Christmas – where extremities meet!
– By Bobby Thejus
As normal and nominal human beings we are shocked and apprehensive about the extremities of life; light and darkness, rich and poor, free will and God’s will, beautiful and ugly, piety and fun, religiosity and spirituality, myth and fact, war and peace. We have always viewed these as two very different probably opposite view points. And Christmas is a time where some of these extremities meet and continue to meet.
The Word and flesh (John 1:1)
The word became flesh: This is unthinkable. How can GOD, so powerful become so weak and vulnerable like a child? The creator became weaker than the created. The sustainer had to be sustained. The destroyer was destroyed. No other worldview has ever come up with, nor is capable of coming up with, such an extremely outrageous and miraculous possibility. Only God can. All along God seemed to be this distant preacher coming up with a bunch of rules nobody could follow. And then, suddenly God decided to come around and practice what he preached; and subsequently Christ preached what He practiced. The director became the actor. The conductor became the musician. The music became the instrument. He enlightened us in the form of parables extending and expounding all that he was trying to tell us from up there. He took us beyond all the jazz – to Himself.
The lofty and the lowly (Mat 2:1-12 & Luke 2:8-20)
The shepherd and the wise men: The wise men with their lofty head up always, seeing stars, would under most normal circumstances, never pay attention to what a lowly shepherd does. While at the same time the devout shepherd, speculating about the possibility of a ‘peace-child’ will not pay much attention to the philosopher and his philosophizing. But at the manger both these extremities met. Whether they met each other there is another story. All we know is that both parties knew their place; putting their ‘limited identities’ behind worshipped the king thereby finding their ‘true and real identity’. At the manger there was a trinity in the sense of a community. A community is formed when two Christians meet (Mat 18:20); here our egos find a renewed meaning (Gal 3:26-29). Only a fool will still hold on to his limited identity in the presence of His king and His community.
Religion and Realization (Romans 11:17-21)Hans Christian Anderson, a fairy tale author, writes about a girl who is engrossed with her red shoes against the wishes of her grandmother. She was so absorbed with it that it finally absorbed her. She would imagine that everybody around were looking at her red shoes. She loved her red shoes so much, that she was willing to leave her ailing grandmother alone and go to the dance. But once she started to dance she couldn’t stop. Even the dance moves were controlled by her red shoes. It was time for everyone to leave, but she couldn’t stop dancing. While dancing incessantly she met an angel who told her that as a consequence of being so vain she will dance forever. And she danced, nearly forever. Until she met a woodcutter, whom she asked, to sever her legs off.
“Religion means realization. If not, then religion soon means ritual, and that means death”-Stanley Jones
It is possible, like the red shoes, Christianity can become an instrument of power to control people, to twist its meaning and make mockery of it, to think of ourselves more highly than what we ought to – placing our ‘limited identities’ over the identity we find in Christ, to hold on to our testimonies at the expense of God’s will – a self aggrandizement in trying to be holier than God, and to arrogantly avoid living a truly authentic Christian life – where the Word does not want to become flesh.
Christmas was and is still a time where extremities meet with Christ at its center.
For further reflection
- How do we find our true identity in Christ and His community (like the shepherds and the wise men).
- How do we give ourselves to each other selflessly?
- How do we serve Jesus, our Saviour and King this Christmas?.