I love Christmas season. It is a time every year that taps into something deeper in us, it taps into some kind of basic longing. It is a time every year where many are prompted to look to the needs of others, where people are moved to think and be generous.
Just look at the symbol of the Modern Christmas, Santa claus. A figure who was created after St. Nicholas, a third century Bishop, a son of of wealthy parents, who gave away his entire inheritance to aid those in need around him. He was known for giving secret gifts to people, not wanting his identity to be revealed. And when people did discover that it was him who was giving the gifts, he would beg for them to keep it secret themselves.
There is one story of St. Nicholas which many attribute the tradition of Christmas stockings. There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. Meaning that after he passed, they would have no way of providing for themselves. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry!
He was moved to see his life as something bigger than just a preservation of self. And just look at the mythology that has been created by his legend. Santa claus, a loving figure, who lives in a land of impossible wonder, he watches over all and supernaturally comes to every child's home to bless them. I mean that taps into something awesome. In a world that tells us that is best, safest, most certain when we take care and protect ourselves. Santa Claus, St, Nicholas, Christmas is a rare break that invites us to consider the best life may be found in seeing the other, giving of ourselves, being part of something more.
And of course it does. Because Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, in whom God came to meet humanity and show us what he is truly like: more generous, more giving-of-self, more accepting and good and loving than we could possibly imagine
God did not come to us in power and strength, but in meekness and humility. God made himself known to us in the form of a newborn child. Not a rich and mighty warrior. Or powerful kingly figure. Why do this, would he not have had more influence if he would have revealed himself to us in power and majesty? I mean we are talking about the God of the universe, he was not lacking power and majesty. Could he have not have shown himself as something like zeus flinging lightning bolts from the mountain tops?
I think the 4th Century theologian ― Athanasius of Alexandria, put it well in his writing “On the Incarnation” when he said,
“The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him.”
Jesus came to us as he did because he longed, and still longs to be close to us. Jesus came as he did to show us, lead us, guide us, resource us. Not as some some distant God who watches and acts from afar. But, one that walks through life with us, suffers with us, comforts us.
In short, he came as he did so we could connect with him. That it would not be left to the select few prophets in history who could have real interaction and relationship with God, but that all could.
So, why would he come in such humble terms? Because humility, as is so often the case, opens to door for real, honest relationship. He became small to be with us.
PRAY we can each say to Jesus (whether for the hundredth time or first time) "thank you for not being distant but being in my life with me. I want deeper relationship with you. Going forward, I want to know that you're with me more often than I do right now"