11 December 2020
How will we manage Christmas this year? It’s certainly going to be a challenge. There are so many questions: Who will we have in our Christmas bubble? Is it safe to include anyone else? What about visiting family: can we? should we? How will we get the Christmas shopping done? Should we simply forget the whole thing, or move it to July? And many of us are so tired we just want to lie down and have a good, long sleep. It’s enough to make you wish it was all over.
And how will we manage Christmas as a church, especially when we can’t sing together, at least not inside? Will anyone want to come? Is it worth the bother?
I don’t underestimate those challenges. They’re hard, and I feel them too. I’ve been asking the same questions. I’m tempted to give up. And then I read this in a blog from Biblical Counselling UK: “Christmas is not an event that needs managing but an incarnation that changes everything.” And I thought, “Yes, that’s right.” Yes, there are still things we’ll have to decide, organise and manage, many of which will be hard. But it puts those things back in their right place.
Let’s be clear what we mean by the incarnation. Literally it means something like ‘en-flesh-ment.’ It’s when God became man. God, who is eternal spirit, actually took on a human body, and became a man called Jesus. That’s the incarnation. It’s what CS Lewis called ‘The Grand Miracle’, which means that, “Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.”
And why did God become man? Again, Lewis puts it beautifully: the incarnation is “an invasion which intends complete conquest and ‘occupation’”. That’s to say that in Jesus, God has entered enemy-occupied territory – territory long held captive by his arch-enemy Satan and rendered a world of sin and death. But God has invaded, and he intends complete conquest and total occupation. So that there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” in his new world.
The decisive battle in that conquest was fought and won on Calvary’s hill and announced triumphantly from the empty tomb. But there would have been no battle, were it not for the decisive landing – the invasion – that we see in Bethlehem. It changes everything.
Father, help us to manage Christmas well this year, with all its challenges. And help us to see how Christmas changes everything, including how we handle those challenges.