Every year around this time when I was growing up we made the long trek from Kansas City, Missouri to Etowah, Tennessee. I can remember getting up at 1 am as my father would pack the cars and me and my two brothers would get in the back seat of the car and go to sleep. By the time we would be half way there.
I had no idea how important those long trips were. For many of those years I didn’t realize that “grandma” meant “Mother’s Mother.” In fact, not until becoming a parent myself did I fully understand the need of parents and grandparents to just “see” their off spring.
For some reason it seemed that a phone call would be much more efficient. In today’s world why not just a twitter or an email. In fact we can even use Google Video and do a video call. Why is there a need to be there?
But we all know that there is something different about being there. We all know that there is something very powerful about being in the company of folks. We all know that there is something different about seeing, hugging, and kissing long last relatives, even if just for a brief moment.
Today, we find ourselves in the time of year that the Christian world celebrates the fact that God had to see, hug, and kiss us. It is then that God couldn’t just look at us from afar. God had sent prophets and priests before. God had allowed angels to interact with humanity. God had even given us a book, but God had to do a little more.
There is a big theological world called “incarnation.” This is the idea that God became human. We as Christians state that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God into humanity. And I love a God like that. We have a God who is like my grandma, wanting to touch the children. The book of Hebrews says that Jesus, our High Priest, came so lose that he is “touched with the feelings of our infirmaries.” (Hebrews 4:15)
We sometimes ask why do we have to go through pains and heartaches in this life. we sometimes wonder why God didn’t just work things out in different ways. But the incarnation tells us, that though God didn’t change the circumstances, God still decided to come into our world and allow himself to be abused by structures that abuse us all. No God didn’t decide to come like a King and a Queen, but God decided to throw his hat in the ring with those who “had no place to lay their head.” (Matthew 8:20)
Yes Christmas means that God wanted to see, touch, and feel us so much that God decided to take on the worst this world has to dish out. And ultimately, that same Jesus, will return. And ultimately God has engraved Israel and all those grafted in on the very palm of his hands. (Isaiah 49:16) This will be the only reminder of the tragedy of sin and the love that would not let go.