For many of us Christmas is over. The presents have all been unwrapped and the mess has been cleaned up. Those of us who had a great time visiting with family have said our goodbyes. We are now back home, going to work, going through our daily routines. Christmas is already becoming a distant memory.
Earlier in church history, however, Christmas wasn’t reserved for one day. Christmas was a celebration that spanned from Christmas eve all the way through the day of Epiphany on January 6. The celebration of Christ’s incarnation, his coming in the flesh, couldn’t be contained to one day; it was an act so great that it had to be contemplated and celebrated for more than just December 25.
Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. The Creator God became one of us. God had to learn how to talk and how to walk. God, in Jesus Christ, experienced pain, separation, and temptation. All so that we could know God; in order that we might enter the Kingdom. We had no hope of attaining salvation without Jesus’ coming, but he made the Gospel accessible to us by coming as one of us.
As I think about missions, about what Bekah and I are about to do, I think about the incarnation. We are called to become, as much as is possible, like the Aymara so that they may understand Christ and his Kingdom. As difficult as it is we will be entering their world, learning, like babies do, to speak their language, learning what their customs mean and how their culture operates. Then, through the help of the Holy Spirit, we will attempt to incarnate the Good News in their world, in symbols and terms they understand. And then, just as Jesus does with each one of us, God will empower them to continue the Kingdom work among their own people.
I believe this to be one of the main Christmas messages to us all. Just as God took on flesh and walked among us so that we might enter the Kingdom, so are we to be the in-flesh representations of the Kingdom to those around us so that they too may enter it and be complete. Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
So from now on, may we incarnate the Good News of Christ’s salvation and of the Kingdom of God to those around us. Let us truly celebrate Christmas!