Sunday 24th & 31stDecember 2023
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NIV)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The magic of Christmas
It is hard to escape the fact that for many people there is something magical about Christmas, but it is also hard to put your finger on exactly what that ‘magic’ is. Perhaps it is the combination of all those ‘Christmas things’: lights, festive food and drink, presents, parties, holiday, time together as family – along with the fact that almost everyone is doing it at the same time. I wonder what you would say is ‘the magic of Christmas’?
Christians, though, should be in no doubt about what is the true ‘magic’ of Christmas. It is what CS Lewis called ‘The Grand Miracle,’ and JI Packer described as ‘The Greatest Mystery.’ As Packer goes on to say, “The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man.”
The theological term for this is ‘incarnation’ – the ‘enfleshment’ of God: without in any way ceasing to be God the second person of the Godhead took on human flesh. Not only is this the grand miracle and the greatest mystery, it is the event that explains everything else about Jesus. As Lewis puts it, “Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.” Packer goes even further when he says, “The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.”
The carols we sing at Christmas-time bear quiet but clear witness to the wonderful truth of the incarnation: ‘Once in royal David’s city’ informs us that, ‘He came down to earth from heaven,’ while ‘O come all ye faithful’ is almost cryptic in its famous lines, ‘God of God, Light of Light, Lo! he abhors not the virgin’s womb,’ and ‘See amid the winter’s snow’ puts it beautifully simply with, ‘Lo within the manger lies he who built the starry skies.’
It is, though, some lines from a modern Christmas song which have captured my imagination this year:
And who would have dreamed or ever foreseen that we could hold God in our hands?
The Giver of Life is born in the night revealing God’s glorious plan…
to save the world.
(Who Would Have Dreamed, Sovereign Grace Music)
This reminds that it is not only that God became man that should cause us to wonder, but why he became man. It was, simply, to save us. So let us marvel and wonder, but let us also praise, worship and adore.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)