Tag Archives: God Becoming One of Us

An Incarnation Analogy

dsc00166-jpgc200Do you ever struggle with grasping the full meaning and purpose of God becoming one of us in the person of Jesus Christ?   

For many years radio commentator Paul Harvey shared the following story at Christmas to help us understand.

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The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge; he was a kind, decent, mostly good man; generous to his family, and upright in his dealings with other men.  But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas time.  It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.  He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.”  He said he’d feel like a hypocrite.  That he’d much rather stay at home, but that he would wait up for them.  And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall.  He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.  Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…then another, and then another.  Sort of a thump or a thud…at first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window.  But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow.  They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. 

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony.  That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.  Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.  He opened the doors wide and turned on the light, but the birds did not come in.  He figured food would entice them.

So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable.  But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.  He tried catching them…he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm lighted barn.

And then he realized that they were afraid of him.  To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…that I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them.  But how?  Because any move he made tended to frighten them and confuse them, they just would not follow.  They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language.  Then I could tell them not to be afraid.  Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn.  But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”  At that moment the church bells began to ring.  The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind.  And he stood there listening to the bells, listening, listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.  And he sank to his knees in the snow.


Have a blessed Christmas!

Why We Celebrate Christmas*

After hearing the Christmas story over and over, year after year, we might be tempted to take it for granted.  Yet, if we think about it, God’s willingness to become one of us is the greatest act of humility and love in all of human history.  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14

Here we have God, the Father, creator of all that exists; creator of the millions of galaxies and billions of stars whose distance is measured in light years; this God who created the atom and molecule whose size is measured in nanometers – that’s one billionth of a meter; this God who created the human being with a body, soul, spirit and mind, became one of his created in order to free each of us from our sins and the world from its bondage to sin – to reconcile us to him and to one another.

Father William Barry, in his book, A Friendship Like No Other, says, “God took humanity seriously enough to become one of us, and we do God no service if we downplay what God has done in becoming human.”

God in Jesus was a real human being, born of Mary in the humblest of circumstances, in a cave used as a stable with animals nearby.  He had to be toilet trained, learn a language, be raised by real parents, work out his vocation and discern the will of the Father just as we do.  His family was forced into exile to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod.  After assuming his public ministry, the leaders of his own religion handed him over to the Romans to die a horrible death.  God is no stranger to suffering, persecution and injustice.  God in Jesus knows what human life is like from the inside.  His desire for friendship and to dwell with us and in us knows no bounds.

A cobbler does not become a shoe; a cabinet maker does not become a cabinet; but God the Father, creator of all that exists, became one of us.  Little wonder that history’s calendar is measured in terms of before and after this event.

Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus for what it is – the greatest act of humility and love in all of history! 

* Reposted from Christmas, 2014