’Tis the season to be jolly – as we spend spend spend and make ourselves as busy as we ever will be all year! Yay. It’s Advent.
But take heart, Christmas Day soon comes along followed by Boxing Day when we all collapse, stuff ourselves with leftovers and drift quietly off in an excess-induced coma while intermittently watching some sport and cleaning up.
Along the way we may have lit some advent candles and sung some carols – and there are times when we pause to reflect on the ‘true meaning of Christmas’. Despite all the trappings of consumerism and busyness, that we declare each year, we will definitely avoid in the next, there are moments of genuine joy.
There may also be moments of genuine renewal of meaning and understanding – even for the more ‘mature’ life-traveller in both age and spiritual experience.
This year that reflection for me has so far been focussed on ‘the incarnation’. This is the understanding of God here on Earth in the form of His Son, truly God and truly Man, born of an earthly Mother, experiencing the highs and lows of our existence and living life, warts and all.
Marcus Borg in his book ‘Meeting Jesus again for the First Time’ has challenged my understanding of what ‘Truly Man’ actually means. I know I have often, secretly thought, ‘it’s a bit different for ‘you’, knowing that you are God’s Son’. However, that seriously diminishes what ‘Truly Man’ means. What if Jesus ‘actually’ thought ‘Why have you deserted me?’ because he had all the doubts and fears we have – and more? What if when Jesus stood before rulers and leaders and championed what is right and honourable, and radical – he had the same reservations as us? What if in going to the cross he ‘only’ had the faith in God we have available to us?
Incarnation would say that is exactly how it was for Jesus on Earth, truly Man ‘walking a mile’ in our shoes, and truly God, who experienced life as it is at a time in history when life was hard – and who can say to us now ‘I know’; I understand; I have true empathy’.
Even in our own smaller worlds, we understand how grace, forgiveness and unconditional love flow more freely when we take time to know a person’s situation. Our God has lived our experience. How unlimited must be the grace, forgiveness and love that flows to us. Now that is something to celebrate.