … that almost nobody knew he was God. John the Baptist had to point him out to us. He looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God!”
And even then, no one took that seriously. Or almost no one.
For the sake of Jesus being everything God intended, he set aside all the authority of a god and experienced the world he created by becoming small enough to walk through it. The one thing that transferred from heaven to earth was love. Jesus loved people the way only God can.
He took on our limitations so he could experience pain as we do and show us how to be unafraid of it. Love came down to walk with us through our worst, to grieve our limits and weaknesses with us so he could restore our stories.
At just the right time, the Bible says the Word became flesh. And in light of that grace-soaked truth, the only holiday greeting that makes sense is, “Thank you.”
Safiyah Fosua, who has a book of meditations called Mother Wit has a wonderful bit about this idea of God with us:
“What must it have been like, Jesus, to leave your home in glory to come to a place like this? … What must it have been like, Jesus, to limit yourself to flesh? After being Spirit for all of that time, how did it feel to hunger, to weep, to plead, to bleed? You walked up and down dusty roads, slept on the ground, and prayed all night long for me. I thank you for tasting a multitude of miseries so that you could really understand my petty moans and complaints.
“Thank you, Jesus, for enduring a family that often did not understand you, and for enduring the rejection of hometowns. I even thank you for letting them call you crazy! Now, I don’t feel so alone. Lord, thank you for loving Peter, and reclaiming Mary of Magdalene. In them I am reassured of your love for me. Thank you for opening eyes that had been sightless, and for restoring the sick to their families. Thank you for raising dead folks like me. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us on that first Christmas morning.”
For showing us how to overcome … thank you, Jesus.
For being the perfect servant of God … thank you, Jesus.
For bringing justice to the nations … thank you, Jesus.
For being a visible sign of God’s grace … thank you, Jesus.
For being our hope … thank you, Jesus.
For being God’s promise for the people … thank you, Jesus.
For being a light in this dark world … thank you, Jesus.
For being King of Kings and Lord of Lords … thank you, Jesus.