Spirit of Advent – Day 14

And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Song of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Luke 1:31-33

Luke did not write his account of Jesus' birth in a vacuum.  He looked back at everything through the cross.  On a trip to the Mediterranean a couple of years ago, Nancy and I visited several Orthodox churches.  The walls and the ceilings were covered with ancient frescoes.  One of the frescoes depicted Mary sitting beside the cradle of her new son.  The cradle was in the shape of a sarcophagus, a burial casket, and the swaddling clothes looked like a funeral shroud.  I will not be sending out Christmas cards this year with that frescoe on the front!

But it seems to me that there is something true and right in that frescoe.  What God did at Jesus' birth was part and parcel of what God was doing at Jesus' death.  God is able to create new possiblities out of impossibilities.  The incarnation of God in the form of a helpless human child?  Impossible.  Jesus living the life of one who knows that the kingdom of God is already here?  Impossible.  The death of Jesus turned to signify that to God's kingdom there will be no end?  Impossible. 

Impossible if one looks to power and coercion.  Possible only through the exercise of vulnerable love.  Possible only because God does not demand but offers Godself in love.

Hark the Herald

Hark the herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled"

Joyful, all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With the angelic host proclaim:

"Christ is born in Bethlehem"

Hark! The herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"


 Christ by highest heav'n adored

Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of a Virgin's womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with man to dwell

Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing

"Glory to the newborn King!"